IEP Newsletter

IEP News, Volume 29:1 (September 2009)

by User Not Found | 10/26/2011
In This Issue...
  • Leadership Updates
    • Letter From the Chair
    • IEP Advocacy Updates
  • Articles
    • Seven Ways to Re-Ignite Enthusiasm in Seasoned IEP Faculty
    • Confessions of an Old Linguist Turned ESL Newcomer
    • Facilitating Language Learning Through Web-based Multimedia
    • Book Review
  • Community News and Information
    • IEPIS Steering Committee
    • Highlights of IEPIS Survey
    • About This Newsletter
    • About This Member Community

Leadership Updates Letter From the Chair

Kim Chavis,

Greetings IEPIS Members:

My name is Kim Chavis, and I am the chair of the Intensive English Program Interest Section (IEP-IS) for 2009-2010. I am a faculty member and administrator at Studies in American Language, San José State University.

With more than 1,100 members, the IEP-IS is at the forefront of classroom and administrator concerns within IEP environments. In my role as an IEP committee member, I have felt welcomed, and I have learned a great deal from interacting with the wonderful people who have served in leadership positions, volunteered to read proposals, written newsletter articles, accepted invitations to speak on panels, and offered to present proposals representing the IEP-IS.

Despite some uncooperative weather in Denver, the 2009 TESOL convention was very insightful and interesting. The IEP-IS membership was well represented with 52 paper presentations, workshops, discussion groups, video and digital media presentations, and poster sessions. Two highlights included the Intersection with CALL-IS that reviewed ways to teach pronunciation. Panelists were Tamara Jones, Marnie Reed, and Christina Michaud. Another highlight was the academic session concerning faculty evaluation systems with panelists Stephen Stoynoff, Kathi Bailey, Christine Coombe, and Nancy Storer.

TESOL 2009, IEP-IS Steering Committee

As we look forward to TESOL 2010 in Boston, the IEP-IS is currently planning two Intersections: a session with the Nonnative English Speaking Teachers IS (NNEST-IS) will discuss issues and concerns of NNESTs working within IEPs, and a session with the Video and Digital Media IS will examine strategies and methods for using video training in IEPs. The research-based academic session will review the intersection of course objectives and classroom activities.

I want to express my thanks to Past Chair Sheryl Meyer, who has offered her guidance and advice. Thank you as well to Christie Ward for producing this wonderful newsletter, Jim Scofield for designing our Web site, Andrea Todd for recording notes as our secretary, and Jim Bame and Carol Romett for assembling our interest section booth at Denver. I would also like to welcome our new chair-elect, Leo Schmitt, and our newest member-at-large, Holly Shi.

TESOL offers many professional resources to our members. Let me take a moment to acquaint (or reacquaint) them to you:


  • IEP-IS E-List: Accessible through the TESOL Web site, the E-list offers a forum to discuss current questions, comments, and concerns.
  • TESOL Resource Center (TRC): The TRC is a peer-to-peer resource with lesson plans, presentations, tests, and other useful materials. You can access the TRC through the Education Tab at I highly encourage members to submit materials for the TRC and to use the resource for searching for ideas.
  • IEP-IS Newsletter: Past newsletters are available in the IEP-IS section of the TESOL Web site. New newsletters are uploaded twice a year, and we encourage members to submit articles. Articles are considered to be published materials.
  • IEP-IS Web site: The Web site can be accessed at: It includes links to PowerPoint presentations from the Denver convention, podcasts, and links to other useful resources.

The IEP-IS has allowed me to expand my professional knowledge through interaction with a myriad of instructions, administrators, professors, and professionals throughout the world. I hope that all IEP-IS members will take the opportunity to be involved with the intersection by writing, speaking, or communicating on issues of concern. As our past chair, Tamara Jones, has often said, being involved with the IEP-IS is “fun and easy,” and I do agree. Please let me or the IEP-IS committee know if you are looking to become more involved, or if you feel that we can enhance any resources available to you. I look forward to communicating with you and meeting you in Boston.

IEP Advocacy Updates

Christie Ward,


Since our last newsletter was published in Winter 2008, TESOL has approved three important position statements:

Position Statement Opposing Bullying, Harassment, and Hate Crimes (March 2009)

English language educators working with racial and linguistic minorities; women; and gay, lesbian, and transgendered people must make clear that diversity among human beings is not only to be tolerated but celebrated. As the global association for English language educators, TESOL values individual language rights, collaboration in a global community, and respect for diversity and multiculturalism. TESOL strongly opposes bullying, harassment, and hate crimes.

