IEP Newsletter

IEP News, Volume 28:1 (February 2008)

by User Not Found | 10/26/2011
In This Issue...
  • Leadership Updates
    • Letter From the Chair
    • IEP-IS Preview for TESOL Conference 2008
    • IEP Advocacy Updates
  • Articles
    • Accreditation Benefits IEP Faculty
    • Gulf Arabs: Cultural Differences that Matter in the Classroom
    • Pattern Poetry in the IEP Classroom
  • Community News and Information
    • IEP-IS Steering Committee
    • Opportunities to Serve
    • About This Newsletter
    • About this Membership Community

Leadership Updates Letter From the Chair

Tamara Jones, IEPIS Chair,

Hello IEPers!

I hope your fall semester went well, and that you are able to enjoy some down time in your job.  (Although, in an IEP it seems that there is never much down time – start ups for the next semester seem to begin as soon as students settle into the current semester!)

In addition to my life as a administrator and teacher, I have also worked throughout the summer with TESOL Central Office and some wonderful IEP volunteers to prepare the presentation slate for TESOL 2008 in New York.  We had a great number of proposals this year – there were 174 total submissions for presentations alone!   The competition was very stiff.  We had 30 readers volunteer and each proposal was read by three different readers.  A HUGE “thanks” to those hard-working and diligent volunteers who read and assessed each submission in a thorough and timely fashion.  We owe the program to them!

Once the readers rated each of their assigned proposals, I was able to sift through and choose the highest rated proposals and fill the 30+ slots TESOL designated for our Interest Section, as well as a ranked list of “potentials.”  Our recommendations then go back to TESOL Central Office and they ensure that no one is the lead presenter on more than one presentation and there are no other conflicts, and then they fill any newly empty spaces with the “potentials.”

As I write this, I have yet to see the final IEP slate, but based on what I have seen so far, the presentations in New York will be better than ever!  There is a wide variety of topics and the quality promises to be very high.  So, even though a cold April week in New York seems very far away right now, rest assured that IEP volunteers have been working to ensure that the conference will bring something special to all our IEP members.


IEP-IS Preview for TESOL Conference 2008

Featured IEPIS Sessions

InterSection Presentation—Friday, April 4, 2008

Topic: Technology Across the IEP Curriculum
Interest Sections: IEP and CALL
Presenters: Tamara Jones, Sandra Wagner, Randall Davis, Deborah Healy, Camilla Vasquez, Randi Reppen
Description: This session highlights the use of technology to support and facilitate instruction in intensive English programs. Panelists share ideas for incorporating basic technology into the development and teaching of writing, reading, listening, and speaking. Participants will leave with practical ideas and great Internet resources they can begin to use immediately.

Academic Session—Thursday, April 3, 2008, 2:00–4:45 p.m. 

Topic: Vocabulary Teaching: Ideas From Corpus Linguistics
Presenters: Sheryl Meyer, Randi Reppen, Michael McCarthy, Norbert Schmitt, Paul Heacock

IEPIS Papers, Demonstrations, and Discussion Groups

  • Using Novels As Textbooks
  • How Teachers, Administrators, Classmates Perceive Saudi Students
  • Giving Beginning Readers a Good Start
  • Using the Lexical Approach in Freshman Texts
  • Lassoing Suitable Podcasts and Creating Lessons
  • Vocabulary Exercises for the Academic Word List
  • First Principles of Beginning Reading and Spelling
  • Arab Student Perceptions of U.S. IEP Experiences
  • Bridging the GAP: Community-Based ESL
  • Online Discussions Exploring Self-Selected Grammar Artifacts
  • Creating a Course in World English
  • Teaching ESL Conversation Skills: A Gender Model?
  • Creating Community-Based Projects for ESL Students
  • Beyond English: Saudi Students and University Study
  • Doing Discussions: Six Steps to Student Involvement
  • Enriching Learning With Extensive Reading
  • Ready, Set, Read: Raising Students’ Reading Rates
  • Increasing Student Motivation in IEPs
  • Gulf Arabs: Cultural Differences That Matter* (see related article featured in this newsletter)
  • Tips for Teaching the TOEFL IBT
  • The Saudi Effect: Dealing With the Influx
  • Changing the World in 7 Days
  • Blogging: Creating and Maintaining a Classroom Community
  • Developing Arab Students’ Critical Thinking Skills
  • Creating and Evaluating Oral Journals Using Technology
  • Breaking News! Student-Created Television for ESL
  • Enhancing Argumentation Through a Simulated Legal Trial
  • Helping Chinese Students Succeed As College Freshmen
  • Developing Rubrics for Sequenced Speaking Tasks
  • A Quality Approach to Curriculum Development
  • Laying Down the Law in IEPs
  • Challenges Involving Student Teachers in IEP Classrooms
  • Writing Portfolios As Assessment Tools in IEPs
  • Are There Problems With Problem-Based Learning?

