IEP Newsletter

IEP News, Volume 28:2 (November 2008)

by User Not Found | 10/26/2011
In This Issue...
  • Leadership Updates
    • Letter From the Chair
    • IEPIS Annual Business Meeting Minutes From TESOL 2008 Convention
    • IEP Advocacy Updates
  • Articles
    • Creating a Course in International English
    • "Doing Discussion": Six Steps to Student Involvement
    • Increasing Student Motivation in Intensive English Program Classrooms
    • Member Book Review
  • Community News and Information
    • IEPIS Steering Committee
    • About This Newsletter
    • About This Member Community

Leadership Updates Letter From the Chair

Sheryl Meyer, IEPIS Chair,

Dear IEPIS Members:

I send my warmest greetings to all new and returning members of the IEP Interest Section (IEPIS). My name is Sheryl Meyer, and I am the chair of the Intensive English Program Interest Section for 2008-2009. I have worked as an instructor at the English Language Center (ELC) at the University of Denver in Colorado for 8 years, and before that, I taught at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado, for several years.

Today, as the ELC greeted 60-plus new students from a variety of locations around the world, I was reminded why TESOL exists: “to ensure excellence in English language teaching to speakers of other languages.” In spite of the numerous times I have been through the same process, I still feel each student’s hopes, excitement, fears, and desire to learn English in order to move toward new goals. We are here to give them the best opportunity we can to reach their goal of learning English.

Because TESOL is such a large organization, the interest sections are an excellent way to find some friendly faces during the rush and business of the conventions and throughout the year. I have enjoyed getting to know the board members of the IEPIS during the different planning meetings at the TESOL convention in New York, and I am inspired by their commitment to the organization. Thanks to these people, I feel more connected to TESOL and our mission as ESL professionals.

Before I summarize the happenings at the convention in New York, I want to thank Tamara Jones for her dedication as chair during 2007-2008. An essential aspect of leadership is clear communication between group members, and Tamara did an excellent job of keeping everyone up to date as planning and ideas progressed throughout the year. She made certain that we were well represented at TESOL New York, and she was very helpful in guiding me through the process of completing my responsibilities as chair-elect.

I would also like to thank the board members who served during the 2007-2008 term. Kim Chavis, along with Carol Romett, did an outstanding job with our booth in New York. We had a prime location, and many people came by to get more information about our InterSection. Christie Ward edited and distributed two newsletters in July 2007 and February 2008. I admire her organizational skills in pulling those together in an interesting and helpful way for all of us. A big thanks to Jim Scofield for continuing to keep the Web site active. I encourage everyone to check it out at Judy Dillon completed the task of ensuring that past newsletters would be archived and many of them are currently available on the IEPIS section of the TESOL Web site. Kieran Hilu was unable to attend the conference this year, but Liz Bowles represented her as secretary to take notes during our planning meetings. Finally, Nancy Storer, in addition to her many other responsibilities, made sure that ballots were ready for elections at the open meeting on April 3, 2008.

TESOL New York was an extremely well-attended convention, and the IEPIS had 45 presentation slots. I want to thank everyone who took the time to present on behalf of the IEPIS. The Academic Session, “Vocabulary Teaching: Ideas From Corpus Linguistics,” was extremely interesting and the number of attendees proved that it was a timely topic. In this session, Randi Reppen, Michael McCarthy, Norbert Schmitt, and Paul Heacock shared their insight and expertise on different aspects of corpus linguistics and what it means for vocabulary instruction. I was unable to attend the InterSection entitled “Technology Across the IEP Curriculum,” presented by Tamara Jones, Sandra Wagner, Randall Davis, Deborah Healy, Camilla Vasquez, and Randi Reppen of IEPIS and CALLIS, but I understand from reliable sources that it was also interesting and helpful.

Here are some ongoing resources that may be helpful to you in your professional roles:

  • IEPIS E-list—This is accessible through the TESOL Web site. It has been very active since the 2008 conference, and I continue to see lots of questions being raised and responded to. Consider using this tool as you face challenges or opportunities in your daily work environment.
  • TESOL Resource Center (TRC)—The TRC is a peer-to-peer resource center that was launched to “support expanded online peer-to-peer learning and “provide a clear, simple submission and review process for sharing resources.” You can search the center for lesson plans, presentations, materials, tests, and so on. You will find the TRC under the Education tab at I encourage members to submit materials as well as search the TRC for helpful ideas and resources.
  • IEPIS Newsletter—As mentioned earlier, past newsletters are available in the IEPIS section of the TESOL Web site. I encourage you to submit book reviews, research, etc. for upcoming newsletters.
  • IEPIS Web site—We are working to update and expand the use of the Web site to include podcasts, blogs, and other material that would be helpful to our members. You can access the Web site at

Finally, as you interact with students and their goal of learning English, consider what you are dong to “ensure that they get excellent teaching of the English language.” TESOL and the IEPIS have numerous resources and people that want to help you in your task. If you have suggestions or ideas that would improve on what is currently available, please don’t hesitate to contact me or any of the other members of the board. I hope to see you in Denver next year for TESOL 2009. We have gorgeous mountains and a big, new convention center waiting to greet you.

IEPIS Annual Business Meeting Minutes From TESOL 2008 Convention

Intensive English Programs Interest Section
Open Meeting
Sheraton Park Suite #4, New York
Thursday, April 3, 2008

The annual open meeting of the IEP-IS was held on Friday, April 4, 2008 at the Sheraton Park Suite #4, with the chair (Tamara Jones) being present and Liz Bowles acting as secretary for Kieran Hilu.

The meeting was called to order at 5:00 p.m., and Tamara suggested that the steering committee members combine their introductions with their reports.

Christie Ward (Newsletter) announced that the newsletter needs content and suggested that members submit (and solicit from colleagues) book reviews (evaluations and recommendations) for the newsletter, which is published in summer and winter.

Sheryl Meyer (Incoming Chair) reported that the academic session went well and encouraged members to attend the Intersection session Saturday entitled “Technology across the IEP Curriculum.”

Kim Chavis (Member at Large) reported that the IEP booth had a prime location, looked good, and had been well attended.

Member-at-large Carol Romett (right) at the
popular IEP-IS booth during TESOL 2008.

Carol Romett (Member at Large) reported on the general types of activities that a member-at-large does, for example taking on projects for the IS, such as helping to develop content for fliers for the IEP booth.

Liz Bowles (Acting Secretary) introduced herself and expressed Kieran Hilu's regrets that she was unable to attend.

Jim Scofield (Webmaster) reported that TESOL had taken over the management and hosting of the website.  He indicated the website needs more content to make it useful for our members.  He suggested that members volunteer to submit content (~150 words) for a particular month.  Members were asked to indicate their willingness to do this on the volunteer sheet.  He also said he might put up a new podcast each month and some links to resources.  There was a discussion about indexing the archived newsletter articles; Jim suggested each member take an issue and list article titles, authors, and perhaps some keywords for that issue.  Finally, Jim asked for a volunteer to take over the webmaster position and clarified that no html coding was required to keep the template updated.

Judy Dillon (Historian) reported that TESOL had taken over the archiving of the newsletter and had archived them and all governing documents from 2000-present.  She had sent TESOL hard copies of issues from 1986-1999.  There was further discussion of making them searchable.

Nancy Storer (Past Chair) presented ballots for the election. 

