HEIS News

Volume 26:1 (March 2007)

by User Not Found | 10/20/2011
In This Issue...
  • Leadership Updates
    • Letter From the Chair
  • Articles
    • Assimilation in ESL and the First-Year Experience
    • Using Paired Readings to Develop Reading Strategies
    • An Integrated Skills Approach to Beginning Writing
  • Reviews
    • Book Review: Academic Reading: Varied Topics for Beginning to Intermediate Students
    • Book Review: Writing From Sources
  • Announcements and Information
    • Member Stories: Gina and Andrew MacDonald
  • About This Community
    • TESOL ESL in Higher Education Interest Section

Leadership Updates Letter From the Chair

Soonhyang Kim, HEIS Chair 2006-2007, kim.1259@osu.edu

I am delighted to have this chance to write to you about the activities that HEIS is involved with at the upcoming 2007 TESOL Convention and Exhibit in Seattle, Washington. We are sponsoring an Academic Session, four InterSections, 49 presentations, and ten Discussion Groups.

HEIS members who attended last year's open planning meeting in Tampa identified two key interests of our IS: oral literacy development and academic writing development of international students. These two issues will be the topic of our Academic Session on speaking and one of our InterSections on writing.

Academic Session
Mark your calendars for our academic session "Academic Speaking Skills for ESL University Students" on Friday, March 23, 8:30–11:15 a.m. The focus will be on academic oral literacy development of international students in regular university classrooms. Panelists include Kathleen M. Bailey, Philip Less, Andy Curtis, and Brock Brady. They will report on the perceptions of university faculty and international students regarding verbal classroom participation and then discuss ESL instruction development of academic speaking to facilitate international students' active verbal participation in regular university classrooms.

InterSections
Our primary InterSection, cosponsored with the Second Language Writing IS, "Appropriate Writing Support for International Graduate Students, " is Friday, March 23, 2:00–3:45 p.m.  Panelists Sharon L. Cavusgil, Talinn Phillips, Silvia Spence, Denis A. Hall, and Margi Wald will examine issues surrounding how to provide both general academic and discipline-specific writing support, in various contexts, in light of the diverse backgrounds, disciplines, and programs ESL students represent.

In addition to the primary InterSection, our chair-elect, Denis Hall, has put together several additional terrific InterSections that address pressing needs in higher education: in-service training of ESL program administrators, writing or selection of ESP materials, and ESL students' transition to higher education from various settings.

"In-Service Training in Language Program Administration," on Wednesday, March 21, 2:00–4:45 p.m.), organized in collaboration with Program Administration IS, addresses the reality that many ESL program administrators enter their positions without formal training in language program administration (LPA). Those who have benefited from preservice training still face a challenging transition to in-service performance. Panelists—two LPA training experts and three in-service ESL program administrators—will discuss how to bridge this gap.

"Creating ESL Materials Is Not for Experts Only," Thursday, March 22, 9:30–11:15 a.m., organized with the Materials Writers IS, discusses the components of effective ESP textbooks and the considerations in developing new courses and materials to meet student needs.

"Facilitating Transitions for ESL Students," Thursday, March 22, 9:30–11:15 a.m., is a mega InterSection organized in collaboration with the Adult Education, Secondary Schools, and IEP Interest Sections. Transitions can be intellectually and emotionally complicated processes. What can ESL/EFL educators do to support students as they make transitions from one learning environment to another? Panelists discuss perspectives and approaches that can help address the challenges of transitions among secondary education, higher education, adult education, IEP, EFL, and other contexts.

Thank You to the Proposal Readers
This year HEIS had many proposals competing for relatively few slots at the convention. HEIS would like to warmly thank the 87 proposal readers who completed their reading assignments:

Julie Dicristina Adler
John Armbrust
Jim Bame
Subarna Banerjee
Debra Basler
Diane Belcher
Gena Bennett
David Berry
Dennis Bricault
Jennifer Burke
Priscilla Butler
Sarah Jameson Carvalho
Mary Charleza
Ann Ching
Robert Cohen
Caroline Coit
Elsa Collins
Steve Cornwell
Mary Jane Curry
Angela Dadak
Mary F. Di Stefano Diaz
Kathrine Douthit
Carolyn Duffy
Josh Durey
Virginia Edwards
Beth Ernst
Michelle Fiorito
Ishbel Galloway
John Graney
Sue Lantz Goldhaber
Goedele Gulikers
Suzanne Gut
Catherine Haras
Barbara Howell
Talbi Imad
Shaunna Ioannidou
Patricia Ishill
Ann Johnston
Robert Kantor
Peggy Kazkaz
Guy Kellogg
Mary Lynn Klingman
Ditlev Larsen
Rachele Lawton
John Leach
Stacia Levy
John Liang
Andrew Macdonald
Gina Macdonald
Craig Machado
Amal Mahmoud
Khayriniso Mamatkulova
Avone Martin
Jason McSparren
Norbella Miranda
Miriam  Moore
Robyn Najar
Frank Noji
Adrianne P. Ochoa
Carol Ochsner
Deborah Osborne
Maria Parker
Nancy Pfingstag
Aija Saario Pocock
Joyce Podevyn
Anita Podrid
Jennifer Pooler-Courtney
Hana Prashker
Xing Qing
Rebecca Rebholz Oreto
J. F. Regan
Eve Ronseca
Terry Said
Mary Schedl
Charles Schroen
Gladys V. Scott
Marti Sevier
Sharon Seymour
Diane Silvers
Sheryl Slocum
Sharon Snyder
Steve Soresi
Karen Stanley
Cynthia Ann Walker
Donald Weasenforth
Lisa R. Wilkinson
Howard Williams

My special thanks go to Denis Hall, Maria Parker, and Sheryl Slocum who personally contacted proposal readers from previous years, last year's presenters, and volunteers from the 2006 open meeting to request their participation.

In closing, I would like to encourage you all to attend the HEIS open meeting on Wednesday, March 21, 2007, 5:00–7:00 p.m. Your presence and participation will lead our future direction, just as it successfully did last year. I look forward to seeing you all at 41st Annual TESOL Convention and Exhibit in Seattle!

