Interview with T. J. Luschen

#1

On April 8, 2011 – more than 8 years ago T. J. Luschen joined our forum. Since then T. J. has created more than 9600 posts spending hundreds of hours helping learners from around the world improve their English. Today I’d like to start an interview with T. J. to give our community a chance to get him to know closer. I also want to express my gratitude to him on behalf of all our forum members, students and supporters.

@Luschen, let me start by asking you why you decided to join our community way back in April 2011?

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#2

Hi Torsten, thank you for that kind introduction. Hopefully this will be a chance for those on the forum to learn about that guy who is always commenting on ESL essays! To tell you the truth, I first came across this community when I was searching for the answer to a grammar question myself. I had listened to a podcast discussing the controversy about whether it is correct to begin a sentence with “so”. As is often the case, I decided to do some further research, and my Google searches led me to this forum. I don’t recall if I ever got a suitable answer to my question, but I was fascinated by the friendly atmosphere and openness of everyone I met here on the forum. I made my way to the TOEFL essay section and saw that there were many essays posted asking for advice and criticism, but not many responses. It seems that I arrived right as a prolific forum coach, Kitosdad, was leaving. I read many of the comments he made on essays and thought that as a native speaker and competent writer, I could be of some use - hopefully I still am!

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#3

My best regards, appreciation, and respect to both of you, Sir Torsten Daerr and, Sir T. J. Luschen.

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#4

Interesting that you took up where Bill left off and he took over from me as I had corrected stuff for some years and had reached my limit! Incidentally I’m sure a young chap such as yourself doesn’t only contribute to this site but must have other employment. I’d be interested to know where else you teach.

Alan

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#5

Thanks for your question Alan. After joining the forum here, I thought it would be great to start teaching students in person, so I joined the Nashville Adult Literacy Council as a volunteer tutor. My office primarily teaches English to recent immigrants. The majority of my students are Coptic Christians from Egypt, who seem to settle in Nashville in large numbers, although I get to tutor people from all over the world - Mexico, Japan, Korea, China, Laos, Ethiopia, Somalia, Togo, Senegal, Brazil, among others.

I have no formal training in teaching or education though. In high school I was a member of our “Ready Writing” contest team, in which we would have to write five paragraph essays on a topic given to us at the contest and also do analysis of a poem that would be given to us. I took “advanced placement” English classes in high school and did so well that I received six hours of college English credits and therefore did not have to take any English classes in college. I was majoring in electrical engineering and found this a relief, but now of course I wish I had gotten the opportunity to learn more about English and literature.

I got my Bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering, worked for two years as an engineer at a paper mill, then returned to school to get a Master’s degree in manufacturing systems engineering. After that, I got a job designing manufacturing systems :slight_smile: Specifically I designed control systems for various types of factory automation - box makers, conveyor belts, wire drawing machines, printing presses, automotive parts test beds, CNC machines, process control, really a wide variety of different applications. When we had our first child, my wife and I decided that I would be the one to stay home with our son, so for the past 17 years I have been a “domestic engineer”, also known as a stay-at-home dad for my three boys, ages 17, 15, and 13.

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#6

Hi Luschen,

Many thanks for telling me about yourself - very interesting. I hope you didn’t mind me probing and finding out about you. I do appreciate your openness - start contrast to some of our contributors in the past who have been very secretive!

Best wishes,

Alan

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#7

No it’s great. That’s sort of the whole point here - anyone is welcome to ask me questions!

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#8

Really GREAT! Congratulations, Luschen!

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#9

@Luschen so, here is a question I have been meaning to ask you for quite a while: What do your initials T. J. stand for? I mean, everyone here on our forum seems to address you by your surname which is of German origin. Thanks in advance.

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#10

I think being at home enables you to leisurely answer the questions on the forum, especially evaluating essays, which is a Herculean task. And your observations on essays are notably remarkable. So, you are now a domestic engineer-teacher-parent, sort of three-in-one! All the best, Luschen!

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#11

Hi, my initials stand for Thomas James. When I was in elementary school, everyone called me “Tommy”, which I hated. So when we moved to another town when I was in 4th grade I told my parents that I wanted to be called T. J. so that I could be in control of my own nickname :slight_smile: We moved to the southern part of the US and when we arrived we found that using one’s initials as a name is very common in this part of the country. Now my son is named Thomas too, but we make sure everyone calls him Thomas.

Yes my surname is German, but we don’t really consider ourselves German or have any German cultural traditions. My father’s father had German ancestors who came to the Great Plains as farmers in the 1870’s, but my mother was half Dutch and the rest is a mix of Scots-Irish, English, and sort of mixed Western European. There are a lot of people like me in the US - one term for it is “Heinz 57” - “We don’t have a cultural tradition, we’re sort of just Heinz 57”.

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