Fall 2017 Edition
Dearest WATESOL Community,
Membership in WATESOL provides a doorway to extraordinary professional development and I want to express my deepest networking opportunities throughout the year. In gratitude to this year’s board 2016-17 we experimented with three spring anchor members. This organization events: an Action Research Workshop, a Proposal runs entirely on board member Writing Workshop, and a Mini-Conference where volunteers who dedicate members who were accepted to speak at national themselves to ensuring that the conferences like TESOL, AAAL, and COABE organization sustains, grows, and provides value to practiced their presentations in front of a local our community. Serving on the WATESOL Board is a audience. All three of these PD events were highly significant commitment in time and energy. This successful per post-event surveys; as such, we plan to year, every board member has contributed in continue them in 2018. In addition to these anchors, important ways. If you run into, or work with, a there will also be SIG, NNEST Caucus, and member of the board, be sure to give them a pat on Advocacy Committee events next spring and the back and say thank you. summer. In most cases, your membership grants you access to these opportunities for free. In cases We hope to see you all at the conference on where we have an invited speaker, there may be a October 7th. In this political climate we need to nominal fee. In keeping with our mission we aim to unite and reimagine innovative and compassionate make sure that your membership with WATESOL is ways to serve our students. With that in mind, the one that you deeply value and trust. board has carefully crafted important advocacy sessions during the conference, including a panel of In peace, local immigration lawyers who will help us make Heather Tatton-Harris sense of the current landscape and how we can help (or just ‘HTH’) our affected students, a national policy update from John Segota (TESOL’s Policy Analyst), and several WATESOL CONFERENCE INFO sessions from members who will share practical, hands-on advocacy tools and strategies for your Keynote Speaker ..................................... 3 programs and classrooms. Dr. Lourdes Ortega will Invited Speakers ................................... 4-6 also lead a roundtable discussion on reimagining English competence, similar to the style of TESOL’s NNEST Roundtable................................... 7 Summit. Dr. Marnie Reed is coming to give a talk on innovative ways of teaching listening. Our NNEST Conference Dinner ................................... 8 (Non-Native English Speaking Teachers) Caucus is hosting an important roundtable on the value in hiring NNESTs. In addition, we have close to 60 INSIDE THIS ISSUE presentations this year spanning the areas of K12, Teaching Abroad Q&A ........................... 9 adult ed, higher ed, assessment, advocacy, teacher training, and program administration. Connect, Relax, and Refocus ................ 11
Intercultural Language Teaching ......... 13 Visit our conference webpages for more details: watesol.org/Fall-2017-Conference
Balancing Accuracy and Complexity.. 15 Advocacy Committee Update.............. 18 K-12 SIG Member Profile .................... 20 Tech Tools Corner ................................... 21
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FROM THE EDITORS Dear WATESOL Community, Welcome back to a new school year! We are pleased to publish this edition of the newsletter and hope it contains practical, relevant, and thought provoking information. Included in this edition is:
Detailed information about the upcoming WATESOL 2017 Fall Conference Stories and lessons from colleagues abroad Updates from our Advocacy Committee, NNEST Caucus, and more Articles on using technology in the classroom not only to teach but also to reduce student stress And more!
As always, we would like to extend our gratitude to all of the contributors to this newsletter. Enjoy the articles and we hope to see you soon at the WATESOL 2017 Fall Conference!
Your Newsletter Editors, Stephanie Gallop, Lindsey Crifasi, & Silvia Hildesheim
INTERESTED IN SUBMITTING TO THE NEWSLETTER? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for questions. Contributions can include: connecting research to practice, current topics of interest to the membership, and teaching tips. Guidelines include:
A very special note of thanks to the team at Crescent Printing for generously providing print editions of the Fall 2017 WATESOL News for all attendees at the 2017 WATESOL Fall Conference. On behalf of the WATESOL board and membership, thank you, Crescent Printing!
1,500 words or less Up to 5 citations, following APA citation style 2-3 sentence author biography Author photo (digital head shot) Include a byline with your name, email, and
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Keynote Speaker: Dr. Lourdes Ortega Lourdes Ortega is a Professor at Georgetown University. She has taught Spanish in Greece, English in the United States, and since 2000 has worked with language teachers and doctoral students in Hawaii, Georgia, Arizona, and currently in Washington DC. She is committed to investigating what it means to become a bilingual or multilingual language user later in life in ways that can encourage connections between research and teaching and promote social justice. She is the author of Understanding Second Language Acquisition (Routledge, 2009). Her most recent project is The Cambridge Handbook of Bilingualism, co-edited with Annick De Houwer and to be published in 2018. ________________________________________________________________________________
Reimagining English Competence for the 21st Century: A Multilingual SLA Perspective (Social Hall, 9:00 am - 9:45 am) Second-language users of English are bi/multilinguals with rich communication repertoires. Yet all too often their English is construed as deficient and their multilingual prowess is erased. In this talk, I reflect on what it means for multilinguals to be communicatively competent and suggest ways in which our pedagogies can respond to it. I will argue that, more and more, developing language for communicating in the 21st century means developing the capacity to use English for transformation and empowerment, so as to be able to claim the right to speak (as Norton Peirce 1995 called it) and to exercise the power to impose meanings (as Bourdieu 1972 called it). How do we achieve these new goals? First, our language pedagogies must open up to the psycholinguistic realities of multilinguals. Translanguaging might be a way to do so (GarcĂa & Li Wei, 2014). We will also need to help our students cultivate an awareness of both world Englishes and unequal Englishes (Tupas, 2015). We must also include strategies that help them recognize, disrupt, and productively exploit to their advantage the experiences of being positioned by others as a novice, a foreigner, an outside member, or a nonnative speaker. In sum, our pedagogies must show that language is about identity choices and communication is about power struggles. How do we meet this tall order? I believe both big and small pedagogical practices can help the TESOL profession rise to the challenge of meeting these 21st century goals for a reimagined English communicative competence that is transformative and empowering.
