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Bilingual Basics

Bilingual Basics News, Volume 9:2 (May 2008)

by User Not Found | 11/03/2011
In This Issue...
  • Leadership Updates
    • Note from Editor
    • Letter from BEIS chair
  • Articles and Information
    • A Longitudinal Study of Bilingual Teachers’ Growth: Language and Mathematics Problem Solving
    • Humour in the Second Language Classroom: An Untapped Resource
    • Open Source: The Gateway to the Open Source Community
    • Collaborative Research Partnerships for Improved ELL Learning Communities
    • Have You Ever Seen…? An American Sign Language (ASL) Handshape DVD/Book.
    • Call for articles

Leadership Updates Note from Editor

Sarah Cohen, University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, USA,

Welcome to our current issue of the BEIS Newsletter. This issue contains the BEIS e-newsletter mission statement; a letter from the BEIS chair, Shelley Taylor; a call for articles for the BEIS summer 2008 special topic issue newsletter whose focus will be “Imagining a Multilingual Society; and information on the BEIS discussion e-list.
This issue features four articles and a book review that represent a fascinating cross-section of work related to the field of bilingual and second language education from different regions of the United States and Canada. They introduce us to a diversity of areas of research including technology resources relevant for language educators; mathematics education and Latino student populations; humor as a focus for generating language output in the second language classroom; and action research partnerships between university researchers and school districts that aim to support innovative teaching to meet the needs of increasingly diverse public schools to foster increased student achievement in middle and high schools. The book review provides a portrait of an interesting and useful resource for Deaf educators and those interested in learning more about Deaf education.
Although the selection of articles in this issue is wide ranging in its scope, the theme that runs through them all is the interest in improving the quality of and diversifying the resources available for teachers in the teaching of emergent bilingual students. It is our hope that these articles inspire further conversation and collaboration among teachers, teacher educators, and researchers.
This issue breaks new ground with the introduction of articles published in languages other than English. By doing so we aim to highlight the multilingualism of TESOL as well as to give voice to the diversity of languages that our members speak and that are found in our educational institutions. Much appreciation is due to Deoksoon Kim ( ) who solicited and edited the article in Korean. Thank you Deoksoon!

Many thanks,


BEIS Newsletter Mission Statement


The goal of the BEIS Newsletter is to provide a forum for the discussion of educational and sociopolitical issues in pre-K through postsecondary bilingual educational settings around the world.

The BEIS Newsletter is oriented to practitioners and teacher educators working in bilingual education programs around the world.

The BEIS Newsletter serves as a vehicle for the expression of ideas and scholarship related to teaching and learning in bilingual classroom settings. The newsletter also takes an advocacy position with respect to bilingual education. It includes articles, research summaries, book reviews, convention information, and general commentary.

Approved at the 2004 annual business meeting on March 31, 2004.

Please note that articles that appear in the BEIS e-newsletter with bylines are not copyrighted by TESOL or the interest section. Authors retain copyright of their own work. Although TESOL encourages readers to share the contents of the newsletter with interested colleagues and students, articles may not be reprinted or posted online without the express written permission of the author.

BEIS Discussion E-List
Visit to sign up for BEIS-L, the discussion list for members of this community, or visit if already a subscriber.

Letter from BEIS chair

Shelley K. Taylor, The University of Western Ontario,

Dear BEIS/TEDS Colleagues,

On behalf of our interest section, I hope you have enjoyed the opportunities for professional development, networking, and educational renewal that your involvement in BEIS/TEDS has afforded you.

TESOL 2008 provided us with many wonderful opportunities to exchange ideas on ESL in bilingual educational settings and on the plurilingual learners in those settings. BEIS/TEDS sessions at this year’s convention highlighted learners whose L1s were Mandarin, ASL, Spanish, French, Arabic, and other languages. A focus on plurilingual learners in BEIS/TEDS sessions is not new. What was new this year was that, for the first time, discussion was encouraged in languages other than English in our Discussion Group sessions. A further sign of this broadening of our commitment to multilingualism is noted in the present issue of Bilingual Basics edited by Sarah Cohen that features an article written in Korean. Thanks to Deoksoon Kim for her assistance in the solicitation and editing of that article. Also, as you will see from Alcione Ostorga’s call for articles for the next theme issue of Bilingual Basics, we are again encouraging submissions in languages other than English.

Though this emphasis on publishing papers in languages other than English is new, it is in keeping with Bilingual Basics’ long-standing goal of providing a forum to discuss educational and sociopolitical issues in pre-K through postsecondary bilingual educational settings around the world. By including submissions in languages other than English in Bilingual Basics and talks/papers/discussions in languages other than English at the convention, we hope to hear more about less well-known bilingual educational settings as well as give voice to other languages of representation for people’s work. This will expand our view of the array of multilingual programming available to today’s increasingly plurilingual learners.

Many BEIS/TEDS sessions at TESOL 2008 were in keeping with this multilingual thrust. In the Academic Session that I organized and cochaired with Robert Phillipson, renowned experts on bilingual education, minority languages, and bi-/multi-/plurilingual learners shared their visions of how TESOL might become more multilingual as an organization. Panelists included Jim Cummins, Joshua Fishman, Ofelia Garcia, Robert Phillipson, David Schwarzer, Rita Silver, Tove Skutnabb-Kangas, and Joan Wink. Joshua Fishman’s paper on the need to examine TESOL’s linguistic make-up and possibly relinguify the organization set the stage for the highly informed discussion that followed. The session as a whole drew much follow-up discussion and debate and sparked interest in the possibility of TESOL developing a language policy. As a follow-up to this session, those involved in the panel were invited to submit Individual summaries of their talks for publication in the “Symposium” section of a future issue of TESOL Quarterly.

