EFLIS Newsletter

EFLIS News, Volume 7:2 (June 2007)

by User Not Found | 11/07/2011

EFLIS News
In This Issue...
  • Leadership Updates
    • Letter From the Chair
    • A Word From the Coeditor
  • Articles
    • Bridging the Gap, Part 2: TESOL 2007 Academic Session Report
    • Webheads in Action Online Convergence: Conference Report on WiAOC 2007
    • A Day in the Life: David McAuley
  • Announcements and Information
    • Bulletin Board: Announcements & Information
    • About This Community

Leadership Updates

Letter From the Chair

Sally Harris, ssharris@nwc.edu

Dear Colleagues,

Greetings from Tanzania! One of the miracles of our modern world is that we can sit at computers and access Web sites and e-mails even from remote corners of the world. I'm in a Tanzanian town and at a university that just got Internet service in 2005, so we're not yet complacent here about the "Electronic Village."

Home base for me is St. Paul, Minnesota, where I'm a full-time professor in a small (1,800 students) liberal arts college. I've been there since 1974 when the student body was much smaller, so I've had the opportunity to chair and teach in departments that have created many new majors over the years. One of these was an ESL education major for K-12 Minnesota teacher licensure. ESL teacher education remains one of my chief interests.

In Tanzania, I've taught for four summers (not all in sequence) at a new university founded in 1995 in the south central highlands of Tanzania, so here too I have been involved in the creation of new majors and new curricula. Law is an undergraduate degree program in Tanzania, and I was asked in 1999 to set up the composition course for first-year law students. I've been involved ever since in "communication skills for law." The government of Tanzania mandates English as the medium of instruction for secondary schools, but this mandate, not surprisingly, bumps up against the economic realities of the developing world. Some students arrive at university with good English fluency, but many do not. How to help students acquire both academic English and legal English skills is a continual challenge. Currently, we're struggling with huge class sizes, something not uncommon in Africa, India, and China. I'm always looking for TESOL colleagues who have experience teaching English to classes of over 100 students.

To return to the "Electronic Village" and its impact on TESOL. . . . This is my third time as EFLIS chair. My first time as chair, TESOL was just on the cusp of going electronic with the proposal adjudication system. In each intervening year, improvements have been made. This year, the process better allows volunteer proposal readers to indicate their specialty areas and the IS chairs to send them related proposals. (In previous years, the system randomly assigned readers.) Presentations at TESOL conventions have always been good, but this should improve them even more.

When I joined TESOL in 1996, very little was done online. In recent years I've seen TESOL work at making electronic connections, which is a major plus for EFLIS members who rarely can travel to TESOL conventions. Now the opportunities to be connected via the Web include e-lists, e-newsletters, e-publications, online professional development and preconvention Electronic Village opportunities, and more. There are expanded opportunities for us all to find like-minded colleagues pursuing the same goals. As your chair, I hope you "get wired" so that TESOL and EFLIS can benefit from your experience and expertise.

Keep in touch,

Sally


A Word From the Coeditor

Jane Hoelker, jhoelker@gmail.com

Greetings! With this postconvention issue, we bid adieu to Brad Baurain—adieu with its promise of return and not good-bye. He has relocated to North America with his wife and children and started graduate school. We wish him great success and are sure to see his name on future academic projects.

Some new officers joined the EFLIS in Seattle and some former officers remained on board. Gabriela Kleckova, from Pizen in the Czech Republic, joins me as coeditor. She has tremendous energy and lots of innovative ideas and she will leave her stamp upon this publication. I'd also like to introduce Ke Xu, the chair-elect, born in China and now teaching in New York City, whose column in the June issue of Essential Teacher reviews the EFLIS Seattle InterSection entitled "Geographically Challenged EFL/ESL." Orlando Rodriquez, who has occasionally contributed to this newsletter and will contribute more in the future, remains on board in Venezuela as the e-list manager.

This issue begins with the Letter From the Chair (Sally Harris) who discusses the new university she is helping to start up in Tanzania. Ulrich Bliesener, Lise-Lotte Hjulmand, and Jane Hoelker summarize the Seattle Academic Session on reconciling the demands of the workplace with the academic curriculum in some European contexts. Mary Hillis, working in Japan, reports on an online conference, WiAOC 2007. In "A Day in the Life," David McAuley discusses teaching English in a nursing school in Bangkok where a new government initiative has brought students from the Muslim-majority southern regions to the school in an effort to integrate better Muslim Thais into the Buddhist-majority society.

