HEIS News

Volume 26:2 (August 2007)

by User Not Found | 10/20/2011
In This Issue...
  • Leadership Updates
    • Message from the Chair
  • Articles
    • Facilitating Integrated-Skill Projects and Assessment
    • And the Broomstick Shall Remain in the Closet: Challenges of Teaching EFL Composition
  • Summaries of TESOL 2007 Intersection Presentations
    • Establishing Effective Graduate Student Writer/Mentor Relationships
    • Bridge to the Regular Program: How the IEP Can Facilitate Academic Transitions
    • When Graduate Student Meets Writing Center
    • A Proactive Approach to Plagiarism
  • Reviews
    • Book review of From Corpus to Classroom: Language use and Language Teaching by O’Keefe, McCarthy & Carter
    • Book review of Practice in a Second Language: Perspectives from Applied Linguistics and Cognitive Psychology by R.M. DeKeyser (Ed.)
  • Computer Technology
    • Tech Enhancement in our Classrooms: Truly Enhancing?
    • One Website—Many Uses
  • Announcements and Information
    • TESOL Position Statement on Teacher Credentialing
    • Member Stories: Alan Denis Lytle
  • About This Community
    • Higher Education Interest Section
    • Call for Submissions
    • Call for Book Review Submissions
    • Call for Computer/Information Technology Submissions

Leadership Updates Message from the Chair

Denis A. Hall, d.hall@snhu.edu

As I sit down to write this first column for the HEIS News, I realize how quickly time has flown since the convention in Seattle—it is already August, and the list of tasks I had hoped to accomplish by this point is only half completed! Nevertheless, I want to inform you of some of the issues I have been thinking about since I first joined the steering committee as chair-elect more than a year ago.

The Election Process
For the second year in a row, we were late in conducting the election for the HEIS Steering Committee. I plan to start this process earlier this year (late fall) with a call for nominations. Also, because we started late last year, I had to rely on the e-list to reach members and to conduct the election. This year, I will use the newsletter, the e-list, and the Web site to communicate with all of you, and TESOL Central Office has assured me that there is a better, more secure way to conduct the election process and that they will provide assistance with the election.

Communication With the Membership
At the convention in Seattle, we had fewer than 20 attendees at our open meeting for HEIS. I would like to see that number increased, though I recognize time and budget constraints. Also, our Web site is out of date and underutilized; I have already communicated with Ishbel Galloway, our Web site coordinator, to see how we can make better use of the site. Finally, though our electronic mailing list has had some interesting discussions of late, its usage is inconsistent and unguided (perhaps as it should be). I encourage you all to make better use of the e-list by introducing topics of relevance and importance to you and to HEIS members in general.

Leadership and Continuity
I have noticed that it is difficult for interest section leaders to maintain continuity in operational management, mainly because of constraints in distance, time, and work—we all have other jobs besides volunteering for HEIS (not to mention families, too)! My goal for the next 2 years is to initiate a discussion with past and current leaders, as well as with members such as yourselves, to see how we can improve the transition from one leadership team to another, particularly in terms of what we are expected to do, how we are to approach and complete these tasks, what our deadlines are, and what we can learn from the experience of past leaders. I would like to initiate more formalized mentoring on the part of board members, including members of the steering committee at large, to improve our sense of continuity and history. Along these lines, I hope to add to the leadership a new committee member: HEIS historian. 

There is much more to share with you, but that will come later. I encourage you to keep in touch with the members of our leadership team, and ask for your involvement in HEIS—by contributing to e-list discussions, by standing for election to the steering committee, by offering suggestions and comments, and in any other way you see fit. Please keep in touch.

Yours, 
Denis

 



Articles Facilitating Integrated-Skill Projects and Assessment

Cheri Boyer, boyerc@email.arizona.edu

Experience has taught us language instructors that assessing language skills must extend beyond recognition and guesswork. The recognition of a vocabulary term does not guarantee the ability to use it in a meaningful way. Passing a multiple-choice or fill-in-the-blank grammar test does not ensure clarity in a student's writing. Language instruction and assessment must integrate the four skills of reading, writing, listening, and speaking in a natural and purposeful way if students are to emerge proficient. Language instructors around the world agree on this point, and many are incorporating meaningful projects into their syllabi to achieve this objective.

As a teacher in an IEP, I have had great success with projects that allow students to work in teams to formulate a plan, conduct research, analyze findings, write a report, and present the results. An entire project usually takes about 2 weeks, with students meeting 4 hours a week. The final goal is a written report and a presentation of students' own findings and conclusions. With this goal in mind, I use much of the class time to prepare students for success by equipping them with the tools necessary to accomplish each step. Each time I facilitate a project, I discover new areas of instruction and assessment that require attention in order to increase the effectiveness of my students' overall communication. In this article I describe a project I have used in an advanced-level note-taking class and highlight the skills that I taught to help students accomplish each task. There are five stages, each with unique skill sets, and all four skills are used at each stage. I first describe the five stages—receptive stage (reading and listening), the discussion stage (team work), the research stage (Internet research and interviews), the production stage (written report and oral presentation), and the reflection stage (individual written summary)—and then touch on my assessment approach for the entire project.

Receptive Stage
The project begins with the introduction of a relevant topic through a reading assignment and a listening task. The reading may come from a textbook, a newspaper or magazine article, or a novel. The listening task may be a lecture, a documentary, or a video clip. The theme should be one that is interesting to the students and relevant to the students' current situations. It should also be broad enough to allow for a variety of topics. Because 80 percent of my advanced-level ESL students are planning to go to a university in the United States, topics related to academic success, university life, and American cultural expectations are all relevant and interesting to them. A high level of interest increases motivation and enthusiasm, which in turn improves communication outcomes (O'Malley & Valdez-Pierce, 1996). In this stage of the project, students need instruction and practice in various skills.

For the reading task, I teach them ways to determine meaning of new vocabulary through context and word parts. I also show them how to annotate the reading for better understanding and more effective reference later on. They learn to read for the general idea and to make inferences and draw conclusions about the topic discussed. The reading I used for this particular project on campus life came from the book American Ways: A Guide for Foreigners in the United States by Gary Althen (2003). We read the chapter on studying in the United States (pp. 235-246), which allowed students to see the importance Americans place on a well-rounded education. They learned that extracurricular activities and individual initiative to get involved are valued as much as high grades are. In turn, they wanted to know more ways they could take advantages of the opportunities afforded them on an American university campus.

The listening task should enlarge on the ideas in the reading. For the campus-life project I invited Marcia Wong, an English professor, to speak to the class about her experiences being an international student in the United States and her recommendations for success. Marcia is from Brazil and currently prepares international teaching assistants for working in an American classroom. She encouraged students to make American friends to improve their understanding of the language and culture and to use college resources to enhance their study abroad experience.

Prior to the listening task, I give students tips for taking more effective notes. Then I teach the skills of summarizing, paraphrasing, and synthesizing information from the two sources. All of these skills are valuable for academic and professional success, and students learn and use them quickly and eagerly to accomplish this stage of the project. I assess comprehension individually by asking students to use new vocabulary to summarize main ideas from both the reading and listening prompts and to draw meaningful conclusions from the information presented.

Discussion Stage
The reading and listening tasks are followed by a period of discussion, and at this point teams are formed. The discussion should include both comprehension questions to ensure understanding of details and reflection questions to allow for self-expression. In the final section of the discussion students have the opportunity to ask further questions. What was unclear? What would they still like to know more about? Why is something that was stated true? In what situations would the facts change? These questions are the first step to having students conduct their own research.

Discussion in teams requires a new set of skills and functions. Because students are all required to participate as part of the final group assessment, they need to know how to negotiate meaning, clarify ideas and ask for clarification, express opinions, ask others for their opinions, agree and disagree, and come to a consensus. Giving students prompts, vocabulary, and sentence structure for accomplishing these functions serves them both in the current team project and in any future group endeavor. Once teams decide the focus of their reports, they begin researching their topics. For the campus-life project, students researched various services on campus, such as the recreation center, libraries, museums, student clubs and organizations, and the college bookstore.

Research Stage
The research aspect of the project should be enjoyable and should require reading, interviewing, and analyzing data. I usually have students go to a Web site related to the topic to search for background information and for answers to their questions. For example, my students used the local university Web site to discover information about the specific facility, service, or activity they had selected. Once teams found basic information, they came up with questions for university students about their experiences with the selected item. They formulated seven questions, conducted a survey of 20 American students, and compiled the data to form a general conclusion. Their questions for this project ranged from the amount of time spent and reasons for using the facility to opinions on the quality of service and recommendations for improvement. All of this research is done in two class periods; students spend one day in a computer lab or classroom preparing the questionnaires, and another day outside of the classroom conducting interviews.

Both types of research require unique skills and attitudes on the part of students, and teachers can help a great deal at this stage. The library or Internet research requires knowledge of how to conduct focused and effective searches for information. I teach students ways to determine the credibility of sources and to select appropriate information for their purpose. They also need to know how to quote passages properly, how to paraphrase other information, and how to cite and document outside sources used in their writing. The survey portion of the research brings with it the need for confidence in approaching strangers and knowledge of cultural norms in this situation. I present students with a list of appropriate openings, suggestions for nonverbal communication during the interview, advice on what to do if a person declines to participate, and ideas for concluding the interview. This task is both the scariest and most rewarding part of the project for my students every time.
 
Production Stage: Written Report
For homework or during the next class period, students compile data, draw conclusions, and determine the primary focus of their reports. I present a blueprint and sample report, and teams divide the workload among their members. One student writes the introduction to and objective for the research. Another student presents the methods used to gather data and describes survey participants. A third student presents the findings, outlining percentages and ratios as needed. The fourth student writes the conclusion and comments on the team's own reaction to the findings. Each student contributes any documentation necessary for his or her section.

The report is written in stages requiring various skills and effective teamwork. The brainstorming step cannot be underestimated. The group must be in full agreement if the finished project is to be consistent and coherent. This step requires more negotiation and clarification of information. As each individual writes his or her section, purpose and clarity become essential. I like to work with each student on his on her section to ensure logic and clarity, but I do not correct all language errors at this point as the writing may be altered when the team puts it all together. Individual motivation is high as each member wants to produce quality writing that his or her team will be proud to incorporate into the finished report. Once all sections are complete, the team meets again in a computer lab to put the pieces together. A complete draft is collected and reviewed for correct grammar and mechanics. Then the team revises it and submits the final report.

