MWIS Newsletter

MWIS News, Volume 23:2 (July 2010)

by User Not Found | 10/27/2011
In This Issue...
  • News
    • Letters From the Chair and Chair-Elect
    • Editor's Note and Elist Report
  • Articles
    • Trusting the Printed Page
  • Convention Updates
    • TESOL 2010 Session Report: I Want To Write a Book! Getting Published With TESOL
    • Minutes from the MWIS Annual Business Meeting
    • Report on the Mary Finocchiaro Award

News Letters From the Chair and Chair-Elect


Robyn Brinks Lockwood, MWIS Chair, or

I wanted to take this opportunity to share some notes from the Interest Section Assembly minutes. The meeting was held on March 26, 2010, in Boston.

After the Interest Section Assembly Special Rules were approved, the meeting was declared officially in session. Marianne Stipe from the Awards Committee presented the D. Scott Enright Award for Service to an Interest Section to Elizabeth Hanson-Smith for her work with CALLIS.

Several new business items were discussed and two items seemed especially relevant to MWIS. The first of these topics was e-voting and whether only primary members of an IS should be allowed to vote in IS officer elections. There was no consensus among leaders; therefore, a motion was made and carried to allow each IS to decide who can vote in its elections. The decision of each IS will be reflected in the interest section governing rules.

As we mentioned in the open business meeting, our governing rules are due for a review. The current rules are on the Web site; please do have a look when you have a minute. If you have any suggestions, please let me know and I'll include those in the notes. If anyone would like to join a committee to revise the rules, feel free to contact me.

The second item of primary interest to our group was convention length. A motion was made to resubmit the 2009 motion asking the board to reconsider the shorter convention length. After discussion, the motion was voted on and passed. I do have a copy of the resolution should anyone be interested.

Let me take this opportunity to formally introduce Peter Vahle, our new MWIS e-list moderator. Peter is an active ESL instructor and materials and video developer and is looking forward to playing an active role in the interest section. I'd also like to take a moment to thank Bill Walker for his years of service as our e-list moderator and his dedication to MWIS. He will be greatly missed, but I know everyone will echo my good wishes to him for his retirement. I'd also like to thank the 25 MWIS members who volunteered to be proposal readers for the 2011 convention. The activity and attitude of our group members never ceases to amaze me. I'm happy to be part of this interest section.

I'll send messages to our list as I learn new things from TESOL, continue plans for the 2011 convention, and hear news that affects the interest section. I am excited about the year that MWIS has ahead.


Lida Baker, MWIS Chair-Elect,

Dear Fellow MWIS-ers,

First let me say how happy I am to be your new chair-elect. I have been a member of TESOL since I was a graduate student at UCLA in the department then called Teaching English as a Second Language (now Applied Linguistics), and I've been a member of MWIS since its founding in 1986. Last year my daughter graduated from high school, and I decided to invest some of my rediscovered free time in contributing to our professional organization. Thank you for selecting me for this leadership position.

I live in Los Angeles, California, where I now work as a freelance writer and editor of ESL materials. Earlier in my career I spent more than 25 years as a classroom teacher and teacher trainer, mostly in the Intensive English Program at UCLA Extension. I've written close to two dozen student texts, teacher's manuals, workbooks, and test packages, and I've been lucky enough to edit publications written by many talented members of this interest section.

As this newsletter goes to press, I am devoting time to putting together the InterSections and Academic Session for next year's convention in New Orleans. We will be pairing with CALL (Computer Assisted Language Learning) in a session on materials development and new technology. We will also be joining with AE (Adult Education) and ESP (English for Special Purposes) in a session devoted to materials, curriculum, and policy issues in the area of English for occupational purposes, or EOP. I am still working on the topic for our Academic Session.

I am sure the coming 2 years are going to be both interesting and challenging for me. I welcome your questions, suggestions, and offers of help, and I hope to see as many of you as possible in New Orleans.

Meanwhile, I wish everyone an enjoyable and productive summer!

Best wishes,


Editor's Note and Elist Report

Susannah O. MacKay, MWIS Newsletter Editor,

Dear colleagues,

Many of you are aware of the technical difficulties the MWIS e-list has been experiencing in recent months. Indeed all the TESOL interest sections have been affected. The good news is that TESOL has been able to boost bandwidth in order to support the volume of traffic on TESOL e-lists, hopefully resolving the problems we were experiencing before. The bad news is that we are aware that many IS members are still not receiving messages. Everything that can be done to address the issue certainly is being done.

Unfortunately, because of the bandwidth issues, we have had a serious communication breakdown for several months (including before and after the convention in Boston). Messages sent by IS leadership and membership have most often gone nowhere, including any calls for submission to the newsletter. I deeply regret that, as a result, many of you out there were not able to take the opportunity to contribute.

