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Vol. 41, No. 3 (Fall 2011)

From the President’s Desk by Nanette Dougherty, NYS TESOL President by Victoria Pilotti

Dear Colleagues, I hope you have been enjoying a happy, healthy and restorative summer. I would like to update you on some changes and challenges facing educators. On July 13, I attended the Bilingual/ ESL COP (Committee of Practitioners) meeting at Teachers College, Columbia University. The most major changes include the New Evaluation Law for K-12 teachers and principals: 1. Annual evaluations for all teachers and principals 2. Clear, rigorous expectations for instructional excellence, prioritizing 3. student learning 4. Multiple measures of performance 5. Multiple ratings: Four performance levels to describe differences in teacher effectiveness 6. The new system should encourage regular, constructive feedback and 7. On going development 8. Signifi cance: results are a major factor in employment decisions. You can view all documents discussed at the COP Meeting at the following link: 2


bilinged/BilingualESLCOP.html. For more information about the Common Core Standards, please consult the website at: and see the article in this issue. Though it was not considered at this meeting, the 14 Bilingual/ESL Technical Assistance Centers (BETACs) across New York State closed permanently on June 30, 2011. This puts both our schools and our LEP/ ELL populations at risk of not having the appropriate resources to meet their educational and programmatic needs over the next five years. Our new Commissioner of Education, Dr. John B. King, Jr., may not be familiar with the importance of the resources offered by the BETACs. You may e-mail him directly at: In addition, you may email the NYS Board of Regents on this issue at: RegentsOffi At the Melville Marriott October 28-29th, I will be passing the gavel to our incoming President, Rebekah Johnson. I would like to thank the many wonderful members of my Executive Board and the many SIG and Region Leaders for their service to the organization. Special thanks to Cornelia Randolph, a constant support and inspiration, and Fran Olmos, for her guidance. You will be receiving ballots for the Executive Board slate in the mail shortly. Thanks to our Nominating Committee, led by Cornelia Randolph and Terri Brady-Mendez, for their time and efforts. Members, please do not forget to vote for your new leadership in our organization by returning your ballots. As always, please continue to keep in touch with issues, concerns, and ideas on how our organization can best serve you. Best wishes for a great school year to all. Peace and blessings to you, Nanette Dougherty, President, NY TESOL P.S. We’re so very excited to be launching our new Members Only website - please read more about it in this issue and log in soon to check it out. Please contact us with ideas!

New York State Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Language Offi cers and Executive Board 2010-2011 President, Nanette Dougherty NYC Public Schools First Vice President, Rebekah Johnson LAGCC, CUNY Second Vice President, Christy Baralis South Huntington School District Second Vice President Elect, Olivia Limbu, Pace University Past President/TESOL Liaison, Constance Dziombak , Mount Vernon City Schools SIG Coordinator, Laura Van Tassell South Huntington School District SIG Assistant Coordinator, Jennifer Scully, Consultant Regions Coordinator, Tina Villalobos, Hicksville Public Schools Assistant Regions Coordinator, Lynn Ellingwood , Brighton Central School District Membership & Marketing Chair, Patricia Juza Baruch College, CUNY Assistant Membership Chair, Drew Fagan Teachers College, Columbia University Curriculum and Standards Chair, Maria Dove Molloy College Assistant Curriculum and Standards Chair Position Open Professional Concerns Chair Porfi rio Rodriguez, East Ramapo CSD Professional Concerns Assistant Chair Position Open Publications/Technology Chair, Fran Olmos Yonkers Public Schools Idiom Editor, Cara Tuzzolino Werben Nassau Community College Dialogue Editor, Sue Peterson St. John’s University Webmaster, David Hirsch New York City Business Manager/Treasurer L. Jeanie Faulkner, Cornell University Certifi ed Public Accountant Jim Stotz

NYS TESOL Executive Board Meetings and General Information Members are welcome to attend Board meetings. For information, contact: NYS TESOL Box 185 Teachers College, Columbia University 525 W. 120th Street New York, NY 10027 Tel./Fax: (212) 678-3074 E-mail: Web site:

Vol. 41, No. 3 (Fall 2011)

Conversations in Support of High School ELLs by Victoria Pilotti Adolescent ELLs are second language learners who are still developing their profi ciency in academic English. Moreover, they are learning English at the same time they are studying core content areas through English. Thus, English language learners must perform double the work of native English speakers in the country’s middle and high schools. At the same time, they are being held to the same accountability standards as their native English-speaking peers (Short & Fitzsimmons, 2007, p. 1). Conversations with ELLs and colleagues are viable ways for ESL teachers to help their students navigate academic challenges. My short time at Jamaica High School has been filled with conversations that have driven my instruction to best support the ELLs in my charge.

Curriculum Experiments Based on Conversations with ELLs At Jamaica High School, an ESL support class is offered zero period, 7:22 to 8:06 a.m., to provide intermediate ELLs with additional targeted interventions. September 2011 will be the third year I am teaching zero period, and each year is an ongoing curriculum development action research experiment. I conduct the course as a combined resource room and advisory class model. Based on daily conversations with my students about their challenges, I provide homework help; teach problematic topics in mathematics, science, and social studies; and assess and teach diverse skills necessary for academic success. The fi rst year of the experiment, my curriculum included mathematics symbols and word problems; the living environment topics of scientifi c method, evolution, and organ systems; social studies topics of feudalism, estates, and analysis of political cartoons; English language arts topics of Vol. 41, No. 3 (Fall 2011)

idioms, formal versus informal language, and dictionary/glossary skills; and academic readiness in test-taking strategies, study skills, time management, notebook organization, public speaking skills, and computer skills. I also taught graph skills across the disciplines. This class was one of a select few Jamaica High School English and ESL classes that benefi ted from TeenBiz3000 (Empower3000), a Web-based individualized reading program by Achieve3000. Conversations with ELLs form part of the data collection that drives my curriculum changes. Several fi rst-year students (participants in Experiment I) reported the lessons and activities helped them pass content-area fi nals and New York State Regents examinations. When asked how the support class could be improved for the following year, ELLs suggested that I allot more time to science, continue teaching math and social studies, and retain computer instruction on TeenBiz3000. One student, who was particularly resistant to my teaching anything but ESL all year, later admitted he benefi tted from content-area instruction by his ESL teacher. All students expressed a deep appreciation for the bilingual content area glossaries I provided. In the second year (Experiment II), I spent less time on dictionary/glossary skills; did not teach idioms; and, upon careful review of recent livingenvironment Regents exams, added an ecosystem unit, a lesson on pH, and group activities on bar and line graphs. I replaced the formal versus informal English lesson with daily academic English and everyday English explanations and defi nitions. Students assessed their multiple intelligences (Gardner, 1983; Gardner, 1993, 2996; McKenzie, 1999), and learning styles (Dunn & Dunn, 1993; Dunn & Griggs, 2003, 2004, 2007; Missere & Dunn, 2005). I added native-language translations of key content vocabulary to my student notebook grading rubric. Groups researched continents and explorers and presented their PowerPoint slide shows to ELLs in other classes. TeenBiz3000 was replaced by Study Island, Web-based

instruction built on New York State standards, that provided all Jamaica High School students practice for English, mathematics, science, and social studies Regents exams; and for national cholastic Achievement Test (SAT) and Advanced Placement (AP) exams. Based on requests from Experiment I participants for Internet resources for speaking practice, I created lists of Web sites and links with podcasts and speaking exercises. As I gear up for Experiment III in the 2011-2012 school year, I plan to devote more time to dictionary skills, such as alphabetizing, and contentarea textbook structure, with special attention to textbook glossaries and indices; the participants in Experiment II were lacking in dictionary/textbook research skills and did not make optimum use of these resources. I provided a list of Web sites and links for Regents practice and bilingual glossaries, and will again provide copies of bilingual glossaries in Experiment III. I have decided to step up test-taking trategies and content writing practice in the zero period support class beginning in September.

