2012 JUN

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In this issue: Feature Articles Vocabulary in L2 Teaching: Some Statistical Findings Ramin Akbari Placement Testing in an EFL Context Karen Brooke, Mona Aden, Noof Al-Kuwari, Virginia Christopher, Mihad Ibrahim, Brad Johnson, & Oumaima Souyah

Reader Response Lesson Ideas Educational Technology Reviews Networking TESOL Arabia News SIG Reports

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C o n t e n t s

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Pe r s p e c t i ve s Volume 19 No. 2 June 2012

From the Editors

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Message from the President

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Letter from the Conference Co-Chairs

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Feature Articles Vocabulary in LS Teaching: Some Statistical Findings

Ramin Akbari

Placement Testing in an EFL Context Karen Brooke, Mona Aden, Noof Al-Kuwari, Virginia Christopher, Mihad Ibrahim, Brad Johnson, & Oumaima Souyah

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Reader Response Redefining ESP in Gulf Tertiary Settings

Mick King

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Nagwa A. Soliman

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Nicky Hockly

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Raymund P. Reyes

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Lesson Ideas Integrating Literature and Technology in EFL/ESL Contexts

Educational Technology Digital Literacies Using the Blog for Instruction: A Story of Failure

Reviews Presenting in English: How to Give Successful Presentations Tharwat El-Sakran Applications of Task-Based Learning in TESOL Emad Jasim Writers at Work: From Sentence to Paragraph Matthew A. Carey English for Academic Study: Vocabulary Farhad Tayebipour & Sara Azimi English for the Energy Industries: Oil, Gas and Petrochemicals Colin Toms The Call of the Wild / Persuasion Neil McBeath From Rags to Riches: A Story of Abu Dhabi Student Edition Olivia Riordan

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Networking Calendar of Upcoming Events The 32nd Annual International Thailand TESOL Conference TESOL International Convention & English Language Expo 2012

Christine Coombe Rehab Rajab

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TESOL Arabia News The 3rd TESOL Arabia, TESOL International & Franklin SpellEvent

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Special Interest Group Reports

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From Feature the Articles Editors 2 Dear Colleagues,

Editors

If you live in our part of the world, you know it’s getting hot. That means summer break is just around the corner. We hope you are off to cooler climes soon!

Melanie Gobert Abu Dhabi Men’s College

We have two great feature articles for you in this issue. The first one by Ramin Akbari of Tarbiat Modares University, Tehran, a plenary speaker at the TAE SIG CTELT Conference in December, 2011, shares with us “Vocabulary in L2 Teaching: Some Statistical Findings.” All teachers will benefit from Dr Akbari’s informative article. Our second feature article by Karen Brooke, Mona Aden, Noof Al-Kuwari,Virginia Christopher, Mihad Ibrahim, Dr Brad Johnson, and Oumaima Souya, of University of Calgary-Qatar, will interest everyone in the region concerned with accurate, ef ficient, and culturally appropriate placement testing.

Tandy Bailey Abu Dhabi Women’s College

Reviews Editor Cindy Gunn American University of Sharjah

In addition, we have two Educational Technology articles in this issue. The first one, by Nicky Hockly of the Consultants-E in Spain, discusses Digital Literacies and gives an example of a lesson plan using text messaging to get our students literate in this genre. Our second Educational Technology article, by Raymund Reyes of Yanbu Industrial College, deals with “Using the Blog for Instruction: A Story of Failure.” Our Lesson Idea, by Dr Nagwa A. Soliman from the British University in Egypt, continues our technology vein and offers ways to incorporate technology into the study of literature, specifically Wikis, Webquests, Audacity, CLEAR, Mashup and Novlet.

Advisory Panel

We also feature a Reader’s Response by Mick King, who organizes the TESOL Arabia Conference’s panel discussions and debates. King was recently the plenary speaker at the annual ESP SIG Conference held in Abu Dhabi and he offers us his thoughts on “Redefining ESP in Gulf Tertiary Settings” based on his experiences in and research on ESP teaching and learning in the region and in Europe. We also have seven book reviews and our regular TA News, Chapter, SIG, and Networking reports in this issue. And now it is time to say “thank you,” before the summer begins. Thank you to Cindy Gunn, our unsurpassable Reviews Editor, thank you to Sudeep Kumar, our unsurpassed Graphic Designer, thank you to our Review Board for their indefatigable efforts and a special farewell to two of our most valiant reviewers who are leaving the region for greener pastures, Jane Hoelker and Peter McLaren, and thank you to all of our readers and contributors. Happy holidays and bon voyage!

Cindy Gunn Daniel Mangrum Janet Olearski Kourosh Lachini Lynne Ronesi Mohammad Azaza Nicolas Moore Paul James Dessoir Peter McLaren Saleh S. Al-Busaidi Jane Hoelker Patrick Dougherty Neil McBeath Rachel Lange Lobat Asadi Ibrahim M. Shaabi Joanna Buckle Laura Lau Richard Lau Mick King

CREDITS Layout / Artwork Sudeep Kumar

Melanie Gobert

Tandy Bailey

Printing

Editors, Perspectives

International Printing Press Dubai, UAE The editors would like to remind the readers that the views expressed in this periodical are those of the individual authors. These views are not necessarily shared by the other authors in this issue or by TESOL Arabia. Responsibility for the content and opinion of articles and advertisements rests with the authors. TESOL Arabia is a non-profit

June Cover Photo Tim Jones Abu Dhabi Men’s College

organisation based in the United Arab Emirates with membership from the Arabian Gulf and beyond. TESOL Arabia does not discriminate against any person on the basis of race, gender, national origin, disability, religion, age, or native language. For more information, please visit our website: http://www.tesolarabia.org

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Message Feature Articles from the President

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Dear Colleagues, It dawned on me during our March conference the amount of time and commitment volunteers give to our organization. In our TA Executive Council meetings, we routinely discuss events from various chapters and SIGs along with the progress of the conference committee and publications but don’t often realize the number of people involved over the course of the year in these and other areas. I started counting. In total, the TESOL Arabia team has close to 60 committed professionals giving countless hours of their own free time, and often at their own expense, to organize events and mini-conferences over the course of one academic year. In this year alone (2011/2012), there have been over 40 different events held by TA Chapters and SIGs that have benefitted hundreds of language professionals in the UAE and in the Middle East. Our annual conference serves an even wider community. All these efforts impact thousands of students across the region. I would like to take a moment here to acknowledge and congratulate these individuals and groups on their efforts.... First of all, kudos to Beth Wiens, Christine Coombes, and the 2012 TACON Committee for putting together an outstanding conference. It was attended by approximately 1,600 delegates, with 25 Job Fair recruiters, 262 Job Fair candidates, and 32 Exhibitors. Over the three day period, there were approximately 150 concurrent sessions and 6 plenary speeches. Wow! I think it is important to note that one week prior to the conference, an external decision was made that necessitated a change in venue. But despite this unforeseen bump in the road, the TACON 2012 Committee, with the help of HCT Dubai Women’s College, made the event a seamless and dynamic experience. Beyond the conference, Ruth Glasgow and Paul De Jong have been hard at task this past year continuing the significant work the TA Book Drive has been doing over the past few years. In March of this year, with the help of Dr Al Jumaily, the Cultural Counselor of the Iraqi Embassy in Abu Dhabi, the book drive shipped over 620 boxes of books to organizations in need in Bagdad. At the conference, Paul, Ruth and their crew collected more than 1,000 books and have also recently received a very large donation from the Zayed University Dubai campus. They are busy at work organizing and preparing them for distribution. Sufian Abu Rmaileh, our now “past” past president and current interim Executive Treasurer has been very busy as our liaison with the 3rd Annual TESOL Arabia, TESOL International, and Franklin Publisher Spell Event which was held on April 21 at United Arab Emirates University. The SpellEvent is an international competition for non-native speakers of English under the age of 15. Organized by TESOL International and Franklin International Publishers, this year’s event was highly successful, involving 11 schools, 18 teachers, and 63 participating registrants, with four talented finalists walking away with a variety of well-deserved awards. Melanie Gobert and Tandy Baily of Perspectives continue to push the envelope, producing a magazine of increasingly high quality and raising the profile of the publication. Melanie, in fact, has recently agreed to take on the acting role of SIG Coordinator. Peter Davidson, our publications coordinator, has been a busy man. With the 17th Annual Conference Proceedings just recently put to bed, he is now finalizing the publication of a book by Christine Coombes and Ramin Akbaru entitled, The Middle East Handbook of Applied Linguistics. Konrad Cedro, our webmaster, has also had his hands full over the past few months. As you have probably noticed, TESOL Arabia has a new “face” on the Internet. Konrad has worked hard to professionalize and update the electronic image of our organization. It is a work in-progress. The bedrock of TESOL Arabia is our Chapters and SIGs. Our Chapter Representatives, SIG Chairs and their committees, have been very active this year. Each team has thoughtfully and tirelessly prepared and executed events that they felt would enhance and inform instruction for our constituents. It was my intention to give a brief breakdown of each branch of TA Chapter and SIG, but after receiving a summary from each group, I realized that it would take many subsequent letters to fully address their contribution. I will do so in my correspondence over the coming year. In short, the current active chapters, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Al Ain, and the Eastern Region (Fujairah) have organized close to 20 events in the past year, with topics ranging from Educational Technology to Business English. The coordination between Chapters and SIGs Volume 19

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has been fluid and many of these events were joint ventures. Not to be outdone, our active SIGs, 8 out of the 9 that we currently offer, have held over 20 events this year, many in conjunction with a host of secondary and tertiary institutions across the UAE. The quality and diversity of these events along with overall attendance has been impressive. We have new people stepping up to the plate. David Mulvihill, of Zayed University, has not only moved into the position of interim Executive Secretary with grace, poise and a surgical approach as our documentarian, but was also there to fill many of the administrative gaps at TACON 2012. Likewise, Sally McQuinn, who has been instrumental in jumpstarting the Eastern Region (Fujairah) Chapter, building membership and facilitating five events this year, organized and coordinated volunteers from her chapter during the conference to support the event. Rehab Rejab, who has put heart and soul into the Dubai Chapter, is now moving into the direct leadership of TESOL Arabia, bringing innovative and much needed change to the face and organizational leadership of our affiliate. I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge the more than significant contributions of Les Kirkham and Sandra Oddy. They have been key members of the TESOL Arabia team, holding multiple positions and building a foundation for TA for well over ten years. Without their unflagging dedication on the Executive Council, and as Conference Committee members, the organization would truly not be what it is today. Their work, on behalf of TESOL Arabia, has been and is truly remarkable. So… with all this said, where do we go from here? Well, my initial plan for the upcoming year, beyond aggressively promoting TESOL Arabia and expanding our membership, is to ensure that each area of TA is functioning and current. We have two chapters (RAK & the Western Region) that are currently inactive and one SIG (Independent Learning) that is looking for a new leadership team. It is important for these to be infused with new blood. In addition to this, I hope to see the Executive Council develop a procedures manual for the Council, Chapters and SIGs, so that incoming volunteers have a clear perspective of their elected roles. Creating transparency in this process will strengthen the organization. Along with this, I hope to generate more interest from our membership to run for elected positions in TESOL Arabia. New people translate to new ideas and new energy. Finally, I believe TA needs to develop and implement a strong marketing program to elevate the organization’s profile. Achieving this will impact our association on multiple levels. In closing, I would like to thank you all for the opportunity to lead such a vital and meaningful organization. It is truly an honor. I am proud to be a part of such an awesome group of committed professionals. I welcome and look forward to your comments, thoughts and suggestions, so please feel free to contact me with your ideas. We are always looking for motivated volunteers, so please let me know if you are interested in pursuing a position with TESOL Arabia. I wish you all a very smooth end of the academic year and a peaceful and safe summer. See you next fall. Warm regards,

Jamie McDonald President, 2012-2013 TESOL Arabia

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Outgoing TA President Les Kirkham presents Paul De Jong the TESOL Arabia Professional Service Award while Rosa Aronson, Executive Director of TESOL, Int., looks on.

Dear Colleagues, Members and Supporters of TESOL Arabia, On behalf of the Committee for TESOL Arabia’s International Conference and Exhibition 2012, we would like to thank our conference delegates, sponsors, exhibitors and recruiters for their continuing support and participation. Again, TESOL Arabia Conference 2012 proved to be the largest EFL conference in the region with 1,600 delegates. Despite the challenges of a last minute venue change, we feel the conference was one of the best we have ever had. The theme for this year’s conference was “Achieving Excellence Through Life Skills Education.” As with past conferences, TESOL Arabia delegates were once again offered the opportunity to participate in a range of specialized professional development courses both before and during the conference, through Professional Development Courses such as Online Learning in TESOL, Personalized Professional Development, and Achieving Excellence through Life Skills Education. Two certificate courses,Young Learners and Teaching, and Learning Through the Arts, were also run. Our plenary speakers included Andy Curtis (Canada), Dave Allan (UK), Jane Revell (UK), Jeremy Harmer (UK), Jim Schrivener (UK), Joe McVeigh (USA), Keith Folse (USA), Rod Bolitho (UK), and our own Christine Coombe (UAE), current president of TESOL. Featured speakers were Andrea Stairs (USA), Fiona Copland (UK), Hector Ramirez (USA), Josephine Clark Kennedy (USA), who was one of our past presidents, John O’Dwyer (Turkey), Josie Fraser (UK), Lienhard Legenhausen (Germany), Nancy Mullins (USA), Nicky Hockley (Spain), Paula Wilson, (USA), Robert Ackland (USA), Rosa Aronson, Executive Director of TESOL (USA), and Z.N. Patil (India). Our featured affiliate leader speakers were Natalya Alexeeva and Zarmena Emel Yanova,Yakut TESOL, (Russia), Louisa Christina Alvarez,VenTESOL (Venezuela), and Rubina Khan, BELTA (Bangladesh). The intention behind the theme was to reflect on the changes we face, and to share how we are meeting them or how they are influencing our practice. Overall, the theme “Achieving Excellence Through Life Skills Education” helped participants to explore the ways in which EFL teachers and educators adapt to changes in their workplace and society to become better teachers. For those who presented at the Conference, you can submit your paper for publication for the Conference Proceedings. The deadline for submissions is October 1, 2012. The 2012 conference was held at Dubai Women’s College (DWC), located in the Qusais area. We are grateful for DWC’s hosting the event, and the willingness and flexibility of the staff and workers who did a great job coping with the last minute change of venue. Volume 19

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Justin Shewell receives his TESOL Arabia Professional Service Award from Les Kirkham, outgoing President, and Rosa Aronson, Executive Director,TESOL, Int.

TACON 2012 attendee shows off the winning quilt with Conference Co-Chairs Christine Coombe and Beth Wiens, Conference Proposal Co-Chair Justin Shewell, and closing Plenary Speaker Keith Folse.

Our Exhibition hosted major education publishers and distributors in addition to many tertiary institutions for those educators looking for the latest EF/SL publications and teaching aids. We also offered 20 x 20 sessions powered by Pecha Kucha for the first time in addition to our Innovative Materials Showcase strand where publishers show off their latest publications or innovations for the industry. These sessions provide great networking and learning opportunities. The 2012 Conference offered a comprehensive Job Fair, which brought together more than 262 job seekers and 25 major recruiting organizations in the region. The TESOL Arabia Job Fair retains its position as the premier employment opportunity in the region for both recruiters and job seekers in the EFL teaching profession. We also added a couple of new features to this year’s event, offering T-shirts, polo shirts, caps and mugs for delegates, and commissioning a hand-made quilt with the conference theme to raffle off to anyone who had purchased TESOL Arabia merchandise or publications. It was a beautiful quilt that went to a very happy delegate from Oman. We hope to do more promotions in the future. Join us! On behalf of TESOL Arabia’s Conference Organizing Committee we thank you for your participation in the 2012 Conference!

Dr Christine Coombe Conference Co-Chair

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Beth Wiens Conference Co-Chair

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Feature Articles

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Vocabulary in L2 Teaching: Some Statistical Findings The role of vocabulary in learning an L2 has been a matter of intense debate in the course of ELT history, as witnessed by periods of total neglect (for example at the time of audiolingualism), followed by a period of confusion (at the time of the socalled innovative methods), and finally respectable acceptance of L2 vocabulary in Communicative Language Teaching (CLT). In fact, all language teaching methods have defined their identity with respect to two basic components of the L2, namely grammar (whether it should be taught inductively or deductively) and vocabulary (how much attention it should receive). This rise and fall of fortune for L2 vocabulary teaching has been mostly due to the lack of a solid research base. In the absence of reliable research findings, inclusion or exclusion of a feature in our syllabuses and the time allocated to it becomes a matter of personal taste and individual interpretations. The situation, however, is changing now and with the intelligent use of computers in corpus research, some interesting results with the potential for immediate classroom applications have been obtained. This article is a brief review of the recent findings regarding vocabulary teaching, and how many words are needed for our students to be able to read and listen with ease when confronted with different types of texts.

