As We Speak (SPLIS)

SPLIS News, volume 5:1 (April 2008)

by User Not Found | 11/03/2011
In This Issue...
  • Leadership Updates
    • Message from SPLIS Chair
    • Messages from co-editors Kate Hahn and Paula Baird
  • Articles and Information
    • Information about the Interest Section
    • Call for submissions and submission guidelines
  • Community News and Information
    • In Memoriam: Rebecca Dauer
  • Articles
    • A Profound Change: an essay about how one student’s cultural values and expectations changed after coming to the United States.
    • Classroom based activities for preparing student for Public Speaking
    • Classroom based teaching tip on using online concordancer to aid pronunciation instruction
    • General teaching Tips from SPLIS members
  • Articles and Information
    • Information about the Interest Section
    • Call for submissions and submission guidelines
Leadership Updates Message from SPLIS Chair

February 2008
Dear SPLIS colleagues,
The past year has gone by so quickly and our next TESOL conference in New York is coming up soon! It has been a pleasure serving as Chair of the SPLIS steering committee. I thank all you who volunteer your time to submit presentation proposals, read proposals, submit articles for newsletters, design and man our booth at TESOL, serve on the steering committee and help out with many other important tasks. Thanks to your participation, we have great SPLIS related presentations at TESOL every year and a booth (with eye-catching buttons this year!) that attract interest and give out helpful information. This year included an intersection session with the ESP interest section, an academic sesssion, eight papers, ten demonstrations, one 2-hour workshop, four poster sessions, and twelve discussion groups.
SPLIS members, you are always welcome to come to the SPLIS business meetings (this year on Thursday night, April 3rd) to get to know other SPLIS members and to share ideas and experiences. It is a great opportunity to brainstorm topics to be featured in future newsletters and at the conference in Denver in 2009. Hope to see you there! The open meetings (usually on Friday evenings) are always another opportunity to see SPLIS in action and meet the members who are attending the annual convention.
Finally, I'd like to thank the past chairs Laura Hahn and Carole Mawson for all their help and advice, and Marnie Reed (the incoming Chair) for her assistance in planning for TESOL 2008. And I thank all of you in advance who will be presenting, volunteering, and participating in future conferences. I look forward to seeing many of you in New York!
Carolyn Quarterman, SPLIS Chair 2007-2008
cquarter@earthlink.net


Messages from co-editors Kate Hahn and Paula Baird

February 2008

Dear SPLIS members,

This is our first issue of “As We Speak” for the 07-08 academic school year. If you are wondering if you missed the usual fall edition, you did not. The plan is still to publish two volumes a year. Hopefully, this year will be an exception.

The majority of the courses that I teach are ESL courses. However, most springs I also teach an ESL Methods course. Students taking this course often have a teaching certificate, and/or are currently working as teachers or in education in some capacity. They enroll in my class because they want to add an ESL endorsement to their current teaching certificate or are working to teach ESL in the Connecticut Adult Education Programs. Every spring when I present my lecture on SPLIS topics for this class, I am reminded of how valuable it is to teach listening, pronunciation, and speaking to students learning English. I rediscover that skills and knowledge that often seems (to me) to be common knowledge about our sub-field is not actually common knowledge to new teachers or teachers with experience in other areas.

The IS Newsletters are now accessible to members outside the Interest Sections. That means our newsletter is one way to reach these new teachers, teachers who are transitioning into ESL, and experienced ESL instructors who have either not taught listening, speaking, or pronunciation courses yet or don’t integrate these elements into their classes.

If you have a good idea about teaching, if you have a special teaching technique that works for a pronunciation problem, or if you have a new way to use technology to teach conversation or pronunciation, consider sharing this information with your peers. Put your ideas into writing; submit to the next newsletter. As a member of SPLIS, you have knowledge and intuitions about teaching these topics that others do not. Please consider sharing.

Last, if you have read and enjoyed a specific article in the newsletter, look for the author at SPLIS meetings. Introduce yourself. You are an important part of the SPLIS network.

Have a wonderful spring. I am looking forward to TESOL in both NY this year and Denver in 2009.

Paula W. Baird
SPLIS editor
pwbaird@comcast.net



Articles and Information Information about the Interest Section

What is the SPLIS Interest Section?
By Nancy Hilty, nhhilty@yahoo.com

SPLIS-L is the electronic discussion list for the Speech, Pronunciation, and Listening Interest Section of TESOL. Its function is the exchange of information, questions and answers about instructional techniques, learning challenges and successes, as well as research finding related to speech listening and pronunciation. SPLIS-L, along with the SPLIS Newsletter will also provide information about SPLIS-related issues, projects and Interest Section business.

There are 483 members in the discussion group, many of them published authors. The focus is very practical, most often related to teaching issues and questions. No job advertisements or promotion of commercial products are allowed on the list. To join the list, go to the official site of the SPLIS Interest Section:
http://www.soundsofEnglish.org/SPLIS which will direct you to the TESOL site and lead you through subscription to the list. You must be a TESOL member to join the list. Welcome and enjoy participating in SPLIS-L

Nancy Hilty
nhhilty@yahoo.com


Call for submissions and submission guidelines

CALL FOR SUBMISSION

The SPLIS e-newsletter, As We Speak, is soliciting articles on any of the various aspects of teaching and tutoring pronunciation, oral skills, and listening that apply to and/or focus on ESL/EFL pedagogy, second language acquisition, accent addition/reduction, assessment of those skills, and other related research. We also solicit book reviews for both classroom and methodology texts. Sharing teaching tips, tutoring tips and classroom strategies are also acceptable submissions.

