TSR Newsletter

TSR Newsletter, Volume 5:2 (September 2005)

by User Not Found | 11/01/2011
TSR Newsletter

A periodic newsletter for TESOL members.

In This Issue...
  • Articles and Information
    • Letter From the Chair
    • How to Use Short Stories to Teach English in a Humanizing, Dignifying, and Meaningful Way: A Checklist
    • Cooperative Autobiography in a Transcultural Mode
    • TESOLers’ Social Responsibilities: A Checklist
    • Exploring the Landscapes of Green Political Parties
    • TESOLers for Social Responsibility Caucus Statement of Purpose
Articles and Information Letter From the Chair Tomas Wallis, TSR Caucus Chair, tomas@slvirc.org Dear TESOL readers, This TSR Newsletter comes out at a very critical time in the history of TESOL and of our civilization. It comes at a time when more people are learning and have some facility in spoken or written English than any other language than at any other time in our history. It also comes when there is greater need than at any other time in our world’s history to build public awareness of the onslaughts on the global environment; the plight of refugees, indigenous peoples, and the malnourished; and issues of overpopulation, war, civil rights, human rights, racism, sexism, economic injustice, and religious extremism. Each of us in the classroom and out in the business of conveying ideas has the opportunity to make a difference in this world of learning by including in our curricula at least a mention of these important social issues we face daily or, even better, exercises to stimulate our students to think about them and make their own responsible personal decisions and examples of actual reported news and opportunities to discuss ideas for bringing about change. The time is past that we can honestly stand by as academicians and instructors and not try to stimulate and educate our students and otherwise prepare them for taking increasing roles of social responsibility. If you agree with me on this, I urge you to read carefully the articles contained in the TSR Newsletter and also to think about sharing what you are doing in this regard in our next issue. Also, your feedback is always appreciated. We look forward to hearing from you.
How to Use Short Stories to Teach English in a Humanizing, Dignifying, and Meaningful Way: A Checklist

George Bradford Patterson, borgeslover@hotmail.com

Short stories may be utilized as a very helpful and inspiring literary device to teach English language skills in a humanizing, dignifying, and meaningful way in the EFL/ESL class and promote human rights, justice, dignity, and intercultural understanding. The use of this device has become more obvious and important in light of the increasing interest in peace through the interest group TESOLers for Social Responsibility (TSR) and the human-improving role of applied linguists:

There is an increasing stress and tendency for TESOL professionals to participate in applications of peace linguistics. Peace linguistics may be defined by a pioneering entry on that emerging area by David Crystal (1999):

An approach which emerged during the 1990s among many linguists and language teachers in which linguistic principles, methods, findings and applications were seen as a means of promoting peace and human rights at a global level. It emphasizes the linguistic value of diversity and multilingualism. (254)

Along the same lines, short stories can be utilized as an innovative device by humanistic teachers for dignifying and edifying learning experiences. Following is a checklist (partially adapted from Francisco Gomes de Matos’s (2004) checklist “Are You a Humanizer?”) for EFL/ESL teachers to utilize short stories as an innovative device to teach English language skills in a humanizing and meaningful way:

1. Make use of short stories that emphasize such values as human rights, justice, peace, dignity, courage, reconciliation, forgiveness, compassion, mercy, and repentance. Have the students look for symbols, themes, imagery, moods, tones, epiphanies, character development, plots, subplots, ironies, foreshadowing/suspense, and aftershadowing to illustrate these values.

2. Then have them write short stories to illustrate values. They can do this as an individual class exercise and also at home. Have them identify symbols, themes, imagery, moods, tones, settings, epiphanies, foreshadowing, and aftershadowing. Have them read passages in their short stories that illustrate these literary devices. Then have them do this as a small-group exercise.

3. Have them discuss how the short story enables them to grow personally, socially, intraculturally, and interculturally on a group and individual level. Have volunteers provide examples to the class. As a follow-up exercise, have them write summaries or essays explaining these points of growth. They can do this as a group and individual exercise. Then they can do this as a homework exercise. They can also do it in a second language learning context.