Production Stage: Oral Presentation
The next stage consists of team presentations, creating a need for additional instruction and reassurance. I have found, however, that students are less nervous about presenting this project than they have been when presenting on a topic in which they had not been so personally invested. Nonetheless, I still present tips for giving effective presentations; these comprise both verbal and nonverbal hints. We discuss solutions for stage fright and ways to create smooth transitions between speakers. Teams must prepare PowerPoint slides to accompany their presentations. To this end, we cover the effective use of visual aids and the importance of correct spelling and grammar when one's work is magnified for all to see. The other teams serve as the audience and are responsible for making comments and asking questions at the end of each presentation. Students are also taught techniques for responding to questions concisely if they know the answer and for bowing out gracefully if they do not. The benefits of these presentations can reach beyond those experienced by the teams presenting. As a result of the campus-life project, the entire class learned about the various campus activities, facilities, and services that would available to them when they began their academic studies. It served as a kind of campus orientation.
 
Reflection Stage
As a final individual task, students write personal reflections on their involvement in and contribution to the team project. They describe their feelings at each stage, any difficulties they faced, and techniques they used to overcome any obstacles. They also reflect on the skills they had going into the project and those they gained by the end. They finish their reflection by predicting how these skills will serve them in the future.

I am always pleasantly surprised at the positive attitude my students have toward the experience. A strong bond is formed among teammates, and individuals find they have gained a new confidence in their ability to communicate and to build relationships. One of my favorite comments from a student's reflection was that he had learned how to deal with rejection and to not let it stop him from reaching out to the next person he comes across. This is a valuable lesson for conducting surveys and for life in general.
 
Assessment
The feedback students receive along the way and the final score divided between the five stages gives a solid assessment of the students' ability to communicate (Cohen, 2001). Final grades are a combination of individual and group oral skills and written skills. The rubric below reflects a typical assessment form given to each student at the end of the project.

 

Scoring Rubric for Classroom Project

Student's Name: _______________________________  Date: ________________

Aspect A B C Score
*Comprehension Individual displayed a clear understanding of reading and listening tasks and applied new vocabulary in a concise summary.

Individual displayed a good understanding of reading and listening tasks in an adequate summary.

Individual displayed a slights understanding of reading and listening tasks in a partial summary.
Teamwork Team members showed willingness to participate and to involve others in discussions. Each took the initiative to complete his/her individual taks and to complete final reports. Team members showed willingness to participate in discussions and completed individual tasks and final reports. Team members participated in most aspects of team discussions. They relied on others for help to complete individual taks and final reports.
Written Report Team presented clear and relevant information, paraphrased and documented sources correctly, and gave a logical and insightful conclusion. Team presented new information, paraphrased and documented sources adequately, and gave a logical conclusion. Team presented information, attempted to paraphrase and document sources, and gave a simple conclusion.
Presentation Team presented report with confidence and enthusiasm and made smooth transitions between speakers. All questions were answered effectively. Team presented report with confidence and made transitions between speakers. All questions were answered adequately. Team presented report with some difficulty and made abrupt transitions between speakers. Some questions were answered adequately.
*Reflection Individual presented a thoughtful and thorough reflection and vividly described personal skill development. Individual presented a thorough reflection and described personal skill development. Individual presented a reflection and described personal involvement adequately.

*These are individual grades; the others are team grades.

Comments: 
_____________________________________________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________________________________________
_______________________________________________________________Final Grade: ____________

References
Althen, G. (2003). American ways: A guide for foreigners in the United States. Boston, MA: Intercultural Press, Inc.

Cohen, A. D. (2001). Second language assessment. In M. Celce-Murcia (Ed.), Teaching English as a  second language (4th ed.). Boston, MA: Heinle & Heinle.

O'Malley, J. M., & Valdez-Pierce, L. (1996). Authentic assessment for English language learners. Boston, MA, Longman Addison-Wesley Pearson, Inc.

Cheri Boyer completed her MA in TESL in 1987 at the University of Arizona. Cheri has taught at the Center for English as a Second Language at Arizona since 1989 and also conducts practical classroom research to determine the most effective methods of helping students learn English. Since 2003, she has also worked in the Business Communication Program of Eller College of Management.  She teaches language support labs for international students enrolled in the college. Cheri is actively involved in teacher training and has conducted TEFL certificate classes on assessment and methodology in the U.S and abroad.


 


And the Broomstick Shall Remain in the Closet: Challenges of Teaching EFL Composition

Stephanie Stuessel, stephanie_stuessel@yahoo.com

In the winter of 2005, I received one of the greatest compliments from a student that any teacher could wish for. In a final assignment that challenged the students to reflect on their accomplishments over the semester, a student wrote that she had learned more in my course than she had in the previous 3 years combined. I was moved beyond words. The compliment wasn't made because the student loved my course or because the work was interesting and exhilarating. The work was difficult and time-consuming and forced the students to approach their studies in a new way that often led to frustration and disappointment. In fact, teaching composition at La Universidad de Santiago de Chile threatened to eat us all—both me and the students—alive. We had to work harder than many of us ever had, all of us struggling to live up to my high expectations—of their ability to be excellent writers and my ability to get them there. In the end, we found ourselves changed—some in subtle ways, others in much more profound ways. For me it was a lesson that I will never forget—a lesson in perseverance and sticking to what I know to be true and right even if it meant changing who I thought I was as a teacher and throwing my fundamental style of teaching out the window.

The Assignment
In the final year of my graduate studies in MA-TESOL. at Simmons College in Boston, I had the opportunity to apply for a special Fulbright Alumni Award offered only to my graduating class. The chosen alum would spend a semester teaching at la Universidad de Santiago de Chile (USACH). I knew immediately that I wanted to be chosen and I dove into the application process with the fervor and determination of one who is passionate about living and learning abroad. The best graduation gift I received that May was the letter announcing that I would represent Simmons and the United States as a visiting professor at USACH in July if I accepted. When I arrived in Chile 2 months later, I knew very little about the program for which I would soon be teaching. I knew that the students were studying to be English teachers (a popular new profession since legislation had been passed mandating Chile to become bilingual by 2010), but I had no idea what level of proficiency they would already have and where I would fit into their education. I had no idea what I would be teaching or how many courses I would have, and it appeared to still be up for discussion with the faculty whether I would have my own class or if I would coteach with a full-time professor. I had been informed upon arrival that the semester, originally scheduled to begin the following week, would not start for at least 2 more weeks—exact day yet to be determined—and that I should relax and get to know my new surroundings. It wasn't until about a week before the classes actually began that I learned that I would be teaching three composition courses. Because this was the first time the university had hosted an undergraduate visiting professor, they didn't really know what to do with me. In the end, the professors were asked to "share" a course with me (i.e., choose one of the courses they were assigned to teach and I would teach it for them). The composition courses seemed to be the least popular academic subject to teach, and so I found myself as the new composition instructor of students in their second, fourth, and sixth semesters of study.

My Prior Experience and My Teaching Style
In addition to my newly earned MA in TESOL, I had a few years of teaching under my belt, at the college level in Japan and in the community college setting in Boston's largest ESL program. I held firm to the belief that people respond positively to encouragement and positive feedback, and I used every opportunity in the classroom to build up my students' self-esteem so that I could gently but firmly guide them through the curriculum. I had grown accustomed to working with U.S. students who held one or even two full-time jobs to get by and still made it to class every week, and I had an enormous amount of admiration for my students, which I never hesitated to show to them. I always spent the beginning of the semester building a community in the classroom so that it would be a comfortable and safe learning environment. I was firm but never rigid or strict because I knew that for many of my students, that would cause them to give up and stop coming. I had great success in my ESL classrooms with this approach. I developed strong connections with my students and because of this, many of my students worked hard for me. What I soon learned in Chile was that this would not always be the case. The community college setting is fundamentally different from the university EFL experience and I soon learned that I would have to change my approach significantly to see results from my soon-to-be students.

The Challenges
Laid-back Like a Latina
The first challenge that I had to come to grips with was the laid-back nature those south of the border are so well known for. I had always prided myself on my ability to "go with the flow" and not become frazzled if the information I sought was not immediately available or if the people whom I was depending on marched to a different beat. I had really imagined that I would fit in well and actually find some peace as a "laid-back Latina." What I experienced was anything but that. I was more often than not frustrated to tears by what felt to me like complete disregard for the feelings of others, conscious disrespect in the professional and academic setting, and a complete lack of organization in the university's administration (which actually might have been the case). What I did learn is that it is excruciatingly difficult to alter what has been ingrained in us from birth—at least for me. I could not, even after months of waiting for people, bring myself to be more than 10 minutes late to a meeting with a friend, even though I knew that I would be waiting at least 20 more for him or her to arrive. I could not imagine leaving my students to wonder whether or not we would have class the following week, even though the university didn't announce the exact start date of the semester until a week before classes began (and this was the norm). I couldn't imagine being an administrator who didn't tell my faculty which week we would be having off for spring break until the end of the week before. But in Chile, these things were normal and caused no one but me panic, insomnia, and anxiety. I wished endlessly that I could be nonchalant too—which in turn added to my sleeplessness. In the end I knew that it would take much more than a semester for me to loosen up and that I might as well work on things that I had more control over.

The First Class
Once I finally received my teaching assignment, I sat down to begin mapping out the semester. I gathered as much information as I could from the professors who normally teach the courses, but the majority of my questions were left unanswered. I was, however, able to come up with the basics. Each course would meet once a week for an hour and fifteen minutes for 16 weeks. The second-semester goals were focused mainly on learning the various writing formats (i.e., descriptive, narrative, opinion, and persuasive). The students in their fourth semester would begin developing their critical analysis skills and the sixth-semester students needed to sharpen their critical analysis abilities as well as develop their skills at reading and analyzing research, in order to prepare a research thesis. The composition courses were, in essence, preparing the students for their final assignment before graduating: a research thesis that they would complete in their fifth year after finishing their student teaching assignments. 
 
Because I really didn't know what to expect regarding writing ability in each of the levels, I did some very rudimentary planning for the semester, but had planned on waiting to do a more detailed syllabus until I had seen some real writing from the students. In the first class for each course, I simply had the students produce some in-class writing to an assumed level-appropriate prompt (I asked colleagues for assistance in this). I was a bit frustrated in the beginning because at least a third of the students on my roster in each class didn't show up. I attributed this to the first day of the semester.

