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Home   Communities   Publications   Education   Issues   Convention   Join TESOL   Jan. 30, 2013


Immigration overhaul unveiled by bipartisan group of US Senators
Education Week    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Most of the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States would get a chance to become citizens under a plan by a bipartisan group of U.S. senators, one day before President Barack Obama unveils his own plan for comprehensive immigration reform. The group of eight lawmakers, including U.S. Sens. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., John McCain, R-Ariz. and Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., announced their agreement on broad principles, which include, among other things, tighter border security and tougher enforcement of rules prohibiting foreigners from overstaying their visas. More

Expert: Vocabulary instruction failing US students
Science Daily    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Vocabulary instruction in the early years is not challenging enough to prepare students for long-term reading comprehension, argues a study led by a Michigan State University education researcher. The study, which appears in Elementary School Journal, analyzed commonly used reading curricula in U.S. kindergarten classrooms. It found that, generally, the programs do not teach enough vocabulary words; the words aren't challenging enough; and not enough focus is given to make sure students understand the meaning of the words. More

Language skills at 1 year predicted by brain structure in infancy
Medical News Today    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Using a brain-imaging technique that examines the entire infant brain, researchers have found that the anatomy of certain brain areas — the hippocampus and cerebellum — can predict children's language abilities at 1 year of age. The University of Washington study is the first to associate these brain structures with future language skills. The results are published in the journal Brain and Language. More
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Special workshop: Prepare your TESOL program for NCATE/CAEP recognition
TESOL    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Is your institution preparing for NCATE/CAEP recognition? Don't miss this specialized training on submitting a TESOL-specific report. The workshop is held 8:30–noon, Wednesday, 20 March, at the 2013 TESOL International Convention & English Language Expo in Dallas, Texas. Cost is $275 before 1 February. Add a private, 1-hour consultation with a trained reviewer. See the Special Events section of the 2013 Convention website. Questions to Diane Staehr Fenner, TESOL/NCATE Coordinator.

Survey of ESL credit policies — pass it on
TESOL    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
TESOL International Association is researching policies at postsecondary institutions in the United States and Canada regarding academic and degree-granting credit for ESL/ESOL courses. If your college, university, or other type of higher education institution offers credit for ESL/ESOL courses, you are invited to complete a brief survey. Your participation will help inform us about ESL students' experience in higher education. You are encouraged to share this invitation with colleagues at other institutions. Access the survey at Responses are being collected through 15 February. Questions to Michelle Bagwell. Thank you!

TOEFL grants and awards
TOEFL via TESOL    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
The deadline to apply for TOEFL grants and awards is 15 February. Awards provide funding for activities, projects and research in international education and foreign or second language assessment. One example is the Small Grants for Doctoral Research in Second or Foreign Language Assessment to help students complete their dissertation research in a timely manner. Applications received after 15 February will be considered for the next deadline in October. For more information, please visit

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TESOL announces 2013 Teacher of the Year
TESOL    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
TESOL International Association and National Geographic Learning congratulate Maryland teacher Anne Marie Foerster Luu as the first recipient of the TESOL Teacher of the Year Award. The award was created by TESOL and National Geographic Learning to honor exceptional English language teachers at all levels. Foerster Luu will be recognized at the opening session of the 2013 TESOL International Convention & English Language Expo in Dallas, Texas, USA. To read the full press release, please visit the TESOL website.

ACLU: Thousands of English learners denied services in California
Education Week    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
More than 20,000 English learners in California are not receiving English language instruction that is required under state and federal law, according to civil rights lawyers who are threatening to sue the state education agency over the matter. The American Civil Liberties Union of California demanded that state officials take action against 251 school districts that it says are not providing English language acquisition services to ELLs enrolled in their schools. Those districts include Los Angeles Unified, the state's largest, with roughly 670,000 students. More

Rubio calls for education reforms to focus on closing 'skills gap'
The Hill    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., said there must be increased focus from lawmakers on solving the growing "skills gap" between available jobs and qualified applicants in the country. "The fact of the matter is that millions of our people do not have the skills they need for the 21st century, and complicating that further is that the acquisition of these skills is different than it's ever been," he told an audience at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The potential 2016 presidential candidate acknowledged that education reform wasn't the sexiest issue — and he said that was part of the problem. More

State finance lawsuits roil K-12 funding landscape
Education Week    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
As state budgets slowly recover from several years of economic contraction and stagnation, significant court battles continue to play a related yet distinct role in K-12 policy, even in states where the highest courts have already delivered rulings on the subject. This year, meanwhile, marks the 40th anniversary of a U.S. Supreme Court decision that was a turning point for the role of property taxes in financing school districts and that continues to complicate fiscal decisions for state policymakers. The 5-4 ruling, in San Antonio Independent School District v. Rodriguez, held that the state did not have to justify the higher quality of education for wealthier districts that might result from their local property taxes. More