4. Encourage the students to apply human communicative rights in the classroom short-story exercise by asserting their right to hear (what is being said by other members of the classroom community) and their right to be heard and to make certain that the students fulfill their corresponding communicative responsibilities.

5. Adapt/change portions of short stories so that they contribute to personal or group humanization, including having them write epiphanies. Epiphanies (Hills, 1977, 17) are both a kind of experience and also a literary genre—both a way of seeing or hearing and a way of demonstrating and writing. Some epiphanies may be an artistic creation—in fact, a sort of poetic-prose statement—whereas others appear to be transcriptions of actual life, albeit recorded, of course, with extreme care. In such a case, the crucial questions would be: What has to be changed in the short story(s) in such and such a lesson so that language learning can become a profoundly humanizing and meaningful experience. How can that be actualized? This exercise can be done as a group, individual, whole-class, or homework exercise.

6. As the students discuss and write these short stories, encourage them to adopt and sustain a positive view of the language and culture of that short story. In addition, make use of English translations by Nobel literary laureates such as Miguel Angel Asturias and Gabriel Garcia Marquez and other great writers such as Isabel Allende and Jorge Luis Borges, the greatest short-story writer in the history of Latin America.

7 Also, use classroom short-story exercises to facilitate the creation of humanizing, peace-building, peace-enhancing, and peace-promoting activities so that learners improve their competence as caring and compassionate language learners/users. Have the students explore how these short stories can contribute to humanizing, dignifying, and meaningful activities that can serve as a bridge for peace, justice, human rights, and intercultural understanding in regional conflicts such as in Mindanao in the Philippines, Bosnia, Rwanda, Afghanistan, Kosovo, Iraq, Sudan, Somalia, Congo, Ivory Coast, Palestine-Israel, Lebanon, Chechnya, and Northern Ireland.

8. Employ the short-story exercises to help the students probe language resources, especially vocabulary, in small groups and pairs. Through investing in vocabulary, students can reap the fruits of humanizing dividends on a short-term and long-term basis. The corresponding vital question would be How can the learning of vocabulary from short stories contribute to reinforcing learners’ sense of self-respect, self-esteem, mutual respect, and dignity?

9. Have the students use the Internet in a humanizing way by searching for meaningful, dignifying, and humanizing short stories by Nobel laureates such as William Faulkner, Ernest Hemingway, and Isabel Allende. Then have the students communicate with each other by e-mail in discussing the short stories of these writers. Have them compare and contrast the short stories of these writers.

The use of short stories as an innovative device to teach English language skills to EFL/ESL students and second language skills of other second languages to second language learners can reinforce the teaching of these language skills in a humanizing, meaningful, and dignifying way by

  • Challenging students to cultivate and sustain an awareness of their responsibility as peace patriots through their employment of English and of their first language and other languages in which they are fluent.
  • Sensitizing learners to the awareness of language used not only for interacting but also for expressing the feeling of loving one’s linguistic neighbor.
  • Challenging student to create peace-promoting mini-glossaries for employment in different professions, such as tourism and management, law, medicine, journalism, and engineering.
  • Challenging students to exchange peace-enhancing sustaining statements, proverbs, allegories, vignettes, and quotations with learners both intraculturally and cross-culturally.
  • Challenging students to identify insensitive uses of English in the media (press/television/movies) and in fictional works and to replace such objectionable expressions with humanizingly rendered language. (Gomes de Matos, 2002)

    Therefore, the short story is definitely a superb innovative device to teach English language skills to EFL/ESL students and also language skills of other second languages to second language learners in a humanizing, dignifying, and meaningful way.

    References

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    Crystal, D. (1999). The penguin dictionary of language (2nd ed.). London: Penguin Books.

    Gomes de Matos, F. (2002). Applied peace linguistics: A new frontier for TESOLers. FIPLV World News , 56, 4-6.

