AEIS Newsletter

AEIS News, Volume 1:2 (November 2003)

by User Not Found | 11/01/2011
In This Issue...

Message from the Chair
Second Language Acquisition: Moving Toward Excellence
Successes and Challenges in Part-time Advocacy: Panel presentation at TESOL 2003, Baltimore
ESOL Approaches and Eastern Philosophy On Language Anxiety
Learning About Class in Class
AEIS Executive Board/Steering Committee 2003-2004
About This Member Community

Message from the Chair By Rosie Maum

During the summer we have been working diligently in preparation for next year's convention and hope that what we have put together will be useful and practical. Let me share with you some of the things that are or will be happening: Thanks to the hard work of more than fifty volunteer readers, we were able to recommend a nice variety of presentations and by the end of this month those who submitted proposals will be hearing from TESOL; just recently, TESOL gave us the good news that the AEIS Special Project was approved and Yilin Sun will report on that at next year's IS business meeting. We are also working on our interest section's by-laws and Margaret Kiernan has offered to take a look at them to see if they need to be updated. Our Past Chair, Dan Wann, is serving on the Standards Ad Hoc Committee whose goal is to provide recommendations for the completion of the Standards for Teachers of Adult Learners. We should hear more about their work in the near future and Dan will give us a report during the AEIS business meeting.

In preparation for next year's convention, here are some important dates to keep in mind:

Please be aware that we are looking for a Booth Chair who is willing to manage the booth at next year's convention in Long Beach, CA and to coordinate the booth material and volunteers. If you are interested in the position, which, by the way, is a very nice way to network and meet TESOLERs from around the country and the world, please get in touch with me at your earliest convenience. Also, if you would like to have some flyers or brochures displayed at our booth, you will need to send me a copy 30 days prior to the convention in order to get TESOL's approval.

For those interested in the latest news pertaining to legislative issues, starting September 10 the Senate will be busy working on the reauthorization of the Workforce Reinvestment and Adult Education Act of 2003 (WIA). WIA is the major source of federal funding for ESL training in addition to job training and ABE. Several provisions have been included in HR 1261 which are designed to assist low-income immigrants. In addition, Senator Hillary Clinton (D; NY) has introduced the Access to Employment and English Acquisition Act (Bill S. 1543) supporting demonstration grants under WIA Title I which would allow training programs to teach English literacy, communication and interview skills. The reauthorization will meet the House bill (H.R. 1261) in October. I would urge you to contact your elected officials during the month of September and to remain abreast of what is happening (by September 5, a new OVAE Review which summarizes news will be online at

I would like to end this message by renewing my invitation to attend next year's convention (March 31 - April 3, 2004 in Long Beach, CA) and to remain or get involved with TESOL and your Adult Education Interest Section. Let me point out TESOL's Board of Directors recently announced position on teacher quality: "Qualified ESL and EFL educators not only should demonstrate a high level of written and oral proficiency in the English language (regardless of native language), but should also demonstrate teaching competency. Educators should be aware of current trends and research and their instructional implications in the field of linguistics, applied linguistics, second language acquisition, sociolinguistics, language pedagogy and methodology, literacy development, curriculum and materials development, assessment, and cross-cultural communication". I firmly believe that attending the convention not only allows us to become part of a networking group of more than 14,000 members from over 120 countries, but it also gives all of us a chance to feel reinvigorated about our profession and to renew our skills as qualified ESL professionals. Hope to see you in Long Beach!

Rosie Maum is the AEIS Chair; she can be contacted at

Second Language Acquisition: Moving Toward Excellence by Robert D. Schaffer, ESOL Facilitator, Madison-Oneida B.O.C.E.S, Utica Access Site, Utica, NY, USA (Schaffer can be reached by email or by home phone at 315 853-5984.)

Is your ESOL instruction in line with current research? One way to approach excellence is to be aware of what really works and what really doesn't work. Peter Drucker, the management guru, has a wonderful aphorism that applies here:

There is nothing so useless as doing with great efficiency that which shouldn't be done in the first place!

McGraw Hill's just-published (2003) From Input to Output is subtitled, A Teacher's Guide to Second Language Acquisition. The author, Bill VanPatten, of the University of Illinois at Chicago, is a highly-respected researcher in this field, as well as one of the general editors, along with James F. Lee of McGraw Hill's Second Language Professional Series: Directions in Second Language Learning.

Lee writes in the Forward to From Input to Output that VanPatten:

...peels back the complexity of second language acquisition (SLA) research and theory to reveal some basic notions that teachers and administrators should have about the learning of another language...

This short presentation on SLA, just 124 pages of text, is eminently readable, highly cohesive, and clearly organized. Five chapters and an epilogue are broken down into some fifty brief sections, each covering a specific topic area. Each chapter contains a helpful summary, plus an annotated bibliography, Read More about It.

VanPatten has deliberately chosen the pragmatic route of reducing the jargon and complexity of SLA research. For many of us, there will be just the right amount of information to stimulate us to rethink what we're teaching, how we're teaching it, and why we're teaching it. VanPatten writes:

One question that SLA research should ultimately be able to address for all teachers is this: Which instructional efforts actually further acquisition and which do not.

Since its inception several decades ago, Literacy Volunteers of America (LVA) has been at the forefront of client-centered learning. The LVA tutor works diligently to turn over to the learner as quickly as possible control for many decisions as to what the learner will do. In effect, the learner is prepped to set his/her learning goals and then to make choices as to how to move toward those goals. The tutor, then, serves as a facilitator, not as an authority figure.

VanPatten quotes this interesting passage from S.P. Corder's book, Error Analysis and Interlanguage, Oxford University Press, 1981:

(von Humboldt stated) that we cannot really teach language, we can only create conditions in which it will develop spontaneously in the mind in its own way.
...We may be able to allow the learner's innate strategies to dictate our practice and determine our syllabus; we may learn to adapt ourselves to his needs rather than to impose upon him our preconceptions of how he ought to learn, what he ought to learn, and when he ought to learn it.