IEP Advocacy Updates

By Christie Ward,

Important TESOL Position Statement Updates

Since our last newsletter was published in June 2007, TESOL has approved three important position statements:

Position Statement on Terminal Degree for Teaching English as a Second, Foreign, or Additional Language: A terminal degree is the generally accepted highest academic degree in a discipline or field of study. In addition to terminal degrees, many fields of study, especially those linked to a specific profession, make a distinction between a first professional degree and an advanced professional degree.

Position Statement on the Role of Teachers’ Associations in Education Policy and Planning: TESOL strongly advocates that authorities at all levels recognize the right of teachers’ association to exist, and that teachers’ associations be accorded legal status. Furthermore, TESOL urges that authorities encourage the active participation of teachers and their associations in the process of transforming education, and in educational planning and policy making.

Statement of Principles and Preliminary Recommendations for the Reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA): As the Congress and the administration look toward the reauthorization of ESEA in 2007, TESOL advocates that the following principles be used to guide the reauthorization process to help ensure the academic success of English language learners. This is an amended version of the position statement approved in June 2006.

Links to full-text copies of these and other TESOL position statements are available at this link:

IEP Advocacy

What are the most important IEP advocacy issues?

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

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

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

What can individuals do to be good advocates?

  • Stay current on the issues.
  • Get yourself and your program into the information loop by joining the TESOL Advocacy Network:
  • Stay in touch with IEP professional organizations and information networks:
  • Take advantage of professional development addressing advocacy.
  • Arm yourself with numbers:
    • U.S. international education is a $13 billion-plus industry
    • IEP students typically spend $3,500 to $4,000 per month on rent, food, insurance, and other living expenses

What can you do in your institution?  

  • If increasing student numbers and improving U.S. international education access is not already a concern at your institution, help make it one.
  • Always respond when information is requested—good data, such as enrollment numbers, amount students spend in the community, and student visa interview experiences, are critical in advocacy efforts with Congress and government agencies.
  • Find out what your program directors are doing to get/stay into the loop—and then ask that directors share as much info as possible.
  • Volunteer to help out. (Note: Institutions’ public relations offices can be very touchy about how their legislators are lobbied. Always let them know what you’re doing; speak as a private citizen and not an employee if that’s what they want.)
  • Network with other departments on campus—strength in numbers!

What can you do in your community? 

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

What can you do in your profession?

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

Articles Accreditation Benefits IEP Faculty

Franklin I. Bacheller and Deborah Sandstrom

Accreditation Benefits IEP Faculty

As a faculty member in an English language program, you strive for excellence in teaching and learning, and you want your program to help you reach that goal. In addition, you want your program to be perceived as excellent and, therefore, attractive to students. Finally, you want a workplace atmosphere that excels in promoting collegiality, professionalism, and encourages faculty input.  Accreditation helps faculty to achieve all of these goals.

Goal is Excellence

Excellence is the goal of accreditation. An accredited program has voluntarily undergone an intense self-study and peer review and has been determined to meet standards held in common by the profession. Such a program has a defined mission, which guides all aspects of the program including curriculum, faculty, student services, student achievement, and planning. Accreditation requires more than a one-time review; it requires continual review and re-evaluation, usually every five years. It is a process of on-going improvement (educationUSA, 2007). A faculty member, by being involved in the review and planning processes, has a continual voice, especially in matters related to teaching and learning.

Two accrediting agencies are the Commission on English Language Program Accreditation (CEA) and the Accrediting Council for Continuing Education and Training (ACCET). CEA is a specialized accrediting agency, developed from the field of English language teaching. CEA accredits independent language schools and university and college English language programs worldwide. ACCET accredits only independent language schools, along with a broad variety of continuing education and training institutions. Both CEA and ACCET are recognized by the United States Department of Education.

An Intense Process

Accreditation does not come easily. It involves an application for eligibility, a self-study, a review by trained peer volunteers, and a decision by a commission (Commission on English Language Program accreditation, 2007). The entire process can take a couple of years and much effort. 
Faculty members participate primarily in the self-study, which involves review of all aspects of the program, and in many cases takes a year and a half or more to complete.

Usually, a self-study is led by a coordinator, who may have release time to organize all self-study activities and pull together the final self-study document. Other faculty members also have to commit significant time and effort. Information has to be gathered and written up, and then presented, discussed, and perhaps rewritten several times at weekly or biweekly faculty meetings.

Benefits to Faculty

While the accreditation process, particularly the self-study, is rigorous and demanding, the benefits of accreditation for faculty members far outweigh the costs. These benefits poten-tially include increased job security; beneficial operating procedures in terms of hiring and evaluation practices; better communication, team work, and collegiality among faculty; identification of new leadership; and a stronger sense of professionalism.