Sincerely, 
Soonhyang Kim 
 

 



Articles Assimilation in ESL and the First-Year Experience

Andrew Macdonald, mdonald@loyno.edu, and Gina Macdonald, virginia.macdonald@nicholls.edu

Our title links two campus interest groups that in many cases maintain a polite distance: English as a Second Language/Intensive English programs—we use these terms interchangeably unless otherwise noted—and the First-Year Experience (FYE, originally termed the Freshman Year Experience, begun at the University of South Carolina as the brainchild of John Gardener, who, having himself been ill-prepared as a beginning undergraduate, later defined and promoted the multiple skill sets and information sources many current students lack). Ironically, the "typical" monolingual, monocultural students who are the majority of first-year admits on U.S. campuses have a great deal in common in their needs and difficulties with ESL students (including the U.S.-born who were raised wholly or partly in a non-English environment; immigrants; and "true" internationals, who are students from abroad who expect to return to their home countries once their studies are completed). In light of the self-evident disparity between mainstream U.S. students and the ESL population, it is no wonder that program directors see little in common: linguistic limitation (sometimes even in English!) versus linguistic multitasking, cultural provincialism versus bicultural experiences, academic inexperience versus knowledge of two systems.

Nonetheless, because ESL and IEP programs have experience helping students adjust to a new culture, a new grammar, a new form of academic discourse, and new assumptions about education, they have much to offer their universities' FYE programs. Although students from these two groups look and sound completely different and although instructors and tutors in each realm use completely different vocabularies and approaches, they share common goals, common impasses, and common successes, with student retention and student success central concerns for both. Serious language teaching is about helping students construct a new identity while finding a place, and literally an idiom, for the old identity, exactly the process newcomers to a college environment undergo. Thus, the FYE movement can benefit from recognizing its affinities with ESL and IEP programs by defining the common goals and shared approaches worth exploring and by confirming their value to the academic community—sharing their experiences with acculturation with other faculty at their institutions. Publicizing one's efforts by showing commonalities and congruence with larger goals never hurts small operations.
 
ESL methods and approaches can give helpful guidance to first-year programs in the following ways:

1. Making Orientations Meaningful and Interlocking Classes/Materials
FYE programs can learn from ESL/IEP programs  how to redesign orientation programs to make them meaningful and perhaps even ongoing: for instance, setting up activities to introduce new students to what a higher educational institution truly is, what goes on in it, what they are expected to do, and what tools will enable them to meet these expectations (as do the study skills classes popular in IEP programs). Ideally, IEP orientation does not end with introductory remarks but continues hands-on over the entire period of a student's language study. Ideally, too, IEP courses use interlocking materials so that what is learned in a grammar class, for example, is reinforced in a reading class, and put into personal use in a writing class. The interconnectedness of materials (grammar connected with reading, conversation, TOEFL practice, and writing) builds skills and better prepares students for understanding materials and goals.

Some FYE programs do group students from the same major into sets of shared classes to promote such connections - for example, placing English, History, and Biology majors in the same classes - but could profit from alternative models for doing so. Experienced ESL instructors can provide such models. Interlocking classes to move toward a common goal works with both sets of students, as students sharing a set of courses build friendships and help each other see how their shared courses relate. Learning can move outside the particular classroom in this way.

2. Connecting Social and Academic Life 
College professors carefully nurture the "intellectual life" of ideas, issues, and conflicts in structured discussions, debates, and assignments, assuming that 18-year-olds' social experience—read "emotional life"—will take care of itself in a world apart from the classroom,. In contrast, IEP and ESL personnel reject such false dichotomies between out-of-class and in-class life, usually refusing to leave social development to choice. One of the real horrors encountered by IEP airport greeters of students from Japan, Honduras, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Turkey, Russia, and so on is how helpless most of these students are, including many who have fairly good English and previous travel experience. Because the synergy between social life and academic programs helps young people adapt to a new culture, IEPs focus on regular social events, group activities, films, and campus organizations of a type that would enhance FYE programs. Much of the real learning in college takes place in late-night discussions about
Experienced ESL instructors can provide such models. Interlocking classes to move toward a common goal works with both sets of students, as students sharing a set of courses build friendships and help each other see how their shared courses relate. Learning can move outside the particular classroom in this way.

2. Connecting Social and Academic Life 
College professors carefully nurture the "intellectual life" of ideas, issues, and conflicts in structured discussions, debates, and assignments, assuming that 18-year-olds' social experience—read "emotional life"—will take care of itself in a world apart from the classroom,. In contrast, IEP and ESL personnel reject such false dichotomies between out-of-class and in-class life, usually refusing to leave social development to choice. One of the real horrors encountered by IEP airport greeters of students from Japan, Honduras, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Turkey, Russia, and so on is how helpless most of these students are, including many who have fairly good English and previous travel experience. Because the synergy between social life and academic programs helps young people adapt to a new culture, IEPs focus on regular social events, group activities, films, and campus organizations of a type that would enhance FYE programs. Much of the real learning in college takes place in late-night discussions about politics, philosophies, and academic issues, all the stuff of youthful life in school. Good ESL programs address open discussion head-on, acknowledging that politeness rules and forms of discussion vary by culture; FYE programs often promote respectful discussion among young people who have encountered few models of how to disagree with civility but would benefit from specific strategies for doing so the way ESL instructors do, given the challenges inherent in working with any group of internationals.

3. Creating Acculturation Activities
More than language content or "information" is necessary for students to meld into an American university context. Acculturation results from forums for discussion, debate, and exchanges of ideas in a variety of forms, with classroom lessons reinforced in more informal settings, in order to assure mainstreaming of students. The unstressed lesson in such activities inevitably is that learning takes place in many ways and forums and that the goal of the learner is to interact with other learners and to integrate materials learned. The numerous activities IEP programs set up for language learners provide good models for FYE programs to use.

4. Acquiring Survival Strategies 
For both groups, college is a new and different culture—for ESL students, a new country; for freshmen, a change from high school culture. Both ESL students and college freshmen need instruction in what to expect; the unwritten rules by which we conduct academic life must be clearly spelled out for those from a culture with different rules and expectations (otherwise debilitating confusion, culture shock, and failure may result). The orientation that ESL teachers provide for "learning the teacher" (how a particular instructor approaches the subject) and classroom methodology (e.g., discussions of classroom politeness and classroom pragmatics; assignments can turn students into anthropologists stalking the evidence of American college etiquette) should prove invaluable to FYE academic orientations. Questions students have may be as simple as what to call their instructors ("teacher" seems widely used internationally, but adults who use the term in the United States sound like children. Similarly, the distinction between "professor" and "doctor" is lost on many U.S. undergraduates). More complex questions include how and when to physically approach an instructor for a private question (high school rules seem much looser), how to handle conflict, how to ask for special consideration, how to apologize credibly, how to beg for mercy effectively, and how to meet other basic student needs. As ESL teachers we are accustomed to dealing with such needs; FYE instructors may be less so.

