EFLIS Newsletter

EFLIS News, Volume 5:2 (July 2005)

by User Not Found | 11/08/2011


In This Issue...

  • Leadership Updates
    • Letter From the Outgoing Chair
    • Letter From the Incoming Chair
  • Articles and Information
    • Convention Business Meeting
    • E-Ballot Initiative
    • Call for Participation in the EFL IS Newsletter
    • Teaching as a Moral Enterprise
    • Bulletin Board: Announcements & Information
  • About This Member Community
    • English as a Foreign Language (EFL) Interest Section

Leadership Updates

Letter From the Outgoing Chair

By Jane Hoelker, e-mail: jhoelker@qf.org.qa

Dear EFL IS Friends,

What a great 2 years it has been working with all of you! Two busy and most interesting years!

When I began my service to the English as a Foreign Language Interest Section, I had a goal to reach out to as many of you as possible. I wanted to expand the leadership pool of the EFL IS and to be as inclusive as possible in the decision-making process. I tried to reach you through the e-list, the newsletter, and e-blasts (e-mails to the entire IS membership sent via the TESOL office). I was very gratified to receive your suggestions and to find so many new volunteers eager and willing to step into open positions.

It was also inspiring to hear from so many of you who volunteered to be proposal readers for the Long Beach and San Antonio conventions! Please know that your names are listed with gratitude at the beginning of the convention program book each year. Thanks to you, the EFL IS offered dynamic speakers and presenters with a variety of perspectives on significant issues. You gave of your time and in some cases even paid out of your own pockets to take part. Thank you!

I offer a very big thank-you to Orlando Rodriquez in Uruguay, the first volunteer I recruited. He has enlivened discussion on the e-list with his thought-provoking and insightful postings. Check out Orlando's story on the TESOL Web site, under the heading "TESOL Stories."

Gabriela Kleckova of the Czech Republic begins her second year as webmaster. Since she was recruited, she has moved the EFL IS Web site off Geocities.com, which had limitations, and onto the main TESOL Inc. site. As one of her innovations, she added photos of the IS leaders so that we can associate faces with names. Feel free to send her your ideas and suggestions!

I was very happy that out of the pool of proposal readers came this year's newsletter editor, Brad Baurain, who teaches in Vietnam. Brad hopes to implement several new ideas (as you can see by clicking on "Call for Participation" in the newsletter's table of contents). He is very open to suggestions from you, and many of the changes he plans to introduce will hopefully lead to more involvement from more of you.

The EFL IS Steering Committee members step forth from time to time when their particular expertise is sought. A special thanks this year to JoAnn Miller, Lisa Harshbarger, Sally Harris, and Marcia Fisk-Ong (all past chairs of the EFL IS) who were most helpful with the revision of the governing rules. That was a big job, but well worth it because the e-ballot will make it easier for more members to get more involved.

In San Antonio, I handed the leadership baton to Ulrich Bliesener of Germany, the incoming chair, who I am sure will lead you with energy, experience, and intelligence. I have enjoyed working with Ulrich this past year. Deanna Kelley in Mexico will assist Ulrich as chair-elect. Warm wishes to both of them!

I leave the EFL IS today in the capable hands of an active leadership that is truly representative of its members-its officers coming from the four continents of Europe, the Middle East, Asia, and South America and the eight countries of Germany, the Czech Republic, Qatar, Vietnam, Spain, Argentina, Venezuela, and Mexico. The leadership pool has expanded to include representatives from more countries and cultures and more proposal readers with more varied cultural and experiential backgrounds—guided by more frequent input from you, the members, through the e-list and other channels.

It has been a pleasure to work with you all. I will remain involved by serving with Brad as coeditor of the newsletter. Thank you all for your hard work, suggestions, and support!

EFLIS pic1

Both photos in this issue of the EFL IS Newsletter were taken at the 2005 TESOL Convention in San Antonio by Jane Hoelker.

Letter From the Incoming Chair

By Ulrich Bliesener, e-mail: 05119523474-0001@t-online.de

Dear Colleagues,

This is my first letter as the new EFL IS chair. Jane Hoelker's term of office ended with the San Antonio convention. She passed on the torch to me and I shall try to follow her excellent example in running our interest section. During my year as chair-elect, I learned to appreciate the effort, energy, and many wonderful ideas she brought willingly to the task. Perhaps better than anyone else could, I observed and appreciated her work and strategic and diplomatic skills in looking after our interests. Thank you very much, Jane, for your excellent work as chair of the EFL IS!