The final message in David McAuley's article explains how participating in professional development activities like the EFL Interest Section can counteract the occasional sense of isolation experienced by teachers in the classroom, whether ex-pat or home-based. In her letter, Sally Harris addresses some additional benefits of "getting wired" with TESOL. I also urge you to take a look at the online opportunities in the Bulletin Board section of this issue. Whether you are in the Czech Republic, China, Venezuela, Tanzania, Germany, Denmark, Japan, or Thailand, you can participate in the EFLIS.

Writing you from Doha, Qatar, in the Middle East,
Jane



Articles

Bridging the Gap, Part 2: TESOL 2007 Academic Session Report

Ulrich Bliesener, U.Blie@t-online.de, Lise-Lotte Hjulmand, llh.isv@cbs.dk, and Jane Hoelk-er, jhoelker@gmail.com

The Academic Session in Seattle elaborated on and developed the discussion initiated in Tampa the year before when the team discussed in detail the expectations of employers with regard to the language proficiency of their employees. The professional competencies, such as giving and receiving information and producing minutes, required in various cultural set-tings were discussed in Tampa. A folder containing a summary of the Tampa discussion along with tables of the competencies was distributed to the audience in Seattle to facilitate their understanding. The Seattle session explained ways to prepare students for the world of work, including the educational requirements of trade, industry, and administration in addition to academic goals. The presentations centered on dialogue training by Ulrich Bliesener, the need for a solid mastery of grammar by Lise-Lotte Hjulmand, and a detailed analysis of spe-cific tasks in the hotel and catering industry by Anne Lomperis. [Editors' note: Because Anne was unable to provide a summary of her presentation, we are regretfully unable to include it here.

Ulrich Bliesener began the discussion by outlining the characteristics of oral communication. He pointed out that two things have to be done nearly simultaneously in a very short time. The listener must understand the factual information that the partner is conveying. Even the speaker's choice of words, intonation, and sentence structure indicates how she wants her message to be understood. Even as the speaker is finishing her comment, the listener must decide how she wants to react (e.g., agree or disagree, or give a frank or indirect answer). As soon as the speaker has finished her comment, the listener must communicate her response. A number of variables such as the social position of the other speaker or how her message was interpreted affect how the listener will respond. These variables influence many elements of the dialogue such as the choice of words, sentence structure, and tone of voice. Therefore, the speaker must make decisions that best convey her own interests and suit her particular strat-egy.

Next, Bliesener presented a number of examples used to promote oral competence that show how complex oral communication between partners is and how many variables are at play even in simple everyday conversations. It is obvious that this kind of oral competence does not happen by chance or simply by having a large vocabulary pool and a firm knowledge of grammar. Appropriate training is required to acquire this competence.

The first example of such an activity was a debate entitled "The Hearing," constructed out of the traditional content of an academic class for students preparing for careers in trade, industry, or administration. After studying Hamlet, the class debates the following question: As a young person of the 21st century, how do you judge the attitude of Polonius and Laertes toward norms of behavior observed by Ophelia? One student is appointed moderator and maintains order while a second defends the joint point of view of the father and brother. A third supports more freedom for Ophelia. Bliesener points out that this example about Ophelia presupposes considerable knowledge of the relevant passages in the play and of the relationship between the various characters in order to argue properly. Those in favor of Polonius and Laertes must be able to understand the limitations determined by the historical period and the status of the characters in the given society that govern their attitude toward Ophelia; however, this is often difficult to express in a foreign language and perhaps even understand in some contexts in these times. Other examples taken from literature might prove less demanding, but Bliesener contended that this basic problem remains.

Bliesener then considered a second kind of topic used in a class debate: "To save the world from a catastrophic climatic change, world citizens should give up driving cars." However, this second topic poses some difficulties. Very often the necessary content knowledge or even the appropriate vocabulary is limited and this lack of factual knowledge and vocabulary ends the debate prematurely.