5. Overcoming Culture Shock Through Counseling 
ESL and FYE students undergoing culture shock need special counseling to help them bridge two cultures; both sets of students need some kind of care and comfort as they undergo assimilation. While particular programs and approaches would of course need to be tailored to the needs of the particular student community, the general principle would be for FYE programs to do what IEP programs do: anticipate and prepare for culture shock by making clear the rules, the etiquette, and the underpinning principles that make the classroom, the professor and students, and the academic community function as a culture to which first-year students can adjust and assimilate and find a place for themselves. The key is to maintain instructor and administrative awareness that how things are done is not necessarily self-evident to students.

6. Considering the Needs of the Whole Person
Another potential area of commonality between ESL and FYE is the student need to learn how to learn. Moving from the expectations of high school to the expectations of college is comparable to moving from the expectations of one educational system to those of another, hence the need for some coursework involving academic skills/study skills/library use. By redesigning coursework to more fully integrate sets of required courses around intellectual principles and skills, FYE programs can learn from ESL's expectation that every professor is to some degree responsible for considering the needs of the whole person and for relating ideas in English, for example, to those in history and philosophy. Targeting individual needs that are different from group needs is clearly a part of this adjustment; for example, a student may be assigned extra grammar exercises in a writing class to help him or her overcome deficiencies fellow classmates do not share. Such targeting seems quite common in ESL instruction, but may be less evident in FYE programs.

7. Constructing New Language Identities
Both groups need to construct a new language identity, literally building vocabulary and mastering new sentence structures while accommodating the old identity; for FYE students, academic discourse is as daunting as a new language and yet sophisticated formal vocabulary and formal syntax are necessary for student success in American universities. Typically, even the most informal classroom lecture will be framed by an introduction setting forth topics to be covered and a conclusion summing them up—divisions created by tone of voice, pacing, and level of abstraction, as much as by formal lexical content. Note-takers must follow these cues. The vocabulary of the classroom lecture is likely to draw far more on Latin and Greek roots than on Anglo-Saxon ones, as well as on terms originating in Norman French all of which were used with a precision unknown in casual speech.

This precision is frequently the point of lectures in introductory courses: What limits and qualifiers affect definitions of person in the abortion question (as opposed to fetus) or monopoly (as opposed to fair competition) in business? Introductory courses often focus heavily on learning the key definitions in a field and becoming comfortable with their use, such as noun-noun designators such as "media support vehicle personnel." Thus, linguistic subtleties must be learned by both the international student and the college freshman. ESL teachers can teach FYE teachers to toss out preconceptions about what students know and what they are prepared for, and to reset expectations so the obscure and academic are at least glossed.

8. Acquiring Cultural Literacy
Both ESL/IEP and FYE students must not only adapt to a new culture but also learn to be literate in that culture. Americans are all products of assimilation, yet today's universities lose many first-year students because of their inability to assimilate to an academic culture and our inability as academics to recognize that we are often working at cross-purposes with students. We cannot assume shared understandings about learning and the nature of the university or shared understandings about what students are expected to do; we must identify the signs of culture shock that drive students from our academic doors. Thus, ESL teachers can model follow-up programs that more closely monitor student needs, at least through the first semester, perhaps through the full year. (The tailspin that leads FYE students to drop out starts early and, without correction by adult intervention, accelerates rapidly, concluding with an inevitable crash.) ESL programs often include "partners," upper-level students who already know the ropes, to act as academic and social guides and mentors; many offer afternoon speakers debating or discussing questions such as plagiarism, test-taking, making full use of the writing lab, and career decisions. FYE programs should do this, too.

Consequently, both FYE and ESL students need socialization regarding the university's culture, both in general and specifically: instruction in classroom etiquette, in using the library as a working tool to further learning and enhance performance, in the concept of plagiarism, in the concept of the university as a forum for free and open debate, and in the very concept of a battle of ideas. Finally, they must be provided with the rhetorical patterns to follow during argumentation and with what E. D. Hirsch called "cultural literacy" in his book by the same name: the allusions and bits and pieces of cultural knowledge academics all take for granted. The absence of such cultural knowledge makes mainstream Americans seem like isolated minorities or foreign residents living in the United States, Hirsch asserted.

In sum, then, cooperation between campus ESL/IEP and FYE programs can clearly be mutually beneficial, enabling ESL professionals to advise colleagues about strategies and techniques that have long been tested on international students and that will benefit first-year students for whom going to college is like going to a foreign country: They must deal with a new language, a new culture, and new expectations, while suffering from culture shock and at times needing an interpreter, a friend, a guide to help them bridge the gap between two worlds. Moreover, because retaining students and guiding students toward successful learning is something ESL/IEP professionals know how to do well (IEP survival requires it!), they have little-appreciated skills that can be shared to advantage with the FYE professionals at their institution, many of whom may be unaware of strategies that we take for granted as self-evident. In turn, ESL teachers may profit from learning of the sometimes heroic efforts of first-year instructors, who must find ways to prepare students who may be clueless about what they don't know. (Mercifully, ESL students are usually highly aware of their deficiencies and inabilities.) First-year teaching strategies can be ingenious and engaging, offering possibilities for real exchanges between the two sets of instructors.

References
Gardener, J. (1995). The Freshman Year Experience. The Freshman Year Experience Resource Seminar University of South Carolina: National Resource Center for The Freshman Year Experience, Division of Continuing Education.
Hirsch, E. D. (1987). Cultural literacy: What every American needs to know. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.

Andrew Macdonald is professor of English at Loyola University New Orleans. Gina Macdonald is associate professor in the Languages and Literature Department at Nicholls State University. Both have PhDs in English from The University of Texas in Austin, and together they ran the Loyola IEP for 7 years, preparing students for university admission. Now they regularly speak at FYE conferences, emphasizing how much FYE experts can learn from ESL professionals. The Macdonalds have coauthored a text for advanced IEP and university entry-level international students, Mastering Writing Essentials (Prentice Hall, 1996), and have published widely on ESL and cultural-communications topics. They have also published works on literary topics, including Scott Turow (Greenwood, 2005), Jane Austen on Screen (CUP, 2003), and Shaman or Sherlock? (Greenwood, 2002).

 

 

 

 


Using Paired Readings to Develop Reading Strategies

Jayme Adelson-Goldstein, jmeag@sbcglobal.net, and Lori Howard, lbhoward@casas.org

Focus Questions
As you read this article, think about your answers to these questions:
1. How do I help my learners develop and apply their reading skills?
2. How would implementing paired reading benefit my learners?

Introduction
College and university ESL learners face many challenges in their academic classes, not least of which is reading, understanding, and discussing an assigned text. The ESL classroom provides the perfect laboratory for learners to practice the reading skills they need to succeed academically. Research shows that explicit instruction in reading skills (such as previewing, scanning, and summarizing) is key to learners' ability to read effectively (Eskey, 2002; Grabe, 1991). It is also essential to offer learners numerous opportunities to apply these skills so that they internalize and develop a level of fluency while they read (Anderson, 1999). Another component of reading skill development is critical literacy—the ability to identify and question language and ideas in a text (Hull, 2000). Through paired reading lessons, teachers can help their learners develop and apply essential reading and critical literacy skills while expanding learners' background knowledge, vocabulary, cross-cultural awareness, and communication skills.