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Invited Speaker: Dr. Marnie Reed, Boston University Marnie Reed is Associate Professor of Education and affiliated faculty in the Program in Linguistics at Boston University, and director of the TESOL Ed.M. program in the School of Education. The focus of Dr. Reed’s research, publications, and conference presentations is second language acquisition, specifically in applied phonetics and phonology. Her current area of interest and research is in the role of metacognition in cross-linguistic awareness of the pragmatic functions of intonation. She is co-editor and chapter contributor to the 2015 Wiley- Blackwell Handbook of English Pronunciation. She has been a consultant to academic institutions, government, and industry, both domestically and internationally.
Innovations in Teaching Listening: Promising Approaches and Lingering Challenges (Main 232, 1:15 pm - 2:00 pm) Skilled listening is an essential part of communication. Yet until recently, and despite nominal recognition as one of the four integrated skills, listening was the skill for which learners received “the least systematic attention from teachers and instructional materials” (Vandergrift and Goh, 2012, p. 4). Processing of aural input was rarely taught; instead learners were tested on the accuracy of their listening comprehension (Mendelsohn, 2006). Listening was also the skill for which teachers received the least training (Siegel, 2014; Graham, 2017). Fortunately, listening is currently receiving priority in empirical studies (Vanderplank, 2013), with a concerted effort to translate research into practice. Recent trends call for listening to be taught as a language skill in its own right (Field, 2008). Two learner needs have been identified: speech segmentation and recognizing known words in continuous speech, and ability to infer speakers’ intended meaning despite understanding all the words in the message (Goh, 2000). Success has been reported with listening strategy instruction, particularly with an emphasis on metacognitive awareness, to address these listening deficits. Challenges remain, particularly providing pre- and in-service teachers with a theory and research-based understanding of listening skill processes and development. Equipped with today’s innovative approaches, teachers will be better able to provide effective listening skills instruction.
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Invited Speaker: John Segota, TESOL International John Segota, MPS, CAE, is Associate Executive Director for Public Policy & Professional Relations at TESOL International Association (TESOL). John's responsibilities at TESOL include government relations, policy analysis, media relations and communications, oversight of standards development, and management of TESOL's advocacy activities. John works closely with TESOL's senior leadership on policy management, strategic planning, public relations, and governance issues. John has presented both nationally and internationally on public policy as it relates to English language education, and has written extensively on issues of education policy. John has a BA in Political Science with a concentration in International Studies from the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, MA, a Masterâ€™s of Professional Studies in Public Leadership from The George Washington University in Washington, DC, and has earned the Certified Association Executive (CAE) designation from the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE). ____________________________________________________________________________
National Education Policy & TESOL: The Outlook Ahead (Social Hall, 2:15 pm - 4:00 pm) The 2016 general election created a sea change in the political landscape in the United States, impacting virtually every aspect of public life across the country. The new administration has been in office just over nine months, but it has already made significant inroads in terms of changing policies in virtually every sector. What has been the impact of these changes upon education, and specifically ELLs and TESOL educators? Where do things stand with major education policy initiatives, such as the Every Student Succeeds Act and the Workforce Innovation and Opportunities Act? What has been the impact upon international students and immigrants, and what might happen in terms of immigration reform? What else in education policy is impacting ELLs and the TESOL field? This session will present a comprehensive overview of the current state of affairs in Washington, DC, and provide an update on national education policy.
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Invited Panel: Local Lawyers and Immigration Experts Understanding Immigration Today for the ESL Classroom (Social Hall, 10:00-11:45am) This workshop will provide participants with information regarding immigration law and policy and immigrants' rights as they relate to the ESL classroom. Participants will receive information from experts, engage in scenarios, and be able to ask questions to a panel including lawyers and immigration experts. Jennifer Bibby-Gerth joined Catholic Charities Immigration Legal Services in 2013. Prior to this, Jennifer served as a USCIS asylum officer for almost six years. Karen Grisez is Public Service Counsel in the Washington, DC office of Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP. She manages pro bono matters, acts as liaison to national and local bar associations and legal services providers, and advises attorneys working on pro bono cases. Catherine Reynolds has been practicing exclusively in immigration and nationality law since 1995. Currently as Chair of the American Immigration Lawyers Association DC Chapter, she oversees educational seminars, webinars, and meetings with government officials, many pro bono events.
Michelle Sardone is the Director of Legalization at the Catholic Legal Immigration Network (CLINIC). She is responsible for assisting CLINIC’s network of over 300 charitable immigration legal services programs in responding to changes in immigration policies. Madeline Taylor Diaz is an attorney in Ayuda’s Falls Church, Virginia office where she provides direct legal services and outreach on a wide range of immigration matters. Carol Wolchok (moderator) is an ESL/Citizenship instructor at Carlos Rosario International PCS and a lawyer with over three decades in public interest immigration law.
DACA in Turmoil DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) stands in turmoil after the President and Attorney General called on Congress on September 5 to pass a replacement. The program is to be phased out in 6 months. This critical program effects many learners in the WATESOL community. We take a look at who the DREAMers are, and where they stand legally. 1.9 million youths in the US are DACA-eligible* Nationwide, almost 800,000 are DACA approved* 2/3 of the eligible population is from Mexico* Maryland and Virginia have an eligible population of 34,000 and 40,000, respectively* If a DREAMer’s DACA expiration falls within the 6 months of phase-out (Sept 5, 2017 to March 5,
2018), filing for renewal status is still possible before October 5 (Unidos US 2017). Find important dates and legal resources on the Unidos US (formerly NCLR) website unidosus.org.