Position Statement on English Entrance Exams for Nonnative English Speakers at Schools and Universities (March 2009)

TESOL is concerned about the growing practice of using formal, standardized English language tests as the sole criterion to determine entrance to education programs at the tertiary education level. Moreover, the validity and reliability of the language tests used for this purpose are not always transparent. The high-stakes nature of this kind of testing makes it imperative that assessment practices are designed to fairly and accurately assess candidates’ skills for program entrance.

Position Statement on Fairness and Equity in ESL Program Reduction (March 2009)

When economic conditions necessitate cutbacks in funding, TESOL urges public policy makers and managers of educational institutions to exercise fairness and equity in administering program cuts so as not to disadvantage culturally and linguistically diverse student populations or those who may already be suffering the debilitating effects of poverty.

Links to full-text copies of these and other TESOL position statements are available here.


What are the most important IEP advocacy issues?

  • Making the case that international students are part of the solution to terrorism, not part of the problem; for example, international education builds friendships for the United States and trains future leaders from all parts of the globe.
  • Seeking visa policy that is balanced between protecting the nation and keeping our institutions open to international students and scholars.
  • Achieving a comprehensive government-supported U.S. strategy to increase access to and interest in pursuing American higher education.

Why is advocacy important to administrators, faculty, and staff of IEPs?

  • Not only is advocating for international education the right thing to do, but it is in our own self-interest.
  • It affects our jobs—fewer students can mean fewer teaching positions.

How can individuals be good advocates?

What can you do in your institution?

  • If increasing student numbers and improving U.S. international education access is not already a concern at your institution, help make it one.
  • Always respond when information is requested—good data, such as enrollment numbers, amount students spend in the community, and student visa interview experiences, are critical in advocacy efforts with Congress and government agencies.
  • Find out what your program directors are doing to get and stay into the loop—and then ask directors to share as much info as possible.
  • Volunteer to help out.
  • Network with other departments on campus—strength in numbers!

What can you do in your community?

  • Help educate the community about the importance of international education.
  • Volunteer to speak to service organizations such as the Rotary, the Lions Club, and church groups.
  • Write letters to the editor or editorials.
  • Contact your representatives at the state and federal level.
  • Form alliances with other interested groups such as home-stay families, sister-city committees, high school exchange programs, and businesses with international students as customers.

What can you do in your profession?

  • Support your organization’s advocacy efforts and ask for presentations on advocacy at regional and national conferences.
  • Be a presenter yourself.
  • We’re all alums of colleges and universities—find out what they’re doing in this area, urge them to do more if necessary, and volunteer to help.

Articles Seven Ways to Re-Ignite Enthusiasm in Seasoned IEP Faculty

Rosemary Orlando

1. Take an Interest in What Your Colleagues Are Doing

Working in the next office or down the hall from someone does not presuppose that you and your coworkers are cognizant or even interested in what projects or classroom activities others are working on. Teachers can exchange pleasantries, cheerful “good mornings,” and light conversation, but that is not equivalent to discussing academic changes and challenges in the workplace. This is especially true if a group of instructors has been together for a while and do not work the same schedule or even teach in the same semesters. It is easy to become disconnected unless you make a special effort to talk to one another and find out what is happening in and around the classroom. Is someone working on a new research topic? Are they trying new approaches in the classroom? Any thoughts about action research with their present class? Without even realizing it, you can become a member of what Lortie (1975) called “the egg carton profession” (p. 223), with each teacher going into the classroom, closing the door, and remaining separate. An Intensive English Program can begin to develop a disjointed atmosphere and students notice that. Just by setting aside a little time to speak specifically about professional pursuits or interests helps stave off feelings of being disconnected.