Another follow-up activity involved BEIS/TEDS’ Steering Board members—Mayra Daniel, David Schwarzer, Patrick Smith—and myself applying for a TESOL Special Projects Grant. The purpose of our proposed project is to follow up on a suggestion made at the TESOL 2007 BEIS/TEDS Business Meeting to poll BEIS/TEDS and other TESOL members regarding their views on

  • heightening multilingualism in TESOL and
  • what a multilingual focus in a TESOL language policy would look like.

    For purposes of the application, we developed an online survey. If you receive a request to fill out this online survey, please take the time to express your views on these important topics and make your voices heard.

    The InterSection hosted by BEIS/TEDS and cohosted by the Elementary Education IS featured a panel presentation entitled “Identity Texts, Literacy Engagement and Multilingual Classrooms.” The speakers included Sarah Cohen, Jim Cummins, Mario López-Gopar, and Kristin Snoddon. Their papers represented studies that addressed issues involving plurilingual learners in a myriad of settings: Deaf bilingual education, teacher candidates in bilingual higher education settings in Mexico, and teachers in today’s highly multilingual classroom settings. Jim Cummins provided a framework for understanding the common features of the work presented in the three studies. This framework articulates the central role that engagement plays in strong literacy achievement and the important role that teachers play in defining a curricular space in which students can invest their identities in literacy work, thereby encouraging this type of deep investment.

    BEIS/TEDS cohosted a second InterSection, which featured TEDS’ own Donna Fujimoto. The session, which also involved Harry Markowicz, Sue Livingston, Elaine Hoter and Mike Morgan, was hosted by the Intercultural IS and cohosted by VDMIS and BEIS/TEDS. The session was held in the Video Theatre and featured DVD presentations on the following topics:

  • The Intercultural Learning Project and
  • The Ishara Foundation

    The Intercultural Learning Project is an online virtual learning community of second language users of English that mixes hearing students (from Talpiot Teachers College in Tel Aviv, Israel) with Deaf students (from three colleges in the United States: LaGuardia Community College, Queens, NY; Gallaudet University, Washington, DC; and the National Technical Institute for the Deaf, Rochester, NY). The Israeli students had intimate knowledge of the Holocaust and Judaism, but knew little about Deaf people's experiences in World War II or as a cultural group. The exchange between these two groups contributed to their engagement with the world and with the printed word. Mike Morgan introduced the Ishara Foundation, a nonprofit organization established in India in 2005 that is devoted to the education of the Deaf in developing countries. The presentation described Ishara’s efforts to establish programs and teacher education workshops. It also described Ishara’s use of a bilingual approach with Indian Sign Language as the medium of communication and generally English as the target language.

    We appreciate your support in attending these sessions as well as all the other wonderful BEIS/TEDS paper presentations, poster sessions, and Discussion Groups.

    The theme for TESOL 2009 is “Uncharted Mountains, Forging New Pathways.” If you would like information on TESOL 2009, visit TESOL’s Web site at More information is available at the convention Web site at:

    The deadline for colloquium, demonstration, Discussion Group, experimental format, paper, poster session, report, workshop, or video and digital media theater proposals is Monday, June 2 (11:59 p.m. EST). To submit a proposal online,

    • visit TESOL’s Web site at:
    • find the “2009 Convention” section,
    • then click on “2009 Proposal Form.”

    Be sure to indicate that you want to submit your abstract to BEIS!

    The deadline for media for video and digital media proposals is Friday, August 1 (11:59 p.m. EST).

    By the time you read this, BEIS/TEDS planning will be well under way for the next convention. I enjoyed meeting many of you at TESOL 2008, wish you all the best for the rest of the year, and hope to see you all back at TESOL 2009 in Denver!


    Articles and Information A Longitudinal Study of Bilingual Teachers’ Growth: Language and Mathematics Problem Solving

    Sandra Musanti,; Sylvia Celedón-Pattichis,; and Mary Marshall,

    The national Center for the Mathematics Education of Latino/as (CEMELA), a National Science Foundation-funded project, is a collaboration involving four universities—University of Arizona, University of California at Santa Cruz, University of Illinois at Chicago, and the University of New Mexico (visit CEMELA focuses on the unique integration of linguistic, cultural, and sociopolitical issues facing Latino/a students and communities in mathematics classrooms.

    Project Goals

    CEMELA’s goals are

    (1) to increase the number of teachers who have an integrated knowledge of language, culture, and sociopolitical issues in mathematics education,
    (2) to create a cadre of doctoral students in the nation who specialize in mathematics education with an emphasis on Latino/a schooling issues, and
    (3) to conduct research studies in four areas: (a) student learning, (b) community and parents, (c) teaching and teacher education, and (d) policy.

    The ongoing longitudinal study presented herein addresses the research strand of teaching and teacher education and student learning. This study, in which two bilingual teachers and the authors engaged in joint practice and ongoing conversations about Latino/a students’ thinking, problem solving, issues of language, and adaptation of instruction to meet students’ needs, contributes to comprehending teacher change. Specifically, the study explores (a) the impact of professional conversations and student work analysis on enriching teachers’ understanding of teaching mathematics to Latino students and (b) issues of language and culture with which teachers grapple while engaged in reflecting on students’ thinking about mathematics.

