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Home   Communities   Publications   Education   Issues   Convention   Join TESOL   Aug. 14, 2013

 





Where am I? The importance of context
By Andy Curtis
Where are you now as you are reading this? And how important is where you are now? Apparently, where we are is very important. For example, Stanford University has established a Center for Research on the Context of Teaching, and that relationship — between what we do and where we do it — will be at the heart of the new TESOL series Perspectives on Teaching in Different Contexts. The initial call for proposals went out July 3 in the English Language Bulletin, and the deadline for proposals is Sept. 30.
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Relief tally for undocumented youths after 1 year of deferred action
Education Week
It's been nearly a year since the Obama administration began its deferred action program that gives eligible undocumented youth who were brought to the United States as children temporary relief from deportation and a shot at work authorization. As of the end of June, roughly 400,000 people had been granted the status. So, as the first anniversary of the deferred action policy comes this week, who has applied? Who's been approved? Where do they live? And what possible factors are keeping more potential beneficiaries from seeking the relief?
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Apps that snap and tools that rule
Langauge Magazine
The old adage "the best things in life are free" has never been truer than in the world of Web-based tools and apps that are useful in the language classroom. As computers and mobile devices become an increasingly valued, accepted and expected part of language classes, the number, variety, and value of free online tools and apps continue to grow. (The distinction between an app and a tool in this article is that an app is a resource that is downloadable and used only on a mobile phone or tablet and not on a computer or laptop.) The following Web-based tools and apps are all free and have the potential to enhance any language lesson.
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Make a difference in TESOL Journal
TESOL
The TESOL Serial Publications Committee and the TESOL Journal Editor Search Team invite applications and nominations for the position of editor of TESOL Journal. The editor serves 1 year as associate editor in 2014 (starting January 2014), and then as editor for 3 years, beginning in January 2015. Applicants must be TESOL members in good standing throughout the editorship. Deadline for applications is 1 September 2013. A complete job description and application details are available on the TESOL website.
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Great opportunities to write for TESOL Press
TESOL
The Information for Authors area of tesol.org is the place to find active calls for books and proposals. Currently, two of TESOL's bestselling books, "New Ways in Teaching Vocabulary" and "New Ways in Teaching Adults", are undergoing revision and looking for submissions of classroom ideas (deadline15 October 2013). The TESOL Book Publications Committee is also looking for contributors to a new book on "Integrating Pronunciation With Other Skills Areas" and to a new series on "Perspectives on Teaching in Different Contexts" (see the Exclusive Content article in this issue of the Bulletin by series editor Andy Curtis). Deadline for proposals is 30 September 2013.
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Call for TESOL convention award and grant applications
TESOL
Need help with travel expenses to TESOL 2014 in Portland, Oregon USA? The TESOL Awards Committee invites you to apply for financial assistance through an award or a grant. Graduate students, recent graduates, and ESL/EFL teachers and teacher trainers are eligible to apply. Deadline is 1 November 2013. Visit TESOL Awards & Grants for more information.
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1st day of school offers challenges for English language learners
Lincoln Journal Star
First-day-of-school jitters take on a whole new meaning in Valerie Brown’s classroom at Park Middle School. Just like everybody else wandering Park's hallways, Brown's students spent their first day trying to figure out where they were going and who was in their class, how to open their lockers and navigate the lunchroom.

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Supporting English learners in the primary classroom
2013 Teaching Channel
Common Core Standards ask students to construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others in math; ask and answer questions about key details in a text; and participate in collaborative conversations about topics and texts.

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Does geography influence how a language sounds?
National Geographic
Languages spoken at high altitudes are more likely to contain a certain kind of sound made using short bursts of air, according to a new study. The study, published in the journal PLoS ONE, is the first to show that geography can influence how a language sounds.