Therefore, to train language students to understand and produce dialogues utilizing appropriate language, Bliesener suggested a structured role play based on prefabricated dialogues. This approach provides the necessary vocabulary, structures, and sentence clusters typical of oral communication. The vocabulary, structures, and sentence clusters are all embedded in a story that is realistic and at the same time offers a rich treasure of further exercises that can be developed by the instructor to exploit the language to a range beyond the actual story. All this is underpinned by a careful analysis of the given dialogues, dealing with the use of words and structures, intonation, and elements that occur regularly in oral communication. The purpose behind this analysis is to make students understand what features are characteristic of any oral communication and to provide the necessary linguistic and pragmatic tools.

Then, Bliesener presented one set of model dialogues centered on specific speech acts, such as persuading, complaining, pacifying, blaming, confiding, and expressing consideration. He explained that the analysis of those model dialogues aims at making students aware of the way language (linguistic data, intonation, or hesitation) is used to achieve a certain purpose. This analysis is followed by simple fluency exercises to make sure that recurrent linguistic data are internalized and become automatic so they can be recalled immediately when needed. This then leads to exercises that invite students to use the acquired elements in short dialogues that follow the story line of the model dialogues, but are independent of the prefabricated dialogues presented in the material. Finally, suggestions are made for practice dialogues that aim at developing the story further while at the same time making use of those elements offered in the model dialogues.

Next, Bliesener summarized the steps essential for successful dialogue training:

  • Select a role play with a good story line and true-to-life characters in a realistic setting that allows the strategies and interests of the different personalities to evolve. Students can identify with the characters and their interests, get emotionally involved, and get motivated to take on roles in the ensuing dialogue practices.
  • Choose interesting, authentic dialogues that catch the various styles in which people express their interests, likes/dislikes, preferences, and opinions and that force the learners to establish relationships with each other or refer to things that have been said. In other words, select a dialogue that draws on all those elements typical in any human communication. (Unfortunately, such model dialogues are not very easy to come by, though some are available.)
  • Analyze thoroughly in class how the language works in the given dialogues, what linguistic means are used (such as words, word clusters, formulaic expressions, intonation, fluency, or hesitation), and why and what is achieved by them.
  • Conduct an extensive practice session that ensures that the linguistic elements, identified in the above point, are internalized and are freely disposable. This practice session should avoid, as far as possible, the drill of isolated linguistic items, but should aim at practicing them in meaningful dialogue contexts.
  • Organize a final practice session in which the students develop the background story of the model dialogues further, adding characteristics to the protagonists in the story and introducing new arguments. This section is to provide proof of what students have learned in the previous four stages and how they are able to apply it in dialogues of their own, always guided by the story behind the model dialogues.

Bliesener argued that this kind of dialogue training is essentially different from the usual classroom exchange shared between teacher and students while working on a text. Those teacher-directed exchanges only to a degree resemble real dialogues in business communication or in every day exchanges such as occur when shopping or when discussing a particular problem at work. Dialogue training of the kind described above prepares students for communicative situations where what the partner or partners contribute as a message is not foreseeable, where the unexpected must be understood and reacted to, and where one's own interests and intentions have to be introduced to achieve a satisfying result. It is suggested that such dialogue training happen regularly, at least once a week, either as part of a lesson or as a lesson in itself.

Lise-Lotte Hjulmand next reviewed the content she contributed to the Academic Session in Tampa in 2006, focusing on the European perspective on languages in general and the Danish perspective specifically. She reexamined briefly some points from Tampa: the Danish viewpoint, the attitude of business and industry, the situation at universities (English textbooks and English-taught courses are common), language policies at universities (e.g., at Copenhagen Business School support initiatives for nonlanguage students and non-English teachers), the vertical evaluation of English in the Danish educational system (primary, secondary, and tertiary level), and the Danish government policy (expressed in a Globalization Report in 2006). She also mentioned that Danes are reasonably good at speaking informal English, that they often have misconceptions about their own English proficiency, and that many Danes think that linguistic problems or inaccuracies do not matter. Yet, Hjulmand suggested that much still needs to be done. For example, there should be more emphasis on communication, cultural understanding, writing skills, correctness requirements (such as accuracy in grammar, or spelling), the use of "specialized" vocabulary, and speaking in formal contexts.