    Theoretical Framework

    Research on teacher growth has explained that teachers develop understanding of their practice as they deepen their comprehension of student learning (Franke, Fennema, Carpenter, Ansell, & Behrend, 1998). Current discussions about teachers’ professional development highlight the potential of generating learning communities in which teachers strengthen their content knowledge and instructional practices by engaging in active reflection and analysis of student work (Kazemi & Franke, 2003). Moreover, in the area of mathematics education, research has shown the connections between teacher knowledge and the decisions teachers make in relation to their mathematics instruction (Aguirre & Speer, 2000). It has also demonstrated the role of language and teacher talk in Latino student learning in the area of mathematics (Khisty & Chval, 2002). Understanding how students solve problems, how their thinking develops, and how language impacts learning can foster teacher understanding of how instruction can promote mathematical learning. This study describes the highlights of a professional development initiative in which two first-grade bilingual teachers engage in learning about cognitive guided instruction (CGI; Carpenter, Fennema, Franke, Levi, & Empson, 1999) and the importance of problem solving in mathematics learning (see Table 1). This approach argues that even in the early grades children should be afforded repeated opportunities to solve a variety of word problems and communicate their thinking about their solutions.


    This qualitative study describes a 2-year collaboration involving two first-grade bilingual teachers and the authors. The school, located in the southwest of the United States, has predominately Hispanic students who are of Mexican descent (over 85%). Both teachers teach their curriculum in Spanish 90% of the time.

    Following the CGI framework (Carpenter et al., 1999), a central premise that guides our approach to professional development is to foster teachers’ understanding of the relevance of problem solving in mathematics education. Underlying this premise is the centrality of promoting “learning for understanding” and the need to form teachers who know how to help students

    (a) connect knowledge they are learning to what they already know,
    (b) construct a coherent structure for the knowledge they are acquiring rather than learning a collection of isolated bits of information and disconnected skills,
    (c) engage students in inquiry and problem solving, and
    (d) take responsibility for validating their ideas and procedures. (Carpenter et al., 2004, p. 5)

    Another premise of our approach is that “professional development opportunities should engage teachers in what teachers do” (Crockett, 2002). Therefore, teachers are offered varied opportunities to

    • reflect on their practice,
    • discuss activities and their daily work,
    • design lessons appropriate for students’ needs and grade level, and
    • reflect on student work.

    Recently, researchers have promoted the use of student work as a tool to engage teachers in reflection on students’ learning and thinking (Ball & Cohen, 1999; Kazemi & Franke, 2004; Little, 2004). Student work is an important catalyst for teachers to reflect on mathematical problem solving. This reflection can take place in different ways. For instance, in this study teachers discuss video clips of students working on problem solving, and they have opportunities during in-class support to reflect on different pieces of student work produced in their own classrooms.

    Professional development opportunities included as part of this project were
    (a) Two summer institutes (SIs) during the summers of 2005 and 2006,
    (b) a teacher study group, and
    (c) sustained in-class support.

    The SIs involved two intensive weeks of class during June, for which participating teachers received academic credit. The purpose of the SIs was to deepen teachers’ understanding of mathematical problem solving and the impact of issues of language and culture in mathematics teaching and learning.

    The teacher study group (TSG) took place during the second year of the study. The TSG focused on learning about CGI, understanding how students develop mathematical thinking, and supporting teachers who were interested in implementing CGI in their classrooms. The group of teachers met with the university researchers three times per semester for 2 hours each time.

    In-class support has involved weekly visits by the university researchers to each teacher’s class. These visits have consisted of the following:

    • observation of mathematics lessons,
    • participation in or modeling of CGI problem-solving lessons,
    • discussion of different ways to implement problem-solving activities,
    • providing resources to supplement mathematics curriculum, and
    • offering time for debriefing conversations to discuss classroom events related to mathematics instruction.

    Providing teachers with the opportunity to collaborate with researchers in the classroom is central to our belief that teachers should be afforded opportunities to learn from and within the teaching context (Ball & Cohen, 1999).

    In addition, data collection included detailed field notes of each of the problem-solving lessons in each first-grade class, audio-recording of the debriefing sessions, and two interviews with each teacher to explore their beliefs and knowledge regarding issues of language and mathematics.

    Using the principles of grounded theory (Strauss & Corbin, 1998), the researchers coded interviews with teachers, debriefing-session transcripts, and field notes of classroom observations. This process involved chunking the data into meaningful units and then coding selected statements or interactions using words or phrases that specifically addressed the research questions (Erlandson, Harris, Skipper, & Allen, 1993). For example, teacher interviews were coded with particular attention to issues related to the following three issues:

    • integrating problem solving into their curriculum,
    • supporting second language learners in communicating their mathematical thinking, and
    • adapting the curriculum to meet their students’ needs.

    We used TAMS Analyzer, a computer-based qualitative research tool, to code all data. Transcripts were coded by at least two members of the research team to establish reliability (Miles & Huberman, 1994). Differences in interpretation were discussed until agreement was reached. The TAMS Analyzer tool allowed us to search across transcripts to establish recurring patterns, or themes, related to the integration of problem solving into the curriculum and to supporting second language learners in communicating their mathematical thinking. Each theme was triangulated across data from both participants, and across data of various forms (i.e., classroom observations, field notes, teacher interviews) (Erlandson et al., 1993).