Some Key Concepts Before directly moving to the concept of vocabulary and the relevant, existing research findings, some key issues and terms need to be addressed first. The first point that should be remembered is that the best way to learn vocabulary (in terms of the time allocated to the task and variety of words encountered) is through reading (Grabe, 2009). Listening can help in learning or consolidating the meaning of a word; however, reading is more efficient when it comes to Volume 19

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Ramin Akbari Tarbiat Modares University Tehran, Iran

the number of words learned and the time spent. The second issue that needs to be explained is related to the nature of reading and what it entails (since if reading is the best way to learn words, then more information should be provided as to what it is). Contrary to what some practitioners think, reading, and also by implication listening, are bottom up processes, not top down (Grabe, 2004). Top down approaches to reading view the skill as mainly a matter of relating what the text says to what the reader already knows, and comprehension is establishing a connection between the two; in this view, meaning is something which is imposed upon the text by the reader. Research shows that this type of reading is the one used by inefficient readers. In other words, we rely on our world and background knowledge as a compensatory strategy and mostly when we feel linguistically inadequate in making sense of a passage. In the bottom up approach, however, reading starts with the text, and readers construct its meaning by paying attention to its individual constituent elements, that is, words and phrases. Word meaning plays a central role here and comprehension is a matter of building text meaning by decoding the meaning of the lexical items that constitute a passage. It does not mean background knowledge has no role in reading comprehension; successful reading is a balanced process of both word knowledge (in its broad sense of knowledge of orthography, associations and collocations, grammatical functions, syntax, meaning and form) (Webb, 2007) and whatever relevant piece of information or experience a learner brings to his/ her interaction with the text. The last key concept that needs to be introduced before moving to vocabulary research findings is coverage. Coverage is a technical word that refers to the percentage of known words in a passage. TESOL Arabia Perspectives

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In other words, it addresses the question of “how much unknown vocabulary can be tolerated in a text before it interferes with comprehension?... [or] … the percentage of running words in the text known by the readers” (Nation, 2006, p. 61). Adequate coverage of the lexical items of a passage translates into the ability to comprehend the passage; in addition, unless learners have reached the desired levels of coverage, successful guessing of the meaning of new words from context would be impossible. For spoken language, a coverage of 95% is needed for learners to comprehend the discourse and guess the meaning of a new word, while in writing the required coverage is 98% (see Nation, 2006 for a comprehensive treatment of the issue). The optimal lexical coverage needed for successful comprehension is 99%, which means out of 100 words, only one word should be new to the reader or listener; this level of coverage will provide a comprehension level of 70%; if a comprehension of 75% is needed, then all the words of a text must be known to the reader (or listener) (Schmitt, Jiang, & Grabe, 2011). What these figures indicate is that vocabulary should be more seriously addressed in our classes, and unless our learners reach these figures, their comprehension will be faulty.

How Many Words Do Our Students Need to Know? A frequently asked question by many ELT practitioners is how many words learners need to know to be able to independently perform certain real life functions in their L2, functions such as reading a newspaper, listening to the news, watching movies, or reading for pleasure. To answer this question, some information related to the vocabulary knowledge of native speakers is needed to serve as a point of comparison or reference. There are 88,500 (Goulden, Nation & Read, 1990) to 114,000 (Nagy & Anderson, 1984) word families in English (a word family is a group of words that share the same morphological origin; for example, organize, organization, organizer, disorganized are members of the same family). A family on the average includes 5 members, so a rough estimate for the number of words in English will range from 442,500 words to 570,000. It is impossible for even native speakers to know all of these words, and research indicates that well-educated native speakers normally know around 20,000 word families (Zechmeister, Chronis, Cull, D’Anna & Healy, 1995); Volume 19

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the question here is then: how many of these 20,000 word families do our learners need to know to be able to function independently? Research indicates that the number of words needed for functional independence in English (being able to read and write, as well as speak and listen with ease) is 8,000 to 9,000 word families, or 34,600 individual words (Nation, 2006). This level of vocabulary knowledge will provide a coverage of 98%, which is the required level for adequate comprehension. This is while the knowledge of a typical English as a Foreign Language (EFL) learner at high school or college level is 1,000 to 4,000 words (not word families) (Laufer, 2000). All these numbers highlight the fact that vocabulary needs a more systematic, serious treatment in L2 classes, with a rigorous plan for a more conscious approach to its instruction and more opportunities for its practice and internalization. There are some very interesting findings that put these figures in actual use contexts. Webb and Rogers (2009), for example, is a very useful piece of research that focuses on the use of vocabulary in viewing movies, and how much coverage is needed for different movies genres (animation, drama, action and war, and horror). Contrary to what might be the common assumptions, Webb and Rodgers found that the most difficult movie genres for comprehension are animation/action and war. To have a coverage of 95%, these genres require knowledge of the first 4,000 most frequently used words in English, plus the knowledge of proper nouns. A coverage of 98% would require 10,000 words (proper nouns should also be added to this number). The easiest genres, their analysis found, turned out to be drama and horror, which require 3,000 words and knowledge of proper nouns to provide a coverage of 95%. For 98% coverage, knowledge of 6,000-7,000 words and proper nouns is required. There are some other findings of importance in their study. For example, they found that British movies are more difficult, and as a result, require a higher number of words to provide the required coverage. For the genre of drama, for instance, American movies need 6,000 words to reach 98% coverage, while for British movies this number is 7,000. Proper nouns, on the average, constituted 2.7% of words in movies. However, their role in comprehension is so enormous that if they are ignored, they increase the lexical load of the movies tremendously (for TESOL Arabia Perspectives

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Feature Articles

example, problems with proper nouns can increase the required number of words for 95% coverage to 10,000). There are similar figures available for TV series (see Rodgers & Webb, 2011), though with some slight differences. For example, TV series need fewer words to reach the desired coverage due to the thematic links that exist among different episodes of the same series and the repetition of words from earlier episodes in subsequent ones, meaning TV series are pedagogically more useful than movies in teaching vocabulary. These numbers indicate that without an adequate knowledge of L2 words, learners would have extreme difficulty in comprehending L2 texts, in both spoken and written form, in their target language. A second relevant question here, therefore, would be which words should be taught to learners to provide the best coverage possible? Aiming at the figures presented for educated native speakers (20,000 word families) seems to be impossible, and if our goal is 8,000-9,000 word families set by Nation (2006), again the question of vocabulary selection remains pertinent. Efficient coverage, research indicates, can be reached by making use of frequency word lists, a topic covered in the next part of the article.

Frequency Word Lists Frequency word lists are a useful means of deciding which words need to be taught first based on the frequency of their occurrence in a certain corpus; the higher the frequency of a word or a word family, the earlier it should be taught. In other words, there is a common assumption that “high-frequency and wide-range words are generally learned before lower-frequency and narrower-range words� (Nation, 2006, p. 63). In addition, such words can help learners to reach higher coverage levels faster. Frequency word lists come in two major groups; those that are for general purposes and include words from general sources (newspapers, daily conversations, TV programs) and those that are specialized, for example for academic applications. There are two important general purpose lists that can guide teachers in their selection of vocabulary: the General Service List, prepared by Michael West in 1953 (West, 1953), and a more recent, more comprehensive one compiled by Paul Nation, called the British National Corpus (BNC). The General Service List includes the most frequent 2,000 words used in English and can easily be obtained from the internet. The list is arranged based on frequencies, in such a way that the most frequent words are Volume 19

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presented first in the list (the most frequent word in English is the article the). The problem with the list, though, is that it is old and does not reflect many words that have been added to the English lexicon after 1953. In addition, the list relies only on words from written language, giving it a literary air. Ninety percent of the words encountered in works of fiction come from this list, while for non-fiction this number shrinks to 75%. These numbers clearly indicate the usefulness of incorporating words from the list into ELT course books and teaching materials, especially for elementary learners. The BNC, on the other hand, includes both written and spoken language in its corpus of 100 million words (90% written, 10% spoken). The list is divided into 14 rank-ordered sublists, each with 1,000 words (the list can be obtained from http://www.natcorp. ox.ac.uk). The first three sublists, for example, provide 91% coverage for non-academic passages; the BNC is the most widely used frequency list in coverage research carried out in recent years. Planning to include words from the list based on their frequency in reading and conversation units can be a good pedagogical decision in helping learners to reach desirable coverage figures in a more efficient way. For academic words, two major lists exist. However, there are some lists that include specialized vocabulary for certain academic disciplines, (e.g., words frequently used in economics passages or those that are needed for medicine). The most widely used lists for general academic purposes are the University Word List (UWL) and the Academic Word List (AWL). The University Word List includes 836 words and was prepared by Xue and Nation (1984). The list is organized into 11 sublists based on frequency; Nation (1990) reports that the list provides a coverage of 8% for academic passages. The Academic Word List was compiled by Coxhead, (2000) and consists of 570 word families that are organized, based on their frequency, into ten sublists (sublists one to nine include 60 word families each, while the last sublist includes only 30). The list provides a coverage of almost 10% for academic texts, in spite of the fact that the number of words it includes is less than that of the University Word List. The first sublist provides the most coverage (3.6%) and the last sublist the least (0.1%). To meet a word from the first sublist, students need to read (on the average) 4 pages of academic passages, while a second encounter with words from the last sublist requires 82 pages of reading. TESOL Arabia Perspectives

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It seems that the Academic Word List is a much better choice compared to its rival, the University Word List, both in terms of coverage and the number of the words learners need to learn. The combination of the first three thousand words from the BNC and the Academic Word List will provide a minimum coverage of 86%, which means it would be a sound, efficient instructional investment for providing a good vocabulary base for learners (though still far from the 98% desired coverage). The usefulness of reading/instructional passages and texts can be checked against the percentage of the words they contain from these word lists, adding a new dimension to the list of the qualities such teaching materials should have.

How to Teach Words As suggested in the introductory part of this article, the treatment of vocabulary in the ELT literature has been mostly unsystematic and left to teachers to handle at their own discretion; vocabulary is usually treated as an impediment that should be overcome quickly so that students can focus on the main teaching point of the lesson, which is usually grammar. A common practice in ELT classes is asking students to guess the meaning of new words from the context. This is, unfortunately, a common approach that is promoted in many ELT course books designed for teachers and encouraged in many teacher education programs as a good teaching technique. Surprisingly, there is no solid piece of research or evidence to show that guessing from the context is the most effective way of vocabulary learning (we have evidence to the contrary). As it was noted above, guessing is possible only when the minimum required coverage is reached, which means that for spoken language only 5 words out of 100 should be new to allow for guessing (95% coverage), and for written language the number of unknown words should be only 2 out of 100 (coverage of 98%). There is another incorrect assumption that is linked to guessing, that is, guessing from the context will result in the incidental learning of vocabulary. Incidental learning here refers to developing a sense of a word in terms of its meaning, pronunciation, and usage, as a result of repeated exposure to the same word in different contexts while reading or listening for meaning. Research indicates, however, that to learn a word through guessing and incidental learning at least 10 exposures are needed (see, for Volume 19

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example, Horst, Cobb & Meara, 1998; Webb, 2007), and even with 10 exposures the vocabulary might be forgotten after three months. After 8 exposures to the same set of words in different contexts, retention after three months was 50%, as reported by Waring and Takaki (2003). That is why Waring and Takaki estimate that 20 exposures are needed for a word to be adequately integrated into a learner’s mental lexicon and be retrievable beyond three months. To show the practical implications of these numbers, an example from the Academic Word List might help. If an instructor decides to teach a word, for example interpretation, which belongs to the first sublist, through incidental means and by reading and listening to texts that include the word, then he/she has to ask his/her students to read 80 pages of text to encounter the word 20 times (since, as it was pointed out earlier, to meet a word again from the first sublist, learners have to read four pages of academic texts, 20 x 4 = 80). If the word belongs to the last sublist, then learners would need to read 1,640 pages to meet the intended word 20 times! (Eighty-two pages for each individual encounter with the word.) The above examples illustrate the fact that an indirect, incidental approach to vocabulary teaching is not a pedagogically justifiable decision and leads to slow lexical development. A more conscious method of vocabulary instruction needs to be adopted by teachers to help their learners reach the required coverage levels. Since one of the key elements that contributes to success in learning is noticing (Schmidt, 1990), L2 teachers should try to attract students’ conscious attention to new lexical items and provide practice opportunities for the internalization of the intended words, both in terms of meaning and form. For academic vocabulary, inclusion of information on the etymology or root of the words can help since the majority of the words in this list come from Greek and Latin origins and familiarity with the base form of the words can help learners to limit their meaning domain. In classrooms, guessing from the context should be discouraged since it is a test taking strategy, not a vocabulary learning approach; language classrooms should be sites of sufficient, intensive vocabulary presentation and practice (it can be in the form of homework). Guessing is a means of last-resort which is good for extensive reading purposes and testing situations. If teachers insist on the use of an TESOL Arabia Perspectives

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incidental approach, then they need to make sure that enough extensive reading opportunities are provided for learners and 20 exposures to each word is made possible. Words can also be taught through movies and TV programs (though reading is the recommended skill for this purpose). In such instances, two issues need to be taken into account: first, proper nouns need to receive due attention since they can play a very important role in learners’ comprehension; and second, the use of subtitle functions can enhance students’ learning of vocabulary, as indicated by research conducted by Pavakanun and d’Ydewalle (1992) and d’Ydewalle and Pavakanun (1995).

Conclusion There are lots of misconceptions about the role and importance of vocabulary in ELT, and these misconceptions are part of the reason why learners fail to achieve the desired coverage levels in a timely manner. A change of perspective, supported by research, can enhance the quality of instruction in L2 classes and assist learners in becoming communicatively independent. A more aggressive view of vocabulary teaching is needed to reach this goal, one that pays a more focused attention to the presentation of vocabulary in a conscious way, and plans for systematic review of the vocabulary taught. Dr Ramin Akbari is an assistant professor of ELT in Iran and currently teaches and supervises MA and PhD students of ELT in Tarbiat Modares University, Tehran. Ramin has published papers in Modern Language Journal, TESOL Quarterly, ELT Journal, System, Journal of Moral Education, and TESL-EJ. He is also the co-editor of The Middle East Handbook of Applied Linguistics.

References Coxhead, A. (2000). A new academic word list. TESOL Quarterly, 34(2), 213–238. d’Ydewalle, G., & Pavakanun, U. (1995). Acquisition of a second/foreign language by viewing a television program. In P. Winterhoff Spurk (Ed.), Psychology of media in Europe:The state of the art—perspectives for the future (pp. 51-64). Opladen, Germany: Westdeutscher Verlag GmbH. Goulden, R., Nation, I. S. P., & Read, J. (1990). How large can a receptive vocabulary be? Applied Linguistics, 11, 341-363. Grabe, W. (2004). Research on teaching reading. Annual Review of Applied Linguistics, 24, 44-69. Grabe, W. (2009). Reading in a second language: Moving Volume 19

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from theory to practice. New York: Cambridge University Press. Horst, M., Cobb, T., & Meara, P. (1998). Beyond a clockwork change: Acquiring second language vocabulary through reading. Reading in a Foreign Language, 11, 207-223. Laufer, B. (2000). Task effect on instructed vocabulary learning: The hypothesis of “involvement.” Selected papers from AILA ‘99 Tokyo (pp.47-62). Tokyo: Waseda University Press. Nagy, W. E., & Anderson, R. C. (1984). How many words are there in printed school English? Reading Research Quarterly, 19, 304-303. Nation, I. S. P. (1990). Teaching and learning vocabulary. Newbury House: New York. Nation, I. S. P. (2006). How large a vocabulary is needed for reading and listening? The Canadian Modern Language Review, 63, 59-82. Pavakanun, U., & d’Ydewalle, G. (1992). Watching foreign television programs and language learning. In F. L. Engel, D. G. Bouwhuis, T. Bösser, & G. d’Ydewalle (Eds.), Cognitive modelling and interactive environments in language learning (pp. 193–198). Berlin: Springer. Rodgers, M., & Webb, S. (2011). Narrow viewing: The vocabulary in related television programs. TESOL Quarterly, 45, 689-717. Schmidt, R. (1990). The role of consciousness in second language learning. Applied Linguistics, 11, 129–158. Schmitt, N., Jiang, X., & Grabe, W. (2011). The percentage of words known in a text and reading comprehension. Modern Language Journal, 95, 26-43. Waring, R., & Takaki, M. (2003). At what rate do learners learn and retain new vocabulary from reading a graded reader? Reading in a Foreign Language, 15, 1-27. Webb, S., & Rodgers, M. P. H. (2009).The lexical coverage of movies. Applied Linguistics, 30, 407-427. Webb, S. (2007). The effects of repetition on vocabulary knowledge. Applied Linguistics, 28, 4665. West, M. (1953). A general service list of English words. London: Longman. Xue Guoyi & Nation, I. S. P. (1984). A university word list. Language Learning and Communication, 3, 215-229. Zechmeister, E. B., Chronis, A. M., Cull, W. L., D’Anna, C. A., & Healy, N. A. (1995). Growth of a functionally important lexicon. Journal of Reading Behavior, 27, 201-212. TESOL Arabia Perspectives

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Placement Testing in an EFL Context Karen Brooke, Mona Aden, Noof Al-Kuwari,Virginia Christopher, Mihad Ibrahim, Brad Johnson, and Oumaima Souyah University of Calgary-Qatar

In the fall of 2009, the University of Calgary-Qatar (UCQ) undertook a research project funded by the Qatar Foundation’s Qatar National Research Fund (QNRF) Undergraduate Research Experience Program (UREP). The goal was to develop and assess the validity of an assessment rubric which could be used by institutions to assist in the selection of appropriate placement tests for EAP. This pilot project was the first stage of a longer project aimed at improving placement test procedures at UCQ.

culture might have an effect on the way test items are answered. Abu-Rabia (1998) found that Arab students learning Hebrew in Israel were more successful on reading tasks with content familiar to their Arab culture than on tasks with unfamiliar cultural content. In an interesting older study by Yousef (1968), a group of Arab students were able to understand the plot of literature, but misunderstood the motives of the characters due to their lack of familiarity with the culture.