Increased enrollment
For many ESL teachers, their positions depend upon their IEP having sufficient enrollment.  In 2001, for example, enrollment in intensive English programs in the United States dropped dramatically. Many teachers lost their jobs or were in danger of losing their jobs. Enrollments are recovering now, and sponsors who are sending students to the United States are turning to accredited English language programs and institutions when deciding where to send students. For example, when the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia initially decided to send thousands of students to the U.S. for higher education, it reportedly established a hierarchy of types of English language programs in which to enroll students. At the top of the list were English language programs accredited by CEA (T. O’Donnell, personal communication, August 6, 2006).

The U.S. Department of State also recognizes the value of accreditation. On its education USA website, it states the following about accreditation:

If you are planning to study in the U.S., it is important to know if the school in which you plan to enroll is accredited. Accreditation helps to ensure that the school is of high quality and that you will receive the programs and services that the school describes in its promotional materials (educationUSA, 2007, para.1).

The Department of State website says further that “International students who want to study English can use CEA accreditation to identify accredited English language schools and intensive English programs in colleges and universities” (educationUSA, What is accreditation?, para 4) .

Clearly, accreditation is associated with excellence, and excellence becomes the first choice of students and their sponsors. Accreditation is an assurance that programs have met na-tional standards and have an ongoing process in place for improvement of programs and activities. Sponsors and students can be confident that the instruction and activities promised in program brochures and on websites will be delivered. They can also be assured that students will have a positive language experience that helps them meet their academic or professional goals.

Working conditions
Accreditation also helps ensure that a program follows appropriate employment procedures such as providing faculty with written job descriptions, structuring their duties to permit timely and effective completion, and conducting performance evaluations that are systematic, fair, objective and given to faculty in writing.

Increased prestige within the greater institution is another advantage for faculty who teach in a university or college-owned program. Universities and colleges value programs that are accredited because an accredited program enhances the value of the university itself and can make its own accreditation endeavors easier (Association of Collegiate Business and Schools and Programs, 2007). When a program is accredited, the university often places more value on the IEP faculty and shows a greater appreciation for what the faculty members do. This appreciation can result in better office space, for example, or even higher pay. It can also mean more full-time positions, as opposed to adjunct positions, and a faculty role that is more like that of other university faculty. The faculty in one CEA accredited program report that they are regularly involved in university-wide committees; some of them serve on governance committees. These faculty members also find themselves serving on Master’s committees of students in the TESOL training program.

Sharing and leading
Still another benefit is that faculty members have increased opportunities to share ideas and display their abilities.  During the self-study, faculty members review every aspect of the program against standards. Included in this review are aspects of operation particularly relevant to the faculty role and dear to the hearts of teachers—review and revision of curriculum, placement methods, and advancement procedures. Faculty members provide their input and share ideas. They display their knowledge, abilities, and leadership skills as they collaborate with each other and administrators to complete the self-study.

Well Worth the Effort

Going through accreditation is a rigorous, time-consuming undertaking, but accreditation is achievable. It is also highly rewarding for faculty in terms of job security and prestige. It helps ensure faculty members have favorable working conditions and voice in curriculum and program goals. Most of all, accreditation enables faculty members to take pride in their program and the role they had in bringing such recognition to their 


Association of Collegiate Business Schools and Programs.  Accreditation. Retrieved  March 31, 2007, from

Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, U.S. Department of State. Accreditation guide. educationUSA.  Retrieved March 31, 2007, from

Commission on English Language Program Accreditation. Accreditation Basics. Retrieved April 2, 2007, from

Franklin I. Bacheller, PhD, is an associate professor of ESL and a former director of the Intensive English Language Institute at Utah State University.  Deborah Sandstrom, MA, is Curriculum Coordinator at the Tutorium in Intensive English at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Both Bacheller and Sandstrom are commissioners for the Commission on English Language Program Accreditation (CEA).


Gulf Arabs: Cultural Differences that Matter in the Classroom

Julie Doty and Tamara Taylor

This project began as a way to share experiences with our colleagues, many of whom had first begun teaching in the ESL classroom at a time when our IEP population was largely Asian and who were finding themselves needing to re-evaluate and adapt their classroom management and teaching strategies to meet the needs of a changing student population. Thus, the subtitle “How to Avoid Culture Shock in the Classroom” refers as much to the teachers’ experience as to the students’. Looking for ways to explain our experiences led us to draw on the work of Edward Hall, Geert Hofstede, and David W. Johnson and Roger T. Johnson.

While ESL teachers are always happy to see a culturally diverse class, as Johnson and Johnson (n.d.) point out, mixing individuals from diverse cultures does not always guarantee greater understanding of other cultures or even a desire to work toward a common goal, such as the acquisition of English.  Thus, a part of the ESL teacher’s work is to reduce the amount of “background noise” created by cultural differences that interferes with communication and understanding in the classroom.


The chart below, while not exact, illustrates the student population trends at the Intensive English Language Institute at the University of North Texas and approximates changes in student population in the U.S. over the same time period (Koh). 