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Federal guidance expected on waiver renewals
Education Week
Federal guidance is likely to be issued by the end of the month for states to renew their waivers from provisions of the No Child Left Behind Act, the head of the U.S. Department of Education’s Student Achievement and School Accountability office told state officials at a recent conference. Speaking at the annual summer meeting of the National Association of State Title I Directors in Washington, D.C., held July 30-Aug. 2, Monique Chism, the director of the achievement and accountability office, said the document was undergoing final clearance by the Office of Management and Budget. This is the last step before the department can release it to the states.
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Evolving teacher evaluation laws
By Archita Datta Majumdar
Traditionally, most teachers looked at teacher evaluation laws and related exercises as part of the disciplinary process of the profession. Evolving teacher evaluation laws, however, have brought forth the need to provide more in-depth education that keeps up with modern times and emerging technologies, thereby creating a way for more intrinsic growth of teaching methods. These laws are now focused on more than the No Child Left Behind Act. They are focused at honing talent — creating better teachers and ultimately helping students learn better.
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Obama administration aloof as lawmakers tangle over ESEA
Education Week
Not since passage of the No Child Left Behind Act in 2001 has Congress been so outwardly engaged in K-12 policy, yet most advocates remain pessimistic that there will be a new version of the flagship federal education law anytime soon. A big part of the reason: The Obama administration has little incentive to see a bill to revise the Elementary and Secondary Education Act advance in the current legislative climate, in which lawmakers seem more likely to erode, rather than support, the president's policy priorities. Congress has been working on two highly partisan ESEA bills — one of which, the GOP-backed House measure, President Barack Obama has threatened to veto.
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States train teachers on Common Core
Stateline
Hardly a week goes by without controversy about Common Core, the academic standards for English and math that nearly all states have adopted. The standards for each grade level are intended to prepare every high school graduate for college or a career.
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Just how effective are the Common Core State Standards?
eSchool News
With all the hype about the Common Core State Standards, it's easy to forget that some states have decided not to adopt the standards–plus, some adopting states are now re-evaluating their decisions. Now, a new infographic questions some of the basic tenets of the Common Core State Standards. Perhaps one of the biggest arguments against the standards, according to the infographic, is that "while core curriculum has improved performance in states with traditionally good education systems," states that have struggled academically wonder if the standards are more a one-size-fits-all pathway instead of a "great equalizing force," in which the common standards bridge a gap between vocational education and the university pathway.
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Report: States make headway in aligning curriculum to Common Core
Education Week
A majority of states say they have already begun to teach a curriculum aligned with the Common Core State Standards in at least some districts or grade levels, new survey results show. In fact, nine of the states say they began to implement a new math curriculum reflecting the standards across their entire K-12 system during the 2012-2013 academic year or earlier, and 12 report the same for English/language arts. These are just a few of the findings from a new report that probes in depth the progress states are making on a variety of fronts — and the challenges they are encountering — to help bring the Common Core to life in classrooms.
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The upward turn for English language teachers in Turkey
The Huffington Post
Turkey: Turkey has seen a dramatic increase in tourism over recent years, perhaps fueling a demand for the English language. On top of this, the country is very eager to join the European Union so there may be political influences at work here, following the thought that boosting English language proficiency might help ease their campaign for membership.
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States struggling to secure staffing and resources for Common Core
THE Journal
While 30 states have already begun implementing curricula aligned to the Common Core State Standards, many of them are struggling to provide the staffing and resources required to implement CCSS effectively, according to a new report from the Center on Education Policy at The George Washington University. The report, "Year 3 of Implementing the Common Core State Standards: An Overview of States' Progress and Challenges," is based on a survey of state deputy superintendents or their designees in 40 of the 46 states that have adopted CCSS in math, English language arts, or both. The survey was conducted from February to May of this year.
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Chinese students coming to US middle schools? It's starting to happen.
The Christian Science Monitor
Peggy Wang has lived in China her entire life. A successful, English-speaking executive, she frequently travels abroad for work, but never imagined that her most recent itinerary would include dropping off her 15-year-old daughter at a prestigious boarding school outside Washington. While there is a long history of Chinese students pursuing advanced degrees abroad, especially in the United States, Wang's daughter, Susan Li, is part of a rapidly growing trend in which Chinese students are choosing to seek their education overseas as early as middle school or high school.
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A look at ELL performance so far on Common Core aligned tests
Education Week
Student performance on New York's new Common Core aligned tests was weak across the board, as results confirmed the low expectations that education officials in that state had been steeling the public for over the last several months. Statewide, the proficiency rates in English/language arts sank from 55.1 percent on the non-Common Core aligned exams from the 2011-2012 school year, to 31.1 percent on the Common Core aligned tests given this past spring. In math, the proficiency rates fell from 64.8 percent to 31 percent.
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Looking for similar articles? Search here, keyword ELL.