In addition to the change in chair, several other leadership changes were made during the IS open business meeting at the San Antonio convention. (For details, please click on "Convention Business Meeting" in the newsletter's table of contents.)

The most recent convention also brought about a rather dramatic change in the structure of TESOL. The board of directors, after a long process of discussion and consulting with the membership and various levels of leadership within the organization, decided on a new form of governance. TESOL has become too large to be governed by the board exclusively in a top-down fashion. Therefore, some responsibilities are being transferred further down the organizational flowchart to get closer to grassroots members and our specific contexts. This change will also empower and motivate more members to become more active within the organization, showing us more clearly that TESOL is ours and spurring us to participate in charting the organization's future course. This change is of particular interest to interest sections as we will have more leeway in planning and implementing projects. A first step in this direction will be the reshaping of the newsletter, for which Brad Baurain and Jane Hoelker have taken responsibility, though it is a responsibility they cannot accomplish without your support.

The full introduction of the new governance structure will take some time. To help get it off the ground, new leadership teams have been created. One that is of prime interest to the EFL IS is the Interest Section Leadership Team, which will liaise directly with the board. Interest sections themselves will nominate and elect representatives to this team in the future, but for the present, a transitional committee has been appointed. JoAnn Miller and Liz England, both well-known to our members, represent us at this time.

I trust that you are already aware that the convention proposal deadline was moved back 1 month and that more presentation formats were included. The Academic Session format, which many complained was too long and was poorly attended, can now be split into two sessions. All convention preparations are now being done online, from the call for participation to proposals to proposal reading and evaluation.

What hot topics are of special interest to the EFL IS? I can identify four major areas, which cut across a number of interest sections and are shared in particular with the Teacher Education IS and the Materials Writers IS:

Global English. What exactly is global English? What are its characteristics? How does it relate to the native Englishes we generally teach our students? Is it possible to describe a norm for global English? Or does the phrase refer only to the worldwide use of English as a means of communication and not to a type of English per se? Should we speak rather of local or regional varieties of English? Some researchers have suggested a simplified English, but it seems to me that this purely functional English would omit all means of allowing for nuances and expressions of emotion, doubt, and culturally determined attitudes and beliefs. How these issues are addressed will obviously have many far-reaching effects on teaching.

Intercultural communication and understanding. How are we going to prepare our students to use English appropriately and strategically in situations where the native speaker is in the minority? These situations are increasing in number, which is to be expected as there are more people who have acquired English as a foreign language than there are native speakers. How do we prepare students to cope with situations in which conversation partners use a kind of English that has been enriched and altered by a third culture? How much actual knowledge of other cultures is necessary to enable them to understand their partners fully? Or will it suffice simply to convey strategies and skills to handle such situations? All these questions aggravate the difficulties and uncertainties faced in global communication.

Standards. In spite of optimistic research, especially in the United States and recently in Europe, a great number of unanswered questions remain. Appropriate use of language is more than grammatical correctness and must include a strong individual and creative element. How can this be assessed appropriately? The question of what is linguistically wrong and what is acceptable remains an open one. So far I see no sound or conclusive approach to this aspect of language use.

Purpose and function of schools. Finally, what can often be forgotten is the fact that schools are service institutions for the larger society. They are expected to prepare students for the world of work. This is a major concern of language teaching as well. There are complaints from employers that graduates often lack the language competence essential for many jobs in industry and business. From this perspective, what can rightfully be expected from language teaching in schools? How can the gap between school and work be bridged?

The year ahead of us will be exciting. The new governance structure requires us to become more engaged with what is happening in the organization. It pushes us toward making TESOL truly ours and invites us to help shape it according to our needs and desires. We should seize such an opportunity with both hands!

Where should we go from here? You tell me. I and all the EFL IS leaders want to hear from you, and we invite you to write and tell us what you think and what you can offer to help move us forward.