    Preliminary Findings

    Through this approach to professional development, teachers developed increasing understanding of how students’ pictorial representations and verbalizations of their solutions to problems provides them with insight into students’ thinking about mathematical problems. In addition, their instruction became progressively more informed with the importance of introducing specific mathematical language while encouraging students’ oral or written representation of their reasoning. Both teachers emphasized the importance of teaching mathematics concepts in the students’ native language, which, in this case, is Spanish (Cummins, as cited in Baker, 2006). Ongoing reflection, collegial conversations with researchers, and a focus on analysis of student work contributed to teachers’ understanding that when students had access to explanations and representations of their peers, students appropriated additional problem-solving strategies to add to their toolkits. They also found that careful scaffolding in oral and written communication and their expectation that students would always need to explain their thinking helped students to develop the mathematical process skills fundamental to success in reform mathematics (National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, 2000).

    Aguirre, J., & Speer, N. M. (2000). Examining the relationship between beliefs and goals in teacher practice. Journal of Mathematical Behavior, 18(3), 327-356.
    Ball, D. L., & Cohen, D. K. (1999). Developing practice, developing practitioners. Toward a practice-based theory of professional education. In L. Darling-Hammond & G. Sykes (Eds.), Teaching as the learning profession. Handbook of policy and practice (pp. 3-31). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers.
    Baker, C. (2006). Foundations of bilingual education and bilingualism (4th ed.). Clevedon, England: Multilingual Matters LTD.
    Carpenter, T. P., Blanton, M. L., Cobb, P., Franke, M. L., Kaput, J., & McClain, K. (2004). Scaling up innovative practices in mathematics and science. Madison, WI: National Center for Improving Student Learning and Achievement in Mathematics and Science.
    Carpenter, T., Fennema, E., Franke, M., Levi, L., & Empson, S. (1999). Children’s mathematics: Cognitively guided instruction. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.
    Crockett, M. D. (2002). Inquiry as professional development: Creating dilemmas through teachers’ work. Teaching and Teacher Education, 18, 609-624.
    Erlandson, D., Harris, E., Skipper, B., & Allen, S. (1993). Doing naturalistic inquiry: A guide to methods. Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications.
    Franke, M. L., Fennema, E., Carpenter, T., Ansell, E., & Behrend, J. (1998). Understanding teachers’ self-sustaining change in the context of professional development. Teaching and Teaching Education, 14(1), 67-80.
    Kazemi, E., & Franke, M. L. (2003). Using student work to support professional development in elementary mathematics [Working paper]. Seattle, WA: University of Washington, Center for the Studies of Teaching and Policy.
    Kazemi, E., & Franke, M. L. (2004). Teacher learning in mathematics: Using student work to promote collective inquiry. Journal of Mathematics Teacher Education, 7, 203-235.
    Khisty, L. L., & Chval, K. B. (2002). Pedagogic discourse and equity in mathematics: When teachers’ talk matters. Mathematics Education Research Journal, 14(3), 4-18.
    Little, J. W. (2004). ‘Looking at student work’ in the United States: A case of competing impulses in professional development. In C. Day & J. Sachs (Eds.),International handbook on the continuing professional development of teachers (pp. 94-118). Maidenhead: Open University Press.
    Miles, M. B., & Huberman, A. M. (1994). Qualitative data analysis: An expanded sourcebook (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
    National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. (2000). Principles and standards for school mathematics. Reston, VA: NCTM.
    Strauss, A., & Corbin, J. (1998). Basics of qualitative research. Techniques and procedures for developing grounded theory (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

    Humour in the Second Language Classroom: An Untapped Resource

    Agustina Tocalli-Beller,

    The Study

    In 2002, I was teaching an English as a second language class in a North American university to eight adult international students in the English Conversation International Program. The focus of the program was to improve oral language and to increase understanding of the target culture. The class in the study, which met once a week for 2 hours, was advertised as one in which there would be an emphasis on English humor and culture developed through language play (LP) material. That is, this learning would be developed through the use of riddles, jokes, and cartoons where the actual humor lay in how the language was used. The study therefore sought to answer the following research question:
    Do the dialogues (the language-related episodes) in which students engage while trying to solve the riddles and understand the jokes and cartoons have an impact on their learning? In particular, do LP pieces challenge students to broaden their vocabulary?

    As Table 1 shows, the research involved seven stages of data collection.

    I operationalized the transcribed dialogues through the identification of language-related episodes (LREs). This unit of analysis identifies any part of the dialogue where learners talk about the language in use, question or reflect on their knowledge, or correct themselves or others (Swain & Lapkin, 2001). Within this unit of analysis, I further differentiated between

    • Meaning LRE (semantics),
    • Form LRE (formal features of the word), and
    • Metalinguistic LRE (use metalinguistic terms to understand and/or explain to others the reasoning behind the joke, pun, or riddle).

    What I wanted to find out through this question was if peer-peer on-task talk could be linked to learning—that is, if learning can occur through collaborative dialogue among peers prompted by the use of linguistic humor. For this, of course, I needed to be able to measure learning through some kind of instrument. I therefore administered an adaptation of the Vocabulary Knowledge Scale (VKS) (Wesche & Paribakht, 1996), which assesses levels of familiarity with given words and expressions. The scale ratings range from complete unfamiliarity (R-1) through recognition of the word or some idea of its meaning (R-2), to the ability to define the word (R-3), and finally to the ability to use the word with grammatical and semantic accuracy in a sentence (R-4).

    Table 2 shows how one specific joke became a good LRE prompt for the class.