SUBMISSION GUIDELINES

Articles should have the following characteristics:

  • Be no longer than 2,500 words
  • Include a 50-word (500 characters of less) abstract
  • Contain no more than five citations
  • Follow the style guidelines in Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, Fifth Edition (APA)
  • Be in MS Word or ASCII format
  • Follow accepted conventions for on-line publishing (hand out available upon request)

    Publication schedule: As We Speak will be published two times per year: November 1
    and April 15.

  • Submission deadline for November issue is September 20
  • Submission deadline for April issue is March 1
  • Note: You may contact the editors at any time to discuss possible submissions.



    Community News and Information In Memoriam: Rebecca Dauer

    When we attend TESOL every year, we are always aware of those regular members who are absent. In April 2008, we especially will miss Rebecca Dauer who passed away on March 29, 2007. She was a great contributor to SPLIS and our field in general over the past years. Her presentations, articles, the textbook “Accurate English” and frequent contributions to list-serve discussions informed many of us over the years. For example, in November 2007, she shared in an SPLIS list-serve discussion about the confusion some Chinese speakers have with certain pronunciation features. You may also remember that Rebecca was active on the SPLIS steering committee, serving as Chair in 2003.

    Fellow SPLIS member and colleague Judy Gilbert recalls that “[Rebecca] was always generous in giving her time and thought when I asked her for comments on a draft article. She was not only a sophisticated phonetician but also practical in her understanding of the need to translate this knowledge into a usable form for language learners.”

    We will miss Rebecca’s postings to our discussions and her voice at TESOL conferences. Our continued condolences to her husband, Steve.



    Articles A Profound Change: an essay about how one student’s cultural values and expectations changed after coming to the United States.

    Acoustic Visual Feedback Instruction in Pronunciation Teaching
    This article describes research on the effectiveness of using an instructional technique (Acoustic Visual Feedback Instruction). This technique uses spectrograms to improve the pronunciation of second language speech segments on adult English language learners. This instructional technique is built on the premise that a combination of acoustic/visual input and visual feedback in the form of spectrograms provides second language learners with real-time information on salient acoustic features of their oral language output and with accurate, immediate, and objective assessment of their pronunciation difficulties.

    In order to test the effects of Acoustic Visual Feedback Instruction on the pronunciation of second language learners, a group of Spanish pre-service non-native English teachers received a two-week-training on this technique targeting the English high front vowels /i/ and /ˆ/. Before and after the training, the participants took part in two production tasks. They were also asked to complete a questionnaire in order to a) gather more details regarding Acoustic Visual Feedback Instruction as a segmental instructional approach and b) to gain insights whether Acoustic Visual Feedback Instruction is practical from a pedagogic point of view.

    Acoustic Visual Feedback Instruction is composed of 2 stages; Stage 1 has three sessions and Stage 2 has two session.

    SPLISS Table

    After the learners completed all sessions, they answered a questionnaire. The questionnaire contains 27 items divided into three sections. In section 1, the learners indicate the extent to which they agree or disagree with a series of statements related to Acoustic Visual Feedback Instruction. In section 2, the learners rate the usefulness of several components of the training in order to identify the most effective parts of it and those that need improvement. Finally, in section 3, the learners respond to a set of specific open-ended questions regarding their overall reactions to Acoustic Visual Feedback Instruction and future implementation of this instructional approach in the second language pronunciation classroom. The questionnaires are included below.

    Questionnaires for students who have completed the two sessions described above:

    SECTION 1
    Please circle the answer that best corresponds to your opinion.

    1. I enjoyed using Acoustic Visual Feedback Instruction in learning to pronounce the
    English vowels // and /I/ .

    Strongly agree Agree Somewhat agree Somewhat disagree Disagree Strongly disagree

    2. It was beneficial to receive immediate feedback on my pronunciation.

    Strongly agree Agree Somewhat agree Somewhat disagree Disagree Strongly disagree

    3. It was difficult to visualize the vowels in a spectrogram.

    Strongly agree Agree Somewhat agree Somewhat disagree Disagree Strongly disagree

    4. It was useful to compare my pronunciation to that of native speakers.

    Strongly agree Agree Somewhat agree Somewhat disagree Disagree Strongly disagree

    5. It was difficult to create a spectrogram.

    Strongly agree Agree Somewhat agree Somewhat disagree Disagree Strongly disagree

    6. After the training on Acoustic Visual Feedback Instruction, I improved the pronunciation of the English // and /I/.
    Strongly agree Agree Somewhat agree Somewhat disagree Disagree Strongly disagree

    7. Acoustic Visual Feedback Instruction is an effective technique for evaluating students’ pronunciation.

    Strongly agree Agree Somewhat agree Somewhat disagree Disagree Strongly disagree

    8. Acoustic Visual Feedback Instruction allows learners to take control over their own learning by working independently on their pronunciation.

    Strongly agree Agree Somewhat agree Somewhat disagree Disagree Strongly disagree

    9. Acoustic Visual Feedback Instruction can help learners pronounce the English vowels more accurately.

    Strongly agree Agree Somewhat agree Somewhat disagree Disagree Strongly disagree

    10. Acoustic Visual Feedback Instruction allows learners to self-monitor their pronunciation.

    Strongly agree Agree Somewhat agree Somewhat disagree Disagree Strongly disagree

    11. Acoustic Visual Feedback Instruction offers learners the possibility to access accurate visual input.

    Strongly agree Agree Somewhat agree Somewhat disagree Disagree Strongly disagree

    12. I would incorporate Acoustic Visual Feedback Instruction when teaching the English vowels along with other teaching pronunciation techniques.