2. Guide and Work With New Faculty

Having an IEP faculty comprised of older, more experienced teachers and newer, less experienced teachers would seem to be custom made for fostering mentoring relationships, but that is not necessarily so. Full-time faculty can be told to help develop the skills of newer, part-time adjunct faculty who will be teaching the same level of IEP classes, but they will not necessarily do so. Some full-timers may take on the task of speaking with and working with new faculty, helping them adjust and giving suggestions and guidance, but it may end there. Others may interpret the meaning of that directive as having an initial conversation with an adjunct instructor and then saying, “If you need any help, feel free to ask.” As the semester progresses, the guiding relationship ceases, and the seasoned faculty member rarely checks back with comments or questions for newer faculty, who might feel a bit uncomfortable asking for help, afraid that asking for help might appear to be a sign of weakness. To help senior faculty to understand what is expected of them in their roles working with newer members of the staff, a more formal approach might be necessary. It should also be pointed out that the newer teachers’ thoughts and opinions should be valued and welcomed in the department and at staff meetings.

3. Share Your Lessons or Ideas at Staff Meetings

Weekly staff meetings are often held during lunch time or during breaks when there is not sufficient time to get to all the important agenda items and there is little time for additional information. Perhaps every other week, one full-time or part-time instructor could be asked to give a brief summary of what he or she is working on. Fitting in individual presentations no matter how brief, in addition to a regular meeting may be unrealistic. A better option might be to make a special time for this practice and emphasize the importance of ongoing teaching and learning. The last thing teachers want is more work to do, but if it is approached as a type of professional development for all, the response might be more positive. Another alternative is to have pairs consisting of newer and seasoned faculty “duos” that were matched up in the beginning of the term, talk about their “partnership” and how they have worked on sharing their ideas and lessons.

4. Present Your Work at Conferences or Workshops

Presenting work helps to reinvigorate and refresh because it forces us to take a closer look at what we know and why we know it. You may or may not have time to present your work to your colleagues, but the fact that you are continuing to work on your own professional development is very positive. Sharing ideas and research allows for reconnecting and opening the door for more and better communication among faculty. If you are interested in a topic, you will most likely be motivated to share that with others. Cook (2001) points out the correlation between high motivation and successful learning and how it works in both directions. If time allows, ask your colleagues to give a summary of their upcoming or recent conference presentations to the group. If you have never presented, challenge yourself and start out small. Consider presenting at a local affiliate conference either alone or with a partner.

5. Ask for More Feedback

Don’t be afraid to experiment and take risks in getting answers to your questions about your teaching and about student learning. Using the same teacher evaluation form only at the end of a term does not provide the kind of information that is usually helpful or particularly useful to improve your teaching. Taking a step back can be a way to break out of old habits and routines, thus allowing for new perspectives to emerge (Curtis & Szesztay, 2005). Decide as a group that you will ask for feedback from your students in a variety of ways and more often. As you’re working on this, be mindful of the fact that reorganizing a form or a procedure involves change and change creates anxiety. Old habits can easily override the desire for new skills. Work in collaboration to stay on track with new methods and approaches. Be a support group of sorts for each other, with seasoned and novice teachers working together.

6. Become More Active in Course Development

If you are the director or are in charge of a program, allow some time for faculty input regarding courses and/or course content. If you are not the boss, suggest that faculty get more involved in curriculum planning. Teachers may protest and not want additional work, but you can explain the value of getting more involved and committed to the program. Decide not to use the same lessons term after term. If it is not possible to revise or change the course content or curriculum, then start with yourself. Ask yourself the question, “Are my students learning what I (think) I am teaching?” Ask yourself and ask each other, “What have I/you done to develop professionally this year?”

7. Put It Down on Paper

Follow-up can make the difference between talk and action. How many times have you been to a meeting where the ideas are flowing and the atmosphere is charged, only to have nothing followed up with? Be sure to have an Action Plan in place before the meeting concludes. If you have an unorganized or somewhat lax program supervisor, offer to help out with meeting notes and future planning. Don’t leave the meeting without knowing what you will do, what results you expect, who will do what, when you expect work from everyone and where and when you will meet again to follow up. Clarity about deadlines and goals can lead to increased commitment and enthusiasm. Getting everyone involved on some level helps with the spirit of collaborative teaching and learning and begins the process of freshening and livening up the program. Be accountable and expect others to be accountable as well.


When all else fails, continue to work on your own development. You can take many more steps than are discussed in this short article, but these suggestions are a starting point for re-igniting passion for teaching in yourself and your colleagues. Reach out to other professionals in the field and, if possible, find ways to work with them. Develop your own Action Plan as to how you will make changes to your classes and lessons. Read. There are thousands of articles and books on the subject of second or foreign language teaching and learning. Decide that you want to continue to develop and commit to your own professional growth and education.


