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International English Center University of Colorado

Fall 2015

ESLevations Reaching new heights in ESL

Integrationem: renewal or restoration

Thank you to all journal contributors! ~Amanda McCracken, Editor


Holly’s growing family in Thailand-December 2015


Integration: Editor’s Prelude…...……………………...1 Generations Offer More……….....................3

By Editor, Amanda McCracken

What is “integration”? A combining into an integral whole? A harmony of pieces? A patch-work quilt or a melting pot? Its Latin root word, integrationem, means “renewal or restoration”. Definitions of integration vary greatly depending on which discipline is asked. In math integration is the opposite of differentiation. In psychology it is the organization of key personality elements into a harmonious whole. Integration in the tech field of programming refers to combining pieces of software or hardware (or both) into an overall system. Cultural integration relates to policies that oppose segregation of racial and ethnic groups in society. To synthesize simple elements in order to make a more complex one is to integrate in the field of medicine. In the teaching approach known as art integration, fine and performing arts are the main pathways to learning. In our field, integration can be defined depending on how it is applied in a myriad of ways: curriculum, student involvement, learning skills, co-teaching, staff and faculty coordination, and much more. Integration is something we, as teachers, strive to achieve everyday in a variety of ways. We help students integrate in the classroom, on CU’s campus, in the Boulder community, and, eventually, and with the American society as a whole.

Integrating Reading & Writing Skills in A2........5 Jigsaw Activity…………...6 Faculty Spotlight…….....9 Is it a Disability or Something Else………………….11 A lighthearted History of the Fire……….…...13 Shout-Out!......……...14


In addition to our students’ language needs, their learning styles and potential disabilities have to be considered. We have to integrate these concerns into our classroom approach and lesson plans. In her article Is it a Learning Disability or Something Else? Summer highlights key points from the two week online course she took this summer on disabilities in the classroom. In her description of the Jigsaw Puzzle method to teach reading assignment, Ruth explains an adaptable lesson plan to help any teacher integrate several skills (reading, listening, and writing) with student involvement. Anyone knows that reading and writing skills are inexorably linked. But, creating a project that keeps students consistently engaged with both takes a lot of time and planning. In their article Integrating Reading & Writing Skills Chad and Nick explain how they designed such a project in their A2 reading and writing classes—a project that also encourages students to recognize how social, economic, and political factors integrate. Connie’s article Generations Offer More reminds us the importance of recognizing how different generations interact in the workplace. As we integrate our approaches to different work projects, it’s important to keep in mind how our generational characteristics play a role and complement each other. Larry’s colorful account of the 1980 IEC building fire illustrates our ongoing integration onto campus—even 40 years after the birth of the IEC. I hope you enjoy the various perspectives, lessons, and teaching suggestions offered in this journal’s focus on integration.

Barbara’s art work left to right: a collage of different shapes to make the little girl and a blue-footed booby with the body of Frank (her husband)