VanPatten provides these major concepts that underlie SLA:

SLA involves the creation of an implicit (unconscious) linguistic system
SLA is complex and consists of different processes
SLA is dynamic but slow
Most L2 learners fall short of native-like competence

In the remainder of this article, I shall deal primarily with the important and controlling notion that effective acquisition of a language involves creating an unconscious linguistic system. Fluent speakers of a language must ultimately rely on an implicit system and not an explicit system.

Elaborating on the concept of an implicit system, VanPatten writes:

All speakers of a first language...have an implicit linguistic system in their heads. By implicit we mean that the system exists outside of consciousness; you are unaware of its properties even though you may use it every single second of your life. When you say, "Stan, don't forget to pick up the dry cleaning," to someone as he walks out the door, you are not thinking about the system. It's just there. You call upon the rules of grammar, vocabulary, and so forth, without thinking about anything. What is more, you can make declarations about sentences or structures being possible or impossible in your first language without knowing why.

At the workshops that I conduct for training ESOL tutors for Literacy Volunteers of America, I consistently find that the trainees need to go through an uncomfortable and frustrating process of thinking about what they are saying and how they are saying things. Since many of my tutors are young people in college, their language skills are generally above average. Some have studied English grammar, yet while they can correct a learner, they often can't explain the rationale for the correction.

For example, the learner says, "I going to church with my friends for Sunday morning." The tutor knows that 'I going' should be 'I am going', and similarly, 'for Sunday morning' is probably meant to be 'on Sunday morning' or 'this Sunday morning.' The problem for the tutor, whose implicit language system tells him the sentence is flawed, is to explain why it is wrong. It's a good deal like trying to tie the bow tie for a friend. You can tie it on your own neck; that's automatic (implicit). But suddenly you have to make conscious (explicit) the steps for tying the bow, and that's the proverbial 'horse of a different color'.

Does giving learners rules help? (Many tutors/teachers will say," That's the way I learned." And VanPatten replies:

Because we as language teachers are more successful at language acquisition than much of the population...we think that how we learned is the way language is learned. But once this idea is examined carefully, it begins to erode. Language teachers who are advanced speakers generally have gone abroad. The most advanced speakers have lived abroad or traveled extensively, listen to music in the L2, watch movies and TV in the L2, and so on. What do these situations have in common? Either lots of input or lots of interaction. Teachers think that because they may have learned rules first, those rules either caused acquisition or became the implicit system. (However) you can't know what you know implicitly in an L2 or perform in an advanced manner if all you did was get rules and practice them.

...(SLA research makes the point that) communication is at the heart of language acquisition, that is, that people acquire language by engaging in communicative behaviors, which are the interpretation, expression, and negotiation of meaning.

And finally, VanPatten sums up his major point that SLA is grounded in communication by cautioning us that:

The days of drilling, filling in blanks with the correct verb form, transforming sentences, using slash sentences for practicing agreement, and performing other strictly form-focused tasks should be long gone. Although all these tasks are useful for filling time and textbook pages, it is clear from research that such activities do not promote acquisition.

...A focus on form should not take place in the absence of meaning. That is, a focus on form should happen in one of two ways: (1) through a communicative exchange or (2) through some kind of comprehension task.

...(For example, a valuable technique to employ is to use a Recast.) Recasts are restatements by (a teacher) when a non-native speaker produces something that is not quite right. The (teacher) does not take the focus off meaning, but instead temporarily puts the focus on meaning and form. Here (is an) example:

Non-native speaker: So he go to the store.
Teacher: He went to the store, and then what happened?
Non-native speaker: So he went to the store and he, uh, he buy...

The point, then, is to make a correction in form as quickly and unobtrusively as possible, so as not to distract the non-native speaker from carrying on a conversation that conveys meaning and provides effective comprehension for both the non-native and the native speaker. VanPatten would posit that stopping for an intrusive lesson in grammar would be destructive to the basic and fundamental process of building the implicit linguistic system through conversation.

As VanPatten has stated above, SLA acquisition is complex and consists of different processes. I have attempted here only to convey an oversimplified frame of reference. It can be helpfully fleshed out by spending a few hours with VanPatten's small but pithy explication of Second Language Acquisition,From Input to Output.

Successes and Challenges in Part-time Advocacy: Panel presentation at TESOL 2003, Baltimore Jose A. Carmona, Jack Longmate, Marilyn McLaughlin, Yilin Sun, and Diane Tehrani

This year at TESOL Convention in Baltimore, AEIS chaired an intersection panel entitled "Successes and Challenges in Part-time Advocacy". At the session, AEIS, HEIS, IEPIS, and COPTEC panelists discussed mutually held concerns about the widespread practice of employing part-time/adjunct/contingent positions in lieu of full-time permanent positions. Panelists examined working conditions, successful models for part-time employment, public policy issues, and long-term consequences of this practice on the profession.

Jose A. Carmona of Daytona Beach Community College in Daytona Beach, FL spoke first about the benefits of unionization for adjunct faculty and went over a variety of websites, articles and books that may be of use for adjunct organizing campaigns.

While researching adjunct equity, Jose A. Carmona discovered that during the late 80s and early 90s discontent with the position was on the rise. However, the latest literature on degrees of satisfaction seems to surprisingly agree that adjunct instructors are satisfied for the most part but with some concerns on: a) salary, b) lack of benefits, c) lack of job security, d) lack of inclusion in institutional activities, and e) lack of express of appreciation for their contributions to the institutions. While previously expressed concerns are still present today, what has shocked the most is the mention of an increase in satisfaction. Further studies are needed to determine why this is dominating current research.

As a chairman of two departments at a community college, Prof. Carmona stresses the need for research in adjunct equity. Further research is mainly needed on: a) institutional setting for part-time employment, b) the role of adjuncts in the academic community, c) adjunct faculty work, jobs, and careers, and d) faculty career patterns, incentives and disincentives.

His talk was followed by COPTEC's Jack Longmate, from Olympia College in Washington State. Jack spoke about the need to form coalitions with faculty from other disciplines in the equity campaign. These coalitions can be formed with unions and professional associations. One way to get the administration to pay attention to part-timers' concerns is to hold an event and invite legislators to speak. He reminded everyone of the need to plan and coordinate actions for Campus Equity Week, October 27-31, 2003.

