TESOL-IATEFL Discussion: ESP Projects for Social Change‏

Kevin Knight
Kevin Knight

Hello ESPers, worldwide!

The TESOL-IATEFL online discussion about how ESP projects can create positive social change was recorded on 10 February 2016. Here is a description.

Title: TESOL-IATEFL Online Discussion About How ESP Projects Can Create Positive Social Change

Description: Experienced ESP practitioners from the English for specific purposes (ESP) groups of IATEFL and TESOL International Association discuss how to enhance ESP program development in English for occupational purposes (EOP) and English for academic purposes (EAP) contexts and settings. Organized by Kevin Knight and hosted by TESOL International Association. Continue reading

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It’s TESOL Convention Time Again!

Kristen Lindahl
Kristen Lindahl

It’s TESOL International Convention time again, and as an L2 teacher education blogger, I would be remiss if I did not discuss the largest professional development event in the TESOL field. According to tesol.org, the convention hosts about 6,500 participants in more than 1,000 educational sessions. With a group that large, it’s hard to explain exactly what a TESOL International Convention is like, but for me it’s always been a sort of whirlwind of great information, old friends, new contacts, and a LOT of books. If you are not going to TESOL 2016, this post might motivate you to attend next year or attend your local affiliate TESOL conference. If you are going to TESOL 2016, this post might give you some new perspectives on your conference experience.

To get the most out of your professional development experience at a large event like the TESOL International Convention, it’s important to consider why you’re there in the first place. To explore this, I looked at perspectives from TESOL authors in three different locations: Mexico, Brazil, and Korea. Continue reading

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Student Writing Conferences as Relational Activities

Elena Shvidko
Elena Shvidko

Lately, I have been doing some reading on the interpersonal aspect of student writing conferences. Surprisingly, not much research has been done to look at conference discourse from a relational perspective. Personally, I believe that a writing conference is not only an instructional activity, during which a teacher and a student discuss a student’s writing, but it is also as a social activity, which is based on one of the most fundamental human activities—interaction. Therefore, a lot of what can be observed in everyday social interaction also takes place at conferences, including participants’ stances, attitudes, and emotions.

I’d like to share some quotes from a few sources that stood out to me. Continue reading

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Teaching English to Digital Natives: Common Computer Concerns for ELLs

Nathan Hall
Nathan Hall

Those of us who remember computers being a novelty in the classroom probably also remember being told how the new generation of students are “digital natives.” The assumption is that children who grow up surrounded by computers see nothing strange about using one for work or play, and would passively become experts with this technology. In practice, though, I’ve seen many students struggle to find specific information, evaluate the credibility of a webpage, or write comprehensible forum posts. Unless the teacher is aware of these deficits, those students will struggle with technology-related assignments.

And there’s more to consider with ELL students. There’s no easy answer for how available technology is in other parts of the world. Recently resettled refugees may not have seen a computer in a long time, while other children may be from a country that provides free high-speed Internet to all of its citizens. That’s a wide range of possibilities for your students to fall into, so it’s important to consider digital literacy as a complement to the other domains of literacy when helping your students prepare for a mainstream environment.

Here are some techniques I found to be effective to find out how well students can use computers for their own needs in a secondary setting: Continue reading

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Guest Writer: Extending Student Engagement With Wiggio

Tara Arntsen
Tara Arntsen

For the sake of variety, I enjoy inviting guest writers to the TESOL Blog from time to time for the purpose of sharing even more tech resources with all of you. Today, it is my great pleasure to introduce Dr. Joseph Slick, an integral part of our team at Northern State University, where together we are envisioning ESL for today and for the future. 

Dr. Slick recently had the opportunity to explore ways to interact with students digitally, as he wanted to extend student engagement through a blended learning environment. Because all courses are loaded into our LMS, or learning management system, Desire2Learn (D2L), he used that as a starting point and found Wiggio, D2L’s version of Google Hangouts and Google Drive.