As a grammar teacher (at the university level and with experience in all levels of the educational system) and textbook writer, Hjulmand finds grammar a fascinating subject, and one that is closely linked to one of the topics that she discussed in the 2006 session (i.e., accuracy requirements). The questions that she covered in this presentation on the teaching of grammar (frequently referred to as form-focused instruction) were the following:

  • Why do we teach this subject?
  • How do we teach it?
  • What are the challenges?

The point of departure for the presentation was Danish university-level students of English (who have been taught English for many years in both primary and secondary school) from the Copenhagen Business School and the University of Copenhagen.

Why is grammar taught? What is the relationship between the teaching of grammar and foreign language acquisition? Hjulmand explained that over the years arguments have been presented both for and against the teaching of this subject. Some of the arguments against the teaching of grammar used by students or colleagues are the following: grammar is too theoretical, too difficult, boring; grammar is not relevant for a future career; students just want to use language to communicate or just want to be exposed to language. Even some researchers (e.g., Krashen) argue against the teaching of grammar, which they at best regard as unnecessary, unhelpful, or peripheral, and at worst as detrimental. These arguments are based on a number of hypotheses about the relationship between implicit and explicit language learning. Some of these researchers argue that a language should be learned through natural exposure (often called positive data) rather than formal instruction. Formal grammar lessons develop the learner's declarative knowledge (often referred to as explicit knowledge, that is, conscious knowledge about language, or knowledge that can be verbalized), not the learner's ability to use grammatical forms and structures correctly. According to these researchers, the mother tongue and foreign languages are learned in the same way, and this process can only be furthered by exposure to data.

Other researchers favor the teaching of grammar. Some of the points of view expressed by these researchers are that it is doubtful whether a language can be learned without some degree of consciousness or noticing, especially when learners reach a certain age and maturity. According to these researchers, long-term exposure to a language does not result in grammatical accuracy. Grammatical instruction, on the other hand, contributes to language learning. It accelerates the learning process and has a significant effect on grammatical accuracy. Hence, if high levels of accuracy are required—and this is the case with university-level students of English—then grammar is a must.

Therefore, Hjulmand explains to students that grammar is one of the tools of the trade, and that there are both practical and theoretical reasons why they need to study this subject. Among the practical reasons given to the students are the following:

  • Studying grammar is a "consciousness raising" activity that can help students improve their language and give them a shortcut to accuracy and precision.
  • Though there is no direct link between knowing a grammatical rule and being able to use it correctly, there is perhaps a link over time. Grammar gives students a tool that they can use to monitor their language production. This can be useful in both speech and writing, but is, of course, especially important and relevant in writing when it is possible to revise the written product.

The theoretical reasons given to the students are the following:

  • students acquire knowledge about language (metalinguistic knowledge);
  • students develop a vocabulary to speak about language (metalinguistic vocabulary);
  • students can benefit from the information available in reference books such as grammar books or dictionaries; and
  • students acquire a professional approach to their area of expertise, that is, the English language (like the doctor and the engineer in their areas of expertise).

Students often demand elaboration of the above theoretical reasons through discussion.

  • Why is it useful to acquire a language to speak about language? If a student does not master the metalanguage of grammar, it becomes difficult for the student to understand corrections. When the teacher—instead of just correcting mistakes—notes that the student has made a concord mistake, or that the student must use inversion, the student will not be able to understand these comments if he or she does not know the meaning of concord and inversion.
  • Why does it become easier to benefit from the information available in grammar books or dictionaries? If a student does not know what C, U, or not in the progressive means grammatically, then information of this type in dictionaries will not be of any use. The student needs to know that uncountable nouns do not inflect for number; that they have one form only, which is usually the singular; and that they do not take the indefinite article or a number of other determiners. Furthermore, if a student has not gained a reasonable basis in grammar, it is not possible for the student to check an unfamiliar point in a grammar book. What should the student look for if he or she has no idea of the nature of the problem?
  • Why is it important to acquire a professional approach to one's area of expertise (like the doctor or the engineer)? The students will end up in different types of careers. Some will become teachers; others will work as translators and/or interpreters; and some will get other types of jobs in companies or organizations. But they will usually all end up in a position where they will be regarded as English language experts or "language consultants." (This requires an advanced level of English in a country such as Denmark, where English is spoken—at a reasonable level—by practically every-body.) Being the English language expert requires an ability to explain to colleagues or customers what is wrong. It is not sufficient just to say, "It doesn't sound good" or "I would put it differently." This situation can be compared with the engineer who needs to know exactly how wide an area a bridge can span, or the exact composition of the concrete to be used. It is not sufficient that the engineer just guesses or thinks that the bridge can span a certain area.