Marilyn McLaughlin from Cleveland Heights-University Heights School District's ABLE adult education program spoke about how pervasive the use of adjuncts in adult education and ESL. Not only 75% of the teachers but 45% of the administrators in adult education in Ohio work part-time! Some schools treat teachers as independent contractors and do not even pay social security taxes. According to one survey she saw, 9% of TESOL members do not even get paid for their work and she has been contacted by, for example, ministers' wives about resources for church members who volunteer to teach ESL to immigrants in their congregations.

Dr. Yilin Sun, incoming President of WAESOL and formerly in charge of professional development for Seattle Community Colleges spoken about some leading efforts in the nation including the work by American Federation of teacher and Washington Federation of teachers. She shared a local successful model in Washington State, the Seattle Community College Federation of Teachers and the instrumental efforts that SCCD Teachers Union has made to implement on behalf of adjuncts, including salary increase, pro-rata pay, stipends for student consultations, sick leave and other shared benefits. The successes could not have been achieved without the united efforts made by both full-time and part-time teachers. While SCCD has achieved part-time salary increase, the full-time faculty salary remains one of the lowest in the state considering the high cost of living in Seattle area. SCCD is ranked 20 out of 30 colleges in the state and of the 94 public 2-year colleges in large cities, Seattle ranks number 73. That's near the bottom 20%; 26% below the nation average. She emphasized the importance of bring both full-time and part-time teachers to work together and support each other to achieve equity for all. Many lessons have taught us if we are united, we achieve success; if divisive, there will be no gain for anyone. Other panelists underscored how comparative survey data such as the one by WAESOL/SPICY in 1997 has been effective in embarrassing some districts into paying teachers more and reducing class size for example. However, the unequal workload for ESL field is a major challenge that TESOL needs to work on as an action item.

Finally, Diane Tehrani of Mt. Hood Community College spoke about the impact of over relying on part-time teachers in our field on the physical and mental health of the instructors themselves and the cultures of ESL programs. She stated that despite the fact that most adjuncts were ESL professionals with graduate degrees and years of teaching experience, their basic needs for their teaching were not met by their institutions. Based on a model from an intensive English program where provision was made for all instructors' job-related expenses and in order to investigate just how much ESL adjunct professionals spent yearly for job-related expenses, Diane asked her colleagues to tell her rough estimates for the amounts they spent per year for teaching materials, supplemental texts, newspapers, magazines, cable subscription, and supplies, professional organizations for conferences, memberships, and subscriptions, retirement, health insurance, preparation time for lesson plans, department meetings, and state reports, transportation, tuition, and outside speakers. Through tabulation of the results of a questionnaire, she documented that, in a 1999 survey, spending of twenty-six adjunct ESL faculty ranged from a low of $3,100.00 to a high of $10,878.00. Again in 2000 when she surveyed instructors, the amounts were from $1,074.00 to $14,297.23. By this investigation she intended to show that when a college failed to commit to instructors' basic needs, instructors had to reach into their own pockets to provide for their own needs in addition to deliver quality education for their students. Thus an instructor's ability to deliver optimum instruction could not but be compromised accordingly.

Based on the discussions, here's a list for Successes and Strategies

  • Advocate from affiliate level on Part-Time issues (WAESOL-SPICY)
  • Survey, lobby, and letter-writing...
  • Advocate from national level on Part-Time issues (TESOL)
  • Advocate for ESL/EFL profession and students
  • Cooperate with other like-minded organizations Locally and nationally (AFT, WFT, SCCFT)
  • Cooperate across disciplinary lines and Coalition with other PT faculty
  • Unite and align with full-time faculty members
  • Advocate for diversity and inclusiveness
  • Set achievable goals and identify priorities
  • Seek support from administration and legislature /legislators


  • Realize and Address multidimensional issues within part-time teachers (by choice, volunteers, junior and senior, diversity)
  • Cooperate with other like-minded organizations locally and nationally - time, common interest, diversity
  • Unite and align with full-time faculty and educators from other disciplines
  • Gain support from administration and legislature

At the end of the session the panelists invited participants in sharing ideas. They spoke about organizing efforts among adjuncts nationally; in particular COCAL Useful websites and resources were also listed for the participants.

American Federation of Teachers:
Washington Federation of Teacher:
Seattle Community Colleges Federation of Teachers AFT 1789:
American Association of University Professors:


COPTEC offers a TESOL-sponsored email discussion list for Caucus members. It also has a nonTESOL email discussion list which includes people who are active on employment issues but may not be in ESL or a may not be a member of the Caucus. Contact Karen Stanley for more information.

Official Statements or Reports on Part-Time Faculty Employment
Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) - Policy Statement on Fairness for Contract Academic Staff:

The American Federation of Teachers (AFT)
Standards of Good Practice in the Employment of Part-Time/Adjunct Faculty

Statement on Part-Time Faculty Employment, 1996

AFT resolution on Part-Time Faculty

The American Association of University Professors (AAUP) site has a number of different official statements:
Statement on Part-time & Non-Tenure Track Faculty

Statement on Graduate Students

Guidelines for Good Practice Part-Time and Non-Tenure-Track Faculty

The Status of Non-Tenure-Track Faculty

Collective Bargaining

AAUP page on Campus Equity Week (includes links to other related information)

National (US) Council of Teachers of English (NCTE)
On Affirming Labor Equity for Adjunct Teachers and Graduate Employees, 1997

Modern Language Association (MLA) Committee on Professional Employment report -- This is more about higher ed employment conditions in general, but one main section addresses is Equitable Treatment of Part-Time and Full-Time Adjunct Instructors:

Coalition on the Academic Workforce -- the Coalition's report on part-time instructors is based on "hard data" rather than being anecdotal in nature.
An article on the report appears at

Organization of American Historians
Statement from the Conference on the Growing Use of Part-Time and Adjunct Faculty (joint statement with other academic organizations)