As we move forward, it is our hope that the current challenges will be resolved and that future newsletters will see the fantastic response we usually do. Thank you so much to those talented individuals who did contribute to this issue to keep us going! I am looking forward to our newsletters in 2011. In the meantime, do enjoy the informative and well-written contributions we have this time around.

As always, if you have any concerns or suggestions for the content and future of this publication, please feel free to contact me I welcome your feedback!

Best regards,


Articles Trusting the Printed Page

Joan Bartel,

As a recently renewed TESOL member after a lapse of several years, I have been reading up on what issues are being talked about in my favorite interest sections. And as an author of both textbooks and an ESL Web site, I felt rewarded in finding the lively discussion about the relevance of textbooks in the age of multiple media in the MWIS Newsletter of last summer (Petring, 2009). This topic had been on my mind lately after I read a news article about the perceptions of reliability of various sources of information (Flavelle, 2010). Besides all the great discussions on the interactivity of Web 2.0 and the practicality of books, we should not forget to consider how consumers in general feel about using them both. I would like to add to the MWIS discussion by briefly summarizing and commenting on the article and adding a few of my personal experiences as a materials writer.

Vision Critical, a major online polling company, carried out two studies comparing online social media with traditional media in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom in March 2010 (Hugh, 2010, para. 3). Results for the United States and Canada show that family is still the most trusted source of information (claimed by 78% of respondents of all ages), followed by friends (68%). (I say, why didn't they include teachers as a source of information?)

After friends and family come the media, with radio at 45 percent, closely followed by newspapers at 41 percent and online news sources at 39 percent. Less favored are other media: television (31%), print magazines (28%), and, last, social networks (13%) and blogs (8%) (Flavelle, 2010, para. 6). Books as a source of information were not included. These were the results even though the survey itself was done online, where I would have expected respondents to give more credibility to online media and blogs.

Because the findings were fairly steady across all age levels, Angus Reid, the CEO of Vision Critical, could boldly announce that the results show that even younger adults still rely on newspapers and that "Print newspapers have a very large trust level" (Flavelle, 2010, para. 5, 3). But critical readers will note that he was speaking to the Canadian Newspaper Association, several of whose members are his clients, that is, not a disinterested audience.

What shall we materials writers make of such survey results?

First of all, I would like to extrapolate by saying that conventional books, like newspapers, represent information that has been written, edited or reviewed, and offered as printed words on paper, and that textbooks therefore will also be seen as more trustworthy than online media. How many of us have been challenged with the protest, "But my book says something else!"? A student of mine once erupted in frustration, throwing his dictionary down the length of the hallway, when he discovered that it contained some errors. If he couldn't believe the written word, what could he believe? This is not a negligible issue. Our students generally do respect books and that helps in their willingness to work with them.

Second, I would like to see survey responses from other countries, such as those of our students. One anecdote leads me to think that results may be similar to the findings in North America. A year and a half ago, I put together a lot of my scattered work on business soft skills and created a Web site for them. I had used the activities with my classes of immigrant professionals, and when the summer 2008 class ended, I told the students about the almost-ready Web site. One usually eager Chinese student asked me disappointedly, "Why did you put it online? You should have written a book." Indeed, Angus Reid seems to agree with that, saying to the Newspaper Association, "Your challenge is leveraging that trust in the new media" (Flavelle, 2010, para. 3). I actually did follow his advice and wrote out a print version, which has easily surpassed the online version in sales and usage, even though it is a self-published book.

In fact, these anecdotes have recently been shown to be representative of American students' feelings about textbooks. As I was writing this piece, another short article appeared on this topic. It states that a new study across 19 U.S. colleges found that almost 75 percent of those students preferred printed textbooks over digital ones, with more than half saying they would not buy e-textbooks (The Huffington Post, 2010, para. 1).

My own conclusion is that the written word on paper is still powerful. To aspiring materials writers I suggest: Writing well-researched materials is a worthy and needed--as well as engaging--activity, whether the materials are ultimately accessed online, as an e-book, or in print. We also know that readers and learners especially trust the printed page, so don't be afraid to write a book. It will be appreciated as a valuable source of knowledge.


Flavelle, D. (2010, May 15). Newspapers still among the most trusted media. The Toronto Star, p. B3. Retrieved from

Hugh, S. (2010, May 13). Angus Reid to give keynote at Ink & Beyond 2010. Retrieved from

Petring, J. (2009, July). Yes, textbooks are still relevant, but shift happens. MWIS Newsletter, 22(2). Retrieved from

The Huffington Post. (2010, May 26). Students still prefer textbooks: Study. Retrieved from

Joan Bartel has been in the field of ESL/EFL for over 25 years and now teaches occupation-specific language training at Humber College, Toronto. While teaching at Harvard, she wrote a textbook about reading the newspaper to answer students' questions, and she recently self-published Office Soft Skills and a Web site of the same name.