Generations Offer More By Connie Davis The next time you become baffled or frustrated by a coworker, take a moment to consider their generational affiliation and corresponding background – it might ease your rapport and ability to get your work done! Consider this scenario at a regular staff meeting. Lynn is running the meeting and has begun by taking the time to ask coworkers about their activities during their past break. Jack doesn’t understand why everyone has to waste time meeting face-to-face instead of covering everything through email. Kendra is super excited to get together and wants to contribute immediately by making suggestions as soon as each topic is announced. Bob is frustrated by everyone: Lynn is prying, Jack is aloof, and Kendra is such a chatterbox without even taking a breath to think before she speaks. He feels stressed and overwhelmed by all the noise and chaotic pace of the meeting. This is a very common situation and one that we discussed at a recent workshop I attended called Generations in the Workplace. It provided me with a fascinating overview of the current working population in our country and our campus. I had the opportunity to reflect on our staff at the IEC. Here are some interesting facts and figures. The four generations represented in the workforce today include the “Silents” born 1925-1942, the “Boomers” born 1943-1960, “Gen X” born 1961-1981, and the “Millennials” also called “Gen Y” or “Nexters” born 1982-2001. Those from the Silent generation are dedicated, willing to sacrifice, financially frugal and respectful of authority. They carry out duties well and work very hard. Boomers are competitive, look for personal growth and gratification, are team oriented, tend to be strong and fair leaders, appreciate relationships, have a good work ethic and like to understand the “why” behind the project. Those from Generation X value diversity and social change, tend to think globally, are tech literate, fun and pragmatic. They communicate well, are casual and direct, and like to problem solve and work on independent projects, often coming up with creative solutions. Millennials value achievement, sociability, and diversity. They are trusting, casual and tech savvy. They learn quickly, strive for success and like direct, short, immediate, and constant communication. Millennials are respectful, inclusive, and are champions for change. Working hand in hand with all four generations requires a certain amount of understanding of the range of life experiences, values, and strengths of each group and must include the ability to respect and value each other’s differences – characteristics that I believe, we at the IEC are very keen on and practice with agility. The Intern, starring Robert De Niro and Ann Hathaway, offers a fun and insightful snapshot of this intergenerational workforce. Its story inspired me, a Boomer, as it told the story of a senior (Silent) intern effectively sharing his wisdom and expertise in a business environment composed mainly of Millennials. As I reflected on our own workplace here at the IEC, I realized that while we are certainly multigenerational, we are also multicultural, have multi-personalities, multi-lifestyles, and are generally multifaceted. Despite, or perhaps because of this, we are unique in our single-minded 33 goal of helping educate and enable our students’ goals while truly caring for them.

Our purpose is not about producing ever higher revenues but about helping students become fulfilled and successful. It is to our advantage to learn from each other as we interact at work and recognize our different work/generational styles. This concept can be extended to include our students who can also give us valuable insights as we watch them work and learn together among generations. The take-away from the workshop and my subsequent reflection is simply (though not necessarily simple) that by gaining an awareness of the differing sets of characteristics and styles belonging to each generation, we can better understand the behaviors and expectations of our coworkers. Then, just as our imagined staff meeting of Lynn (Boomer), Kendra (Gen X), Jack (Millennial) and Bob (Silent) learn to work together more smoothly and effectively, we too will be more able to communicate with understanding, empathy, and tolerance.

We may have grown up in different generations, but we all started out as children. Can you guess who we are?


Integrating Reading & Writing Skills in Advanced 2 By Nick Einterz & Chad Pennington

Before IEC students enter the A2 level, they typically study at the IEC for nearly a year, especially if completing our ESL Academic Bridge program. In addition, most of our students have experienced English language instruction for many years in their own countries. But beneath the surface of this long process, questions linger that often go unaddressed: why are these students studying English and how did English become important to their success? In part, our students have a good sense of the answer to the first question. English is a means to an end; most students want a good job in their home country, and earning an American degree is necessary to achieve this goal. Additionally, English’s prominence is due to centuries of British colonialism and imperialistic dominance, as well as global power dynamics that have resonated since the world wars. Though students are not typically conscious of this second point, we did discover that integrating this topic into both reading and writing curriculum gave them opportunities to reflect on their position as international English students while improving skills in both courses.

In an effort to inspire meaningful writing and discussions based on academic resources, we addressed cultural anthropology in terms of Jared Diamond’s books, Guns, Germs, and Steel and The Third Chimpanzee, Human Planet, a BBC documentary series chronicling the nearly extinct traditions of indigenous peoples, and “Anthropological Points of View,” an academic article that encourages a “holistic” approach to categorizing human behavior. These sources prompted discussions about the transitions occurring in students’ countries, the loss of traditional practices due to globalization, and the rise of certain cultures, including those of our students and American culture. In the A2 reading course, the focus has been on the development of the earliest human civilizations as a precursor for discussion and reflection on modern issues of cultural and societal differences all over the globe. The beginning of Guns, Germs and Steel provides a basic framework for understanding the evolutionary history of hominids and early humans leading to the conditions of modern humans c. 13,000 B.C.E. This text provides a starting point from which to compare relative pre-cultural conditions, which became the basis for development of distinct cultural groups on the different continents during the next 10,000 years, to modern cultural conditions. In the A2 writing course, students synthesized Guns, Germs, and Steel with other resources to support their ideas in timed writings and their final research essay. For