At the time the project began, UCQ was using the paper-based Oxford Placement Test (OPT), which was also used on the main campus in Calgary, to place incoming students into remedial EAP classes if necessary. However, classroom teachers felt the test often did not place students accurately, particularly the listening section, and felt improvements in placement procedures were necessary. Although our student body was quite small at the time, we expected growth to make paper-based testing more challenging, and we therefore particularly wanted to explore computerized options.

Another issue arising from the literature review was the importance of a match between the program content with the content of the placement test. Brown (1989) found that a placement test used in one institution did not reflect learning in classes, and that the language ability of students promoted into a level did not resemble that of students placed into that level. In addition, tests which emphasize English used in business settings or English necessary to immigrants moving to an English-speaking country may result in placements not appropriate to the academic EFL context of UCQ classrooms.

Our research team included four undergraduate students; a primary goal of the project was to help them develop their research skills by actively participating in all stages of this project. Being new to the region, the faculty found student involvement in selecting a suitable test for the area to be invaluable.

Weighting of test sections was also an area of interest during our literature review. Most placement tests include a grammar section which is usually relatively heavily weighted. However, Santos (1988) found that higher levels of grammatical inaccuracy were tolerated in the writing and speech of Non-native Speaking (NNS) students than of Native Speaking (NS) students. Thus, in contexts such as ours, where the majority of students use English as an additional language, instructors may be less demanding of grammatical accuracy, creating a mismatch between the language being tested on placement tests and the language necessary for success in classrooms.

Literature Review The literature review was conducted collaboratively, simultaneously with the development of the rubric, by the faculty and student researchers in weekly meetings. One common theme arising from the literature review was a concern that a test taker’s Volume 19

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Methodology The research was conducted in four stages. First, the literature was reviewed, and a placement test selection rubric was developed. The Placement Test Selection Rubric was then used to review six placement tests. Next, a number of student volunteers took one test which scored well on the rubric, and two which scored poorly. Finally, a group of teachers familiar with the students evaluated the students’ language level according to their familiarity with the students’ classroom work. If the rubric was functioning well, we theorized that the highest scoring placement test would give the best agreement with the teachers’ evaluations.

Stage 1: Rubric Development The literature review and rubric development were conducted simultaneously using an iterative process over several months. Each team member reviewed a number of articles, and at weekly meetings we reflected on key points arising from the articles, as well as our program needs and the characteristics of our student body. Using a number of idea-generation and organization strategies such as brainstorming and concept mapping, themes emerging from the discussions were organized and weighted into what became the final sections of the Placement Test Selection Rubric and the criteria within each. The final rubric addressed issues of cultural appropriateness, test instructions and administration, reliability and validity, and test range (reading, writing, listening, speaking, grammar and vocabulary). Sections were weighted such that the emphasis was on test range, at 50% of the final rubric score, and cultural appropriateness at 25%. The rubric was created as an Excel document with formulas to compute the scores for each section. To help ensure validity, a second group of language testing experts was asked to review the rubric and provide feedback. This resulted in the inclusion of qualitative elements, comments boxes for each section, as well as a separate Placement Test Summary Sheet which were added to allow users of the rubric to include more detailed comments when applying the rubric.

Stage 2: Placement Test Review and Selection Using the rubric, six placement tests were reviewed Volume 19

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by the research team (see Figure 1 below). As we did the computerized tests together as a group, the student researchers discussed each test item. The faculty researchers were thus able to see which questions and sections posed problems for them. Rubric scores were gathered and averaged for each test. We also gave each test an intuitive holistic score based on the qualitative comments from the comments boxes and Placement Test Summary Sheet as a way of checking whether the rubric score matched the feelings of the research team as to which test was most suitable. The highest scoring placement test was selected for trials with students as well as two of the lowest scoring placement tests. This resulted in the selection of one computer-based test with the highest score and two tests (one computer and one paper-based) with the lowest scores. Ideally, two high-scoring and two low-scoring tests would have been selected, but given our limited placement test pool and student test subject population, we felt three tests would be sufficient for our purposes.

Stage 3: Deployment of Placement Tests Students from the general student population at the UCQ were recruited to complete all three tests in semi-random order.

Stage 4: Expert Raters The language level of the student participants was evaluated by 11 expert raters, who were teachers familiar with the students’ language levels. The raters were asked to place students into one of five categories based on the UCQ English for Academic Purposes (EAP) program levels. For each test, comparison groups were created by placing cut-scores for each level at the point that gave the best possible agreement with the expert raters. The paper-based OPT was in use at UCQ at the time and the cut-scores created for this test using this method were almost identical to the cut-scores in use. The resulting level placements according to each test were then compared to the level placements made by the expert raters using a Kappa test. For the purposes of placement, it was decided that a fairly high weighted Kappa score of .70 as a measure of agreement between expert raters and the placement test was desirable. TESOL Arabia Perspectives

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Results Test Reviews Accuplacer Accuplacer ESL is an American computer adaptive test produced by the College Board and is widely used by colleges and universities throughout the United States. It consists of five ESL sections: Reading Skills, Sentence Meaning, Language Use, Listening, and the WritePlacer ESL. Accuplacer is an Internet-based test, which means that no software must be downloaded and IT requirements are minimal. While we encountered a number of Americanisms (Miranda Rights, American city names), our student researchers felt that their ability to answer the questions was not compromised due to these elements. The multiple-choice format used throughout was also familiar to our students. Both examples and video tutorials were provided to help test takers. The examples for each section were clear and simple. However, the video tutorials were very unhelpful. The screenshots were taken from a Mac computer, and as we did the test on a PC, the images did not resemble what we saw at all. The tutorials also contained extremely complex language. For example, a tutorial on how to use the computer’s mouse instructed that one’s “index finger rests on the primary button” and one on using the keyboard instructed users to “use the modifier keys on your keyboard to perform certain actions.” These instructions would be beyond the linguistic level of many of our incoming students. In our trial, the test seemed appropriate in academic content for our program. The questions in the Reading Skills section were based on readings of, at most, a few sentences, but tested a variety of skills we practice in our EAP program including making inferences, distinguishing fact and opinion, and interpreting metaphor; it included fictional as well as factual texts. Items in the listening section were based on short, realistic conversations in a variety of settings. Test takers could play both the dialogue and question three times. Pictures gave the conversations a bit of context. The Language Use and Sentence Meaning sections seemed to be fairly standard tests of grammar and vocabulary. We would have liked to have seen more items from the Academic Word List Volume 19

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in the Sentence Meaning section, but perhaps their absence was a result of the computer-adaptive nature of the test and the way we answered the initial questions, as we did not attempt to answer all of the questions correctly. The computerized writing test includes a short reading passage for context before the prompt. Helpful features include a description for test takers as to what elements of their writing will be graded, a timer that shows the amount of time left, and an icon that can be clicked on to show word count. The prompts we saw in our trials were challenging enough that our lower level students might not have been able to respond well to them. We would have liked to see some easier prompts offered to better discriminate among the lower level students we sometimes work with. Compass Compass is also an American computer adaptive test and was developed by the testing organization ACT. We found the realistic academic content of the test to be perhaps slightly more suitable than that of the Accuplacer but the IT requirements of the test were troublesome enough to make the Accuplacer preferable overall, as described below. Compass has four sections: Listening, Reading, Grammar/Usage, and Essay. The listening items we encountered in our trial were based on natural-sounding dialogues that progressed as items were answered correctly from very short, simple conversations in familiar contexts to rather long abstract dialogues that tested skills like making inferences and recognizing metaphor in texts that resembled those that might be encountered in a range of first year university courses. Reading texts similarly progressed from very short texts to longer academic texts with questions testing skills such as finding main ideas and details, making inferences, and drawing conclusions. The grammar test included questions based not only on sentence-level grammar, but also on the relationship between ideas in paragraphs. The computerized writing test seemed to provide satisfactory prompts and an adequate time limit. The Compass testing package runs on a secure browser that prevents test takers from accessing the internet while doing the test. Unlike Accuplacer, Compass requires that its software be downloaded TESOL Arabia Perspectives

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by an institution’s IT department onto each computer used to run the test. Running the tests also requires reconfiguring the screen resolution for each computer, a process that is simply not practical in a busy, shared computer lab. For a school with a dedicated testing lab, this may be less of a concern, but these technical issues ultimately resulted in the decision that this test would not work for us. Password Password, developed by English Language Testing, Ltd., consists of five sections plus an optional online writing exam. It is not computer adaptive, although the items for each test are drawn from a data bank so that each test is unique. Apart from the writing section, it measures only grammatical knowledge and vocabulary with the rationale, according to Password promotional materials, that these sections of tests are usually most reliable ((Accessible, 2011). Password was designed particularly for students who may have studied English extensively, but not have had many opportunities to practice in daily life or in skills-based classrooms. The test developers feel that this type of student may be unfairly disadvantaged by communicative-style tests, particularly in listening and speaking, but that communicative skills develop quickly in an English-speaking environment (Accessible, 2011). This profile does not match our student population well. As many Gulf Arabs need to use English with expatriate workers in their daily lives, their communicative abilities are often quite advanced. However, they may be disadvantaged by tests of formal grammar. In addition, our student researchers found this test quite stressful. One test section deals entirely with collocations. Despite having exceptionally strong English, our student researchers did surprisingly poorly on this section.They knew the meaning of all the words presented, but were simply unable to pick out the most common word partners.We theorized that this might have been due to their using English primarily as a lingua franca and having less exposure to the language as spoken by native speakers.This section was very demoralizing to our student researchers. The fifth section of the test requires test takers to pick which sentences out of a set of four or five are grammatically correct. Our student researchers Volume 19

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found this section confusing and exhausting. They were unsure whether they could pick more than one sentence, and the amount of reading required at this stage of the test was quite tiring. In addition, the method of answering questions was unfamiliar and a little confusing to the team. Test takers must click on numbers at the bottom to choose which question they want to work on. Test takers can flag questions they want to return to, although it took us a while to figure this out. Oxford Online Placement Test Oxford Online Placement Test is a computeradaptive placement test by Oxford University Press. It has only two sections. The Use of English section covers grammar, vocabulary, and reading. The Listening section covers listening skills. This test was probably the easiest to conduct.The test can be done on any computer: test takers simply go to the website and enter a password to begin. A drawback to the test’s ease of administration is a lack of control while test takers do the test.The test is not delivered in a secure browser, so test takers can access the internet while doing the test. During our trials of the test, despite having several proctors in the room, we found that several students accessed Google Translate. The focus of this test was less academic than the other three, with test items on general English for daily life and business as well. Although the listening dialogues were realistic, they covered a wide range of situations that our students would likely not need to deal with. We felt this test would be more suitable for students moving abroad to study in an English speaking country. The test website claims the test is designed to test how learners use their knowledge of grammar and vocabulary to interpret the meaning of English for real communication. Our team, however, found that the test had a very heavy emphasis on idioms, such as “throw my hat in the ring” and “call it a day.” Some idioms even stumped the faculty researchers, for example, “turn up for the books.” Perhaps these were specific to British English. As our students study in classrooms where most of their classmates also use English as a second language, familiarity with these idioms is less important for them than for students studying in English speaking countries. TESOL Arabia Perspectives

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Other British expressions such as “straightaway,” “got sacked,” and “shared a flat” were confusing for our student researchers as well, as they were less familiar with British English. The question about sharing a flat was difficult for the student researchers on another level as well, as they were not able to interpret the relationship between the speakers, being unfamiliar with this living arrangement. British accents added some difficulty as well, and overall the student researchers found this test rather demoralizing.

Oxford Placement Test (OPT) The listening section of the paper-based OPT is composed of 100 questions and requires test takers to choose which of a pair of similar sounding words they hear, for example the difference between “oarsman” and “horseman.” Some vocabulary in the listening section is so low frequency that even the most advanced students at UCQ would not be familiar with it, for example “timberworks,” and “barrel-load.” This in itself would not necessarily invalidate the test, but our student researchers found it very distracting. The faculty and student researchers alike expressed some doubts as to whether the ability to distinguish words differing by only a phoneme could adequately predict the complex listening skills required to function at UCQ. Both faculty and student researchers also found it very difficult to maintain concentration for the entire ten minutes required, and each of us missed a number of items.

University of Michigan English Placement Test The University of Michigan English Placement Test is a paper-based test which includes sections for listening, reading, grammar, and vocabulary. In the listening section, test takers hear a statement and must choose the most appropriate response or best paraphrase from options printed in the test booklet. Although the format of the listening section seemed straightforward to the faculty researchers, the student researchers found it quite confusing, and in fact asked that the test be stopped and several questions demonstrated.

The grammar section also contains 100 questions, and like the Michigan English Placement Test is delivered in multiple-choice format. The items focused on typical verb tense and sentence structure points taught in most ESL classes.

Reading questions are in multiple-choice format and based on short passages of at most a few sentences. As the passages are so short, skills like identifying relationships between paragraphs cannot be measured. The grammar and vocabulary sections are also in multiple-choice format. Words from the Academic Word List are common.

Data from Placement Test Ratings Using the Assessment Rubric Using the Placement Test Selection Rubric, the research team assigned scores to the six placement tests reviewed, as in Figure 1.The score was based on the rubric, and used to choose the tests to pilot.The holistic score was based on the Placement Test Summary Sheet and served as a confirmation that the rubric matched the research team’s opinions as to the best test.

The instructions for all sections of the test are together on the same page. Our student researchers commented that they would have preferred to have the instructions for each section printed above each section.

Test Name

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Test Mode

Rubric Score /100

Holistic Score /10

Accuplacer

Computer

89

8

Compass

Computer

85

9

University of Michigan English Placement Test

Paper

71

8

Password

Computer

66

7

OPT Online Test

Computer

51

5

OPT Placement Test

Paper

46

5

Figure 1. Results of the application of the Placement Test Selection Rubric to six placement tests.

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Deployment of Placement Tests The tests selected for piloting were the top-scoring test, Accuplacer, and the two lowest-scoring tests, Oxford Online Placement Test and the paper-based OPT. Accuplacer was completed by 16 students, Oxford Online Placement Test by 26 students and OPT by 23 students.

Correlations We were interested in determining whether any sections of the tests we tried were strongly correlated to sections on other tests (see Appendix). The most striking finding was that the correlation between the paper-based OPT Listening section and every section of every other test was close to zero. Even with small numbers of students taking the tests, this made us suspect that the listening section of the

OPT was functioning randomly with our student population, supporting our earlier feelings that it was not a valid test of listening skills for our program.

Data from Experts’ Ratings of Students’ English Language Level Figure 2 below shows the agreement between the expert raters’ opinion of the student subjects’ levels with the results of the three placement tests that were piloted using a weighted Kappa, which takes into account the distance between placements as well as matching placements. OPT was functioning randomly with our student population, supporting our earlier feelings that it was not a valid test of listening skills for our program.

Accuplacer

OPT Online

OPT Paper

Cohen’s Kappa

.3766

.2632

.2477

Weighted Kappa (linear)

.4839

.4257

.2562

Figure 2. Agreement between expert raters and placement test scores.

Typing Speed One aspect of computerized testing to which we did not give enough weight while reviewing tests was the effect of the poor typing ability of incoming students. One faculty researcher gave a typing speed test to a group of fairly new students at the institution after our test trials were underway, and found an average typing speed of only eleven words per minute, probably low enough to have a serious effect on computerized writing test scores.

Discussion The purpose of this study was to determine whether a rubric could be designed to effectively indicate the most suitable placement test for use at UCQ. Accuplacer was the highest scoring test according to the rubric, and OPT Online Test and OPT Placement Test were lowest. If the rubric was effective at choosing the best test, it was predicted that its placements would show the highest level of agreement with the expert rater placements, while Volume 19

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the level of agreement for the OPT Online test and the paper-based OPT would show the least. While the Accuplacer did achieve the highest agreement with the expert raters, none of the tests had a high enough level of agreement to validate the Placement Test Selection Rubric as a tool for placement test selection, or to indicate any of the tests as acceptable for use at our institution. Higher numbers of students taking each test would be required to know whether this poor agreement was due to poor functioning of the rubric or other factors, such as a difference in the language skills measured by the tests and the language skills the expert raters deemed necessary for success at UCQ. The most valuable information in terms of the institution came from working through samples of each test with our four student researchers. Their feedback and thoughts while working through each test sample provided invaluable insights into how

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our student population would likely approach each test. For example, faculty was able to observe that even for very high level students, questions based on idioms and collocations were exceptionally difficult. It was theorized that as English is used primarily as an additional language by most of the student population, they have less exposure to these aspects of English and may have less need for them in their classrooms.

Conclusion Although this was a small study with limited numbers of participants, our results indicate a need for more research into the question of whether students studying in an EFL context perhaps require a slightly different set of language skills than those studying in classrooms dominated by native speakers. The poor performance of our research students on items related to collocations and idioms, despite their high language level and success as students at UCQ, suggests a need for research into whether these aspects of language are less necessary for success in EFL settings. It was primarily on the basis of the results of this study that Accuplacer has been adopted as the placement test at UCQ and is in the process of being implemented. An on-going study is currently in place to set appropriate entry, exit and EAP level cut scores.

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For more information, please contact Virginia Christopher at vlchrist@ucalgary.ca, Brad Johnson at bfjohnso@ucalgary.ca, or Karen Brooke at kbrooke@vcc.ca. To obtain a copy of the Placement Test Selection Rubric and the Placement Test Summary Sheet, please contact Karen Brook at kbrooke@vcc.ca.