Cook, V.J. (2001). Second language learning and language teaching, 3rd ed. New York: Oxford University Press.

Curtis, A., & Szesztay, M. (2005). The impact of teacher knowledge seminars: Unpacking Reflective practice. TESL-EJ, 9(2), 1–16.

Lortie, D. (1975). Schoolteacher: A sociological study. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Author Bio: Rosemary Orlando is an associate professor at Southern New Hampshire University where she teaches in the master’s in TEFL degree and intensive English programs. As part of a joint master’s degree program, she also teaches at Vietnam National University in Hanoi, Vietnam, working with Vietnamese teachers of English. She has presented in many countries and her interests include the professional development of teachers internationally.

Confessions of an Old Linguist Turned ESL Newcomer

By Thomas Crowell

I have been an ESL teacher for 4 years and a linguist for almost 40. Linguists are taught that any challenge dealing with language can be solved using the knowledge and analytical tools provided by linguistics. I believed this; I was wrong. In the following discussion I will outline several places where I incorrectly thought my linguistic knowledge would make me successful, including pronunciation, pedagogical materials, and the frequent not-at-all-scientific-or-academic issues which make ESL both maddening and fascinating.

Linguistics Is Not a Cure-All, But It's Helpful

Before I begin my confessions, let me give the opinion that knowledge of linguistics is immensely helpful to ESL teachers.

On the positive side, linguistics provides a rational framework of linguistic concepts. Said another way, linguistics provides a set of pigeonholes into which all language phenomena fit. It enables a teacher to make sense of any language issue which comes his or her way. This is extremely valuable. But it does not ensure success because so many things involved with learning are not specifically language issues.

Confession 1. I’m Not a Good Pronunciation Teacher

Linguists know a lot about phonetics and pronunciation. We know about articulators, points of articulation, face diagrams, and such. We can describe how sounds are produced, mimic sounds from all kinds of languages, and explain these things well enough so that students can make the sounds. What else could be needed for a successful pronunciation teacher? I have observed that the answer is “a whole lot more.”

In pronunciation classes, I explain the phonetic nature of the sounds in focus. I explain, for example, that /b/ is a voiced bilabial stop and /p/ is an unvoiced, normally aspirated, bilabial stop. The students nod in acknowledgement. I pronounce a string of words containing /b/ and another set containing /p/. We do minimal pairs and a whole lot of good exercises in the pronunciation book. I feel good inside knowing that they’ve got it. Then when class is over Ahmed walks out and says, “Tonight I’m going to a barty.” And Maria, who has improved so much in her in-class pronunciation of vowels says, “I may be a leetle late on Monday.” And I wonder why the classroom exercises connect so poorly to real-life pronunciation. They didn’t teach me about this is grad school.

One conclusion I’ve reached is that understanding how physical actions work and even understanding how to teach them are relatively straightforward. You should do A, then B, and then C. Learning, on the other hand, is mysterious. Linguists are good with language phenomena. It requires a really good teacher to help students learn.

Confession 2. I Supposed That Popular ESL Materials Would be Good Materials

Question: Must all ESL books with academic in their title be deadly dull?

Answer: No, but it sure seems to be that way.

As you can see, this section is really based more on a strong opinion than it is on a confession. The underlying opinion is that students learn most when they work with what interests them. When we use materials that put them to sleep they learn little, no matter how much we tell them that they must learn these words in order to succeed in academic life. (I realize that this opinion has been voiced many times before. I also realize that many people smarter than I think that textbooks featuring academic words are great. We’ll just have to disagree. There are even some people who don’t think my grandchildren are the most beautiful kids in the world.)

Do I believe it is important for university bound students to know academic words? Of course, but I believe that the materials currently available for teaching academic words are generally poor.

In addition to being boring, books teaching academic words are often overly difficult for ESL learners to comprehend. The problem is not just the academic words but also the ESL learner’s lack of controlling many more common words, the words which provide the context for the academic words. When native-English-speaking students encounter academic words, they do so while having control of the nonacademic words. This control enables them to focus on and learn academic words with much greater ease than is the case for the ESL student.