After I read the initial writing assessment later that day, my outlook brightened and I was thoroughly excited about the semester. I was immediately surprised by the students' syntactic, lexical, and morphological abilities. They wrote with grammar that had been fine-tuned with hours and years of rote drills and a traditional approach to language instruction. Even the lowest level showed impressive command over sentence structure and verb formation. Coming from teaching at a community college setting where the problems in student writing cover everything across the board, I was ecstatic to read paper after paper that had minimal problems with grammar and sentence structure. What they really needed work on was at the paragraph level and essay level. There was a consistent lack of organization and coherence as well as a droning lack of voice in most of what I read. I decided then to teach the skills of the essay, from the bottom up, to give the students explicit instruction in the parts of the paragraph (i.e., topic sentence, supporting sentences, concluding sentences) and the essay (introduction, body, conclusion). From there, I would work on semester-specific goals for each level.

The Second Class
The next week came and I was ready to dive into the semester that I had planned over the past 5 days. I was glowing with the excitement of a young professor who has made a great plan and imagines that everything is going to go smoothly and perfectly. Again, I was a bit perturbed by the high number of absentees, but even more frustrated when students began strolling into the class 45 minutes late only to sit down and begin a conversation with their neighbors. As I looked around the class, I could see the boredom in their blank stares and the obvious lack of enthusiasm for any of the "fun" writing activities that I had planned. In the desperation often seen in stand-up comedians in front of a quiet audience, I turned on my charm and my humor—which have saved me in the past—and I made jokes with my students in an attempt to get them to like me and want to participate to please me. It didn't work. I left each class that week feeling the same—like a failure. I wanted to get to the bottom of why they weren't responding to me, to my lessons, or to writing and I had a feeling that more than one factor was in play.

The Mentality Toward Writing
After the failure of the first 2 weeks, I recognized that if I were going to make progress toward the goals in each course, one of my major hurdles was going to be the students' mentality toward writing. Over the next few days I began to ask my new colleagues about the importance of writing in schools from the primary grades up to the college levels—in both their native and second languages. I soon learned that college students in Chile typically produce much less written work in the form of essays in their native language than do American undergrads. Students were rarely assigned papers longer than a few pages until the end of their 5 years, when they were required to complete a lengthy research thesis. Having little practice with composition and critical thinking about what they had read, they were not surprisingly much less proficient in these areas than in grammar and syntax. Because the mentality toward writing was, in large part, culturally related, it was not only the students who shied away from composition. In retrospect, this was clear the week before when all of the professors elected to give me their writing courses rather than their oral communications courses (which I had thought would have been more useful, my being a native speaker and all). Those who did teach writing gave assignments often no more than 3 pages in length and then left them to their assistants to grade, who, incidentally, were generally their highest achieving students in that particular course.

Because of this popular lack of emphasis on writing, I met a large amount of frustration and resentment from the students when I began giving them assignments. I had informed them in the second class that they would be expected to turn in a new draft or new piece of writing every week over the course of the semester. They looked at me as if I were insane and then proceeded to share their frustration with each other rather than pay attention to the rest of the lesson. For the first assignment, most students in my higher level classes squeezed out a double-spaced page with nice pictures found on the Internet about the topic. When I informed them that it was to be a 2- to 3-page paper, they complained and looked as though I had come to ruin their lives (of this, they would be convinced when they received their first grade). When I received the second drafts, I was impressed at the length—some were even longer than the 3-pages assigned—and blown away by the eloquence and new-found skills in organization. After the first couple of papers, I thought, "Hey! Maybe they were just being lazy on the first assignment. Now they know to step it up!" To my chagrin, the more I read, the more similar many of them began to sound. And then there were disparities of proficiency within one paper—one paragraph would be amazing, the next riddled with irrelevance and lack of clarity. When I googled a line that kept appearing in essays, a very well-written piece on the subject popped up, which pretty much accounted for the majority of the quality paragraphs handed in. I had spent countless hours reading each of their first drafts and had made corrections on grammar and mechanics as well as given in-depth guidance on how to reorganize their paragraphs to make the essay more cohesive and pointed out the areas that required more development in order to support their thesis and topics more effectively. In the second drafts, not only did the large majority plagiarize significant parts of their essays, but they also made only the changes that I had corrected for them, leaving the more difficult changes regarding organization and development untouched. They made no attempt to really improve the paper but, rather, made only some superficial changes to clean them up. I knew then that I wasn't facing merely a major problem with plagiarism; the lack of appreciation of writing in general meant that the students would do as little as possible to get by in the class if I let them—something that I resolved not to do.

The Transformation
By the third class, I was still determined to make them like me. I was still being nice as usual, but my annoyance was seeping through my smile and I was beginning to have a difficult time holding it in. Many of the students who had been absent the previous 2 weeks finally showed up, but an equal number of students who had been there before had decided to take the day off. They were still strolling in late—class usually began with about 5 out of the 30 students being present and ended with around 20. They held no regard for my concept of politeness, constantly holding conversations with each other as I spoke more loudly above them about topic sentences, supporting sentences, and so on. I was becoming frazzled and I knew that I was in over my head. After the last of the three classes, I sat down and thought about what was going wrong.

Right away I was overwhelmed by the multitude of obstacles that I was going to have to tackle. I immediately rejected the nagging voice of my lazy side telling me to do as the others before me had done at USACH (i.e., choose the top two students in the class and have them grade the 2-page essays that I assigned every other week). I was resolute in my determination to make these students learn something and to be the one to teach it to them. First, I needed to deal with the truancy and tardiness factor. I had begun asking around earlier that week and had learned that USACH had very lax standards as far as time was concerned compared with many of the other English programs in the city, so I knew that this was not a clear-cut cultural thing. The longer I sat there and stewed about what had taken place over the past few weeks, I began a metamorphosis into a teacher that I didn't entirely recognize. I was confused. I didn't know if I was suffering from a serious case of culture shock, which would mean that it was me, not the students, that needed the adjusting, or if I was right in wanting more from them. I was angry. I felt insulted and taken for granted. I had been naïve enough to believe that they meant it when they said that they were excited to have a native-speaking professor. I couldn't handle the students strolling in 45 minutes late to a 75-minute class and then sitting down to have conversations with their classmates in regular volume. I could not hear another excuse for late homework or absences. These students were walking all over me, and I realized that it was largely because they didn't take me seriously. It wasn't cultural at all. They saw a young, blonde, smiling professor who politely asked them to be quiet and then used encouraging words to insist that they bring their homework completed to the next class. All of a sudden, I felt like Bruce Banner turning into the Incredible Hulk. In that instant, I was no longer the sweet, supportive, and understanding teacher that my students in the United States needed. I meant business.

The New Miss Stephanie
The next class was a shock to us all. I informed late-comers, in-class talkers, excuse-makers, and everyone else that this behavior would not be tolerated in my classroom any longer. If they had something to say to another student, they could go outside and say it and not bother coming back in. I let them know that attendance would count in their final grades and that being more than 15 minutes late would count as an absence. Participation also counted toward the final grade, so any student that chose to be in class but not listen and actively participate would be considered as absent and not receive credit for being there that day. They could see in my face that I was serious. I began the lesson with an eerily quiet classroom full of students with mouths agape, eyes wide-open staring at their new teacher from the United States. The uproar came when their graded papers were returned and the majority felt they had deserved a much higher score than they had received.

The Solutions
What I had come to realize earlier that week after I had shrunk back down to my normal size and I was no longer a glowing shade of green, raging with anger and the stabbing pain of insult, was that I was dealing with an enormous amount of unbridled potential. These students needed a strict, regimented approach, whether they knew it or not. I enforced my easy-to-manage strategy to deal with tardiness, absences, and rudeness in class by implementing a zero tolerance rule. If they weren't there, were more than 15 minutes late, or didn't participate, for example, they received a zero for the day. This was easy for me, because it was black or white. I didn't have to be angry or insulted anymore because the students now knew the consequences of their actions and, because I had informed them, I didn't have to feel guilty or listen to their excuses when I gave them their marks. I could still be my nice, friendly self because it was not my responsibility to make the students accomplish this goal—it was entirely up to them how well they wanted to do in the class. I explained to them that it was my goal to teach them to be good writers in English and that I would be there every week and work hard doing my part to achieve that goal. Of that they could be sure. They could also be sure that if they did not fulfill their share of the responsibility in the class—that is, being there every week ready to participate with completed homework and improved drafts of essays—they could not argue with the grades that they would receive.

The shift in approach that I had to undertake when it came to grading the writing was a little more difficult at first because it went against my nature. I was accustomed to giving positive feedback on writing, focusing on what students did well to build up their self-esteem and then making recommendations on what to work on for the next draft. My students in Chile appeared to take all positive remarks on their writing as a sign that it was perfect and didn't need to be changed. Any comments on ways to revise and develop were taken as suggestions and generally not considered in the next draft. I realized that the students were never going to improve if they were satisfied with the results they were given on the first draft. When it came time to give them a grade for their first major writing assignment from the third week, I decided to focus my comments on what they hadn't done well and not comment on what they had. So, rather than grading their writing based on what we had learned so far about composition in the course, I graded based on what I would expect them to be able to produce at the end of the semester—and then I was a lot more nit-picky than I had ever been before. This meant that I would be giving much lower grades than I would normally give. I knew that this would be an enormous blow to their confidence—something that I usually had such high regard for and wanted to boost, not reduce—and I had to prepare myself for the uproar it would cause when I returned the papers the following week. And then there was the problem with plagiarism. I knew from the other professors that this was a widespread problem on campus, but it was often not dealt with for one reason or another (I actually never discovered why it wasn't addressed). I made it clear to the students that any essays that contained any direct quotes or true paraphrases that were not cited as a source would be considered plagiarized and would receive a zero—no discussion. I recognized the necessity for the students to learn appropriate methods of quoting and paraphrasing and I included it in my course content as well as offered them solutions for proper citation in the feedback on their drafts.

The support and encouragement that I was used to giving my students came in the form of extensive, in-depth editing and comments on my part. The students were required to rewrite each assignment three times and only the final grade would be factored into their final course grades. If a student received a zero for plagiarism on the first draft, for example, the student had ample opportunity to remedy the error and come out successful in the end if he or she were willing to do the work. Not only did this method force them to write more, it also introduced them to writing as a lengthy process, not just something that one does the night before a paper is due, never to be looked at again. The three-draft process also helped me feel better about the low grades I had to give them in the beginning because I knew that I would be able to reward them for their hard work by the third draft. I also introduced peer editing to them, requiring them to edit a classmate's essay on a regular basis. I gave a grade to the peer-editor for the effectiveness of his or her editing as well as to the authors for their ability to take their peer's advice on subsequent drafts when appropriate. They openly hated the process at first, but by the end of the semester were praising it for teaching them how to look at their own writing as well as that of others much more objectively—an important skill for teachers-to-be. In their reflection at the end of the semester, they actually admitted to using the technique on assignments in other classes.