References Abu Rabia, S. (1998). Social and cognitive factors influencing the reading comprehension of Arab students learning Hebrew as a second language in Israel. Journal of Research in Reading, 21 (3), 201212. Accessible English language testing. (2011). Retrieved from http://www. englishlanguagetesting.co.uk/uploads/2011password-full-screen-brochure.pdf. Brown, J. D. (1989). Improving ESL placement tests using two perspectives. TESOL Quarterly, 23(1), 65-83. Santos, T. (1988). Professors’ reactions to the academic writing of non-native speaking students. TESOL Quarterly, 22(1), 69-90. Yousef, F. S. (1968). Cross-cultural testing: An aspect of the resistance reaction. Language Learning, 18(3-4), 227-234.

Appendix Results: Correlation Analyses 16 students did both the Oxford Placement Test (OPT) and the Accuplacer.

Accuplacer

Listening Language Use 0.07992 Listening -0.154 Reading Skills -0.109 Sentence Meaning 0.18287 Writeplacer 0.10428 Total Excluding Writeplacer 0.01529

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OPT (paper) Grammar 0.69098 0.74158 0.66164 0.73404 0.65195 0.79029

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Total 0.62999298 0.54316763 0.5003664 0.72358122 0.61041479 0.67832386

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20 students did both the Oxford Placement Test (OPT) and the Oxford Online Placement Test. Oxford Online Placement Test Listening Use of English -0.0272 -0.028 0.76837 0.70284 0.63283 0.57745

Listening Grammar Total

OPT (paper)

Total -0.02 0.78485 0.64989

15 students did both the Oxford Online Placement Test and the Accuplacer.

Accuplacer

Oxford Online Placement Test Listening Use of English Language Use 0.45369903 0.57537037 Listening 0.62745738 0.54446715 Reading Skills 0.7079608 0.57475001 Sentence Meaning 0.49654448 0.68578513 Writeplacer 0.44179812 0.59391448 Total Excluding Writeplacer 0.63601477 0.67577507

Total 0.54591973 0.62689216 0.69046848 0.62420157 0.5437714 0.69895996

Karen Brook is an ESP instructor with Vancouver Community College. She worked at the University of Calgary-Qatar for two years and is interested in assessment.

Mona Ali Aden is a nursing student at University of Calgary-Qatar, an executive member of the Nursing Student SocietyQatar, and involved in several research projects.

Noof Al-Kuwari is a nursing student at University of Calgary-Qatar, president of the Nursing Student Society-Qatar, and student representative to the UCQ research committee.

Virginia Christopher instructs in the University of Calgary-Qatar EAP program. She has worked as a high-school teacher, ESL/ EFL instructor, program manager and teacher educator.

Mihad Ibrahim is a nursing student at University of Calgary-Qatar and president of the debate club at UCQ.

Dr Brad Johnson is Director of the Faculty Development Centre at University of Calgary-Qatar and works with faculty to integrate innovative pedagogy and technology into practice.

Oumaima Souyah is a nursing student at University of Calgary-Qatar. She loves volunteering in her field and university and hopes to pursue a doctorate.

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Redefining ESP in Gulf Tertiary Settings In determining what English for Specific Purposes (ESP) means in Gulf tertiary settings it is perhaps wise to accept that fashions change over time and with these changes labels like ESP take on new meanings. My personal involvement in teaching ESP in universities and colleges spans fifteen years and twelve of those have been in the Arabian Gulf. In that time, I have naturally developed my own conceptual framework on what works best based on my experiences and my beliefs. In that time, I have also observed a changing landscape which leads me to believe that the time has come for a redefinition of ESP in higher education (HE). The views expressed here are personal and contextualized within my own working environments. For this reason, my aim is not to prescribe but to raise awareness of what I believe is an appropriate way forward for ESP in the region. So how do I see ESP? Well, I have seen it employed in various ways including English for Academic Purposes (EAP), IELTS/TOEFL exam preparation, integrated projects and integration across the content curriculum, and it is the latter which best reflects my own beliefs. Who should teach it? Well, not general English teachers. There needs to be recognition of effective ESP teaching as a skill accompanied by a belief that this is the best way forward. Finally, I sense that the “English” label is unhelpful where ESP teaching in HE contexts is concerned for two reasons. First, it holds a “necessary evil” moniker (Gvardjancic, 2001, in Cozens, 2006, p.8) in English as a Medium of Instruction (EMI) settings as students and content teachers may consider it burdensome and managers may consider it an added expense. Secondly, the term sets a limit on what a genuine ESP teacher can do, which is to integrate language and content effectively. My proposal is, Volume 19

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Mick King Middlesex University Dubai

therefore, to steer clear of the “English” label, push for more integration across the curriculum and make stakeholders aware that a genuine ESP teacher has skills and beliefs which make them the ideal candidates to successfully co-manage integration with content faculty. This proposal starts by describing my own involvement in ESP. Subsequently, key issues and challenges facing ESP in tertiary settings will be reviewed before my own research in the field is highlighted. Finally, a synthesis of secondary and primary data will sketch my own template for the redefining of ESP in Gulf tertiary settings.

ESP and Me My own ESP in HE journey began in a European university setting where I taught business communication courses to students with an Academic IELTS level of minimum 6.0, which is usually the internationally required entry level for Bachelor’s study. These courses were integrated across the curriculum and were themed to the module the students were concurrently studying. In addition, I tutored problem-based learning sessions within the module which required me to facilitate students’ content learning in a seminar setting. It was the benefits of this integration which formed the foundations of my beliefs. I was eventually posted to a satellite campus of the same university in the Gulf. As the student level of English was lower (IELTS Academic 4.5 to 5.5), Business Communication courses were adjusted accordingly and, significantly, English teachers took a hands-on role in the development and delivery of courses in the first semester of the Bachelor’s degree. While this could have raised questions regarding accreditation and perceptions of quality, the English TESOL Arabia Perspectives

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Reader Feature Response Articles 22 teachers’ ability to impart knowledge to L2 learners meant that these courses always received high satisfaction ratings. My third ESP posting was in a college where students’ English level was Academic IELTS 4.55.0. Language was taught across the curriculum and although there was some integration in academic skills classes and some integrated projects, most English teaching was geared towards the preparation of the IELTS exam. While the continued study of English each year was a plus, the predominance of IELTS preparation meant that the teaching of English was, in my view, decontextualised from a content perspective. My current ESP posting is once again with students with a higher level of English (Academic IELTS 5.5 and above). While the academic skills I teach are coupled with integrated projects, it is assumed that students’ language skills are sufficient after the foundation year so no further language-based skills are taught beyond that point. While I believe that all of the above systems have had some benefits in aiding students on their content journey, it is the model employed in the satellite campus which I found the most effective as it rigorously promoted English teachers as an integral part of the learning experience in an environment where the English level of students was below the requirement for HE study. However, while literature can extol the virtues of such integration it also highlights some of the challenges faced.

A Label for Higher Education It is pertinent to clarify at this point which acronym or label best fits my beliefs and in this regard I fear that ESP is not appropriate. If traditionally it may have been more applicable for teaching English to workers who already had content knowledge but lacked the language skills, this has been subsumed to an extent by the need to teach English to students who are learning content and language concurrently. ESP is a broad umbrella which shelters many other acronyms. From a workplace viewpoint, the Teaching English British Council website suggests a plethora of variations including English for Business Purposes, English for Medical Purposes and English for Occupational Purposes (English, n.d.). Its umbrella also includes English for Academic Purposes (EAP) and Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL). I would argue that both are currently Volume 19

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sufficiently prevalent to be seen not as subsets of ESP but as entities in their own right and could both be appropriate labels in HE. However, while EAP is generic and often proficiency exam-oriented in its approach, I feel that CLIL is a more suitable label for what we should be doing. In defining ESP Dudley-Evans (2001) focuses on the prerequisites of designing courses to meet the specific needs of learners and making use of content methodology and activities and focusing on the language, discourses and genres of specific content areas. CLIL is defined as “an approach in which a foreign language is used as a tool in the learning of a non-language subject in which both language and the subject have a joint role” (Glossary, 2009, p. 2) and “an educational method where subjects are taught through a foreign language with dual-focused aims; namely, the learning of content, and the simultaneous learning of a foreign language” (Tapia, 2007, p.8). The ease with which one can synthesize these definitions suggests that CLIL may be the most suitable label for HE in current times. In addition, it is not limited to one area of English teaching. As Ball (2011) states: “If you teach EMI (English as a Medium of Instruction), LAC (Language Across the Curriculum), CBI (Content-based Instruction) or CBLT (Content-based Language Teaching); if you work in Bilingual Education; if you’re a subject teacher working through the medium of a foreign language, or a language teacher bringing in content into your English lesson, you work within the area of Content and Language Integrated Learning” (para. 2)

English as the Medium of Instruction and Proficiency Exams The HE landscape in the region has been influenced greatly by an increase in English as the Medium of Instruction (EMI) and proficiency exams. Krieger (2008) and Lewin (2008) both highlight the emergence of international universities in the region which use EMI and governmental educational institutions are often following suite. However, this is occurring in a region where most countries have an insufficient average score on international academic English proficiency exams (IELTS, n.d.). While there is evidence of the holistic benefit of preparing for these exams when synthezied with other subjects (Lloyd & Davidson, 2003), the requirement to pass them for access to or even exit from degree programs TESOL Arabia Perspectives

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may lead to their hijacking the curriculum. In fact, one would need to question how relevant they are for institutional needs (Lowenburg, 2000) and how debilitating they are on the morale of ESP teachers who may feel that their professional autonomy is being compromised (McKernan, 2008) in addition to their specific skills being ignored. So, while EMI suggests a need for CLIL, proficiency exam requirements may move it down the list of priorities.

Stakeholder Perspectives If CLIL is to be the model of choice, how would this affect the various stakeholders? On the one hand we can consider the participants in the language classroom – English teachers and students - while on the other hand we need to consider the perspectives of those outside the language classroom – content teachers and managers. Students will have their own perceptions of what kind of English they should be taught and that preference may be affected by many variables. However, in general terms ESP teaching would normally be designed on the basis of a needs analysis (Dudley-Evans, 2001). Once those needs are known, in a CLIL context the next challenge is to determine who should conduct the teaching of English. There are many reasons why an English teacher may not wish to be involved. They may fear looking ignorant in the classroom and may struggle with the technical language (Hutchinson and Waters, 2005). In addition, they may feel that their existing skills are under threat as is their self-esteem. Finally, there is the fear that workload will increase as a result (Morrison cited in Turner, 2005). However, there are many benefits to using English teachers in the area of content including their ability to use “teacher talk” (Richards & Lockhart, 1997). To function successfully, this ability would need to be aligned to other requirements such as reacting to student needs (Tudor, 2001); having a positive attitude to the content (Hutchinson & Waters, 2005) and having a fundamental knowledge of the subject (ibid., 2005). Bell (2002) sees this as being a combination of curiosity, collaboration and confidence. Content teachers’ roles in CLIL would require working closely with English teachers and taking on responsibility for both the academic and language development of students. If they lack the skills to teach students with a low level of English this teamwork becomes all the more pertinent. Volume 19

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Whether content teachers should be leaders in CLIL collaboration is open to debate. Dudley-Evans (2001) believes English teachers should be active and equal collaborators. However, Hutchinson and Waters (2005) opines that English teaching often has a perceived lower status among content faculty and they may prefer to have no collaboration at all. A management vision promoting CLIL might help change attitudes towards collaboration but as the phenomenon of EMI is still relatively embryonic in the region, it is possible that institutions may see the need without really having a workable implementation plan. As Cozens states, “… identifying where the roles of the content […] and ESP teachers integrate is an administrative task that is frequently very explicit in ‘mission statements’ but in reality rather confused with conflicting messages being sent to all” (2006, p.13).

Gulf-Based Study Findings The positives and negatives of CLIL indicated in the literature are also reflected in two personal studies conducted in the region at institutions where I have worked. Below are highlights of findings which are relevant to the debate. The first study (King, 2010b) was conducted on the satellite campus where we exercised a fully integrated model of CLIL. The study aimed to examine the extent to which stakeholders understood and accepted the CLIL strategy employed at the university. All students, faculty and management were canvassed. Students seemed to understand that their English teachers were not general English teachers and indicated strong satisfaction with CLIL courses developed by English teachers. Most content teachers showed little interest in being involved in collaborating on these CLIL courses. Most also believed that content knowledge was more important than an ability to teach, and felt that if English teachers were to have a role outside these CLIL courses, it should be to support content teachers. Most English teachers still considered themselves English teachers as opposed to CLIL teachers, wanted more content faculty input in CLIL courses, saw teaching skills as more important than knowledge and as a result felt that it was acceptable for a teacher to teach beyond their specialization. They also felt they had a role to play in assisting content faculty in teaching content to students with a lower level of English. The Dean was pro-CLIL TESOL Arabia Perspectives

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Reader Feature Response Articles 24 but was concerned that without content input CLIL courses would be seen as extended English courses by students. He surmised that content faculty resistance to collaboration was driven by a superiority complex. The Head of content program agreed that from a quality perspective content faculty should have input and they should be supported outside CLIL courses by English teachers but warned against forcing people to collaborate. Summing up, the positives were that management supported the CLIL initiatives, the courses were well-evaluated and although most content faculty were not interested in collaboration on these courses they did feel that English teachers could help them. The negatives were the embedded divisional nature of the content and English departments, the lack of a sense of ownership of the CLIL initiatives, and the challenges of “selling” them to content faculty. The second study (King, 2010a) was conducted in the college where there was a focus on IELTS preparation. The study aimed to track the washback effect of the IELTS exam on curriculum, teaching and learning when IELTS and content are studied concurrently. Students and English teachers were canvassed via questionnaire and interviews to gauge the effect of the exam. In general, students recognised that although the main course aim was to pass IELTS and this was their short term goal, they also felt that the course had benefited their long term goal of improving their general English skills. Most also felt that preparing for the exam assisted their general academic English and their EMI-based content study. This clashed with the views of the two teachers who were interviewed. They felt that IELTS and content did not mix well and felt that content support was being ignored. As a result they felt students had no concept of learning English for purposes other than the exam. On a personal level, as advocates of integration, they felt that as professionals they were being denied the opportunity to exercise their own educational skills and beliefs. These findings ask important questions. First, it suggests that perceptions of teachers and students are not aligned and if teachers believe in CLIL they may be promoting their own interests before those of the students. On the other hand, student enthusiasm for the IELTS-based study and the benefits it gave them—while possibly valid —may have been tempered by the fact that they were unaware of any alternative CLIL-based model. Volume 19

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Solutions to Challenges The confirmation of the many challenges from secondary and primary data leads me to hold back from championing the CLIL cause wholesale. However, as an advocate I am not about to change my beliefs wholesale either. For this reason I will suggest solutions to these challenges while recognizing that convincing others to adopt a CLIL model may not happen overnight. As mentioned earlier, ESP as a label is problematic in tertiary settings due to its many subsets and its traditional association with workers rather than students. Therefore I believe CLIL is a viable alternative term in HE as it includes the key concepts of content and integration and excludes the word “English” with its potentially negative connotations for stakeholders focusing on learners’ content study. We have to recognize that EMI is prevalent in the region and we need to respond to it. This requires an acceptance that language support is needed beyond foundation programs. Similarly, the prevalence of proficiency testing requires that we should prepare our students for such exams, but not at the expense of integrated learning. If we believe CLIL is appropriate we need to convince students of its value. To aid this, we should keep proficiency test preparation away from internal summative content assessments. We need to make them aware of how stimulating and relevant CLIL can be and finally we need to tool up in their content knowledge, let them know we know about their content courses and let the students know that we believe it is in their best interests for us to know about their content courses. Students may be easier to convince than content teachers. Consequently, we should be proactive in looking for collaboration. This may take the form of inviting them to help us bring content into our classes or offering to help them teach students with relatively low proficiency in English. If a superiority complex does exist, for the students’ benefit it may be wise for us to take on the role of willing apprentice. As with students we need to tool up in the content teachers’ knowledge, let the content teachers know we know and let the content teachers know we believe it is in the students’ best interests for us to know. Institutions must be made aware that CLIL needs to be a prominent strategy to support students in EMI study in the region. Management teams need to recognize TESOL Arabia Perspectives

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CLIL teaching as a specialized skill, so job specifications should be made clear, recruitment should be conducted judiciously and training should be offered according to institutional needs. For those already in a system, efforts to integrate content and language should be measured as part of performance appraisal.

Final thoughts As for English teachers, one option is to stick our heads in the sand if we do not feel comfortable with CLIL. But if we are really interested in our students’ needs, maybe we should be prepared to change our work practices accordingly. EMI is changing students’ language needs so we may need to adapt to that change for their sake and, indeed, to validate our positions. If we do not, well…there are plenty of other places to teach general English. If the role of English teaching in our institutions already includes a CLIL niche, it may be time for us to find it; and in the interests of our students, if no such niche exists, it may be time for us to create it. Mick King has worked and researched in EAP/ESP environments for more than fifteen years and has a particular interest in Content and Language Integrated Learning. He holds an MSc in Educational Management from Aston University, UK, and is an EdD candidate with Exeter University, UK.