Tamara Jones (Chair) reported that we had been given 45 presentation slots and that 23% of the proposals submitted were selected.  She said that the dividing line was a matter of decimal points and that Christie was planning to invite some of those whose proposals were not chosen to rework them as newsletter articles.  She again reminded members to attend the Intersection and gave more details about that.  She further reported that the IEP-IS has 1318 members - 678 primary members and 640 secondary members.  She concluded by offering thanks to proposal readers, steering committee members, and Nancy Storer.


• Jim Bame was elected Member at Large.  
• Kim Chavis was elected Chair Elect.


Tamara passed on the IEP IS copy of “Roberts Rules of Order” to Sheryl.  Sheryl recognized Tamara’s work as chair with a gift.  Tamara recognized Nancy’s advice and support throughout the year with a gift.

Incoming Chair Sheryl Meyer (left) accepts 
“Robert’s Rules” from outgoing Chair Tamara 
Jones (right).

Sheryl appointed Liz Bowles historian, and Judy presented her with the history binder.

Newly appointed historian Liz Bowles (left)
accepts the IEP-IS History Binder from outgoing 
Historian Judy Dillon (right).

General Discussion

Ideas for the Academic Session for 2009 were discussed.  Some possible topics suggested were vocabulary, LD students, extensive reading, and instructor training and/or evaluation.

Ideas for the Intersection for 2009 included teacher evaluation, student assessment, part-time concerns, phonemic/phonetic problems, very low-level literacy students in academic programs, and integrating pronunciation instruction in IEP classes.

Respectfully submitted,

Elizabeth B. Bowles

IEP Advocacy Updates

Christie Ward,

Important Advocacy Alert

Please consider supporting the ACTION Act of 2008—legislation of critical interest to IEP professionals. 

You can find a summary of the legislation from the TESOL US Advocacy Action Center at

On February 14, Senator Norm Coleman (R-Minn.) and Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) introduced the American Competitiveness Through International Openness Now (ACTION) Act of 2008 (S. 2653), also known as the ACTION Act.

The ACTION Act addresses many of the current challenges international students, scholars, scientists, exchange visitors, and business travelers face when trying to study, conduct research, or attend scientific conferences in the United States.

Some of the bill's highlights include the following: 

  • Establishes a U.S. government-led strategic plan to attract international students and scholars, as well as eminent scientists and exchange visitors, to the United States.
  • Removes the 214(b) nonimmigrant intent provision for international students in the F visa category and allows for short-term study on B (tourist) visa.
  • Adds greater certainty and transparency to the visa security clearance process for scientists and creates a "Trusted Traveler" program to allow for expedited visa review for frequent, low-risk visitors and for international students and scholars who have left the United States temporarily and are seeking a renewal to reenter and continue their program.
  • Amends Real ID provisions to allow legitimate international students, scholars, and exchange visitors to receive a driver's license valid for the length of their approved activity.
  • Provides "cap gap" status for international students who are changing from F-1 to H-1B status when the H-1B cap has been reached before the beginning of the next fiscal year.
    TESOL along with the intensive English program community and the international education community is supporting this bill. Contact your senators and urge them to cosponsor this important legislation!

Important TESOL Position Statement Updates

Please note the following TESOL Position statements.  Full text copies of the statements are available here:

  • Position Statement on the Status of and Professional Equity for the Field of Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages 
  • Position Statement on Teacher Preparation for Content-Based Instruction (CBI)
  • Position Statement on Professionalization and Credentialing for Adult ESOL Educators
  • Position Statement on English as a Global Language

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, it builds friendships for the United States and trains future leaders from all parts of the globe.
  • Seeking visa policy that is balanced between protecting the nation and keeping our institutions open to international students and scholars.
  • Achieving a comprehensive, government-supported U.S. strategy to increase access to and interest in pursuing American higher education.

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

  • Not only is advocating for international education the right thing to do, but it is in our own self-interest.
  • It affects your 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 multi-billion-dollar 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 (e.g., Open Doors, Good data (on enrollment numbers, amount students spend in the community, student visa interview experiences, etc.) are critical in advocacy efforts with Congress and government agencies. 
  • Teachers should find out what their program directors are doing to get/stay into the loop—and then ask that directors share as much info with them as possible.
  • Volunteer to help out.  (Note: Institutions’ public relations offices can be very touchy about who and 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—there is 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 Creating a Course in International English

Grant Wolf

Several years ago, I did a bit of research on the current status of English as an international lingua franca.  The extent to which English has been adopted, officially or unofficially, as the world¡¦s auxiliary language was quite astonishing to me, particularly the concept that for many speakers of English as a second or foreign language, it is not necessarily an American or British language, but rather an international language. Similarly, speakers and writers of Indian or Nigerian or South African English do not necessarily think of themselves as using the language of another culture; it is their own language as much as it is ours. Statistics support the contention that English already belongs to the international community as a whole. According to Crystal (2003), the number of combined ESL and EFL speakers already far outnumbers native speakers. 

In the long run, the pedagogical implications of this paradigm shift in English usage are vast, and have scarcely been explored. For ESL/EFL teachers there is certainly no clear or simple response to this unprecedented phenomenon. Nevertheless it is a rich and fascinating area of investigation, one which I began exploring about a year ago in creating a new, advanced listening/speaking course at the University of Delaware's English Language Institute, entitled English as an International Language. 

 As a starting point in creating this course, I asked myself a fundamental question:  What skills will our advanced students need in order to communicate ( in English) in an international milieu, and specifically which of these skills might be lacking in their previous education?  I found several fairly obvious objectives (listed below), which became the basis for this course.  They are as follows:

  • Listening: Increasing the ability to understand various "Englishes"
  • Speaking:  Developing greater cross-cultural awareness and more effective communication strategies
  • Reflecting: Becoming aware of one's own individual needs as an English speaker
  • Exploring:  Individually researching and using some of the specific contexts in which English is firmly established as an international lingua franca
  • Understanding: Gaining an informed perspective on the present and future needs and risks of an international language

It goes without saying, however, that no communication of any type can take place without overall English proficiency.  As an integral part of an intensive English program, the course I created needed to fit into overall curricular standards. The following graphic (Figure 1), which places the above objectives within the overall goal of greater proficiency and overall communicative competence, describes the "big picture" of what I hope students will gain from this course. 

Figure 1: Considerations for Teaching International English

To better elucidate how these objectives are addressed, I will briefly describe a sampling of some of the class materials and activities. 

Although many of our students may see American English as the default standard, they are also somewhat aware of the need to understand a variety of accents and dialects of English, and to develop strategic competence in dealing with a variety of cultures. This awareness is heightened by addressing one of the objectives of this course, which is to better inform students of the current role of English as an international lingua franca.  This is done through some brief readings from David Crystal's English as a Global Language (2003), approached through a series of oral summarizing exercises (since this is first and foremost a listening/speaking class). 

Following these readings, students debate and discuss the merits and risks of any language being designated as the world's lingua franca, and develop a better understanding of how this phenomenon developed, and how it might be managed in the best interests of all.  Furthermore, students are asked to reflect upon their own future needs as users of English as a lingua franca, and to record an oral journal focusing on that question. 

As international speakers of English, our students need to gain a deeper understanding of how different cultures communicate, even when they are using the same language (English).  For example, some of my highly proficient Latin American students have pointed out to me that their culture has a much higher tolerance for friendly "kidding" (about someone's appearance or behavior), and that North Americans seem to be much more sensitive to what Latinos regard as harmless joking.  Likewise, it is well known that Western cultures tend to be much more direct and time-conscious in business negotiations, while Asians tend to be more sensitive to proper courtesy and status relationships. 