Campus Equity Week (North America) website

Jose A Carmona, Daytona Beach Community College, Daytona Beach, Florida, USA,; Jack Longmate, Olympic College, Bremerton, Washington, USA,; Marilyn McLaughlin, Cleveland Hts.- University Hts. School District ABLE Program, Cleveland Hts., Ohio, USA,; Yilin Sun, Seattle Community Colleges, Seattle, Washington, USA,; Diane Tehrani, Mt. Hood Community College, Gresham, Oregon, USA

ESOL Approaches and Eastern Philosophy On Language Anxiety Kim Hardiman

Teaching English to students of other languages in a diverse, multicultural world requires a continual search for new, non-threatening, innovative methods and approaches. What is the best teaching approach in today's challenging society that will reduce language anxiety? In the past, teaching English as a second language emphasized strict, grammatical and methodical approaches regardless of student learning needs. Research shows that in today's world we must focus on the affective, humanistic needs of students, meaningful language communication, and understand multicultural diversity. Teaching English as a second language used to be based purely on scientific, methodical theories. Now the strategies of teaching are based on social, cultural, and psychological needs of the student.

Language anxiety is associated with three factors: "a fear of negative evaluation, test anxiety, and communication apprehension" (Pappamihiel, 2002, p. 331). Researchers have also discovered two types of behavior anxiety, trait anxiety and state anxiety. According to Richard-Amato (1996), trait anxiety is "a predisposition toward feeling anxious" and state anxiety is "produced in reaction to a specific situation" (Richard-Amato, 1996, p. 82).

The teacher can reduce anxiety barriers by using a variety of teaching methods.

In the Community Language Learning Approach, the teacher becomes the therapist and the student is in need of therapy (in this case, learning a foreign language). Anxiety is reduced in a relaxed, circle environment. The teacher is supportive and tries to communicate meaningful information with the students. Naomi Koba, Naoyoshi Ogawa and Dennis Wilkinson studied the effect of Community Language Learning approach for learning Japanese with twelve college students from other countries. According to their research, "most of the students felt comfortable with the conversation circle, whereas a few students mentioned that facing other students provoked anxiety" (Koba, 2000, p. 2).

Anxiety is defined as a state of uneasiness and apprehension or fear caused by the anticipation of something threatening. Language anxiety has been said by many researchers to influence language learning. Whereas facilitating anxiety produces positive effects on learner's performances, too much anxiety may cause a poor performance. (Scovel, 1991 and Koba, 2000, p. 2)

So how does a teacher cope with all these levels of anxiety? The teacher plays several roles in the classroom. The following is a list of five types of teacher's roles in today's classroom:

  • The benevolent autocrat; the kind parent-figure who knows what is best for the students; and is determined to give it to them;
  • The practical instructor who has a job to do, and who must help students by making sure that they achieve certain proficiency levels;
  • The classroom policeman/woman; the manager of learning and of acceptable behavior;
  • The facilitator of learning, helping students to achieve preset goals by giving them the skills to learn more effectively;
  • The learning physician, diagnosing student's problems and suggesting (prescribing) a course of action. (Finch 2002, p.1)

The teacher needs to balance and move in between the various roles of the kind parent-figure, the policeman/woman, the therapist and the physician. A good teacher will encourage the student to receive extra tutoring instruction, join support groups, foreign language clubs, and learn how to use relaxation techniques. New approaches to ESOL teaching emphasize concepts such as "interactive, cooperative, communicative, learner-centered and whole language based" (Brown, 2001, p. 46).

The Affective, Humanistic Approach was a reaction to the strict Grammar Translation Approach of teaching. Student-oriented learning replaced traditional teacher-oriented techniques. Depending on the confidence level of the student, the teacher must decide which technique to use: teacher-based or student-based learning. Some students are quiet and shy, and would not benefit from the Communicative Language Learning Approach. Other students would find the traditional, theoretical methods tedious and boring. The key to anxiety-reducing teaching technique is the individual approach, creative ideas, experience and personal interaction with the students. Every classroom situation is different and challenging. Teachers can choose to be disciplined and demanding, or gentle and caring. Students can choose to be independent and innovative, or totally dependent on the teacher.

The concept of opposing theories of teaching and learning approaches are similar to the Chinese concept of Yin and Yang. Yin and Yang represent the two opposite aspects of everything in life and the conflict and interdependence of these aspects: hard vs. soft, dark vs. light, male vs. female, and so on. But the Chinese Taoists believe that "all opposing forces can be balanced in harmony if they work together" (Smith, 1991, p. 141). Chaos results when the opposing forces do not work in harmony. This can apply to the classroom if the students cannot follow a particular approach that the teacher uses. The teaching theories in ESOL represent some of these opposing forces: scientific vs. humanistic, cognitive vs. behaviorism, deductive vs. inductive, grammar vs. communicative, and teacher-oriented vs. student-oriented methods. A good teacher uses a combination of Yin and Yang approaches, traditional methods, and alternative techniques in the classroom. Some teachers take controlled risks through brainstorming, debates, and creative word and grammar games. Other teachers get involved in administrative, parent, and student support groups. In most cases, a positive attitude, flexibility, motivation, and a non-threatening environment help reduce the anxiety of students learning a foreign language.

Interactive Learning, Communication Language Learning, the Natural Approach and Suggestopedia are some of the teaching approaches used to reduce language anxiety in ESOL pedagogy. These theories require student-oriented learning, pair and group work, meaningful conversations, and real-world situations. In 1979, Georgi Lozanov, a Bulgarian psychologist, drew insights from the Soviet research on psychological extrasensory perception. Music was important to his theory of learning. Lozanov believed that "Baroque music, with its 60 beats per minute and its specific rhythm, created the kind of relaxed concentration that let to super-learning" (Ostrander & Schroeder, 1979 and Brown, 2001, p. 27). Music therapy has been used throughout education and in the medical field to heal patients. In today's world, there are other forms of relaxation techniques, such as breathing exercises, meditation, aromatherapy, color and light therapy, and yoga or tai chi exercises that can be used to reduce anxiety in a classroom. Yoga is the philosophical, spiritual and physical exercise practiced by thousands of people in India. The Kathopanishad describes the relaxation benefits of yoga: "When the senses are stilled, when the mind is at rest, when the intellect wavers not - then, say the wise, is reached the highest stage. This steady control of the senses and mind has been defined as yoga" (Iyengar, 1979, p. 20). Iyengar continues to describe the benefits:

As a mighty river which when properly harnessed by dams and canals, creates a vast reservoir of water, prevents famine and provides abundant power for industry; so also the mind, when controlled, provides a reservoir of peace and generates abundant energy for human uplift. (Iyengar, 1979, p. 20)

In the classroom, it would be easier to use the mental relaxation techniques rather than the physical exercises of yoga. I used both yoga and tai chi relaxation techniques in the classroom to help students relax and concentrate before they had to take an exam. We do not have sufficient research to prove my theory of using yoga and tai chi techniques, because the western educational programs need more concrete evidence and scientific surveys. In the past, the Asian and Indian countries did not collect scientific research with the use of yoga and tai chi exercises in the traditional classroom. Some progressive schools have accepted these teaching methods, because the students improved their studies and reduced their anxiety of learning something new.

At Daytona Beach Community College, my supervisors encouraged me to use the eastern techniques in the ESOL classes and in the art classes. I knew my techniques were working when I looked at the smiles on my student's faces, and when they thanked me for helping them reduce anxiety and enjoy learning difficult subjects. Some of my students use the meditation exercises (on their own) in their math, science, and history classes. I would like to create a survey using these alternative methods and publish the results in the TESOL Journal someday.

In the Asian countries, Tai Chi Chuan is an ancient relaxation exercise that connects the mind, body and spirit. "By keeping their minds whole and untouched, the ancient sages evolved profound mental and spiritual abilities. They understood that intellectual development by itself fragments the mind and can lead a person far from the true nature of life" (Ni, 1979, p. 141). Millions of people practice tai chi exercises everyday in China, Japan, and Korea for medical or personal enrichment. This slow motion martial art exercise is famous for its health benefits and for the philosophical, cultural and historical tradition. McFarlane states: "As an integrated exercise system for both mind and body, tai chi is an enjoyable and effective way to reduce stress and avoid mental and physical tension, while at the same time helping to cultivate inner spiritual strength and creativity" (McFarlane, 2001, p. 9). The teacher assumes the role as a teacher-physician, helping students to identify their affective ailments (anxiety, fear of failure, lack of confidence and motivation), and suggesting courses of treatment.

In Daytona Beach, Florida, Dr. Yong Tsai and Dr. Charng-Shen Wang use both the western medicine and eastern techniques of healing for their patients. Clients are taking tai chi, meditation, and water therapy classes to reduce pain, arthritis, and other medical illnesses. As a tai chi and meditation teacher, I use music, aromatherapy, color and light therapy, meditation and relaxation techniques at Daytona Beach Community College and with Dr. Tsai and Dr. Wang's patients. Some of the clients have experienced a positive outcome with reduced stress and pain in the body and in the mind. The results are listed in their website: (Tsai, 2003, p. 1d). Other patients complain that traditional western medicine does not offer alternatives to help the patient cope with mental, physical and psychological needs.

We can compare traditional western medicine and traditional western education; both traditions do not emphasize the humanistic needs of patients and students. Current approaches to the medical field and education are accepting new ideas, alternative treatments, fun exercises, and stimulating activities. Some of these methods increased the patient's self-assurance in healing and the student's self-confidence in learning. Dr. Tsai's recent article in the News-Journal (March 10, 2003) explains that "tai chi will help people reduce stress and anxiety, increase balance, maintain focus and positive energy" (Tsai, 2003, p. 1d).

Both yoga and tai chi are methods that can be included in today's education, increase motivation and learning while reducing the anxiety of students. However, the traditional teacher-based approaches in China and Japan did not utilize the philosophical theories of tai chi and relaxation exercises in class. Students were required to study difficult grammar assignments and never question the authority of the teacher. According to a study by Zenhui, "Asian students are more dependent on authority figures, more obedient, and conforming to rules and deadlines" (Zenhui, 2001, p. 1). They did not perform well in a student-oriented classroom and remained silent during activities requiring communication.

Other studies demonstrate a positive learning experience for some students that used the Natural Approach. Stephen Krashen (1982, 1997) and Tracy Terrell (1983) felt that students should learn a second language using a natural setting. They focused on a theory that "learners should be as relaxed as possible in the classroom, and that a great deal of communication and acquisition should take place, as opposed to analysis" (Brown, 2001, p. 31). The Natural Approach included everyday situations involving conversations, making new friends, going shopping, and so on. The teacher created a variety of interesting and stimulating classroom activities, games, and small group discussions. This approach clearly reduced the anxiety of learners, as the teacher focused on meaningful communication and did not correct error during the early stages of learning. However, opponents to this theory argue that students learn at different timetables and are not prepared to emerge at the same time. Some students need more analysis and language theory. But in any case, educators do agree on the importance of motivating students and stimulating their interest in learning a new language.

Motivation is the key to reducing anxiety and learning in a positive, non-threatening, and fun environment. There are two types of motivation, intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. Intrinsic motivation comes from within the student. The student studies because of his/her own curiosity and desire to learn. Extrinsic motivation motivates students for other reasons, like passing an exam or class, and receiving a reward. Researchers also found other types of motivation that are instrumental or integrative. Instrumental motivation is when a person wants to speak a second language to survive in everyday situations. Integrative motivation is a desire to belong in a certain group. According to Johns and Torrez, "The adult learner is motivated to master English in order to communicate with people on the job and in the community. Likewise, the child must learn to function with his peers in a school and community setting" (Johns and Torrez, 2001, p. 23). The various levels of motivation can encourage the student to learn a new language beyond the classroom. Teachers should emphasize the life-long benefits and rewards from second language instruction to ESL students. Teachers should avoid using negative feedback and correct student's mistakes with positive reinforcement. A student will not participate in class if he or she is always picked on, sited for wrong answers, bored, or not understood by the teacher. Lessons must be made simple, interesting and fun; but meet several challenges and difficulties along the way. Factors include:

  • A learning situation that has a "low affective filter" (Krashen, 1987) whereby the learners learn to use the language in a non-threatening and fun environment.
  • Providing various types of input which are auditory, visual, sensory, verbal and non-verbal in nature (i+ 1).
  • Providing a continuous and consistent exposure to the language being learned.
  • An environment where the teachers and the students are supportive and encouraging (Community Language Learning Approach - Charles Curran, 1971).