What Is Paired Reading?
During a paired reading lesson, learners choose one of two complementary texts on cultural or other high-interest themes. After reading and answering focus questions, learners take turns sharing what they have read with classmates who have read the complementary text. The sharing task provides a purpose for reading, and learners are motivated to read thoroughly and efficiently. As the examples below show, unlike jigsaw reading, in which each learner reads a portion of an article, paired reading lessons ask learners to read an entire text. They are then able to compare and contrast the two readings' content, style, and point of view. This process develops critical literacy skills that allow learners to go beyond the surface meaning of the text. These discussions can also serve as the basis for communicative writing tasks. When cultural themes occur in the text, learners also have the opportunity to engage in meaningful cross-cultural discussions.

JIGSAW                                                          PAIRED READING

Reading A. Vegetables: A Love Story
Emily G. loves vegetables now but it wasn't always that way. As a young child, Emily never met a vegetable she liked. As an adult, however, Emily learned to love them and went on to write the most famous vegetable cookbook of all time.
When Emily was 5 she refused to eat her vegetables. Broccoli and cauliflower were her greatest enemies. …………

Reading A. Is Organic Really Better?
 Consumers don't have it easy these days. So many choices! Many of the food choices we have are hard to make—choose healthy or go for the inexpensive item. Organic produce is usually twice as expensive as produce that is not labeled organic. People are asking themselves, what does ……………

Reading B. Vegetables: A Love Story
As a young child, Emily G. never met a vegetable she liked. As an adult, however, Emily learned to love them and went on to write the most famous vegetable cookbook of all time..
When Emily turned 18 she tasted her first spinach leaf. It was a pivotal moment in her life. Suddenly the whole world of greens opened up for her.………
Reading B. Eat it Raw: Live Longer!
There's a movement all across the United States. People are throwing out their steamers and their frying pans. Vegetables are appearing on dinner plates, uncooked and unashamed! This push to uncooked, or raw, food began thanks to medical information that ………….

Sources for Paired Reading Lessons
The texts that can be used for paired readings are as varied as the interests of the learners in a class. Authentic materials that match learners' interests will motivate them to read and discuss the material. When selecting the texts, look for complementary readings (i.e., pro/con on one issue or articles that deal with different aspects of the same topic). Op ed pieces, pro/con columns, advice columns, and articles on social issues, relationships, or healthcare as well as on U.S. history and customs make excellent readings for this type of lesson. Sources for these texts include newspapers, magazines, and the Internet, as well as published ESL materials such as cultural readers and textbooks.

For all but the highest levels, most readings from sources other than ESL materials will need to be adapted. When adapting a text, instructors should consider how well the text's vocabulary, grammar structures, and length match the learners' proficiency level.

When looking for paired reading texts, it is important to determine whether all learners will be reading at the same level. In a multilevel class, it is possible to provide a higher level text for those learners with higher level reading skills and a lower level one for those with more limited reading skills. As long as the texts are linked thematically, learners at all levels can come together to share the information they have read and discuss the general reading themes.

The Stages in a Paired Reading Lesson 
In a paired reading lesson, classroom management is key. The sample lesson below outlines the general procedures in a paired reading lesson and provides specific lesson management strategies.

Stage 1. The first stage of a paired reading lesson has three parts: a) prereading activities that assess and activate learners' prior knowledge of the topic, b) activities to review key reading skills, and c) presentation of key vocabulary that is essential for learners' comprehension of the texts.

In the example below, learners are preparing to read and discuss two letters to the editor on the topic of wrestling's effect on society. The teacher identifies the following key vocabulary items:

aggressive indecency pro wrestling stuntmen
fake macho revealing costumes target (v)
fantasy obsessed slam (v) violence
give up pretend (v) sleaze WWW

As a way of helping learners retain the new vocabulary, the teacher works with the class to group similar vocabulary words and add other words they know that belong in the same group (e.g., fake, pretend, unreal, acting). The teacher also works with learners to identify words with a strong emotional content and words that are more neutral (e.g., fake vs. pretend).

In order to build the learners' schema about wrestling, the teacher then has learners identify the different facts they know about wrestling and then categorize these facts as pros and cons.

Work with your classmates to brainstorm all the things you know about wrestling.

Facts About Wrestling


The next step is for learners to preview the two complementary readings and select the one in which they are most interested. Asking learners to complete a previewing task (such as writing the title of both texts and answering a few prediction questions) provides explicit reading skill practice and ensures learner accountability. Helping learners identify the type of text and predict the author's point of view is also an important part of this stage of the lesson.

Look at readings A and B. Work on your own and answer these questions.

1. What type of texts are they? essays? newspaper articles? letters to the editor? textbook articles? fiction stories? biographies? other?

2. What is each text's title?

3. Are the authors for or against wrestling? How do you know?

4. What is one reason you think each author will give to support his or her position?

 

Stage 2. During the second stage of the lesson, learners are given a specific amount of time to read their selected text silently. This stage of the lesson simulates the type of reading task learners have in their academic classes and is also a model for effective reading.

Sample Texts
(Texts by Lori Howard, 2002)

Reading A

In this letter to the editor, a viewer complains about television wrestling.

Let's Slam Wrestling
I am shocked and offended by the World Wrestling Federation's cable TV show Raw is War. On last week's show, the daughter of Vince McMahon (owner of the WWF) was "tricked" into marrying McMahon's arch enemy: the wrestler, Triple H. This week, McMahon chased Triple H with a sledge hammer in order to get back at him for the "marriage." These sleazy soap opera plot lines include grown men and women dressed in revealing costumes hitting each other with chairs and sledge hammers hoping to draw blood. Is that entertainment? I don't think so.

The 5 million American households that watch this show and others like it are becoming obsessed with sleaze and violence. It is bad enough for adults to watch this garbage, but many parents allow their young children to see it. Filling little kids' heads with the idea that violence, indecency, drinking, spitting, and swearing are acceptable will surely cause problems for our society in the future. Parents should listen to the psychologists who say that kids who see shows like these before age 8 are more likely to be violent teens and adults. If parents won't protect their kids, program producers have a responsibility to the community not to target young kids who can't differentiate between reality and fantasy. These programs are bad for older kids, too. Research has shown that violent shows like these can make teens fearful or aggressive.