    Strongly agree Agree Somewhat agree Somewhat disagree Disagree Strongly disagree

    13. Students would enjoy working with Acoustic Visual Feedback Instruction when learning how to pronounce the English vowels.

    Strongly agree Agree Somewhat agree Somewhat disagree Disagree Strongly disagree

    14. Acoustic Visual Feedback Instruction may be successfully implemented in a pronunciation class to teach the English vowels.

    Strongly agree Agree Somewhat agree Somewhat disagree Disagree Strongly disagree

    SECTION 2
    Please rate the usefulness of the following components of the training by circling the alternative of your choice.

    15. Recording of your speech.

    Very useful Useful Somewhat useful Somewhat not useful Not useful Not useful at all

    16. Creating spectrograms of your pronunciation.

    Very useful Useful Somewhat useful Somewhat not useful Not useful Not useful at all

    17. Identifying acoustic patterns of vowels.

    Very useful Useful Somewhat useful Somewhat not useful Not useful Not useful at all

    18. Focusing on the vowels used in this training (// and /I/).

    Very useful Useful Somewhat useful Somewhat not useful Not useful Not useful at all

    19. Practicing with minimal pairs used in this training.

    Very useful Useful Somewhat useful Somewhat not useful Not useful Not useful at all

    20. Contents of the handouts used for the training and practice sessions.

    Very useful Useful Somewhat useful Somewhat not useful Not useful Not useful at all

    21. Practicing independently to work on your own pronunciation.

    Very useful Useful Somewhat useful Somewhat not useful Not useful Not useful at all

    22. Vocabulary words used in each practice session.

    Very useful Useful Somewhat useful Somewhat not useful Not useful Not useful at all

    23. Number of practice sessions.

    Very useful Useful Somewhat useful Somewhat not useful Not useful Not useful at all

    24. Length of practice sessions.

    Very useful Useful Somewhat useful Somewhat not useful Not useful Not useful at all

    SECTION 3
    GENERAL QUESTIONS

    25. One of the problems in using Acoustic Visual Feedback Instruction in teaching the English vowels to future English learners is ________________________________

    26. One of the benefits of using Acoustic Visual Feedback Instruction in teaching the English vowels to future English learners is ________________________________

    27. In order to make Acoustic Visual Feedback Instruction more beneficial for future English learners, what can you recommend? __________________________________________________________________

    __________________________________________________________________

    Before and after the training, the learners took part in two production tasks: a read-aloud word list and a read-aloud minimal pair task. Results from these tasks and the questionnaire are currently under statistical analysis. Therefore, I do not have results to report yet. However, I would like to share some of the learners’ responses to the open questions of the questionnaire:

    One of the problems in using Acoustic Visual Feedback Instruction in teaching the English vowels to future English learners is:
    1. “Maybe for some students it is difficult to create spectrograms.”
    2. “I think that it should not be any problem. I think the software is very effective.”
    3. “I don’t think there should be any problem. The software shows our sounds clearly and precisely.”

    One of the benefits of using Acoustic Visual Feedback Instruction in teaching the English vowels to future English learners is:
    1. “The benefit is that the student will be able to clearly see if he is pronouncing correctly.”
    2. “Be able to approach the pronunciation of native English speakers.”
    3. “I think it is an excellent method according to our needs nowadays.”

    In order to make Acoustic Visual Feedback Instruction more beneficial for future English learners, what can you recommend?
    1. “Make it accessible to all the students.”
    2. “Have more sessions and more practice.”
    3. “Complement this technique with other techniques for more benefits.”

    By Marcela Quintana-Lara
    marcela@ku.edu


    Classroom based activities for preparing student for Public Speaking

    Introduction to Learning Communities that focus on civic engagement through the organization Campus Compact

    Learning communities have been a successful pedagogy for adult ESL students, but they have been primarily focusing on joint or co-curricular or “linked course” formats. In this type of format faculty weave aspects of each other’s curriculum into their own (Stassen, 2003). Many programs focus on a joint curriculum through a common theme found in all courses. However, we are seeing a growing trend in higher education in incorporating civic engagement. This is defined by Ehrlich (2000) as “working to make a difference in the civic life of our communities and developing the combination of knowledge, skills, values and motivation to make that difference” (Preface, p. vi). To that end, The Campus Compact was formed as a national organization of over 1,000 colleges who promote social and civic responsibility. This organization provides resources for faculty, administrators and students for combining learning with civic activity. The Campus Compact website includes over a hundred program model reports from colleges which have creatively combined the processes of learning and civic engagement. O’Connor (2006) further discusses the successful growth of programs in the twenty years of the Campus Compact. Programs continue to find new ways for promoting civic engagement including the idea of a “civic engagement academic certificate” (Mseisel, 2007).