Articles and Information

Convention Business Meeting

By Jane Hoelker, e-mail: jhoelker@qf.org.qa

PHAlamo1.jpgThe English as a Foreign Language Interest Section Open (Business) Meeting was held from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m., Wednesday, March 30, 2005, during the 39th Annual TESOL Convention. Twenty-six members in all attended the meeting, which was held in room 006-D of the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center in San Antonio, Texas. (According to the previous governing rules, a quorum of 25 members was needed. In the governing rules revised at this meeting, the quorum was amended to 20 members.)

Speakers and Visitors

Several speakers visited the EFL IS open meeting. First, Paul Matsuda, representing a new Writing Interest Section being formed, came to discuss the rationale behind this initiative. He stated that there is little research on how to teach the skill of writing to EFL learners and this need should be addressed by a new IS. Ulrich Bliesener, the EFL IS chair for 2005-2006, expressed concern that this new IS could encroach on the responsibilities of the EFL IS.

Next, Lisa Harshbarger, the Transitional Leadership Committee (TLC) liaison for the EFL IS, spoke about the newly formed TLC, its goals, and how it can help make the voice of the EFL IS heard. Lisa, as a former EFL IS chair, expressed her deep and continuing interest in and support for our members. As a member of the TLC, she will work with four interest sections, including the EFL IS.

Finally, Marcia Fisk-Ong, another former EFL IS chair, spoke about the 2006 TESOL Convention to be held in Tampa, Florida, and encouraged our members to participate. She also pointed out that to encourage more participation, the proposal submission deadline had been extended to June 1.

Points of Business

In the second half of the meeting, several points of business were covered. The outgoing chair, Jane Hoelker, and the incoming chair, Ulrich Bliesener, encouraged members to volunteer to read proposals for Tampa and to write proposals for discussion groups. Discussion groups often lead to vibrant debates that result in ideas for research topics for the next year's convention.

Jane Hoelker then led a discussion on the Special Project planned for next year with the Intercultural IS under the leadership of Natalie Hess. A bibliography of young learners' multicultural literature will be compiled and a Web site started, on which book reviews written by students and teachers will be posted. This development is quite exciting because it is the first Special Project that the EFL IS has worked on in several years.

Jane Hoelker also represented Keiko Abe Ford's suggestion that an EFL IS Committee for Teaching EFL to Kids be organized. Members were interested, so it is hoped that Keiko will organize this committee (or at least start a discussion on the e-list!).

In conclusion, the revised governing rules and the new e-ballot were discussed. E-list participants may remember discussing these issues throughout the year. After some discussion, members present voted to accept both. The EFL IS steering committee hopes that the e-ballot initiative will encourage more members to participate in leadership! (For more information, please click on "E-Ballot Initiative" in the newsletter's table of contents.)

Appointments and Elections

Appointments and elections for open positions were held. Webmaster Gabriela Kleckova, from the Czech Republic, was reappointed. She reported on how she is organizing the Web site according to the template provided by TESOL. Brad Baurain, currently teaching and doing teacher training in Vietnam, was nominated editor of the newsletter, with Jane Hoelker, currently working in Qatar, as coeditor. A big thank-you is extended from the EFL IS to Lesley Bobb in Tenerife, Spain, and Marina Gonzalez in Buenos Aires, Argentina, for their many years of dedicated work on the newsletter. Increased job responsibilities made their continuing as coeditors too difficult. Orlando Rodriguez in Uruguay will continue as the e-list manager. Finally, Deanna Kelley, residing in Mexico, was nominated and elected the chair-elect. And last but not least, Ulrich Bliesener of Germany stepped into his new position, current chair of the EFL IS.

Jane Hoelker is the immediate past chair of the EFL IS and teaches at the Qatar Foundation in Qatar.

E-Ballot Initiative

By Jane Hoelker, e-mail: jhoelker@qf.org.qa

As you have probably noticed, TESOL is becoming more and more digital in an effort to serve its members better, especially those working overseas. In line with this, discussion was held this past spring on the EFL IS e-list about whether or not to move to an electronic ballot to vote for our leaders. Other interest sections have already implemented this method, and our leadership felt strongly that we could no longer rely solely on the few members who are able to attend the annual convention and EFL IS open business meeting. Changing to e-balloting will make participation and leadership opportunities more accessible to more members.

As a result, Article IX in the governing rules was revised to allow an e-balloting process for the EFL IS chair. This revision was moved and approved unanimously at the convention's EFL IS open business meeting.