A natural step in gaining a broader perspective on the ways that different cultures use language in different ways is to reflect on some of the unique communicative features of one's own culture.  To this end, students listen to a lecture on David Hall's classification of cultures on a low context to high context continuum (LeBauer, 1999), and also view a short video by Susan Steinbach (1996) which compares communication styles to sports (reference).  This leads to some lively discussions on the communication styles students have observed among Americans as well as their international classmates.  Finally, students are asked to give a short PowerPoint presentation on "Communication in My Country," with the express purpose of instructing their classmates (and teacher) in some of the unique features of communication in their own cultures.

Perhaps the most obvious skill which students lack as international speakers of English is the ability to understand the wide spectrum of "Englishes" currently in use.  Although their experience with internationally-mixed classes provides an invaluable experience of hearing English with differing accents, they may have had few or no opportunities for purposeful listening to British, Australian, Indian, Irish, or other Englishes.  Accordingly, one of the main ongoing activities for this class is independent viewing of foreign films.  At the beginning of the eight-week session, students are given a list of recommended films, from the UK, India, Africa, Australia, etc.  Each week students are asked to individually select a film, watch it, and give an oral summary in class.  Part of the assignment asks students to comment on the differences in vocabulary, idioms, pronunciation and other features that they noted in the film.  This component of the class quickly takes on a life of its own, as students enjoy thought-provoking movies that were previously unknown to them, share their discoveries with their classmates, and also suggest additional films which are continually added to the list.

Another major focus of the class is enhancing students' strategic competence in working with people of other cultures.  This is done primarily through a series of roleplays.  Based on the work of Simone Evans (Burns, 2005), these roleplays simulate some of the difficult and sometimes stressful situations students might encounter in the "real world," using English to solve problems in interaction with other cultures.  Such situations may involve workplace conflicts, misunderstandings in travel, business, academia and other areas. Some of the roleplays are videotaped, viewed, and reflected upon in terms of the various strategies, successful or unsuccessful, that students used to achieve their goals. Despite the inherent stress of the roleplays and the additional discomfort of viewing the videorecordings with the whole class, students eagerly embrace these roleplays, and enjoy experimenting with a new persona for each one.  These roleplays also provide an opportunity to address more mundane but no less important objectives of the class: improving pronunciation, oral grammar, and appropriate vocabulary usage. 

Finally, the class provides opportunities for students to explore, in some depth, a few of the many topic areas in which English is used as an international lingua franca.  The topics which have proven most successful include diplomacy and peace-making, travel and tourism, and the environment.  These topics challenge students to do individual research and then use their newly-gained knowledge to inform and engage others.  For example, a unit on the Nobel Peace Prize culminates in students playing the role of a Nobel Peace Prize laureate (living or dead!) being interviewed on a television talk show.  A similar unit on the environment (with Al Gore's movie, An Inconvenient Truth, as the main listening activity), concludes with students appearing on a talk show in the role of their own countries' Minister of the Environment. The unit on Travel and Tourism requires students to act as travel agents planning a tour of one or more countries of their choice (excluding their native countries).  They have to do real research on the internet for airfares, accommodations, meals, attractions, etc.  This information is then shared with other classes at a "Travel Fair."  Working in pairs, the students are each given a table at which to "sell" their tour, using persuasive language, PowerPoint presentations, and brochures.  Visiting students from other classes are given play money to purchase the tour of their choice, and the "travel agents" compete to see who can take in the most revenue.  

As mentioned above, the challenges and possibilities of teaching English as an international language are limitless; clearly I have only begun to explore them.  Preliminary results show that students are both serious and enthusiastic about the class, and readily see the need for broadening their perspectives as well as their skills with regard to international communication.  The principal challenge I have faced in planning this course is creating a sense of cohesion among such a disparate set of needs and objectives. Encouragingly, students readily accept the basic notion of international citizenship, with English as an essential tool to enable universal communication. Such acceptance makes my task easier, and allows me to draw on a wide variety of materials and activities, all oriented toward the ultimate goal of facilitating international communication. 

Nevertheless, this class is very much a work in progress, undergoing continual modification, generally in the direction of greater interactivity and more real-world exposure.  Not surprisingly, I find that students do their best work when they are deeply engaged in challenging, "nearly-real-life" communication, whether it be a roleplay, a humorous simulation, or "selling" an international tour to visitors from other classes. Since the strength of the class is its relevance to students' immediate professional needs, the future of this and similar classes will lie in finding ways to further enhance that relevance. Blurring the boundaries between classwork and real-world communication seems to be the crucial element, and internet publication, not surprisingly, comes to mind as the ideal environment for such endeavors.  A class website has already been initiated (, and plans are underway to allow students to post their own creations, such as audio blogs, movie reviews, short videos, PhotoStories, PowerPoint presentations, etc.  

As teachers of internationally mixed IEP classes, we are already in a unique position of fostering and facilitating intercultural communication as an inherent component of our daily work. Enhancing that process by recasting English as an international lingua franca (at least for advanced learners), and exploring some of the crucial challenges and opportunities available to international English speakers, is the natural next step in our work, one which I believe more and more educators will eventually be called upon to take. 

Burns, Anne, editor. (2005). Teaching English from a global perspective.  Alexandria, VA :  TESOL.
Crystal, David. (2003). English as a global language, 2nd ed.  Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
LeBauer, Roni S. (1999). Learn to listen, listen to learn, 2nd ed.  (pp. 177-181) White Plains , NY :  Pearson Education.
Steinbach, S. (1996). Fluent American English, part one: Conversational styles around the globe [Film]. [Available from The Seabright Group, Instructional Media, 216 F Street, Suite 25, Davis, CA 95616, USA]

Grant S. Wolf, Assistant Professor at the University of Delaware's English Language Institute, has been active in the ESL field for more than twenty years.  His principal interest is in developing content-based materials, most recently on the theme of world citizenship.

"Doing Discussion": Six Steps to Student Involvement

Heather D. Weger-Guntharp, Ph.D.


Though approaches to investigating second language anxiety vary (e.g., Horwitz, 1999; Kang, 2005), the consensus is that such anxiety is a reality that suppresses many learners’ opportunities to practice oral language production. Since oral production allows learners more opportunity for modified output, and learners who modify their output are more likely to learn (e.g., McDonough, 2005), it is vital for teachers to create a learning environment in which learners are respectful of their classmates’ needs to express themselves orally. Sometimes, creating this balance is difficult, especially when the first language backgrounds of the classroom are heterogeneous (such that a variety of communication norms are represented in a single class), which may exacerbate disparity in oral participation.

One method of addressing this inequality, the Discussion Game, has been used with success with adult English language learners in the IEP program at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. With learners coming from over 30 different countries, the classroom demographics of this program are mixed, creating the opportunity for learners to become aware of how personal communication styles differ across the global community while developing strategies for using English to express themselves. The appeal for the classroom educator is that the approach provides a scaffolded means of guiding learners to more equal distribution of talk within the classroom.

In this article, the six steps of the Discussion Game are outlined. The first two steps target raising learners’ awareness about the possibly unconscious norms of their personal conversation styles and the styles of other learners and Americans. Steps 3 through 6 provide a guided means of helping learners practice sharing the classroom conversational space.

Step 1: Observing Discussions

The process begins with learners’ observing a variety of discussions (both in and out of class) in order to become aware of different conversation strategies that people use in various contexts. A variety of brainstorming activities can help students reach this goal. Thus, of the six steps, this one takes the greatest amount of teacher-fronted explanation, material preparation, and time.