Convention Updates TESOL 2010 Session Report: I Want To Write a Book! Getting Published With TESOL

Robyn Brinks Lockwood, or

A group of Book Publications Committee (BPC) members and TESOL authors joined together to offer a session on getting a book published with TESOL. Presenters were 

Hedy McGarrell, Brock University, Canada; TESOL PBC
John Liontas, State University of New York, Fredonia, NY; TESOL BPC 
Maureen Adrade, Utah Valley University, Orem, UT; TESOL BPC 
Robyn Brinks Lockwood, Stanford University, Palo Alto, CA; TESOL BPC 
Tim Collins, National-Louis University, Chicago, IL; Chair, TESOL BPC

Approximately 50 participants learned more about how the operation of TESOL's book publications is managed, discovered how to publish with TESOL, and received personalized feedback to questions about moving forward with individual projects. Both current specific calls for authors and calls for unsolicited manuscripts were discussed.

Details about writing a proposal for either a call or an unsolicited project were shared. Hedy McGarrell, a TESOL author and moderator of the session, shared information about "selling" the concept and encouraged prospective authors to include two chapters, a detailed table of contents, and information about the timeliness, purpose, and market niche of the proposed book. More information can be found at by clicking on "For Authors" under "Publications."

Each member of the committee shared his or her insights and experience by answering these questions:

  1. What was the best piece of advice you ever received about getting a book published on a TESOL topic?
  2. What would you do differently looking back on that first book?
  3. What advice would you give to those trying to get a book published on a TESOL topic?

Attendees were invited to submit questions about what they wanted to know about getting published. Questions were sorted into categories for breakout sessions led by a member of the BPC. Topics during the breakout sections included choosing an appropriate topic, developing a proposal, working through the publishing process, learning writing strategies, building relationships with publishers, and receiving credit or payments. The smaller breakout sessions also allowed time for specific questions or individual feedback.

During the final minutes, a raffle was held and the winners won books donated by TESOL.

Robyn Brinks Lockwood teaches courses at Stanford University, serves on the TESOL Book Publications Committee, is chair of the MWIS, and is a materials writer and editor.

Minutes from the MWIS Annual Business Meeting

Lida Baker, MWIS Chair-Elect,

The annual business meeting for the Materials Writers Interest Section took place during TESOL 2010 in Boston, Massachusetts, on March 25, in the Convention Center, Room 157C, from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. The following are notes on the proceedings.

1. Chair Gena Bennett called the meeting to order.

a. Gena thanked the following volunteers: Susannah MacKay, MWIS newsletter editor; Bill Walker, e-list moderator; Robyn Brinks Lockwood, chair-elect; and all proposal readers.

b. She provided an update on the judging and awarding of the Mary Finocchiaro Award for Excellence in Nonpublished Pedagogical Materials.

2. Presentation of the Mary Finocchiaro Award

a. Marta Dmytrenko-Ahrabian of the TESOL Awards Committee presented this year's award to Tamara Warhol and Katherine Rhode Fields of the University of Mississippi (UM). Katherine, a visiting professor of art, and Tamara, director of the university's Intensive English Program, received the award for their collaborative project called "Perceptual Prose." The original project, designed to enhance the English skills of visiting Venezuelan high school students, had students photograph scenes of themselves around the UM campus, then upload the photos to a blog where the images were discussed and critiqued. The project eventually grew into the four-part curriculum for which the two instructors received the Finocchiaro Award.

b. Tamara and Katherine were encouraged to write an article about their work for the MWIS Newsletter, as it was felt that many members would be interested in the melding of art and language learning that their project represents.

3. Report from Chair Gena Bennett

a. Gena gave an update on the MWIS/VDMIS (Video and Digital Media IS) reception (which was held on Friday, March 26) in the Douglas Room at the Westin. Gena asked for volunteers to help pay the cost of the bartender ($100). TESOL would not sponsor the event because it mirrored fundraising.

b. Members were encouraged to submit more proposals. Gena explained that the number of sessions MWIS is allotted is tied directly to the number of submissions received. For the 2010 convention, we received only 29 proposals. (See Section 7 below for more on this issue.)

c. The difference between an Academic Session and an InterSection was explained. Each interest section is allotted one Academic Session dedicated to a topic of relevance to that IS's members. InterSections, in contrast, bring together speakers from two different ISs to discuss a topic that spans the concerns of both.