the final essay, students tackled the concept of lost or forgotten cultural practices. Specifically, students justified the loss or retention of certain cultural practices. One student demonstrated his understanding of the concept by writing: "Behavioral patterns can result from the practices conducted in the past which have been passed down to the descendants of a society. The bundle of patterns, certainly, have evolved over thousands of years -13,000 years, the beginning of village-living- and the environment that was surrounding the evolution of these patterns have definitely played a role in the formation of these patterns (Diamond, 2005)."

Generally, students’ writings showed impressive abilities to integrate different sources into a comprehensible research essay. These skills were difficult for many in the onset of Fall 1, but students worked diligently to observe potential connections between the multiple resources. Ultimately, we have tried to coordinate both the content of our course and the skills we emphasize so that students see that reading and writing skills are inextricably linked. This emphasis supports students as they prepare for the final reading and writing exams, which are especially intimidating for our ESL Academic Bridge students. Additionally, the content we've integrated allows students to reflect on their purpose as international students in the United States, as well as citizens of an increasingly globalized world. Diamond, J. M. (1999). Guns, germs, and steel: The fates of human societies. New York: Norton.

Jigsaw Activity - Story/Text Retelling By Ruth W Moore

In the learner-centered classroom, jigsaw activities create opportunities for students to assume responsibility for their own learning. Jigsaws ensure that each student has an opportunity to be an “expert” and hold students accountable for helping their classmates learn. In a reading class, a jigsaw activity gives students authentic reasons to read. Students have to define vocabulary, identify important ideas, and summarize a reading selection for their classmates. They write their own discussion questions, make connections with the text, and report back what other students have shared. Because each student is responsible for a part of the reading, no one gets to “opt out” of the learning. The role of the teacher is to manage and observe – assigning students to appropriate groups, monitoring student discussions, clarifying ideas as needed, answering questions and assessing students. There are many ways to adapt jigsaw activities to create interactive and engaging 6

learner-centered lessons. Here is a plan that can be used in any level: Focus: integr ated skills -- reading, listening, speaking (fluency), writing (homework) Language functions: descr ibing, giving infor m ation, su m m ar izing, asking and answering questions, clarifying information Materials needed: r eading selection (classr oom textbook), index car ds, timer Class Preparation: Stu dents r ead an in for m ative or nar r ative text (at the appropriate level) for homework. No pre-teaching is necessary. Ask students to circle new vocabulary words and write one question they have about the reading. When students arrive to class, have them skim the entire text as a warm-up activity. Use a timer to manage the time. Give students a reason to skim (e.g., underline main idea and supporting ideas). 1. Put students in “expert” groups. Each group will read and discuss one section of the text (depending on the length of the reading and the level of the students, this could be one or more paragraphs). A A






Group 1

Group 2

Group 3

2. Have students in each “expert” group complete the following tasks with the assigned selection of the text: A. Scan

the text for new vocabulary. Students share the words with group members. Can they explain the words to each other?

B. Discuss the main idea and supporting ideas. Do they all agree that these are the main/supporting ideas? C. Briefly summarize the selection of the text. Each student should have an opportunity to summarize (1-2 minutes each). Students will improve their summaries just by listening to group members’ summaries. 3. Have students put the text away so they can’t see it. Give them index cards with specific words/phrases to use in their summaries (e.g., transitions, new vocabulary, reporting phrases, etc.). Using a timer, have students repeat their summaries, this time using the assigned words.