Learners in my class begin by watching a 3-part video series, Conversational Style in the USA: Learning to Play Basketball (Steinbach, 1996). This video series contrasts three basic conversation norms: those attributed to people in the U.S., in Asian countries, and in Central and South America and the Middle East. In short, one basic principle outlined pertains to the notion of turn-taking. As explained in the video, speakers in the U.S. have polite means of interrupting each other, which often come at the end of a sentence or thought group. That is, there may be short amounts of overlap between speakers, but, in general, when one speaker begins speaking, the interrupted speaker stops. This pattern contrasts with the conversation pattern attributed to speakers from Central and South America and the Middle East, where the speakers commonly engage in longer stretches of simultaneous speech. In addition, speakers from Asian countries are described as, in general, demonstrating no conversational overlap; that is, before a new speaker begins, the first speaker completely stops. While this characterization might also be true of other countries’ conversations, the video series asserts that the length of the pauses between speakers in Asian countries is typically greater than that found in other countries. Though somewhat simplistic, the video series offers a good means of generating a class conversation about the extent to which the learners agree with the norms that are outlined for their particular countries.

For situations where access to the videos is not possible, there are alternative starting activities. Initially, the turn-taking pattern just described might be explained to learners, generating a classroom discussion about the veracity of the generalization. Second, learners can test hypotheses about general conversation norms that may vary by first language background by asking pairs or groups of learners from the same country to discuss a topic while their classmates observe. This might include allowing learners to talk both in their first languages and in English – as the goal of the activity is not on the specific content of the conversation, but on the mechanisms for engaging in conversation.

In order to test hypotheses about U.S. conversation norms, a video clip from a movie or television show might be used. For example, many sitcoms have short clips available on Utube – including “The One with the Male Nanny” (episode clip 2) for the sitcom Friends, which shows two of the characters engaged in a comical disagreement. However, it is important to acknowledge that such scripted scenarios are artificial and may only display conversation patterns of the most mundane type. This caveat notwithstanding, use of video clips may serve as a starting point for making explicit those conversation patterns that are largely unconscious to learners.

Another resource on U.S. conversation norms is Tannen (1984; see especially chapters 2 through 4); excerpts from the book might be read by the teacher in preparation to guide the discussion or might be read by the entire class (if the learners are advanced learners). While presented as alternatives to using the video series, these activities can also be used in conjunction with the videos, depending on the needs of the learners.

This step concludes by assigning learners to complete an independent observation log, which will be brought to class and used in Step 2. Before assigning the task, teachers should select two locations that (most likely) will allow learners to observe conversations from contrasting registers. For example, a social space might be a restaurant; a professional space might be a bank or store; a group study space might be a study lounge or library space on campus. It is important to discuss with learners that they will be asked to observe people in an unobtrusive way, and they will be making general guesses about the distribution of conversation, not doing an in-depth analysis of the content. That is, they are not asked to be “stalkers” with tape recorders, but rather to eavesdrop as best they can.

Though the homework should take around 30-45 minutes to complete, learners may need a couple of days, as the assignment consists of two parts. First, the teacher divides the class in half, assigning the two groups to two different locations. For example, one group might be assigned a restaurant and the other group a group-study location. Learners (in pairs or as individuals) go to their assigned locations and observe at least two different groups of English-speakers for about 10 minutes each (for a total of 20 minutes of observation). For each observation, learners take notes on the following questions:

What time is it?

How would you describe the group (number of speakers, genders, ages, clothing)?

1. What time is it?
2. How would you describe the group (number of speakers, genders, ages, clothing)?
3. Who does most of the talking?
4. How do the speakers take turns?
5. Do speakers talk at the same time or not?
6. How loudly do the speakers talk?
7. What are the topics of conversation? (just take a guess)

The second part of the assignment takes another 10-15 minutes. For this part, learners are asked to observe a group of their friends as they talk in English or their native language. As will be discussed in Step 2 below, the goal of the observation log homework is not to focus on the content of the conversation, but the method; thus, for this part of the assignment, it is not necessary to restrict learners to observing an English-language conversation. In fact, learners often observe differences that they attribute to the language spoken, enriching the analysis of the homework during Step 2 of this process. While observing the conversation, learners take notes about the same seven questions as in part one of the observation log and also about two additional questions:

8. Where does the conversation take place (location)?
9. What language, in general, was spoken?

Having completed their field work, the learners bring their observation logs to class with them in order to complete the second step of the process.

Step 2: Charting Conversation Patterns

Having completed the observation log, learners proceed with Step 2, which takes approximately two class hours. The purpose of the second step is to build on the in-class activities of Step 1 by discussing learners’ observations of out-of-class conversations in order to raise their awareness of register, context-bound norms of discussion, and personal conversation patterns. This step has four parts: the first two involve group and pair work; the second two involve a whole class discussion.

First, learners work with classmates who visited the same location as they did. In their group, learners discuss their answers to the first seven questions from the homework and compile a list of similarities/differences that they found.

Second, learners pair with a partner from a different observation group. Again, learners are asked to discuss their answers to the first seven questions from the homework and compile a list of similarities/differences. The teacher rotates among the learners to facilitate.

Third, the teacher writes four columns on the board: location, time of day, description of speakers, and description of conversation. He/she then elicits information based on part one of the observation logs from the class for each column.

Finally, learners are asked to share their observations concerning what they noticed when they observed their friends talking (part two of the observation logs). Throughout the whole class discussion, the teacher may ask learners to make connections between what they observed and what they expected to observe based on any of the activities completed during Step 1 of this process. Learners are also guided to hypothesize about reasons for the similarities and differences they observed in the conversation patterns: are they explained by differences in location, register, language, or something else? Examples of guiding questions that teachers might use include:

1. What conversation patterns did they see that they predicted they would see?
2. Did any of their observations surprise them? 
3. Which conversation patterns seemed most like their own personal conversation patterns?
4. Which conversation patterns seemed most different from their own personal conversation patterns? 
5. What are the similarities/differences, both in terms of language or cultural issues, they noticed when watching their friends versus when watching conversations of English speakers?

To wrap up the discussion, a summary of the U.S. conversation norms provides a means of preparing to move from the theoretical examination of how conversations happen to practicing conversations. Facilitating this summary is described next.

Steps 3 to 6: Turn-Taking Discussion Game (Preparatory Steps)

With the awareness raising activities of Steps 1 and 2 complete, learners are ready to work with Steps 3 to 6 in order to practice norms of U.S. conversation. For these steps the teacher must make three preparations.

First, in one class the teacher guides learners to summarize norms of U.S. conversation gleaned from the activities of Steps 1 and 2. In addition to the turn-taking patterns described in Step 1 above, there are a variety of other norms that may be discussed, depending on the learners’ proficiencies and the exact nature of the discovery that occurred during Steps 1 and 2. For example, learners might have noticed how speakers go about interrupting each other, how a new speaker links his/her comment to the contribution of previous speakers, or how a listener uses backchanneling (verbal cues, such as ‘mm-hmm,’ or nonverbal cues, such as nodding one’s head) to signal that one is listening (see Tannen, 1984, chapters 2-4 for additional information). At this point, the teacher might also want to emphasize that within the social context of a classroom dialogue, the goal is the sharing of the conversation space so that all speakers can contribute, a goal that may not be true of other conversation contexts.

Next, the teacher might provide a list of language cues that learners could use to achieve these norms. For example, to show agreement with a prior opinion, a learner might say, “I agree with Kae’s point that ….” To show partial agreement, a learner might need a more nuanced approach, such as “While I understand José’s opinion that …, I also think that ….” In these examples, notice that there is a grammar focus on the noun clause and on indirect speech; additional instruction may be needed on these constructions, depending on the proficiency of the learners. Additional examples of language cues can often be found in textbooks, such as the examples in Table 1, which were taken from Matthews (1994).  