Duncan addresses gun violence in new 'Ask Arne' video series Blog    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Dan Brown, a Teaching Ambassador Fellow at the U.S. Department of Education, writes: "As a teacher and a parent, what our nation's education leaders think, really matters to me. And with Secretary of Education Arne Duncan about to begin a second term, it matters even more. Today, we're excited to announce the launch of a new #AskArne video interview series, where the Secretary addresses the hot topics and burning questions in education today. In light of the president's announcement to address gun violence, the first episode, titled 'Free from Fear,' focuses on gun violence, school safety, and out of school factors influencing student achievement." More

Taking back teaching
Education Next    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
In June 2012, a California judge ruled that the way the Los Angeles Unified School District evaluates its teachers violates state law because it does not factor in student achievement. He ordered the district and the local teachers union to come up with a reasonable way of doing just that. A few days later, Educators 4 Excellence, a group unaffiliated with the local teachers union, released a plan that called for student achievement to count for 40 percent of a teacher's score. The group then held a dinner, not a formal bargaining session, for teachers to discuss the issue directly with Los Angeles superintendent John Deasy. Writing on Twitter, Deasy described it as "one of the most thoughtful models that has been worked out." More

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No academic harm found in early retirement of teachers
Education Week    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Boosting early retirement in cash-strapped districts doesn't hurt students' math and reading scores, according to new studies released at the American Economic Association meeting here, but pension-incentive programs may cost schools some of their most effective teachers. Separate studies of teachers in California, Illinois and North Carolina paint a complex picture of the choice increasingly faced by education leaders: Keep your most experienced — and expensive — teachers, or encourage them to retire to ease budget woes. More

Why 'make them learn English' is the key to immigration reform
The American Prospect    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Among the provisions in the immigration-reform proposal released by a bipartisan group of senators was a requirement that in order to get on that path to citizenship, undocumented immigrants would have to "learn English and civics." They don't detail exactly how it would happen, but presumably there'd be a test of English proficiency immigrants would have to pass, and perhaps some money appropriated for English classes. There are two things to know about this idea. First, in practical terms it's completely unnecessary. And second, in political terms it's an excellent idea. In fact, it could be the key to passing immigration reform. More

Polish school helps New Bedford, Mass., immigrants
The Associated Press via The Boston Globe    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
The teacher peppered her four students with questions. "What day is it? What day is tomorrow? Yesterday?" she'd ask each of the students, girls between 7- and 14-years-old, in turn. The girls answered the teacher's questions without reverting to English, their responses punctuated by the instructor saying "dobry" — Polish for "good" — and moving on to the next lesson. More

Plan delayed for Denver Public Schools English language learners
EdNews Colorado    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Denver Public Schools Superintendent Tom Boasberg accused three school board members of playing politics with the district's English language learners by stalling approval of a plan to improve education of those students. The continuing battle between Boasberg and the board minority that doesn't support his reform agenda this time spilled out into the stately federal courtroom of U.S. District Judge Richard Matsch. More

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Center for Michigan report shows public wants to help teachers improve
Bridge Magazine    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
The best way to improve schools is to improve the skills of the person standing in the front of Michigan classrooms. Teaching teachers to do their jobs better is the education reform Michigan residents believe will most improve our schools, according to the largest effort ever to collect and analyze public opinion on K-12 education in Michigan. More

Classes putting an emphasis on reducing accents
Orlando Sun Sentinel    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Excuse me, can you repeat that? It's a question many non-native English speakers with noticeable accents hear in everyday professional and social situations in South Florida. So they've turned to accent-reduction classes, which have sprung up in recent years to help them speak English more clearly. Some instructors say they've been seeing an increase in demand from people who simply want to be better understood. More

Step-by-Step Curriculum Design

Check out this week’s feature video – A Basic Curriculum Design Framework. The Professional Development Exchange provides practicing English language teachers with access to professional development videos and handouts for download on a variety of teaching and management topics. Visit to browse our full video catalogue.