*Migration Policy Institute (2016)
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NNEST Roundtable Dear WATESOL NNEST Community, The NNEST Caucus, which was founded in 2004, is here to support local non-native English speaking teachers (NNESTs) and promote NEST-NNEST collaboration. To strengthen our ties with the community, we will be hosting a roundtable discussion at WATESOL Fall Conference on Saturday, October 7. Your participation is key for the dynamic of this event. Considering the fact that we are still struggling with the labels we carry along with us as NNESTs vs NESTs in the teaching profession, we wanted to bring this topic to your attention so we can have our voices heard. We would be delighted to see you raise an opinion and share your experiences on the NNEST vs NEST matter either as a faculty, administrators or students. Please join us on Saturday, October 7th to gain a better perspective on where we stand on this issue and to hear from our stakeholders. Sevtap Frantz, WATESOL NNEST Chair _________________________________________________________________________
Organization Hiring Practices and Benefits That NNESTs Bring (Social Hall, 2:15 pm - 4:00 pm) This roundtable will bring together stakeholders at all levels of educational institutions to work toward two goals: (1) to raise awareness about the benefits of hiring Non-Native EnglishSpeaking Teachers (NNESTs), and (2) to develop strategies for having productive conversations with senior leadership and others involved in shaping organizationsâ€™ practices. Program administrators will discuss how they have created and utilized organizational policy statements to prevent discrimination against NNESTs, as well as how they have responded to the sometimes conflicting perspectives expressed by members of hiring committees and students in their programs. Native English-speaking teachers will share the benefits they have gained through collaborating with their NNEST colleagues, students of NNESTs will discuss the advantages of having an NNEST leading their classroom experience. We can all, NNESTs and native-speaking teachers alike, benefit from this discussion to move toward a more inclusive, diverse teaching community.
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Conference Dinner Proposal Workshop with Dr. Heather Weger One-to-One Proposal Consultations (O'Conner, 3:15 to 5:00 pm) Do you have teaching tips, research outcomes, or administrative experience that you would like to share in a presentation? This yearâ€™s WATESOL Conference will offer a proposal writing session in which registered participants (1) can receive individualized feedback on drafts of their proposal ideas or (2) can learn strategies for turning ideas into proposals. Use this link to request one of the 20-minute one-on-one time slots: goo.gl/dk2B46 Space is limited! First-come, first-served, subject to registration for the conference. (After you register, you will receive more details about the consultation, including a time slot based on availability.)
As a tradition, WATESOL has a conference dinner immediately after the sessions in order to meet together more informally. This is also a time when we honor our awardees and outgoing board members as well as welcome incoming board members. Join the WATESOL Board, our keynote speaker, and invited speakers at dinner! This year, dinner will be at San Antonio Bar and Grill, located at 3908 12th St NE, Washington, DC 20017 (a 5 minute drive or 15 minute bus ride from Trinity). It will cost $38 and include an appetizer, entree, dessert, and a non-alcoholic beverage. Dinner tickets must be purchased by Thursday, October 5th. Tickets: https://watesol.org/events
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Q&A: LESSONS AND STORIES FROM TEACHING ABROAD Rebecca Lee|Carnegie Mellon Universityemail@example.com
What challenged you the most?
What program did you do and where?
I spent the year as an English Language Fellow, which is a program through the U.S. State Department. The 10-month fellowship places TESOL professionals in teaching and teacher-training positions in over 80 countries. The application process allows you to list country preferences, but ultimately you are matched with a country and assignment. Once matched, you have the choice to formally pursue that specific position, or re-enter the applicant pool. My first match came up as Vietnam with a teaching position in a small university in a central province, and I was thrilled to accept it.
I think even when you’re in a situation with colleagues and students who are welcoming and eager to learn from you as I was, the experience of being a visiting foreign teacher can be lonely. Teachers and students lead very busy lives in Vietnam, and without a host family or social circle, I often felt isolated. That made it challenging to stay engaged with my work and projects at times. In the end, I found students and a few teachers to regularly meet for coffee or meals. This really helped and given another opportunity to teach overseas, I would try and pursue those friendships sooner.
How did your expectations of where you lived, the sizes of your classes and potential cross cultural challenges match up with reality?
The program’s orientation, as well as my previous overseas experience as a Peace Corps volunteer, taught me to avoid building up a lot of expectation. Instead, I tried to focus on being flexible and openminded. I had the opportunity to speak with former Fellows from the region and even my school, but ultimately you can’t really know what you’re getting into. That’s part of the challenge you’re accepting. In the end, I was pleasantly surprised by my class sizes (25-35 students), and my teaching autonomy. Still, there were a number of challenges. The channels of communication and the processes for getting information about scheduling and school events, for example, were frustrating. In the end, I found it was important for me to stay focused on what was achievable in one academic year, and to always simply assume there were things I would never understand.
What were you most proud of?
One part of my fellowship that I really enjoyed was traveling to other regions to do teacher-training workshops. These were opportunities to spend two or three days with a group of teachers from primary or secondary schools, and lead workshops around a variety of topics. I was proud of the work those teachers put into the sessions, and the amount of sharing and camaraderie that developed during our time together. While I was happy to share ideas and resources with them, I focused on using that time that they’d given me, and passing it on the participants in the form of experiential learning, sharing in discussion, and micro-teaching. Some teachers shared that they left the training feeling more confident and empowered, and to me that was a very meaningful outcome.
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from their first language. With enough support and opportunity, you’ll find that Vietnamese students, like all our learners, have a unique set of skills and experience to offer their learning communities.
What advice do you have for teachers who encounter students/ELLs from Vietnam in their ESL classrooms?