Before climbing off my soapbox, I want to acknowledge that what I’m saying is based on strong opinions and experience, not on any scientific studies. Furthermore, I feel obligated to note that some very bad ESL materials have been produced by linguists. Two notable examples are materials developed by Bloomfield in the first half of the last century and those developed later by disciples of generative grammar.

Confession 3. I Didn’t Realize That So Many ESL Problems Don’t Have Rational Solutions

Linguists are taught to assume that all language problems have rational solutions. If one hypothesis fails, modify the hypothesis until it works. This usually functions well enough in the controlled environment of the analyst’s study. Unfortunately, ESL classrooms bear little resemblance to anybody’s controlled environment.

Rather than being a perfect teaching and learning environment, ESL classrooms usually contain students of varying ability levels, so that some are bored while others are panicked by the struggle to understand. Some are homesick; others are angry at the USA or about something which seems unfair. Some feel that the teacher is not promoting them to a higher level as fast as he or she should or is not teaching them as effectively as necessary. And just about every student is feeling vulnerable about one thing or another. Relationships and feelings predominate rather than the scientific data and rational solutions that the linguist is taught to deal with.

Into this mix, add the teacher’s awareness that he or she is respected less and paid a lot less than teachers of Spanish, German, or French. After all, teaching English is not a big deal. Anybody can do it, right?

A Personal Conclusion

I’ve learned a lot during my 4 years as an ESL teacher. I’ve learned that my linguistic knowledge, while helpful, does not enable me to do many things a good ESL teacher should do. I’ve also learned that I often need to do a lot to “jazz up” the classroom, especially when the teaching materials are boring. And I’ve learned that so much depends on how I relate to a set of vulnerable language learners sitting in the classroom.

These observations create two strong reactions. The first is a feeling of great admiration for good ESL teachers. It’s a very difficult field to succeed in.

The second reaction is totally personal—actually it’s my final confession. Even though the job is hard, the pay is not so great, and my bewilderment factor is often high, I love my new job. I’d teach for free. Just don’t tell my boss.

Author Bio: Thomas Crowell is an ESL instructor at Texas Christian University. Previously he did linguistic analysis, vernacular literacy, Bible translation, and university teaching in Brazil, Africa, and the United States.

Facilitating Language Learning Through Web-based Multimedia

Heather Torrie,

Media sharing has become increasingly popular as a way to circulate interesting videos, photos, and music among friends, family, and colleagues. This practice can also play a role in facilitating language learning by engaging students in digital conversations around online media. This type of interaction can be online discussion among students, between student and teacher, or a student interacting directly with an online text. In this article, I present some options for Web platforms, followed by some concrete applications to the English language learning classroom.


There are many media-sharing Web sites that can be used for language learning activities.

1. Social Networking Sites. These sites include Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, and many others. The advantages to social-networking platform include the availability and familiarity associated with them, and the ability to share many different types of media and comment on them. A disadvantage, however, is that some international sites that students may be using are incompatible with the English-based, Western ones.

2. Photo- and Video-Sharing Sites. Besides the ever-popular YouTube, students can view images on PhotobucketFlickr, and Picasa. These sites all allow public or private sharing among friend groups. Most applicable to language learning is the commenting feature, allowing conversation and reaction. Perhaps the most beneficial site for language teachers to use is Voicethread, which allows both written and audio comments. With a built-in Flash audio recorder, students simply click a button to record a short reaction to a video or photo. They can listen to their classmates’ comments as well.

3. Blogs. Getting to be somewhat old-school these days, blogging websites like Blogger and Wordpress are a basic for hosting video, photo, and text. The most important elements, of course, are the written post reacting to the media and the commenting, which together form a digital conversation.

All these sites focus on various forms of multimedia, either uploaded by users or hyperlinked from other places on the Internet, and they allow users to comment and discuss the media. It is clear, then, that this media sharing is a valuable application in language learning because it engages students in communication involving reading, writing, listening, and speaking.