Newspaper headlines all across the country tell of children who hurt other children trying to imitate what they see on TV wrestling. When are we going to put an end to these TV shows and stop this senseless violence once and for all?

Victor Alvarez
Lawrence, Kansas

Reading B

In this letter to the editor, a viewer argues that television wrestling is just good, clean fun.

Get a Life
Everyone is looking for someone to blame for the violence in American society. The target is now professional wrestling. But what makes professional wrestling different from other shows on TV? Pro wrestling is actually no different from a play or a movie. Everyone knows that wrestling is fake. Wrestlers are no different from movie stuntmen who pretend to do dangerous and violent things.

I am one of the millions of people who enjoy the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) on a daily basis. Wrestling is my life. I never miss Monday night's Raw is War, Sunday night's Heat, or Thursday night's Smackdown! I have been watching wrestling since 1978 when my husband introduced me to the shows he loved. Our children grew up watching "Macho Man" Randy Savage, Andre the Giant, and Hulk Hogan. Now I am a grandmother and my 6-year-old grandson watches the Undertaker, Triple H, and Stone Cold. He usually watches on Saturday mornings. He gives up his cartoons so he can scream at the TV when he hears the name of his favorite wrestler. Young kids know that it's just a show. The wrestlers are characters just like the cartoon superheroes Superman and Spiderman.

Some think the only people who watch wrestling are uneducated, beer-drinking macho men. I happen to be a college-educated female in a management position. I think the wrestlers are very talented and they work hard to please their audience. It's fun entertainment for the whole family. If you think wrestling is bad, I suggest you watch something else and let us fans watch wrestling in peace.

Lorna Roberts
Whitehall, Wisconsin

Stage 3. Once learners have had time to read their text, each learner pairs with a learner who has read the same article, and together they answer a series of comprehension questions about the article.

FOCUS QUESTIONS FOR READING A: LET'S SLAM WRESTLING
1. Why does the author believe that World Wrestling Federation TV shows are not 
 entertainment? 
2. Give three examples from the letter that back up the author's opinion. 
 What kinds of language does he use to express his opinions?
3. According to the letter writer, how many Americans households watch 
 wrestling?
4. Why does the author feel that watching wrestling is bad for children? 
FOCUS QUESTIONS FOR READING B: GET A LIFE
1. Why does the author believe that TV wrestling shows are no different than movies or 
 plays?
2. What are some of the names of the various wrestling shows and/or wrestlers? 
3. The author believes that her grandson is not harmed by watching wrestling.
 How does she support that idea? Give examples of the kinds of language she uses.
4. How does the author describe herself? Why does she include this description?

Once pairs have solidified their understanding of the texts they have read, they pair with learners who read the complementary text, forming groups of four. Using the comprehension questions above as prompts, pairs share the key concepts of the text they read. Through this process, all four learners learn the main ideas of both texts.

Stage 4. In the last and most important stage in the paired reading lesson, each group works together on a follow-up task that asks them to use their prior knowledge and higher level thinking to apply what they have learned to cultural and/or critical literacy questions.

PMI* CHART

WHAT'S GOOD 
ABOUT WRESTLING…?

WHAT'S BAD 
ABOUT WRESTLING…?

WHAT'S INTERESTING
 ABOUT WRESTLING?

*Plus,Minus,Interesting exercise from deBono (1993)
  
Lesson Management 
Managing the paired reading lesson requires facility with the grouping strategies of assigning roles, providing clear tasks, setting time limits, and using a quiet signal.

Assigning roles: It is important that each learner knows what his or her role is in the paired reading lesson. Assigning roles keeps learners engaged in the lesson. These role assignments are most important during the last stages of the paired reading lesson when two pairs have formed a group of four. Key roles for this group are as follows:
Facilitator: keeps group on task
Timekeeper: helps the group finish the task within the time frame
Recorder: records the group's responses
Reporter: reports the group's responses to the whole class

In multilevel groups, lower level learners can take the timekeeper and facilitator roles. The language required for these roles is limited enough that lower level learners can fully participate. For example,
 Timekeeper: "Two more minutes." 
   Facilitator: "Your turn, Jung."

Providing clear tasks: When each learner knows what he or she should be doing, the lesson goes smoothly. Putting the steps of the paired reading lesson in writing (on an overhead, tear sheet, or board) helps the teacher and the learner keep track of the tasks.

Setting time limits: Assigning a time by which the learners should finish one part of the lesson keeps the learners on track and moves the lesson to its conclusion. By the same token, time limits have to be realistic and match the level of the task. Time limits are key to pacing the lesson so that each learner, pair, or group is able to complete each stage of the lesson. As you gain experience using paired reading lessons with your learners, you will have a better idea of how much time to assign. For example, you might want to give the learners 5 minutes to read their article. After 4 minutes you can ask the class, "How much more time do you need?" If most of the class has not finished, you can extend the time limit by 3 or more minutes. For those learners who have finished the reading early, suggest that they underline main ideas, write a question about the reading, or do another activity that deepens their understanding of the text. In classes in which reading levels and speeds vary too widely, be sure to provide a reading for lower level readers that can be completed within the time frame.

Quiet signal: When learners work in pairs or small groups it is important for teachers to be able to get their attention when needed. Before beginning the lesson, agree on a quiet signal with your learners. This can be a sound like a bell or harmonica, a raised hand, or a flicker of lights.

In addition to considering grouping strategies, there are several questions to consider before embarking on a paired reading lesson: 
1. Will you use authentic materials that haven't been modified, use materials prepared for ESL learners, or adapt authentic texts yourself?
2. How will you group learners (same or mixed-ability)?
3. Will you assign the texts or have learners make their own choices?
4. How much time will you allot for reading time and discussion time?
 
Using prepared materials versus adapting materials: There are advantages and disadvantages to using prepared materials and to using adapting materials. Prepared materials will save time for the instructor but may not always meet the needs of learners. Adapted materials are more accessible to learners, but may not prepare learners for reading authentic materials with unfamiliar structures and vocabulary.
 
Uneven numbers of learners: The "Stages in a Paired Reading Lesson" section above describes a lesson in which there are an even number of learners. This may not be the case in your class. You can always add a third person to a pair of learners who are discussing a text. When two "pairs" come together to discuss in a group, the group can be made up of five or six learners instead of the four described above.
 
Assignment of readings: In an ideal situation, learners would be able to select the text they wish to read; of course, learner selection of a text creates the motivation to read. However, in order to have enough pairs who read different texts, it is sometimes necessary for the teacher to assign the readings. One way to do this fairly is to ask learners to select the text they would like to read and to get a show of hands for each text. If more learners are needed to read one of the texts, ask for volunteers. If learners do not volunteer, assign some cooperative learners to read a certain text and promise to give them their first choice in the next paired reading lesson. Be sure to make a note of the learners who will get their first choice in the next lesson.