Vietnam has a wide-range of English teachers, institutions, language-centers, etc., so it would be impossible to accurately characterize all students’ classroom experience. That said, chances are their prior experience is different from their new one in the U.S. in a few key ways. First, speaking is not often a high priority in language classrooms in Vietnam − particularly when it comes to informal or conversational exercises. In all coursework, there’s a higher degree of formality to both speaking and writing than what we expect in the U.S., and that made it hard for students to realize that I wanted casual responses to a conversation question, for example, rather than a formal statement about their opinion or idea. They also usually stand and speak to the teacher, rather than their classmates. I would suggest introducing activities that run counter to these norms with a lot of support, modeling, and clear expectations. Secondly, I would offer that the students likely know a lot more than they let on. My students invariably told me how they lacked pronunciation and vocabulary skills, and yet when they understood the prompt and had a few moments to prepare, they often spoke very clearly and with an impressive lexicon. Lastly, learners are very focused on accurate pronunciation in Vietnam. I would make a point to introduce them to varied pronunciation in English and place emphasis on comprehension, so that they can ease the pressure they put on themselves to speak perfectly. In Vietnamese, accurate pronunciation is everything. In English, it is not. Still, they’ll likely need instruction and techniques to improve intonation and stress, as it is so different
Rebecca Lee taught ESL for 7 years at Carlos Rosario International Public Charter School in Washington, DC before her fellowship in Vietnam. She earned an MA in TESOL from Marlboro College in 2015, and is currently studying for a degree in Rhetoric at Carnegie Mellon University.
MEMBERSHIP Is your membership current? Go to www.watesol.org/ membership-benefits to ensure that your membership is active, or to join WATESOL.
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for
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CONNECT, RELAX AND REFOCUS: USING TECHNOLOGY TO ALLEVIATE ANXIETY IN LANGUAGE LEARNERS Becky Shiring|Squirrels, LLCemail@example.com Using a second language around native speakers can be nerve wracking. I know this from most embarrassing attempts I’ve made trying to speak Spanish. I overthink every word, pull out Google translate to check myself, turn red in the face and stumble trying to get it all out. There is a plethora of research that examines language learning, stress and anxiety (see Horwitz, E.K., Horwitz, M.B., & Cope, J., 1986; Pierce, 1995; Scovel, 1991). There is a large role teachers can play in helping to reduce this stress and anxiety. Let’s look at some tools and tips for helping to achieve this. Create Connections At our most basic level, we need to connect to learn. However, ELLs may feel anxious or stressed in a classroom that is socially and culturally different than what they are used to. Try out one of the following strategies to help students connect and create an inclusive classroom: Share photos--everyone has at least one meaningful photo on their phone these days. Have students share a picture from their phone on a Monday after the weekend or use this activity as a first day of class icebreaker. And don’t forget to share photos of your own too. You’ll be amazed at how fast this simple activity can build classroom community. Talk about your roots--as teachers of ELLs, we’ve all done the “make a poster about your country” lesson. But technology allows us to now take a journey there. Use Google Earth and Street View to get a live, 360° view of where a student is from. Or listen to live radio from around the world at Radio Garden to hear local news and music.
Relax Research shows that mindfulness in the classroom can benefit students health, social skills and academic performance. It can also help reduce teacher burnout too. This is great to see BUT if you asked me to teach students how to meditate, I’d probably run in the other direction. Luckily for those of us that can’t seem to quiet our own minds, let alone our students’, there is help! Mindfulness - Calm is a mindfulness app (iOS, Android, Web) that helps people relax and learn skills such as self-awareness, concentration, patience, and resilience. They have started a classroom initiative that allows educators to use the app for free.
Breathing--Breathe2Relax is a free app (iOS, Android) and a stress management tool that provides you with information about stress and the body as well as guided diaphragmatic breathing strategies. Diaphragmatic breathing has been proven to help with mood stabilization and lower anxiety and stress.
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Refocus When students are feeling anxious or stressed it can be really difficult for them to focus. Invasive thoughts prevent them from focusing on the paragraph they’re writing. The million things they have to do after class, can distract them from their larger life goals. Below are two apps that can help with short and long term focus. Noisli--Noisli is a free background noise generator that can help students relax and focus. The app lets you mix and save combinations of sounds that suit your taste. Choose from sounds like crackling fire, rainstorm, or falling leaves.
health in the future (check out this Scientific American article on mindfulness). And in the meantime, cutting anxiety helps students perform at their best in your classroom. Becky Shiring is the Director of Professional Development & Continued Learning at Squirrels, LLC. She’s an innovative educator passionate about bringing impactful PD to teachers and schools. Becky earned her MA in International Education from The George Washington University. She is the 2015 recipient of the AALPD “Rising Star Award”.
UPCOMING CONFERENCES & PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT WOOP-- is a free app (iOS, Android) that is
based on the scientific principle, Mental Contrasting with Implementation Intentions, but that’s quite a mouthful. So more simply, WOOP stands for Wish, Outcome, Obstacle, Plan. The app walks you through these four areas and allows you to set and save goals and observe progress. This method has been shown to reduce stress, find solutions to problems and improve time management.
WATESOL Fall Conference: Communicating in the 21st Century: Implications for Teaching & Learning, Saturday, October 7, Trinity Washington University, Washington, DC
VA TESOL Fall Conference: Bridging the Divide: Communication, Compassion and Community for Els, Saturday October 21, New Kent, VA
MD TESOL Fall Conference: Tackling Illiteracy, Saturday, November 11, Laurel, MD Winter/Spring 2017
Take a timeout in your class and make mindfulness or relaxation part of your weekly routines. You’ll find that teaching these skills can greatly impact students’ success financially, in relationships, and
American Association of Applied Linguistics Annual Conference, March 24-27, Chicago, IL
Coalition on Basic Adult Education Annual Conference, March 25-28, Phoenix, AZ
TESOL International Convention, March 27-30, 2018, Chicago, IL
American Educational Research Association Annual Conference, April 13-17, New York, NY
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LEARNING ABOUT INTERCULTURAL LANGUAGE TEACHING AT THE TESOL INTERNATIONAL CONVENTION Tabitha Kidwell|University of Maryland College Parkfirstname.lastname@example.org This spring, I received the Jim Weaver Professional Development Grant to support my attendance at the TESOL International Convention in Seattle. This was my third TESOL convention, and I have been surprised by how my own interests at the conference have changed each year. This year, I am in the progress of completing my dissertation proposal for a study examining how novice English teachers learn to teach about culture, and how they address culture during their first years in the classroom. I specifically looked for sessions that related to this topic, and I was able to attend a number of sessions hosted by the Intercultural Communication Interest Section. Many of these sessions reported on the results of recent studies and shared the work of emerging scholars. In this article, I share some of what I learned from attending these sessions.