Chart 1 Approximate proportion of Middle Eastern students to Asian and other populations at the Intensive English Language Institute at the University of North Texas

What we found in conversations with others is that teachers who came into the U.S. higher education ESL classroom during a time when the student population was largely Asian were, in effect, going through culture shock of sorts due to the influx of Gulf Arab students. They were enjoying many of the strengths the Middle Eastern students brought to the classroom. However, they were also questioning if their methods of classroom management were the best for the changing population and were trying to decide how to best meet the needs of their now more diverse student body.  A part of this was also learning how to interpret the behavior of this new and increasing segment of the ESL population.


The Arab Gulf States include Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, and Kuwait. These are diverse, separate countries with their own economies and their own societies.  However, they are united by shared language (Arabic), religion (Islam), similar geographies, and shared histories. Their political structure is based on monarchies and sheikdoms. Many of the populations were once primarily nomadic or semi-nomadic tribal groups in environments where cooperation and interdependence have been necessary for survival. Trade was an important part of their lives. Because of this, bargaining and negotiation is a deeply embedded aspect of the culture.

These are also cultures that have experienced rapid changes. While literacy figures for the region vary, UNESCO and U.S. State Department sources provide some data. For example, prior to the 1960s, a large portion of the Gulf population was nomadic.  They were also largely illiterate; in 1960, approximately 22% of boys went to primary school as did 2% of girls. By 1990, over 70 % of the males in the region were literate as were almost 50% of the women. Today in the region, statistics show that nearly 100% of young men and over 90% of the women from 15-24 years are literate (UNESCO, 2006; U.S. Department of State, 2006)

More striking than the rapid increases in literacy is perhaps the realization that these are students whose grandparents were most likely illiterate and whose parents may or may not have been literate. In two generations, Gulf Arabs have gone from being illiterate to studying in a second language.  

With the development of the oil industry, modernization came rapidly.  Until that time, Gulf Arabs lived largely the same lifestyle that they had for hundreds of years. The tremendous economic boom and growth seen in many of these countries has created rapid changes in education. Despite these rapid changes, the cultural values of interdependence and cooperation remain, as does a propensity for negotiation, which is simply a part of personal communications. This can be seen in the classroom, where students from the Gulf States tend to work well with other students and often stimulate conversation. However, the teachers often feel challenged by their communication style.    

Cultural Differences that Matter in the Classroom

To find a way to talk about the culture differences observed in the classroom, we can refer to social scientists, such as Edward T. Hall and Geert Hofstede.

Attitudes toward Time
One of the important differences that Hall (1989) discusses is polychronic and monochronic cultures. The Arab culture, Hall says, is polychronic while the (Anglo) U.S. culture is monochronic.

In a polychronic culture, time is a point, which shifts, and future time is unknown. Time is an intangible dimension in which many things happen at once. The goal is the completion of transactions. Usually the involvement of other people is seen as essential. One reason for that is that the individual (and the self) is seen in terms of a bigger context. When students are asked if they are planning on coming to a special activity or even reminded to do their homework, the response of “Inshallah” (God willing) is not a flip comeback. It conveys a cultural attitude toward the future time that the teacher may not understand.

In a monochronic culture, time is a line, a continuum with past and present and future. Time is segmented and can be saved, wasted, or spent much like money and other goods. In a monochronic culture, we control time. We schedule appointments, we break time into 15 or 30 minute blocks, and we value promptness.  Sometimes the schedule becomes more important than the transaction that is scheduled.

People from monochronic cultures tend to do one task at time and are offended when, for example, they find salespeople dealing with them and other people simultaneously.  
Monochronic people tend to feel that they own the current, scheduled moment and resent having to share it with others.  “One thing at a time” is very much a monochronic philosophy. Hall observes that this attitude toward time is not natural but is learned. It is, however, like many aspects of a culture, so intrinsic that those raised in a monochronic culture cannot perceive of time in any other way and are liable to take great offense when dealing with events in a polychronic setting.

Since classrooms in the U.S. are run on monochronic time, students (and not just those from the Gulf Arab states) may need help learning the importance of punctuality and time management. Students who come from a background where literacy is a recent development may be unaware of the skills needed to succeed in an academic setting. U.S. classrooms may provide their first exposure to those skills. Teachers surveyed responded that they were frustrated by their students’ tardiness, lack of homework completion, and lack of study skills.  At least one mentioned that his newly arrived students often kept their watches set by the time in their native country.

High Context vs. Low Context 
In polychronic cultures, the moment and the individual are seen in terms of a larger context, and that idea leads to Hall’s next cultural views toward the individual and his role in a larger context. He uses the terms “high context” and “low context” to describe two different cultural attitudes about the individual.