Conversations with Families Individual writing conferences often involve reinforcing the student’s strengths and discussing specifi c areas in need of improvement (Fountas & Pinnell, 2001). I had conversations with each student about his/her multiple intelligences and learning style profi les generated from the Dunn (continued on page 18)



All the World’s a Stage: Ways in Which Teaching Is Like Acting by Elizabeth Fonseca Acting is a sport. On stage you must be ready to move like a tennis player on his toes. Your concentration must be keen, your refl exes sharp; your body and mind are in top gear; the chase is on. Acting is energy. In the theatre people pay to see energy. —Clive Swift Good teaching is one-fourth preparation and three-fourths theater. —Gail Godwin If “acting is energy,” teaching is many things: a combination of knowledge, experience, awareness, expertise, and care. It is also the energy we, as language instructors, bring into the classroom that absolutely affects the order of the day. As a theater lover and past occasional performer, I have often thought about the parallels between teaching and acting. Here are a few that come to mind. You’re on stage. All eyes are on you. You’re the initial focal point of attention. Your presence shifts the energy in the room. Sometimes, you literally have a podium, with desks arrayed in rows before you like patrons at a theater. There is noise, chatter, laughter, shuffl ing in the room until the lights dim. Curtain up! Enter stage left, the professor. Cell phones get put away, or at least discreetly placed to the side. Chitchat dies down. The room is hushed a moment, the pause of anticipation before the fi rst words of dialogue are spoken. All eyes are on you. An actor uses her body to convey information about her character before she even speaks. So do you. How are you dressed? Does what you wear convey some message about your position in this play, your role, your persona as teacher, leader, or facilitator of the energy in the room? How do you walk in? Are your eyes downcast, refl ecting your students’ spent energy at the end of 4


a long week, or do they sparkle? Do you walk in the room with pizzazz, transmitting vital energy to them, to create the cycle of give-and-take necessary for effective language learning? Do you use gestures, winks, and nods to convey information, emotion, even comedy? These are things worth thinking about, because one of the most important ways you are like an actor is in this all-important function. Your energy and presence set the tone. Just as audiences must have faith in actors and suspend their disbelief to fully enter into the world the actors are creating, your students must agree to the unspoken contract of trust that bonds them to you in a vulnerable learning situation. Your ability to create that atmosphere of trust is important; your dynamism helps your class generate energy that in turn feeds you and helps the learning environment be dynamic. This is important for learning as well as for the teacher’s ability to sustain energy and passion both within a class and over her entire run. Actors use their voices as tools, relying on not just word choice but inflection, intonation, varying volume, and the judicious use of pauses to capture the audience’s attention, rivet them, spellbind them, draw them forward in their seats wondering “What’s next?” You too can use your voice itself as a tool that weaves the bewitching spell of energy, dynamism, and trust that makes for a lively and effective learning environment. The show must go on. There are days when you can’t imagine generating that energy at all. On those days, you have to “act as if”: put on your teaching persona as an actor dons a mask or stage makeup, preparing herself to go before the lights. If you don’t show up, or show up without energy, you might flop. This leads us to the all-important teaching persona. As an actor slips into a role through preparation, curiosity, and the desire to share emotion and information with an audience, you can slip into your teaching persona, comprised of your sincere and genuine self with a soup çon

of public-role poise, strategic sass, and teacher’s tools you’ve learned throughout your teaching days that help you on the way. Is your persona the classic scholar? Do you have a little playful clown thrown in? Are you the compassionate guide, leading students to the knowledge they already possess? Can you switch hats to that of the taskmaster, pushing for and demanding the very best? It can be useful to think of the teacher role as composed of these different personae that serve useful functions in the various processes of learning, including enabling you to reach students of different backgrounds, needs, and learning styles. Even if you are not like that, your alter ego, “Professor Picky”, can be. Although you are more lenient, “Scholar Strict” can be called upon as necessary to whip an underachieving class into shape. Being a teacher is a public role that requires daily public speaking; why not train for it and fi nd useful tools and approaches that may aid in maintaining your interest, creating a positive learning environment, and aiding in efficient classroom management? If you think some training might help you focus your body as instrument and help you channel energy more effi ciently and effectively in the classroom, here are some suggestions to get you started: •

Take an acting class. Learn how to use body language, breath, and voice to create energy and atmosphere.

Take a public speaking class. Learn relaxation techniques, visualization techniques, and tips for effectively conveying a message.

• •

Join a group such as Toastmasters International, where you’ll learn tips for public speaking.

Listen to and read poetry aloud. Learn about cadence, rhythm, and volume to use your voice more effectively—and to save it from too many of those hoarse, Vol. 41, No. 3 (Fall 2011)

raggedy,“I’ve-spoken-too-much” days! •

Similarly, take a vocal or voice training class. Learn specific breathing exercises to strengthen your voice and to become expert in effectively and effi ciently using and saving your voice. Here is a website to get you thinking about your own parallels between acting and teaching: http://www/

References Godwin, G. (1974). The Odd Woman.New York: Ballantine Books.http://www/ actingphilosophy/actingquotations.html Elizabeth Fonseca is an avid traveler who has taught ESL/EFL in such countries as Italy, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates. Her work has been published in the Arabia Review and the Traveler’s Tales series, among others. Her interest in acting stems from high school and community theater days, as well as more recent poetry readings. She currently teaches at Nassau Community College in New York. <>

NYS TESOL Remembers Jeanette D. Macero by Vel Chesser The field of ESOL has lost one of its most revered members, Jeanette D. Macero, who died May 9, 2011. Jeanette was passionate in her dedication to non-native speakers of English as exemplifi ed by her teaching, mentoring and participation in professional organizations. Jeanette, one of the founders of NYS ESOL BEA (now NYS TESOL— see note below), was a leader in that organization nonstop until her retirement from Syracuse University in 1998, as associate professor of English and TESOL coordinator of languages, literatures and linguistics. She moved to Medfi eld, MA to be near her family. Many NYS TESOL members will testify to the mentoring they received from Jeanette, who held leadership positions in the organization for her entire career. Jeanette graduated with a BA in English from Barnard College, an MA in linguistics from Columbia University, and did doctoral study in linguistics at the University of Michigan. She was president, second vice president twice, and chair of various TESOL committees: publications, paper selection, awards and nominations. Twice, she received the NYS TESOL Distinguished Service Award. In addition to Jeanette’s full-time teaching at Syracuse University, she published skill books for beginners of English through Laubach Literacy (now known as ProLiteracy), as well as a number of scholarly papers and addresses, edited books of readings, and acted as consultant to many groups. All those who knew Jeanette are aware of her many accomplishments in professional organizations and her skillful teaching, but those closest to her will remember most her kind and compassionate manner to all she met and worked with, her hearty laugh, and her engaging personality. Jeanette’s friends and colleagues have lost a treasure. Vel Chesser, retired from Syracuse University, can be reached at <> Editor’s note: With thanks to NYS TESOL historian George Morris: The very first organization was called NY TESOL (No “S” for State), then NYS ESOL BEA. The founding date is 1970 (hence our 40th anniversary in 2010). The split into NYS TESOL and NYSABE was in the early 1980s

Vol. 41, No. 3 (Fall 2011)



Resources for Implementing the Common Core for ELLs

Clear, so that educators and parents know what they need to do tohelp students learn;