    Gomes de Matos, F. (2004). Are you a humanizer?: A checklist. TESOLers for Social Responsibility Newsletter, 4 .

    Hills, R. (1977). Writing in general and the short story in particular. New York: Houghton Mifflin.


    Cooperative Autobiography in a Transcultural Mode Tsering Yanjon (edited by Gael Fonken), foga0301@stcloudstate.edu The ESL 202 reading and writing class is designed especially for those learning English as their second or third language. In this class students are introduced to various types of writings and encouraged to write freely and express their feelings and ideas without any hesitations. And the results were remarkable. Students came from a variety of countries, including India, Japan, Malaysia, Kenya, and Nepal (Tibet), and every student had interesting stories to share. As a student who took this class, I would like to explain how this experience unfolded. The first essay we wrote was a transcultural autobiographical essay. Our instructor produced a sample essay to help with the writing process. We followed certain steps in order to find the right plot:
  • The first step was to distinguish between western autobiography and transcultural autobiography. The story has to have an open-ended plot that focuses more on we than me , and more on a global scene that is still expanding this we .
  • The second step was to use specific transcultural processes to help focus the plot on a particular type of experience (from reviewing/renewing the past, to landing and integrating, to listening again, etc.). We used our personal and family stories to demonstrate these processes and affirm them as real.
  • The third step was to reflect on sociopsychological lessons that we discovered in these stories.
  • The final step was to reflect on these stories together. This step helped us to recognize our commonalities and to see we are all becoming more global. Not only did this writing assignment give us an opportunity to build bridges between our lives, but it connected us with the dreams and experiences of our grandparents and parents. We realized that no matter how different we are in terms of culture and tradition, all of us are still giving shape to our family traditions in deep and special ways. In our grandparents especially we saw a similar openness and desire for a better world. The challenge of finding a place in the modern world to live peacefully was something they struggled with too. Because their courage lives in us, we can enter into the future with strong hearts and minds. These results surprised us in many ways. In the end, four of our essays were published in our campus magazine, Kaleidoscope . Personally, I discovered a talent for writing. To make the class more interesting and creative, Gael Fonken, our instructor, asked each of us to present a PowerPoint version of our stories. That was when I realized that sometimes the pictures speak louder than the words. You can find these transcultural slide shows and autobiographical essays athttp://studentweb.stcloudstate.edu/foga0301/esl_202_reading_and_writing.htm.
    TESOLers’ Social Responsibilities: A Checklist Francisco Gomes de Matos, fcgm@hotlink.com.br In recent meetings with local teachers of English, I have added one query to my list of provocative questions: How do you demonstrate or exemplify that you are an English language educator with social responsibilities? To systematize that challenge, I resort to the strategy of asking participants to list, in alphabetical order, some of the roles that they play, especially in classrooms, but also outside the school context, that manifest such social responsibility. Thanks to Amanda Johnson’s kind invitation to write something for our caucus newsletter, I’d like to extend the above-mentioned challenge to you, but with the addition of something new, as is expected of creative actions (or CREactivations, to use one of my favorite terms when discussing the creative dimension in English language teaching): provide additional roles to those I have made explicit as motivational starters. Ready to play? Try to add as many roles—for each letter in the alphabet—as possible, but remember that your contributions should sound/look/feel realistic and relevant. Upon conclusion of this type of engaging practice, individually or in small groups, ask yourself/yourselves: Which of the roles would we select as more representative of what I/we do in our classrooms? Why? Following is my alphabetically arranged list. In groups, I ask participants to interpret each suggested role, rather than telling them my intended meaning. A TESOLer’s social responsibilities would include such teacher roles as Activist Builder Crosscultural agent Dignifier Ethics-promoter Fighter Generator Humanizer Integrator Joiner Kindness agent Liberator Mediator Nourisher Organizer Peace-promoter Query-provoker Reconciler Supporter TRANSformer (note that I have capitalized trans ) Unifier Value-promoter Well-wisher X (?) Y (?) Z (?) What about the letters with no roles attached? Filling those blanks is another challenge to you as creative users of English. Look forward to your feedback, so this experience can become a feedforward! Last but not least (to borrow a cliché), I wonder how each of us TESOLers fare when it comes to assessing our own roles as socially responsible educators.
    Exploring the Landscapes of Green Political Parties