4. Put students in new groups. The new groups should include at least one person from each original group. A B


Group 1



Group 2



Group 3



Group 4

5. Using a timer, have students in each new group complete the following tasks: A. Share summaries of the reading selections using assigned vocabulary words. B. Discuss the reading (depending on the level, students can be given a set of discussion questions or ask their own prepared questions). Students are expected to be “experts” on their assigned material and should explain ideas, define vocabulary, and answer any questions other students may have. 6. OPTIONAL - Students return to original groups. Give students cards with discussion phrases to expand the conversation (e.g., What do you mean by… Could you tell me more about…). Have students complete the following tasks: A. Share 1-2 ideas that were discussed in previous group discussions. B. se the assigned discussion phrase to expand the conversation. Homework Suggestions 

Students complete a self-assessment of their skills (summarizing, paraphrasing, etc.)

Students write a summary of the entire text.

Students write their opinions about the ideas presented in the text.

Students paraphrase 3-4 key sentences.


Faculty Spotlight Holly Woodsome Sroymalai This journal’s faculty spotlight is on Holly, who is integrating her skills as an ESL teacher of 17 years in her new administrative position as Special Programs Manager. However, it’s really Holly’s unique adoption stories that most exemplify this journal’s theme of integration.

Holly in 1998

the profession.

In 2011 Holly and her Thai husband Banc flew to the Ukraine to adopt their daughter, Vika, who was 8 at the time. The three have just returned from another inspiring trip, this time to Thailand to adopt a young boy with one name, a missing twin brother, and no passport. Before she left on her trip, I had the chance to interview her on her transition to her new position, passion for teaching, and her growth/journey in

When Holly came to the IEC from Colorado School of English in January 2013, she had already been teaching since 1998. It was during her senior year CU study abroad semester in Regensburg, Germany that Holly discovered her love for teaching international students. She was placed in an intensive German program before starting her courses in Regensburg. She recalls how her German teacher, who “so clearly loved the subject he taught,” inspired her to teach language. She began teaching English at InLingua while still a university student in Germany. When she returned to the states, she began the Master’s program at CU in linguistics (concentration in TEFL). When asked the top two lessons she has learned based on her experiences in the classroom, she said, “Be open-minded and don’t be quick to judge—including those who frustrate us.” Her fondest memory working with students took place one evening in Denver’s City Park. She had been invited to break Ramadan fast with some of her female Saudi students—more importantly, she was accepted into their circle. Unveiled in the dark, she could see their faces for the first time.

GUESS WHO!? GUESS WHICH FACULTY OR STAFF MEMBER IS DESCRIBED BELOW: 1. ______tried out for a professional soccer team.

2. ______has travelled around the world twice.

3. _______went up in a hot air balloon.

4 _______traveled around Europe in a Volkswagon bus one summer.

5. ______owns a $500 Batman costume.

Find the answers on page 12

Holly is most excited to “stretch her skills” and “gain a different perspective” in her new position at the IEC. She says she’s particularly enjoying learning a lot about international politics. Between working at the IEC, being a mother of a 12 year old girl and (now) 7 year old boy, and helping her hus9

band Banc with their family-run restaurant Malee Thai in Longmont, Holly stays extremely busy. In the little free time she has, she likes to spend it reading, riding her bike and traveling. The last time she was in Germany was 2000, and she plans to make that her next big trip. Her favorite German word is “Gemütlichkeit.” It refers to a feeling of cosiness, contentedness, comfort and relaxation, but, Holly says, there is no English word that matches it in translation. A sense of Gemütlichkeit is precisely what Holly and her husband will be working to create at home as they integrate their new family.