Balyasnikova began her presentation, Intersectionality and Intercultural Communication Beyond Culture, by reflecting on her experience attending school in the US after emigrating from Russia. Though her family considered themselves quite cosmopolitan and connected to Europe, she felt that aspect of her identity was lost after her high school classmates labeled her “Russian,” and nothing more. When Ms. Balyasnikova later worked as an English teacher in Russia, she saw that textbooks also displayed a very narrow view of “English-speaking” cultures. One way to combat this tendency to label and essentialize humans and their cultures is to take an intersectional perspective on discussions of culture. Intersectionality is a term coined by American civil rights advocate Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw to describe overlapping or intersecting social identities. It is particularly important for English teachers to understand A good starting point is the important role culture intersectionality, because it helps us see students as plays in language learning, as discussed by individuals with overlapping identities (e.g., English Rebecca Oxford, who presented on a panel learner, immigrant, soccer lover, mother, entitled Issues in Implementing Learning Strategy Washingtonian, etc.) that impact their daily lives Instruction for ELLs. Dr. Oxford explained that and contribute to who they are. For more “culture is the beating heart of language learning,” information about intersectionality in the TESOL and if English teachers are not giving our students classroom, see Roy’s (2016) recent article in TESOL the chance to learn about culture and language Journal. together, we are missing an opportunity. Indeed, in Vygotsky’s (1978) influential social constructivist Of course, teachers don’t only need to view of learning, all learning is cultural. Culture is acknowledge students’ varying identities – we also particularly central to language learning, as need to support our students’ development of recognized in the TESOL standards and in the intercultural understanding. Yesenia Bonilla and Common European Framework of Reference. The Mauricio Arango shared ideas to integrate presenter shared strategies to address culture intercultural learning in the English classrooms in the within the language classroom, such as analyzing presentation Enriching Intercultural Awareness in EFL why certain aspects of culture seem surprising or off Contexts. As EFL teachers, they pointed out that any -putting to people in other cultures. She also “authentic” interaction will involve someone from a recommended offering students the opportunity to different culture, so students need opportunities to analyze cultural differences and similarities while develop intercultural communicative ability. supporting their acceptance of complexity and Proverbs represent one rich source of intercultural tolerance of ambiguity. understanding; though some are universal, others reveal a culture’s values. For instance, what does These skills are important for teachers as well, who the phrase “time is money” say about American encounter complex, ambiguous situations in their culture? The presenters also recommended classrooms as they interact with students of diverse discussing not only differences but also similarities and intersecting backgrounds. Natasha among cultures, for instance by using a Venn
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Diagram to discuss families in the US and in El Salvador. Lastly, the presenters emphasized the importance of providing students with opportunities to discuss their own culture in addition to the target culture – doing so can help them better understand the nature of culture, and how every person’s culture influences their perception of the world.
used in multicultural education courses at universities in the United States. They examined the frequency of use of third person plural pronouns (we, us, and our) and what the use of those pronouns seemed to imply. They found that, in many cases, the use of pronouns positioned members of minority groups as the “other” rather than taking an inclusive stance. This is particularly worrisome considering Another great idea for intercultural language that textbooks often constitute the “de facto” teaching came from the presentation Critical curriculum of teacher education. The presenters Incidents for English Teaching by Don Snow, longtime suggested that teacher educators and mentors English teacher in China, and author of several working with novice teachers should be vigilant to TESOL Press publications. Snow pointed out that represent minorities in inclusive manner and to most of the situations where his Chinese students will avoid presenting difference among individuals in a need to use English will be with people from stereotypical way. This is an important reminder backgrounds different from their own – not only for classroom teachers, as well! Even the simple monolingual English speakers, but also other nonchoice between “we”, “you”, or “they” can include native English speakers. To make these interactions or exclude students and their communities. more successful, students need more than just English skills – they also need basic intercultural By teaching English, teachers are preparing communication skills. To support students’ students for encounters with people from different development of these skills, Snow suggests using cultures – both monolingual speakers of English and critical incidents, which he also calls “culture bump” other multilingual speakers from various stories. This type of situation will be familiar to backgrounds. Cultural proficiency, therefore, is as anyone who has spent time in another important as language proficiency. Intercultural culture: someone from culture A encounters language teaching remains a comparatively undersomeone from culture B, and a cultural researched area, but it was gratifying to hear from misunderstanding ensues. After reading a critical researchers and teachers who are grappling with incident story (or viewing a video of the incident), how to develop students’ cultural skills in tandem the teacher should ask students to generate multiple with their language skills. Based on the emerging possible interpretations for what went wrong. The research I heard about at the 2017 TESOL students then share their interpretations, and the International Convention, this will be an interesting teacher guides them as they discuss which area of research for the years to come. explanation is most likely, without designating one “right answer.” The class can also discuss which References explanations are most creative, and which are Roy, L. (2016). “So What's the Difference?” Talking particularly friendly or critical toward each About Race With Refugee Children in the culture. Asking students to generate multiple English Language Learner Classroom. TESOL explanations is essential to help them begin to Journal. doi:10.1002/tesj.286 consider alternative perspectives. This activity is Vygotsky, L. S. (1978). Mind in particularly appropriate with adults, who may have society: The development of limited language skills but strong reasoning higher mental skills. Students could even be invited to share their process. Cambridge, own “culture bump” stories and discuss them MA: Harvard University Press. together. Tabitha Kidwell is a doctoral Finally, it is important to remember that the words student in Applied Linguistics and we use often contribute to cultural disconnects – Language Education at University even the simplest of words. In a session entitled of Maryland. She has taught Inclusive and Exclusive Pronouns in Multicultural students of all ages and levels on five Teacher Education Textbooks, former WATESOL continents. She teaches in the TESOL and World members Bedrettin Yazan and Ali Fuad Selvi, along Languages M.Ed. program and conducts research with their colleague Baburhan Uzum, presented on on novice language teacher preparation. She also pronoun use in four textbooks that are frequently enjoys running and wearing funny hats.