Table 1. 
Select language cues for facilitating a classroom discussion (Matthews, 1994, p. 91)

Speaker's intention Possible phrase
Agreeing I think so, too.
I agree with you.
Expressing reservations Yes, but...
Possibly, but...
Yes, but the problem is...
Disagreeing I don't really agree with you.
Yes, that may be true, but...
Well, I can see your point, but...

Finally, the teacher will need to create “speaking money” that will be used in Steps 3 to 6. Speaking money is created by taking a sheet of paper and dividing it into smaller rectangles that evoke the dimensions of a dollar bill. The artistically inclined might decorate the bill with some type of classroom currency notation; others might simply draw the dollar sign ($) on a white sheet of paper, which can be photocopied onto green paper.

Based on these preparations, the learners are ready to practice their conversation skills guided, initially, by the Discussion Game in Steps 3 to 6. Playing the game might take place during the course of one week or occur intermittently throughout a course.

Step 3: Discussion Game for Entire Class with Opinion Statements

Based on the preparatory steps, the teacher is ready to give speaking bills to each learner and explain the rules of the Discussion Game. To begin the game, each learner receives two or three bills. Also, the teacher needs a list of 5 to 10 statements that might range from social norms to world political issues. For example, a social norm might be Parents should be allowed to discipline their children by spanking them. A political issue might be The U.S. should withdraw from Iraq immediately. In Step 4, learners will generate their own statements. (A grammar focus might include the function of modal verbs and other hedging devices.)

Now the teacher reads aloud one of the opinion statements, and all learners who have an opinion on the topic are asked to raise a speaking bill into the air. Teachers should draw learners’ attention to how many classmates, especially those who might be less visibly outspoken learners, have something to contribute to the discussion. This step is often accompanied by small gasps, as the vocally confident recognize that their seemingly verbally passive classmates would like to contribute to the conversation. The teacher then nominates a learner to speak, collecting one speaking bill from that person. Other learners are asked to raise a bill into the air as soon as they would like to interject a comment, and initially the teacher most likely must explicitly help learners “spend” a bill and enter the conversation at an appropriate interruption point (such as in pauses between clauses or at the end of a sentence) or point out why contributing at a particular moment is not appropriate.

The game continues as new pre-prepared opinion statements are read aloud and everyone must spend all his/her speaking money before the money can be redistributed. Also, a teacher might collect an extra bill as a “tax” if the class has a speaker who tries to dominate by speaking for a disproportionately long time or if a new speaker breaks one of the conversation norms, which were summarized above. While the first few rounds of the game may seem to be in slow motion as learners and teachers negotiate the spending of everyone’s bills, after going through three or four statements, the learners typically understand the rules and goals of the game.

Step 4: Discussion Game for Small Groups with Self-Generated Opinion Statements

Once learners fully understand the rules, learners can break into small groups and create their own opinion prompts. These prompts can then be used to generate discussion (rather than having ideas provided by the teacher) with each learner acting in the role of facilitator to collect the speaking bills as his/her opinion statement is read and discussed. At the end of each practice session, a reporter might summarize their group’s discussion for the entire class.

Step 5: Discussion Game for Entire Class with a Text

Depending on the proficiency of the learners and objectives of the class, the game can be applied just as easily to the discussion of entire written or oral texts. The text might initially be chosen by the teacher, who demonstrates how to orally summarize the text and to explain useful vocabulary. Then, a discussion based on the text can begin, and the rules of the Discussion Game are followed.

Step 6: Discussion Game for Small Groups with Self-Selected Texts

If appropriate, the Discussion Game can continue with the class divided into small groups. Each learner in a group has a turn to select a text and lead a small group discussion following the format of Step 5.

Through the Six Steps of the Discussion Game, learners are introduced to norms of U.S. conversation. Rather than relying on being told what the rules are, Steps 1 and 2 are designed to guide learners into making their own observations about conversation norms in a variety of contexts in order to raise their awareness. Steps 3 to 6 give learners a chance to practice U.S. conversation norms in a scaffolded way. The implicit Step 7 is for learners to become comfortable enough with the new norms that the crutch of the speaking money can be removed, as learners gain the ability to move themselves from a position of silence to the free expression of their own ideas in socially appropriate ways.


My sincere thanks to Dr. Sigrun Biesenbach-Lucas of the Center for Language Education and Development at Georgetown University for her helpful comments on an early draft of this article.

Horwitz, E. (1999). Cultural and situational influences on foreign language learners’ beliefs about language learning: A review of BALLI studies. System, 27, 557-576.

Kang, S.-J. (2005). Dynamic emergence of situational willingness to communicate in a second language. System, 33, 277-292.

Matthews, C. (1994). Speaking solutions: Interaction, presentation, listening, and pronunciation skills. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall Regents.

McDonough, K. (2005). Identifying the impact of negative feedback and learners’ responses on ESL question development. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 27, 79-103.

Steinbach, S. (1996). Conversational style in the USA: Learning to play basketball. Davis, CA: The Seabright Group.

Tannen, D. (1984). Conversational style. Norwood, NJ: Ablex.

Dr. Weger-Guntharp teaches English in Georgetown University’s IEP. Her research interests include individual differences, SLA, and teacher training.

Increasing Student Motivation in Intensive English Program Classrooms

Meredith Holbrook Bricker,, and Dara Suchke

Intensive English Programs (IEPs) often contain courses that are non-credit-bearing but have academic purposes; as a result, they frequently present an atypical language-learning opportunity in which students face academic-level instruction and assessment in their coursework without experiencing long-term academic consequences on permanent scholastic records. As IEP instructors, we have observed that our classes contain students who approach this type of “prematriculated” learning environment with varying degrees of motivation to learn English. Second language research shows that motivation is considered one of the primary factors of successful classroom learning (Brown, 2001; Dornyei, 1994a, 1994b, 2005, 2007; Gardner, 1985), and we believe that IEP instructors may face challenges motivating students because of the unique parameters of IEPs.

In this article, we discuss a study in which we attempt to pinpoint and further understand the types of activities, tasks, and teaching approaches that IEP students deem valuable and that consequently motivate them as language learners. We hope that by identifying specific factors in classroom management and classroom environment, we can help ourselves and our fellow teachers more effectively motivate this unique group of students.

The IEP at Georgia State University has an English for academic purposes curriculum to help students prepare for university study, but students often enroll in the program with different personal goals. No matter what their personal goals may be, however, some students contribute positively to a classroom atmosphere by demonstrating some level of motivation, but other students may resist opportunities to participate in class, creating challenging situations for teachers who want to avoid having this apparent lack of motivation negatively affect the morale of their peers and teacher(s).

Not only do teachers want to uncover their students’ motivation in order to promote a more positive classroom atmosphere, but they may also be aware of potential professional consequences on an evaluative level. One way that our institution evaluates instructors is through anonymous end-of-semester evaluations on which students “grade” their instructors; one of the questions on the evaluation asks students to rank, on a scale of 1 to 5, how effectively “the teacher motivated me to learn.” If students rate this item less than favorably, teachers may not know how to modify their approach to better motivate students in the future. We hope that, by developing a more concrete method for assessing students’ opinions and perceptions of their teachers’ approaches, we can help teachers create classrooms that are more motivating to students and therefore more conducive for language learning.