Summary
Research in reading skill development has shown that readers are more successful when they read with a purpose and when they read materials that match their interests or needs. Paired reading lessons provide learners with high-interest readings and a purpose for reading (to learn about and then teach new information). In addition, because the act of reading is a communication between reader and author, paired reading lessons encourage learners to reflect on how and why the information was communicated (critical literacy). Finally, paired reading lessons correlate to the types of reading experiences that learners must manage in academic classes: reflecting on and synthesizing what they've read and what they know. 
Anderson, N. (1999). Exploring second language reading: Issues and strategies. A TeacherSource Book. Boston: Heinle & Heinle.

De Bono, E. (1993). Serious creativity. New York: Harper Business.

Eskey, D. E. (2002). Reading and the teaching of L2 reading. TESOL Journal, 11(1), 5-9.

Grabe, W. (1991). Current developments in second language reading research. TESOL Quarterly, 25(3), 375-406.

Hull, G. (2000, April). Critical literacy at work. Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy, 43(7), 648-652.


Lori Howard and Jayme Adelson-Goldstein have given workshops on the paired reading technique across the United States and are the coauthors of Read and Reflect: Academic Reading Strategies and Cultural Awareness (Oxford University Press, 2004).

A long-time member of the ESL teaching community, Jayme Adelson-Goldstein has focused on teacher education and curriculum development for adult ESL learners. She is the author of Listen First (Oxford, 1991), the coauthor of The Oxford Picture Dictionary Program (Oxford, 1998), and the series director of Step Forward: English for Everyday Life (Oxford, 2006). She has also produced curriculum and training materials for LAUSD Division of Adult and Career Education, UCLA Education Extension, CALPRO, and CAELA.

Lori Howard has extensive experience as a teacher, teacher trainer, curriculum writer, and administrator of ESL programs. She has also taught courses for instructors at UCLA and UC Berkeley Education Extension. Lori is the author of Read All About It 1 and 2 (Oxford, 1999, 2000). She is currently a program specialist for CASAS, providing technical assistance to California agencies funded by the Workforce Investment Act.

 

 


An Integrated Skills Approach to Beginning Writing

Ellen Shenkarow, ellen@email.arizona.edu

In recent years, the primary objective of English language teaching has evolved from being a cultural and educational enterprise to being centered on international communication (Hinkel, 2006).

As a reflection of this changing emphasis, the "next generation" or Internet-based TOEFL (iBT) combines, or integrates, the four basic communication skills of reading, writing, listening, and speaking. An approach to teaching beginning writing that integrates these four basic skills can not only enliven the classroom but also start students in their TOEFL preparation .

At the Center for English as a Second Language (CESL), an IEP program at the University of Arizona, a typical class is composed of approximately 15 students from Korea, Japan, Saudi Arabia, Mexico, the UAE, and perhaps Central or South America and Europe. Classes vary in length depending on the subject, but those with an emphasis on speaking, reading, and writing meet for 90 minutes each weekday. Although we teach all four basic skills in each class to help prepare students for the TOEFL iBT, the emphasis in the class described here is on speaking.

In the TOEFL iBT, students write responses to statements or questions after having listened to and spoken about a specific reading, so in an elementary way, the exercises below mimic the exam.

I devised the activities in the chart to integrate the writing portion of the class into the speaking, reading, and listening portions. The series of activities I formulated provides teachers with communicative strategies to use in the beginning writing classroom. They can be adapted and used in a more advanced-level classroom as well. 

Activity Directions for students Student responses
1. Teacher dictates adjectives. Write dictated adjectives and then write the opposites. Fat thin
Black white
Up down
2. Teacher dictates verbs. Write dictated verbs and then write the correct past tense. Go went
Eat ate
Run ran
3. Teacher dictates questions. Write questions and then write answers. Where was the dog?  It was in the yard.
4. Teacher dictates answers. Write answers and then appropriate questions. Where did she go?  She went to a party.
5. Teacher dictates telephone numbers and prices. Focus on pronunciation problem areas. Write what the teacher says. 325-6553
$55.80
6. Teacher dictates math problems. Write the problems and solve them. 3+245-65=183
55+113=168
7. Relay race: Teacher divides class into two teams and then gives out answers on strips of paper.

E.g.: I was here.
He's tired.
Individual students from each team go to the board and write a question for their answer. The whole team can help write the question. Where were you?
How is he?

8. Teacher reads a story together with the class. Use transparencies.

 

The teacher reads the ending from the book

Have students go to the board with a partner and write one question about the story.

  • In pairs, predict, describe, and write a paragraph about how you think the story will end.
  • Then get together and share endings with another pair.
  • Choose one person from each group of four to read your predicted ending to the whole class.

 

  • In pairs, go over the questions and look for any grammar errors. Then answer a quetsion that you did not write.

 

 

 

 

Why did the three little pigs run away from the wolf?

They ran away because they were afraid.

9. Look at one picture together—possibly from a comic strip.

In pairs, discuss it, ask questions about it, and predict what happened and what will happen.

 

Go to the board in pairs and write three questions

 

 

Why is the mother worried? Her baby is still in the car.

These activities are not done in any specific order, but more according to what we have been doing in class. In addition, activities 3, 4, 5, and 6 can be done either at the beginning of class as an introduction to get the students focused, as a transition to a speaking or reading activity, or in the last 10 to 15 minutes of class to emphasize what has been discussed.

For example, I use activity 2 after students have discussed what they do every day and what they did the previous weekend or the day before. If students are paired, the listener of the pair can write down any verbs he or she hears, and then come to the board and write them for the class. As a review, I dictate the verbs in the present tense and the students listen to and write them in the past tense. Thus students transition from reading and listening to writing and then listening and writing.

Similarly, activity 9 can be used after discussing, reading about, or watching a video about common daily activities (running errands, cleaning the house, or doing chores). The teacher has a comic strip consisting of several frames. Pairs of students each get one frame (with a four-frame strip, for instance, in a class of 20, three pairs get frame 1, three pairs get frame 2, two pairs get frame 3, two pairs get frame 4). Each pair predicts what happened before and after the activity in their frame. Each pair then shares its predictions with another pair that received a different frame. Following this discussion, each pair gets a new frame, discusses it, and then, based on the three frames it has now viewed, generates questions, and writes some of them on the board. Each pair then writes possible answers to another pair's questions. Since most students will not have seen all the frames, their answers may not be accurate, but the goal of the activity is practice in question and answer formation, not accuracy. Finally, the teachers shows all the frames (possibly as transparencies) and students work in groups to arrange them in the correct order. The teacher can follow up the activity with an assignment (in class or as homework) to write a summary of the story in the strip.
While engaged in these activities, students have ample opportunities to engage in discussion, reading, listening, and writing. Furthermore, as I walk around the classroom I observe that peer editing is taking place while the students collaborate and participate actively in the classroom. What more could a teacher wish for?