The Results
Slowly but surely, I began to see results. The students were coming in on time, they were more attentive, they were writing! They groaned and complained every step of the way. They grimaced at the grades on their papers, but they went home and wrote another draft that was even better than before. They were finally painfully challenged to learn and learn they did. We all had more work than we were probably cut out for—my students were rewriting at least one paper and writing the first draft of another each week. I was, in turn, reading and offering descriptive advice for the improvement of around 90 papers per week. Needless to say, I did not do as much traveling as I had hoped I would while living in South America.

I did not make any lifelong friends with my students at USACH, but I did what I went there to do—I taught them composition. On the last day of the course, I asked my students to briefly share with the class what they had discovered when they looked at their work over the semester. One student said that, when he had received his first few grades, he thought that this American teacher should "get on her broomstick and fly back to America" (the fact that many of the students laughed at this comment told me they had felt the same), but he finished by saying that he now realized that I had challenged him to be a good writer and that, because of my relentlessness, we both had been successful. He expressed understanding for my rigid approach—"We were terrible students!" he had said. Many confessed then that, prior to my course, they hadn't been challenged to do more than what they were doing and that, although the experience was horrible (the main reason according to the majority was because it left them no time for a social life, a point with which I had to agree) it was worth it.

The following semester, I stopped by the office of the director of my MA program at Simmons to say hello. He told me that he had just received an e-mail about me from the director of the program at USACH. Apparently, the current composition professors had commented on separate, unsolicited occasions that the students who were in my courses were significantly more skilled at composition than were their classmates in every aspect of their writing. In a sense, it is rather ironic that I had gone to Chile looking forward to becoming more laid-back and ended up becoming more strict and unwavering than I had ever imagined I could be. I suppose there were times when I did want to get on my broomstick and fly home but, like my students, I couldn't settle for those low grades. I wouldn't be satisfied until I saw those As and Bs because I knew in my heart that their success would be mine too.

Stephanie Stuessel earned an MA-TESOL at Simmons College. Prior to beginning her graduate studies in TESOL, she taught EFL in Japan at 2-year technical colleges and private kindergartens. After finishing her Fulbright Grant in Chile, Stephanie returned to Boston to teach ESL at Bunker Hill Community College where she was involved in assessment and placement, academic advising, and curriculum and new course development, and at Boston University's Center for English Language and Orientation Programs. Stephanie is currently teaching ESL in the Intensive English Academy at the College of the Desert in Palm Desert, California, and will begin teaching credit ESL courses at the college in the fall.

 



Summaries of TESOL 2007 Intersection Presentations Establishing Effective Graduate Student Writer/Mentor Relationships

Sharon Cavusgil, scavusgil@gsu.edu

Teaching a multidisciplinary graduate writing course that includes international graduate students from different colleges across the university can be challenging, as I quickly discovered when I began teaching a new course, Academic Writing for Graduate Students, at my institution. The course is designed to help students develop an understanding and use of academic writing conventions, text organization, language structures, and editing skills. It includes a strong focus on developing research writing skills, such as paraphrasing, summarizing, synthesizing, and understanding field-specific citation. Using the textbook, Academic Writing for Graduate Students by Swales & Feak (2004), along with an instructor-developed course pack, students complete a variety of writing tasks, including extended definitions, summary-critiques, problem-solution analyses, and data commentary. All assignments require students to write about their discipline, in the style expected in their field. In fact, students are encouraged to incorporate into their papers the writing/reading tasks from their discipline courses, along with research they are conducting.

Description of Mentoring
Because students come from such diverse programs (e.g., mathematics, chemistry, communication, economics, real estate, psychology, and sports administration), I found it quite difficult to address certain issues in their writing—mainly areas surrounding the dense content and field-specific vocabulary of their papers—but also issues related to field-specific development and citation. As a means of both educating myself and meeting student needs, I implemented a mentoring component: students are required to find a mentor (a faculty member or upper-level graduate student) who can provide field-specific feedback about their writing. Mentors are asked to read and provide both written and oral feedback on two to three papers. The student provides the paper in advance and requests specific feedback, the mentor responds directly on the paper, and the two meet to discuss the feedback. The student submits the mentor's written comments along with the draft and/or final paper. Sometimes, I ask students to summarize the feedback received and attach the summary to their final papers.

Challenges and Suggestions
Although the mentoring component of the course has been very successful, there have been certain challenges to overcome. For example, each term, some students resist approaching a faculty member, explaining that they are unfamiliar with faculty in their department and basically, they are intimidated by the thought of approaching them. To deal with this challenge, I send an e-mail to departments at the beginning of the term, which explains the project. This way, faculty are somewhat familiar with the project when approached. I also wait three or four weeks into the semester before requiring students to submit their mentoring information, allowing them to make contacts. In class, we brainstorm and role-play whom to ask and how to approach them. We discuss how the success of the mentoring component is largely up to them—through careful mentor selection, explanation of the process, and ongoing communication-and we discuss future benefits of developing a relationship with a mentor (e.g., one student reported that because of his mentoring experience, he now feels more comfortable asking others for help).

Another challenge has been poor selection of mentors. For example, students have found mentors who were inexperienced writers themselves or unfamiliar with the students' specific research interests. To combat this challenge, I now require students to have mentors complete a form that includes a description of the mentoring and asks for contact and background information. When students submit the form to me, I ask them to orally explain how they know the mentor and why s/he was selected. Depending on their responses, I might return the form and ask them to reconsider their selection.

Limited and/or type of feedback provided by the mentor can also be a challenge. For example, when I first began this project, it was not uncommon to see feedback like "looks good!" or to have words or sections simply crossed out and revised by the mentor. Therefore, in class, we discuss the importance of allowing enough time for the mentoring process, and we practice how to ask for specific feedback. In fact, I provide students with guiding questions about the specific paper; e.g., "In the critique portion of my paper, have I provided an appropriate balance of positive and negative criticism?" Students are asked to write out and share with classmates specific questions they might ask their mentors. This has forced them to carefully consider their own writing.

Assessment of the mentoring component can be another challenge. I decided to include the mentoring process on each assignment's grading rubric. Basically, if students receive mentoring feedback, they receive points. I do not attempt to evaluate the type or quality of feedback. As an additional assignment, I often require students to summarize the feedback requested along with feedback received to include with their final papers.

Following are additional suggestions:

  • Include reminders in the course calendar for students to schedule an appointment and share their draft with their mentors. 
  • With each assignment requiring mentoring, discuss the guidelines again. E-mail the assignment details and guidelines to both the students and the mentors. Thank mentors for sharing their valuable time and experience. Ask them to contact you if they have questions or concerns.
  • Periodically have students share their mentoring experiences with their classmates, including successes and strategies for improving the process. For example, during one share session, a student explained that she thought the advice provided by her mentor was incorrect, but she chose not to question her mentor. An excellent class discussion occurred regarding how to handle similar situations, including language that could be used to tactfully and politely show one's disagreement.

Advantages
The advantages of implementing a mentoring component have far outweighed the challenges. For starters, it has served as an opportunity for me, the writing instructor, to learn about discipline-specific issues, such as documentation and development expectations. In addition, the mentor feedback has supplemented my own feedback, often validating my comments (i.e., both the mentor and I have suggested the same thing). The activity has also helped students develop important strategies for seeking and receiving feedback. Students and mentors have developed ongoing working relationships. To illustrate, upon learning about one student's interest and knowledge in a particular subject area, one faculty mentor invited the student to co-author several articles. Finally, it has proven to be a learning experience for mentors as well. When mentors were surveyed about what they had gained from the component, one faculty mentor responded, "I learned about a new culture, a new way of thinking. Giving feedback on ESL also helped me to understand how people speaking a foreign language think…"

In sum, through careful planning and explanation of the process, a mentoring component in a graduate writing course can serve as a valuable experience for all parties involved.

References
Swales, J. & Feak, C. (2004). Academic Writing for Graduate Students, 2nd ed. Ann Arbor, Michigan: University of Michigan Press.

Sharon Cavusgil is a senior lecturer in the Department of Applied Linguistics & ESL at Georgia State University, where she has taught for the past 14 years. In addition to teaching, she serves as director of ESL graduate and undergraduate courses and is involved with the university's Early College High School Initiative. Cavusgil is author/coauthor of several ESL textbooks, including College Writing 4 (Houghton Mifflin, 2006) and Looking Ahead: Introduction to Academic Writing (Heinle & Heinle, 1998).

 


Bridge to the Regular Program: How the IEP Can Facilitate Academic Transitions

Martha Iancu miancu@georgefox.edu and Alex Pia apia@georgefox.edu

Class Observation
One week in the middle of each 15-week semester is designated Class Observation Week. Intensive English classes are cancelled, and students visit a selection of regular classes and prepare reports on them. The students observe academic culture, student and teacher behavior, and language challenges. They sample different disciplines, professors, types of classes, teaching styles, and teaching techniques. As a result of their class observation experience, motivation usually increases as students get a clearer view of their target: their major area of interest, level of English proficiency, and mainstream peer group.

Bridge Program
The advanced level group attends a regular credit course, such as history, sociology, or communication, and their intensive English courses support the development of language skills using content and assignments from that regular course. Skills that are targeted in the bridge program include listening to lectures, taking and processing notes, and exploring listening strategies; listening and speaking to peers in whole class and small groups; public speaking; reading various genres; writing essays, research papers, reports, reflection papers, etc.; test-taking; information literacy (library and internet research); study skills; time management; and learning strategies. Students benefit from the bridge program by receiving ESL support during their transition, clarifying target skill levels, experiencing contextualized coaching in learning strategies, and gaining skills and confidence. In addition, their vocabulary grows through content-based instruction, they meet people outside the IEP, and their motivation increases.

The bridge program benefits faculty in that it provides excellent data about students' readiness to advance, highlights specific skills to target in the IEP curriculum, offers meaningful context for systematic skill building, and promotes content-based integration of skills. It also enhances cross-disciplinary networking and raises visibility of the IEP program and faculty on campus.