    Civic Engagement is not a new concept for students

    For American students, the concept of civic engagement and volunteering to help others is not a new ideal in our society. Many students participate in community work outside of school through a religious institution, gender based groups such as Scouting or community-based groups. They are familiar with traditional groups such as the American Red Cross, American Cancer Society or Toys for Tots programs during the holiday season. They therefore are receptive to civic engagement in universities and college and enjoy what many have called “service-learning” programs.
    ESL students also welcome the idea of civic engagement. Many did such work in their home countries or would like to “give back” to citizens of their new country. However, ESL students are often voided of the luxury of volunteerism as they are burdened with the demands of everyday life and do not have time to do so. Furthermore, they are not knowledgeable of reputable organizations or ways in which they can incorporate civic work in their new lives. One solution to this problem is to create a learning community for ESL students that incorporates civic engagement.
    While some civic engagement programs have been created for ESL students (McGarvey, 2005), many have not been within a learning community. The need for students to have a sense of belonging in a community and to give back to that community is very strong (Stepick & Stepick, 2002). The “New Eyes for the Needy” project at Kingsborough Community College, CUNY addressed those needs by blending several successful pedagogical formats discussed above: ESL learners, a learning community and civic engagement. Finally, we will see how this project provided an opportunity to speak English outside the classroom in a meaningful way.

    Approaches of learning community help students to overcome acquisitions problems associated with adult learners

    Because the process of learning English as a Second Language (ESL) as an adult is complex, we as educators must address a multitude of issues that hinder language learning. For example, unlike children learning a second language, adults have already acquired a first language, features of which may not be positively transferred onto the new, second language (Brown, 2006). Second language errors in grammar, vocabulary and sound structure are often due to a mismatch of the first language to the second language. This negative transference may make language learning challenging and explicit classroom instruction is often needed to help with understanding of the target language.

    Cognitive processes of adult learners demand different learning strategies than those used for children.

    In addition to language-based errors, the adult ESL learner struggles with biological changes in the brain. Research has shown that as we age, these changes cause our abilities to naturally learn language to atrophy (Snow, 1978). Krashen (1981) has suggested that children acquire language naturally whereas adults (defined by Lenneberg (1967) as those past puberty) must learn it with focused attention and instruction. The child’s brain is flexible and runs like a multilane highway of various languages. Brain synapses permit the stop and go of language input as aspects of languages merge and detour from one another. For the adult, language input may bottleneck leading to a longer, more arduous journey. The debate continues as to whether there is a single critical period for learning all aspects of language or particular critical periods for particular facets of grammar (summarized in Birdsong, 1999). Added recently to the debate is the question of a decrease in natural language learning as aging increases (Hyltenstam, 2000).

    Affective factors also play a role

    While the adult second language learner experiences an atrophying in language learning abilities due to biological and linguistic factors, s/he may also confront psychological issues that challenge language development. Learning a second language in a classroom setting involves taking risks, making errors, and exposing one’s abilities and more importantly, inabilities to others. How far individuals are willing to take those risks will vary due to their self esteem, motivation in learning, level of anxiety, individual values and/or degree of culture shock (Ehrman, Leaver & Oxford, 2003 among others). Unfortunately, these factors, called affective factors, are said to “filter” learning and impede its progress. Simply put, if the anxiety level is high or the motivation level is low, then learning becomes flat.

    Learning Communities help students to manage affective factors

    While we are unable to rewire our brains to change our biological or innate abilities for language learning, we are able to look towards pedagogical practices as a means for managing affective factors and enhancing language learning. One such practice, learning communities (LC), has been successful for the adult ESL learner.
    According to Smith, MacGregor, Matthew, & Gabelnick (2004), learning communities incorporate five core practices: community, diversity, integration, active learning, and reflection/assessment.

    •The core practice of community

    Community may be defined as the state (‘-ity) of many (‘muni’) people who learn with (‘com’) one another. That ‘state’ of community evolves, transforms and is highly interactive. Tinto (1993) espouses that students need a sense of belonging and that learning communities can fill that need. As a consequence, learning communities help to lower attrition rates.

  • The core practice of diversity

    Diversity, a second element in a LC, has broadened to mean creating a community of diverse students (based on gender, ethnicity and backgrounds) as well as utilizing diverse curricula and facilities at schools as a means for learning. For example, César and Oliveira (2005) outline a Portuguese curriculum which was rich in student engagement and curricular innovations; follow-up student evaluations revealed significant increases in academic and social skills among the students.

  • The core practice of integration

    The third facet of LCs, integration, promotes learning through various sources (such as separate courses) and bringing them together to create a common knowledge. Integration may also include taking knowledge gained inside the classroom to the outside community such as the school itself or a neighboring community. Such integration may be in the form of service projects as exemplified by Friedland (2003) whose high school students helped the neighboring community with a needed blood drive.

  • The core practice of active learning

    Active Learning, the fourth component of LCs, rounds out our model of learning with strategies. They include (1) active student discussion before, during and after lectures, (2) active questioning among the students and student to teacher, (3) peer collaborative learning, (4) meaningful projects for learning as well as (4) expanding learning from inside the classroom to outside sources such as trips and the community at large. Finally, LCs need assessment which may be conducted through a range of instruments including but not limited to traditional tests to student self assessment to assessing one another.