References Ball, P. (2011). What is CLIL? Retrieved from http://www.onestopenglish.com/support/ methodology/teaching-approaches/what-isclil/156604.article Bell, D. (2002). Help! I’ve been asked to teach a class on ESP! IATEFL Voices, Issue 169, Oct/Nov. Cozens, P. (2006). ESP: Content, or no content? In M. Lahlou, & A. Richardson (Eds.), English for specific purposes in the Arab world (pp. 7-16). Dubai:TESOL Arabia. Dudley-Evans, T. (2001) English for specific purposes. In R. Carter, & D. Nunan (Eds.), The Cambridge guide to teaching English to speakers of other languages (pp. 131-136). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. English for specific purposes: An introduction, (n.d.) Retrieved from http://www.teachingenglish.org. uk/transform/teachers/specialist-areas/englishspecific-purposes Glossary. (2009). Retrieved from http://www. cambridgeesol.org/assets/pdf/resources/teacher/ clil_glossary.pdf Hutchinson,T., & Waters, A. (2005). English for specific Volume 19

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purposes. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. IELTS researchers: Test taker performance 2010 (n.d.). IELTS—International English Language Testing System. Retrieved from http://www.ielts. org/researchers/analysis_of_test_data/test_taker_ performance_2010.aspx King, M. (2010a). Research into IELTS washback at XXX. Centre for Teaching and Learning Newsletter, 3,8-9. King, M. (2010b) Management and ownership issues in CLIL: A strategic analysis into stakeholder reactions to implementing content and language integrated learning—case study CHN University Qatar. In M. Al-Hamly, C. Coombe, P. Davidson, A. Shehadeh & S. Troudi (Eds.), Proceedings of the 15th TESOL Arabia annual conference: English in learning: Learning in English (pp. 25-32). Dubai: TESOL Arabia. Krieger, Z. (2008, March 26). An academic building boom transforms the Persian Gulf. Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved from ERIC database. (EJ790335). Lewin, T. (2008, February10). U.S. universities rush to set up outposts abroad. Education New York Times Online. Retrieved from http://www. nytimes.com/2008/02/10/education/10global. html Lloyd, D., & Davidson, P. (2003). Integrating the TOEFL into an academic skills-based IEP curriculum. In C. Coombe, P. Davidson & D. Lloyd (Eds.), Proceedings of the 5th and 6th current trends in English language testing (CTELT) conferences, (Vol. 3, pp. 157-166). Dubai: TESOL Arabia. Lowenburg, P.H. (2000). Non-native varieties and the sociopolitics of English proficiency assessment. In J.H. Hall & W.G. Eggington (Eds.), The sociopolitics of English language teaching (pp. 6782). Cleveland, OH: Multilingual Matters, Ltd. McKernan. J. (2008). Curriculum and imagination: Process theory, pedagogy and action research. London: Routledge. Richards, J. C., & Lockhart, C. (1997). Reflective teaching in second language classrooms. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. Tapia, A.R.R. (2007). Converting to CLIL. English Teaching Professional, 52, 8-10. Tudor, I. (2001). The dynamics of the language classroom. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. Turner, C. (2005). How to run your department successfully. London: Continuum. TESOL Arabia Perspectives

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Integrating Literature and Technology in EFL/ ESL Contexts For a long time, literature was initially the main source of input for teaching language, especially during the era of the Grammar Translation method. With the advent of Structuralism and the Audio Lingual method, the role of literature in the English as a Foreign Language class and English as a Second Language instruction in general has declined. Unfortunately, in EFL/ESL classes, we no longer find students reading literary texts and analyzing them. However, in recent years many research studies have recognized the importance of literature for EFL/ESL students (e.g., Khatib, 2011; Muthusamy, 2010). There have been many research studies about integrating literature in the EFL/ESL class (e.g., Carlisle, 2000), and this article as its title suggests, continues this trend and moves the discussion further as it adds to the existing body of research by combining literature with technology in EFL/ESL contexts. The article reveals the advantages of using literature and technology in the EFL/ESL class and proposes a literary EFL/ESL program. It is hoped that the present article with its proposed program will be of use to those EFL/ESL educators who are interested in integrating literature and language with the aid of technology into their classes.

Advantages of Literature and Technology Integration in EFL/ESL Contexts One of the main benefits of including literature and technology in the EFL/ESL class is their cultural input, since literature and technology are a mirror of culture and can thus acquaint students with the aesthetic, moral and spiritual values of their culture and the global culture. In other words, literature and technology express universal human values and their use in the EFL class could promote international Volume 19

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Nagwa A. Soliman The British University in Egypt

communication with all English speaking people (Marckwardt, 1978). Moreover, as a result of becoming familiar with the culture of the target language, some students’ negative attitudes that may have existed before reading the literary texts will be overcome (Zoreda & Vivaldo-Lima, 2008). According to Gajdusek (1988) incorporating literature in language teaching develops the communicative competence in learners with the literary text as it has both “internal coherence” and “conscious patterning.” The former indicates the coherent discourse meaning which engages the reader, while the latter refers to recurring linguistic, structural patterns that relate to different kinds of experiences which all lead to the communicative reader literary-text interaction. Furthermore, it encourages discussion between students and provides opportunities for collaborative group work. Another advantage of integrating literature and technology in the EFL field is their authenticity, which is crucial in EFL/ESL in the current literature. The internet is rich in authentic material that EFL educators can use in their classes to motivate and engage their students. Exposing students to such authentic material in literary texts enhances their overall language proficiency. Literature, and especially novels and short stories, are replete with descriptive language, functional phrases, and contextualized expressions that usually appeal to the students’ imaginations. In addition, literature’s authenticity provides EFL students with sociolinguistic and pragmatic information that is expected to improve their language fluency. Being able to use appropriate expressions at the right time and in the right situations is clearly featured in literary texts, especially in novels and short stories. TESOL Arabia Perspectives

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Literature and technology are both fertile mediums for boosting critical thinking. According to Langer (1997), literature among other text types gives EFL students a chance to reflect on their lives, learning, and language. Furthermore, students can use technology to boost their critical thinking skills, and thus they are able to read between the lines and “unravel the hidden agenda of texts” (Khatib, 2011). As a result students’ intellectual perspectives broaden and they mature cognitively. One more advantage of using literature as LadoussePorter (2001) indicated is that it boosts the students’ emotional intelligence which includes: self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy and social skills (Goleman, 1998), which all help in boosting students’ language learning skills.

The Proposed Literature/EFL/ESL Program The author proposes the use of three novels and recommends short fiction as well so as not to put off some students who may find the novels too long to read.The teacher could choose one or more of the following approaches: Stylistic, Experiential, ReaderResponse, Critical Literacy or the Language-Based Approach. In other words an eclectic approach is endorsed in which the teacher does not use or adopt one method of literary text instruction, but picks the approach that fits the teaching context, the independent learning objectives, and the students’ needs.

Pre- reading Tasks Before starting to read the assigned literature (novels or short stories), students should first be furnished with the socio-historical and literary background information to situate the novel or short story in its cultural context. This could be managed via Webquests and a keyword vocabulary search which could help them gain the required knowledge (Kraemer, 2008) and the expected vocabulary that they may encounter in the literary work. They should, for example search for information about the author, the main topic (theme), and keyword vocabulary that they expect to find in the text that they will read. They are also required to arrange the vocabulary they find into clusters such as positive versus negative or along a scale (Gareis, Alaard, & Saindon, 2009). The students are requested to find at least four sources and to annotate them to ensure that they have read and interpreted the information. Volume 19

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They should also include their personal comments, for example, why they think it is relevant and how it could be used in the context of the course. Their findings are posted on a Wiki page which should be accessible to all the students in the class, as it could serve as their resource for another paper that they will be asked to write. This step is extremely important as it provides students with background information and previews content and vocabulary to maximize comprehension for the EFL/ESL reader. I disagree with Spack (1985) whose idea that the use of this procedure could possibly result in “spoiling the pleasurable literary experience of reading a masterpiece of fiction,” as students need this cultural guide to motivate them to read and interpret the text. Another advantage which should also be noted is that this step refines the students’ on-line research skills (Kraemer, 2008). This is due to the fact that teachers guide them through hands-on coaching on academic research methods while practicing their reading skills of skimming and scanning and their critical thinking abilities such as inference and making assumptions and this is accomplished in the target language and in their own words.

Write-before-you-read (Spack & Sadow, 1984) Students are given prompts about an idea or a theme or an event that is contained in the work that they are about to read and are to relate it to their personal experience. This activity should take 10 to 15 minutes in class and the students should not worry about the writing mechanics. They should mainly focus on idea development (Experiential Approach). This procedure was used in one of Spack’s (1985) classes and she had excellent results as students not only understood the main idea of the work that they were about to read, but also “empathized with the plight of the protagonist.” This technique made students write about the literary work in an uninhibited atmosphere and this was all conducted before the students read the literary work. This method boosts the students’ self-confidence and esteem, as they realize that literature deals with real life issues and that they themselves are capable of writing about them

Listen & speak-before-you-read Students are asked to record what they wrote about in the activity “Write-before-you read” on voiceboards and this could be accessed through TESOL Arabia Perspectives

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a free program called CLEAR (http://clear.msu. edu/teaching/online/ria). Then the teacher could give feedback to the students. The reason why this technique should be done before class discussions is because some students may need first to talk about their personal experience with their teacher before sharing it with their peers. The next step is to have students discuss what they wrote together by comparing their experiences and listening to one another. Moreover, Spack (1985) also suggests that the teacher takes part in the Write-before-you-read activity. One of her students “realized that great ideas live within people; they need inspiration, not school, to bring them forth.” This was what the student discovered and wrote before reading a story titled “Zen and the Art of Burglary” from The Sayings of Goso Hoyen by Wu-tsu Fa-Yen and surprisingly this idea was actually embedded in the text. In other words, by encouraging the students to bring out their schemata, some of the students are able to express the same themes that the authors are expressing in their literary work. When this occurs and the students realize their capability after reading the piece of literature, this may have an ever-lasting effect on the credibility and importance of their own ideas which in turn gears them towards becoming autonomous learners. Another in-class discussion is also conducted and this should be about the information that the students gathered on their Webquests. In this discussion, students exchange the information and comment on them as by engaging the students with a certain topic in a creative way they are exposed to the themes, vocabulary items, and theoretical background of the literary texts that they are about to read.

While-reading Listening and Speaking (L/S)Tasks (Kraemer, 2008) On a weekly basis students are given prompts and questions based on the literary work that they are reading and they are required to answer on a program called Conversations that is also found on CLEAR. With regards to the devices required, speakers and a microphone are needed to work with the program. Types of prompts that teachers could ask the students about while they are reading the assigned novel include asking for specific information based on the reading of the literary Volume 19

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work, or requesting the students to compare or analyze certain characters in the work, or to infer certain ideas from the text. Furthermore, the teacher could simply ask them to read out certain paragraphs to work on the students’ pronunciation and proper use of stress and intonation. Here, not only are the students practicing speaking and listening, but also the skill of inference becomes a natural and integral part of reading rather than a separate task. The teacher should give each student oral feedback on a program called Audio Assignments that is found on (htttp://www.audioassignments. com). When Kraemer (2008) tried this technique with his students, the questionnaire results showed that the majority of them believed that the weekly L/S activities were the most helpful assignment for improving their listening and speaking skills. However, Kraemer did report that these assignments were rather time consuming, and this problem was overcome by giving shorter prompts to the students and having students answer the prompts spontaneously using the live mode of the program. The invaluable students’ listening and speaking practice and language exposure that resulted in the use of this task surely outweighs its cons.

Post-reading Tasks Multimedia literary work project (Kraemer, 2008) Students are required to form groups and create a webpage called Mashup (http://clear.msu.edu/ teaching/online/mashup/index.), which should include a video, audio, picture, some text and interactive exercises on the content of the literary work that they have read. Each group should decide which part they would like to show whether it is about the literary work’s characters, theme, plot, setting or point of view. This freedom of choice is essential to motivate students in implementing this project. The projects should be uploaded on the same Wiki page where their Webquests were posted. Teachers are advised to create a separate Wiki page for each class. The questions that the students create could be used in other classes who are assigned to read the same literary work.

Role-play Students are requested to choose one of the characters in the literary work and a specific situation that appeals to them and role play it. This activity is done in groups and conducted in a TESOL Arabia Perspectives

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separate class where students will watch one another role play, using the target language and enjoying the fun atmosphere. It is in these situations that language is subconsciously acquired.

Novlet Novlet (http://www.novlet.com/) is a web application that supports collaborative writing of non-linear stories. Students could create an account on this web application where they can access different genres of stories that are incomplete and they choose the kind of writing that interests them and start adding passages to the story. They can read stories written by other users, create their own stories, and choose the plot that they like most from several alternatives. Novlet stories consist of passages and text sections that are usually made of a few paragraphs. The students can continue stories or add different storylines by creating their passages after existing ones. This post-reading task activates students’ fantasies and critical thinking skills.

Conclusion Dr Nagwa A. Soliman is currently an English Language Lecturer at the British University in Egypt. She has taught in many universities including the American University of Cairo, Misr International University, Arab Academy for Science and Technology, Arab Open University, North Eastern University and Mansoura University. Her research interests include extensive reading, critical thinking and literature use in EFL/ESL.

Teaching literature via technology enlivens the EFL/ ESL class, motivates students to use the language in a non-threatening environment, and indeed improves their overall language skills. Teaching English should be about making the language alive and meaningful, so students can gain ownership of the language and this can be achieved by using literature and language in the EFL/ESL classroom.

References Carlisle, A. (2000). Reading logs: An application of reader-response theory in EFL. ELT Journal, 54(1), 12-19. Gajdusek, L. (1988). Toward wider use of literature in ESL: Why and how. TESOL Quarterly, 22(2), 227-257. Gareis, E., Allard, M., & Saindon, J. (2009). The novel as textbook. TESL Canada Journal, 26(2), 136-147. Goleman, D. (1998). Working with emotional Volume 19

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intelligence. New York: Bantam Books. Khatib, M. (2011). Literature in EFL/ESL classroom. English Language Teaching, 4(1), 201-208. Kraemer, A. D. (2008). Happily ever after: Integrating language and literature through technology? Unterrichts Praxis, 41(1), 61-71. Ladousse-Porter, G. (2001). Using literature in the language classroom: Whys and wherefores. English Teacher: An International Journal, 5(1), 27-36. Langer, E. (1997). The power of mindful learning. New York: Addison-Wesley. Marckwardt, A. H. (1978). The place of literature in the teaching of English as a second or foreign language. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press. Muthusamy, C. (2010). Literature learning in the Malaysian ESL classroom: A UiTM experience. Language Teaching and Research, 1(1), 69-76. Spack, R., & Sadow, C. (1984). Write before you read. Presented at the Massachusetts Association of Teachers of Speakers of Other Languages Fall Conference, Bradford, MA. Spack, R. (1985). Literature, reading and writing, and ESL: Bridging the gaps. TESOL Quarterly, 19(4), 703-725. Zoreda, L.M., & Vivaldo-Lima, J. (2008). Scaffolding linguistic and intercultural goals in EF with simplified novels and their film adaptation. English Teaching Forum, 3, 22-29.

Vacancy: Independent Learning SIG Chair For more information, contact james.mcdonald@zu.ac.ae or melanie.gobert@hct.ac.ae. TESOL Arabia Perspectives

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Digital Literacies The advent of digital media has changed our perceptions of literacy, and given rise to the need for “digital literacies.” But what are these digital literacies, and how can we develop our learners’ digital literacies in the English language classroom? Traditionally, literacy has referred to the basic skills of reading and writing, occasionally coupled with basic numeracy and referred to as the “3 r’s” (reading, writing and arithmetic). With the proliferation of digital media, however, commentators have come to consider a wider range of skills as figuring in a new definition of “digital literacy.” Even if we teach supposedly tech-comfy younger learners, we cannot assume that they are digitally literate. In fact, they often are not.

visual, media and multimedia literacy: the internet is a multimedia medium par excellence, and we need to understand how images and multimedia (audio, video) can be used to supplement, enhance, subvert or even replace text communication. We also need to know how to produce multimodal messages ourselves, from sharing our photos on Facebook to creating video clips for YouTube. In the age of Web 2.0 we are no longer passive consumers who need to learn how to sit back and critique mass media (although this is still a key skill). We are now “prosumers” (producers and consumers) of multimedia artifacts.

gaming literacy: a macroliteracy involving kinaesthetic and spatial skills, and the ability to navigate online worlds (such as Second Life) or use gaming consoles such as the Wii. Although this may seem like a literacy unconnected to education, there is a growing interest in serious games for education.

Focus on Language

print literacy: the ability to read and produce online text, such as blog entries, tweets, emails, and so on. This is clearly related to traditional print literacy, but includes an awareness of online text genres.

texting literacy: an awareness of the Volume 19

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hypertext literacy: understanding how hyperlinks in online text work, and being able to produce texts with effective use of hyperlinking. Here we could include knowing how many hyperlinks to include in a text and why, what to link to, understanding the effects of over- (or under-) linking in a text, and so on.

Mark Pegrum (2009) proposes a useful way of conceptualizing digital literacies. He envisages four main areas: language, information, connections and (re)design. Let’s explore these one by one.

Nicky Hockly The Consultants-E Spain conventions of texting language (abbreviations, acronyms, symbols, etc.), and of knowing in what contexts to use them or not.

So, what exactly is digital literacy? Are there a series of subskills or digital “literacies” (note the plural) that we can define?