How is grammar taught? The traditional model for teaching grammar is based upon the three Ps: presentation (presentation and exemplification of a grammatical rule), practice (usually by means of exercises or drills), and production. This model has proved to be efficient to prepare students to take certain types of tests, but not very efficient for free language production. This is probably the model that is most frequently used in Danish secondary schools. Hjulmand bases this assumption on the evaluation of English language instruction at university level in Denmark conducted in 2005 among both teachers and students at the secondary and tertiary levels. A large percentage of the respondents (from both groups) indicated that there were a number of areas in which students had difficulty meeting demands. These areas were written English and accuracy even though grammatical exercises were used frequently or regularly in secondary school.

Danish university-level grammar courses in English are characterized by being systematic to some degree, meaning that the main areas of English grammar are covered and that focus is on the "language system." These courses have also traditionally been contrastive. The instructors emphasize areas where English and Danish differ, such as the progressive forms, generic reference, or do-periphrasis. Grammar is, furthermore, taught not only as rule, but also as choice. Rule-teaching has always been in focus, but teachers attempt to make students understand that grammar is also a matter of choice depending on several factors such as the levels of formality (formal or informal), medium (spoken or written language), register, and meaning. Courses are taught in the target language (English), using meta-language, and finally, grammar tends to be an isolated subject.

Examples of some activities typical of many courses follow:

  • Sentence analysis is incorporated because students are usually not familiar with sentence analysis and basic grammatical concepts from secondary school.
  • Consciousness-raising, noticing, and awareness are fostered. Students are encouraged to notice, comment, explain, transform, translate, and compare (e.g., two English structures, or a Danish and an English structure).
  • The traditional model (the three Ps or presentation, practice, and production) is practiced. Students are asked, for instance, to add, insert, and translate.
  • Individual sentences are used for exemplification as are texts or text extracts. Texts and text extracts are particularly suitable to illustrate many grammatical phenomena—such as active voice and passive voice, or the use of the definite article—in context and across sentence boundaries.
  • The deduction of rules on the basis of texts or corpora is requested of students.
  • The practice of correction, revision, and final correction encourages students to see writing as a process. Students are sometimes asked to submit assignments, which the teacher will correct for general problems. Students will then revise the assignments be-fore submitting them for final correction. This method encourages students to see writ-ing as a process and makes them more conscious of their own linguistic problems.
  • The language consultant role is practiced. Students are required to correct text extracts or sentences that often have mistakes typical of work written by Danes. Students are asked to complete this task either individually or in groups.

What are the challenges? There are two: the general and the specific. The general challenge for grammar teachers is the lack of a direct link between knowing a grammatical rule and being able to use it correctly. Language instructors still seek an answer to the question of how grammar can be taught so a more immediate effect of grammatical instruction can be seen. The specific challenge in the Danish educational system is that in primary and secondary school students acquire very little knowledge of grammar or metalanguage—both in their Danish and in their foreign language classes. This means that students are often linguistically "unaware" when they begin a university course in languages. The 2005 reform of the secondary school system attempted to change this situation, and it will be interesting to see whether it works.

Hjulmand concluded with five provocative questions for future discussion:

  • What should be the focus of grammar courses? On which criteria should these courses be based: complexity (simple or complex rules), frequency (frequent or rare phenomena), or contrastive differences (between mother tongue and foreign language)?
  • How can grammar be brought out of its isolation? At the moment, grammar is usually an isolated or semi-isolated subject. It is not incorporated sufficiently in other activities such as written activities. This isolation is problematic because students frequently find it difficult to transfer what they learn in one course to another course.
  • How do we get sufficient time for the teaching of grammar? There is frequently too little time for grammar courses. First, students find the subject difficult because they know very little grammar when they start a degree program in English. Second, some of the methods that are perhaps better suited for teaching grammar, such as asking students to deduct rules on the basis of texts or working with grammar in larger contexts, are very time-consuming.
  • What characterizes a student of English? Students of English were previously a much more homogenous group in Denmark. These days, however, many who study English at university do not regard themselves as language students and are generally not interested in grammar or linguistics. This development is probably linked to the roles of English as a lingua franca and a global language. What needs to be done about it?
  • And what about the contrastive approach? As mentioned above, this approach has always been traditionally used in the teaching of foreign languages in Denmark. But it is perhaps problematic today when the mother tongue of more and more students is not Danish.