Consistent across all states, so thatstudents are not taught to a lowerstandard just because of wherethey live;

Literacy-rich school environments where students are immersed in a variety of language experiences;

Inclusive of both content and the application of knowledge through high-order skills;

Instruction that develops foundational skills in English and enables ELLs to participate fully in grade level coursework;

Built upon strengths and lesson of current state standards and standards of top-performing nations;

Realistic, for effective use in the classroom;

Informed by other top-performing countries, so that all students are prepared to succeed in our global economy and society;

Course work that prepares ELLs for post secondary educationor the workplace, yet is madecomprehensible for students learning content in a second language (through specifi c pedagogical techniques and additional resources);

Opportunities for classroom discourse and interaction that are designed to enable ELLs to develop communicative strengths in language arts;

by Diane Garafalo The Common Core Learning Standards (CCLS) have been adopted by dozens of states. The NYS Board of Regents adopted the new P-12 CCLS for ELA, Literacy, and Mathematics in January 2011; it will be phased in over the next year. Beginning in school year 2012-13, NYS assessments for English Language Arts and Mathematics will measure student achievement of the P-12 CCLS. Find New York State’s complete CCLS timeline at www.usny.nysed. gov/rttt/docs/ccsstimeline.pdf. The initiative began in the spring of 2009 and was coordinated by the National Governors Association (NGA) Center for Best Practices and the Council of Chief State School Offi cers (CCSO). The advisory group for the initiative comprises Achieve, Inc., ACT, the College Board, the National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE), and the State Higher Education Executive Offi cers (SHEO). The Common Core State Standards Initiative released a draft of the math and language arts content standards for public comment in September 2009, and the individual K-12 grade-level content standards in these subjects were released for public comment in March 2010. Both sets of content standards were fi nalized in 2010. Criteria for Development This process differed from past standards initiatives because it was state led and had the support of educators across the country as well as prominent education, business and state leaders’ organizations.

Evidence and research based (Quay, 2010);

Application of the Standards for English Language Learners.

On going assessment and feedback to guide learning;

Common standards can potentially provide a greater opportunity for states to share experiences and best practices within and across states that could lead to an improved ability to serve ELLs. The K-12 English-language arts and mathematics standards do include information on the Application of the Standards for English Language Learners, located at http://

Speakers of English who know the language well enough to provide ELLs with models and support;

Need for English Language Proficiency Standards.

The standards were developed by the following criteria:

One segment of the Application of ELA Core Standards recommends that to help ELLs meet high academic standards in language arts it is essential that they have access to:


Aligned with expectations for college and career success;


taking advantage of the many strengths and skills they bring to the classroom;

Teachers and personnel at theschool and district levels who are well prepared and qualifi ed to support ELLs while

The Common Core did not spell out how the standards applied to specific levels of English profi ciency. It was left up to states to create English Language Profi ciency Standards that align with the Core Standards or to explain how specifi c standards can best be taught to students depending on their level of English profi ciency. In her July 12 blog at Education Week, “Learning the Language,” Mary Ann Zehr recognized this need by reporting that Stanford University has received a $1 million grant from the Carnegie Corporation of New York Vol. 41, No. 3 (Fall 2011)

Some Helpful Resources to create English Language Proficiency Standards for the states’ Common Core Academic Stadards. Dr. Kenji Hakuta, a professor of education at Stanford University, a member of the Common Core Validation Committee, and a long-time expert on ELLs; and Maria Santos, the former director of programs for ELLs for the New York City school system, are co-chairs of this national effort to write standards for ELLs to parallel the Language Arts and Mathematics Standards of the Common Core, as well as the Science Standards that are expected to be developed. This grant award fi lls the gap in the process of implementing the Common Core for ELLs (Zehr, 2011). The grant, which lasts for two years, is called “Building on CommonCore Standards to Improve Learning for English-Laguage Learners.” “The effort is to think about the content areas in the common core that offer strategically fertile areas around which language instruction can takeplace,” Dr. Hakuta explained. “Thestandards will elaborate on what ELLs should know and be able to do in thecontent areas at different Englishproficiency levels,” he added. (Zehr,2011). Preparing ELLs for the Common Core—A Webinar On May 5, 2011, Dr. Hakuta presented a webinar at www. teachscape. com called “Research to Practice: Preparing ELLs for the Common Core.” He offered his thoughts and ideas during the webinar under the topic of planning for the Common Core, including: •

Recognize that language is necessary to teach, learn, and demonstrate understanding in school subjects, and that this is true for all students, but especially for ELLs; Engage in the idea that excellence in instruction and assessment around content revolves around the idea of rich language use;

Vol. 41, No. 3 (Fall 2011)

Build the professional development around the idea that languageinstruction is the domain of all teachers, not just English Language Arts and ESL teachers; Identify your objectives, assessments,and best practices in classrooms and ensure that you’re making progress toward those objectives; Use the Common Core to recognize and amplify the opportunity for rich language development for ELLs and for all students (Hakuta, 2011).

According to Dr. Hakuta, there are some key elements for ELLs regarding the Common Core, including: •

The Common Core provides a strong incentive to examine the role of language in content instruction and in assessment; there is a role for leadership to take advantage of this opportunity;

Even though the Common Core says nothing about the English Language profi ciency expectations of ELLs, there is a requirement that English language profi ciency be aligned to the Common Core;

There will be more commonality across states in the identifi cation of students because there will be more common proficiency tests; The Common Core has the potential to move ELL performance proficiency both across schools and across the country (Hakuta, 2011). (continued on page 16)

• Common Core Curriculum Maps: Common Core Standards and • English Language Learners: educators/common_core • Common Core State Standards Initiative Web site: • Common Core Standards Work for ELLs: The Importance of Linking English Language Proficiency Stadards to the Common Core Standards powerpoint/ELLELPStandardsPPT% 20Slide.pdf • K-6 Units in ELA Aligned wit Common Core Standards: k-6-ela-common-core/ ♦ • P21 Common Core Toolkit toolkit_fi nal.pdf ♦ • articles/2011/08/02/common-core-toolkit-aligns-standards-with-21stcentury-skillsframework.aspx Websites of the members of the advisory board to the Common Core Initiative: Achieve, Inc.: ACT: The College Board: State Higher Education Executive Officers: National Association of State Boards of Education: Idiom


For ELLs, Talking Is Learning ESL teachers employ a variety of instructional tools in the classroom. Conversation can be used to help students practice

by Elaine Caputo Ferrara pronunciation, to prepare and develop a well-thought-out paragraph, and to enhance listening skills. Most important, conversational activities tap into students’ schema to help them fully develop critical thinking skills in English. Below are several activities I have used with my students. To introduce the concept of students’ origins, I show students how to use the Reporter’s Questions (Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How) to gather information. Students partner with one another to ask these questions and record the answers. When the class comes together again, I ask the group, “Who has a partner coming from a country whose name begins with the letter A?” Students might answer Argentina. The class then identifies which continent Argentina is on. Students check the map in the classroom to know more about their partner’s home country. This is repeated until the end of the alphabet. Students work with their partners to see what they already know about these countries. This prior knowledge helps students realize that they know more than they think about geography and other topics. Next, the class discusses the variety of languages spoken by the students. After obtaining this information, students put the names of these languages on the board. This fi rst conversation in class provides information needed for the fi rst writing assignment, which is the biography of a class member. The first draft begins in class and is peer reviewed for content by the student’s conversation partners. Their homework is to review the draft and to rewrite it at home on the computer. The next day, I review the homework with students and focus my comments on a grammatical topic, such as verb tense usage. I choose to focus my feedback on one or two aspects of the writing assignment so that a completely marked-up paper does not increase students’ writing anxiety. 10