In high context cultures such as the Gulf States, the individual is seen in terms of a larger context. Learning about an individual and his relationships, his place in “the big picture,” enables better communication with him. In other words, time spent learning about the individual and establishing a personal relationship is considered to be time saved at a later stage during communications. Mutual respect plays an important role in social interactions.  More than one U.S. visitor in the Middle East has been puzzled by the apparent need to sit down, drink a cup of tea, and socialize before beginning negotiations to buy anything from a car to a rug. This type of interaction establishes a personal relationship and mutual respect between the two parties. 

High context cultures tend to have shared values and histories.  A simple message can draw on that larger context and be rich in meaning. The goal in a high context culture is to settle problems or conflicts; in order to do that, everything must be considered and everyone must be heard, ideas that are also consistent with polychronic time.

Low context cultures like the (Anglo) U.S., Switzerland, and Germany are more individualistic and compartmentalized.  For example, items are purchased with little thought of where they came from or who is selling them.  Things and people are seen more as fragments rather than parts of an integral whole.  In low context cultures, the message is contained in the words, in the contract, or in the written policy. In a high context culture, the media and the messenger are given more value than in a low context culture. The goal of transactions in low context cultures is to get a response (preferably a yes-no response), assign responsibility or blame, or to get to “the facts.”

To illustrate low context in terms of television shows, we should remember Dragnet’s Joe Friday and his low context admonishment, “The facts, ma’am, just the facts.”

Power Distance
Like Hall, Geert Hofstede offers a way to discuss cultural differences. He ranks countries on a scale from 1 to 120.  Among the indices that he considers is “power distance,” in which a high ranking, as in the Gulf Arab countries, indicates the country accepts a hierarchy of power and that power is distributed unequally.  The members of cultures that accept large power distances tend to accept the status quo and are sometimes surprised by the behavior of lower ranking power distance countries, such as the U.S. For example, Gulf Arab students may express surprise at the freedom U.S. students feel to criticize or question their instructors or other people in positions of authority (Hofstede, n.d.).

Another index which Hofstede discusses is that of individualism vs. collectivism.  Just as the high-low context of Hall related to attitudes toward time, so attitudes toward power relate to those toward the individual.  Not surprisingly, the U.S. ranks first in valuing the individual.  This results in putting oneself and one’s own immediate family first.  Relationships between individuals tend to have few obligations or responsibilities.

This is quite different from cultures ranking stronger in collectivism, cultures in which individuals tend to have extended families, lifelong affiliations, and strong loyalties.  The Gulf Arab States rank higher on Hofstede’s individualism index than many South and Central American countries but much lower than the U.S. 

Personal relationships are important to Arab students. A complaint that they will voice is that many Americans are friendly, but they are not good friends. Arab students value being part of a group.  In the classroom, they accept the teacher’s authority, but having a personal relationship is also a part of the student-teacher dynamic. To her dismay, one of the authors remembers telling a student, “You don’t have to like me to learn from me.” This approach does not work with students from collectivist societies.  Arab students genuinely want to have a relationship with their teachers. They want to like their teachers, and they want to be liked. In fact, when asked to evaluate teacher performance they are usually generous.

Understanding Differences

By understanding that Gulf Arab students come from a cultural framework which is polychronic, high context, accepting of power distances, and collective, we are better able to benefit from the diversity they bring and make the classroom more dynamic.  Teachers are in a position of authority. Gulf Arab students accept this; however, they will attempt to negotiate. Teachers too often interpret this as a challenge to their authority. They must realize that this is a part of establishing a personal relationship. It is important to have clear expectations and to hold students to those expectations. However, it is also important to recognize behaviors that cannot be changed while continuing to hold the students accountable. The teacher needs to set clear boundaries and hold those boundaries.

Susan Scott (2002 p. 60) states an important principle in human dynamics when she says, “As a leader you get what you tolerate. People do not repeat behavior unless it is rewarded.” By not having clear boundaries, the teacher is inadvertently rewarding negative behavior.  It is up to the teacher to decide what is important and what is not, what is negotiable and what is not. For example, if promptness is a priority in the program or classroom, make that policy clear. When a student is tardy, do not discuss it. Discussion is negotiation.

One of our colleagues, Jill Harold, summarized her experience with her Gulf Arab students in the following way, “Prepare for some negotiation between teacher and student if possible, and they will respect you for it. . . . Teach them which things are non-negotiable. Some of the funniest times were bargaining with them about what to do for homework. At first I thought they were undermining my authority, but I realized finally that negotiation is part of their culture and really a way to build a relationship between student and teacher.”    

Our goal in undertaking this project is to help other ESL teachers reach the same conclusion Jill did. The traits ESL teachers find challenging can be assets once the teacher understands their context and the real intention of the students, which is to build a relationship.


Griffin, Tim D. & Algren, Mark S. (1988) Adult Education in Saudi Arabia. Retrieved January 18, 2008 from

Hall, E.T. (1989). Beyond Culture. New York: Anchor Books.