Bibliography

Danmarks Evalueringsinstitut [The Danish Evaluation Institute]. (2005). Engelsk i det danske uddannelsessystem – overgange og sammenhænge [English in the Danish educational system – transition and cohesion. Copenhagen, Denmark: The Danish Evaluation Institute.

Hedevang, L. (2003). Grammatikundervisning – hvorfor og hvordan? [Grammar teaching – why and how?]. Copenhagen, Denmark: Danmarks Pædagogiske Universitets Forlag.

Hjulmand, L. (2006). Skriftlighed, sproglig korrekthed – og BASE-Engelsk basisgrammatik [Written proficiency, linguistic accuracy – and BASE-English basic grammar]. Anglofiles 139, 57-61.

Krashen, S. (1993). The effect of formal grammar teaching: Still peripheral. TESOL Quarterly 27, 722-725.

Nassaji, H., & S. Fotos. (2004). Current developments in research on the teaching of grammar. Annual Review of Applied Linguistics 24, 126-145.

Regeringen [The Danish Government]. (2006). Fremgang, fornyelse og tryghed. Strategi for Danmark i den globale økonomi [Progress, innovation and security. A strategy for Denmark in the global economy]. Copenhagen, Denmark: Statsministeriet [The Prime Minister's Office].

Ruin, I. (1996). Grammar and the advanced learner. On learning and teaching a second language. Uppsala, Sweden: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis, Studia Anglistica Upsaliensis.

The Danish Government. Progress, innovation and cohesion. Copenhagen, Denmark: The Prime Minister's Office.


Webheads in Action Online Convergence: Conference Report on WiAOC 2007

Mary Hillis, maryehillis@yahoo.com

WiAOC, the Webheads in Action Online Convergence (http://wiaoc.org), was held May 17-20. The theme was "CONNECT: Conversations on Networking, Education, Communities, and Technology" and the conference was organized by the online community of practice, Webheads (http://www.webheadsinaction.org/about).

This conference was a free, online event organized and delivered by a group of volunteers. It featured keynote addresses, conference sessions, a nonconference strand, and a multitude of conversations on current topics from online course management and digital gaming to podcasting and blogging for educational purposes. Because of the nature of this event, participants from many countries and teaching contexts were represented. In this vibrant environment, participants enjoyed a weekend of sharing and connecting with like-minded colleagues from around the globe.

Although there were many fabulous aspects of WiAOC 07, a couple of presentations caught my attention because they dealt with how ELT teachers are using blogs to connect their classrooms to the outside world. One of these presentations was titled "Writingmatrix: CONNECTing Students With Blogs, Tags, and Social Networking" (http://webheadsinaction.org/node/174). The presenters showcased their classroom project, Writingmatrix, and shared their students' experiences using tagging and social networking in order to find others who shared similar interests. Another session entitled "Blogging With Students: Ideas to Enhance Communication" (http://webheadsinaction.org/node/170) focused on how to keep students motivated in communicating via weblogs by engaging in online collaborative projects, such as inviting mystery guests, discussing stereotypes, and organizing an international scrapbook exchange project.

Although I have shared information on just two sessions, the convergence had something for everyone! Even if you missed it, you can still access everything in the archives, located at http://www.webheadsinaction.org/wiaoc2007/Presentations.

Mary Hillis is an assistant professor of TEFL at Kansai Gaidai University in Japan.


A Day in the Life: David McAuley

David McAuley, smsutton2000@hotmail.com

1. How did you get started in teaching EFL?

I married a diplomat and EFL was the obvious choice as a career. I've never regretted it. I know a lot of "trailing spouses" in various professions and all of them face much greater legal and logistical hurdles in working full-time in foreign countries than I do.