(Hussin, et. al. 2001, p.1)

Current research in teaching ESOL is supporting more communication and meaningful learning acquisition, as opposed to analysis. Recent studies have also shown that teaching theories are focused on reducing language anxiety, students tutoring other students, experimental language games, new and easier computer software, interactive audio and visual programs, and communication exercises based on student needs. The TAG tutoring program is a successful, creative program developed for low-level ESOL learners. According to a research completed at the BCNC, Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Center (1991), the TAG program encouraged higher-level students to tutor and monitor the lower level students in a second language. For twelve hours a week, a student was assigned to be a mentor to another student and practiced basic skills. At the end of the program, most students gained more confidence in learning a new language. For some students, the TAG program helped them gain extra help to keep up in class, but other students required traditional, teacher-centered approaches. "Student-centered learning often require more confident, independent learners to pursue interactive learning" (Paxton, 1991, p. 1). Based on the level of ESOL students, the teacher can use a variety of controlled or free classroom learning procedures. The following is a list of lesson planning and activities theteacher can use in and outside the classroom:

Four phases of lesson planning:
  • Information and Motivation phase (arouse the learner's interest)
  • Input/Control phase (learners deepen their understanding by close attention to detail)
  • Focus/Working (examine individual linguistic and thematic difficulty)
  • Transfer/Application (learners use new knowledge and communicative skills)

Activities to reduce anxiety and help motivate the students in class:

  • Warm-up exercises
  • Songs, dances, jokes, and brainstorming
  • Role play dramas and story telling
  • Report, oral presentation
  • Recognition, identify data
  • Dialogue, narrative presentation
  • Simulation, real-life actions and experiences
  • Games, puzzles, and pictures
  • Free conversatin and dialogue

(Celce-Murcia, 2001, p. 33-35)

Games, songs, jokes and brainstorming are associated with fun. Games are one of the most useful tools in second-language teaching. Because games are exciting, motivating, interesting, and relevant to learning activities; they are used in classrooms to introduce and develop new concepts. In general, games can lower anxiety for both the student and the teacher. Students practice non-threatening communication skills, make new friends in class, and open up more in a relaxed environment. The teacher controls the level of competition and avoids tension and negative feelings among the students. Games are divided into the following types: "nonverbal games, board-advancing games, word-focus games, treasure hunts, and guessing games" (Richard-Amato, 1996, p. 193). Most games can be adapted to any educational level and age group.

The Internet offers several learning tools that are innovative and non-threatening to the second language learner. According to Johns and Torrez, "Dave's ESL Cafe is one of the most popular ESL sites on the World Wide Web" (Johns and Torrez, 2001, p. 38). The creator, Dave Sperling, includes several imaginative exercises for the student to participate in and enhance their language skills on-line. Teachers can also use some of the teaching lessons and communicate with students by e-mail. Here are some interesting ideas you can get from these sources:

Dave's ESL Cafe:

  • Help Center - where students can consult an international team of ESL/EFL teachers.
  • Quiz Center - offers many on-line quizzes that are scored immediately.
  • Quote Page - contains quotations, proverbs, and humor.
  • Idiom Page, Phrasal Verb Page, and the Slang Page - offers definitions and sample sentences for idioms, phrasal verbs, and slang expressions.
  • E-Mail Connection Pages, Chat Central, Discussion Center, and Message Exchange - where students and teachers can exchange e-mails and students can meet other students.
  • ESL Address Book - includes the addresses of students, teachers, schools, and publishers.
  • ESL Job Chat and Job Center - offers information on updated job listings, tips on how to write a resume and go on job interviews.
  • To find out more information, go to

(Johns and Torrez, 2001, p. 38)

There are several interactive audio programs, CD-ROM, and computer-assisted programs that can enable students to listen, ask questions, observe, practice, and learn a new language. However, the teacher needs to help the student feel comfortable using new computer software and technology programs. Some students may not feel comfortable using the computer, so the teacher needs to use alternative interactive programs in the classroom.

In conclusion, most teachers have a wide variety of approaches and methods to reduce the anxiety of students that are learning a second or foreign language. Some teachers create sheltered classrooms to provide a low-anxiety atmosphere in which students can receive instruction. However, students may not be fully prepared to use a foreign language in real-life situations, because they were sheltered too long. The teacher needs to provide a certain amount of challenge to make the student exceed his or her limitations. A good teacher is like a good parent that understands the needs and goals of a child; and is willing to take risks, learn from mistakes, experiment with new ideas, and constantly motivate and stimulate the interest of the child. By taking on various roles of the parent, the therapist, and the physician; the teacher can try several innovative approaches and methods that will ultimately enable the student to feel confident, reduce anxiety, and offer encouragement and reinforcement of positive learning behavior. Teachers become important agents of educational changes as well as social changes. They are preparing students to use problem-solving skills and critical thinking skills beyond the classroom into the real world. Students will eventually develop important social skills, work-force skills, language skills, and self-confidence to continue higher education, obtain a good career, and achieve success in life.

It is important to continue our research on developing new teaching approaches, fun classroom techniques, alternative relaxation methods, international motivational games, music, support groups, tutoring and counseling, and interactive computer programs to reduce learning anxiety in the ESOL classrooms. We need to study different teaching approaches, methods, and classroom techniques from other countries; and experiment with alternative theories (such as music, yoga, and tai chi meditation exercises) to reduce language anxiety. Teaching and learning a new language can be a long journey. It is important to remember the words of an ancient Chinese Taoist philosopher, Lao Tzu:

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Thus, one of integral virtue never sets about grandiose things, yet he is able to achieve great things. (Ni, 1979, p. 78)
Brown, H.D. (2001). Teaching by principles, an interactive approach to language pedagogy. New York: Addison Wesley Longman, Inc.

Celce-Murcia, M. (2001). Teaching English as a second or foreign language. Boston: Heinle & Heinle.