The bridge program benefits the IEP as a whole as it increases student motivation and buy-in on the need to improve their English, improves learning through integration of skills and content, and facilitates better-informed alignment of curriculum throughout the program

Transition Tutorial
In the first semester as a full-time regular student after completing the IEP, each student has weekly individual tutoring appointments with a faculty member. The tutorial provides mentoring support for the student through the first semester, continuing development of language and academic skills, and ready access to a faculty advocate. Observing the difficulties former IEP students experience as well as the teaching and evaluation techniques of their professors helps faculty evaluate and improve the IEP curriculum.

References
Iancu, M. (2003). To motivate and educate, collaborate and integrate: The adjunct model in a bridge program. In Crandall, J. & Kaufman, D. (eds.). Content-based instruction in higher education settings. Alexandria, VA: TESOL.
Iancu, M. (1997). Adapting the adjunct model: A case study. In Snow, M.A. & Brinton, D.M. (eds.). The content-based classroom: Perspectives on integrating language and content. White Plains, NY: Longman.

Martha Iancu and Alex Pia have taught English as a Second Language in the English Language Institute at George Fox University in Newberg, Oregon, USA, for 18 and 17 years, respectively. Martha is director of the English Language Institute and associate professor of ESL, and Alex is director of International Student Services and assistant professor of ESL.

 


When Graduate Student Meets Writing Center

Talinn Phillips, tiller@ohio.edu

Despite the fact that tutoring graduate writers is quite different from working with undergraduates, graduate writers have little representation in writing center literature  Graduate-level writing is more sophisticated, graduate students are more engaged in that writing, and the stakes are much higher than at the undergraduate level. In addition, the highly discipline-specific nature of graduate writing, combined with longer writing projects, presents challenges for writing centers that work with graduate students. Tutors may have neither the time nor sufficient disciplinary expertise to help graduate writers with anything more than sentence-level writing concerns.  Further, the length of most graduate papers means that writers will need to schedule multiple sessions (often with multiple tutors) in order to get help with just one paper.

Results of Phillips's case studies of L2 graduate writers suggest that they expect quite a lot from their tutors. They come to tutoring sessions with their own agendas, which range from sentence-level work to style to content development. The study also suggests that graduate writing groups are one way that writing centers can help graduate writers more effectively. Writing groups provide sufficient accountability and structure to help writers get their work done, and they are able to support writers at various levels of the writing project, including development of ethos, methodology, and content.  Writing groups can also help writers to learn about the disciplinary rhetorical conventions of their fields and teach writers how to talk about their own work. Most important, writing groups are able to meet the needs that writing centers often cannot. Because the group has several days to read and reflect on a writer's work, a group can handle longer graduate texts more easily than writing centers can in a standard session. Finally, over time, group members develop the in-depth knowledge of a writer's project that is needed to provide effective feedback—something that tutors may struggle to do. 

Talinn Phillips directs the writing center at Ohio University where she is also a doctoral candidate in English Rhetoric and Composition. Her current research, described in part here, investigates the writing development of several L2 graduate students during their first year of study.  This research was funded in part by a Graduate Research Grant from the International Writing Centers Association.

 


A Proactive Approach to Plagiarism

Silvia Rodriguez Spence sspence@nhsu.edu

A complex task involving numerous skills, writing from sources can be a major challenge for international graduate students. Even though admissions testing may demonstrate advanced writing skills, research papers and other source-based writing assignments often overwhelm and frustrate students. In many cases, this results in writing that may be considered plagiarism according to guidelines established by particular disciplines and institutions. Before presenting an accountability-based approach to preventing plagiarism, we might identify some of the reasons that may lead students to plagiarize. Likewise, we might consider how content faculty may be responsible for this problem to some extent. By exploring assumptions held by both students and content faculty, we may better understand the need to implement an effective approach to deter plagiarism.

Recognizing that plagiarism is not limited to international student writing, we may begin by looking at possible assumptions unique to developing second language writers that may be at the root of the problem. Inexperience with the process of writing from sources, a lack of practice interacting with text, inadequate discipline-specific vocabulary and concept knowledge, and ignorance or misunderstanding of the rules governing documenting sources are some of the possible causes of plagiarism by international students. 

At the same time, inaccurate assumptions held by some content area instructors regarding plagiarism by international students also play a role in the perpetration of the problem.  For example, professors may assume that international students understand what the documentation rules are and what constitutes plagiarism. They may also assume that students who plagiarize do so knowingly and with disregard of the consequences.  Finally, faculty may, in fact, be contributing to the problem by giving vague assignments, not being involved at several stages of the writing process, and not holding students accountable for producing copies of the sources cited in their papers.

As writing teachers and tutors, we can adopt a proactive approach to plagiarism by guiding students through the process of writing from sources while holding them accountable for demonstrating how they are using the source material. From the earliest stages of the process, students hand in exploratory reading summaries, questions, and peer discussion reports. As they bring the paper into focus, they submit research proposals, working bibliographies, research questions, and thesis statement. Handing in notes from sources and showing where they will be used in the paper is the most effective strategy for ensuring students are doing their own work. In addition, it provides teachers the opportunity to point out potential plagiarism in the notes themselves. As drafts are submitted, teachers can continue to comment on questionable paraphrases, summaries, and source documentation. In this way, plagiarism can be "caught" before it actually occurs and students can be assured their writing adheres to documentation guidelines. 

Silvia Spence earned her BA at Pfeiffer University and M.Ed at Notre Dame University. She is Assistant Professor of TESOL at Southern New Hampshire University's Institute for Language Education.



Reviews Book review of From Corpus to Classroom: Language use and Language Teaching by O’Keefe, McCarthy & Carter

Gena Bennett, genabennett@yahoo.com

O'Keefe, A., McCarthy, M., & Carter, R. (2007). From corpus to classroom: Language use and language teaching. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.

Corpus is one of the newest buzzwords in the field of TESOL, and an increasing number of materials and resources for second language teaching and learning now boast that they are "corpus-based" or "corpus-informed"; similarly, an increasing number of sessions at conferences, such as the international TESOL convention, deal with ideas relating to corpora and corpus linguistics. Yet many professionals remain unfamiliar with the concepts and findings of corpus linguistics, particularly in the context of language pedagogy. John Sinclair, a forerunner of modern corpus linguistics and founder of the Collins COBUILD project, explained that "to make good use of corpus resources a teacher needs a modest orientation to the routines involved in retrieving information from the corpus, and—most importantly—training and experience in how to evaluate that information" (Sinclair, 2004, p. 2). As its authors say,From Corpus to Classroom "is about informing the reader of the relevant research that is on-going in the field of corpus linguistics and summarizing the findings in terms of . . . relevance to language teaching . . . , of making such research accessible by explaining key concepts," and facilitating "a discerning understanding of what it actually means when claims are made that such things as syllabuses, reference resources and teaching materials are 'corpus-based'" (p. xii). With these aims, From Corpus to Classroom does, as Sinclair hoped, enable teachers to make good use of corpus resources.

Comprising 11 chapters, From Corpus to Classroom essentially covers three topics: an introduction to corpus linguistics (chapter 1), a look at corpus-based research from the word to the pragmatics level (chapters 2 through 9), and a look at specialized corpora (chapters 10 and 11).

Chapter 1, an introduction to corpus linguistics, covers the basics of working with corpora, such as how to build a basic corpus, how corpora have been used, selecting a corpus, and issues and debates in the use of corpora in language teaching. Although a broad base of information is presented, the ideas presented in chapter 1 serve only to give the reader a fundamental understanding of corpus linguistics and an idea of what can be done with corpora; for readers who wish to further their knowledge of these possibilities, or even attempt projects that are described, an abundance of resources is presented for further consultation. For example, the information presented in chapter 1 is not enough to guide a reader in actually designing a corpus. Rather, it gives an idea of the fundamentals of such a project, and the authors kindly include 11 sources as "essential reading if you are considering designing your own corpus" (p. 2).

With such an extensive list of sources, chapter 1 of From Corpus to Classroom can almost serve as a reference tool in and of itself. In a discussion of issues relating to size and corpus design, for example, 16 sources are given to enable the reader to explore the topic. Furthermore, appendix 1, referred to in chapter 1, contains an overview of 35 English language corpora and 12 non-English-language ones, along with Web addresses for obtaining more information about each corpus. Chapter 1 alone makes the book a necessary resource for anyone interested in corpus linguistics.

In chapters 2 through 9, the authors detail some of the insights corpus linguistics has contributed to language description, then discuss how those insights may, or may not, relate to language teaching. Many of the pedagogical applications are supported with examples taken from the recently published Touchstone series (McCarthy, McCarten, & Sandford, 2005).

In chapters 2 through 4, the focus is on vocabulary. The authors discuss the relevance of corpus-related evidence to establishing benchmarks for assessment and evaluation at both the word and phrase level, along with implications of corpus research relating to teaching applications of lexical phrases. Focusing on grammar, chapters 5 and 6 explore what information corpora can provide concerning grammatical categories, patterns, links between lexis and grammar, contexts of use, and attitudinal associations of grammatical words. The authors also show that "grammatical choices are rarely arbitrary and that pragmatic factors often account for particular ways of using grammar" (p. 120), using, of course, several illustrations taken from corpus data, such as the "get-passive" and nonrestrictive which clauses. As the bulk of research related in the book focuses on spoken corpora (the authors rightly say that they chose this focus specifically because most current research focuses on written corpora), chapters 7 and 8 introduce the notion of relational language, or that "which serves to create and maintain good relations between the speaker and hearer" (p. 159). This language entails ideas such as response tokens (like yeah and right), patterns of small talk (as it is often seamlessly interwoven into other types of "talk"), and hedging (such as just I think and I guess). According to the authors, the notions discussed in chapters 7 and 8 are particularly important for considering new approaches to the teaching of speaking and listening. In the last chapter of this section, the authors explore the role of creativity in spoken language, particularly in relation to involvement between speakers. Nevertheless, the authors admit that "there is a long way to go in understanding creativity in the spoken language and in exploring applications to the classroom" (p. 197).

In the last section of the book, chapters 10 and 11 discuss the advantages of looking at small, specialized corpora, which, the authors believe, often have more direct and useful teaching applications. Chapter 11 is particularly interesting as it focuses on creating and using a personal "teacher-corpus" as a tool for classroom reflection and professional development.