References
Hinkel, E. (2006). Current perspectives on teaching the four skills. TESOL Quarterly 40, 109-126.

Ellen Shenkarow is an adjunct lecturer at the Center for English as a Second Language (CESL) at the University of Arizona where she has taught for more than 20 years. She has been involved in teacher training at CESL and in Mexico and has presented at numerous local and national conferences.

 



Reviews Book Review: Academic Reading: Varied Topics for Beginning to Intermediate Students

Susan McAlister, mcalistersusan@sbcglobal.net

Flynn, K. F., & Trites, L. (with Daniel, D., Kisslinger, E., Pollock, R., and Tzoytzoyrakos, A.). (2006). Panorama: Building Perspective Through Reading. New York: Oxford University Press.

Panorama is a series of three reading skills texts for beginning through intermediate-level students of ESL. Each book begins with an Essential Reading Skills unit that allows students to learn about and practice the various reading and vocabulary development skills. Students are introduced to some of the terminology, such as caption, boldface, and italics, which will aid in the development of these skills. Students are then guided through the process of previewing and predicting, including studying the illustrations, the captions, the title, and words in boldface. Following the sample reading passage are questions that lead the students through the process of skimming and scanning.

Each text contains eight theme-based units. Each unit has three chapters: the first about a person, the second about a place, and the third about a concept or event. For example, Unit 6 in Book One is titled "Architecture: Visual Art." The chapters are "Julia Morgan: Architect," "Hearst Castle," and "The Problem at Hearst Castle." Each book covers a variety of topics, including sports, science, business, the arts, and U.S. and Canadian history. A vocabulary index is found at the end of each text. (An answer key and assessment CD-ROM, which I have not seen, are available for teachers.) Although the books all follow the same format, each one could easily be used in isolation.

Each unit and each chapter start with one or more black-and-white photographs, which illustrate the prereading activities. Following the discussion questions are a Word Focus exercise for matching key vocabulary with definitions and one true/false scanning question. The reading passage, numbered on every fifth line, is next, followed by a question on the main idea, several detail questions, and two inference questions. These questions are all multiple choice. At the end of each three-chapter unit are a vocabulary review section and discussion questions.

The authors of Panorama used Fry's Readability Scale in grading the language of the reading passages. (Fry scores correspond to school grade levels and are calculated based on the number of sentences and syllables per 100-word passage.) The passages in Panorama 1 are each about 225 words and have a Fry score of 5.0. The readings in Book 2 and 3 are about 500 words and 1,000 words, with Fry scores of 6.0 and 7.0, respectively.

I had the opportunity to use a few of the chapters in Book One with my Foundation class at the International Education Center, which offers an intensive English program for students bound for the University of California system. I found the book to be quite useable. The topics are so varied that virtually every student has the opportunity to do some reading in his or her field, and the selections are short enough that 1 hour is usually sufficient to complete one chapter. After completing a unit as a class, students could then work on different readings simultaneously, depending on interest. The reading skills and vocabulary development exercises are well planned and give students solid, consistent practice. In addition to the matching vocabulary exercise found at the beginning of each chapter, there is a vocabulary review section at the end of each unit. These exercises usually include a fill-in-the-blank "words in context" exercise, a similar exercise for word families (real, reality, realist), an exercise that requires choosing the word that does not fit (house, wagon, cart, train), and a crossword puzzle. Each unit ends with additional discussion questions. For example, one of the questions at the end of the unit on American culture, entitled "Diners," is "What can buildings from the past show us about society?" (p. 10). The only way in which I felt I had to supplement this text was to find additional illustrations for some of the units. The small black-and-white photographs were often inadequate and not clear enough to illustrate the topic adequately.

The Panorama series is a welcome addition to the field of academic reading texts for beginning through intermediate ESL students. Teachers and students alike will find that these are user-friendly texts that will help students build their reading and vocabulary skills rapidly and consistently.

Susan McAlister has taught ESL extensively in the United States and the Middle East, including Saudi Arabia, where she lived for over 15 years. Returning to the United States, she became a Certified Academic Language Therapist and currently teaches at the International Education Center at Diablo Valley College in Pleasant Hill, CA.


Book Review: Writing From Sources

Craig Machado, CMachado@ncc.commnet.edu

Dollahite, N. E., & J. Haun (2006). Sourcework: Academic writing from sources. New York: Houghton Mifflin.

Using a textbook for the first time is a little like entering a new relationship; you're curious, interested, excited about where things might go, somewhat anxious at the reaction you might get, and encouraged yet mindful of past experience and tempered expectations.

There are so many ESL/EFL texts these days, so many bright and glossy covers with bulleted highlights, snappy graphics, beckoning Web sites, promises of student success, and teacher satisfaction. As I pondered what I would use in an advanced ESL writing class one level below English composition and requiring a research paper, the mail brought Sourcework: Academic Writing From Sources to me and I was intrigued right away with the neologistic title. Plus, at a little over 200 pages, its sleek girth hinted at a text that one could actually get through in a semester.

I perused the new text casually, opening it at various places to see what caught my eye. I passed it to a colleague who made some notes: "appropriate for our advanced students," "good exercises but rather dense explanations," "print size is small," "boxed explanations good." Because we try to get students to write rudimentary research essays for general college work—3 to 5 pages, 5 to 7 sources, in-text citations, paraphrased and cited—Sourcework seemed to fit the bill; plus, they would have a text that could very well be of use later on in their academic careers. The section on citation, an enduring struggle for all students, was especially thorough.

Sourcework is divided into two parts: The first is called "The Writing Process," the second, "Sources for Research." The latter focuses on four themes—"Heroes," "Globalization," "Social Change," and "Bioethics"—with accompanying readings. One advantage of a text like this is not having to venture beyond it, because resource material is provided (with possible paper topics) on each theme. In addition, the authors have included fully cited and referenced sample research essays (they are, in fact, authentic students' papers, presumably from the authors' own classes), which are useful for students and teachers throughout the teaching term (some of the exercises from the writing process part of the text refer to these model essays).

The sixth chapter of part one of Sourcework is intended to help students do research beyond the text-based material so, in addition to the paper they would write using the text, they would be required to write another using outside research. While I liked the idea of writing a self-contained research essay based on text sources alone, I knew that students had interests other than those chosen for the text; furthermore, they needed to practice gathering information from a variety of media-print, Internet, interviews, video, and so on.