Finch, Dr. A. (2002, September). The language clinic: the teacher as an agent of change. Karen's Linguistics Issues, September 2002. Retrieved July 1, 2003 from the World Wide Web:

Hussin, S., Maarof, N., & D'Cruz, J.V. (2001, May). Sustaining an interest in learning English and increasing the motivation to learn English: an enrichment program. TESL Journal, Vol. VII, No. 5, May 2001. Retrieved July 1, 2003 from the World Wide Web:

Iyengar, B.K.S. (1979). Light on yoga. New York: Schocken Books.

Johns, K. M. and Torrez, N. (2001). Helping ESL learners succeed. Bloomington, Indiana: Phi Delta Kappa Educational Foundation.

Kim, M.Y. (1999, July). Teacher perceptual comparisons toward two specific communicative and whole language dimensions in ESL instruction. Internet TESL Journal, Vol. V., No. 7, July 1999. Retrieved July 1, 2003 from the World Wide Web:

Koba, N., Ogawa, N., & Wilkinson D. (2000, November). Using the community language learning approach to cope with language anxiety. Internet TESL Journal, Vol. VI, No. 11, November 2000. Retrieved July 1, 2003 from the World Wide Web:

Lile, W.T. (2002, January). Motivation in the ESL classroom. Internet TESL Journal, Vol. VIII, No. 1, January 2002. Retrieved July 1, 2003 from the World Wide Web:

McFarlane, S. (2001). The complete book of tai chi. New York: Barnes & Noble Books.

Ni, H-C. (1979). The complete works of Lao Tzu. California: Sevenstar Communications Group, Inc.

Pappamihiel, N.E. (2002, February). English as a second language, students and English language anxiety: issues in the mainstream classroom, Research in the Teaching of English, Vol. 36, February 2002. Retrieved July 2, 2003 from the World Wide Web:

Paxton, D. (1991). Fieldwork: exploring new approaches in ESOL. ALRI. Retrieved July 2, 2003, from the World Wide Web:

Richard-Amato, P. (1996). Making it happen, interaction in the second language classroom from theory to practice. New York: Addison-Wesley Publishing Group.

Sands, L.G. (1997). The teacher should have patience with us. Adult ESL student perceptions of desirable teacher practices and characteristics. BYU, Department of Linguistics, 1999, 4. Retrieved July 2, 2003 from the World Wide Web:

Smith, H. (1991). World's religions. New York: Harper Collins Publishers.

Tsai, Dr. Y. (2003, March 10). Tai chi meditation in motion. News-Journal, Accent, Section D., 1d. Retrieved July 2, 2003 from the World Wide Web:

Zhenhui, R. (2001, July). Matching teaching styles with learning styles in East Asian contexts. Internet TESL Journal, Vol. VII, No. 7, July 2001. Retrieved July 2, 2003 from the World Wide Web: styles.html.

Kim Hardiman is the Coordinator of Student Activities at Daytona Beach Community College, Daytona Beach, FL where she also teaches ESOL in the evenings. She is working on her master's degree in ESOL at the University of Central Florida. She can be contacted at

Learning About Class in Class Tamara Clements

Teaching adult and continuing ESOL students in mixed-level public school classrooms calls upon extraordinary resources of students and their teacher to make it work. In fact, to affirm or even celebrate English language learners' cultural diversity is to understate the complexity of meeting their educational needs in the confines of the classroom, especially if human needs supersede the other ones. Numerous articles or chapters in various professional publications offer guidance to new and experienced teachers for handling the myriad tasks, materials, and duties likely to be important in successful classrooms. (1) For an understanding of the broader, though meaningful context in which my students exist, readers can delve into a recent critical inquiry on the philosophical origins and substance of mass education for African American adults. (2) During the past several years, one of my best practices for integrating student and curriculum objectives has been to have ESOL students assume responsibility for electing class officers or representatives, a process that can coalesce productively with language acquisition and acculturation activities. (3) The student council at my learning center consists of different daytime class representatives whose role is to give advice, solve problems, and support each other with activities for educational, social, and cultural enrichment. Such student-to-student communication is a hallmark of leadership development, and I relate this opportunity to the interests or needs expressed by my students. But after many semesters of favorable student response to simulating an election system in the classroom and following my usual procedures, I recently may have overlooked an essential ingredient: whenever possible, try to see that students understand what they say they understand.

The incident that occurred could be summarized axiomatically as "Haste makes waste" or "Assume makes an a** out of you and me" or any other colorful metaphor that fits. I merely yielded to competing demands on my time, during a very busy semester. The December end-of-term administrative and instructional responsibilities invariably require us, teachers, to remove ourselves from the classroom; therefore, students that have experience interacting without the constant, visible monitoring and mentoring of the teacher encounter fewer problems than those who lack such a background.

Approximately ten students in this particular class of mainly twenty-five females of African descent (Caribbean and West African countries) were continuing in our adult basic education program from the previous school year. Five or six had been my students and were familiar with, and indeed facilitated the training of their classmates in, the self-governing, liberty-loving, democratic behaviors in which these students said they believed. Placed in this intermediate-advanced level solely on the basis of a brief, informal interview, many quite fluently expressed their interest in English to get a [better] job, further their studies, use the four main language skills, and learn about the USA. Some spoke eloquently about justice and peace at home, on the job, in school, and throughout the world. The variety of self-selected news articles, voluntary oral reports given, as well as details gleaned from get-acquainted class work formed a framework for the vocabulary, projects, job descriptions, and related discussions that followed. Unfortunately, the lackluster class 'selection' in November of that semester amounted to a verbal consensus (instead of secret ballot voting) for me to allow a wonderful, mature woman with apparently nurturing qualities to become the class president. I am reminded in retrospect that what may appear to be insignificant may be more significant than imagined.