    This joke prompted on average 23.5 LREs. I had originally targeted two words that would be put to the VKS test: disbarred and defrocked. Yet, students focused on a total of 18 words throughout their dialogues. Some of these words were also learned or reinforced. In sum, the entire group of words helped them understand and remember the words I had targeted for them.

    What seems fascinating to consider is how a brief joke, riddle, or cartoon can stimulate thought and prompt and generate talk with very few words. The joke that is the focus of this paper was, by far, the longest in any of the LP sets my students worked on. However, it is, in all likelihood, far shorter than any text that teachers might choose for students to discuss in pairs, in an effort to promote learning from the language in use. Evidence of the rich dialogue that took place is found in the following excerpts:

    Excerpt A - Harry & John:

    302. H: OK. We need to know two things. What is the meaning of bar and what is disbarred. (…)
    303. J: I think the bar, the bar where the lawyers come to defend their customers. That’s the bar. disbarred means you are disqualified to x lawyer (…)
    309. J: Disbarred means that you are disqualified for the lawyers.
    310. H: No, I don’t think so. That’s the point. It doesn’t like dis something. It doesn’t mean the opposite.

    Excerpt B - Eric & Don

    298. E: Wow! [long pause as they read to themselves]
    299. D: OK, the joke, the play is the word de. De, de, de [pointing to all the “de” words].
    300. E: Disbarred I know that.
    301. D: Disbarred. What does it mean?
    302. E: The lawyer does not have the license.
    303. D: Ah!
    304. E: Because he is forbidden in bar. Bar is normally the court. Disbarred means that he cannot go to the court.
    305. D: This is a usually word, right?
    306. E: Yes, usual word.
    307. D: OK.

    These two excerpts demonstrate the extent to which students focused on the target word. In this case they did so by repeating it and analyzing its meaning and its form (mainly prefix de-). Furthermore, as seen in Table 3, except for Lisa, none of the students knew the word before the LP task. As measured by the VKS, the majority of them had never seen the word disbarred before.

    Note: Numbers 1-4 represent the ratings (R1 to R4) explain above in the description of the VKS instrument of testing.

    Conclusion and Pedagogical Implications

    The data presented in this paper, that is, the peer-peer dialogues of the students on task and their pre- and posttests, demonstrate clearly that learning occurred. But most important, the students themselves were the ones who said that they learned through the use of linguistic humor. When I asked them what they thought they learned from the LP activity, Kim, for example, replied:

    I learned more English. In this class I learned, I learned, I learned more English. (…) And I understand the deep meaning of the same word. (Kim)

    Tim was also very enthusiastic and thought the multistage activity was

    Very good, you know. This time I did the test, I knew almost all the words! What’s the meaning. I can remember it. I can remember it. It’s amazing because it is a long time, maybe almost a week? Five days, or four days. I don’t think about last class. [laughs] So every word I don’t touch again, so I remember.

    Remembering words for a long time, that is, long-term learning, is something all of the students felt they had achieved through the use of humor. In the words of Eric:

    [H]umor can help me memorize the vocabulary. Because some good joke can help you memorize and you will remember it forever. …I think talking is one of the best ways to learning because in one conversation …they get to explain again. So you get more information in that way. You can make sure you understand it. And then you can tell them what you understand. Then they can judge whether you get the right meaning. But sometimes reading…, I read a lot of papers [but] you don’t have the time to decide when is …right or wrong.

    Eric’s words are a reminder that true learning has to do with knowing that you are actually understanding and “getting it right,” that you are developing new knowledge. The LP task presented an intellectual challenge to students. And because jokes, riddles, and cartoons can be frustrating if they are not understood, students strove for the gratification of understanding them and talked about the language in use at length. Therefore, linguistic humor can be, at least initially, “incomprehensible input” (White, 1987), which forces students to engage in collaborative dialogue and meta-talk as they use their L2. Thus, “language is learned as it is used [and discussed], it is not learned first and used later” (Swain, 1997, p. 127).

    The greatest pedagogical challenge in teaching second language learners lies in finding material exemplifying language or linguistic features that suits the specific needs of the students. However, this study suggests that allowing students time for playful manipulation of language and providing discussion time with peers to work out the “linguistic puzzle” by themselves may be equally important.

    Agustina Tocalli-Beller holds a PhD in second language education from the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto. She has researched and published articles and book chapters about communicative second language teaching and learning, vocabulary learning, cognitive conflict, language play, and sociocultural approaches to second language classroom research.

    Swain, M. (1997). Collaborative dialogue: Its contribution to second language learning. Revista Canaria de Estudios Ingleses, 34, 115-132.
    Swain, M., & Lapkin, S. (2001). Focus on form through collaborative dialogue: Exploring task effects. In M. Bygate, P. Skehan, & M. Swain (Eds.),Researching pedagogic tasks: Second language learning, teaching and testing (pp. 98-118). London: Longman.
    Tocalli-Beller, A. (2005) Peer-peer dialogue: Bringing second language learning into play. Unpublished doctoral thesis, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education of the University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada.
    Wesche, M., & Paribakht, S. (1996). Assessing second language vocabulary knowledge: Depth versus breadth. Canadian Modern Language Review, 53(1), 13-40.
    White, L. (1987). Against comprehensible input. Applied Linguistics, 8(2), 95-110.