From Corpus to Classroom does an excellent job of sharing relevant corpus research and demonstrating how that research can be linked to language teaching. For the student, instructor, or other English language professional who wishes to learn what corpora can show us and how that may be linked to pedagogy, From Corpus to Classroom is an excellent text.

 

References
McCarthy, M., McCarten, J., & Sandiford, H.* (2005). Touchstone 1-4:  From Corpus to Course Book. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press. (*Level 2 workbook by Susan Rivers and Georgiana Farnoaga)

Sinclair, J. (2004). How to use corpora in language teaching.  Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing.

Gena Bennett has been working with English language learners for almost 10 years in a variety of instructional settings. Her current research interests include corpus linguistics and its classroom applications.


Book review of Practice in a Second Language: Perspectives from Applied Linguistics and Cognitive Psychology by R.M. DeKeyser (Ed.)

Ann C. Wintergerst, WINTERGA@stjohns.edu

DeKeyser, R.M. (Ed.). (2007). Practice in a Second Language: Perspectives from Applied Linguistics and Cognitive Psychology.  Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.

Part of the Cambridge Applied Linguistics Series edited by Michael H. Long and Jack C. Richards, Practice in a Second Language is of great interest to scholars in the area of second and foreign language acquisition. The book offers a wealth of research support on the practice aspect of a language and is filled with excellent articles that highlight studies in language practices.

No single book can fill everyone's needs, but DeKeyser has selected quality researchers whose articles are original contributions. The idea of languagepractice seems to be enjoying a revival in the applied linguistics literature. Practice in a Second Language contributes to the scholarship in SLA and applied linguistics and to the goal of generating a second- language course based primarily on psychological principles not yet realized.

The book begins with DeKeyser's introduction to the concept of practice, setting the stage for the articles to follow, and his conclusion pulls everything together and focuses on what constitutes good L2 skill practice. A useful glossary offers definitions of terms and core concepts and is followed by a brief index.

In the introduction,  DeKeyser reminds us that "the contributors to this book all understand practice in a much more focused way, as specific activities in the second language, engaged in systematically, deliberately, with the goal of developing knowledge of and skills in the second language" (p.1). Even within this broad definition, areas such as cognitive psychology, educational psychology, and applied linguistics use the term differently.

The book has 10 chapters divided into three sections, with each section containing a brief introduction to the issues dealt with in the chapters to follow. The first section covers the basic forms of practice and feedback used in most situations regardless of whether input or output is emphasized. The second section looks at varied institutional contexts and their effect on different kinds of practice, while the third section examines the age and aptitude of language learners and how these variables impact practice activities adapted to their needs.

Though the notion of practice is applicable to all four skills—listening, speaking, reading, and writing—the focus in this book is primarily on oral skills, the area where practice appears to be most problematic and which has generated much research and the most controversy.

In the first section, Foundations, four articles deal with aspects of practice that apply to all learners in all contexts and relate to input and output practice. Ronald Leow in "Input in the L2 classroom: An attentional perspective on receptive practice" presents three ways of viewing input practice. Hitoshi Muranoi in "Output practice in the L2 classroom" offers strong arguments in favor of output practice drawing on Swain's output hypothesis, Levelt's speech production model, and Anderson's model of skill acquisition. Alison Mackey's "Interaction as practice" shows how learners can benefit through negotiating meaning in NS-NNS interaction. Jennifer Leeman in "Feedback in L2 learning: Responding to errors during practice" argues that while feedback is beneficial, it depends on various elements of language.

In the second section, Institutional Contexts, four articles highlight specific concerns regarding different contexts when teaching a second/foreign language. Leila Ranta and Roy Lyster in "A cognitive approach to improving immersion students' oral language abilities: the Awareness-Practice-Feedback sequence" discuss how L2 practice for students from the same L1 in a class fails to realize classroom norms of native speakers. They argue for more systematic practice of form and the role of feedback.  Kris Van den Branden in "Second language education: Practice in perfect learning conditions?" looks at child L2 learners in Dutch-speaking Belgium and the need to bridge the gap between focused practice of L2 and practice in other classes or outside in the real world. Lourdes Ortega in "Meaningful L2 practice in foreign language classrooms: A cognitive-interactionist SLA perspective" argues that practice must be meaningful. Pair work, group work, and electronic communication are helpful activities, and same L1 speakers' interaction is advantageous in negotiating meaning or pushed output for grammar. 
DeKeyser in "Study abroad as foreign language practice" shows that students do not get nearly as much practice as expected from studying abroad, possibly due to failing to proceduralize their grammatical knowledge.

In the third section, Individual Differences, two articles deal with the areas that dramatically affect language learning success. Carmen Munoz in "Age-related differences and second language learning practice" shows that age differences between young children, who learn largely implicitly, and adolescents or adults, who learn largely explicitly, is qualitative rather than quantitative. Peter Robinson in "Aptitudes, abilities, contexts, and practice" argues for the need to adapt practice activities to the learner's strengths and weaknesses and to the different stages of the learning process.

The book finishes with DeKeyser's concluding chapter, "The future of practice," in which he pulls together the ideas expressed throughout the book. He notes that the first step to fluency is learning how to apply certain rules to specific sentences, whether it be in comprehension or in production, and describes how teachers can foster optimal interaction between type of structure, stage of acquisition, and type of feedback.

All in all, Practice in a Second Language: Perspectives from Applied Linguistics and Cognitive Psychology is an invaluable collection of articles that focus on the theoretical, practical, and research applications of the concept of practice in second/foreign language learning. The book is filled with noteworthy research studies and well-supported viewpoints that make it a must read for classroom practitioners and scholars alike.

Ann C. Wintergerst, Ed.D., is Professor of TESOL in the Department of Languages & Literatures at St. John's University, New York. Her latest book (with Andrea DeCapua) is "Crossing Cultures in the Language Classroom" (University of Michigan Press, 2004).

 



Computer Technology Tech Enhancement in our Classrooms: Truly Enhancing?

Alan Dennis Lytle, tesolcomptech@hotmail.com

Enhancement, to me, means the addition of information, technique, or ability. In fact, the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary (2007) says that enhancementmeans "to increase or improve in value, quality, desirability, or attractiveness." In their paper, "Learning More From Class Time: Technology Enhancement in the Classroom" (2002), Marilyn J. Smith and Narayanan Komerath stated, "By using technology, the classroom lecture can be modified so that class time becomes a laboratory of learning and reinforcement through iteration and application" (italics in original). Even though their paper focuses on aerospace engineering, I think most professors, instructors, and teachers would agree that technology adds something to the classroom experience, albeit not always something positive.

I honestly enjoy using technology as it gives me instant access to "real language," what I call realia. Because textbooks can quickly become out-of-date and are definitely static, even with their "real-looking" language activities, it's always difficult to get across to the ESL student just how important it is to check the facts and their applicability to the modern world. Political concepts are a good example here. Most of us know the basics, but how many of us can quote, with certainty, the exact number of representatives from each political party in the U.S. House of Representatives? When teaching the American political system, I find it very reassuring to know that I can, with the click of a few buttons, find the most current information, instead of relying on a printed figure that might be 4 years out-of-date. Is this information necessary in everyday life? In this case, we could say that it likely is important to know. But is this always the case? The key question becomes, What is necessary? I believe that technology is necessary, for both the teacher and the student; however, it is necessary for different reasons.

Tech Enhancement for the Teacher
Most of the materials that we teachers use today have some technology enhancement, whether it's CDs, DVDs, Web sites, or MP3s, MP4s, podcasts, vodcasts, and so on. However, I feel that unless the teacher is prone to using technology him- or herself, these enhancements often go unused or, at best, are assigned as homework. This is fine for additional practice for the students; however, the tech enhancement of a class can also make it more interesting for the teacher.

How many times have I taught a topic? Like many of you, I've taught some topics enough to do it in my sleep. This repetition can make us, as professionals, a group of static people. We need the jolt that technology gives us, making us learn how to use it, test it, then access it in class. We also need the stimulation of learning something new and seeing things in a different light. Quite often, I find great tidbits of information that pique my interest in a topic, making me want to delve deeper, just for myself. In my opinion, tech enhancement for the classes I teach makes me the lifelong learner that I should be. For example, when I wanted to begin making PowerPoint more interactive in my classes by adding automatically playing sound bytes, creating mini-quizzes within slides that appeared and vanished at predetermined times, and so on, I had to research these attributes of the program as they are not particularly intuitive. Consequently, I've been able to use this knowledge in conference presentations, with my faculty members during professional development, and in other classes.

Tech Enhancement for the Student
From the students' standpoint, they are constantly bombarded with technology, from cell phones to personal computers, from e-mails to text messages. Quite often, the students have more knowledge of the technology than the teacher does. However, as ESL teachers, we are not teaching the content oftechnology; we are teaching content with technology. In my opinion, many educators add technology to their classes because it "sounds good" or "is the current thing to do." I greatly disagree with this; technology should be used to enhance the learning experience, not just as a "tweak." If technology is forced into a lecture or onto a topic, it becomes overwhelming for both the teacher and the students. Our content (language) is supported by the delivery, in this case a technological one. A simple fact is that technology enhancement of our content makes that content more interesting for our students. Rather than simply discussing the civil rights movement in the United States (a topic I love to teach in my upper-level classes) using the information in a book alone, I use the book as a foundation upon which I build. I find pictures, music, videos, speeches, social and environmental sounds, and interactive activities then compose a PowerPoint (http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/powerpoint/default.aspx) presentation that I use to "upgrade" the information in the text.

This technique also works well for the students. The students in my ESL program, at all levels, are required to give prepared speeches at the end of each semester. Of course the topic and length correspond to the language ability of the student, but, rather than use the traditional visual aids (posters, pictures, drawings, etc.), each student is required to prepare a PowerPoint presentation, which functions as the visual aid as well as the notes. I've found that the need for notes has decreased with the use of the PowerPoint presentation; the student "reads" less and "speaks" more. In addition, the students get the practice of preparing a presentation that has bullets of information upon which they must expound. Trying to teach this concept directly has never worked well for me; however, the students now always seem to learn it indirectly by watching me model presentations and by working through their own presentations.

Of course, other presentation software is available; PowerPoint just seems to be the most common. The students also enhance their ability to address a group, make a research presentation, and think through a project from beginning to end with a desired result.