    Bill Templer, Bill_templer@yahoo.com

    The guiding idea of the paper is quite simple: the actual concrete, often highly practicable visions and actions and programs of Green political movements need to be built as modules, especially via the Internet, into the Global Issues ESL curriculum at several levels. Green Party theory & practice is a powerful prism for introducing students to new approaches to abuse of people, abuse of environment, the rule of society by organized greed.

    In its rich international diversity, Green politics is an excellent, reality-anchored basis for looking at a broad array of social, economic or political issues facing societies today. The very breadth of Green politics in countries like the U.S., Canada and Australia, ranging from the progressive edge of the Democrat Party to the further reaches of neo-Marxist and anarchist views, invites students to rethink where they may stand and to identify with some strands in Green analysis.

    The Green prism can only serve as a focusing frame for a critical introduction to contemporary American life and society, more holistic and inclusive than utilizing a series of often non-connected separate ‘resources’ as springboards for student exploration. That also holds for exploring current life and society in other English-speaking societies in the Inner Circle. The first Green party on the planet was launched in Tasmania in Australia in 1972 (http://www.tas.greens.org.au/ ), and it remains one of the most successful, represented in the national parliament in Canberra. The oldest Green party in North America is the Maine Greens, founded in 1984 and probably the most successful Green party in the U.S. in terms of its impact on local and state politics (http://www.mainegreens.org).

    The “ten key values” are the visionary scaffolding within the parties that make up the GPUS, and most parties associated with the Global Greens: community-based economics // decentralization // ecological wisdom // feminism // future focus // grassroots democracy // non-violence // personal and global responsibility // respect for diversity // social justice.These values can form the centerpiece for student discussion of Green ideals and their relevance to our students lives. The paper presents exemplary brief modules students can explore tied to three of these key values: grassroots democracy, respect for diversity, and ecological wisdom and sustainability. (1) Instant Runoff Voting as a means to achieve a more equitable multi-party electoral system – part of a Green answer to “How can we develop systems that allow and encourage us to control the decisions that affect our lives?” (California Greens, http://cagreens.org/platform/ ). (2) “Building a “curriculum of empathy” and “promoting social imagination through interior monologues” related to the core values of ‘respect for diversity’ and ‘social justice.’ As the California Greens put it: ““How can we honor cultural, ethnic, racial, sexual, religious and spiritual diversity within the context of individual responsibility toward all beings?” The module seeks to explore injustices students themselves have experienced or can imagine (this can touch on homophobia, gender, race, religion, a person’s weight, disability and much else). In part, this is the imaging of the Other. (3) A look at the question “How can we make the quality of life, rather than open-ended economic growth, the focus of future thinking?” Utilizing engaged fiction in the EFL classroom, students are asked in this module to ponder the impact of mining on mine workers in West Virginia by a discussion of the classic short story by Albert Maltz, “Man on a Road” (Maltz 1970, and accessible online). IRV A key demand of all Green parties in the United States is to institute the form of selection known as IRV in all elections from the most local to that of the president. It is based on a system where the voter ranks her choice of all candidates (or options in voting for some other kind of choice) as 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and so on. IRV is spreading as a form of voting at many U.S. campuses used in student elections, and now in some municipalities. It would serve to democratize voting and break the duopoly of the two main corporate parties in the U.S. The California Greens have an excellent site where students can learn hands-on about what IRV is, and how they could apply it in their own classroom and communities in all kinds of selection procedures, including mock votes in the classroom on a variety of issues ( http://www.calirv.org/ ). INTERIOR MONOLOGUE A second strand unfolded here is the use of a “curriculum of empathy” (Linda Christensen) as a perspective in critical pedagogy developed by Rethinking Schools (Milwaukee), applied here through a mini-module as a window onto Green political perspectives relating to diversity and social justice. Christensen (2000, 6-7) states:

    A curriculum of empathy puts students inside the lives of others. By writing interior monologues, acting out improvisations, taking part in role plays, by creating fiction stories about historical events, students learn to develop understanding about people whose culture, race, gender or sexual orientation differs from theirs … any reading or history lesson offers myriad opportunities for this kind of activity. I find points of conflict, struggle, change, or joy and create an assignment to write about a parallel theme in their own lives. … the key to reaching my students and building community was helping students excavate and reflect on their personal experiences, and connecting them to the world of language, literature, and society. We moved from ideas to action, perhaps the most elusive objective in any classroom.

    In a section entitled ‘promoting social imagination through interior monologues’, Christensen (2000, 134-137) continues: “Empathy, or ‘social imagination’ … allows students to connect to ‘the other’ with whom, on the surface, they may appear to have little in common. A social imagination encourages students to construct a more profound ‘we’ than daily life ordinarily permits”. In her learner-centered classroom, where most of her students are working-class native speakers of English, she uses the interior monologue as a central technique, “the imagined thoughts of a character in history, literature, or life at a specific point in time”. Centered on injustice, prejudice and stereotyping in concrete everyday life, such empathy can involve students speaking and writing about their own experiences and attempting through writing to enter the mind of the other. The empathy curriculum is a pedagogy is central to Green values. POLLUTION, CORPORATE GREED AND ITS HUMAN TOLL The short tale “Man on a Road” (1935) by proletarian writer Albert Maltz, about a miner dying of silica lung, is one of the most striking and poignant stories about the human ravages of coal mining in the Appalachians, its victims and their essential dignity. Its reading can lead to interior monologue writing and discussion about the continuing ravages inflicted on the environment and workers and their families by profit-oriented mining and other industries, and the need for “biocentric wisdom in all spheres of life” (Platform, California Greens). HOLISTIC, REFLEXIVE, COMPARATIVE There are some 75 national Green political parties in struggle across the globe, including 4th world economies such as embattled Nepal and landlocked Mongolia, with hundreds of active party locals and state organizations, many with web sites of their own. Indeed, the Internet is rich terrain for exploring the realities of Green parties and their positions, people and struggles in very specific places, often quite local (http://www.gp.org ).

    Green politics spotlighted and thematized within the EFL program can thus function as a bridge from a specific English-speaking society very directly back into the society and culture of the student. Indeed, part of the rationale here is to get students interested in the topographies of political thinking and action in an English-speaking society, with direct reflexivity back to the society of the learner, where there will often be a Green political party or movement. This is also very much an Internet-oriented social issues focus, with a bias for connectivity via the Web with actual people and their organizations, and fundamental interconnectedness of issues. Underlying the broader approach is an activated dialectic of sorts between Green politics say in Maine and Munich. Or in San Francisco and Sofia, Hobart and Hiroshima. Spliced into the student’s own life world. In most EFL learning ecologies, this perspective by its very nature invites to cross-cultural comparison.

    References Christensen, Linda. 2000. Reading, Writing and Rising Up. Teaching About Social Justice and the Power of the Written Word . Milwaukee: Rethinking Schools. Maltz, Albert. 1970. Afternoon in the Jungle . New York: Liveright. See: http://www.genedebs.net/ProleLit/Maltz/maltz.htm
    TESOLers for Social Responsibility Caucus Statement of Purpose TESOLers for Social Responsibility comprises TESOL members who are actively engaged in integrating language teaching with social responsibility, world citizenship, and an awareness of global issues such as peace, human rights, and the environment. The caucus aims to promote social responsibility within the TESOL profession and to advance social equity, respect for differences, and multicultural understanding through education.