In this new structure, how will nominations take place? Candidates may nominate themselves or be nominated by another EFL IS member. One month before the election, they must post to the e-list a statement of purpose (200 words) and biodata (100 words). Interested members should read the job descriptions for the Chair-Elect and Chair positions in the EFL IS Constitution (Article VIII), posted on the EFL IS Website. The Chair-Elect serves one year to familiarize herself with the job before actually stepping into the Chair's position in her second year. The other officer positions are appointed by the Chair, with input from the Steering Committee and the other officers. If you are interested in volunteering to fill one of the appointed positions, send the Chair your resumé and a statement about why you would like the position and why you think you could do a good job.

At the time of the election, EFL IS members will cast their ballots electronically. The procedure for doing so will be posted on the e-list, included in the newsletter, and clearly explained in the ballot e-mail from TESOL. All IS members are entitled to vote. A simple majority of those voting is required for action. All e-ballots must be received 1 week before the opening day of the annual convention. The chair-elect must commit to attending the convention the following week—including leader-training sessions held during the convention—as well as the next year's convention.

We encourage all of you to participate in this initiative and take ownership of the EFL IS, either by running for office or by making sure your vote is counted.

Jane Hoelker is the immediate past chair of the EFL IS and teaches at the Qatar Foundation in Qatar.

Call for Participation in the EFL IS Newsletter

See your name here as an author and contributor!

The EFL IS leadership team is pleased to announce that we are refreshing the EFL IS Newsletter. Our desire is simply to make it even more useful and interesting to our members, as well as to issue it more often (quarterly, we hope).

What we need first is an actual name! Functional as it may be, "EFL IS Newsletter" is a bit of a yawn. We feel certain that the creative and intelligent members of our IS can come up with a better one. Please send your suggestions to one of the coeditors, Brad Baurain or Jane Hoelker (see end of article for e-mail addresses). We plan to post suggestions to the e-list for comment and discussion prior to producing the next newsletter. (For instructions on joining the EFL IS e-list, please click on "About This Community" in the newsletter's table of contents.)

In terms of newsletter content, we are calling for writing in the following categories:

Day in the Life. EFL IS 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 the e-mail addresses 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.

We continue to accept submissions of

  • Articles. absolute maximum of 1,000 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. 200–400 words.
  • Book/resource reviews. These might be formal notices, but they can also be more subjective or conversational recommendations. 300–500 words.

In addition, we are willing to publish conference announcements and a variety of other relevant information of professional interest to our members.

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 March 1, June 1, September 1, and December 1.

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

  • Brad Baurain, College of Foreign Languages, Vietnam National University, Hanoi, Vietnam, bbaurain@elic.org.
  • Jane Hoelker, Academic Bridge Program, Qatar Foundation, Qatar, jhoelker@qf.org.qa.

Teaching as a Moral Enterprise

By Brad Baurain, e-mail: bbaurain@elic.org

Johnston, Bill. Values in English Language Teaching. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2003. ISBN# 0-8058-4294-2.

A rediscovery of teaching as a moral enterprise is blossoming in the world of TESOL. At least, I hope it is. In fact, I am puzzled by how and why such a foundational truth was ever "forgotten." Nonetheless, Bill Johnston is right on target in the preface to his book, Values in English Language Teaching, when he points out that moral issues "are rarely if ever raised in print in the professional dialogue of our field, and they are certainly not given the attention they deserve" (p. ix). Values in English Language Teaching sets out to rectify this neglect. Johnston focuses on the moral dimensions of classroom relationships, depicting teaching not as a matter primarily of knowledge acquisition or skill development, but as an endeavor that succeeds or fails based on how and why the relevant relationships are conducted. His examples and analyses are highly contextualized and usually center around conflict: Within a given set of circumstances and people, teachers find themselves choosing among competing values. How and why they do so is what intrigues and excites Johnston.

Chapters include "The Teacher as Moral Agent," "Morality in Classroom Interaction," "Values and the Politics of English Language Teaching," and "The Morality of Testing and Assessment." As one might expect in this day and age, Johnston disavows the idea of moral absolutes, speaking instead of constant beliefs held by individuals. For my taste, he too quickly dismisses ethical philosophy and too easily finds the limits of rationality, and I wish he had drawn even more upon work done in general education. Yet perhaps these are subjects for further books and articles-his excellent thumbnail list in chapter 7 of moral dilemmas in the field of ELT is essentially an invitation for others to build on his introductory discussions.