The next assignment involves reading a biography about a famous American. It might be a commonly known American like George Washington or someone from a particular field. After forming groups and prior to reading, students discuss what they already know about the person and what they expect to see in the article. I introduce the concepts of topic and main idea as well as vocabulary specific tothe story. After reading the biography, students individually answer the Reporter’s Questions from the article, and then share their answers with their conversation group. In groups, students generate their own questions using the Reporter’s Questions. When the class comes together, one student from each conversation group writes one question on the board—the questions should not be duplicates of other groups’ questions. Students read each question aloud. I ask the whole class for grammatical corrections to the questions. After completing the exercise, students write a summary of the biography—they can use these questions or the ones from the conversation group—and show this to their conversation partner for feedback. Their homework is to create a revised version of the in-class written summary that incorporates their partners’ feedback. They staple the draft to the top of the rewrite. Using conversation sheets, such as those available at, also provides opportunities for interaction. Each conversation sheet centers on a theme such as seasons, media, habits, and customs. These can be used to talk about the topic in conversation groups, to learn vocabulary specifi c to a topic, and to practice pronunciation. I ask students to look up defi nitions of highlighted words on the sheets. As an instructor, using these sheets is a way to determine students’ familiarity with American culture and to plan class trips. Students can also conduct research to enhance their knowledge about media. I used these conversation activities with levels 3 to 7 students (as measured by the Best Plus) enrolled in non-credit ESL CUNY courses for a semester or more. Students

Come to the Annual Conference October 28-29, 2011 New York State Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages 41st Annual Conference “Enhancing English Learning: Connecting Communities Through Collaboration”

Marriott Hotel Melville, NY For further information, go to and check your e-mail on the NYS TESOL Listser If you are interested in volunteering or have questions,contact Conference Chair Christy Baralis at

Vol. 41, No. 3 (Fall 2011)

ranged from 18 to 60 years, were from all over the world, and spoke a wide variety of languages. Some were recently arrived professionals who had university degrees; others had a basic education in their native country. Students developed a sense of community because of the shared conversation exercises. Many good friendships began in class and continued after graduation. These friendships made it more enjoyable for many to attend class on a regular basis and did lead to fewer absences. By the end, students learned how to express their ideas more clearly in English and how to formulate questions for future educational use. Their critical thinking skills were used to evaluate the new

CALL FOR AWARDS Exceptional Professionals To honor contributions made within our field, NYS TESOL presents several awards annually, including: James A. Lydon Distinguished Service Award Outstanding Teacher Award Recognition Award Lifetime Achievement Award James E. Weaver Memorial Award Special Award 2011 Award Winners will be presented at the 41st Annual Conference October 28th & 29th, 2011 Please review our available awards and criteria for submission at www. Submit all nominations and supporting documentation as attachments via e-mail to: Meredith Van Schuyler,

information and to compare it to what they already knew.

educational psychology, with a specialty in reading and special education. At the College of Staten Island, she teaches reading and writing to college students in ESL classes. Recently,she developed a citizenship class for students. <>

Elaine Caputo Ferrara received a Masterâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s degree from N.Y.U. in





Recognition Award Outstanding Teacher

Dr. Anita Batisti Dr. Maria Dove


Lifetime Achievement Award Recognition Award Outstanding Teacher

Estee Lopez Dr. Walter Sullivan & Saul Cohen Barbara Suter


James E. Weaver Memorial Award Recognition Award Outstanding Teacher

Alison Oâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;Neil Sam Hoyt Donna Bove


Recognition Award Outstanding Teacher

George Morris Maria Neira Dr. Andrea Honigsfeld & Caryn Bachar


Recognition Award Outstanding Teacher

Dr. Frank Tang Patricia C. La Rose


Recognition Award Outstanding Teacher

Diana Segovia Praus

All submissions due September 23, 2011.

Vol. 41, No. 3 (Fall 2011)



Book Review More Grammar Games: Cognitive, Affective and Movement Activities for EFL Students. By Mario Rinvolucri and Paul Davis Cambridge University Press. Cambridge. UK. (2010). 176 pp. ISBN: 978-0-521-46630-1 Reviewed by Kathryn North Mario Rinvolucri and Paul Davis’ More Grammar Games: Cognitive, Affective and Movement Activities for EFL Students provides a revamping of their earlier work Grammar Games, which was originally published in 1984. The authors designed the text to provide EFL/ESL teachers with a framework for games that can be modified to be appropriate for different age groups and varied English proficiency levels. Therefore, while the usefulness of the book as a supplemental text in the adult ESL classroom is the main purpose of this review, its utility can be applied to various teaching scenarios. The text is divided into nine sections in cl u d ing “C o m p etitive G am es ,” “Cognitive Games,” “Feelings and Grammar,” “ Listening to People,” “Movement and Grammar,” “Meaning and Translation,” “Problem Solving,” “Correction” and “Presentation,” for a total of 81 games, or mini-lessons. As the titles suggest, many lessons are rooted in the principles of well-known English language learning methodologies including the Silent Way, as well as CounselingLearning/Community Language Learning (CLL). The book begins with a table of contents noting the games and page numbers. This is followed by a detailed map of the book with the game titles, grammar topics covered, and levels and time needed. The introduction also includes commentary from the authors on how the book can be used and their rationale for the methodologies utilized by section. Each game begins with the title of the game and a box restating the details from the map of the book. If the game 12


can be adapted for other structures and levels, a sub-box states this. To start the main portion of the mini-lesson, the authors note any preparation required before class. This is followed by a breakdown of the in-class procedures of the game. The authors also include examples, variations, a rationale overview, and notes or acknowledgements when necessary. Lastly, any required handouts are provided. On a minor note, the examples and handouts are written using British English vocabulary. In the case of classes in the United States, instructors will need to rewrite these in Standard American English. The first section includes competitive games, which are designed to increase motivation by fostering collaboration within groups while creating a safe, spirited environment. Many of the games in this section focus on the correction of material provided by the teacher. This, of course, means that the instructor must devote time to the preparation of the game. For some this could be less than ideal. The cognitive games in section two are unique in their structure as, according to the authors, the exercises are mostly open-ended ones: this differs from many grammar exercises that require one correct response. The flexibility of the activities allows students to discover various aspects of the language without the direct infl uence of the instructor. While these types of activities can be very creative and have their place in certain contexts, giving students unlimited control over the types of sentences produced can cause the direction of the lesson to be diverted. For this reason, although this section follows the Silent Way method in its purest form (Larsen-Freeman, 2000), the lack of final language destination does not follow the integrated and pragmatic way that the Silent Way is often practiced in the classroom. Sections three and four, which deal with feelings and listening to others, respectively, are arguably the strongest chapters. Here, games are designed to promote healthy interpersonal discussions,

which require speakers to make use of a specifi c grammar structure. Many teachers can attest to the positive influence that mutual understanding, respect and personal investment in the classroom can have on productivity (e.g., Counseling Learning and Community Language Learning—see Larsen-Freeman, 2000). Section five is made up of games that incorporate grammar and movement. W h i l e th e re i s a m o d i c u m o f Desuggestopedia inherent in games throughout the text, this section explicitly focuses on the usage of movement to instill language concepts. The rationale seems to be that students are more open to language learning when the preconceived mental and emotional barriers to learning are “desuggested” through lighthearted activity (Larsen-Freeman, 2000). In the meaning and translation games found in section six, the minilessons focus on having students develop a deeper grasp of the nuances and root meaning of language by linking English with their mother tongue. While the debate over the use of translation in the ESL classroom continues, using native languages as a resource in the foreign/second language classroom can help to build linguistic abilities in both languages, bridge existing knowledge to the acquisition of the new language, and give validity to the first language (Baker, 2006; Gibbons, 2009). Therefore, if instructors use these mini-lessons, they may find that when properly administered, deep learning can take place during games that use translation. The last three sections are less substantial. Section seven deals with problem solving. Section eight offers techniques for self, peer and teacher corrections. Finally, section nine recommends alternatives for the presentation of new grammar topics to a class. Both students and teacher have much to gain from More Grammar Games. The authors offer ideas for games that appeal to many different learning styles. With the exception of musical and natural intelligences, this book contains games that promote all the multiple intelligences (Gardner, 2006). The book also lists games specifically Vol. 41, No. 3 (Fall 2011)