The month of December generates feelings, ideas, and expectations commensurate with any group whose members have close ties: family, community or religious organizations, expatriates or immigrants of a certain age/socio-economic category, and the list goes on. In anticipation of the pressures for students to follow what I have observed to be party-gift-giving traditions, I asked madam president to be sensitive to the personal circumstances of each student, considering job and family obligations if not money and time commitments during the holiday season. (I frequently invent a scenario to suggest that early departures for vacation might preclude my own presence at any extravaganza). She reassured me that she had everything under "control". One of the party-planning meetings took place while I was administering individual student assessments in another room. A delightful, rather young man whom I had just tested suddenly re-appeared in the doorway, insisting in a calm tone, "Ms. Clements? Can you please come to the classroom? I don't know what they're saying, but I think you should come." As I approached my classroom at the end of the same hallway, I heard verbal blasts from the heated argument before I could see the actual participants. Not only was I startled by the harshness in certain voices of this dissipating drama; the actual finger pointing and the provocative accusations caused me to reflect on the innumerable issues that could have brought out such rage. I was eventually able to draw upon a reserve of creative compassion and humor as well as an anecdote (pertaining to health as wealth) for the occasion. Sunshine came soon after the storm.

Based on eyewitness accounts including information from an optional writing assignment, and my overall assessment of the learning conditions, the anger seemed to emanate from conflicting value systems each vying for dominance and respect. On the other hand, I contend that there is infinitely more unknown baggage that could illuminate any adult students' concerns than those they attempt to verbalize or show us. Many of those students varied in degree of schooling, learning and living styles, years of residence in the USA, and exposure to America's diversity, and of course perceptions of their teacher. They actively engaged in candid question-answer exchanges that clarified the meaning of individual and group customs. Newspaper and magazine material also provided fertile ground for analyzing stereotypical images and cleverly juxtaposed key words and language heard but not previously seen. In addition to lesson-related discussions, I recall several myths reiterated in this class about different countries/nationalities/identities that we together confronted and deconstructed. Students also took it upon themselves to describe personal and political dilemmas involving the loss of earned/inherited money. In the verbal dispute, certain students evidently misinterpreted elements or were simply absent from prior classroom conversations about each student's desire or ability to contribute to a class celebration. I was fully aware of several students' plans for employment, training, and education in the new year. But it remains a mystery as to how much was learned in this learning-centered community by those who left without a word.

Besides a continuing adult public school education classroom in a metropolitan area, few if any places can bring a wider range of individuals together regularly in close proximity over an indefinite period of time, for an ostensibly common purpose. I adapt my ESOL classroom management approach to the realities of the present, willing to circumvent my own preferred routines to accommodate the adults who come to my classroom. More homogeneous adult student enrollment arrangements may head off major scenarios like those I have described. (4) The many interpersonal challenges, nevertheless, elicit the teachable moments that remind us why students come to us and what they can prepare for while they remain in class.


Brown, H. Douglas (1994). Teaching by principles: An Interactive Approach to Language Pedagogy. Prentice Hall Regents, Prentice Hall, Inc.

---. Adult English Language Instruction in the 21st Century (2003). National Center for ESL Literacy Education, Center for Applied Linguistics.

Cain, Rudolph A. K. (2003). Alain Leroy Locke: Race, culture, and the education of African American adults. Value Inquiry Book Series Rodopi Editions, Amsterdam - New York Volume 133. Robert Ginsberg, Founding Editor. Peter A. Redpath, Executive Editor.

Clements, T. (1999). "Class Officers Really Work". New York State TESOL Dialogue, V. 2, N. 4, Winter 1999 (page 4).

Clements, T. (2003). ESOL Reflections. IBPFT of TESOL, Inc. Newsletter, V. 5, Issue 1, March 2003, (pages 1-4).

Tamara Clements teaches at the Brooklyn Adult Learning Center. She can be contacted at

AEIS Executive Board/Steering Committee 2003-2004 CHAIR
Rosie Maum
Work: JCPS Adult and Continuing Education Jacob Annex 3670 Wheeler Avenue, Louisville, KY 40215, (502) 485-3892, Fax: (502) 485-3609,

Marilyn Gillespie
Home: 4309 Linden Ct. Bethesda, MD 20814 (301) 571-1263
Work: SRI International 1611 N. Kent St. Arlington, VA 22209, (703) 247-8510, Email

Trudy Lothian
Home: 2068 Benjamin Avenue, Ottawa, ON K2A 1N9 Canada, (613) 759-4142
Work: Ottawa-Carleton Catholic School Board, Literacy and Basic Skills Program 893 Admiral Avenue, Ottawa, ON K2A 1N9, (613) 224-6281, Fax (613) 723-7510, Email and

Mary Jane Bagwell
Work: Chemeketa Community College P.O. Box 14009 Salem, OR 97309-7070, (503) 589-7714, Fax (503) 399-3914, Email

Dann Wann
Home: 7811 Wind Run Circle, Indianapolis, IN 46256, (317) 845-9739
Work: Professional Development Project 1635 West Michigan Street, Indianapolis, IN 46222-3852, (317) 524-4292, Fax (317) 524-4336,

Marianne Dryden
Home & Work: 508 Fort Drum Drive, Austin, TX 78745-2366
(512) 444-9474, Email and

Pauline McNaughton
Home: P.O. Box 329 Marmora, Ontario Canada K2P1L5 (613) 230-7729
Work: Center for Canadian Language Benchmarks 200 Elgin St., Suite 703, Ottowa, Ontario, Canada K2P1L5, (613) 230-7729, Fax (613) 230-9305,

Beth Thompson

Jose A. Carmona
Home: 42 Ballenger Lane, Palm Coast, FL 32137-8852, (386) 445-6396, Email
Work: Daytona Beach Community College, 1200 W. Int'l Speedway Blvd., Daytona Beach, FL 32120-2811, (386) 947-5468, Fax (386) 947-5474,

Beth Wallace
Home: 774 Delmar Avenue SE, Atlanta, GA, 30312, (404) 627-3838, Fax (404) 627-1745, Email

About This Member Community ESOL in Adult Education (AEIS)

ESOL in Adult Education serves the interest of adult students in ESL programs, their teachers, and administrators. It brings together the knowledge, precepts, and skills of two distinct but compatible areas: adult education and English as asecond language.

Rosemaria Maum, Chair,
Marilyn Gillespie, Chair-Elect,
Jose Carmona, Editor,

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