    In Learning Communities the goals of language learning shift away from the student

    Given the affective factors that hinder the adult ESL learner, educators are drawn to the learning community environment as a means for language learning. ESL learning communities bring diverse people together with a common goal of language learning in an atmosphere which accepts errors and pardons mistakes. It takes the focus off the learner and on to the integration and active learning of the community. Successful ESL learning communities include those of LaGuardia Community College, CUNY (MacGregor & Smith, 2005) and Kingsborough Community College, CUNY (Babbitt, 2001). At LaGuardia Community College, the ESL students participated in a program called the New Student House in which the learners focused on a theme which served as a stimulus for learning in all of their classes. This joint syllabus brought excellent results in language learning; many students skipped to higher levels of English instruction in subsequent semesters. Like the LaGuardia ESL learning community, Kingsborough Community College’s Intensive ESL Program (IEP) has a joint syllabus that is created by the faculty of English, Speech and a content area course. Institutional assessment revealed significant language learning and class pass rates. Babbitt (2001) attributes the success of this program to the relationships that are created in the first semester which help with affective factors such as self-esteem and a sense of belonging to the college as a whole. These programs demonstrate the merits of a learning community for ESL students; a learning community with a strong foundation will weaken negative affective factors and promote language learning.

    The Kingsborough Community College, CUNY learning community model:
    New Eyes for the Needy – An ESL Speech Civic Engagement Project

    Kingsborough Community College, CUNY has had learning communities for its first semester ESL students for over ten years. Students are given an English reading and writing exam and are placed in one of three levels in the LC. This project was incorporated in the beginner level group (typically 20-25 students) where students attended school intensively for five days a week, six hours each day. Students’ classes included Beginner English, Speech, Introduction to Health, and Student Development. In addition, students were given tutors in their classes and independent hours working with the tutors; tutors helped address questions about content and assignments for all classes.

  • Picking a theme

    In the learning community, the goal was to have a theme that would be connected among the classes. Since students were reading authentic literature, Helen Keller’s My Life as Helen Keller, we decided to discuss her health and health issues as a way for the students to evaluate their own health. They also compared the health system, services and conditions of their own countries to the United States. Students engaged in critical thinking via numerous essays and reaction papers to the issues raised in the English and Health books. The Health class curriculum included a broad spectrum of health issues, each of which was related to Helen Keller and her life; some health issues included psychological wellness, degenerative diseases, nutrition, social safety and environmental concerns. Students were actively learning about health and reading and writing about it in their new language.

  • Connecting the Learning Community to the Speech class

    The Speech class in the LC provided an opportunity to discuss the issues of health being learned and also to practice listening skills for comprehension. Students focused on pronunciation and speaking skills with the goal of greater intelligibility. They learned English consonants and vowels by focusing on vocabulary words from the Health course and English literature. Hence, students were learning health themes and reinforcing them by reading, writing, listening and speaking about them in various courses.

  • Extending beyond learning to civic action

    While the LC faculty knew learning was taking place through test assessments, we felt that the learning community extend and reinforce learning through civic engagement. Why not take them beyond the point of learning and critical thinking to the level of action? To that end, we jointly focused on six dimensions of “wellness” which included “social health” defined by Hales (2007) as “participating in and contributing to your community, living in harmony with fellow human beings, developing positive, interdependent relationships…” (p.8). How could we as a learning community learn the theory of social health and also practice it? As a group, we thought of an organization with which we could volunteer to help without leaving the college campus; its mission connected to our theme of health and related to our literature’s main character, Helen Keller. That organization was “New Eyes for the Needy.”
    New Eyes for the Needy (NEFTN) is a not-for-profit organization that recycles donated, used eyeglasses to people abroad and in the United States who are unable to purchase glasses. Through the use of volunteer donations and workers, they have given the gift of sight to millions of people around the world. The faculty thought they were the perfect organization to help in response to our readings of Helen Keller and social health, and the students did too.
    Method
    To begin, I called NEFTN and told them we were interested in running a collection drive and asked for any materials that they could provide to that end. In Speech class we began discussions on what was needed to run a successful civic campaign and a list of four subtasks emerged: college permission, advertising, collection, and mailing of the glasses.
    The class divided into four subgroups, each working out the details of what needed be done for the subtasks. The “college permission” group discussed and wrote a letter to the Dean of Student Life asking for permission to do the collection and for appropriate space. They followed up with phone calls to see the Dean which proved to be a very exciting small group interaction; they had never met a Dean or been in a formal, college office. Once approved, they then relayed the information of time, date and space to the “advertising” group. This group worked hard to create flyers for college wide distribution which were sent via mail, email and posted on college bulletin boards. They also collectively wrote “radio spots” and went to the college radio station to record their advertisements.
    As the day grew closer, the “collection” group went to offices and asked for unused boxes for the eyeglass collection. They wrapped and decorated the boxes and placed signs on the box fronts. They also produced a ‘thank you’ slip to give each donator which provided information on the project. Finally, they worked out a collection schedule with names of who would be manning the collection table each hour.
    All of the tasks performed by each subgroup required language skills including speaking, listening, reading and writing. Many of the students needed to speak with staff in various college offices, often on the phone and sometimes in person. Interpersonal and small group communication skills were strengthened as they conducted civic engagement.
    Prior to collection day, we read the materials that were sent by NEFTN. They were used to learn about blindness around the world and to speculate about health issues of the blind. Moreover, the NEFTN literature provided meaningful oral reading to practice pronunciation. Students read the information aloud and identified consonant and vowel sounds in words. Students gained worldly and linguistic knowledge while enhancing their understanding of NEFTN should they be asked by anyone who donated glasses. The students were excited for the collection though anxious about using their English to speak to people and skeptical as to how many people would actually come to donate glasses.
    Collection day proved to be the pinnacle of their experience. In terms of civic engagement, the faculty, staff and students came as a steady stream all day bringing eyeglasses of every shape, size and color imaginable. By the end of the day, extra boxes were sought and over four hundred glasses were collected. Those donating also brought words of kindness to the students, praising them for the project and many asking if they would do this again. Skepticism by the students was replaced by optimism and the students repeatedly stated that they could not believe how nice, friendly and giving the “American people” were.
    The day long project brought ample opportunities for the students to practice pronunciation as they were in a position that demanded intelligibility. They practiced their ‘th’ sounds with repeated “thank yous” and learned to make appropriate nonverbal gestures such as eye contact and hand shakes. They also listened to the questions from people and responded using their newly learned English. They were engaged – engaged in language use, civic engagement and community understanding. All of it was meaningful to them and to the hundreds of people who would receive vision from the glasses.
    Results
    At the end of the day, after the class orally counted the glasses, the “mailing” group wrapped the boxes for mailing and inserted a letter that the class had written which described the project and the total number of glasses. The group brought it to the mailing facility of the college and once again used their English as they interacted with the mailroom staff. Finally, they returned home and wrote a reflective piece on the project which they read aloud the next day. Though each student wrote a personal statement, the common response was how shocked they were as to the response from the college community and how fun it was to talk with the people as they came to the table to donate. Simply put, the anxiety level was low and the motivation level was high; learning about civic engagement and their own language abilities rose.