Wiggio is a free online communications platform, where Wig stands for working in groups. The design of Wiggio is basic and shares many commonalities with other online communications platforms, which makes it convenient for first-time users to navigate and use. An attention to design simplicity makes this an accessible site for users. Teachers and students can post discussions, share questions, upload documents, upload videos, hold virtual meetings, and schedule appointments in a 24/7 virtual community site. Continue reading

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The Positive Effects of Pretesting

Robert Sheppard
Robert Sheppard

Last week, I had the pleasure of attending an exceptional PD workshop in Boston put on by First Literacy. The presenter was Sarah Lynn, and her topic was Brain-Based ESOL Instructional Techniques. It was a fascinating talk, rich with practical, research-grounded takeaways. I wish I could cover them all, but for now I’ll focus on one of the most surprising techniques she recommended: pretesting, and the counterintuitive effects it can have.

Among some teacherly circles, test can be a four-letter word, a necessary evil, an inevitable bureaucracy, a distraction from the actual learning. And that’s not totally without basis. There are students who want to learn to speak TOEFL rather than English, and we can be forced to spend undue class time preparing for level tests: negative backwash effects are widespread and felt sharply by teachers. And worst among them is the multiple-choice item, right? I myself have bemoaned the use of multiple-choice and conventional assessment. But Lynn makes a shocking claim: pretesting—multiple-choice pretesting, at that—can in fact increase learning. Continue reading

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Visual Thinking Strategies and English Learners

Judie Haynes
Judie Haynes

Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS)  is an inquiry-based teaching method developed by Philip Yenawine (2013), former education director of New York’s Museum of Modern Art, and Abigail Housen, a cognitive psychologist in the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Yenawine describes what VTS is in his latest book, Visual Thinking Strategies: Using Art to Deepen Learning Across School Disciplines (2013):

Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS) is an educational curriculum and teaching method, which enables students to develop aesthetic and language literacy and critical thinking skills, while giving teachers a powerful new technique they can utilize throughout their career.

When VTS are used in the general education classroom, there are many benefits to ELs. Continue reading

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Beyond Linguistic Borders: Language Learning Cradled in Cognition

tesolconvention2016

Dr. Jeanette Altarriba will present the James E. Alatis Plenary titled “Beyond Linguistic Borders: Language Learning Cradled in Cognition,” at the TESOL 2016 International Convention & English Language Expo, 8 am, Thursday, 7 April.  

The study of bilingualism and how individuals represent and use more than one language inevitably leads to a very basic question: What is the best way to learn a new language? No matter where a presentation on this topic is given, it is typically a question that is raised by more than one audience member. While theories and data abound, it is still quite remarkable that we have no one method that yields the best way to learn a language. Our program of research has added to this literature in many interesting ways, and we continue to examine how the mind best incorporates new words and new knowledge in a second or third language and the approaches that are involved in language learning. Continue reading

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TESOL International Association Supporting Its Affiliates in Africa

Andy Curtis
Andy Curtis

The TESOL President’s Blog

On 26 and 27 January, NileTESOL held its 20th annual conference at the American University in Cairo (AUC), at which I was invited to give a plenary presentation and workshop. I was able to contribute to the conference through TESOL’s Affiliate Speaker Request program, which gives every one of the more than 100 affiliates of the association, twice a year, the chance to apply for financial, logistic, and other support to bring a member of TESOL’s Board of Directors to speak at their affiliate conference. Although funding is limited, the association, through the affiliate speaker program, has supported dozens of affiliate conferences, all over the world, in recent years. Continue reading

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ESP Project Leader Profile: Kevin Knight

Kevin Knight
Kevin Knight

Hello, ESPers worldwide!

It has been almost 1 year since the ESP project leader profiles were announced in April 2015. In this TESOL Blog post, you will read the 14th ESP project leader profile! It is my pleasure to take the stance of Schön’s (1983) reflective practitioner as I share with you my own story about the “creation” of the ESP project leader profiles. My hope is that this account will inspire you to become a project leader in the ESPIS and elsewhere! Continue reading

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