    Appendix - Transcription Conventions

    Layout Turns are numbered consecutively..
    Indented turn: overlapping speech
    - Incomplete utterances
    . Turn completed.
    ?! Interrogative or exclamatory intention
    bold type Emphasis
    [ ] Comments/clarification and/or descriptions of relevant behavior
    [=] Glossary
    “ ” Utterances read from text.
    … Ommitted text
    xx Indecipherable speech.
    R Researcher
    Other initials Students

    Open Source: The Gateway to the Open Source Community

    Ho-Ryong Park,

    Open source (OS) has the potential to be useful in the development of educational content areas (Warger, 2002) because it is able to provide educational materials that can benefit both language learners and language educators. Nevertheless, many educational communities are either not aware of what OS is or have a limited understanding of it (Hepburn & Buley, 2006). This article begins with definitions of OS and open community and overviews of their strengths and weaknesses (Kapor, 2005; K-12 Open Technologies, 2007; Open Source Initiative, 2007).

    Three questions related to OS and open community will be addressed in this article:

    (a) Which problems can language educators solve with the aid of OS and the community?
    (b) What OS software and content are available on the Internet for ESL teachers?
    (c) How can ESL teachers incorporate them in their classrooms?

    OS and open community offer a solution to educators’ problems regarding time and technology management skills. This article presents several examples of OS software and content for ESL teachers, which may be useful for language educators and enhance language learners’ reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills. For example, Audacity is effective software that can be used to create and edit audio files for classes. Multimedia Educational Resource for Learning and Online Teaching (MERLOT) is an example of open content, containing more than 18,000 open educational resources. Furthermore, this article explains the roles and importance of open community, in which users share their techniques and content.

    From K-12 to higher education, OS software and content can be used to develop educational resources and make teaching more effective in various ways. Recently Florida included open content, from, in its K-3 supplemental reading list, reflecting a national trend to use OS in education (Stansbury, 2008) and the educational potential of OS (Warger, 2002). Moreover, by OS users and contributors working collaboratively, OS can become increasingly more beneficial in all aspects of education.

    Collaborative Research Partnerships for Improved ELL Learning Communities

    Susan Huss-Lederman,, and Wallace J. Sherlock,, University of Wisconsin-Whitewater

    Meet Jenny Christianson, who has recently earned her BS in elementary education. While a college student, Jenny volunteered at a school, reading with second graders who spoke Spanish at home. She has been hired by a small, southeastern Wisconsin school district that is experiencing an increase in English language learners. Because of her knowledge of Spanish, Jenny’s first teaching job is to implement and coordinate English as a second language (ESL) services across three elementary schools and a middle school, translating and interpreting as needed. As a condition of her employment, Jenny is expected to add on a license in ESL. Welcome to a typical teaching scenario in small-town and rural Wisconsin.


    The state of Wisconsin, like most in the nation, is experiencing rapid demographic changes as the number of families headed by foreign-born adults increases. The number of students for whom English is a second or additional language and who are enrolled in Wisconsin public schools is growing. According to the annually compiled Census of LEP Students released by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, in the 1995 academic year, 15,798 students were classified as English language learners in the state, while the March 2006 census stated that over 33,400 English language learner children have been identified, an increase of nearly 211% in 10 years. In fact, this increase appears to be a gross undercount, as the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction estimates that over 6,000 students were not counted in 2006 because of school districts’ difficulties in coding procedures used to report data for the Census of LEP Students. As numbers of English language learner enrollments increase, an acute shortage of ESL and bilingual education teachers has developed and continues to grow (Fischer & Swanger, 2005).

    Background—Project SWEETT

    In response to the growing need for teachers licensed in the field of ESL and/or bilingual education (BE), in 2000 the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater (UW-Whitewater) initiated efforts to increase the number of licensed ESL and bilingual teachers in nine southern Wisconsin school districts in collaboration with four other institutions of higher education (IHEs). These initiatives, collectively known as Project SWEETT (Southeastern Wisconsin Excellence in Education through Teacher Training), included one Career Ladder program and two Training for All Teachers programs, funded by the Office of English Language Acquisition (OELA) of the U.S. Department of Education.

    Three of these IHEs—University of Wisconsin-Rock County, University of Wisconsin-Waukesha, and Madison Area Technical College—are 2-year colleges that have articulated credit-transfer agreements with UW-Whitewater. Through the Career Ladder program, undergraduate pre-education majors (many of whom are bilingual paraprofessionals from traditionally underrepresented groups) were able to begin coursework before transferring to the University of Wisconsin to complete the requirements for a BS in education. Individuals with a bachelor’s degree were able to complete licensure requirements and master’s degrees in education. The fourth IHE partner, Beloit College, offered a licensure program in teaching ESL and donated use of its facilities for annual conferences and graduate seminar sessions for teachers of English language learners.

    Through the Training for All Teachers projects, licensed teachers were able to add on teaching certification in ESL and/or BE. In addition, annual professional development conferences, held at UW-Whitewater and Beloit College, engaged administrators and teachers in examining and planning to improve the climate and practices in their schools for educating English language learners and for involving the family in the educational process.

    As a result of these efforts, 127 individuals met the requirements for ESL and ESL/BE teaching licenses, with 50 also completing the requirements for initial licenses in elementary education, secondary core subjects, or foreign languages during the past 5 years. UW-Whitewater is especially pleased that several Project SWEETT alumnae have gone on to leadership and research positions at World Class Instructional Design and Assessment (WIDA) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, within the Madison Metropolitan School District, and within the Department of Public Instruction for the state of Wisconsin.