Gifted, talented and white
Santa Barbara Independent    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Some are born gifted-and-talented, some achieve GATEness, and some have GATEness thrust upon 'em. In the Santa Barbara Unified School District in California, however, some are English learners, socioeconomically disadvantaged, or Hispanic, composing a respective 2, 5 and 5 percent of the gifted-and-talented education classes. Those statistics were revealed in a presentation at the school board meeting, leading Emilio Handall, assistant superintendent for elementary education, to suggest the district rethink the manner in which it selects students for the GATE program. The numbers also led school board president Monique Limón to question whether assessment tools employed by the district — especially if they can be studied for — accurately identify "GATEness." More

Immigration reform and the English language
Mother Jones    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Matt Yglesias, after reviewing the evidence about the effect that immigration has on wages — very little, probably — says correctly that "we're stuck in a mostly phony argument about wages that does nothing to ease people's real fears about nationalism and identity." Paul Waldman goes a step further and isolates the real problem: language. More

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Teach us English but without its cultural values
Saudi Gazette    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Saudi Arabia: Recently, Arabic newspapers reported that some Saudi families had registered strong complaints about a Saudi university's including inappropriate pictures and the components of Western culture in selected English textbooks. This, again, revives the controversial issue of teaching the English language along with or without the English culture in which it operates. As a result, educational stakeholders who are responsible for English programs, especially in the higher education sector, mandate that international publishing companies produce what are called Middle Eastern English textbook versions for use in the Kingdom. More

How trained literacy coaches can improve student reading comprehension
Science Daily    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
The language and reading comprehension skills of low-income upper elementary-school students — especially English language learners — can improve markedly if trained literacy coaches engage teachers in conducting interactive text discussions with students, according to a three-year University of Pittsburgh study. More

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Strong link discovered between personality and grades
Medical New Today    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
In one of three studies, Pia Rosander carried out personality tests on 200 pupils in southern Sweden when they entered upper secondary school at 16. Three years later, when they received their final grades, she was able to observe a strong link between personality and grades. In personality psychology one talks of "the big five" — the five most common personality traits: openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness and neuroticism. These qualities influence how a person behaves and are relatively stable qualities, which means that they do not change greatly over time or in different situations. More

Colleges overproducing elementary teachers, data find
Education Week    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Though universities' economics departments preach the gospel of supply and demand, that principle is not always followed when it comes to their education departments. Data, while imprecise, suggest that some states are producing far more new teachers at the elementary level than will be able to find jobs in their respective states — even as districts struggle to find enough recruits in other certification fields. For some observers, the imbalances reflect a failure of teacher colleges — by far, the largest source of new teachers — and their regulatory agencies to cap the number of entrants. More

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Children still prefer print books to e-books
Education Week    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Children are embracing e-books by the millions, but most say they still would choose the printed version, according to a survey. Scholastic's biennial survey of 6- to 17-year-olds found e-books soaring in popularity: Forty-six percent of the 1,074 children said they had read an e-book, compared with 25 percent who said they had in 2010. The e-book-reading numbers vary by only a few percentage points by gender or age group. But boys were slightly more likely to say that since they started reading e-books, they're reading more books overall. More

ELL teachers connect and learn in Twitter chats
Education Week    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Every Monday night on Twitter, teachers who work with English language learners connect with one another to engage in hour-long discussions and debates that unfold in 140-character tweets. At 9 p.m. Eastern time, #ELLCHAT, co-hosted by two education consultants who specialize in working with ELL teachers, kicks off with the topic du jour. Those topics range from the practical: How to select a complex text for beginning English learners, for example, to policy: Ways to advocate for ELLs on local, state and national issues in 2013. More

Teachers flip for 'flipped learning' class model
USA Today    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
When Timmy Nguyen comes to his pre-calculus class, he's already learned the day's lesson — he watched it on a short online video prepared by his teacher for homework. So without a lecture to listen to, he and his classmates at Segerstrom Fundamental High School spend class time doing practice problems in small groups, taking quizzes, explaining the concept to other students, reciting equation formulas in a loud chorus and making their own videos while teacher Crystal Kirch buzzes from desk to desk to help pupils who are having trouble. More

The benefits of using social media in the classroom
eSchool News    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Hesitation on administrators' part is often cited as a top barrier to incorporating more social media tools in classrooms. But with a carefully crafted social media policy, educators and administrators can learn to use social media tools effectively with students. Advocates of social media in the classroom say that, when used properly, social media tools can boost student engagement, link students to content experts and real-world examples of classroom lessons and help them establish an online body of work. More

Game-based learning is playing for keeps
THE Journal    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
There's a huge difference between playing a video game and watching someone else play a video game. That disconnect is thwarting the advancement of digital gaming in the K-12 classroom, according to FETC keynote speaker Katie Salen. "It's hard for educators or parents — who are usually standing over the student's shoulder — to see the learning involved with gaming," Salen says. "Because games are interactive, the learning only comes to the individual who is playing the game." More

In these 19 states, teachers can still spank kids
TakePart    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
If John Tate, a North Carolina State Board of Education member, has his way, North Carolina will no longer allow teachers to spank their students. Tate has asked the State Board to recommend that the North Carolina General Assembly and local school boards prohibit corporal punishment in every school in the state. "The good news is that the vast majority of North Carolina's districts ban the use of corporal punishment," Tate said in an interview. More

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