Research Methods
As we began to tackle this issue of motivation in our classrooms, we realized that any attempt at quantifying students’ motivation would have to begin with identifying specific factors that were or were not motivating to students. From this point, we developed our main research question: What approaches to teaching are most effective in terms of motivating IEP students? After additional exploration, we divided this main research question into three subquestions. 

  • What strategies do IEP teachers consciously use to attempt to motivate their students?  
  • Are students noticing the motivational techniques that teachers are attempting in their classrooms? 
  • What types of techniques do students perceive to be most important for their motivation in the classroom and therefore for progression in their second language learning?

While much of the second language and foreign language research about motivation focuses on general factors that can affect students’ motivation, such as age, acculturation, or anxiety, Zoltan Dornyei’s (1994a) article, “Motivation and Motivating in the Foreign Language Classroom,” focuses on 30 concrete approaches that teachers might use in the classroom to motivate students. Because we wanted to approach the issue of motivation from this type of concrete, practical standpoint, we decided to incorporate the suggestions Dornyei described as a key component of our study. We believe that the concreteness of Dornyei’s 30 suggestions, which are divided according to three categories (the Language Level, the Learner Level, and the Learning Situation Level), present a framework by which motivational teaching aspects can be more concretely classified.

  • Language-Level Motivation: 
    • Why has the learner chosen to study a particular language? 
    • What does the learner hope to achieve by studying this language?
  • Learner-Level Motivation: 
    • What are the learner’s personality traits? 
    • What is his or her need for achievement? 
    • What level of self-confidence does the learner have in L2 situations?
  • Learning-Situation-Level Motivation: 
    • What are the course-specific factors?
    • Teacher-specific factors?
    • Group-specific factors?

Using Dornyei’s suggestions as a starting point, we created two online surveys—one survey for IEP teachers ( and one survey for IEP students (—using Both surveys included items about Dornyei’s 30 suggestions, classified according to his three categories. The teacher survey was e-mailed to the 24 instructors teaching in the IEP at Georgia State University during the Spring 2008 semester. The teachers were presented with Dornyei’s suggestions and then asked to decide how frequently they “consciously” included the suggested activities and approaches in their teaching. The student survey was e-mailed to the 136 students enrolled in the IEP at Georgia State University during the Spring 2008 semester. For the student survey, we modified Dornyei’s suggestions to make them more relatable to students and asked them to rate how frequently they noticed each of the suggested activities and/or approaches to teaching in their IEP classes. (See Appendix 1 for a list of the survey items given to both teachers and students.)

In this way, we hoped to see how the teachers’ conscious effort in doing the suggested activities aligned with students’ awareness that the activities were being done in class. Because we also wanted to learn which of the activities and approaches students felt were most beneficial to their learning, we added another component to the student survey. In this additional section of the survey, students were asked to select the most beneficial activity or teaching approach in each of the three main categories (language, learner, and learning situation levels). The results of these two surveys helped us learn more about what teachers were doing in the classroom, what efforts the students were noticing in the classroom, and, most important to us, how frequently teachers’ implementation of certain activities and students’ awareness of those activities aligned with students’ opinions of the “best” teaching approaches for their successful language learning.

The survey results are presented in bar graphs which may be viewed at the end of this article; each bar graph focuses on results from both students and teachers according to the three categories Dornyei uses to classify motivational activities: Language, Learner, or Learning Situation.

Language Level  
For the Language Level, which focuses on why a learner chose to study a particular language and what the learner hopes to achieve by studying this language, our results showed that the students ranked meeting and talking to native English speakers as the most important type of activity for their language-learning experience (see Figure 1). Although they ranked this issue as quite important to their language learning, it is significant to note that less than 50% of the students actually perceived this to be happening in their IEP language classes “frequently” (a term we defined as either “every class or almost every class during the semester” or ”multiple times during the semester”). In this category, students also felt that watching movies, TV shows, and/or listening to music in English was another important language-learning strategy. Half of the students surveyed noticed this strategy occurring frequently in their classes, and about 50% of the teachers surveyed were conscious of doing this multiple times throughout the semester. On the basis of the results of this part of the survey, teachers might want to more consciously and deliberately include activities that allow students to meet and talk to native English speakers and also watch movies, TV shows, and listen to English music.

Learner Level
The next level, the Learner Level, focuses on a learner's personality which includes his or her need for achievement and his or her self-confidence in learning the L2. In this category, the highest percentage of students felt that suggestion #8—when you receive a bad grade on an assignment, your teachers explain how you can do better on the next assignment—was “best” for their language learning (see Figure 2). Student perception of this approach in their IEP classes corresponded with teacher consciousness of helping students "recognize links between effort and outcome; and attribute past failures to controllable factors such as insufficient effort . . . confusion about what to do, or the use of inappropriate strategies, rather than to lack of ability" (Dornyei, 1994a, p. 281). It is important for teachers to realize how important this approach is to the students in their classes so that they continue to consciously do this in the classes they teach.

Learning Situation Level
In order to obtain more data from the results, we grouped the survey questions about Dornyei’s suggestions in the Learning Situation Level into three subcategories: course-specific components, teacher-specific components, and group-specific components.

 Course-Specific Motivational Components 
The results for the students’ preferences in the course-specific components indicate that the students viewed two of the items as equally beneficial to their language learning (see Figure 3): having teachers design game-like activities to help them stay interested, have fun, and get to know their classmates, and having the teacher guide them through assignments step-by-step with clear instructions. About half of the teachers surveyed frequently attempted to consciously increase motivation by including these types of "game-like features" in their classroom such as "puzzles, problem-solving, avoiding traps, overcoming obstacles, elements of suspense, hidden information, etc" (Dornyei, 1994a, p. 281), and 100% of the teachers surveyed were frequently conscious of attempting to "increase student expectancy of task fulfillment by familiarizing students with the task type, sufficiently preparing them for coping with the task content, giving them detailed guidance about the procedures and strategies that the task requires, making the criteria for success (or grading) clear and 'transparent,' and offering students ongoing assistance" (Dornyei, 1994a, p. 282). By looking at students’ perceptions of the frequency of these activities, we would suggest that IEP teachers might want to try to add more game-like activities to their classes and continue to remain conscious of their transparent presentation of expectations because students view these as beneficial to language learning.

 Teacher-Specific Motivational Components
The second area of the Learning Situation Level, the teacher-specific motivational component, indicates several positive correlations between the frequency of teacher consciousness and student perception (see Figure 4). One hundred percent of teachers consciously attempted to "adopt the role of a facilitator rather than an authority figure or a 'drill sergeant,' developing a warm rapport with the students" (Dornyei, 1994a, p. 282) and 100% of the students surveyed perceived this teaching approach in their IEP classes, which was also the suggestion that they ranked as most beneficial to their learning. The students also highly rated the approaches in which students design activities to teach the whole class and in which teachers give students mostly positive and encouraging feedback. Over 80% of the teachers surveyed indicated that they were frequently conscious of including both of these approaches: promoting learner autonomy through student-led activities and making their feedback "informational rather than controlling; giving positive competence feedback, pointing out the value of the accomplishment; and not overreacting to errors" (Dornyei, 1994a, p. 282). While 80% of the students surveyed noticed their teachers’ positive feedback, student perception of activities that promote learner autonomy was slightly lower; therefore, when IEP teachers assign tasks that promote learner autonomy, they may also want to ensure that the students realize the objectives of such tasks so that the students see the connection between the task and the language skills that it enables them to put into practice.