    Current Project

    In July 2007, UW-Whitewater was awarded a fourth grant from OELA, through the National Professional Development (NPD) Program. Project SWEETT-NPD makes use of the previous work that was done in area school districts as described above. However, it aims to expand the goals to focus on developing schools and school districts’ ability to improve retention and educational achievement of English language learners. Specifically, the grant will be aimed at middle schools and high schools in five area school districts.

    These five districts enroll over 2,400 English language learners, or 7% of the English language learners within Wisconsin. In these districts, almost all English language learners speak Spanish as a first language.

    The project employs several approaches to prepare personnel in school districts and at the university to improve the academic success of English language learners and to transition these students through secondary school and to guide them toward postsecondary study.


    First, schools in the participating districts have established at least two school-based professional learning communities (PLCs), in middle schools and high schools, with some districts opting to develop elementary teams, as well. Regardless of the grade levels housed within a school building, each PLC is a cross-disciplinary inquiry team made up of the following participants:

    • four teachers from different content or specialty areas,
    • an administrator from the school building, and
    • a faculty member from the ESL and BE Licensure Program of UW-Whitewater.

    The projected course of the work with schools is the following:

    • During the first year of the project, each PLC will conduct a needs assessment to document the educational environment for English language learners in their schools with a special focus on the transition from elementary to middle school, and from middle school to high school.
    • Both qualitative and quantitative data will be gathered to gain insight into the particulars of each school system with respect to their English language learner population.
    • These data will be analyzed with the guidance of personnel from WIDA. PLC members will then formulate an action plan under the guidance of Richard Sagor, a nationally recognized innovator in collaborative action research for educational improvement.
    • Annual reviews will be conducted by school district administrators in concert with the PLCs and an external program review specialist to assess their progress in meeting their goals.
    • On the basis of these reviews, specific modifications in focus will be recommended where necessary, with the goal of improving the educational achievement of English language learners.

    At the same time as the work is done at the school level as described above, endeavors for collaboration will be undertaken at UW-Whitewater in an effort to develop our understanding of how to improve educational practice for English language learners at the middle and high school level. This effort will involve eight faculty members from the university: four from the College of Education and four from the College of Letters and Sciences, all of whom prepare teachers in secondary content majors. This faculty group will work in partnerships to conduct community inquiry projects within the schools that house the PLCs. These faculty members will interview immigrant families and their children, shadow students in the schools, work with district teachers, and participate in a study group facilitated by two campus leaders who have considerable experience working with immigrant families and youth. The results of this project will inform the preparation of all secondary licensure candidates, whether or not they pursue licensure in ESL or bilingual education.

    Project SWEETT-NPD will offer ongoing professional development through annual conferences, web-based resources, and an up-to-date lending library that focuses on teaching English language learners. Finally, Project SWEETT-NPD has allocated a portion of the grant to offer partial-tuition scholarships for teachers from participating school districts to contribute to their completion of coursework required for the ESL or BE license.

    UW-Whitewater prepares more teachers who remain in Wisconsin to teach than does any other institution of higher education in the state. It is imperative that educational licensing programs prepare teachers to meet the needs of all children attending Wisconsin schools. By supporting parallel action research projects in LEAs and within the university’s teacher licensure programs, we hope to create climates for success for English language learners and their teachers who, like Jenny, are charged with giving all students the best education possible.


    Fischer, T., & Swanger, W. (2005). Supply and demand: Data trends of education personnel in Wisconsin public schools. Madison, WI: Department of Public Instruction. Retrieved February 18, 2007, from

    Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. (2005, March). Census of limited English proficient pupils in Wisconsin by district. Madison, WI.

    Have You Ever Seen…? An American Sign Language (ASL) Handshape DVD/Book.

    Reviewed by Joan Wink,, and Dawn Wink,

    Smith, A. K., & Jacobowitz, E. L. (2006). Have you ever seen….? An American Sign Language handshape DVD/book. Frederick, MD: ASL Rose.

    Just as for years linguistic hegemony presumed the superiority of written over orate language traditions, so too it has been assumed that Deaf people should aspire to assimilate as much as possible into the hearing community, choosing to sign English translations rather than ASL. Using the foundational research in second language acquisition and critical pedagogy, Smith and Jacobowitz deconstruct these assumptions. They do this by illustrating the damaging effects that years of linguistic domination has had on the Deaf community and by providing a comprehensive and practical pedagogical path for the future.

    To represent the Deaf culture’s historical relationship with the hearing community, the authors compare the dynamic nature of ASL to Picasso’s art, and they find Signed English to be as unnatural as paint-by-numbers. The Deaf culture is as rich with humor, storytelling, and other shared traditions as is any other culture. Poetry in the Deaf culture is as subtle as it is in English or any other language, except it is demonstrated in unique ways by the use of rhymes (similar handshapes), rhythms of the movements, and facial grammar.

    This book also describes ways in which Deaf families and those involved with deaf education are linked together through various professional and social groups, which create communities, each of which has a distinct personality. In these social networks, all involved share information and provide support for each other. The acronyms, which reflect these communities, are central within the deaf community. Some examples of these are the American Sign Language Teacher’s Association (ASLTA) that is a national organization specifically for the enhancement of ASL and the ASL teaching profession. CODA (child of Deaf adults), SODA (sibling or spouse of Deaf adults), and GODA (grandchild of Deaf adults) are also vital organizations to Deaf communities.

    Another interesting point that is explained well by this book is the term “cherology” that is to the Deaf culture is what phonology is to the non-Deaf culture. Whereas the English alphabet has 26 letters, ASL is made up of 44 handshapes whose phonology is made evident through the use of handshapes, palm orientation, movement, location, and other non-manual signals.