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BALANCING ACCURACY & COMPLEXITY IN GRAMMAR ASSESSMENT Stephanie Gallop & Heather Gregg Zitlau|Georgetown Universityemail@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org What should students do students do to earn an A in grammar? They would likely be quick to answer that they should produce error-free work. In many cases, however, accuracy is not enough; students should demonstrate both accuracy and complexity in order to receive top marks. Housen and Kuiken (2009) point out that while language instructors assess grammatical usage in student products as a measure of performance, they must at the same time recognize the role of grammatical usage as only one dimension in the process of linguistic development. As students work toward mastery of more complex grammatical structures in their speech and writing, they will inevitably make mistakes; nevertheless, they should be encouraged to attempt an appropriate increasing level of complexity.
speech and writing, to reward them for doing so, and to give them transparent rationale for their grammar grades, we examined and revised our instructional practices and assessment tools in speaking, writing, and grammar-focused courses. What follows is an explanation of some of the revised approaches and tools that we have developed.
Clarifying the Meaning of “Complexity” and Creating Buy-in If we intend to assess complexity in our students’ work, we need to be sure that they understand just what “complexity” is. One simple way to help them grasp the idea is to show students two teachercreated samples of a one-paragraph task: one written with short, simple sentences and very few mistakes, and the other with the same ideas expressed with compound and complex sentences Because a learner’s willingness to take risks plays and a greater number of errors. Students could be an important role in second language development asked to evaluate the two samples, or the instructor (Gass & Selinker, 2008), instructors face the could simply point out that the paragraph written at challenge of assessing grammar in a way that does a more basic level will not earn an A, even though not discourage students from attempting more the usage is accurate. Ideally, this would be done complex structures; in other words, grammar with reference to a rubric that includes both assessment should not simply penalize learners for accuracy and complexity as descriptors or as the number of errors that they make. weighted criteria. Successfully rating both complexity and accuracy is not easy. In a case study on teacher assessment of grammatical ability, Neumann (2014) found that accuracy was used as the primary assessment criterion even when a teacher claimed that sentence variety and complexity were also important goals. Perhaps more importantly, in analyzing the impact of assessment on students’ writing and learning, Neumann also found that “because these students knew that grammatical errors would lead to lower grammar grades, they avoided challenging language structures and stuck to those structures that they knew well. This avoidance behaviour affected their learning negatively because students had the impression that risk-taking behaviour was not rewarded, or at least they were not certain whether it was” (p. 92). In order to encourage students to take risks in their
Even if they understand the idea, simply directing students to “add complexity” or “use complex sentences” can leave many lost or tentative. Simple, compound, and complex sentence structures are often taught and compared in textbooks, and lists of “transition words” can frequently be found in appendices or word lists solicited online, but these concepts are not always presented together. If a student reads a textbook or searches online for “transitions for contrast”, they may find a list of words that includes “however”, “but”, and “although”, but may assume these words are interchangeable or be uncertain of how to use them appropriately. Having students focus on the transition expressions with the clause structure that accompanies them can give them a way to begin incorporating it in their writing.
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Provided with this knowledge, some students might still hesitate to push themselves beyond the simpler structures that they feel confident using. One way to create buy-in to the importance of complexity is to review the assessment criteria for TOEFL and IELTS with students. In order to earn the highest scores on writing or speaking tasks, test takers must not only write and speak with minimal errors; they must also demonstrate an ability to use complex grammatical structures. These are described in IELTS writing band 6, for example, as “a mix of simple and complex sentence forms,” in band 7 as “a variety of complex structures,” and in bands 8 and 9 as “a wide range of structures” (British Council, n.d.). Many students are keen to improve their scores on these exams, and if they realize that their classroom instructors would like to see similar use of complex structures, they might be motivated to attempt more challenging forms. A note of caution here: students should of course be encouraged to use a level-appropriate measure of complexity, and we never want to minimize the importance of accuracy; the challenge for them and for us is to strike an appropriate balance of the two measures. Once students are aware (and, we hope, convinced) that complexity is indeed an important goal toward which to work, they will need continued help to implement more complex structures into their writing and speaking. Providing Context for Complexity In addition to emphasizing clause structure with related transitions, associating particular parts of an assignment with complex structures will give students a more concrete task to focus on. For example, an introductory paragraph is full of opportunities to elicit complexity. Noun clauses for embedded questions and reported speech are common in creative or meaningful hooks that include statistics or rhetorical questions. Adjective clauses and phrases can be used for detailed description and definitions, which is often necessary for connecting information in an introductory paragraph. Adverbial clauses and phrases can be used to express time, cause and effect, contrast, and other relationships that may be at the core of an essay’s structure, and should naturally be a part of a solid thesis statement.