 Group-Specific Motivational Components 
Students’ opinions of the “best” teaching approach in the third area of the Learning Situation Level, group-specific motivational components, were more evenly divided (see Figure 5). Highly ranked language activities from this section included teachers’ discretion in keeping students’ grades private, discouraging competition for grades between students, and allowing students to share personal information with each other in class. Results regarding Suggestion #23 (your teachers ask you and your classmates to think about and/or discuss how you are achieving your language-learning goals) indicated another interesting difference between how frequently teachers “increase the group's goal-orientedness by initiating group discussions with students about the group goal(s), and asking them from time to time to evaluate the extent to which they are approaching their goal" (Dornyei, 1994a p. 282) and the students’ perception of this in their IEP classes. While almost 80% of the students surveyed noticed these types of discussions in their classes, less than half of the teachers surveyed consciously initiated these discussions. It is possible that these discussions spontaneously occurred in the language-learning classroom during other class activities. Although as IEP teachers we may frequently not be conscious of incorporating some of these suggestions for teaching, by recognizing the types of activities, tasks, and approaches to language learning that IEP students value most, we can become more conscious of incorporating these suggestions into the language classes that we teach.

Concluding Thoughts
The results from this study allowed us, as IEP teachers, to gain a better sense of the types of activities and teaching methods the students in our classes felt were the most valuable and, in turn, motivating. Although we believe that the results of our research can help inform our teaching, we must also acknowledge that these results are limited in scope. Of the 136 students to whom we sent the survey, only 16% responded. Although we desired responses from students with wide ranges of motivation levels, it is quite possible that the students who completed the survey may not represent such a wide spectrum of degrees of motivation: perhaps those who are intrinsically motivated to do well in the IEP program were also motivated to complete our survey. The teacher response rate was higher, with 50% of the teachers responding.

As we consider how to address these limitations and add to our current understanding of the types of motivators IEP students feel are the most effective, our future research plans include modifying our student survey techniques in order to achieve a larger student sample and to make the student data more immediately relatable to the specific activities, tasks, and learning environment of particular classes. Essentially, as instructors, our goal is to actively address the needs of the learners in the classes that we teach. Because factors that contribute to a learner's motivation can be so subjective, knowing the types of activities and approaches the majority of the learners in our classes value will undoubtedly make the sometimes amorphous goal of motivating our students more attainable.

Brown, H.D. (2001). Teaching by principles. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Dornyei, Z. (1994a). Motivation and motivating in the foreign language classroom. The Modern Language Journal, 78(iii), 273-284.

Dornyei, Z. (1994b). Understanding L2 motivation: On with the challenge! The Modern Language Journal, 78(iv), 515-523.

Dörnyei, Z. (2005). The psychology of the language learner: Individual differences in second language acquisition. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.

Dornyei, Z. (2007). Research methods in applied linguistics. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.

Gardner, R. C. (1985). The attitude/motivation test battery: Technical report. London, ON: University of Western Ontario.

Meredith H. Bricker and Dara Suchke are lecturers in the Intensive English Program at Georgia State University in Atlanta, GA.

Figure 1: Language Level Graph.

Figure 2: Learner Level Graph 

Figure 3: Course Specific Motivational Components Graph

Figure 4: Teacher-Specific Motivational Components Graph 

Figure 5: Group-Specific Motivational Components Graph 

Appendix 1: Survey Questions
The numbers of the suggestions that follow correspond with the S# on the bar graphs above. In order to interpret the bar graphs, you can match the S# (above) with the suggestion description below.


Student survey questions (Note: All questions on the student survey were prefaced by "How often do you notice these activities in your IEP classes?")

Teacher survey questions (Note: All questions on the teacher survey began with "How often do you consciously . . .")




watch movies, TV shows, and/or listen to music in English

"include a sociocultural component by . . . showing films or TV recordings, playing relevant music, and inviting interesting native speaking guests" (Dornyei, 1994a p. 281)


learn about similarities between your culture and the culture in the United States

develop learners' cross-cultural awareness by focusing on cross-cultural similarities and differences, using analogies to "make the strange familiar" (Dornyei, 1994a, p. 281), and using "culture teaching" ideas and activities.


meet and talk to native English speakers

"promote student contact with L2 speakers by arranging meetings with L2 speakers in your country; or, if possible, organizing school trips or exchange programs to the L2 community; or finding pen-friends for your students" (Dornyei, 1994a, p. 281).


learn about ways English may help you outside the classroom

"develop learners' instrumental motivation by discussing the role L2 plays in the world and its potential usefulness both for themselves and their community" (Dornyei, 1994a, p. 281)

"instrumental motivation" refers to a learner's career goals in the future


your teachers praise and encourage you; for example, they say, "Nice work!" or "Very good!"

make sure that students "regularly experience success and a sense of achievement . . . counter-balancing experiences of frustration by involving students in more favorable, "easier" activities; and using confidence-building tasks" (Dornyei, 1994a, p. 281)


your teachers sometimes assign activities such as games, puzzles, art projects that you can do without difficulty to help you avoid frustration

make sure that students "regularly experience success and a sense of achievement . . . counter-balancing experiences of frustration by involving students in more favorable, "easier" activities; and using confidence-building tasks" (Dornyei, 1994a, p. 281)


your teachers say, "It is okay to make mistakes! Mistakes are an important part of learning!" and do not punish you or your classmates or become angry when you make a mistake

"Promote favorable self-perceptions of competence in L2 by highlighting what students can do in the L2 rather than what they cannot do, encouraging the view that mistakes are a part of learning, pointing out that there is more to communication than not making mistakes or always finding the right word, and talking openly about your own shortcomings in [an] L2" (Dornyei, 1994a, p. 281)


when you receive a bad grade on an assignment, your teachers explain how you can do better on the next assignment

help students "recognize links between effort and outcome; and attribute past failures to controllable factors such as insufficient effort (if this has been the case), confusion about what to do, or the use of inappropriate strategies, rather than to lack of ability, as this may lead to learned helplessness" (Dornyei, 1994a, p. 281)


your teachers help you make small goals that you can attain each week; for example: learn 20 new words each week

"encourage students to set attainable sub goals for themselves that are proximal and specific (e.g. learning 200 new words every week)" (Dornyei, 1994a, p. 281).


your teachers ask you and your classmates to help plan what you are going to learn during the semester

"make the syllabus of the course relevant by basing it on needs analysis, and involving the students in the actual planning of the course [syllabus]" (Dornyei, 1994a, p. 281).


your teachers use "real" materials; for example, your teachers bring in articles from English newspapers and magazines, sound clips from the radio, English TV shows and movies, etc.

"increase the attractiveness of course content by using authentic materials that are within students' grasp; and unusual or exotic supplementary materials, recordings, and visual aids" (Dornyei, 1994a, p. 281).


your teachers tell you the good things and the bad things about the textbook

"discuss with the students the choice of teaching materials for the course (both textbooks and supplementary materials), pointing out their strong and weak points (in terms of utility, attractiveness, and interest)" (Dornyei, 1994a, p. 281).


your teachers do not let your class establish a permanent routine; your teachers like for students to move around the classroom and work with different classmates, your teachers might encourage you to sit in a different part of the classroom

attempt to "arouse and sustain curiosity and attention by introducing unexpected, novel, unfamiliar, and even paradoxical events; not allowing lessons to settle into too regular a routine; periodically breaking the static character of the classes by changing the interaction patterns and the seating formation and by making students get up and move from time to time" (Dornyei, 1994a, p. 281).


your teachers design game-like activities (examples: puzzles, problem-solving, hidden information, etc.) to make you interested in the information and to help you have fun and get to know your classmates while learning

attempt to increase motivation by including "game-like features" in your classroom such as "puzzles, problem-solving, avoiding traps, overcoming obstacles, elements of suspense, hidden information, etc" (Dornyei, 1994a, p. 281)


your teachers sometimes give you difficult assignments that are related to the topics you covered in class; your teachers say "This assignment is challenging, but I know you can do it if you use the skills we learned in class."