designed to strengthen receptive skills to help students become more active listeners and readers. Furthermore, utilizing grammar games, an instructor can adeptly introduce grammar topics without the use of overt grammatical language. Although the discussion of teaching grammatical form vs. focusing on communicative interactions is still very predominant in the ESL teaching field, research has shown that the integration of grammar with contextualized language creates the most efficient mode of learning (LarsenFreeman 2001). To offer some criticism, the organizational structure of the text can be challenging. For those who normally organize lessons in a progression of scaffolded topics, the division by underlying pedagogical approaches may be less intuitive. In addition, the organization within the sections is unclear and finding a game for a specific grammar topic or level requires some hunting within the map of the text.Further, many of the games, especially in sections one and two, require a fair amount of setup. While an instructor may hope to use a book of games as a quick reference for lesson ideas, the time required for fi nding an appropriate lesson and setup prevent the book from being used in that manner. Finally, while one would assume that all of the games are related explicitly to grammar, some have a more semantic focus. This does not deter the student from gaining knowledge but should be noted.

References Baker, C. (2006). Foundations of bilingual education and bilingualism(4th ed.). Toronto: Multilingual Matters. Gardner, H. (2006). Multiple intelligences: New Horizons. New York: Basic Books. Gibbons, P. (2009). English Learners Academic Literacy and Thinking: Learning in the Challenge Zone. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann. Larsen-Freeman, D. (2000). Teachingnand Principles in Language Teaching (2nd ed.). New York: Oxford University Press. Larsen-Freeman, D. (2001). Teaching grammar. In M. CelceMurcia (Ed.), Teaching English as a Second or Foreign Language (3rd ed.) (pp. 251-266). Boston: Heinkle & Heinkle Thomson Learning. Rinvolucri, M., & Davis, P.(1995). More Grammar Games: Cognitive, Affective and Movement Activities for EFL Students. New York: Cambridge University Press. Kathryn N. North is a recent graduate of New York University’s Master’s Program in TESOL. An ESOL instructor with the New York Public Library, Kathryn also tutors writing and developmental reading at the Borough of Manhattan Community College. <>

Vol. 41, No. 3 (Fall 2011)

2011 NYS TESOL Student Essay Contest by Laura Van Tassell NYS TESOL SIG Coordinator In coordination with the 2011 NYS TESOL annual conference, “Enhancing English Learning: Connecting Communities through Collaboration,” the topic for this year’s student essay contest, “How has your community helped you learn English?,” revolved around communities and the role that living, working, and interacting in them plays in the English language learners’ (ELLs) acquisition of English. The essay contest was held for students who are current or former ELLs within three categories: students in grades four through eight; students in grades nine through twelve; and students enrolled in a university or an adult education program, including students enrolled in Intensive English programs, community colleges, degree-based programs, and ESOL programs. The student essay contest was very successful, with 113 essays received from throughout New York State. A winner and an honorary mention were chosen from each of the three categories. The names of the winners and honorary mentions will be announced during the Friday luncheon at the annual conference and their essayswill be printed in the conference booklet. The winning essays will also be included in the winter edition of Idiom as well as be posted on the NYS TESOL Special Interest Group (SIG) Student Essay Contest page. Please join me in thanking all of the students who submitted essays to the sixth annual student essay contest! Watch for news about the 2012 contest in an upcoming issue of Idiom, as well as on our website.



Small Talk: A Meaningful Conversation Tool by Joy Scantlebury Engaging English Language Learners (ELLs) in a few minutes of small talk prior to the start of ESL class can be a very useful strategy. The purpose of small talk is not about gauging how grammatically correct my students can speak in English -- although I do make mental notes of students’ grammatical difficulties for subsequent lessons. It provides the opportunity for my students to be heard in a very relaxed setting, while allowing their English to emerge. It certainly can be a challenge to insert those few minutes during the fast-paced schedule of a typical school day, but I have found it to be a source of valuable information. I often begin the small talk session with an informational “wh” question such as “How was your appointment at the dentist?” or “What did you do after school yesterday?” The responses are quite revealing. Some students, especially those in middle school, are initially guarded, while others seem surprised that I want to know more about them. Gradually as they learn to trust me as well as their classmates, the students slowly open up. It is gratifying to see a once painfully shy kindergarten student now coming to class with daily announcements such as, “You know what? Yesterday, I lose (sic) a tooth.” There are other times when students express more sensitive issues, which we discuss further in private. One example of this occurred when an ELL in third grade told me during our small talk session that one of the other students in the mainstream class made fun of his speech and called him “stupid.” Neither his classroom teacher nor I had noticed any tension between these two students. The fact that the ELL who mentioned this incident had always felt self-conscious about his ability to speak English prompted my immediate arrangement of a meeting with his teacher and the other student. Fortunately, we were able to resolve the situation, but 14


it taught me to become more vigilant when working with ELLs in the mainstream classroom. It is impressive to listen to a student retell a story or incident, but the most gratifying part is when he or she is able to connect it to a new concept. When studying the concept of cause and effect during a reading lesson, I sensed that only a few students understood this concept, while many did not. Suddenly, one student announced, “Do you remember when I told you the story about how I accidentally spilled water on the kitchen fl oor?” He proudly continued, “That was an example of cause and effect. The cause was when I spilled water on the floor. The effect was when my mombecame angry.” His classmates nodded their heads in agreement. It was as if a light bulb had been turned on! I could not have provided a better example of cause and effect! As ELLs become more confi dent in speaking English, more of their personalities emerge. During one of our small talk sessions, I asked a beginning ELL in the fi rst grade, “Where does your brother go to school?” Without hesitation, she stated, “My brother go (sic) to Sleepy Hollow School. Zzzzzzzz. Sleepy School. I am soooo sleepy!” as she put her head on the desk and pretended to sleep. Prior to that comment, I had not seen that humorous side of her. I noticed how thrilled she was that she had made me laugh. I then decided to follow her quip with another “wh” question. I tapped her on the shoulder as her eyes snapped open and her head bobbed up from the table. “What does your brother like to do at school?” I asked. She smiled and impishly replied, “He like (sic) to sleep.” How clever this little girl was! I realized several things during our small talk exchange. This student demonstrated that she understood the word “sleepy”, she connected that understanding to a different context, and she found a way to make it humorous. None of these is easy to do, especially at the beginning of the language acquisition process. Laterin the day, I had this student retell the joke to her teacher and some of her classmates. This small talk session was a pivotal moment

for this student because she was clearly pleased to see that she could be funny in English. I have noticed that ELLs have the capacity to dissect words in interesting ways, especially when these words are spoken. When native English speakers think about words, we tend to focus on the sum and not the parts. When a student was beginning ELL in second grade, I recall his reading a passage out loud. After encountering the two-syllable word, “awesome”, he pronounced it as if were a threesyllable words, “a – we—some”. Prior to that day, I had never realized that the word “awesome” is comprised of three smaller words: “a”, “we” and “some”. That was a revelation for me. How awesome! I am sure that many ESL teachers utilize small talk or some variant of it in their classrooms. It is not a novel concept, but I find that it is valuable during a limited amount of time. Conversations, which on the surface may appear superfl uous, are in actuality a gold mine of enriching and relevant information. Joy Scantlebury is a graduate of Smith College. She received her M.A. in TESOL from Teachers College, Columbia University. Joy currently teaches ESL at Pocantico Hills Central School in Sleepy Hollow, NY. <>

Vol. 41, No. 3 (Fall 2011)

Top Left: Ahmed El-Habashi, Egypt;

Bottom: Everyone listens as Ufualè

Top Right: Sonia Portugal, Peru, per-

Tomoko Kihira, Japan; Ufualè Afola Amey, Togo; Osiris Romero, Dominican Republic and Elena Lyumanova, Russia, cometogether in anticipation of their panel presentation.