2. What have been the most rewarding and difficult aspects of teaching over the years for you?

Rewarding: Teaching students from less prosperous backgrounds, because they never, ever ask, "Why do I have to learn this?" Another teacher here studied what makes a successful nursing student and found that the children of farmers are overrepresented in the ranks of the high achievers, because (in my opinion) many of them have made the decision to do whatever it takes so that they don't have to return to the backbreaking work of tilling the soil. Students like this really teach themselves; I just happen to be there when it happens.

Difficult: Teaching reading. This is ironic, because I love reading. It's impossible for me to imagine what life is like for people who don't love reading. And worse, the reading skills that EFL students are obligated to learn, like answering multiple-choice questions about a reading, seem to suck all the joy out of it.

3. What do you think is unique or interesting about your current teaching/education post?

I work as the sole English teacher at Boromarajonani College of Nursing, a government-run nursing school in central Bangkok. I am the only Westerner on the staff. The students are mostly the children of poor families, who are obligated to return and work as nurses in their communities after graduation.

We've had an exciting new development at school. Soon we will receive a large group of new students from the Muslim-majority southern regions of Thailand, which is suffering from a separatist insurgency. This is part of a new government policy to give Muslims more of a sense of inclusion in this Buddhist-majority nation. I'm very happy to be part of this initiative, in my own small way, and I'm really interested to see how it all plays out.

4. On the basis of your experience, what advice would you give to young teachers just entering the profession?

Relax and have some fun every day in the classroom. Your good mood will communicate itself to the students and help them learn.

5. Can you summarize your personal philosophy of teaching? How has it changed or developed over the years?

Something I try to keep in mind all the time is that not everyone learns the same way that I do. I try to put myself in another person's mind and think, "If I learned like this person, what would be profitable for me to do?"

6. What is a good day for you?

An average teaching day is about 4 hours when we are about two-thirds of the way through the term. By that time, the students and I are pretty comfortable together. They've seen me be silly and speak their language poorly, and that usually makes for a more relaxed atmosphere.

7. What is a bad day for you?

Generally, the thing I enjoy least is writing a curriculum or teaching plan for a course that I've never taught before. I just don't have the ability to guess what students know or don't know before I meet them. I spend a long time looking into a computer screen, thinking, "Should I do X or Y?" and "How long will it take?" I invariably program much too much material and then abandon the plan altogether.

8. What are your current professional interests and pursuits (courses, research projects, conferences, publications, etc.)?

I'm very dissatisfied with the materials that I must use. On the one hand, English language materials made here in country are riddled with mistakes and archaic language. On the other, materials produced by commercial publishing companies are completely irrelevant to my students' lives and careers. On the third hand, I don't have the time and energy to produce all of my own material from scratch. So, I'm very interested in developing English-language learning material with a nursing focus. I was surprised at the lack of material available. I don't think there is a lack of demand, but nursing students are unlikely to be a lucrative market, which I guess accounts for the lack of material.

9. What are your goals, hopes, ambitions, and dreams for EFLIS? What would you like most to tell the members?

Even if you are fortunate enough to teach in a happy environment with good students, teaching can be very isolating, and it's good to hear from people in the same situation, even if they're on the other side of the world. That's why it's worth your while to participate in the English as a Foreign Language Interest Section.



Announcements and Information

Bulletin Board: Announcements & Information

Any information you would like to announce on this Bulletin Board should be submitted to a coeditor, Jane Hoelker (jhoelker@gmail.com) or Gabriela Kleckova (gabriela_kleckova@yahoo.com). The deadline for inclusion in the next issue is September 1.

Submissions to Global Neighbors are always welcomed. Here are the guidelines and relevant information for contributors.

************
Day in the Life. EFLIS members teach in a tremendous variety of contexts and settings. Share yours with us! If you wish, this can be done as an e-mail interview with one of the editors—just contact us at an e-mail address listed below. 400–600 words.

The Other Hand. If you have a strong opinion on a burning issue, this is the place for you. Tell us what you think! This column might also feature excerpts from responses to issues or questions raised on the e-list. 400–600 words.

Classroom Idea Exchange. What has worked in your classroom? Describe the activity or technique in a short and practical manner. 200–300 words each.