These are key digital literacies which focus on communication via the language of text, image and multimedia, and include:

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Educational Feature Technology Articles 32 ◆

mobile literacy: an understanding of how mobile technology is transforming our world, from issues of hyperconnectivity (always being connected to the Internet), to understanding how to use geolocation and augmented reality.

code and technological literacy: apart from basic technical skills (such as knowing how to use a word processing program, or how to send an attachment by email), a basic knowledge of html coding can help us understand how online tools and products are put together, and more importantly, enable us to make changes to these to overcome limitations. As Rushkoff (2010, p. 133) puts it, “If we don’t learn to program, we risk being programmed ourselves.” We are not talking here about becoming fully fledged computer programmers, but rather about developing an awareness of the basics.Very basic coding skills can help one customize the elements in one’s blog for example, or route around censorship (for good or bad).

Focus on Information ◆

search literacy: the ability to search for information effectively online.This includes an awareness of search engines beyond Google!

tagging literacy: knowing how to tag (or label) online content, how to create tag clouds and to contribute to “folksonomies” (user created banks of tags).

information literacy: the ability to evaluate online sources of information for veracity, and credibility. In this age of information overload, we also need to develop filtering and attention literacy so as to know what to pay attention to and what not to and when.

Focus on Connections ◆

personal literacy: knowing how to create, project and curate your online identity. This includes an awareness of issues such as online safety or identity theft.

network literacy: the ability to take part in online networks and to leverage these

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to help you filter and find information. For teachers, their PLN (Personal Learning Network) - online professional contacts - can be useful as a means of tapping into ongoing professional development. ◆

participatory literacy: closely aligned to network literacy, participatory literacy involves contributing to and participating in online networks. So not just reading professional development tweets on Twitter, but contributing your own tweets. Not just reading blog posts, but leaving comments or even writing your own blog.

cultural and intercultural literacy: understanding digital artifacts from other cultures, and interacting effectively and constructively with people from other cultures take on even more importance in our global world, where intercultural contact via digital communication is increasingly possible and increasingly likely.

Focus on (Re)design ◆

remix literacy: the ability to repurpose or change already-made content in order to create something new. Literal videos on YouTube are a good example of this - see the Harry Potter literal film trailer for just one example.

Clearly, then, this is a complicated mix of skills to master, and teachers can play a part in helping learners acquire some of the necessary skills by integrating them into their classroom practice alongside the regular “content” they deal with. In this way we can make a difference in our learners’ comfort level, helping them beyond the “tech comfy” to the “tech savvy” which will contribute to their life beyond the classroom, in the professional workplace and in our (increasingly) knowledgebased economies. What does this mean for the English language teacher? Below is one practical way to help our learners develop one of the digital literacies dearest to many—texting literacy. Why texting literacy? Mobile phone penetration in high resource contexts is near the 100% mark, and in lower resource contexts, it is catching up. For language teachers, this means that your students are carrying around

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Feature Articles Educational Technology

a device that they use on a daily basis. Depending on the demographic of your students, they may be sending far more text (or “SMS”) messages than they are making phone calls. Sending a short but intelligible SMS message is, as we know, a skill. Although there are still those who insist on sending text messages in fully formed grammatical sentences with capitalization and punctuation, the trend is in fact towards using text speak, or “txtspk.” Knowing how to formulate appropriate messages in text speak (texting literacy) is clearly a 21st century digital skill. It’s one that many of your students already master in their first language. But what about text speak in English? Students visiting, working or studying in the UK may well need to use text speak in order to communicate by mobile phone. They may also need text speak to participate in online conversations in social networking sites, or even on public websites where the use of text speak is encouraged or even fundamental to understanding the genre (e.g. LOLcats, http://www.lolcats.com). Even for students not resident in the UK, it’s fun to learn about and compare text speak conventions in English with their first language tech speak conventions. Here is a lesson you can try out with your students to gauge their awareness and use of English text speak: Warmer: Put the following emoticons on the board and ask students what they represent: :-) [smiley face] :-o [surprise] :-/ [“hmmm” or non-committal] :-D [big grin] What other emoticons do they know? (see a complete list here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ List_of_emoticons ). Are emoticons the same in their language as in English? Where and when do we use emoticons (emails, online communication, text messages...). 1. Ask students about their mobile phones. What do they use them for? How often? Do they send SMS messages? What are the advantages of using text speak in such messages (e.g., speed, cost, informality, playfulness)? Can they give an example of a text message in their mother tongue?

Tell students you recently received this message from a friend. What is it about? Can they decipher the text message in pairs? Give feedback, pointing out some of the features of text messages in English, such as ◆ ◆ ◆ ◆

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common abbreviations (Thx=thanks, gr8=great, gd=good) acronyms and numbers (c u=see you, 2=to) emoticons (e.g. :-) denotes a smiley face) symbols (xxx means kisses, &=and)

3. Put the following text messages on a handout, or on the board. Put students in pairs to decipher and write out each message in standard English: ◆ ◆ ◆ ◆ ◆

Wot u doing 2nite? Had gr8 time w John on hols Pls send me info re: ur Eng courses 4 nxt yr OK, 8pm good. C u there! i want 2 apply 4 job in ydays nwspaper

4. Conduct feedback and ask: What is the context for each message? Which 2 messages are not appropriate as SMS? 5. Ask pairs to choose one of the appropriate text messages, and compose a reply in text speak. They write their replies on the board. 6. The same pairs then try to decipher all the text speak reply messages now on the board, and match them to the original message from step 3 above. Provide feedback. Nicky Hockly is Director of Pedagogy of The Consultants-E, an online training and development consultancy. She has written several books on ELT and technology and is currently working on a book about digital literacies (Dudeney, Hockly, & Pegrum; in press). The Consultants-E run regular in-service online teacher development courses on a wide range of ICT topics for language teachers, including the popular Cert ICT: Certificate in Teaching Languages with Technology, which is validated by Trinity College London, and is offered in blended mode (part face-to-face, part online) with International House London. Further information at http://www.theconsultants-e.com.

7. As a round up, ask students to discuss some or all of the following questions in small groups, or as a whole class: ◆

2. Put the following mobile phone text message on the board: Thx 4 gr8 eve & dinner :-) Gd 2 c Steve&Jill 2. C u soon. xxx Sue

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◆ ◆

How many text messages do you send per day in your mother tongue? Per week? Who do you text? When and why? Can you give an example of an emoticon which is the same in your language as in

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English? Can you give an example which is different? Can you give an example of a text speak abbreviation which works in the same way in your language as in English? Can you give an example which is different? In what situations is text messaging considered OK in your mother tongue? Do you think this is the same in English? In what situations is text messaging not considered OK in your mother tongue? Do you think this is the same in English?

8. Homework: Ask students to send you a text message in English telling you what they thought of the class!

References Crystal, D. On the Myth of Texting. Retrieved from http://tinyurl.com/yhwb5dj Dudeney, G., Hockly, N., & Pegrum, M. (in press). Digital literacies. Harlow, UK: Pearson. Pegrum, M. (2009). From blogs to bombs:The future of digital technologies in education. Perth, AUS: UWA Publishing. Rushkoff, D. (2010). Program or be programmed:Ten commands for the digital age. NY: OR Book See this list of resources about digital literacies: http://www.theconsultants-e.com/resources/ ToolsResources/DigiLit.aspx

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Educational Feature Articles Technology

Using the Blog for Instruction: A Story of Failure Blogs, online journals which allow users to post whatever they want on the Internet, have grown in popularity through the years. Blog host sites such as Blogger, LiveJournal or WordPress employ userfriendly ways by which the individual can create and design his or her blog from scratch. As with all other technological implements, the blog could have potential as a tool for teaching and learning. Wilkerson (2009) enumerates some of the various uses of blogging in education: as a teacher’s personal journal reflecting his teaching practices, as a means of posting research discoveries online to share with other educators, and for teachers to interact with their students by way of class-related information posts and links to sites relevant and useful for their courses. Today, there are hundreds and thousands of blog sites maintained by teachers for their classes and students and almost all of them extol praises on how this technology has aided in the teaching-learning process. An article by Tan, Ow and Ho (2005) shares some success stories about how weblogging has positively enhanced language teaching and learning. According to them, blogging provides a workshoplike environment where students can reflect on what they write, receive feedback and facilitate exchange of ideas among peers.

The Teacher’s Blog Project Last school year, the English Department in my college required all teachers to blog. It was to become an extension to classroom instruction encouraging students to keep learning beyond class hours by providing a venue in which they could interact with their teacher and classmates. There would be regular class assignments published Volume 19

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Raymund P. Reyes Yanbu Industrial College Saudi Arabia

online by the teacher in the form of blog postings. The teacher would also use a blog site to post announcements on upcoming quizzes and major exams, reminders on other class and school-related matters, and links to other sites which would serve as supplementary materials to lessons. The blog would eliminate the need to repeat instructions and announcements, and photocopy materials to be distributed to students thereby decreasing wastage of the use of office materials. Students, meanwhile, would use the Comments section to submit answers to assignments or to simply ask the teacher any question they might have been hesitant to ask in person. Furthermore, their classmates would be able to read and reply to each other’s submissions and comments since the blog was in WordPress and, therefore, public. A student from another section could even join in the discussion of another teacher’s blog, widening further his classroom learning experience. The intentions were promising. So the teachers were asked to begin blogging. They did not have to start from scratch. Their accounts were created for them, all they needed to do was modify the layout of their pages and start posting. The timing for the implementation of the new project was good. The semester had just begun. Every few days, teachers were emailed a video tutorial on how to go about the many possibilities they could do with their class blogs from changing layouts to posting interactive links.

What Went Right—and Wrong? After one month, it was found that very few of the teachers were blogging. Many had not even bothered to activate their blogs. In response, a hands-on training workshop was conducted to ensure that all blog accounts were activated and everyone learned TESOL Arabia Perspectives

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Educational Feature Technology Articles 36 the basics. Two months into the semester, a memo was passed warning everyone—because some had remained resistant to the project—to start blogging or they would have to explain their noncompliance. This eventually forced even the most reluctant faculty members to start posting. Still, things did not go as well as expected. The initial objectives of the project were not realized in actual practice. Some teachers merely posted announcements and nothing else. Others copy-pasted materials and exercises from textbooks, while still others simply scanned documents and pasted them into the blogs as images. One blog contained links to another teacher’s blog. A few teachers, however, followed through. The teacher’s blog project actually worked for the teachers who had the diligence to post entries, set student deadlines for posting of comments, and read and critique their students’ postings one by one and regularly. Students were not only posting per the homework requirements, they were also asking questions. Some of the questions and comments were not related to the lesson or assignment postings, but the positive point is that the students were communicating. EFL learners in a non-English speaking community rarely have the chance to practice the language outside the classroom so that one objective of the EFL teacher should be to keep on finding ways in which students will be exposed to the language beyond class hours. The blog provided such a venue. Three months into the semester, however, the project was simply not taking off due to lack of support and enthusiasm among the majority of teachers. No more tutorials and memos came in emails, teachers stopped talking about the blogs, and the idea just died with the end of the semester.

Why It Didn’t Work One teacher followed through with his blog and from the thread of postings and comments there, one can notice the active interaction between the teacher and his students. It worked for this one teacher, but the project as a whole failed for the following reasons: ◆

The thought of forcing every teacher in the department to keep a blog is idealistic. While the use of technology as an aid in the teaching-learning process should be encouraged, one cannot expect all teachers to be enthusiastic with one particular technology. Volume 19

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On a related note, the initial lack of enthusiasm from some overpowered what interest the project may have generated in a few. When the half-interested individuals realized that many of their colleagues were not updating their own blogs, the former eventually lost interest altogether.

Teachers already used another elearning software called Moodle. It is an interactive online-based program which, in our case, teachers use to check student attendance, post student grades, and links to downloadable supplementary materials, and other eservices like accessing library resources and turning on the overhead projector in every classroom. On the students’ part, they log-in to Moodle to check their attendance and grade records, and send private messages to their teachers. The resistance from many teachers came not from their illiteracy with creating and maintaining a blog site, but from the feeling that keeping a blog would be more technology than was necessary. It would have been redundant to post the same things on the blog that they had already posted in Moodle.

Finally, some young people on our side of the world, unbelievably so, are not computer-savvy and internet enthusiasts. They comprise the minority of the student population, but if you want your blog to be successful, you need the entire class to participate. Furthermore, those who surf the internet usually use it for social activities like chat, email, Facebook, and downloading movies and music. However, I deem this factor as the most minor of the above since in many cases, students will follow the example of their teachers. If teachers tell their students to do something and that they will be graded for it, even the most stubborn student would exert minimum effort.

Lessons Learned: How a Teacher’s Blog Project Can Work I encourage the use of blogging as a supplement to classroom instruction. Technology is only as good, however, as the manner and appropriateness of its use. Like other products of computer technology, blogging has numerous potentials. Embracing TESOL Arabia Perspectives

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Educational Feature Articles Technology

new ideas such as blogging will easily connect with students because they already use texting, blogging and the internet at home very frequently (Wilkerson, 2009).

Teachers can successfully use weblogging to supplement instruction if: ◆

They are personally enthusiastic about the idea. Unfortunately, blogging does not appeal to all people. The failure of our project lay primarily on the fact that it aimed to get every teacher blogging, which proved to be too high an expectation. It was, however, a success for the teacher who followed through and whose own blog mirrored the success stories of many teachers around the world who have discovered the benefits of blogging and how it can aid the teaching-learning process in their respective classes. A suggestion could be starting a teacher’s blog project with a small group of teachers with all of them sharing the same eagerness to blog and use the technology with their respective classes.

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They are willing to exert the extra hours to compose postings, respond to comments, and ensure that the site is visually-appealing and interactive. A blog is a website with multi-media capabilities, after all. The teacher who is already overwhelmed with quizzes to check, papers to read, and remedial classes to teach might not have the time, dedication, and consistency to continually update his presence in the blogosphere.

References Tan,Y.H., Ow, E. G. J., & Ho, J. M. (2005). Weblogs in education. Retrieved from http://www. edublog.net/files/papers/weblogs%20in%20 education.pdf Wilkerson, K. (2009). Using blogs and blogging in education. Retrieved from http://voices.yahoo. com/using-blogs-blogging-education-3886870. html. ❉

Our English Language Program offers:

• • • • • •

A progressive teaching environment A modern new campus with SmartBoards and a wireless environment Many Professional Development opportunities General English, EAP and ESP courses Student Academic Support Services A team of over 200 faculty and staff

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Reviews Feature Articles

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Presenting in English: How to Give Successful Presentations Mark Powell Cengage Learning, 2011 ISBN: 978-1-111-83227-8 127 pages Giving successful presentations and speaking in public require knowledge and much practice. In today’s world, all job ads make it a must that job applicants should entertain excellent communication and presentation skills (Prescott, El-Sakran, AlAssaf, Albasha, & Aloul, 2011). Consequently, a job applicant with excellent discipline knowledge may not be successful in securing a job in his/her respective field due to ineffective presentation and communication skills. Presenting in English is often correlated with PowerPoint slides. However, presentations may go without supporting slides in many situations and contexts such as giving a public speech or presenting oneself during a job interview. Presenting requires not only language skills but also confidence in oneself and a host of other teachable skills. Training and rehearsing are key elements in acquiring and mastering such skills (Prescott et al., 2012). Though crucially important, presenting in English has always been touched on sporadically and peripherally in technical communication textbooks, and this is the first time, that I am aware of, of a whole book being devoted to the topic and its minute details. The book under review successfully and practically addresses all the skills and steps involved in giving effective and impressive presentations (Rychen & Salganik, 2003).The writer has practically implemented communication-oriented research results, guided and informed by his practical experience (Predmore, 2005), in an easy and pragmatic manner for students and all those who want to present in English in front of a small or big audiences. Powell’s book contains 7 sections comprising a total of 72 units. The book starts off with a detailed introduction explaining how to use the units in the Volume 19

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sections. Written by a professional presenter with extensive practical experience in presenting and training presenters, the book provides hands-on presentations in a user-friendly way. It adopts a bottom-up approach starting from the first steps of presenting until the questions that come at the end of the presentation. It starts with the basics of presenting such as introducing the topic, structuring the talk and the use of visuals to serve the purpose as shown in sections 1 and 2. In section 2, the author explains how voice quality, pitch, volume and stress may show the presenter’s enthusiasm about his/her topic, something that will definitely be infectious to the audience and important in the success and effectiveness of presentations.