Afola Amey talks about learning English from her teacher Dave, a Peace Corps volunteer.

forms Floating Words, a dance she choreographed to portray the spirit of English language learning.

Vol. 41, No. 3 (Fall 2011)



Resources for Implementing... (continued from page 7 )

Examples of these thematic curriculumunits include: Grade 1: The Amazing Animal World; Grade 3: The People, the Preamble, and the Presidents; Grade 6: Folklore: A Blast from the Past; Grade 9: Literary Elements of a Short Story; and Grade 12: European Literature: Renaissance and Reformation. Common Core is working with schools and districts in different states to implement the maps. Arizona and North Carolina are using them statewide to help districts put the standards in place (Gewitz & Robelen, 2011). Two writers have recently crafted documents outlining Common Core curriculum criteria. Working under a contract with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, a strong supporter of the standards, David Coleman and Susan Pimentel, co-authors of the Common Core Standards for ELA/Literacy, wrote two documents highlighting the key ideas of the standards and describing the qualities of instructional materials they consider an accurate reflection of them (Gewertz, 2011). Common Core Assessments and PARCC According to the National Governor’s Association/CCSSO, the Common Core State Standards will also ultimately be the basis for a system of high-quality assessments. New York State is a governing member of the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC), which was awarded Race to the Top Assessment funds in 2010. The PARCC Web site can be viewed at Over the next few years, New York and 25 other states will develop a set of English Language Arts and Mathematics assessments, which will be fi nalized in 2014-15 (NYSED, 2011). Common Core Standards Assessment Resources are located at http://education northwest. org/resource/1331. Idiom will work to keep readers aware of all the upcoming changes.



References August, D., Cortese, A., La Fonde, S., Leos, K. (2010). Making Common Core Standards work for ELLs: The importance of linking English Language Profi ciency Standards to the Common Core Standards. October 21, 2010. AFT Educ tional Policy Forum. http://www. ELL-ELPStandardsPPT%20Slide. pdf Colorin Colorado (2011). Common Core Standards and English Language Learners. Reading Rockets. WETA Learning Media. http:// www. common_core/ Gewertz, C. (2011). Common CoreWriters Craft curriculum criteria,July 22, 2011. Education Weekly. http:// h30.html?tkn=UPSFLpcFv4ebJmsg2qZx2C7B8rKm7AL%2FiacG&cmp=clp-sb-ascd Gewertz, C., & Robelen, E. (2011). Curriculum maps aim to bring ELA Standards to life. July 25, 2011. edweek/curriculum/2011/07/ the_nonprofit_group_common _cor.html Hakuta, K. (2011). Webinar: Researchto practice: Preparing ELLs for the Common Core, Teachscape, May 5, 2011. http://marketing.teachscape. comK12KenjiELLMay2011WebinarAccess.html

Lopez, E. (2010). ELA Standards:Shifting the focus to the Common Core comments, standards and curriculum, NYS TESOL, October2010. curriculum-standards/standards. html Nagel, D. (2010). Feds award $330million to fund alternatives tohigh-stake bubble tests. The Journal, September 2, 2010. articles/2010/09/02/fedsaward-330-million-to-find-alternatives-tohigh-stakes-bubble-tests. aspx?sc_lang-en NYSED (2011). FAQs—Common Core learning standards. http://www.p12.nysed. gov/ciai/common_core_standards/ faq.html NYSUT (2011). Educational Resources for English Language Learners.http://www. k12_13765.htm Quay, L. (2010). Higher standards forall: Implications of the Common Core for equity in education. Civil Rights Research Roundtable onEducation, Berkeley Law, April 2010. edu/files/Education_Roundable_ Standards_Brief_ 4_10.pdf Washington State School Board (2010). Common Core Standards—Process FAQs. http:// FAQ%20Common%20 Core%Standards%20Process.pdf

Vol. 41, No. 3 (Fall 2011)

Zehr, M. A. (2011). Conference:Implementing Common CoreStandards for ELLs, Learning theLanguage Blog, August 11, 2010.EducationWeekly. learning-thelanguage/2010/08/ conference_implementing_common.html

Diane Garafalo is a former ESL teacher at Oswego City School District.She was also a secondary English teacher, with a total of fi fteen years of public school teaching experience. Diane’s previous positions include working as an adjunct professor of written communications for ITT Technical Institute and a human resources and training manager for a variety of Fortune 500 companies. Currently, Diane is an HR and workforce literacy consultant for DRG Associates. <>

Zehr, M. A. (2011). Stanford to leadcreation of ELL standards for“Common Core” Learning the Language Blog, July 12, 2011, Education Weekly. http://blogs. lead_creation_of_e.html

Upcoming Idiom Themes Annual Conference Please submit articles based on presentations at the NYS TESOL conference (Oct. 28-29, 2011) “Enhancing English Learning: Connecting Communities Through Collaboration” at Melville Marriott

Submission Deadline: December 1

TBD Deadlines and themes for 2012 will be published in the Winter 2011 issue of Idiom.

NYS TESOL Special Interest Groups (SIGs) and Regions Leadership Directory 2010-2011 SIG Leaders, SIG Coordinator

ESL in Higher Education Co-Chairs


Laura Van Tassell <>

Dafna Ben Anath, Lisa Kraft

Elena Dokshansky-Zelfond

Assistant SIG Coordinator

ESL in Special Education Co-Chair

Jennifer Scully <>

Patty Barry <>

Applied Linguistics Andrew Miller & Lindsay Wells <>

ESL in Adult Education Tamara Kirson <>

ESL in Bilingual Education Co-Chair Lydia Gutierrez <>

ESL in Elementary Education Co-Chairs Susan Goldstein, Diane Howitt <>

Teacher Education Co-Chairs Soonhyang Kim Joanna Labov <>

Teaching English Internationally Co-Chairs Claudette Oliveras, Melissa Duquette <>

Capital Region Co-Chairs Liz Allen, Roma Kumar <>

Hudson Valley Co-Chairs Katie Werner Rebecca Horwitz <

Long Island Vicky Giouroukakis <>

New York City Co-Chairs

Regions Leaders Regions Coordinator

Joe Tillman, Elaine Roberts <>

Tina Villalobos <>

Rochester/Syracuse Co-Chairs

Assistant Regions Coordinator

Gloria Dancause, Elaine Ferlicca <>

Lynn Ellingwood <>

Vol. 41, No. 3 (Fall 2011)




Collaborative Conversations* (continued from page 3)

Collaborative Craftsmanship: Through conscious efforts for continuous improvement of the craft of teaching, teachers explore ways to enhance instructional time, language development, and content area resources, and offer support for each other. Table 1 shows how the concept of collegiality and collaboration may offer a system of support in a linguistically and culturally diverse school context by including the four Cs with ample examples. Collaboration may start out as a small, grassroots effort, involving only two or three teachers who share the responsibility for some of the same ELLs and are concerned about their students’ progress. It may involve an entire grade level. Some examples include grade clusters working together to develop or enhance curricula in elementary schools; an interdisciplinary team of math, science, social studies, English, and ESL teachers (sharing responsibility for a cluster of classes in middle schools); or a discipline-specifi c department (focusing on preparing all students to meet graduation requirements of high schools). Regardless of the local context, all these collaborative efforts start with professional conversations, through which teachers collaboratively explore their students’ needs and responsive practices.