Hofstede, G. (n.d.). ITIM International. Retrieved December 12, 2007 from

Johnson, D.W. & Johnson, R.T. (n.d.). Cooperative Learning, Values, and Culturally Plural Classrooms. Retrieved December 12, 2007 from

Koh, Hey-Young. Trends in International Student Flows to the U. S. Retrieved September 15, 2006. Retrieved from

Scott, S. (2002).  Fierce Conversations. New York: The Berkley Publishing Group.

UNESCO. Education. Statistics in Brief. Retrieved September 15, 2006 from

Julie Doty has taught ESL for over 20 years, including 10 years in the United Arab Emirates. Tamara Taylor began teaching ESL in a special Berlitz program for Saudia Airlines almost thirty years ago. Both are currently teaching at the Intensive English Language Institute at the University of North Texas.


Pattern Poetry in the IEP Classroom

Nancy Gooding

Poetry offers many benefits to second language learners as they develop their listening, speaking, reading, and writing skills. For example, rhyme and rhythm patterns can help improve perception and production of stress and intonation in listening and speaking, while vocabulary building and grammar structures can be targeted to improve reading and writing skills. An added benefit is the increase in confidence that students develop as they express their thoughts and feelings in the target language. This article will not only offer suggestions on how to use pattern poetry in the classroom, but will also provide samples of students’ work along with  personal reflections on their accomplishments.

Broadly speaking, poetry can be defined as an arrangement of words that generally include unique patterns and/or sounds. It also provides an opportunity to express a personal point of view. More specifically, pattern poetry can be defined as poetry that follows a defined structure or formula. Providing the structure for the students allows them the freedom to focus on what they want to express without the added step of designing the structure themselves.  Although there are many possibilities, the following patterns were used in a few of our IELP classrooms at CCSU. 

  1. Acrostic – a word is written column-style. Each letter of the word is then filled in with a word or phrase.
  2. I Am From – each line begins with the repetition of “I am from…”. Memories of places, things, people, etc., are added.
  3. Haiku - a three line poem with a 5-7-5 syllable count. Haikus are generally about nature and rich in imagery.
  4. Adverb Poem – A six line poem that contains a series of adverbs that describe an action.


Line 1 : Noun
Line 2 : Same noun + verb + adverb 1
Line 3 : Same noun + verb + adverb 1, adverb 2
Line 4 : Verb + adverb 1, adverb 2, adverb 3
Line 4 : Verb + adverb 1, adverb 2, adverb 3, adverb 4
Line 5 : Adverb 1, adverb 2, adverb 3, adverb 4
Line 6 : Phrase or clause showing condition, time, or place

                (Holmes & Moulton, 2001, p. 32)

5. Adjective Poem – similar to an adverb poem except that adjectives are used to describe nouns.  


Line 1 : Noun
Line 2 : Same noun + is or are + adjective 1
Line 3 : Same noun + is or are + adjective 1, adjective 2
Line 4 : Is or are + adjective 1, adjective 2, adjective 3
Line 5 : Adjective 1, adjective 2, adjectve3, adjective 4
Line 6 : New related noun

                (Holmes & Moulton, 2001, p. 21)


Listening /Speaking Skills

  • The stress-timed rhythm of English is created by patterned “beats” of stressed and unstressed syllables within words and sentences.  Producing accurate stress patterns can be very challenging for non-native speakers on both the word and sentence level, which can hinder oral comprehension and intelligibility. In general, native English speakers stress content words (words that carry meaning) and do not stress function words (words that serve a grammatical purpose). 
    Content Words Function Words
    Nouns Articles
    Verbs Prepositions
    Adjectives Auxiliary verbs
    Adverbs Pronouns (except possessive)
    Wh-question words
    Particles of phrasal verbs
    According to these stress rules, the following bold words would get the stress.

    The CATS EAT the FAT RATS.
    The CATS in the HAT EAT the RATS on the MAT.
    The CATS eat UP the RATS on the MATS.

    There are exceptions. Stress patterns are not as predictable when we speak dramatically or emphatically; e.g., “LOOK IN MY CAR!’, not“LOOK in my CAR”.  Also, words that are usually unstressed may be stressed when they end a sentence; e.g., “I THINK he IS”, not  I THINKhe is (he’s) FREE. English language learners may incorrectly assume that speaking emphatically means speaking clearly. As a result, their speech may be interpreted as angry or abrupt.  Poetry offers an engaging opportunity to practice the stress patterns of English.  

Reading / Writing Skills

  • Pattern poetry offers a wide range of opportunities for building vocabulary. Although advantageous at any level of language learning, beginners especially can expand their vocabulary by working within specific grammar structures such as nouns, adjectives, verbs, and adverbs. Also, the repetitive patterns found in many of poetry structures help to reinforce newly acquired words. More advanced learners can continue building vocabulary by examining antonyms, synonyms, etc., in more depth. Most importantly, poetry allows students to produce a piece of writing through a personal, non-threatening venue.