4. Report from Incoming Chair Robyn Brinks Lockwood

a. Robyn introduced Chair-Elect Lida Baker, who will be responsible for next year's Academic Session and InterSections.

b. She gave an update on attendance at the MWIS booth in the Exhibit Hall.

c. She called on people to sign up for proposal reading for the 2011 convention.

5. Newsletter Update

a. Congratulations to newsletter editor Susannah MacKay who had a baby in January!

b. Robyn announced the deadline for the next issue and encouraged members to submit.

c. She said she was working with the TESOL Central Office regarding the problem of people not getting the newsletter. Currently, the Central Office computer is set to distribute the newsletter only to people who select MWIS as their primary IS. This problem will be fixed.

6. E-list Update

a. Warm thanks were extended to Bill Walker who has served as our e-list moderator for 4 years. He is officially retiring from TESOL; best of luck to him.

b. Robyn called for a volunteer to replace Bill.

7. New Business

a. Robyn reminded everyone about the Special Projects application, due May 1. Last year no one submitted anything. TESOL awards $500 to an IS whose application is approved.

b. MWIS is supposed to update its governing rules. Joe McVeigh volunteered to work with Robyn on this project.

c. Regarding item 3b above, attendees wanted to know more about how submitted proposals are accepted or rejected. It was suggested that perhaps members aren't submitting proposals because they are discouraged about being rejected. Gena explained that the convention chair has some authority to override proposals selected by our reviewers for the sake of "global diversity." That happened this year: MWIS was allotted nine sessions, but TESOL took away three of them. The only way for us to be allotted more sessions is to receive more proposals.

d. Joe explained that policy is decided by a committee of past, present, and future convention chairs. With the 3-day convention there is great competition for rooms.

e. Gena suggested that if someone has a great idea for a session and doesn't want to take a chance on having it rejected, that person could approach the IS chair directly and suggest having the idea be the topic of our Academic Session.

f. Kelly Sippell suggested that we could solicit proposals about other kinds of publishing, not just student texts.

g. If anyone wants further clarification on the proposal process, he or she should contact Valerie Borchelt, programs and services manager (, or Lisa Dyson, director of conference services (

h. The opinion was expressed that the charge for AV equipment at the convention is "unconscionable." Those concerned may wish to contact next year's convention chair, Ahmar Mahboob.

i. Susan McGuire expressed interest in an InterSection on how research informs materials writers. However, the research IS was dissolved. What took its place?

Report on the Mary Finocchiaro Award

Marta O. Dmytrenko-Ahrabian, TESOL Awards Committee, Coordinator of the Mary Finocchiaro Award ,

The purpose of the Mary Finocchiaro Award, created in 1987 in honor of Mary Finocchiaro-a noted educator, author, and TESOL president from 1970 to 1971, is to stimulate excellence and innovation in ESL/EFL materials writing. The award is given each year to a TESOL member who has achieved excellence through the development of practical and pedagogically innovative materials not currently under consideration for publication. Recipients receive complimentary TESOL convention registration and $500.

All TESOL members involved in materials writing are encouraged to submit materials they have developed. The materials must be pedagogically innovative and related to some aspect of ESL/EFL teaching, addressing an area such as curriculum, teaching techniques, materials development, testing systems, or computer software.

This year there were 10 submissions. The adjudication process for the award consists of a team of readers who independently evaluate the materials for the following: feasibility, relevance to the classroom, adherence to the rationale or theoretical basis, a clear indication of language level and target population, and style and clarity of expression. The readers are past recipients of the award.

The 2010 recipients of the Mary Finocchiaro Award were Tamara Warhol and Katherine Rhodes Fields. Tamara is the director of the IEP and assistant professor of applied linguistics at the University of Mississippi, where she teaches courses in assessment, descriptive grammar, and language teaching methods in the MA-TESL program. Her research explores how graduate students are socialized into the academic discourse of their disciplines. Katherine is a visiting assistant professor of art at the University of Mississippi. As an artist, Katherine's work is based on seeking empirical communication with the use of literary devices, rhetoric, and figurative language within the visual realm. The literary devices act as "the bridge between the written word and the visual language she chooses to use when making her art."

This melding of language and art as expression in communication and instruction is very interesting. Tamara and Katherine's award-winning submission, titled "Perceptual Prose," describes how to teach students about new practices of seeing and photography, which they then incorporate into personal blogs as a means of improving their second language writing. Nowadays students need to write not only in academic genres and basic correspondence, but also in different genres such as e-mail, blogs, wikis, and even Twitter. By following Tamara and Katherine's curriculum, students' personal blogs make use of multimodal genres supplemented with photographs to create writing products that are more structured and elaborate in details than are traditional writing assignments.

Congratulations to Tamara Warhol and Katherine Rhodes Fields!