Pros of Tech Enhancement
As stated earlier, there are many positives to tech-enhancing instruction: instant access to "real" language and culture, students' practicing with technology, researched spoken presentations, integration of modern ideas as they arise, and so on. Up-to-date issues can be discussed using the Internet, podcasts, vodcasts, video-on-demand, streaming video, and so on. Even the use of VHS tapes allows for more lively classes. When I was teaching O. Henry's "The Last Leaf," after the students had read the text as homework, I showed a 30-minute VHS adaptation of the story. After having the visual input, the students' understanding of the storyline, underlying culture, and implied meaning increased 100-fold. The nice thing about tech enhancement is that there are various ranges of the enhancement that the teacher can use depending upon his or her comfort level. Also, many training sessions are available, so the teacher can easily add to his or her repertoire and build on what is already being used.

When considering the different learning styles of students, the teacher can take advantage of technology enhancement to present a piece of information in different formats with little redesign. Also, taking a concept or an activity from one level to another is easier with technology than it is with hard-copy-based materials. Usually, with just half-an-hour's worth of time, an activity, test, or quiz can be redesigned to suit the needs of the class and the teacher. There is no longer the need to find the "one piece of paper" that the entire activity hinges on. The concept can be expanded and contracted, using technology, as needed. Using e-mail, the teacher can also easily enhance the classroom experience by sending supplemental information to the students that they can access as they choose.

Cons of Tech Enhancement
There is a downside, though. As many of you have experienced, and as I have also on quite a few occasions, technology seems to have a mind of its own. An instance of Murphy's Law is always just around the corner: When you need the technology to work, it just won't. However, I turn this, too, into a teaching moment and tell the students that they should always be prepared with a back-up plan, either literally or figuratively.

Streaming video seems to be involved in the worst of the experiences; there never seems to be enough bandwidth at my institution. Because our ESL classes run from 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. 5 days a week, we are right in the middle of the prime access time. It was wonderful when all of our classrooms were recently tech-enhanced, but with the tech enhancement came the ESL professors' desire to make use of it. In addition, professors other than our ESL ones got the "tech bug." They, too, wanted to make use of their skills in their political science classes, their sociology classes, and so on. The technology equivalent of a California traffic jam was created, so much so that professors are now thinking twice before using streaming video during class time. However, our institution recently informed us that the campus would be doubling the size of the current bandwidth by the time our fall semester begins. At that time, the problem will be solved, at least in the short-run. Which brings up another issue: Technology grows at an astounding rate, and we, the professors, instructors, and teachers, just have to ride the wave. If we don't, it'll crash over us!

Of course, there are other issues such as access to the technology, the cost of the technology, and maintenance. However, a hundred years ago, the same could be said of typewriters, printing presses, and the purchasing of textbooks. Progress happens, and we, as a profession or as individuals, can either move forward with it or be left behind.

Conclusion
Technology can either help or hinder, depending on the attitude of the person using it. It can help present a difficult topic in a clear, precise way, or it can create an utter mess of a simple topic. Everyone should remember that technology is a means to an end; it's a tool, not the result. As long as the teacher believes in its use, and technology is used to assist, to enhance, to increase the quality of and not to replace teaching, it will always be a value-added experience for the teacher and the students.

References
Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. (2007). Enhancement. Retrieved May 26, 2007, from http://www.m-w.com

Smith, M. J., & Komerath, N. (2002). Learning more from class time: technology enhancement in the classroom. Retrieved May 26, 2007, fromhttp://www.adl.gatech.edu/archives/adlp00062002.pdf

Alan D. Lytle, EdD, the teaching director of the Intensive English Language Program at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, USA, has a background in second language education (ESL, German, and French). He has 18 years of ESL teaching experience at all levels, from novice to advanced, in academic-preparation programs, conversation programs, English for special purposes programs, and topic-specific programs.


One Website—Many Uses

Jennifer Baran, brabbit99@yahoo.com

Having one Web site to use for a variety of language-learning exercises is a great way to save time and energy. You don't have to search for new sites and worry about their longevity. One site that I have found extremely useful over the past 7 years is the CIA World Factbook site athttps://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/index.html. Thanks to the perseverance, fastidiousness, and dependability of the U.S. government's CIA, the site is always up and running and kept fairly current. Therefore, it's a dependable resource for CALL activities.

This article describes two types of language-learning activities based on the CIA World Factbook Web site. Originally, I designed the Factbook activity for a community ESL class in the United States with students from a number of countries. Most of the students had very little knowledge of the other students' countries. The site gave students the basic vocabulary they needed to talk about their countries and share about them in conversation. I eventually adapted the activity for EFL freshman college students as a way for them to read dense text, take notes, and write short descriptive paragraphs. The site has so many possibilities. It can be used to build ESP vocabulary. It can be a basis for a conversation class. It can be used for applied grammar lessons or it can be used for developing descriptive writing. Two versions of an integrated-skills activity are included in this article.

Activities
Country Share/Culture Share (Version 1)
Skills: Integrated reading, writing, speaking, and listening. 
Objectives: 
1. Students will be able to scan dense text for specific information. 
2. Students will be able to use a chart to make comparisons. 
3. Explicit grammar focus possible: superlative, ordinal numbers "to be" question words.

Materials: Access to the CIA World Factbook Web site, dictionaries, handouts (following), butcher paper, and markers.
Class Type: Small- to medium-size, intermediate- to advanced-level, ESL (multicultural).
Time Needed: Depends on class size and ability level.
Schema Activation (or Build-up)
Give students a globe or world maps. Ask them to locate their home country. Have them find one other country of a classmate.
Description
1. Overview of target vocabulary (see below). 
2. Instructor guides students to appropriate Web site.
3. Instructor passes out handouts Country Comparison Charts. See example below.
4. Students answer questions about the size, population, location, and so on of their countries.
5. Roaming exercise: Students roam around and ask classmates about their countries using the target vocabulary and grammar. Students fill in charts.
6. Students regroup to discuss outcomes. 
7. Using butcher paper, or other large-sized paper, instructor creates a Country Comparison Wall Chart.
8. Students fill in the information about their countries on the wall chart.
9. Instructor gives examples of comparisons and then has students model example or create novel examples.

Expansion Activities
1. Instructor can prepare cloze exercise or quiz to test students' knowledge about countries discussed in class. This activity might encourage students to listen to their classmates.
2. Have advanced students write reports or give oral presentations.
3. Students can share photos of country or direct others to Web sites for their countries.

Target Vocabulary
As stated, the CIA World Factbook data are formatted in an outline. Instructors can choose which subject headings are appropriate for their students and create their own target vocabulary list. In the sample list below, the question words to the right are indicators for the target conversational grammar and may be useful to lower level students. The questions words are also related to the sentence structure activity below.

Location: longitude and latitude                                    Where?
Size: area, sq km, km2                                               How big?
Climate: weather and temperature                               What?
Elevation: highest point/lowest point                             What?
Population                                                                  How many?
Exports: goods, sell, produce)                                      What?
People: ethnic groups/religions                                     Who?

Questions
These sentences can be used with the roaming exercise. They go with the country comparison chart below. It is the teacher's choice whether to give these sentences to the students.

1. What is the name of your country?
2. What is the capital city?
3. Where is your country located?
4. How big is your country?
5. What is the weather like?
6. What is the highest point? The lowest?
7. What is the population?
8. Who lives in your country?
9. What are the exports?

Sample Sentence Structures
As with the questions, it is up to the instructor whether or not to give these to the students. It would depend on the students' conversational levels.

1. The name of my country is ____________________________________.
2. The capital city is ____________________________________________.
3. It is located at ______________________________________________.
4. The country has an area of ________________________________ km2 .
5. It is _______________________________________________________.
6. The highest/lowest point is ____________________________________.
7. The population is ___________________________________________.
8. The main ethnic groups are ____________________________________.
9. My country exports are ___________________________________________.

COUNTRY NAME NAME OF CAPITAL CITY SIZE CLIMATE HIGHEST POINT LOWEST POINT POPULATION ETHNIC GROUPS EXPORTS

Country Share/Culture Share (Version 2)
Skills: Integrated reading, writing, speaking, and listening. 
Objectives: 
1. Students will be able to scan dense text for specific information.
2. Students will be able to use a chart to make comparisons. 
3. Explicit grammar focus possible: superlative, ordinal numbers, "to be," question words.
4. Students will be able to use advanced vocabulary.
Materials: Access to the CIA World Factbook Web site, dictionaries, handouts (below), butcher paper, and markers.
Class Type: Small- to medium-size, intermediate- to advanced-level, EFL or ESL, 4-12 (integrated social studies).
Time Needed: Depends on class size and ability level. 
Schema Activation (or Buildup)
Give students globe or world maps. Ask them to locate a few well known and some little-known countries.
Description
1. Overview of vocabulary. 
2. Instructor guides students to appropriate Web site.
3. Instructor passes out Country Comparison Charts.
4. Each student chooses a country, preferably one he or she does not know, and answers questions about its size, population, location, and so on.
5. Roaming exercise: Students roam around and ask classmates about the countries using the target vocabulary and grammar.  Students fill in charts.
6. Students regroup to discuss outcomes. 
7. Using butcher paper, or other large-sized paper, instructor creates a Country Comparison Wall Chart.
8. Students fill in the information about their countries on the wall chart.
9. Instructor gives examples of comparisons and then has students model example or create novel examples.

Expansion Activities
1. Instructor can prepare cloze exercise or quiz to test students' knowledge about countries discussed in class. This activity might encourage students to listen to their classmates.
2. Have advanced students write descriptive paragraphs or give oral presentations (see outline that follows).
 
Unstructured Outline
In version 2, one expansion activity asks students to write descriptive paragraphs. For lower-level writers learning to adapt notes into sentences, this outline may be helpful. It can guide them through the note-taking portion of the assignment and it can also be the structure for the descriptive essay. This outline can be used as a handout.

Instructions:
A. Go to the CIA World Factbook Web site at https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/index.html
Chose a country that you do not know about and fill in the information below. 
B. Using your notes, write a descriptive paragraph.

Country name: ________________________________________________

A. Definition: 
1. ______________________________________________________
2. capital city: ____________________________________________
B. Location:
1. ______________________________________________________
2. ___________________________________ (latitude and longitude)
C. Characteristics:
1. size: _________________________________________________
2. climate: _______________________________________________
D. People: 
1. population: _________________________________year: ______ 
2. main ethnic groups: ______________________________________
______________________________________________________________
3. main religions: __________________________________________
______________________________________________________________
E. Exports: 
1. ______________________________________________________
2. ______________________________________________________
3. ______________________________________________________
F. Environmental Issues: 
1. ______________________________________________________
2. ______________________________________________________
3. ______________________________________________________
 

Sample Completed Outline
This is a sample of a completed outline. It might be useful for students who are learning to take notes from dense text and who need help organizing an essay.