    Bilingual Research Basis
    What sets Have You Ever Seen…? apart from many other books on Deaf education is the bilingual education research that infuses its content. These underlying theoretical assumptions include the following:

    First, ASL is simply another language and therefore its use in schools and by learners fits under the umbrella of bilingual education. Not only is ASL another language, but it is also an authentic, natural, and legitimate language. Consequently, it is the best medium of instruction for those whom ASL is the primary language. James Cummins (2001), internationally respected bilingual researcher, cites longitudinal data that demonstrate that knowledge and proficiency in the primary language transfers to the second language and additional languages. His and many others’ contributions in the field of language acquisition have infused and enhanced arguments for Deaf bilingual education in the past few decades.

    Deaf education has historically been taught from a subtractive approach, which assumed ASL was less than English and that Deaf students had to be assimilated into the hearing culture as much as possible. After years of research on the cognitive, academic, and social benefits of learning in the primary language, Deaf education is now taught from an additive or enrichment approach that sees one’s first language and culture are the foundation for all further learning. Colin Baker’s (2001) succinct statement serves as a guiding beacon: “A language divorced from its culture is like a body without a soul” (p. 272). ASL, therefore, is the body and soul of Deaf education.

    Audism, the belief by the hearing community that speech is superior to ASL, has dominated Deaf education. Audism reflects the assumption that the Deaf culture and ASL are intrinsically inferior to a spoken language and that the Deaf should assimilate as much as possible, as quickly as possible, into the hearing culture. This prejudice has had the same effects on the Deaf community as it has on speakers of languages other than English: bicultural ambivalence. This ambivalence carries with it shame regarding the first culture and anger toward the second. Furthermore, this deficit assumption bears all of the negative and destructive consequences that it inherently engenders.

    Second, finger spelling and handshapes are not the same thing. Signed English is an artificially constructed language and leads to children not learning, much like speaking Spanish with imposed English grammar and sentence structure would do. It is a contrived language and serves to diminish the true essence and meaning of real communication, frequently resulting in confusion and hindering development of strong cognitive, linguistic, and academic skills. On the other hand, ASL communicates for the Deaf culture their unique linguistic, cultural, and social norms just as spoken languages do for their linguistic communities.

    Third, playing with rhymes (or visual rhymes) is as beneficial in ASL for children’s learning as is it is in English for English-speaking communities or Spanish for Spanish-speaking communities, and so on. Learning and fun go hand-in-hand. Just as spoken language communities each have jokes, plays on words, and stories unique to that culture, so do the Deaf culture and ASL. Signing these jokes and stories in Standard English fails to capture the nuance and subtleties that bind the culture together in common experiences. It is akin to telling a joke in Spanish to native Spanish speakers while inserting English grammar and sentence structure. Not only does doing so lose the magic and essence of what is trying to be communicated, but it also confuses the listener.

    Educators of Deaf and hearing students will benefit enormously from the delightful presentation of essential knowledge about ASL, the Deaf community, and the effects of language assumptions, culture, and pedagogy in the classroom and beyond in this book. Have You Ever Seen…? provides readers from both Deaf and hearing cultures with an overview of some of the unique history and contemporary foundations of Deaf culture. It also conveys a firm understanding of the relationship between first and second language acquisition. These essential elements contribute to our understanding of the vital importance of education in ASL and pride in the Deaf culture for the future of Deaf education.

    Joan Wink is professor emerita in the College of Education at California State University, Stanislaus. Dawn Wink, her daughter, is an instructor at Santa Fe Community College, New Mexico.


    Baker, C. (2001). Foundations of bilingual education and bilingualism, (3rd ed.). Clevedon, England: Multilingual Matters.

    Cummins, J. (2001). Negotiating identities: Education for empowerment in a diverse society (2nd ed.). Los Angeles: California Association for Bilingual Education.

    Call for articles



    BEIS Summer 2008 NEWSLETTER

    Special Topic Issue:
    Imagining a Multilingual Society
    Alcione N. Ostorga, Editor

    The BEIS Newsletter is a peer reviewed publication of the Bilingual Education Interest Session of TESOL. The audiences for the BEIS newsletter include bilingual teachers, researchers, and teacher educators in TESOL. Manuscripts for the Summer 2008 issue of the newsletter should address language and academic policies affecting multilingual learners and their teachers. Below are a set of questions to consider in framing manuscripts for this issue. However, manuscripts focusing on any aspect of multilingualism are welcome. We also welcome manuscripts in different languages but are limited to the availability of multilingual reviewers.

  • What could a multilingual society look like?
  • Why should we become multilingual?
  • What aspects of the current social, political, cultural climate lead us to seek a multilingual TESOL? or multilingual society?
  • How can we promote multilingualism within the current social, political, cultural climate?
  • How can multilingualism impact language learning in k-16 educational settings?
  • How can a multilingual TESOL impact language learning in educational settings across nations?
  • How can bilingual educators promote multilingualism?
  • How can a multilingual perspective affect curriculum?
  • How can current knowledge of language development and learning be used to promote multilingualism?
  • What would be the benefits of a multilingual TESOL? multilingual society?

    The deadline for submissions is July 1, 2008. Manuscripts should be approximately 1200 words in length and must be formatted according to the guidelines of the American Psychological Association Publication Manual, Fifth Edition. Manuscripts must be submitted electronically t