Regensburg, Germany: where Holly studied her senior year at CU


Is it a Disability or Something Else? By Summer Webb

"I think this student has a learning disability. He has difficulty remembering assignments and paying attention. He has trouble with following directions and staying organized. I wonder if this student is dyslexic. Maybe this student has ADHD." Many of us at the IEC have had students who we have thought may have a learning disability; we may have even made statements like those above in an attempt to "diagnose" why a student is struggling. I myself have been guilty of this. The reality, however, is that I, like many teachers, am untrained in diagnosing a disability and am often left feeling helpless as to how to help these struggling students. I also know that our students struggle with a host of other challenges that an American student with a disability may not - language and culture to name just two. Thus, this past summer, when the IEC offered to fund a faculty member to take the course "Separating Difference from Disability," I jumped at the opportunity. What I learned was simultaneously saddening and empowering. The course covered two main topics: the resources for disability support found at the university and strategies for helping non-native English speakers with potential disabilities. The sad reality is that in many countries disability is highly-stigmatized. Many of our students come from backgrounds in which disability is left undiagnosed or unsupported. Many have found coping mechanisms to function with a learning disability; however, those coping mechanisms may or may not transfer to their experience of learning a second language in a new culturally setting. In compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the University of Colorado Boulder Disabilities Services has adopted the definition of a person with a disability as “a person who has a physical of mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, or a person with a record of such an impairment, or a person who is regarded as having such an impairment.� Disabilities Services offers accommodations for students with documented disability as well as disability testing for students with suspected disabilities; the university also offers other psychological and counseling services. IEC students are eligible for the same services and accommodations as other CU students. The challenging news is that due to the highly-stigmatized nature of disabilities in other cultures and the limited resources available for international students, it is often difficult to get them the support they actually need. An additional challenge is actually determining what is disability and what is not. Difficulties in learning can also be linked not just to an actual disability, but to a host of other factors. Many students who succeeded in their first language schooling suddenly begin to struggle in the US due to factors such as cross-cultural variations in instructional or academic style, level of academic training, familial pressures, culture shock, and native language interference. All of these factors must be considered when determining if a student actually has a learning disability (Center for Adult 11

English Language Acquisition). Therefore, we have to ask ourselves what we can practically do to support our students who may or may not have learning disabilities. Dr. Catherine Collier (2015), author of the book Seven Steps for Separating Difference from Disability, notes the importance of testing students in their native language and in English because only then can disability be accurately diagnosed; however, when this is unavailable, other methods can be used in the classroom. Within the classroom, Collier suggests the value of a highly-organized and structured classroom. Material should be scaffolded and taught in a multisensory manner. She recommends the value of portfolio-based assessment in order to fully assess a student’s abilities. Thus, before we automatically say, "I think student has X disability," let us consider what other factors could be affecting their learning experience and what we can do to support them. References Center for Adult English Language Acquisition. (n.d). Adult English language learners and learning disabilities. Topics in Adults ESL Education and Family Literacy, p. IV 59- 64. Collier, C . (2011) Seven steps to separating difference from disability. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press

GUESS WHO RESULTS 1. Mark tried out for the Portland Timbers about 5 years ago, and, lucky for us, he didn’t make it.

2. After traveling around the world twice, Parmelee has settled in Evergreen and Boulder and has 8 grandchildren.

3. Sarah went up in a hot air balloon in New Mexico.

4. When Jen was 24, she traveled around Europe for the summer before landing in Barcelona for the rest of the year.

5. David has worn Batman

costumes every Halloween since he was a boy.

An IEC student engaging with a man with Alzheimer’s at Balfour’s memory care residence: While both men may sometimes struggle in society with word finding difficulties (for very different reasons), it doesn’t make them less intelligent. 12

A Lighthearted History of the Fire By Larry Fisher and Michael Masyn

The new students were already tested and placed. The hand-written class lists waited for Monday's wellrehearsed start of the Fall 2 session. But in the dark of a Sunday night in 1980, the IEC burned down. THE FIRE, as it became known in IEC lore, turned to ashes much of the third floor of the Academy building, the IEC's home from its founding in 1975. Years of struggle to establish a viable IEP at the university lay in a pile of singed textbooks, burned academic folders, and charred desks, open to the night sky. Captionno describing picture or The news of the fire spread like "wild fire," sort of. There was internet orgraphic email or mobile phones in those days. So house-to-house telephone calls went out to faculty and staff along copper wire. There was universal shock. One faculty member recalled being stunned and numbed to tears by the devastating news. The prospects of an uneventful start of the Fall 2 session also lay in the smoldering cinders of the IEC.