Creating “bridges”, or sophisticated transitions between paragraphs, also provides a great opportunity for complexity. Particularly as students become more advanced writers, they should be encouraged to use a variety of strategies to move from one paragraph to the next, rather than beginning paragraphs with simple transitions such as “First,” or “In addition,” which naturally lead to simple sentences. For this reason, it may be helpful to consider limiting the use of these conjunctive adverbs or prepositional phrases at the beginning of paragraphs. Students can instead use adverbial clauses to illustrate the relationship between the topic of the previous paragraph and the topic of the next paragraph, or use adjective clauses with important nouns and topics that are related but need to be distinguished from the topics of other paragraphs. Using Varied Assessment Practices The targeted practice that textbooks provide is a good place to continue after teaching students combined transitions and sentence structure that lead them to complexity. In addition, information on student understanding of the concepts can be gained through creating short quizzes with popular online tools such as Kahoot (https:// create.kahoot.it/) and Plickers (https:// www.plickers.com/). Lower-stakes tasks such as these create safe places for students to try out complexity without the risk of significant grade reduction or judgment from peers. Short assignments that focus on targeted complex structures also allow students more creative space than sentence-based activities to produce complex language, but still lessens the burden of grading on teachers. Personal reflections and journaling, either written or oral, on readings, current events, and daily tasks can be short yet still incorporate specific topics that encourage complexity. For longer writing, such as essays and research papers, breaking the task into several graded parts can make giving and receiving feedback more manageable for both teachers and students. A draft of an essay that includes body paragraphs only, for example, can focus on complexity and variety in bridges, topic sentences, or supporting details. Subsequent drafts can continue to give weight to these items after revision. Introductions or conclusions and their elements of complexity can be
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scored separately or in the next draft. The stakes of each graded portion can become progressively higher, whether by weighting of points or reduced focus on other linguistic elements, such as articles, word choice, or prepositions. When final drafts are compiled, students will have had multiple opportunities to attempt complexity and revise these attempts, potentially allowing for more weight in the final score on complexity itself. Identifying Points of Complexity in Assessment With the goal of assessing grammar in a way that rewards both accuracy and complexity, an obvious challenge is finding a way to identify complexity on an assessment tool and/or to quantify it. One possible solution for short writing assignments such as discussion board posts is to count the number of complex structures used and to determine a score for complexity accordingly, with complexity as one criterion on a rubric. The exact structures would vary by level, and students should be aware of which target structures earn complexity points. These could include, for example, relative clauses, relative clauses with pronouns, passive voice, the number of clauses per sentence, and appropriately complex noun phrases.
For some assignments, a holistic score for grammar such as those used in standardized testing might be appropriate. Like IELTS, to earn a score of 4 (the highest possible) on a speaking item, TOEFL takers must demonstrate “good control of basic and complex grammatical structures...though some minor...errors or imprecise use may be noticeable…” (Educational Testing Service, 2014). Similarly, for a presentation or recorded speaking task in which grammar is scored as just one of the components, students might be given a holistic grammar score that incorporates both accuracy and complexity. Once again, instructors must help students understand how complexity is assessed, perhaps by scoring a sample student recording together. Conclusion Assessing our students’ use of increasingly complex structures effectively and transparently takes a bit of extra time and effort. Basing a grammar grade on the number of errors that we find in a student’s work might be easier and more straightforward, but by doing so, we risk inhibiting the very linguistic development that we hope to foster in our students.
References British Council. (n.d.). Writing band descriptors (public version). Retrieved from http:// takeielts.britishcouncil.org/sites/default/files/ IELTS_task_1_Writing_band_descriptors.pdf Educational Testing Service. (2014). Independent speaking rubrics. Retrieved from https:// www.ets.org/s/toefl/pdf/ toefl_speaking_rubrics.pdf Gass, S.M., & Selinker, L. (2008). Second language acquisition: An introductory course (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Routledge Housen, A. & Kuiken, F. (2009) Complexity, accuracy, and fluency in second language acquisition. Applied Linguistics, 30:4. doi: 10.1093/ applin/amp048 Neumann, H. (2014). Teacher assessment of grammatical ability in second language academic writing: A case study. Journal of Second Language Writing. doi: 10.1016/j.jslw.2014.04.002
Stephanie Gallop is an Assistant Teaching Professor in the English Language Center at Georgetown University, where she primarily teaches academic English courses in writing, reading, and grammar.
Heather Gregg Zitlau is also an Assistant Teaching Professor in the English Language Center at Georgetown University, where she teaches a variety of academic and business English courses.
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In June, members of WATESOL's Advocacy Committee Karen Murph (Northern Virginia Community College) and Polina Vinogradova (American University) attended the annual TESOL Advocacy Summit in Alexandria, VA. The first two days of the summit were spent in sessions and workshops about advocacy and preparing for meetings on Capitol Hill that took place the final day of the summit. During Capitol Hill visits, WATESOL members met with staff from the offices of Eleanor Holmes Norton (Washington, DC Delegate At-Large) and Virginia senators Tim Kaine and Mark Warner. They also joined VATESOL group in the meeting with Congressman Don Beyer (VA, 8th district). In these meetings, advocates raised their concerns and urged congressional representatives to protect the rights of immigrant and refugee families and support DACA, the Bridge Act, and funding for international exchange programs. We extend special thanks to Denise Ricks Herrington (VATESOL Legislative Liaison) for coordinating advocacy efforts and meetings of MDTESOL, VATESOL, and WATESOL advocates. WATESOL's Advocacy Committee will work this year to build momentum and capacity for next year's Advocacy Summit.
Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) WATESOL joins TESOL International Association in its support of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. TESOL International recently joined over 50 organizations in a letter to President Trump outlining the benefits of DACA and the consequences of ending it. The letter, initiated by the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities, highlights the 800,000 young adults who depend on their DACA status to live, work, and study in the United States.