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FeatureReviews Articles 40 Sections 4, 5 and 6 introduce language techniques that would demonstrate and reflect the presenter’s control over his/her topic and content of the presentation. The introduction to section 5 gives details of issues that a presenter should think about before, during and after a presentation. I think this serves as a focus strategy which will make the user of the book have a clear plan of what to look for when reading the book. In section 7, the author tackles a problematic area, which is questions that the audience may raise. It provides the user with various techniques on how to respond to such questions and leave a favorable impression on the questioner. The book contains an answer key for the exercises given in the sections. The answer key and the two CDs accompanying the book make the book a useful resource for self-access learning. The sections in the book can be read selectively by those who are frequent presenters and need to hone some of their presentation skills. For those who are new to presenting, they should read the contents following the sequence given in the book. The book provides simple words and phrases and then gives whole sentences/utterances to be used for the execution of specific functions. These sections have benefitted a lot from research results in the field of speech act theory. Each unit starts with a tip giving the users advice on something related to its unit theme. It gives the users experience in choosing the most appropriate verbs to express a specific speech act. These verb-sensitizing exercises are good as they make users aware of shades of verb meanings and their functional loads. The book also follows a task-based learning approach which requires users to carry out tasks whose completion is considered a sign of success in learning. Exercises are graded from simple to more complex and supported by the accompanying CDs. I wish the book had cited some relevant internet sites that its users could have recourse to view presenters in action. The book has benefitted from corpora studies (analyses) by focusing on the most frequent phrases and expressions used in starting a presentation, closing it, rounding off and responding to questions. It contains excellent illustrations and examples of the uses of visual elements (i.e., tables, bar charts, line graphs, etc.) and the linguistic tools used to link them

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to the talk. It also introduces a number of phrasal verbs used to link visuals to the talk such as to point out, explain, take a look at, take a closer look at, and so on. Furthermore, it includes a large section dealing with expressing hedging and cautious language. Perhaps the author’s business background is behind the specific and restricted focus on business terminologies and word collocations in the business field. This may make users feel that this book is only written for presenters in the business field, but it can still be used by many others as presentation skills are the same across disciplines and cultures. The author has paid careful attention to the use of typing features, such as font color and size, underlining, bold, italic, and so on to show focus of text (p.38). The book also covers expressions used to involve and engage the audience in the discussion and create rapport with them. The book also covers audience’s possible questions and comments, both negative and positive, and possible ways of responding to them. It also offers strategies that speakers could use to politely delay responding to audience’s questions. This book is a welcome addition to the field of presenting and public speaking.

References Predmore, S. R. (2005). Putting it into context. Techniques, 80, 22-25. Prescott, D. L., El-Sakran, T., Al-Assaf, Y., Albasha, L. & Aloul, F. (2011). Engineering communication interface: An engineering multi-disciplinary project. US-China Education Review A, (1)7, 936945. Prescott, D. L., El-Sakran, T., Al-Assaf,Y., Albasha, L. & Aloul, F. (2012). Teambuilding, innovation and the engineering communication interface. American Journal of Engineering Education, (3)1, 1-12. Rychen, D. S., & Salganik, L. H. (Eds.). (2003). Key competencies for a successful life and a well functioning society. Cambridge, MA: Hogrefe & Huber.

Tharwat El-Sakran The American University of Sharjah Sharjah, UAE

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Applications of Task-Based Learning in TESOL Ali Shehadeh and Christine Coombe, Eds. TESOL, 2010 ISBN: 9781931185684 206 pages

Task-based language learning (TBL) has received a great deal of the attention of researchers, curriculum developers, and language instructors for its ability to facilitate language acquisition. Despite TBL’s extensively researched effectiveness, surprisingly, it is underutilized by language instructors. This is partly attributable to the fact that much of the available literature on TBL has been from the researcher perspective, driven by a desire to explore how people acquire a second language. However, Applications of Task-Based Learning in TESOL showcases instructors’ unique implementation of TBL. In so doing, the book demonstrates how TBL principles come into play in tasks designed and implemented by instructors and how basic Second Language Acquisition (SLA) principles are enhanced within these tasks. The editors, Ali Shehadeh and Christine Coombe, are ELT practitioners and researchers. They thus offer us a hands-on account of the extent to which TBL can be conducive to more effective language learning/teaching. The editors have assembled 14 chapters. The 14 chapters are divided between three main parts of the book which include a concise, comprehensive overview of the theoretical background of TBL (pp. 1-7), innovative applications discussing tasks designed and implemented by instructors (pp. 11-133), and finally, task-based language assessment (pp.135-200). Due to space limitations, one chapter from each part will be reviewed. Each piece further substantiates the researched argument that TBL can make second language learning/teaching more principled, effective, and intrinsically motivating. Volume 19

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Shehadeh and Coombe’s chapter “Introduction: From Theory to Practice in Task-Based Learning” (pp. 1-7) outlines the basic premises of TBL. Starting with definitions of TBL and the core unit that TBL uses as the primary focus of instruction—task, Shehadeh and Coombe provide an account of what constitutes task. Such a description is particularly important for instructors as it first assists them in understanding the aspects of task that distinguish it from the usual exercises. Second, it helps them reflect personally on how basic principles of TBL come into play in the tasks described in the book. Finally, it eases them into designing their own tasks through making the concept of task more understandable. The authors conclude this article with the theoretical perspectives through which TBL is seen. This part is particularly useful for instructors as it helps them see the theoretical conclusions based on these perspectives, and how a task is seen to promote language learning from each perspective. Arena and Cruvinel’s chapter “Learning Through CALLaborative projects Using Web 2.0 Tools” (pp. 111-121) stands out for demonstrating how webassisted language learning satisfies the essential principles for language learning outlined in the TBL framework—input, output and motivation. In a Brazilian language center, the authors describe a podcast project/task named SambaEFL that capitalizes on the concept of the “dynamic of enquiry” in which students are required to engage interactionally in a collaborative dialogue that promotes “authentic, contextualized, culturally rich, and motivating interactions” (p. 112). TESOL Arabia Perspectives

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EFL instructors in the SambaEFL project aim to enhance students’ speaking ability. Simultaneously and through dialogues, they strive to aid learners to better understand the world through viewing it from different perspectives in a collective construction of knowledge. The project balances between in-class tasks and web-based tools. Learners are not tied to specific materials. Instructors, after soliciting students’ interests, suggest topics which are the focal point of the in-class activities. Students are then required to produce podcasts that center on the theme of the classroom discussions. By the end of the project, three podcasts were produced: “Stereotypes,” “How to Make a Chocolate Egg,” and the “Wonders of Brazil (cities to visit)” (p. 115). Comprehensive discussions in the classroom preceded the production of these podcasts along with reading, listening and vocabulary building tasks. Students are assigned to groups in which they work collaboratively on writing the script. When finally satisfied with the content, they record their audios using the free audio recording and editing software, Audacity (Version 1.2.6). The SambaEFL can be modified by EFL instructors in the UAE to achieve similar outcomes, but through different content. For example, the stereotype podcast could tackle defining stereotypes held by foreigners about Emiratis that the students want to demystify. Similarly, “Wonders of the UAE” podcast can replace “Wonders of Brazil” to talk about a UAE city. Lanteigne’s chapter “Knowing Who’s in Your Audience: Task-Based Testing of Audience Awareness” (pp. 149-160) is a useful article for a number of reasons. First, it sheds light on the theoretical concerns of low construct validity that shroud this formative approach to language assessment. Second, it demonstrates how to achieve a greater level of validity through the measuring students’ ability to use English to perform specific tasks and the measuring of content addressed in a class project. Finally, it discusses the design of the criteria across which students will be evaluated. The project is conducted in a UAE English-medium school in an undergraduate public speaking course. Students come from different majors and different linguistic, cultural, and ethnic backgrounds. The project integrates instruction and assessment of written as well as verbal skills in a speaking course through an audience analysis project. Students Volume 19

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are required to design a questionnaire, report in writing the analysis of the survey findings, and finally, use these findings to adapt their speech to their audience. This audience awareness project is particularly useful for students as it provides them with intensive training on presentations, a job skill required when/if they are required to present projects or new ideas at the workplace. Additionally, it raises students’ appreciation of audience awareness and how to utilize it to give effective speech that appeals to the audience’s background. This book is replete with innovative tasks that can be modified and adapted to fit into any setting and to add a zest of creativity to the pedagogical repertoire of practices. Indeed, this book offers extra kindle to the bonfire of those language educators who have shifted and those who are considering a shift to the implementation of TBL in their teaching.

Emad Jasim Zayed University Abu Dhabi, UAE

Interested in volunteering? TESOL Arabia needs a Ras Al Khaimah and Al Ain Chapter Representative. For more information, please contact james.mcdonald@zu.ac.ae or sandra.oddy@hct.ac.ae

TESOL Arabia Perspectives

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Writers at Work: From Sentence to Paragraph Laurie Blass & Deborah Gordon Cambridge University Press, 2010 ISBN: 978-0-521-12030-2 166 pages

Writers at Work: From Sentence to Paragraph is designed for secondary and tertiary students who are beginning to study writing in English. This book is the first in a four part series that focuses on teaching writing for various proficiency levels. Other books in the Writers at Work series include the following books arranged by proficiency level. ◆

Writers at Work:The Paragraph

Writers at Work:The Short Composition

Writers at Work:The Essay The authors claim that through utilizing this textbook students will create final pieces of writing that are content rich as well as clear and accurate. The authors stress that a major goal of the textbook is to help students become more proficient at revising and editing their own writing. They set out to accomplish this goal by stressing the importance of the writing process and collaborative peer review throughout the book. ◆

The book is structured in such a way as to help students accomplish the aforementioned goals. The book begins with an introductory section where students are introduced to important vocabulary words that are used throughout the writing process such as the various parts of speech, words pertaining to the writing process itself including free writing and the writing of multiple drafts, and words that Volume 19

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focus on writing mechanics. In this initial section the authors introduce the writing process, basic sentence structure, and a general organization of the following chapters. Chapters 1-7 focus on the writing of simple interrelated sentences, while chapters 8-10 focus more on the organization of paragraphs using main ideas and supporting details. Each of the 10 chapters is written with a very clear and methodical approach to introducing the writing curriculum. Each chapter contains an introduction to the new vocabulary, models of student writing, a writing preparation (free writing) section, integrated grammar instruction, a self-revising section, a peer review section (including a reviewer’s checklist), final draft examples, and a progress reflection section at the end of each chapter. Through using the same approach to writing in each chapter students should become more aware of the writing process. In addition, grammar is introduced to the student in a way that they can utilize the new grammar points very quickly in their own writing. This allows students to quickly recognize the importance of each grammar point in helping them to clearly express their intended meanings in writing. Writing themes covered in each chapter are student centered and generally culturally appropriate. In particular teachers and students in this region TESOL Arabia Perspectives

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might appreciate the more general approach that this book uses when discussing homes and families. However, the families section does make frequent reference to divorce. Therefore teachers that utilize this book might want to be somewhat cautious in how they introduce and conduct student interaction with the material. Chapters are student centered in that they cover themes that most students throughout the world could relate to including selfintroductions, homes, families, jobs and careers, and leisure activities. Chapters 8-10 take a self-narrative approach to teaching paragraph writing through writing about themes such as important life events and plans for the future. The major strengths of this textbook can be found in its approach to grammar integration in the writing process and the general approach that the authors use to guide learners through the writing process. Students who use this book should be able to quickly internalize the writing process strategy that is introduced and implemented throughout the book. Although the introduction of free writing in this book is rather interesting, it would have been nice to see the introduction of other brainstorming strategies such as outlining and story mapping. In addition, it seems that the introductory vocabulary lists at the beginning of each chapter do not give students enough practice. At the beginning of each chapter, students are given a large vocabulary list and then asked to check the words that they know and highlight the words that they do not know. They are then asked to classify the words and organize them into columns on a chart located below the words. It seems that more variety and more vocabulary in context exercises would help students to acquire the new words in a more efficient manner. It would seem that this book should be used as a primary rather than supplemental writing textbook. This is because the book tends to rely on an incremental, structured and rather methodical approach to teaching writing. There is a slight concern that this methodical approach could become monotonous for some students. Furthermore, the color scheme of the book which utilizes shades of black, white, and purple is somewhat limited. When implementing this textbook in the classroom environment, it would best to occasionally utilize

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supplementary materials to make the learning of writing more interesting for the student. Overall, this is a very useful writing textbook that provides learners with a straightforward and practical introduction to the writing process. At the same time grammar is introduced and reviewed throughout the text. This book is unique in that the grammar is so well integrated throughout the book that learners who use it should gain in depth knowledge of the writing process as well as a more practical understanding of English grammar as it is applied in their writing.

Matthew A. Carey Qatar University Doha, Qatar

Are you interested in reviewing materials for Perspectives? Contact Cindy Gunn, the Reviews Editor, at cgunn@aus.edu. TESOL Arabia Perspectives

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English for Academic Study: Vocabulary Colin Campbell Garnet Education, 2009 ISBN: 978-1859-64-488-1 189 pages English for Academic Study:Vocabulary, is one of the books in the English for academic series, published by Garnet Education. Although the author claims that this book has been written for self-study outside formal schooling, we believe it can also be a promising option for classroom use. Indeed, the book is really what an ESP/EAP student needs to have in order to improve his/her academic vocabulary, especially medical students or social sciences students. The book is divided into three main parts. The first part is an introduction to vocabulary development where five major aspects of vocabulary development such as multi-meaning words, word classes, word families, collocations and word grammar are attended to by the author. As for multiple word meanings, for example, the importance of learning various meanings of a word is brought to the students’ attention by the author so that learners may find the specific, context-relevant meaning of the word when using the dictionary. Or, with respect to collocations, various important words which go together in vocabulary building are introduced such as the following combinations: verb + noun, noun + verb, noun + noun, verb + preposition, and so on. The point is that in this very part some essential words, referred to as the General Service List (GSL), are introduced and examples are given afterwards to enable the learners to use the words as appropriately and as effectively as possible. In the second part, the same five aspects are attended to by the author but this time not with a focus on the General Word List (GWL) but on the Academic Word List (AWL). Indeed, the first five units prepares the learners for more academic word practice in the second part of the book by familiarizing them with general words first. The third part of the book provides the students Volume 19

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with appendices where they can find a complete list of the words covered throughout the book. Moreover, an answer key section is added in which all the exercises are answered so that learners can check their own answers with the correct ones given. Thirdly, and more importantly, an achievement test section is provided according to which learners can make a self-assessment once before beginning to read the book and once afterwards to see the extent to which they have made any progress. On the whole, the book is a should-be-read textbook by anyone who wishes to improve his/ her own or his/her students’ academic vocabulary. As for cultural appropriateness, the book seems to be appropriate for the Middle East region not because of its mentioned characteristics but because the words selected are actually culturally-neutral words in the sense that academic words are free from any specific cultural values. To put it in a nutshell, the book seems very promising, useful and learnerfriendly and should be recommended to anyone willing to upgrade his/her academic vocabulary either formally or otherwise.

Farhad Tayebipour Islamic Azad University Shiraz Branch Shiraz, Iran TESOL Arabia Perspectives

Sara Azimi Iran Language Institute Shiraz Branch Shiraz, Iran

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English for the Energy Industries: Oil, Gas and Petrochemicals Peter Levrai (with Fiona McGarry) Garnet Education, 2006 ISBN: 1-85964-911-4

English for the Energy Industries: Oil, Gas and Petrochemicals is a coursebook so industry-specific that you’ll need to don a hard hat just to take it off the shelf.Yet, note the publication date: it’s been with us since 2006 and reprinted three times since. So why review it now, so long after the fact? Well, clearly, a book this relevant to the region is deserving of scrutiny at any time. Indeed, a simple run down of the contents page confirms that assertion: Calculating and Measuring; Describing Equipment; Giving Instructions and Warnings; Talking about Safety—it’s all here. So, does English for the Energy Industries cover what it says on the cover? In its own words, what we have in this textbook is “a course suitable for technicians, engineers and others working in the energy industries….” (Teacher’s Book, p. 2). And at 240 pages, it’s a sizeable one. Within, we find nine units, calculated to provide between 100 and 140 hours of instruction. Untypically for a course at false-beginner level, each unit is a whopping 22 pages in length, consisting of 10 two-page “lessons” (each of which is subsumed by the overall theme of the unit) and a review section to wrap things up. Units build in complexity and specificity, from the predictable handshakes of Unit 1 to the more arcane stuff of the later pages. A further review section and glossary are appended to the end of the book. A Teacher’s Book, audiocassette and CD complete the package.

“high voltage”). Grammar is subsumed by function throughout: “Reporting Incidents,” for example, serves as the vehicle for a presentation of the past simple and progressive. Now the collocation of form and function is all well and good, but it’s a tricky balancing act. In the case of English for the Energy Industries, it manifests itself as an over-reliance on gap-fills and information transfer exercises. Nor, on occasion, does the choice of lexical input appear entirely cogent. The directive: “Look at the bottle-type submersible platform below. Label it with some of the jobs from exercise B to indicate where people work” (Unit 1, Lesson 10) far exceeds the level of the learner at whom this book is aimed. Shortcomings such as these can, of course, be mitigated by competent and informed teaching. Six years on and English for the Energy Industries is still a useful text. It is not as flashy as some of the other specialized offerings and its continued success will ultimately depend on choices as localized as the target audience for the title under review.