    Future Civic Engagement through Learning Communities

    Given the success of the eyeglass campaign, we continue to seek out more civic engagement projects within our learning communities. The college has recently begun an official “Service Learning” program which we hope to extend to the ESL programs. Civic engagement on the college campus could and should expand to opportunities off campus as students begin to focus on other community needs. However, this project has shown how civic engagement and language learning can be intertwined to create a stronger ESL learner.

    By Cindy Greenberg, Ph.D
    Kingsborough Community College, CUNY
    Dept. of Communications & Performing Arts
    2001 Oriental Blvd.
    Brooklyn, NY 11235
    cindy.greenberg@kbcc.cuny.edu

    References

    Babbitt, M. (2001). Making writing count in an ESL learning community. In I. Leki (Ed.), Academic Writing Programs. Alexandria, Va.: Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages, Inc.
    Birdsong, D (Ed.) (1999) Second Language Acquisition and the Critical Period Hypothesis. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates
    Brown, H.D. (2006) Principles of language learning and teaching. New York: Pearson Longman
    Campus Compact (2007) Brown University. http://www.compact.org. (accessed July 1, 2007).
    Cesar, M. & Oliveira, I. (2005) The curriculum as a tool for inclusive participation: Students' voices in a case study in a Portuguese multicultural school.European Journal of Psychology of Education. Vol.20, p29-43.
    Ehrman M., Leaver, B.L. & Oxford R. ( 2003). A brief overview of individual differences in second language learning. System. Vol. 31, 313-330.
    Ehrlich, T. (2000). Civic Responsibility and Higher Education Portsmouth, NH: Greenwood Press
    Friedland, S. (2003). Service learning reaches out after 9/11. Education Digest, Vol. 69, p.28.
    Hales, D. (2007). Invitation to Health, Brief. Mason, Ohio: Thomson-Wadsworth.
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    Classroom based teaching tip on using online concordancer to aid pronunciation instruction

    ON-LINE PRONUNCIATION INSTRUCTION

    (This article was first published in the Fall 2007 issue of 'DEILing You In", the newsletter for alumni of the Division of English as an International Language at University of Illinois, Urbana)

    Can pronunciation be taught effectively on-line? This is often the question (along with a doubtful look) I get when I tell someone that we have an on-line section of our American English Pronunciation course at NCSU. We developed the on-line course with the idea that it would appeal to students on campus, in the community, and beyond who wanted to improve their pronunciation but were unable to attend on-campus classes due to schedule conflicts or distance. I, too, had my doubts when I was first approached about developing such a course. However, after teaching the on-line version of the course for three semesters, I can say with confidence that it can be very effective!

    Setting up the course

    The course is set up in WebCT Vista, a Learning Management System, and makes use of Wimba voice tools, the ElluminateLive! virtual conference room, narrated presentations (in Adobe Breeze), video clips and some interactive Flash activities. Students log in each week to the WebCT course site to find the week’s assignments and then work on the tasks assigned throughout the week. They work in the course textbook with CDs, watch and interact with video clips and narrated slide presentations, make homework recordings, take quizzes and exams (via WebCT and the virtual conference room), and attend office hours. Perhaps the best way to describe the effectiveness of the class is to list the most frequent concerns of students.

    Common concerns of students, and how we address them

    1. “I need face-to-face interaction. The teacher and I need to hear and see each other.”

    Students have regular contact and interaction with me, through e-mail, homework/feedback recordings, and office hours. They record their homework on Wimba voiceboards (similar to a discussion board but with audio capabilities) every week and get recorded feedback from me. I also meet once a week with students in groups of four for a “virtual” office hour in an ElluminateLive! conference room, during which we can speak to one another, ask and answer questions, and practice the pronunciation topics covered. In the conference room, students can see my face (I use a webcam), and we all can manipulate a whiteboard, PowerPoint slides, and websites as we practice and discuss. They can see other students who have a webcam. Students also see me in the welcome video and in instructional video clips introducing and modeling various pronunciation features.