In addition to the first responders, the real hero to many of the fire and its aftermath was a strict Scottish educator who had directed the IEC from its inception. Jean Engler, in typical Scottish fashion, appeared to be unfazed by the fire and methodically went about picking up the pieces of a center in disarray. On that fateful Monday morning, buses met students who had trudged up to the Academy building for the start of classes. Students were quickly transported to the UMC theater, which had become the temporary home for the IEC. With no class lists, groups had to be formed from collective memory. In an era with no computers, collective memory worked amazingly well. Students were asked to come forward and announce their names, faculty would immediately recall the student's placement level, and sections quickly formed in various parts of the theater.

The need for immediate classrooms resulted in some weird locations. There were attic rooms in Hale, pigeons included. There were cramped rooms under the stairs in the stadium. With students in tow, teachers charged across campus to their appointed destinations. Fall 2 1980 had officially commenced as if all was normal. However, the fire's impact lasted for some time. Arson was suspected because of the presence of accelerants and the tampering with the sprinkler system. IEC faculty and staff were subjected to lengthy interrogations by arson investigators. In the end, nobody was charged although a few names swirled around as suspects. THE FIRE, in spite of the immediate trauma, actually pulled the IEC closer to campus, first to the Hill, then to Grandview, and back to the Hill. With the next move to the heart of campus, one can hardly say that the IEC was "burned" by THE FIRE. 13

“SHOUT-OUT!” Colleagues recognizing colleagues doing good at & for the IEC David fo r ju m ping r ight in and being pa r t of the team ~ Hea ther Mike Hammond for alw ays m aking su r e the X er ox m achines ar e alw ays stocked with paper. It is a luxury we all take for granted ~ Heather Leigh Ann for pushing her I2 LS class extra hard to finish their posters early so students could present them for American students at Willard Hall ~ Susan Amelia for her su m m er contr ibu tion to the Ed USA su m m er pr ogr am . Her ability to go with the flow and make the learning fun and exciting ensured that the students had an unforgettable experience ~ Ruth & Susan Mike V, Juniper & Sylvie for taking on the advising challenge ~ Chad Kim for being thor ou gh and patient w hen advising students. Her genuine interest in helping students has been noticed by students and colleagues ~ Ruth & Susan Zuzana & Michael Regan-for all of their contributions to the IEC during their years teaching here~Amanda Heather for w or kin g shor t-handed in the office during our largest intake in the IEC’s history ~ Nick Connie for helping m e ou t so m u ch du r ing m y fir st session and also noticing when I appeared stressed and “making light” of it. She was always so positive ~ Mark Connie for all of the help and su ppor t she has given m e as an advisor ~ Michelle Barbara (m y m entor ) and m any w onder fu l new colleagu es for assisting me with transitioning to the IEC program ~ Parmelee Ruth fo r her tim e and significant dedication in coor dinating the IEC's CEA self-study, and ensuring that the CEA site team visit went smoothly in November ~ Patti Kirsten for dr iving a gr ou p of teacher s to CoTESOL and regaling us with funny teaching stories ~ Jen Sylvie & Connie for their am azing w or k w ith the TDU/Pr oyecta gr ou ps during the transition week while they were also teaching their full time loads in the regular program ~ Mike Hammond Karen Eichhorn for being a gr eat su ppor tive par tner for m y fir st COTESOL presentation~ Amelia Parmelee & Mark for doing su ch a gr eat job as new facu lty at the IEC ~ Connie and Barbara Rene & Kate for their continu ed su ppor t of the Inter m ediate 3 Listen ing/ Speaking class homelessness service-learning project. They both give guest talks to 14 the students every session. ~ Barbara

ESLevations Journal, Fall 2015 - International English Center, University of Colorado Boulder  

What is “integration?" Our faculty help students integrate in the classroom, on CU Boulder’s campus, in the Boulder community, etc. The arti...