We continue to accept submissions of

  • Articles. An absolute maximum of 2,000 words.
  • Conference reports. If you have been to a professional conference recently, write up what stands out in your mind about the experience, sessions, speakers, or setting. 200–600 words.
  • Book/resource reviews. These might be formal notices, but they can also be more subjective or conversational recommendations. 300–600 words.

Submissions are accepted throughout the year and may be edited for reasons of space, correctness, or clarity. Deadlines for contributions to our planned quarterly issues are officially March 1, June 1, September 1, and December 1.

Please e-mail submissions to one or both of the coeditors:

  • Gabriela Kleckova, Department of English, Faculty of Education, University of West Bohemia, Jungmannova 3, Pizen 306 19, Czech Republic,gabriela_kleckova@yahoo.com.
  • Jane Hoelker, Qatar University, English Foundation, PO Box 2713, Doha, Qatar, jhoelker@gmail.com.
    ***********

Do you receive the TESOL Connections e-newsletter? This is another free resource and membership benefit—you can sign up for it at the TESOL Web site. Contents typically include links to recent news articles publication updates, information on TESOL Board decisions, and links to key areas of the TESOL Web site (such as convention news and job listings).

Contribute to the TESOL Resource Center (TRC), an online platform for TESOL members to find and share a variety of resources with peers in the profession. The goals are to support expanded online peer-to-peer learning and to provide a clear, simple submission and review process for sharing resources. Submission templates on the TESOL, Inc. Web site (www.tesol.org) include lesson plan, activity, quiz/assessment tool, teaching tip, paper or article, and presentation/multimedia resource. To find a resource, browse these categories; content areas, audience, interest section, language skill, subject areas for professional papers, and geographic relevance. If you wish to volunteer to be a reviewer, complete the form on the TRC site.

Sign up for the Principles and Practices of Online Teaching Certificate Program. A number of courses are offered throughout the year, including over the summer and again in the autumn. The certificate program is designed for both the experienced and the inexperienced online English language teacher and course designer. The program consists of one certificate foundation course and one completion course, and 10 courses on general and content-specific topics. Contact TESOL Education Programs at deprograms@tesol.org if you would like more information about the program.

TESOL seeks applications from members interested in serving on a Standing Committee. A description of the work and responsibilities of each committee is available on the TESOL Web site. The application can also be found on the Web site.

Did you know that your subscription to TESOL Quarterly includes free online access to back issues from 2001 forward? TQ subscribers get free access to IngentaConnect, where they can download articles, review abstracts, and sign up for table of content alerts and RSS feeds. Nonsubscribers pay US$25 per downloaded article, so subscribing to TQ offers TESOL members significant savings.


About This Community

TESOL's English as a Foreign Language Interest Section facilitates idea exchanges on global and specific EFL/ESL issues; brings together professionals who have had/intend to have EFL/ESL experiences in different countries; provides an international network for teaching positions and professional interests worldwide; and encourages Standing Committees and other ISs to address relevant international concerns.

The EFL Interest Section Web site is
http://www.tesol.org/s_tesol/seccss.asp?CID=301&DID-1806.

The EFL Interest Section e-list, EFLIS-L, may be joined by signing up at http://www.tesol.org/getconnected. Message archives may be read by subscribers at http://lists.tesol.org/read/?forum=eflis-l.

The purpose of the EFLIS Newsletter is to keep EFLIS members in touch with the EFLIS leadership and to share ideas, experiences, opinions, and information of mutual professional and practical interest through articles, columns, and brief announcements. The primary audience for the newsletter is teachers and teacher educators outside North America at all levels: K-12, two- and four-year institutions of higher learning, adult education, English for specific purposes courses, and foreign language centers.

Contact information for EFLIS leaders:
Chair: Sally Harris, ssharris@nwc.edu
Chair-elect: Ke Xu, kexu@aol.com
Webmaster: Gabriela Kleckova, gabriela_kleckova@yahoo.com
E-list Manager: Orlando Rodriquez, orlandor@adinet.com.uy
Newsletter Coeditor: Gabriela Kleckova, gabriela_kleckova@yahoo.com
Newsletter Coeditor: Jane Hoelker, jhoelker@gmail.com