    2. “The class will feel impersonal with no social element.” The first week of class I ask students to e-mail me a photo and a short bio, which I use to make a bio page that all the students can read. Students can thus know who their classmates are — their appearance, their majors, home countries, and their hobbies and interests. In addition, they post short self-introductions for the first voiceboard recording of the semester, and respond to at least two other students’ introductions. During office hours, I try to include some activities in our structured practice that give them an opportunity to share information about themselves and their lives. As a result, students have a sense of being part of a class and especially get to know those who share the same office hour. One group bonded so well that they arranged to have a meal together near campus when the semester ended!

    3. “On-line instruction will be boring and I’ll get less individual feedback.” Students get a lot of personalized feedback —on their initial diagnostic recording, on their weekly recordings, in office hours, and following quizzes and oral exams. To make activities more interactive and interesting, embedded self-quizzes in the narrated presentations and interactive Flash activities give students immediate feedback on their understanding of the topics presented and help keep them engaged.

    4. “The technology will be complicated.” While some students are unfazed by technology or even look forward to trying out the voice tools and virtual conference room, there are some who worry about the complexities of the tools and whether they will be able to use them. To help them overcome their qualms, I introduce the different technologies gradually the first two weeks — giving assignments that require accessing activities, presentations, making recordings, and meeting in the virtual conference room. For the local students, I offer an optional session in the computer lab to give them an orientation to the tools. In addition, if students run into difficulty, we have a university technology hotline (contacted via e-mail) and a special phone number for technological help with the virtual conference room. Any problems that have come up have been solved by these services or were only temporary. Of course, the more technology involved, the more chance there is of something going wrong. I assure students that if something happens and they are unable to access a quiz, an activity or office hours, to simply let me know as soon as possible. They will not be penalized for technological mishaps but need to keep me informed.

    Conclusion

    The feedback from students taking the course has been positive. There are some who feel they still prefer the on-campus style class but feel that they learned a lot from the on-line version. Others praise the flexibility of the course and the fact that they could do it from home, and some really enjoy trying the new technology. As a teacher, I would say the course is no less time-consuming than an on-campus one; in fact, sometimes it is more time-consuming (there was a lot of time up front developing the materials and getting familiar with the technology). In addition, some students need a lot of encouragement at the beginning to stay on track with the assignments and feel comfortable with the technology. However, it has been a good and challenging experience creating materials and activities for a different class format. Moreover, the materials developed for this class can also be used to supplement my on-campus classes, offering additional practice and review for those who need it or have missed classes.

    Carolyn Quarterman
    Lecturer in the Department of Foreign Languages
    North Carolina State University
    cquarter@earthlink.net

    Carolyn specializes in teaching Business English, pronunciation and oral communication. She was also president of SPLIS for the 2007-2008 academic year.


    General teaching Tips from SPLIS members

    Michael McCarthy, Jeanne McCarten & Helen Sandiford
    New York: Cambridge University Press, 2005