Join Us! If you are interested in being a part of the Advocacy Committee, please email the Advocacy Chairs, Colleen Shaughnessy and Joanna Duggan, at email@example.com
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K-12 SIG MEMBER PROFILE: KATE FARIS Interviewer: Emily Naber, WATESOL K-12 SIG Chair School: Raymond Education Campus, DCPS’ first Extended Year School What grades do you teach?
I teach middle school students in grade 6-8. How long have you been teaching?
This is my third year teaching Middle School and I taught adults for 2 years before I started teaching for DCPS. What types of teaching models do you use for ELLs?
K-12 ELLs in The District of Columbia DCPS educates over 10,000 linguistically and culturally diverse (LCD) students. The most frequent home languages are Spanish (87%), Amharic (5%) and French (3%). During the 2016-2017 school year, DCPS served 6,190 ELLs. This number has been increasing steadily for the past six school years, up from 4,344 ELLs served during the 2011-2012 school year.
Raymond EC has been piloting an International Academy program that allows ELLs to receive sheltered instruction in all four content areas: Math, ELA, Social Studies and Science. I am the ELA teacher in the International Academy this year and I also co-taught Science last year with the 7th and 8th grade science teacher. Raymond also uses a co-teaching model in Math and Social Studies. What are some of your students’ activities?
My students love taking field trips. For example, last week we went to Anacostia Watershed and students had the opportunity to ride on a boat (most of them for the first time!) while learning about conservation, erosion, and keeping the water clean. We also have gone to the GALA Hispanic Theater in Columbia Heights to see bilingual productions such as Flamenco a demonstration and Yo Tambien Hablo de la Rosa. These types of experiences give students a lot of interesting background knowledge that enriches their language learning experience by giving them exciting things to write and talk about. What are some of the challenges you face as an ESL teacher? Many of the ELL students I work with have had their learning interrupted by various life circumstances. It is challenging to teach these students the literacy skills they need to be successful in school while also teaching them English and grade-level content. What’s your favorite part of being an ESL teacher? I love seeing student growth throughout the year as well as seeing their confidence increase as they are able to understand and communicate in English and start succeeding in their other classes.
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TECH TOOLS CORNER LINDSEY CRIFASI|WATESOL NEWSLETTER STAFF| firstname.lastname@example.org Communication skills open doors. For adult students, speaking skills can move them from the back of the house to the front of the house, for example. Communication skills mean money. For younger students and adults, shyness is a huge obstacle to overcome. However, many of our learners lack rich, authentic opportunities for practicing speaking. Technology can help. Check out these ideas for providing those experiences for students. The great thing about these activities is that students work at their own pace, can practice multiple times in a safe space, and the privacy gives shyer students a chance to express themselves. Add these (free) ideas to your toolbox! Google Voice → Google hooks you up with a new phone number, in case you don’t want to give your personal phone number out to students. Students call the number and leave you a message. They can read a text you have been practicing in class. They can speak using a grammar point you want them to demonstrate. Make it a routine by assigning weekend homework so that students are practicing outside the classroom and not losing out on opportunities to speak English over the weekend. Voicethread → This collaborative slideshow software allows users to speak over an image, document or video. Multiple users can talk on the same slideshow from different devices so teamwork can happen from different locations just as it does in the real world these days. Imagine oral histories or oral presentations, or speaking a prompt that students then respond to. Teachers can evaluate students by leaving voice messages right on the project, so feedback is pointed and immediate. So many creative opportunities! Minimal pair activities → Pronunciation is key to communication. Minimal pair activities can help students work through the blends, diagraphs, and vowel sounds that challenge them, and at their own pace. Here are a few websites for independent pronunciation practice: pronuncian.com - here practice lessons give students a chance to hear targeted vowel sounds in the beginning, middle, and end of words manythings.org/pp/ - this site offers plenty of quizzes to test learners’ sound distinguishing abilities shiporsheep.com/ - students hover over minimal pairs to listen to their discrete sounds Make speaking and minimal pair practice part of your classroom or homework routines. You’ll notice how much more comfortable students will be to speak in your classroom and in public after they have had a chance to master these skills on their own time.
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2016-2017 WATESOL BOARD PRESIDENT Heather Tatton-Harris email@example.com
ADVOCACY CHAIRS Joanna Duggan & Colleen Shaughnessy firstname.lastname@example.org
VICE PRESIDENTS Rebecca Wilner & Heather Weger email@example.com
COMMUNICATIONS MANAGER Erica Sanchez firstname.lastname@example.org
PAST PRESIDENT Sharla Rivera email@example.com
SIG LIAISON Lucy Ruiz firstname.lastname@example.org
RECORDING SECRETARIES Julie Lake & Kate Bain email@example.com
HIGHER EDUCATION SIG Shereen Bhalla firstname.lastname@example.org
MEMBERSHIP SECRETARY Connie Lee email@example.com
ADULT EDUCATION SIG Christyann Helm & Erin Ross firstname.lastname@example.org
TREASURER Jennifer Lubkin Chavez email@example.com
K-12 SIG Emily Naber watesol.k12.SIG@gmail.com
NEWSLETTER EDITORS Lindsey Crifasi, Stephanie Gallop & Silvia Hildesheim firstname.lastname@example.org
NNEST Sevtap Frantz email@example.com
PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT COORDINATORS Rebecca Sachs, Mary Spanarkel & Emily Vandermade firstname.lastname@example.org
Congratulations to our Incoming Board Members!
Betsy Wong, Vice President (transitional to President and then to Past President)
Sarah Knowles, Vice President
Amy Melendez, PD Chair
Natalia Romanova, PD Chair
Nicole Sheen, PD Chair
Christopher Scott, Treasurer
Kate Bain, Recording Secretary
WATESOL Xavier Munoz, Adult Ed SIG Chair Newsletter Fall 2017 - p. 21