Because the class I was teaching was not aimed solely at research writing, I found myself not going through the text chapter by chapter but skipping to different sections as determined by what students were working on and/or needed. The class had also subscribed to Newsweek magazine so there were additional readings to discuss weekly, as well as writing article summaries, online discussion board posts, short reaction essays, and so on. In the end, the class used Sourcework once a week, mostly for no longer than an hour.

When I asked the students at the end of the semester to tell me what they thought of the book, they were less than enthusiastic. They appreciated the model research essays, but weren't that interested in the themes and source materials provided in the text. They liked some of the writing process exercises, especially the ones devoted to introductions and conclusions, but found those on citing and paraphrasing too tedious and complicated. The section called "Documenting Evidence," which included a sample reference list for different types of sources, was initially helpful, they said, but the text added so many special citation examples that they only grew confused. Finally, the webpage accompanying the text was of minimal value, in large part because it didn't have much of interest on it aside from some limited grammar exercises and research questions based on text readings.

It strikes me that a text like Sourcework is perhaps most beneficial for university and/or graduate students who will need to produce longer research papers for specific purposes in their majors; it is less useful for the general ESL/English writer (at a community/two-year college, anyway) as research is but one of many different kinds of writing that are explored and practiced in typical undergraduate English composition courses.

In a future edition, I hope that the authors and editors would add some more visuals and artwork to break up the wordy look of the text, cut down on or sharpen the focus of some of the exercises, and simplify the section on source documentation. Sourcework is a good overall resource for teachers and some sections are definitely worth doing with students; nevertheless, I cannot see using it again as a main writing text at the two-year college composition level.

Craig Machado is ESL program director at Norwalk Community College. In 2005, the program was honored by the National Council of Teachers of English for outstanding work in the area of developmental English. He is also editor of "Perspectives on Community College ESL", a recently published series by TESOL.

 



Announcements and Information Member Stories: Gina and Andrew MacDonald

Andrew and Gina met in graduate school at the University of Texas at Austin, where they were both finishing up their PhDs in Renaissance studies. They were assigned to teach the freshman and sophomore writing and literature classes for international students because that course of study involved language study and because they both had experience with other cultures, Andrew as an immigrant from Argentina, Gina as the daughter of a naval officer stationed in Hawaii and abroad. In doing so they learned firsthand about the different assumptions made worldwide about composition, organization, perception, and social relations, and much more, and they discovered that they shared a second professional interest—in finding ways to make language and culture accessible to students from very different linguistic and literary backgrounds.

Andrew's grandparents immigrated to Argentina from Scotland and England, and he grew up with two languages (Spanish and English) and two cultures, attending St. Andrew's British school in the morning and Spanish-language Argentine school in the afternoon. A famous story has it that when dictator Juan Peron came to visit a British-Argentine bilingual school, (in fact, Andrew's father's school, he pointedly asked a young student to whom the Malvinas belonged. The reply? To England in the morning, as the Falklands, and to Argentina in the afternoon. Peron laughed and told the youngster that he had a future career-in-the-making as a diplomat. Events such as these, whether experienced directly or as part of shared cultural history, have given Andrew a solid sense of the immersion in two cultures necessary to be truly bilingual and of the persistence of second-language problems (even between different World Englishes), such as moving from a British use of articles and prepositions to an American usage.

A similar example can be found in their experience with Spanish. Teaching in Texas inevitably meant dealing with the bilingual debate. Both Gina and Andrew spoke Spanish, but Gina's Mexican influence meant she had a pronunciation, a vocabulary, and a style of delivery different from Andrew's Argentine Spanish. Their encounters with the Spanglish of Texas chicanos added a different level to this understanding as they encountered English words such as the verb watch turned into Spanish verbs: yo watcho, nosotros watchamos, wátchale. Because of her familiarity with chicano Spanish, Gina taught in the CAMP program at St. Edwards University, a government program designed to help the children of migrant workers (campesinos) successfully move into college programs. The university tossed all outsiders into such classes on the apparent theory that all speakers of nonstandard dialects share the same problems; having a mix of Navajo, chicano, poor rural African Americans, and international students presents quite a challenging situation for the effective teaching of composition and rhetoric. This early experience led to her long-term interest in ways to help second-language learners move from language instruction to assimilation into the university classroom. Inevitably, this also led to an interest in the First-Year Experience—the subject of their article in this newsletter—as students coming from abroad to enter American universities almost inevitably face culture shock and must be helped in a variety of ways to overcome their fears of difference and accept new challenges.

Living in New Orleans, Andrew and Gina were obviously immediately affected by the results of Hurricane Katrina, which, Gina notes, "changed life in New Orleans in ways as yet not understood by outsiders." Many local immigrant families are working full-time to recoup their losses and find new sources of income and so have no time for the English language classes that once attracted them. The aftermath of Katrina has also meant a loss of international students because the city has difficulty coping with its present population and is not yet ready to receive outsiders, except as tourists who stay in hotels and avoid contact with the daily realities of the city. 

Besides their professional work, Andrew and Gina have a wide variety of other interests. As Gina puts it, "being married to someone in the same field has forced us to diversify; at the same time, personal interest in our students has led us to explore reflections of their worlds available at home, with film as a major contact point." Both Andrew and Gina enjoy Japanese samurai films (in Gina's youth in Hawaii these were Saturday afternoon fare, with families bringing rice bowls and shrimp to eat instead of popcorn). Student contact broadened Gina's horizons to other film interests, including Bollywood and Collywood films, wherein psychological and emotional states are expressed through song, dance, and costume changes, familiar stories are revitalized in unexpected ways, and new stories carry the same fascination of the tales of the Arabian Nights.  She also enjoys detective fiction, whose authors from South Africa, Australia, and the Pacific Rim have opened doors to other cultures, and Jane Austen, who has fans from Brazil to India (there are Bollywood versions of Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility, among others).

 

 



About This Community TESOL ESL in Higher Education Interest Section

TESOL ESL in Higher Education Interest Section 
ESL in Higher Education advances effective instruction, promotes professional standards and practices, influences and supports policies of TESOL and other associations, determines needs, and considers all other matters relevant to ESL in colleges and universities.

HEIS Community Leaders 2006-2007
Chair: Soonhyang Kim, kim.1259@osu.edu
Assistant Chair: Stephen Soresi, soresi@edup.net
Chair-Elect: Denis Hall, d.hall@snhu.edu
Editor: Maria Parker, mgparker@duke.edu
Book reviews editor: Gena Bennett, genabennett@yahoo.com

Discussion E-List: Visit http://www.tesol.org/getconnected to subscribe to HEIS-L, the discussion list for HEIS members.