  • Encourage students to share poems from their own languages.  This gives the class an opportunity to explore the universality of poetry while sharing a part of who they are. 
  • Practice the musical qualities of verse by reciting poems with lots of rhyme and rhythm. Let the students feel the “beats” without discussing stress patterns. Books such as Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss work very well for this purpose. CAUTION: Do not overemphasize this type of poetry because it makes English stress patterns seem unnaturally “sing-songy”.   
  • Practice stress patterns with a short poem that contains low-impact vocabulary.  After the class identifies the words that need stress, have them read it out loud in round robin style. The following example, a Shel Silverstein poem, gives students the opportunity not only to identify stress patterns, but also to practice emphatic speech.
    I went to the doctor
    He reached down my throat
    He pulled out a shoe
    And a little toy boat,
    He pulled out a skate
    And a bicycle seat,
    And said "Be more careful
    About  what you eat.”

(Silverstein, 1974, p. 132) 

  • Share examples of different types of pattern poetry so that students can study the structures. Choose a structure and have the class compose a poem together. Lower level students may need more modeling and visual prompts at this point.  The students are now ready to create their poems. I usually ask them to compose one mandatory acrostic, and two of any other pattern. They can also choose to do one rhyming or free verse poem. 
  • After writing their poems, let the students choose their favorites to read to the class.  Emotion and appropriate stress patterns seem to flow naturally from their “voice”.                            
  •  Create a class poetry book.

The following low-advanced students produced acrostic poems by using their names. It was amazing to hear how accurately they stressed their words as they read their poems to the class. Although they all chose their first name for the acrostic, notice the variety of content that includes a philosophical reflection, similes, and a dichotomous personality. The students’ work is not edited unless there is a major problem with listener / reader comprehension.



Do what you think is true
Always love your family
Never try to hurt anyone
If someone hurts our feelings
Stop him or tell him that you got hurt
Heart is like glass, so always take care…
         DON’T BREAK IT

(Danish, from Pakistan)


Amazing like nature!
Graceful like a swan!
Intelligent like Einstein!
Emotional like a tornado!
Sad? Never!
Kind?  Sometimes!
Agnes…that’s me!

(Agnieska, from Poland)


Forgiving but not forgetful
Impatient but never careless
Go abroad but never stay forever
Emotional about family but never say so
Naughty with friends but never hurtful

(Figen, from Turkey)

The following haiku was written by a low- intermediate student.  It could be argued that the required 5-7-5 syllable count is not accurate here because a native speaker would say “twinkling” with only two syllables. However, corrections were not made because there was no problem with comprehension or intelligibility.


Lightening up the ground
Dandelions are in bloom
Like twinkling stars

(Kiki, from Japan)

The next sample was written by a low-advanced student who was very shy and soft-spoken. Despite his reticent nature, he read his poem with emotion, conviction, and confidence.


Scar in the heart
Pains me like a dart
For it brings bitter memories from the start
But no need to grief
For the scar is brief
And the pain will blow away like a leaf
So wait till the scar is healed
And the pain sealed.
For you will see the sun rising from the field

(Oh Suk, from Korea)

The next two poems were written by intermediate level students and used highly repetitive structures. In the poem, “Trying to Speak Good English”, the student created his own pattern.


I am from the big trees in my yard that my brothers and I climbed.
I am from the riverside in my hometown.  There are many kinds of 
                            delicious fish in the river.
I am from the beautiful rice farms that are green in the summer and
                             yellow in autumn.
I am from the land of many birds. After school, my brothers and I set up
I am from eating songpyeon on Korean Thanksgiving- a rice cake steamed on
                             pine needles.
I am from the city now. There are no big trees, no beautiful riversides, and no
                             rice farms.

(Hak Jae, from Korea)


I am trying to speak good English
I wonder what native people say
I hear people’s advice and
I see no caption movies
I don’t want to make problems with English
I am trying to speak good English

I pretend to talk to people in English when I dream
I feel very happy and interested in everything
I touch land and cars and everything
I worry about making mistakes when I speak and listen
I cry alone in my room
I am trying to speak good English

I understand the teacher’s talking and the news programming
I say to myself that you can do it….don’t be afraid to make mistakes
I say “Have a brave heart!”
I dream that five years later I’ll be flying to the sky 
I hope to take flying lessons
I am trying to speak good English   

(Tae Hoon, from Korea)                                                                                         

The last sample is an adjective poem written by a beginning level student. The student was given the structure previously described in WHAT IS PATTERN POETRY?


Friend is happy,
Friend is happy, conversational, 
Is happy, conversational, honest,
Is happy, conversational, honest, good,

(Flavio, from Brazil)

I often ask my students to write personal reflections after completing major assignments. I believe that students can become more independent learners as they “think” about what and how they learn. The following are some of there reflections.


After writing these poems, I feel more comfortable to express my feelings-also, when I tried to find some words which I use in my language too much, I saw different forms of these words. Thanks.