Colin Toms The Petroleum Institute Abu Dhabi, UAE

Each unit provides a balance of skills and places particular emphasis upon situational vocabulary. Thus Lesson 4 in Unit 6, “Talking about safety,” opens with a labeling exercise, exploiting words and phrases relating to the dangers of the workplace (“first aid,” Volume 19

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❉ TESOL Arabia Perspectives

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The Call of the Wild Jack London (Retold by Rachel Bladon) Macmillan Readers, 2001 ISBN 978-0-2304-0840-1 80 pages

Both these graded readers are at Macmillan PreIntermediate Level, which is the equivalent of CEF A2-B1 and a basic word count of about 1400. Persuasion is the most mature of Jane Austen’s novels, and it has always been assumed that the character of Captain Wentworth owes something to the author’s brothers Charles and Frank Austen, both of whom rose to be admirals in the British navy. There is also a suggestion that Sir Walter Elliot’s true foolishness is revealed by his remark that Wentworth was not a gentleman. During the Napoleonic wars, naval officers frequently received knighthoods and peerages, and were more to be admired than decayed members of the minor aristocracy. So far as this version of Persuasion is concerned, Rachel Bladon does her work very well. The action Volume 19

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Persuasion Jane Austen (Retold by Rachel Bladon) Macmillan Readers, 2001 ISBN: 978-0-2307-3512-5 88 pages

proceeds smoothly, and Anne Elliott’s position as the unmarried second daughter of a silly, extravagant father is well caught. The monochrome illustrations also help to set the scene, and they augment the text rather than overwhelm it. We might have been spared the map of the British Isles (p. 7) as the action only takes place in Hampshire, Dorset and Somerset, and the scene of panic and alarm following Louisa’s accident at Lyme (p. 40) is perhaps overdone. Captain’s Wentworth and Berwick, it should be remembered, are men who have seen action in Nelson’s navy. Louisa has banged her head. Quite literally, worse things happen at sea. As a graded reader, however, Persuasion works very well, and like most of Jane Austen’s work, it is likely to appeal to female students in the Arab Gulf. Everything is very proper. The ladies are modestly TESOL Arabia Perspectives

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dressed. Family considerations have paramount importance. The schema is therefore entirely familiar, and, in this case, there is a happy ending for a bride who is perhaps a trifle older than might be usual. The Call of the Wild is about a dog. This might cause problems with some students in the Arab Gulf, but the English for English Specialists foundation program at Sultan Qaboos University uses the Oxford Bookworms version of this novel (Bullard, 2004) and it works very well. This Macmillan version is better illustrated—the drawings are clearer and there are fewer of them, and the language level is higher (1400 headwords as opposed to 1000). As should be expected in two different versions of the same book, there is some change of emphasis, but the variations are slight and only matters of detail.

kilometers. This could allow students to calculate the distances traveled by Buck and his fellow sled-dogs, and it also allows them to see how a fan-shaped river system flows into the Yukon, allowing access from different points. Buck’s slow reversion to the wild state is handled with sensitivity, and the final image (p. 61) of the bereft Buck howling at the moon, while abandoned gold flows out of rotting moose-skin bags, is very moving.

References London, J. (2004). The Call of the Wild, 8th ed. (retold by Nick Bullard). Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.

Neil McBeath Sultan Qaboos University Sultanate of Oman

Unlike the Oxford version, the Macmillan edition has a very useful map of the Yukon (p. 8) complete with a scale that measures distance in both miles and

From Rags to Riches:

A Story of Abu Dhabi Student Edition Mohammed A. J. Al Fahim (Retold by Patrick Dougherty) Makarem Books, 2011 ISBN: 978-9948-16-330-5 109 pages

The real test of any graded reader is whether the students are interested in reading it. When I showed the student edition of From Rags to Riches: A Story of Abu Dhabi to my class at the American University Volume 19

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of Sharjah, it had an enthusiastic reception: half the class wanted to read it right away, and those that read it first, then shared it with their friends. Just as importantly, no one complained about the book TESOL Arabia Perspectives

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Reviews Feature Articles

or gave it back to me. In comparison, most graded readers grab an audience of only a few students in each class. Based on my class’ experience with this book, I heartily recommend it for students and teachers in the UAE and beyond. From Rags to Riches is a moving personal memoir of Mohammed A. J. Al Fahim and a history of the birth of the United Arab Emirates. The author was born in 1948 in Al Ain, where his father was an advisor to Sheikh Zayed. Al Fahim tells his readers about living in palm frond huts and then traveling to the UK for education. The personal suffering his family endured due to poverty and lack of medical care is compelling. Not only did his mother die in childbirth in the 1960’s, his sister died because there was no hospital in Abu Dhabi at the time. He chronicles the break-neck speed of change in the UAE until the 1990’s, when the original edition was written. The key to this book’s popularity with local students is identity. I agree with Dr Amber Haque, a professor of psychology at United Arab Emirates University, that this book is “an excellent resource on identity and national legacy for the local youth,” (as quoted on the back of the book). Most graded readers readers available for English language learners are not about the Middle East. For example, the Learning Excellence Center at the American University of Sharjah (AUS) is very wellstocked, but the majority of the titles are Western. There are simplified British classics, graded readers of American movies, and young adult fiction for native speakers of English.While our center has some nonWestern items, such as the Tales of 1001 Nights, I think Julie Till’s Drive to Dubai (Oxford University Press, 2010) is the only graded reader from a major publisher focusing on the United Arab Emirates specifically. According to Emirati student Mohsen Al Balooshi, “The book is talking about the past days of the UAE and how it changed with the power of oil and thinking of a wise man. I liked this book because it is talking about my past and how we got this recognition in the world.” Our local students want to learn about their history, and this book delivers that. My students from other countries also enjoyed and benefited from reading the book. Hawra Almashhadi, an AUS student from Saudi Arabia, spoke highly of the student edition of From Rags to Riches because Volume 19

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of its inspirational value. “It really gave me hope and made me more optimistic. The speed of how it developed is unimaginable! Fishermen suddenly became businessmen.” She concluded that “the story made me believe that if I want to take a step, I should take it immediately and never waste any other minute of my life.” The fact that the original From Rags to Riches: A Story of Abu Dhabi has been translated into many languages such as French, Russian, Japanese, and Urdu speaks to this story’s worldwide appeal as well. This book is valuable for teachers, too. First, most teachers love a book which encourages their students to pursue an education. The author had to cut his own schooling short in order to run the family business, so he is a vocal proponent of studying. For teachers new to this country, it is a nice introduction to Emirati history. It is quite stunning how quickly things have changed. The author of the book, Mohammad Al Fahim, went to the first school that was built in Abu Dhabi—in 1959! Those of us who have been here longer can also benefit. I have been teaching here for over eight years and am married to an Emirati, but I still learned more about the history of this country I now call home. My interest was so piqued by the Student Edition that I went out and bought the unabridged version. Though some may see 24 pages of photos as excessive for a 109 page book, I loved them. The photos truly bring the story to life. I was particularly captivated by the photo of shoeless students because the contrast with the material wealth of many Emirati students today is just so stark. My only criticism of the book is that it does not indicate what level is targeted. Unlike the Penguin or Oxford readers, there is also no indication of the number of headwords. Overall, I strongly recommend this book for both students and teachers.

Olivia Riordan American University of Sharjah Sharjah, UAE

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The 32nd Annual International Thailand TESOL Conference The University of Auckland, New Zealand

Christine Coombe Dubai Men’s College Higher Colleges of Technology

My first professional development event of the new year was the 32nd Annual International Thailand TESOL Conference in Bangkok, Thailand on January 27-28, 2012. Held at the Imperial Queen’s Park Hotel, the conference was attended by over 800 delegates. The theme of this year’s conference was “Teacher Collaboration: Shaping the Classroom of the Future.” In my capacity as the current TESOL President I was invited to deliver the opening plenary. My talk entitled “Best Practice in ELT: 10 Characteristics of

a Highly Effective EF/SL Teacher” was very well attended and generated a lot of discussion amongst attendees.Throughout the course of the two-day event, participants could choose between over 150 parallel sessions, 17 featured speeches and 3 other plenaries. Next year’s Thai TESOL Conference will take place in Khon Kaen, Thailand in January 2013. The theme of the event will be “‘E’-novation and Communities in ELT.” I encourage teachers from the region to submit a proposal and attend what I consider to be one of the best TESOL affiliates conferences in the world.

TESOL, Int. President Christine Coombe (center) was a Plenary Speaker at Thai TESOL. Volume 19

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TESOL International Convention & English Language Expo 2012 Philidelphia, Pennsylvania, USA

Rehab Rajab Vice-President/President Elec TESOL Arabia

I had the honor of representing TESOL Arabia at the TESOL International Convention & English Language Expo 2012, which took place at the Pennsylvania Convention Center and the Marriott Hotel in Philadelphia, USA, between March 2831, 2012. Although I have been attending local and regional conferences since 2004, this was my first international conference experience. I was somewhat overwhelmed on the first day, but the overall experience was informative and enjoyable. The setup of the conference was highly organized with the Expo hall that hosted more than 130 booths and the registration/information desks at the heart of the venue. I was impressed by the number of volunteers who helped in giving directions to more than 5000 attendees in every corner of the vast conference floor. Moreover, the newly launched application for portable devices made it a lot easier to navigate through the conference program. A special program, “K-12 Day,” which targeted mainstream teachers, preceded the four-day event on Tuesday, March 27, where participants attended keynotes and chose from sessions in one of seven strands. In addition to the plethora of plenary/invited speakers’ talks, the Electronic Village workshops and concurrent sessions, there were five ticketed events that aimed at providing more opportunities to network and attend specific programs. The Expo included a wide range of local Volume 19

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and international exhibitors with many booths offering new technologies and some solutions for portable learning devices. In an outstanding opening plenary talk by Alberto Carvalho, superintendent of Miami-Dade County Public Schools, entitled “In Pursuit of Excellence for All,” the presenter focused on the results of his approach in implementing innovative practices to reduce the achievement gap between English Language Learners (ELL) and non-ELL in Miami. Carvalho explained how the ELL outperformed their non-ELL peers when given the appropriate time and educational resources. Another intriguing plenary was the presidential one by Dr Christine Coombe entitled “Teacher Effectiveness in ELT: Empirical and Practical Perspectives.” Dr Coombe provided the audience with a comprehensive literature review on the subject and offered strategies for increasing teacher effectiveness in EFL/SL classrooms. The Affiliate Leaders’ Workshop was a splendid opportunity to meet passionate advocates of the profession. With 105 affiliate organizations, TESOL International affiliate meetings and discussions were enriching both professionally and personally. Dorothy Forbin, (Affiliate Leader Council) ALC Chair-Elect, conducted the first workshop where the attendees were involved in networking activities. The workshop then broke out into three TESOL Arabia Perspectives

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sessions. I attended the discussion on membership – challenges and successes, where I learned how other teacher associations around the world manage their membership issues and how they adapt to political and economic challenges in their countries. Moreover, Les Kirkham and I shared information about TESOL Arabia membership and strategies. At the TESOL Affiliate Assembly, I met more affiliate leaders and had the opportunity to engage in discussions regarding the roles played by TESOL affiliates and how TESOL International can assist its affiliates in achieving their goals. One of the initiatives under consideration is the Joint Affiliate Membership whereby affiliate members receive a 25% reduction in new TESOL membership. This initiative is yet to be approved by the TESOL board and remains as a proposal. During the meeting, TESOL Argentina, represented by Auna Maria, received a trophy celebrating the organization’s 25year anniversary and Larisa Olesova was announced the Incoming Member A, a 4-year-commitment leading to the ALC Chair position. Being the affiliate representative of TESOL Arabia at this significant event provided me with many opportunities a first-time attendee rarely gets. In addition to having the privilege of networking with affiliate leaders from all over the globe, I had the pleasure of being mentored by Les Kirkham,TESOL Arabia Past President, who is a veteran member of TESOL as well as an expert in attending international

TESOL Arabia Vice-President/President Elect Rehab Rejab poses under the banner of the 2012 TESOL International Convention and English Language Expo.

teacher conferences. Moreover, I had a lot of support and guidance from Dr Christine Coombe,TESOL International Past President, and Dr Mashael Al Hamley, the Convention Program Chair, not to mention all the travel tips and help from Mouhamad Muohanna, Al Ain Chapter Representative. I think that having all this support from the TESOL Arabia community adds one more remarkable advantage to being a part of a teachers’ association.

Rehab Rejab (fourth from left), Sufian Abu Rmaileh (center), and Les Kirkham (third from right) pictured with other TESOL International Affiliate Representatives at the 2012 Convention and Expo. Volume 19

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TESOLArabia News Feature Articles 54

The 3rd TESOL Arabia, TESOL International & Franklin SpellEvent Sufian Abu-Rmaileh TESOL Arabia Executive Treasurer/UAE SpellEvent Chair

as many participants as we could. Overall, 63 participants were signed in to compete. Eleven schools were also involved in the competition. Those schools were: Al Resalah Common Cycle School, Sweihan Primary Secondary School, Khaled bin Al Waleed School, Al Muriajib School, Al Saryah School for Basic and Secondary Education, Al Tamayoz School Umm, Alfadle School for Girls, Moawia School for Basic Ed./Cycle 2, Um Al Emirate School, Al Tafawoq School and Sultan Bin Zayed School.

On Saturday, April 21, 2012, students from various public schools in the United Arab Emirates participated in the 3rd Annual TESOL Arabia, TESOL International and Franklin SpellEvent. The event took place at the United Arab Emirates University in Al Ain. This event was organized by TESOL International and Franklin International Publishers and was the fourth annual event of its kind. Students from different schools practiced for months in preparation for this day. This competition is a global spelling competition for non-native English speaking students who are under the age of 15. The goal of the competition is to promote the learning of English as a foreign language.

The competition consisted of four rounds in addition to the championship round to determine the ranking of the top four participants. The event was concluded at about 12:30 p.m. The top four finishers were three girls and one boy from three different schools. The awards ceremony was held to award the top four finishers their prizes. A light lunch was served afterward to conclude the UAE 2012 SpellEvent.

Registration started at about 8:00 a.m. and students, teachers and parents were lining up at about 7:30 to register for the competition. Participating students were given their numbers, certificates and their lunch vouchers as they registered. We started the competition at about 9:30 to try and accommodate

The top four finishers were: Standing

Competitor

School

First Place

Aysha Al-Nuaimi

Al Muriajib School

Second Place

Mohammed Saeed Al Ghafli

Al Tafawoq School

Third Place

Aya Abu-Nawas

Al Muriajib School

Fourth Place

Hanan Alawi Al Hadad

Umm Al Fadle School for Girls

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Final four finishers (from left): Aysha Al-Nuaimi, Mohammed Saeed Al Ghafli, Aya Abu-Nawas, Hanan Alawi Al Hadad, the pronouncer and SpellEvent Chair, Sufian Abu-Rmaileh (far left), Ibrahim Al Jawarneh, Master of Ceremonies, Deena Boriei,TESOL International judge, and Mohammed Abussabur, local judge.

Students in public schools across the UAE were invited to apply to participate in the event. This competition is aimed at students in local UAE schools where the language of instruction is the local language with a maximum of three subjects taught in English: the regular English class and two other subjects. The language of communication used in the home shouldn’t be English. TESOL Arabia’s participation in the Franklin Global SpellEvent is part of its commitment to include public school students and teachers by providing

Section A of the SpellEvent await instructions before the start of the competition. Volume 19

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them local and international opportunities to develop language learning. Out of our appreciation for our young students and their learning, we believe in developing their skills and talents in the use of the English language. TESOL Arabia is maintaining the tradition of the SpellEvent and continues to build on the benefits of such events for the community. To participate in this year’s SpellEvent or seek information about it, you can e-mail Sufian Abu-Rmaileh at sufian12000@ yahoo.com.

Section B of the SpellEvent Competition are shown before the start of the competition. TESOL Arabia Perspectives

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Special Interest Group Articles Reports Feature 56

Fundamentals of Language Assessment Khartoum, Sudan The TESOL Arabia Testing, Assessment, and Evaluation (TAE) SIG co-chair, Dr Christine Coombe, and TAE SIG members Dr Melanie Gobert and Maria Brown presented a two-day workshop on the Fundamentals of Language Assessment in Khartoum, Sudan, on Friday and Saturday, April 20-21, at Al Neelain University of Science and Technology. The event was sponsored by TESOL Sudan in cooperation with the TAE SIG of TESOL Arabia. Basic level assessment training was given to approximately 50 teachers from various universities in Khartoum including Khartoum University. The TEA SIG would like to extend a special thank you to the TESOL Sudan Fundamentals of Language Assessment workshop organizers including Ahmed Fouad (Public Relations Officer), Dr Albadri Abbas (Academic Affairs Officer), Rasha Bashir (Executive Secretary), Dr Ishraga Bashir (President), and Aymen Elsheikh (Vice President). The workshops were very well received and plans are underway for more FLAs in neighboring African countries as well as South America. The mission of the TESOL Arabia TAE SIG is to provide assessment training to English language teaching professionals in the region and all over the

TESOL Sudan members photographed with TAE SIG presenters Christine Coombe, Melanie Gobert, and Maria Brown.

world with the goal of helping teachers develop assessment literacy in assessing reading, writing, listening, and speaking. To date, FLAs have been held in every Emirate of the UAE and in over 50 countries worldwide.

TAE SIG Co-Chair Christine Coombe (center) pictured with Ahmed Fouad (left),TESOL TESOL Arabia a facebook page! Secretary. Sudan Public Relations Officer, and Rasha Bashirnow (right),has TESOL Sudan Executive Volume 19

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Presenter Maria Brown makes a point at the TESOL Arabia TAE SIG Fundamentals of Language Assessment workshop in Khartoum, Sudan.

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Newly Organized Young Learners Special Interest Group Kathy Gardner , Chair

My name is Kathy Gardner and I am the new chairperson for the Young Learners (YL) SIG. The SIG was dormant for some time during 2011, but we are pleased to announce we are back! The SIG has a long and successful history within TESOL Arabia and we intend to continue that tradition. I and my new committee were very pleased to meet many of you at the TESOL Arabia Conference at the beginning of March 2012. During that time we were encouraged by the many offers of help we received to get the YL SIG back up and running.

We are still looking for people who would like to present at events, so if you would like to present on a topic that is close to your heart, or deliver a workshop on a subject that you are interested in, please let me know. If it is relevant to the 6-16 year age group, we are interested. I can be contacted via email at tarabiayl@gmail.com We are looking forward to welcoming many of you to the events we are planning for this year. Meanwhile, do look at our website www.yl-sig.com.

Kathy Gardner (far right) and Chris Morrow are shown with the YL SIG team. Volume 19

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