IMPLEMENTING MEDIA-BASED ACTIVITIES Consolidating Onto a Single Platform

Because there are many Web sites available for media-sharing, it might be beneficial to select one platform to use for all activities of this kind. Having one platform will streamline the activities; provide stability; and eliminate the need to keep track of multiple user accounts, groups, and invitations. Instructors should choose a platform that they are comfortable with that students can access easily, and one that allows the most flexibility in dealing with different types of media files, such as a course management system (CMS). Good examples are BlackboardMoodle, or Wimba. These platforms might not be as flashy as Voicethread or Facebook, but they are consistent and easy to use at institutions that already have them. If using a CMS, the best place to host a multimedia-based activity would be the basic discussion board.

Frequency and Consistency

Media-based activities work well when regularly scheduled into a course syllabus. This consistency helps students overcome any anxiety from using unfamiliar computer programs and Web applications and adds to the reliability of the instruction. When students see that these activities are a regular part of the course that will benefit their language learning, they are more likely to take them seriously and do assigned homework and activities. In my experience, I have found that one standardized media-based homework assignment, as well as in-class activities, works well on a biweekly basis.


The types of activities involving multimedia will vary according to the skill area in focus. For instance, an online oral or written discussion could be based around a video or listening passage for an emphasis on listening skills. A similar activity could be used as a springboard for a speaking or writing assignment. Again, the different types of multimedia provide a wonderful advantage by bringing students a variety of language input and output opportunities.

The Internet is a goldmine for finding authentic listening and reading material on any topic. Using a chosen Web platform as a base, many different interactive activities can be carried out surrounding a given video or article.

Online Video/Audio Sites

For listening material, the following sites may prove to be useful resources. Many of these sites have links below the video allowing users to either sharethe video on social-networking sites, or directly embed it into a Web site, blog, or wiki. Of course, these resources can also be easily accessed on any of the platforms mentioned earlier.

Summary and Reaction 

At a basic level, media shared among classmates can be used to teach students how to react to a text, thinking critically about the speaker’s perspectives and attitudes, as well as the main topics and themes. The instructor could find the material or give the students a certain topic or a Web site and have students search for their own material. Once the material is located, students listen to or read it, then summarize the main ideas and react to it, supporting their opinions with specific examples from the original media. This summary and reaction could be done in writing or orally using audio recording software. As with traditional media sharing, students could post their summaries and reactions, along with the original media, on a blog or as a message inside a discussion board thread. It is important part that the summaries and reactions are available online to the entire class.

Threaded Oral and Written Discussion

When it comes to productive skills such as writing and speaking, online media provide authentic and stimulating prompts. Furthermore, it can also be beneficial to include written and oral reactions over the Internet in the form of commenting and online discussion. A CMS discussion board works well for this activity, clearly linking comments and replies together in threads.

The input, in the form of text, photo, or audio/video, can be provided by either the instructor or the students. Once the media input is uploaded or linked to the discussion board, students can post their initial reactions. For an oral discussion, depending on the chosen platform, additional software may be needed to record comments (try Audacity – and the audio files attached in the message. The next step is to have students reply to their classmates’ comments, and taking it even further, reply to replies, in a continuing discussion revolving around the media.

For a speaking class, one advantage of an online discussion is that it allows students to practice the discourse tools of agreeing, disagreeing, asking for and giving clarifications, and supporting an opinion. For instance, a debate could be carried out over the course of several weeks, with arguments being made on a weekly basis. For writing, an online discussion can help students develop their ideas as they read and respond to each other.

Student-Created Activities

The experience of searching the Internet for appropriate multimedia is an excellent way to immerse students in authentic English. This activity is even more meaningful if they create an entire activity based on their selection and share with the class in an online environment. Depending on time constraints and proficiency level, this type of activity could be carried out with more or less structure. At the most basic level, students could be assigned to select an online video from a specified Web site, such as The History Channel ( After watching the video, the students then create a set of questions about the material and post their URL and questions in a message on the discussion board or on the class blog. For a more structured version, the questions could be grouped into main idea, detail, inference, and critical-thinking questions. Ideally, students, perhaps in pairs, would edit each other’s questions for grammar and vocabulary. If the creating process is done during in-class lab time, the second half of the class could be used to complete the activities, responding with answers as a “reply” or “comment.” This same activity could be used with reading material.

Online Chat

Another way to increase interaction around online multimedia is through chat. Instead of using independent worksheets during lab time, students could be discussing questions regarding the listening or reading material with a partner online. Communicating through chat is often more engaging than simply comparing answers with someone at the next computer. Students are more likely to give more complete answers when typing in a virtual environment than when talking face-to-face. To make this activity even more challenging, an instructor might try giving the questions to only one of the partners, requiring the partners to communication online to receive instructions and questions.