References DelliCarpini, M. (2008). Teacher collaboration for ESL/EFL academic success. The Internet TESL Journal, 14(8). Retrieved from Techniques/DelliCarpiniTeacherCollaboration.html DelliCarpini, M. (2009, May). Dialogues across disciplines: Preparing English-as-a-secondlanguage teachers for interdisciplinary collaboration. Current Issues in Education (Online), 11(2). Retrieved from http://cie.ed.asu. edu/ volume11/number2/ Honigsfeld, A., & Dove, M. (2010). Collaboration and co-teaching: Strategies for English learners. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press. National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future NACTAF). (2009). Learning teams:Creating what’s next. Retrieved from http:// NCTAFLearningTeams408REG2–09_000.pdf

NEA (2009). NEA reiterates collaboration as key to keeping teachers. Retrieved from http://www.nea. org/home/31477.htm Pawan, F., & Ortloff, J. H. (2011). Sustaining collaboration: Englishasa-second-language and content-area teachers. Teaching and Teacher Education, 27, 463-471. Dr. Andrea Honigsfeld is associate dean and professor in the Division of Education at Molloy College, Rockville Centre. She is the co-author with Mari Dove of a recently published book, Collaboration and Co-Teaching: Strategies for English Learners (Corwin Press, 2010). <> *Sections of this manuscript have grown out of the author’s collaborative conversations with Dr. Maria Dove and are featured in their coauthored book, cited above.

Vol. 41, No. 3 (Fall 2011)

Table 1: The Four Cs of Collaboration Collaborative Conversations Talk about • • • • • • •

Students’ needs Students’ lives Students in and out of school work Curriculum and instruction Teachers’ own struggles Teachers’ own successes What matters to you, the teacher

Collaborative Curriculum Development Align •

Collaborative Coaching

• • • • •

Lesson objectives (language objectives and content objectives) Unit goals Curriculum maps Primary and supplementary instructional materials Adapted texts and materials Resources

Use peer coaching to improve • • • • • • •

Lesson planning Lesson delivery Unit design Use of supplementary materials Adapted content Modified instruction Assessment practices

Collaborative Craftsmanship Explore • • • • • • •

Vol. 41, No. 3 (Fall 2011)

ELLs’ background knowledge ELLs’ prior learning Peer coaching Planning instruction collaboratively or in the context of co-teaching Effective methods for aligning curriculum and objectives Using time more effectively Making the most of collaborative efforts



Conversation Table by Sarah Elia A single conversation across the table with a wise person is worth a month’s study of books. —Chinese proverb Once a month, the Haggerty EnglishLanguage Program at SUNY New Paltz hosts an informal learning luncheonknown as Conversation Table to encourage casual conversation on a range of topics in an inviting environment. The program was established to help promote interaction and dialogue between international students (particularly ESL), faculty, and staff and American students interested in international studies. Occasionally, community volunteers attend as well. Conversation Table is held at the Center for International Programs on a different weekday each month to ensure that students have the opportunity to attend at least once a semester. At the catered lunch, 20-25 guests meet for 45 minutes. Attendees are seated at a large rectangular table conducive to interaction. Faculty, staff, and volunteers may lead discussions with students on topics such as food, cultural similarities and differences, religion and government. If a student seems lonely, the faculty is there to make introductions and initiate dialogue. The program promotes Conversation Table in a variety of ways. At the beginning of each semester, all new students receive an event handout. ESL teachers review it in class, answer questions, and promote attendance. One week prior to the luncheon, fl iers are posted and e-mails sent out. Students can RSVP and comment on the event’s Facebook page. The day before the event, we remind students to attend. On the day of the luncheon, the event coordinator arrivesearly at the venue to set up and greet guests. At the end of the meal, students are asked to help with clean up. After the gathering, photographs of the event are uploaded onto the ESL department Facebook page. Students post photos and comments. A student 20


survey on Facebook following the luncheon helps with preparation for future events. A student journalist writes an article about Conversation Table for the ESL department newsletter, which is distributed to all ESL students as well as other departments on campus. Conversation Table has become increasingly popular because of the opportunity it offers for socialization and discussion. Attendees leave having shared dialogue, laughter, smiles, and good food. ESL students also have a valuable language experience and new connections with native speakers. Sarah Elia is a lecturer in ESL at the Haggerty English Language Program at SUNY New Paltz. As the program’s event coordinator, she works to activelypromote positive interactions between international students and American students. Elia has a B.A. from Bard College and an M.A. in TESOL from SUNY New Paltz. <>

Timed Conversations by Sarah Elia Introduction During Timed Conversations, learners primarily practice listening/speaking skills and a host of other conversational skills, including but not limited to: turn taking; the language of encouragement and praise; the language of expressing unfamiliarity with topics; comprehension checking; and agreeing and disagreeing. Although generally referred to as Timed Conversations, some specify the time limit in the title, for example: Four Minute Conversations. Timed Conversations are typically fl uency-based and opportunities for learners to personalize and converse about a topic, for a specified period of time. For the instructor, Timed Conversations can function as: a warm-upactivity to activate learners’ schemata, to focus learners on the lesson topic or to connect the previous and current lessons; a follow-up activity to allow learners to expand on and personalize lesson content; a fi ller activity to purposefully utilize ‘extra time’ at

the end of a lesson; a stress-reliever activity to infuse a sense of fun into a lesson; a review activity for content courses; and a speech-sampling activity to gauge learners’ conversational skills.

Materials In order to conduct Timed Conversations you essentially need two things- a timer and topic cards. Conveniently, wrist watches, cell phones, iPads, computers, stop-watches, kitchen timers and classroom clocks can all function as timers. Ideally, the topics refl ected on the cards should complement your lesson topic. For example, if you were planning a lesson on ‘classic baked goods,’ each topic card could refl ect the name of a classic baked good. Format topic cards on a computer, print in color and laminate them (if these are resources available to you and if you will add this activity to your repertoire). Of course, you can also prepare a slide show of ‘topic cards’ to display on a computer or iPad. Topic cards can be word-based (pie, quiche, tart); question- based (“How would you prepare icing?”); statement-based (“Tell me about your favorite baked childhood dessert.”); and picture-based (image of a six-tiered wedding cake).

Preparation Consider your learners’ profi le, lesson topic and objectives when deciding if this is an appropriate activity to do with your learners. 1. Consider how much time you want to allot to the activity. Multiply the number of topic cards by the duration of each conversation- 10 topic cards X 2 minutes per conversation 20 minutes total. 2. Decide which version of the activity you are going to do. You can choose to keep: •

Conversation pairs static and have learners switch topic cards. With static pairs, learners get to ‘bond’ with one Vol. 41, No. 3 (Fall 2011)

Vol. 41, No. 3 (Fall 2011)



conversational partner over various topics while focusing on sharing their ideas and personalizing the topic. Topic cards static and have learners switch partners. With dynamic pairs, learners get to interact with diverse speakers while refi ning their ideas about one topic and polishing their delivery. Both topic cards and conversationpairs static while reducing the duration of the conversations inset increments. This version lends itself to learners who are preparing for timed oral presentations and assessments, by allowing learners to refi ne their ideas about one topic and polish their timed delivery. Decide how you will pair off your learners and if pairs are going to sit in two rows or stand in two concentric circles facing their partners.