Instructions:
Using the following notes, write a descriptive paragraph about Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka

A. Definition: 
1. island in Indian Ocean
2.  capital city: Colombo
B. Location:
1. south of India
2. part of southeast Asia
3. 7º 00' N 81º 00' E
C. Geography:
1. 65, 610 km2
2. tropical monsoon climate
D. People: 
1. population: 20,926,315 (2007)
2. ethnic groups: Sinhalese, Tamil, Moor, Burgher, Malay, Vedda
3. religions: Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity, Islam
E. Exports: textiles, tea, diamonds, coconuts, and some petroleum products
F. Environmental Issues: pollution, deforestation, wildlife poaching
 
Conclusion and Expansion
This article describes two types of lessons based on the Web site of the CIA World Factbook. It includes instructions for the teacher and a number of ready-to-use handouts. Its purpose is to give educators an idea of the numerous possibilities that the Factbook has to offer as a language-learning tool in the CALL classroom. Many other activities can be created using the CIA Factbook. For instance, because most of the vocabulary is specialized, the site is useful for vocabulary building in different disciplines, such as geography, government, and technology. Hopefully, this article will inspire other teachers to share their adaptations of this site.

Jennifer Elise Baran has taught English at Kuwait University in the Faculty of Science English Language Unit since 2002. She received a bachelor's degree in foreign language literature (German), with a minor in anthropology in 1997, and an MA-TESOL from Portland State University in 2001. Jennifer also studied linguistics at Albert-Ludwigs Universitaet in Freiburg, Germany, has taught community ESL for over 9 years, and is known in her professional circle for contributions in materials development. She is an avid photographer and scuba diver and currently lives in Kuwait with her son Jaden.



Announcements and Information TESOL Position Statement on Teacher Credentialing Click to view the article. [PDF]
Member Stories: Alan Denis Lytle

tesolcomptech@hotmail.com

Looking back to the beginning of my professional career in 1988, I would never have guessed that I would be where I am today. When I graduated with a bachelor of arts degree and a double major in German and secondary education (with a minor in French), my intention was to teach high school German and French in either Atlanta, Georgia, USA, or Athens, Georgia, USA. I had even gone through the testing process to make sure that that I would qualify for a teacher's license in Georgia. The university that I had attended, The University of Southern Mississippi (USM), is a National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) school, and the state-level Institutions of Higher Education had decided that more classes were needed; therefore, my graduating class was subject to the degree plans under which we had been admitted along with the newly implemented requirements. This addition was the equivalent of one semester's worth of classes, so quite a few of us graduated in January—a difficult time to find a teaching position in the United States. My question after I received my BA was "Now what?" I have to say that I had no hand in what happened next.

During my undergraduate studies in secondary education, I had befriended the chair of our School of Education. She called me when a graduate student, who had a fully funded stipend with tuition remission, dropped out of the program. I didn't have to think twice, and, before I knew it, I was pursuing a master of education degree with a specialty in German, again with the idea of teaching high school. Before I knew it, I was nearing the end of my MEd, again without a fully developed plan for the future. I knew I wanted to teach, but the possibilities for teaching German in 1990 in the United States were few. Once again, with my having nothing to do with it, I changed direction. During my last semester of graduate work, I was contacted by the English Language Institution (ELI) on USM's campus because they needed a substitute. Over the course of the semester, I substituted in various classes at various levels, thinking that that was all that I was doing. As graduation came closer, I began sending out more and more résumés that included the limited ESL experience I was gaining. Little did I know that my substitute teaching assignments were actually part of a job interview. When I graduated with my MEd, the ELI offered me a full-time position teaching in their business English program with some additional responsibilities teaching in their academic-preparation program. What a turn in the road!

Over my time at the ELI, I worked in the business English and the academic program, directed the conversation/culture program, and, later, became the admissions coordinator, working with immigration and student medical insurance. As I gained experience and attended conferences, I began to give presentations at the local, national, and international levels of TESOL and NAFSA (originally the National Association of Foreign Student Advisors; in the 1990s, the acronym was adopted as the official name). I also began to write short pieces based on my experiences.

In 1996, I moved to Little Rock, Arkansas, to work at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock (UALR) and have been here ever since. My entire time at UALR, I've worked in the Division of International and Second Language Studies (DISLS), in varying capacities and with increasing levels of responsibility. First, I worked in the Arkansas International Center (AIC), a grant-funded arm of DISLS. AIC worked mostly with the United States Information Agency on programs that brought Russian and Ukrainian citizens to the United States for training in American business practices and democracy. I later became associate director of AIC and assumed responsibility for the finances and budget. When a position became available as director of studies abroad and middle eastern studies within DISLS, I applied and was hired. The program was faltering, but with a great deal of help from DISLS, my staff and I turned it around and developed new relationships with international institutions whereby UALR could send students to study abroad and receive international students to pursue UALR classes. We also initiated Middle Eastern projects and developed programs so that Middle Eastern ideas could be integrated into existing classes. Because of my former ESL experience, I taught on an as-needed basis with the intensive English language program and, because of my academic background, I became a part-time German instructor within DISLS. As you may have surmised, I am truly a Jack-of-all-trades, but I enjoy it as I have different projects, although related, to focus on and accomplish. I also enjoy building programs and making them successful.

This last idea (being a Jack-of-all-trades) was truly an advantage when I completed my doctorate in second language education in 2001 and assumed the director's position of the Intensive English Language Program (IELP) at UALR in early 2002. Enrollment had been on the decline for years; the curriculum was in dire need of revision, and the Institute's financial future was in question. Therefore, my first plan of action was to reconfigure the program to a semester-based one, coordinate the rewriting of the curriculum to bring it into line with both the national ESL and foreign language standards, develop and implement a recruiting/advertising plan, hire TESL/second-language-trained instructors, and develop a plan to stabilize IELP financially. With a great deal of assistance, again from DISLS, I am proud to say that today IELP is the healthiest it has been in many years, and it is continuing to grow.

Finally, as part of a plan to make it easy for internationals to find all the information they need to be admitted to UALR for study at the undergraduate level, I assumed the responsibilities of international admissions officer. With this, IELP became "one-stop-shopping" for international students as they could have their immigration taken care of, be admitted to the IELP and/or UALR, have their English ability verified, and be advised until they graduated from IELP, became a degree-seeking student, and declared a major. Challenging as this may seem, all of these services mesh well together and give the students a sense of stability and a sense that they are being taken care of. I truly enjoy seeing "my" international students walk across the stage each year at graduation with an undergraduate degree that I know I and IELP helped make possible. The turn of events in my life could not have led me to a better place.

Alan D. Lytle, EdD, is the editor of HEIS News' Computer Technology column (see his article in this issue). The teaching director of the Intensive English Language Program at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, USA, he has 18 years of experience at all levels of ESL teaching. 



About This Community 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 Leadership 2007-2008
Chair:                  Denis A. Hall, d.hall@snhu.edu
Chair-Elect:          José Carmona, carmona1661@bellsouth.net
Immediate 
Past Chair:          Soonhyang Kim, soonhyang@hotmail.com 
Assistant Chair:   Frank Smith, fsmit2@gpc.edu
Secretary:           Miles D. Witt, mdwitt2@lycos.com 
E-list Manager:    Guy Kellogg, gkellogg@hawaii.edu
Web Manager:     Ishbel Galloway, igallowa@sfu.ca
Newletter Editor:  Maria Parker, mgparker@duke.edu

Steering Committee Members-at-large:
2007-2010          Sheryl Slocum, Sheryl.Slocum@alverno.edu 
2007-2009          Goedele Gulikers, gulikegx@pgcc.edu 
2007-2008          Kathryn Good, Kathryn_Good@brown.edu

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

 


Call for Submissions

Get involved—consider contributing to our newsletter! 
Please consider submitting an article for the February–March 2008 issue.
The HEIS News welcomes articles that apply to classroom situations and that focus on ESL/EFL pedagogy, second language acquisition, academic literacy, language assessment, applied socio- and psycholinguistics, advocacy, administration, and other related areas. Given the newsletter's electronic format, authors are encouraged to include hyperlinks.

Submission Guidelines
Full-length articles and brief reports should

  • be no longer than 1,500 words
  • include a 50-word (500 characters or fewer) abstract
  • contain no more than five citations
  • follow the style guidelines in the Publications Manual of the American Psychological Association, Fifth Edition (APA style)
  • be in MS Word (.doc) or rich-text (.rtf) format

Please direct submissions and questions to Maria Parker at mgparker@duke.edu.

Note: It is not necessary to have an article complete and ready for submission to contact us! Please feel free to get in touch at any stage of the process; we are happy to answer any questions and work with you in developing or refining a topic. 

The deadline for submissions to HEIS 27-1 is December 10, 2007.

 


Call for Book Review Submissions

Book reviews are always a very popular feature of the newsletter, Book review guidelines are below. To request or suggest a book for review and for details, including submission deadlines, please contact the book review editor, Gena Bennett at genabennett@yahoo.com

Submission Guidelines
HEIS News welcomes reviews of scholarly books and textbooks dealing with English teaching, applied linguistics, second language acquisition, language assessment, or other disciplines as they relate to ESL or TESL instruction in higher education settings. Anyone interested in writing a review for HEIS News may choose a recent book in the field and contact the editor for approval. Reviews will be considered for publication based on the quality of the reviewer's evaluation and description of the book, and the book's relevance and importance to the field.

Reviews should
* be 600-900 words in length
* include a 50-word (500 character or fewer) abstract
* include a 75-100 word bio of the reviewer
* follow the style guidelines in Publications Manual of the American Psychological Association, Fifth Edition (APA)
* be in MS Word (.doc) or rich-text (.rtf) format

 

 


Call for Computer/Information Technology Submissions

Computer and information technology are a growing part of our professional lives.

The HEIS News Computer Technology section welcomes articles and reviews of websites or other materials that use technology in ESL/EFL teaching, applied linguistics, second language acquisition, language assessment, or other disciplines in higher education settings. Please contact the Computer Technology editor, Alan Denis Lytle at tesolcomptech@hotmail. com with your suggestions, ideas, or questions (including submission deadlines).