"match difficulty of tasks and students' abilities so that students can expect to succeed if they put in reasonable effort" (Dornyei, 1994a, p. 282).


your teachers give you a difficult assignment, but they guide you step-by-step through the assignment and show you exactly what you need to do to successfully complete the assignment

"increase student expectancy of task fulfillment by familiarizing students with the task type, sufficiently preparing them for coping with the task content, giving them detailed guidance about the procedures and strategies that the task requires, making the criteria for success (or grading) clear and 'transparent,' and offering students ongoing assistance" (Dornyei, 1994a, p. 282).


your teachers sometimes hang the work you and your classmates did on the walls of the classroom or department so that other people (other teachers and peers) can see what you and your classmates accomplished during your class

"facilitate student satisfaction by allowing students to create finished products that they can perform or display, encouraging them to be proud of themselves after accomplishing a task, taking stock from time to time of their general progress, making a . . . chart of what the group has learned, and celebrating success" (Dornyei, 1994a, p. 282).


your teachers are sensitive to your feelings and genuinely care about you as a person

"try to be empathetic, congruent, and accepting; according to the principles of person-centered education, these are the three basic teacher characteristics that enhance learning. Empathy refers to being sensitive to students' needs, feelings, and perspectives. Congruence refers to the ability to behave according to your true self, that is, to be real and authentic without hiding behind facades or roles. Acceptance refers to a nonjudgmental, positive regard, acknowledging each student as a complex human being with both virtues and faults" (Dornyei, 1994a, p. 282).


your teachers are friendly to you and your classmates and try to make everyone in the class feel comfortable

attempt to "adopt the role of a facilitator rather than an authority figure or a 'drill sergeant,' developing a warm rapport with the students" (Dornyei, 1994a, p. 282).


your teachers organize activities where you and your classmates design and prepare activities to teach the whole class

"promote learner autonomy by allowing real choices about alternative ways to goal attainment . . . inviting them to design and prepare activities themselves and promoting peer-teaching; including project work where students are in charge; and giving students positions of genuine authority" (Dornyei, 1994a, p. 282).


your teachers tell you about their language-learning experiences

"model student interest in L2 learning by showing students that you value L2 learning as a meaningful experience that produces satisfaction and enriches your life, sharing your personal interest in L2 and L2 learning with the students, and taking the students' learning process and achievement very seriously (since showing insufficient commitment yourself is the fastest way to undermine student motivation)" (Dornyei, 1994a, p. 282).



your teachers mostly give you positive and encouraging feedback on class assignments

make your feedback "informational rather than controlling; giving positive competence feedback, pointing out the value of the accomplishment; and not overreacting to errors" (Dornyei 1994a, p. 282).


your teachers ask you and your classmates to think about and/or discuss how you are achieving your language-learning goals

"increase the group's goal-orientedness by initiating group discussions with students about the group goal(s), and asking them from time to time to evaluate the extent to which they are approaching their goal" (Dornyei, 1994a, p. 282).


your teachers ask you and your classmates to develop some rules for your class that everyone should follow

"promote the internalization of classroom norms by establishing the norms explicitly right from the start, explaining their importance and how they enhance learning, asking for the students' agreement, and even involving students in formulating norms" (Dornyei, 1994a, p. 282).


your teachers penalize (punish) students for not following the classroom rules

"help maintain internalized classroom norms by observing them consistently yourself, and not letting any violations go unnoticed" (Dornyei, 1994a, p. 282)


your teachers make certain that your grades are private, and your teachers do not encourage students to compete for grades

attempt to "minimize the detrimental effect of evaluation on intrinsic motivation by focusing on individual improvement and progress, avoiding any explicit or implicit comparison of students to each other, making evaluation private rather than public, not encouraging student competition, and making the final grading the product of two-way negotiation with the students by asking them to express their opinion of their achievement in a personal interview" (Dornyei, 1994a, p. 282).


your teachers organize class activities that allow you and your classmates to learn and share personal information with each other during class

organize "outings and extracurricular activities, and including game-like intergroup competitions in the course" in order to "promote the development of group cohesion and enhance intermediate relations" (Dornyei, 1994a, p. 282).


your teachers assign group activities and group projects in which all group members receive the same grade on the activity or project

"use cooperative learning techniques by frequently including group work in the classes in which the group's—rather than the individual's—achievement is evaluated" (Dornyei, 1994a, p. 282).


Member Book Review Tim A. Micek,
Boyd, G. E., & O’Neill, M. E. (2006). From the Classroom to the Boardroom: A Guide to the Successful Transition From Teaching to Administration for ESL and Beyond. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan. Pp. xvi + 168.

Boyd and O’Neill wrote From the Classroom to the Boardroom to provide a “how-to manual” for teachers contemplating a move to administration.

From the Classroom to the Boardroom consists of 10 chapters, the first 8 of which address the following topics: understanding organizational structure, administrative positions (with descriptions thereof), transferring skills from teaching to administration, effective administration, keeping morale up, and “the quest for resources.” The next-to-last chapter has advice on writing resumes and doing interviews and the last chapter has case studies for ESL administration. Each chapter ends with questions that allow readers to reflect on the content. The book ends with a bibliography, annotated recommended reading, and suggestions for further reading.

Boyd and O’Neill have written a practical, informative book on making the transition from ESL teaching to administration. They cover a wide range of topics, using the sandcastle to describe an educational institution and sandboxes to describe aspects of it. The authors write clearly and sprinkle their text with relevant quotes. Anecdotes illustrate their points and end-of-chapter reflections allow readers to apply ideas to their own situations. The last two chapters are especially useful to those seeking to make the change.

If you have ever considered moving from ESL, or other teaching, into administration, consider reading From the Classroom to the Boardroom: It will help you to make the move.

Community News and Information IEPIS Steering Committee

Past Chair: Tamara Jones,

Chair: Sheryl Meyer,

Chair Elect: Kim Chavis,

Newsletter Editor: Christie Ward, 

Newsletter Co-editor: Meg Cooney,

Secretary: Kieran Hilu,

Historian: Liz Bowles,

Member-at-Large: Jim Bame

Member-at-Large: Carol Romett,

Member-at-Large: Cindy Oakley-Paulik,

Other Positions

E-list Moderator: Michael Medley,

Webmaster: Jim Scofield,

Member Resources

IEP-IS Web site:

IEP-IS Listserv/Discussion Forum:


About This Newsletter

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

Submission Guidelines for the IEPIS Newsletter

  • Stay 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

  • June 15 for summer/fall issue
  • October 15 for winter/spring issue

Please send your submissions to Christie Ward at


About This Member Community

IEPIS Statement of Purpose/Goals

Intensive English Programs exist 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 IEPs. The concerns of the membership may include methodology, curriculum design, materials development, placement, evaluation, program administration, technology-assisted instruction, English for specific purposes, culture, learners’ concerns, and members’ employment concerns.

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

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 IEPIS to become officers; 
  • to identify persons within the IEP community who may serve as resources to others; and
  • to cooperate with other organizations addressing the needs of IEPs in order to achieve common goals.