Before when I studied in my country, I just read and memorized. This time when I learned poetry in CCSU I did a challenging thing. I wrote three poems. Before, I didn’t think I could do it. I am so happy now, so now when I want to write in my daily, I can try to write poems to express my emotion.


In my opinion, poetry topic is very helpful for me. I like it very much. It took a long time to write a poem, but when I was writing I was thinking about writing more poems in two languages. First, I thought it is too hard for me, but I can do it.


The most difficult thing was how to find words that I want to express. I t was a good experience.


I find this really challenging, but it came from my heart.


Making poems let me express some of my feelings and let me describe how I feel about them. In my opinion, it is a good experience even when you don’t like poetry. It helps you to speak better and improve your vocalization.


Honestly, I don’t like reading or writing poems. My attitude didn’t change. When I was in school, my literature teachers said, “Read this poem and memorize it”. After that I started to hate poems.


To me it makes sense. I thought of adding words or changing it, but I like this way. I like because it gets people thinking. You don’t have to say everything. It’s abstract.

The benefits of using poetry in the classroom extend far beyond an instructional opportunity to develop the core language learning skills. Because poetry allows language learners to express themselves on a very personal level, it empowers them with a strong sense of ownership. This feeling of empowerment helps to build confidence using the target language, and as confidence builds, self-consciousness and apprehension lessen. 

Holmes, V.L., & Moulton, M.R. (2001). Writing Simple Poems. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Silverstein, S.  (1974).  A Light in the Attic. New York: Harper & Row.  

Community News and Information IEP-IS Steering Committee

Past Chair: Nancy Storer, 

Chair: Tamara Jones, 

Chair-Elect: Sheryl Meyer, 

Newsletter Editor: Christie Ward, 


Newsletter Coeditor: Meg Cooney,

Secretary: Kieran Hilu, 

Historian: Judy Dillon, 

Member-at-Large: Kim Chavis, 

Member-at-Large: Carol Romett, 


Member-at-Large: Cindy Oakley-Paulik, 

Other Positions:

E-list Moderator: Michael Medley,

Webmaster: Jim Scofield,

Member Resources:

Web site:




Opportunities to Serve

Opportunities to Serve Your IEPIS Community

There are many ways to get involved in your IEP Interest Section. You can participate in our Open Business Meeting during TESOL 2008, submit an article to the IEPIS Newsletter, or volunteer to be a proposal reader for TESOL 2009.

You might also consider spending an hour or so sitting at the IEP Interest Section Table in the Exhibit Room during TESOL 2008. The IEP Interest Section Table is a great place to make new contacts and share ideas with other IEP professionals. If you are interested, please contact Member-at-Large Kim Chavis at

Steering Committee Position Openings

The IEPIS is seeking candidates for the following positions. Elections will be held during TESOL 2008, at the IEP Interest Section Open Meeting on Thursday, April 3, at 5:30 p.m., and all IEP members in attendance will be invited to vote by ballot.

If you are interested in running for one of these positions, or wish to nominate a candidate, please contact the IEPIS Chair, Tamara Jones,

Chair Elect

Duties of the position:

  • In the temporary absence of the chair, preside at the annual business meetings of IEPIS and the steering committee. 
  • In cooperation with the chair and the second vice president of TESOL, prepare IEPIS’s Academic Sessions for the annual TESOL convention. 
  • Conduct an evaluation of the IEPIS’s program offered at the annual TESOL convention and submit a report to the steering committee within 60 days after the convention. This report should include recommendations for changes to be made the following year. 
  • Develop mechanisms for close liaison with other TESOL groups and other professional organizations having similar concerns. 
  • Serve as an ex officio voting member of the steering committee.
  • Serve as an IEPIS Interest Section Council Representative at the annual meeting of the Interest Section Council. 
  • Assist the chair in carrying out his or her assigned responsibilities and perform other duties assigned by the chair or the steering committee.


Duties of the position (as member of the steering committee):

  • Set policies for the general operation of IEPIS. 
  • Conduct long-range planning for IEPIS, developing those projects and programs that are necessary to achieve the goals of TESOL and of IEPIS. 
  • Support the chair and the association chair in efforts to obtain close liaison with other TESOL groups and other professional organizations having similar concerns. 
  • May establish ad hoc committees, task forces, or commissions and give the specific charges. Approve the appointments of all members by the chair. 

About This Newsletter

Christie Ward,, and Meg Cooney,

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

General Information

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

Submission Guidelines for the IEPIS Newsletter

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

Deadlines for Submissions

  • April 15
  • October 15

Please send your submissions to Christie Ward at

About this Membership Community

IEP-IS Statement of Purpose/Goals

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

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

While most IEP IS members are associated with IEPS in academic preparatory programs, the membership includes professionals involved in all types of intensive English instruction.

Statement of Purpose

The primary goals and activities of the interest section are:

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