    Touchstone is a four-level, corpus-informed student text based on the Cambridge International English Corpus. It is self-described as “an innovative new series for adult and young adult learners of English,” taking learners from the beginning to intermediate levels of communicative proficiency (Touchstone, McCarthy, McCarten, & Sandiford). The series includes conversation management activities, vocabulary-learning strategies, grammar, and pronunciation exercises based on the most frequently used patterns and structures of spoken English. In his rationale for corpus-informed learning, McCarthy explains that activities derived from Corpus can focus on the most important features of listening and speaking skills, thus making students more effective listeners and communicators (Touchstone).
    Touchstone is written in a clear, logical and concise manner requiring no special knowledge of the Corpus on the part of the teacher. The teacher’s edition is interleaved with student pages and activity explanations as well as optional exercises to supplement each lesson. It also includes audio scripts for all of the recorded dialogues as well as an oral and written assessment package.
    Each level of the series is comprised of twelve units divided into four lessons (A-D). The units are written in systematic, skill-building sequence and must be taught sequentially for optimum skill presentation and reuse. To reinforce learned content, Touchstone intentionally recycles and reviews target language functions and structures throughout the series texts.
    Lesson A of each unit presents the main grammar point and related vocabulary. It often includes a pronunciation exercise titled “Speaking naturally” aimed at helping students understand and use natural pronunciation and intonation. It may also include a group discussion titled “Talk about it” or a “Listening” exercise presenting conversations and extracts based on real-life language. Lesson B teaches the main vocabulary of the unit and builds on the grammar taught in lesson A. It sometimes includes additional Speaking Naturally, Talk About It, or Listening exercises. Lesson C teaches a conversation strategy and common expressions useful in conversation followed by a listening activity to reinforce the conversational language. Lesson D concludes the unit with reading and writing skills while providing additional listening and speaking activities to solidify the core skills and functions of the unit.
    As Touchstone aims to promote fluency in common American English speech, most of the pronunciation activities teach the suprasegmental aspects of pronunciation such as connected speech and word stress. Only the lower level texts include segmental exercises, and those are limited to distinguishing plural noun endings (/s/, /z/ and /iz/). This concentration on suprasegmentals infers that students entering a course using the Touchstone texts are already familiar with the sounds of spoken English. If not, teachers will have to supplement the units with discrete pronunciation drills or teach an introductory course on English pronunciation.
    The Speaking Naturally exercises are a series of awareness building, rule and skill defining activities followed by listening and perception tasks to reinforce the learned skills. Direct explanations of the speaking skills are presented under the subheading “Preview the Task.” For example, Touchstone 2, Unit 1 teaches volume increase in word stress. Under “Preview the task,” teachers are prompted to explain: “People say the most important content word in a statement or question louder and more clearly. This is called stress. Examples of content words are nouns, verbs, and adjectives.” After the skill has been explicitly stated, the teacher leads the students into a listening and perception task of identifying the skill in context. For the above-mentioned Speaking Naturally activity, the teacher will read three sentences aloud and ask students to identify the stressed words. This process of rule defining and controlled practice continues as the teacher explains the difference between word stress in yes-no questions versus information questions. Students then identify the different stress patterns in example sentences.
    Once the pronunciation rules have been defined and students have practiced identifying them in a controlled context, the teacher leads the students in a focused listening and production task. The teacher will play a recording of the written questions and statements as students listen and repeat the speech, focusing on proper stress and intonation. Finally, students complete a pair work activity designed to develop their communicative fluency using the studied rules.
    The pronunciation skills in each unit are reinforced through subsequent integrated practice. For instance, the Speaking Naturally word stress activity is followed by a grammar lesson reviewing the simple present tense of the verb “to be” to practice correct yes-no question responses (Yes, I am; No, I’m not). Finally, the Listening and Speaking drill requires students to listen to yes-no and information questions and identify the main idea of the conversations through word stress. Thus the skills of recognizing and producing word stress are recycled throughout the unit and provide a foundation for later lessons.
    In addition to the pronunciation focus activities in every unit, the student text is accompanied by a self-study CD to assist students in furthering their speaking abilities. This resource can be used simply as an audio CD for additional listening and speaking practice or as a CD-Rom for specified drills. The CD-Rom has easy to navigate menus that guide students through oral skill exercises. After students listen to a dialogue and follow along with the highlighted text, they can choose to record themselves reading the lines and compare their pronunciation and fluency to that of the original speaker. The CD-Rom can also function as an interactive role-play device. Students can take on a role and record one character’s lines of the dialogue. Afterwards they can listen to the dialogue as a whole and hear their voice in the role-play as if they are in conversation with the opposite character. This self-study CD is an especially useful resource for students in EFL contexts where proficient English speakers are few.
    Touchstone’s pedagogy and corpus-informed activities have been proven to be a successful tool for promoting spoken English proficiency and the materials are on the cutting edge of language learning teaching resources. The teacher’s edition and student text are supplemented with the self-study CD-Rom, student workbooks, class audio CDs, and a student support web site. While the integrated use of all the series components would offer optimum conditions for successful learning, purchasing such resources is unrealistic for many EFL contexts. However, Touchstone is written so that learning can occur even with the bare essentials of student and teacher texts and classroom audio CDs.
    In conclusion, because every activity in Touchstone is based on a corpus of spoken English, students’ fluency improves rapidly. The series is ideal for students needing to immerse quickly in an English-speaking context, especially an American-English environment. Students in any situation are further motivated in their language learning process because they can see that the language they are learning is up-to-date and useful in everyday conversations. They will also notice that the language they are studying corresponds directly to authentic conversations found in radio, TV shows, movies, the Internet and in books, newspapers, and magazines. Students become intrinsically motivated to continue their language studies if they perceive their learning is meaningful and applicable. Touchstone is designed to directly meet that need.

    Cassi Fawcett, MA TESOL
    Teacher Development Director
    English Language Institute China
    cfawcett@elic.org



    Articles and Information Information about the Interest Section

    What is the SPLIS Interest Section?
    By Nancy Hilty, nhhilty@yahoo.com

    SPLIS-L is the electronic discussion list for the Speech, Pronunciation, and Listening Interest Section of TESOL. Its function is the exchange of information, questions and answers about instructional techniques, learning challenges and successes, as well as research finding related to speech listening and pronunciation. SPLIS-L, along with the SPLIS Newsletter will also provide information about SPLIS-related issues, projects and Interest Section business.

    There are 483 members in the discussion group, many of them published authors. The focus is very practical, most often related to teaching issues and questions. No job advertisements or promotion of commercial products are allowed on the list. To join the list, go to the official site of the SPLIS Interest Section:
    http://www.soundsofEnglish.org/SPLIS which will direct you to the TESOL site and lead you through subscription to the list. You must be a TESOL member to join the list. Welcome and enjoy participating in SPLIS-L

    Nancy Hilty
    nhhilty@yahoo.com


    Call for submissions and submission guidelines

    CALL FOR SUBMISSION

    The SPLIS e-newsletter, As We Speak, is soliciting articles on any of the various aspects of teaching and tutoring pronunciation, oral skills, and listening that apply to and/or focus on ESL/EFL pedagogy, second language acquisition, accent addition/reduction, assessment of those skills, and other related research. We also solicit book reviews for both classroom and methodology texts. Sharing teaching tips, tutoring tips and classroom strategies are also acceptable submissions.

    SUBMISSION GUIDELINES

    Articles should have the following characteristics:

  • Be no longer than 2,500 words
  • Include a 50-word (500 characters of less) abstract
  • Contain no more than five citations
  • Follow the style guidelines in Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, Fifth Edition (APA)
  • Be in MS Word or ASCII format
  • Follow accepted conventions for on-line publishing (hand out available upon request)

    Publication schedule: As We Speak will be published two times per year: November 1
    and April 15.

  • Submission deadline for November issue is September 20
  • Submission deadline for April issue is March 1
  • Note: You may contact the editors at any time to discuss possible submissions.