The activities outlined in this article are effective ways to improve fluency and critical-thinking skills. One challenge that arises, however, is how and when to assess grammatical errors. For instance, a student might demonstrate excellent critical thinking and fluency but lack grammatical accuracy and language quality in oral or written comments. Although an instructor might not grade each media-based assignment, these activities provide a good supply of writing and speaking samples that can be used for further analysis and refinement in class. For instance, an instructor could select a media-based assignment and show writing samples on a projector, demonstrating certain language structure. Another possibility is for students to transcribe a selected oral sample of their own for error analysis and resubmit a polished entry.


Because the sharing and discussion of Web-based multimedia is already so popular among young people especially, it can be easily incorporated into the curriculum for academic English. The interaction that happens in the online environment can be more engaging than face-to-face, requiring students to use their language and critical-thinking skills but also to self-monitor to correct errors. The activities described in this article can be easily facilitated using many different types of Web applications, but as I have suggested, instructors may want to consolidate all media-based activities onto one platform, such as a CMS or blog.

Author Bio: Heather Torrie currently teaches academic listening and speaking in the English Language Program at Purdue University Calumet. Previous to that, she taught English listening, speaking, and grammar at Brigham Young University. Her professional interests include skill integration, computer-assisted language learning, and program evaluation.

Book Review


Authors: Frank Parker and Kathryn Riley

Publisher: Allyn and Bacon

Copyright Year: 2005 (4th Edition)

ISBN: 0205421180

Reviewer: Katharina Schuhmann,

Book Categories:

  • Textbook
  • Reference/Resource
  • Language/Linguistics


Linguistics for Non-Linguists is a down-to-earth self-teaching textbook about the basic principles, ideas, and methods in theoretical and applied linguistics. This textbook is intended for professionals working in neighboring disciplines of linguistics, such as English as a second language and foreign language instructors. The textbook is organized into manageable chapters that each lay out the basic issues in one area of linguistics, followed by numerous exercises (with and without answers). The chapters cover such topics as second language acquisition, first language acquisition, pragmatics, phonology, syntax, and the neurology of language. The text is framed with a brief introduction about the purpose and content of the book and a summarizing conclusion that focuses on the book’s overarching ideas. The book also contains an extensive glossary with clear and to-the-point definitions of many key (and not-so-key) terms in theoretical and applied linguistics.


I highly recommend this textbook to all ESL instructors and, in particular, to TESOL students currently enrolled in a degree or certification program. The entire textbook is very well organized, each chapter is succinctly structured, and new key words are highlighted. This excellent organization of the text allows readers to study the chapters in any order (or to focus on a select few) and to find specific information quickly. Where applicable, the text abounds with graphs and illustrations that help to visualize and reinforce abstract ideas. Not only is the text exceptionally user-friendly and probably the most easy-to-read book on linguistics to date, the content is also rich in ideas, explanations, and details and is not unnecessarily simplified. The authors are able to convey a great deal of information without getting lost in linguistic jargon, making this a highly enjoyable resource both for readers looking for a quick refresher of their linguistic knowledge and for readers looking to find out more about the core concepts in linguistics for the first time.

Community News and Information IEPIS Steering Committee Chair: Kim Chavis,

Kim Chavis

Past Chair: Sheryl Meyer,

Cheryl Meyer

Chair Elect: Leo Schmitt,

Newsletter Editor: Christie Ward,

Christie Ward

Secretary: Andrea Todd,

Historian: Liz Bowles,

Member-at-Large: Carol Romett,

Carol Romett

Member-at-Large: Jim Bame,

Member-at-Large: Holly Shi,

Other Positions

E-list Moderator: Joyce Bogdan,

Webmaster: Jim Scofield,

Jim Scofield

Member Resources

Web site:


Highlights of IEPIS Survey

IEPIS administered a membership survey in early 2009, and received 555 responses. Here is a brief summary of the results:


  • 68% have been in the ESL/EFL field for 10 years or more
  • 56% work at a four-year college or university
  • 40% list teaching as their primary professional responsibility
  • 74% are employed full-time in the field


Survey respondents rated the following IEP-IS offerings “very useful”:

  • 44% Opportunities for professional development
  • 41% E-newsletter
  • 40% Opportunities for professional networking
  • 40% IEP-IS academic sessions at the TESOL convention
  • 39% IEP-IS Web site


Survey respondents indicated interest in professional development topics regarding classroom teaching:

  • 60% individual skills areas (reading, writing, listening, speaking, etc.)
  • 60% integrating technology
  • 52% integrated skills
  • 35% pronunciation
  • 29% TOEFL prep
  • 27% classroom management

Survey respondents indicated interest in professional development topics regarding instructional materials:

  • 76% adapting instructional materials
  • 58% selecting instructional materials

Survey respondents indicated interest in professional development topics regarding the supervision and evaluation of instructors:

  • 75% mentoring
  • 48% orienting new instructors
  • 37% recruiting/retaining instructors

Survey respondents indicated interest in professional development topics regarding student assessment:

  • 80% progress and achievement
  • 67% proficiency
  • 59% placement

Survey respondents indicated interest in professional development topics regarding program administration:

  • 63% planning
  • 54% goal setting
  • 53% creating new revenue streams
  • 33% budgeting

Survey respondents indicated interest in professional development topics regarding accreditation:

  • 100% process

Survey respondents indicated interest in professional development topics regarding advocacy:

  • 100% current issues

About This Newsletter

Christie Ward,

The IEPIS Newsletter contains information that reflects the issues and needs that face IEP educators and administrators. Its purpose is to disseminate important information to IEP members, facilitate ongoing interaction between the membership and the leadership, and provide a forum to share ideas, research, and insights. To that end, the IEPIS Newsletter seeks to involve TESOL professionals in discussions of the latest questions and issues.

General Information

  • The IEPIS Newsletter is an e-journal.
  • It is published twice a year: winter/spring, summer/fall.
  • The editor asks all writers to sign a document that gives the IEPIS Newsletter permission to publish their articles.
  • Authors retain their copyright.
  • The IEPIS Newsletter reserves the right to edit work that is accepted for publication.

Submission Guidelines for the IEPIS Newsletter

  • Stay below a maximum of 3,500 words.
  • Write about a timely and relevant topic.
  • Include a brief abstract (approximately 40 words) and a bio (approximately 20 words) with the article.
  • Attach electronic pictures of the authors, if possible and desired.
  • Use headings and subheadings.
  • Include an introduction and concluding section or paragraph.
  • Format citations according to APA style.

Deadlines for Submissions

  • June 15
  • November 15

Please send your submissions to Christie Ward at

About This Member Community IEPIS STATEMENT OF PURPOSE

IEPIS exists to provide language instruction for those who, for whatever purpose, need or desire to acquire English in a relatively brief but intense period.

TESOL’s Intensive English Programs (IEP) Interest Section exists to serve the needs of those who work in IEPs. The concerns of the membership may include methodology, curriculum design, materials development, placement, evaluation, program administration, technology-assisted instruction, English for specific purposes, culture, learners’ concerns, and members’ employment concerns.

Though most IEPIS members are associated with IEPs in academic preparatory programs, the membership includes professionals involved in all types of intensive English instruction.


The primary goals and activities of the interest section are

  • to foster the recognition of English language instruction as a professional/academic discipline at all levels of education;
  • to facilitate the gathering and exchange of knowledge and information among ESOL professionals in IEPs by sponsoring special projects, convention sessions, and publications in appropriate media;
  • to stimulate and disseminate scholarship, research, and professional development regarding language teaching and related concerns in IEPs by sponsoring special projects, convention sessions, and publications in appropriate media;
  • to provide a forum for the exchange of views on IEP-related issues through affiliate and TESOL conventions and through appropriate media;
  • to advocate for the professional concerns of the members and the students the members teach;
  • to mentor, advise, and train members with regard to conference proposals, publications, and professional concerns;
  • to promote ethical and high professional standards of teaching, administration, and employment practices in IEPs;
  • to represent TESOL at affiliate conferences/activities and on institutional programs;
  • to ensure viability and continuity of TESOL by training and encouraging aspiring practitioners in the IEPIS to become officers;
  • to identify persons within the IEP community who may serve as resources to others; and
  • to cooperate with other organizations addressing the needs of IEPs in order to achieve common goals.