1st day of school offers challenges for English language learners
Lincoln Journal Star
First-day-of-school jitters take on a whole new meaning in Valerie Brown's classroom at Park Middle School in Nebraska. Just like everybody else wandering Park's hallways, Brown's students spent their first day trying to figure out where they were going and who was in their class, how to open their lockers and navigate the lunchroom. But they couldn't ask for help, at least not in English.
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The story deepens
Harvard Gazette
At East Bosto'’s McKay School, Brianna Guilford led her class of tin men, cowardly lions, Dorothys, and scarecrows into the sunlight. "We're reading 'The Wonderful Wizard of Oz,' the original story, and they're exploring and interpreting the story through the creative arts using a program called Pre-Texts," she said, as the students ran outside. Having created masks and costumes inspired by the L. Frank Baum story, the children were seeking a real-world setting related to the chapter they were reading, as a way to deepen their connection with the characters and story. The activity wasn't just for fun, but was meant to help the students, for whom English is a second language, become stronger readers and English speakers. In addition, "Oz" is a fourth-grade-level text — well above the supposed reading level of Guilford's second-graders.
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School district to focus on early literacy and language skills
Santa Cruz Sentinel
Kindergarten is not just about playtime and social skills. Students are expected to learn sight words, letters and numbers at a fast pace. This year, the Soquel Unified Elementary School District in California is taking creative steps to set up students for early success by adding another class of transitional kindergarten and expanding a language and literacy software program to more students.
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UK students still satisfied but effect of higher fees yet to be felt
University World News
United Kingdom: U.K. students' satisfaction with their courses is being maintained, according to the 2013 National Student Survey. The survey, conducted annually by Ipsos MORI since 2005, gathers opinions from mainly final year undergraduates on the quality of their courses. Aimed at current students, the survey asks undergraduates to provide "honest feedback" on what it has been like to study their course at their institution. The 2013 survey shows that 85 percent of respondents are satisfied overall with their course — the same proportion as in 2012. A further 7 percent were neither satisfied nor dissatisfied, while 7 percent were dissatisfied.
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Smarter Balanced moves ahead on testing tools for English learners
Education Week
The Smarter Balanced group of states writing new, Common Core assessments will soon make final decisions on the array of tools and testing supports that will be available for test-takers who are English-language learners and students with disabilities. In the coming weeks, the 25 states that currently make up the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium will review the latest iteration of guidelines for accessibility and accommodations for ELLs and students with disabilities and provide feedback and suggested changes. The states will debate and vote on a final set of guidelines at a Smarter Balanced board meeting in Los Angeles on Sept. 10.
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TRENDING ARTICLES
Missed last week's issue? See which articles your colleagues read most.

    Apps for English language learning: Intro to photo editors (By Beth Crumpler)
English language still challenge to universities (AllAfrica)
How many hours does it take to be fluent in English? (BBC News)
TESOL announces 2014 Board slate (TESOL)
ELL advocates call for PARCC tests in Spanish (Education Week)

Don't be left behind. Click here to see what else you missed.


Crowdsourcing ideas for a better school
NPR (commentary)
In my previous life as a high school English teacher, I often felt disconnected from everyone making the decisions that affected how I did my job. A new curriculum handed down from the district. Tutorials to learn how to process student data. Elective classes swapped out for study halls. I just learned to roll with the punches. But crowdsourcing tools are slowly working their way into the education policy world, designed to give teachers and district employees more say on big decisions that affect their school environment.
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Empathy: The most important back-to-school supply
Edutopia
The most important back-to-school supply doesn't fit in a backpack, and it can't be ordered online. It's as essential as a pencil, but unlike a pencil, no technology can replace it. In a sense, like a fresh box of crayons, it can come in many colors. Better than the latest gadget, it's possible to equip every student with it, and even better, when we do, it can transform our world.
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More schools use cellphones as learning tools
USA Today
Although schools have traditionally banned or limited cellphones in the classroom, 73 percent of Advanced Placement and National Writing Project teachers said their students use phones in the classroom or to complete assignments, according to a Pew Research Center study.
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New year: Co-teacher harmony
MiddleWeb (commentary)
Some of you have already returned to school (hey y'all down South!), and some of us still have a few weeks of vacation ahead. Either way, we all share the anticipation of great possibilities that goes along with the planning and creating for a successful school year. Each year as school approaches, I feel like I'm getting ready to run through a snowy field and be the first to put my footsteps in the freshly fallen snow. Many decisions must be made. We have the basic choices such as: How will we set up our classrooms? How will we organize our lesson plans? What learning activities will we plan for the first week of school?
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TESOL Leadership Development Certificate Program

TESOL's online Leadership Development Certificate Program (LDCP) runs 30 September—25 October 2013. Learn about current developments in TESOL International Association and the profession, explore key leadership concepts and effective practices, discuss leadership issues with peers worldwide, and learn from experienced TESOL leaders. Full program syllabus is available online.

Separating Difference From Disability With Students Learning English as an Additional Language

This TESOL online course runs 28 October–24 November 2013. Explore assessment, intervention, and identification techniques effective in separating difference from disability. Learn what tools and strategies are available and appropriate to use. Register today!

For more TESOL education programs, please visit the TESOL website.






Director, Center for English Language Programs, New Mexico State University, USA

Instructors, English as a Second Language, Algonquin College Jazan, Canada

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The TESOL English Language Bulletin is presented as a service to members of TESOL International Association and other English language teaching professionals. For information about TESOL member benefits, visit www.tesol.org or contact us at membership@tesol.org.

TESOL English Language Bulletin is a digest of the most important news selected for TESOL International Association from thousands of sources by the editors of MultiBriefs, an independent organization that also manages and sells advertising. TESOL International Association does not endorse any of the advertised products and services. Opinions expressed in the articles are those of the author and not of TESOL.

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