Johnston writes with exceptional clarity, addressing complex issues with both professionalism and readability. The narrative examples, which constitute one of the book's strongest features, are particularly well-chosen and resonate strongly with the "teacher on the street." In addition, I give Johnston credit for adding courage to his sensitivity or tolerance—that is to say, he does not duck tough issues. He presents his own moral commitments in balanced fashion, suggests that some values might indeed be universal, and argues forcefully for the value-laden effects or consequences of what teachers do. A Vietnamese proverb says: "First learn behavior, then learn the lesson." In addressing this core aspect of teaching and summoning ELT practitioners to new thought paradigms, Values in English Language Teaching is a truly outstanding book.

This review is reprinted by permission from Teacher's Edition 15, September 2004.

Brad Baurain has taught in China, the United States, and Vietnam, and is currently teaching postgraduates at the College of Foreign Languages, Vietnam National University, Hanoi. He is also the teacher training director for ELI Vietnam and edits both that organization's Teacher's Edition magazine and TESOL's EFL Interest Section newsletter.

Bulletin Board: Announcements & Information

Do you have any feedback about the new TESOL Inc. governance structure? For an overview, see the Letter From the Incoming Chair, Ulrich Bliesener, in this newsletter, then e-mail him at 05119523474-0001@t-online.de with your questions and responses.

In that letter, Ulrich made an interesting point about the function of schools. Do you agree or disagree? Send your comments to Brad Baurain,bbaurain@elic.org, for possible inclusion in a future On the Other Hand column (see "Call for Participation in the EFL IS Newsletter" in this newsletter for a description of this column).

Looking for the Academic Session summary from TESOL 2005? Fret not. Jane Hoelker promises that it will be appear in the October issue of the newsletter.

You are encouraged to propose Discussion Groups and Poster Sessions for TESOL 2006 in Tampa, Florida. The Poster Session deadline is quite soon, August 1-for advice, feel free to contact Brad Baurain, bbaurain@elic.org. If you are interested in leading a Discussion Group, Ulrich Bliesener would like to hear from you at 05119523474-0001@t-online.de. The convention Call for Proposals can be found at http://www.tesol.org/s_tesol/seccss.asp?CID=858&DID=3647.

Additional information about the TESOL Convention 2006 can be found at http://www.tesol.org/s_tesol/sec_document.asp?CID=23&DID=3711.

A new Writing Interest Section is being formed within TESOL. Read more about it at http://www.tesol.org/s_tesol/sec_document.asp?CID=161&DID=3280.

TESOL Quarterly (TQ) Editor A. Suresh Canagarajah is attempting to revive the online forum, in which TQ articles are discussed in a bulletin board format. Check it out and make your voice heard at http://communities.tesol.org/~tq/login.

The 3rd Asia TEFL Convention will be held in Beijing, China, November 4-6, 2005. For details, visit their Web site: http://www.asiatefl.org.

The 26th Thailand TESOL Conference will be held in Chiangmai, Thailand, January, 19-21, 2006. For details, please visit their Web site:http://www.thaitesol.org.

Any information you would like to announce on this Bulletin Board should be submitted to the editor, Brad Baurain, at bbaurain@elic.org. The deadline for inclusion in the next issue is September 1.

About This Member Community

English as a Foreign Language (EFL) Interest Section

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 under construction. To see how it's going and for related resources, please visithttp://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 EFL IS Newsletter is to keep EFL IS members in touch with the EFL IS 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, 2- and 4-year institutions of higher learning, adult education, English for specific purposes courses, and foreign language centers.

EFLIS Community Leaders, 2005-2006

Chair: Ulrich Bliesener, e-mail 05119523474-0001@t-online.de
Immediate Past Chair and Newsletter Coeditor: Jane Hoelker, e-mail jhoelker@qf.org.qa
Chair-Elect: Deanna Kelley, e-mail dkkelley@hotmail.com
Webmaster: Gabriela Kleckova, e-mail gabriela_kleckova@yahoo.com
E-list Manager: Orlando Rodriguez,e-mail orlandor@adinet.com.uy
Newsletter Editor: Brad Baurain, e-mail bbaurain@elic.org