1. Decide what an odd-numbered learnerwould be responsible for- time keeper or ‘English only’ enforcer. If you choose to have all learners participate (and have them change partners instead of topic cards), an extra chair can allow the odd-numbered learner to ‘rest’ for one turn. Of course, you can always choose to participate in the activity with your learners. 1. Plan to model activity and deliver clear instructions specific to the version of Timed Conversations you are going to do. • Plan what you will observe while monitoring learners during the activity. This will consequently direct the feedback you will give learners • Plan the questions you will use to elicit feedback from learners after the activity about their performance during activity. 22




Use teacher talk appropriate to the proficiency level of your learners to deliver clear instructions and to confirm your learners’ comprehension of your instructions.

Elicit feedback from learners about their performance. Give learners feedback based on how successfully they completed the activity. Remember, this is a fl uency-based activity. However, if you modify it to include specifi c verbal strategies or a focus on form, you could document the inaccuracies of your learners’ English as you circulate, and do a whole-class correction on the whiteboard following the activity.

1. Deliver global instructions to your learners which include: the activity title, sequencing/format, purpose and duration, and, if necessary, responsibilityof odd-numbered learner or use of ‘rest’ chair. 2. Pair off learners and arrange pairs so that they are either seated in two rows or standing in two concentric circles facing their partners. 3. Model activity for class and demonstrate how: • you will start the activity by saying “begin” • switch topics every X minutes • include conversational language • have a classmate time them or sit in the ‘rest’ chair • Stand or sit during activity; pass along topic cards; change partners 4. Model that learners can remind theirpartner to stay on-task by simply pointing to the topic card 5. Model some of the conversational language you expect learners to use the language of urging and praise; of agreeing and disagreeing and so on. 6. Begin activity and cycle through the number of topics you have planned. Circulate and monitor learners throughout activity.

1. Elicit specifi c feedback from learners about how they felt about having to: • sustain a conversation in English for X minutes at a time • switch topics every X minutes • include conversational language • have a classmate time them or sit in the ‘rest’ chair • Stand or sit during activity;pass along topic cards; change partners 2. Give learners specifi c feedback about: • how well they sustained theirconversations in English for X minutes at a time • how well they stayed on task • their use of conversationallanguage • how effi ciently they followedinstructions 1. Promise to do variations of activity throughout the semester. These fl uency-based activities may generate future conversations in your classroom, providing rich opportunities for students to interact and practice English-speaking skills. Phillipa Arthur has taught ESL/EFL in the United States, China and Korea. she is currently a Language Lecturer at Yeungnam University in South. <>

Vol. 41, No. 3 (Fall 2011)

Let’s Talk about It! by Yanick Chery-Frederic ELLs respond well to lessons in the form of conversations as another way to incorporate some of the same strategies and scaffolds used for writing. As an example, I often give students a prompt of 5-10 words. For all grades I have used “My greatest surprise.” Fourth graders write about justice. The students use the prompt as a starter and begin writing, eventually producing a well-developed paragraph. These same prompts can be used to maintain intelligent discourse among students. The difference with making conversations the major goal in a lesson is that the discussion will not be based on previous reading and/ or writing, but strictly on the present conversation. Self-expression, thoughts, ideas, and opinions will begin and end with clarifi cation through conversation only. Making this an integral part of lessons will address the challenges faced by our ELL population in verbal communication, and can enhance the student’s listening and speaking skills. Another value with conversations as a major focus is that the vocabulary challenges faced by many of our ELLs will be considered. Our students may have divided language skills. They are comfortable with a specific lexicon from the home language, but use a different second language lexicon. A stronger emphasis on classroom conversations will allow for a balance and exchange of word comprehension of similar vocabulary in both languages. Conversations will be a major theme in my ESL classrooms this school year in support of enhancing my students’ oral language skills.

Further Reading Beck, I., McKeown, M., & Kucan, L. (2002). Bringing words to life: Robust vocabulary instruction. New York: Guilford. Gordon, T. (2007). Teaching young children a second language. Westport, CT: Praeger. Vol. 41, No. 3 (Fall 2011)

Yanick Chery-Frederic is an elementary school ESL teacher for grades 2-4 in Central Islip, as well as an adjunct professor of ESL at Suffolk County Community College. She has also taught a Methods undergraduate course in TESOL at St. Joseph’s College in Patchogue. <>

Explicit Communication by Yanick Chery-Frederic

The manner in which language and writing are understood and misunderstood promotes success or failure. Understanding what is said is the key to communicative competence. Explicit communication is dialogue that is clear, sure, and restated when necessary. Crawford (1993) states that the processes of literacy and language learning require learners to be immersed in meaningful, relevant, and functional situations. In this way, students can learn to handle themselves in various situations. Let’s begin with a kindergartener meeting an instructor for the fi rst time. If the child is asked to describe something, perhaps drawing it is a much better way of communicating what happened. Description may not simply be done by talking. The explicit communication would require that the teacher talk and demonstrate so that this student knows what to do. Middle school students who do not speak English can benefi t from explicit communication as well. Classmates might offer to translate for this student, but that

means that every utterance requires assistance. When I write the aim and other particulars on the board (I verbally explain to the rest of the class), I open a newcomer’s notebook and write a few of the words from the board in his or her notebook, giving the student explicit communication for instruction by demonstration. The student copies what is on the board. Then I say “Copy.” From that time on, this student knows what the word “copy” means and can copy. Explicit communication with parents is one of the most important types of communication. After all, the parent(s) or caretaker is the fi rst teacher and the one who can do the most to facilitate a student’s academic success. In parent meetings, I combine simple words with academic languageand have the requisite bilingual dictionaries. By explaining and demonstrating slowly and carefully, explicit communication and a good dialogue can be created. When one speaks with humility and caring, the communication is explicit. Explicit communication is the key to all forms of dialogue; if one method does not work, just keep on trying.

References Crawford, L. W. (1993). Language and literacy learning in multicultural classrooms. Needham Heights, MA: Allyn and Bacon. Ellen Terry Vandrew-Wald was born in the Bronx into a multicultural, religious background. Barry Wald, her husband, encouraged her to become a teacher. She got her B.A. from Marymount Manhattan College in 1999 and M.A. in TESOL from Hunter College in 2004. She is a NYC public school K-12 teacher, and also an adjunct. <>





Vol. 41, No. 3 (Fall 2011)

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Vol. 41, No. 3 (Fall 2011)

October 28-29, 2011 NYS TESOL 41st Annual Conference

February 11, 2012 33rd Annual Applied Linguistics Winter Conference “Connections: TESOL and Applied Linguistics in a Global Context” We’ll continue to keep you posted! Questions? Contact us at:

March 28-31, 2012 TESOL International Convention and English Language Expo A Declaration of Excellance” Philadelphia For more information: convention2012/index.html



Check out the new Members Only website! We’re very excited to announce the launch of the new Members Only website for NYS TESOL. We are just gearing up, but hope this will become a major resource and networking site for our members. Current members were sent an email alert in early September containing their username and password. Of course, your email system may have filtered our message into a spam folder — if you are a current member and did not receive a notice with your login information, please contact us at With annual conference registration already under way, please act quickly to login and verify your profile data and networking preferences.

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Vol. 41, No. 3 (Fall 2011)

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Vol. 41, No. 3 (Fall 2011)

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Heriberto sanchez tesol retouch