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Home   Communities   Publications   Education   Issues   Convention   Join TESOL   Oct. 15, 2013

 





New biometric technology for global English testing
University World News
IELTS, the International English Language Testing System and the world's most popular English language test for higher education, has introduced biometric measures — including finger scans — to verify the identity of test takers. Worldwide, more than 8,000 education institutions, governments, professional registration bodies and employers use IELTS to provide measurement of English language proficiency. Candidates are tested on listening, reading, writing and speaking. All tests are scored on a banded system from one (the lowest) through to nine (the highest).
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Shutdown leaves hollow staffing at education department
Education Week
Until Oct. 1, Jenelle Leonard served as the director of school support and rural programs within the U.S. Department of Education. Then the federal government shut down, leaving 4,000 of the department's workers, including Ms. Leonard, without a paycheck. What about Laura G. Johns, senior program advisor for the Office of Educational Technology? And Samuel Lopez, education program specialist at the office of English Language Acquisition? Yep, them too. Most of the Education Department's phone lines now end up giving callers the same message: "There's a temporary shutdown of the U.S. government due to a lapse in appropriations. I will respond to your message as soon as possible after the temporary shutdown ends."
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States' teacher evaluation methods vary widely
eSchool News
In the drive to hold teachers more accountable for student learning, states are revolutionizing how they evaluate teachers. This year, for example, 34 school districts in Illinois will begin evaluating teachers based in part on student test scores for the first time. Tennessee recently joined a handful of other states in tying student scores to whether their teachers' keep their licenses.
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Call for proposals: 2014 Electronic Village
TESOL
The Computer Assisted Language Learning Interest Section (CALL-IS) invites you to submit a proposal for the Electronic Village at the 2014 TESOL Convention. The Electronic Village is a wonderful place to showcase innovative uses of technology in the classroom, including mobile technology. The deadline for submissions is 30 November 2013. The CALL IS will also be soliciting proposals for the Classroom of the Future sessions sponsored by TESOL and tied to the 50th anniversary in 2016.
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Call for student proposals for the 2014 TESOL Convention
TESOL
The Master's Student Forum and Doctoral Forum, at the 2014 TESOL Annual Convention, seek submissions by 1 November 2013. The Master's Student Forum is a 1-day miniconference for graduate students in TESOL teacher preparation programs to network and share their research. At the Doctoral Forum, students network with experienced TESOL researchers and educators and discuss their dissertation research through poster sessions, mentoring discussion sections, and presentations on hot topics.
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Open source math materials for ELLs
TESOL
Stanford University's Understanding Language initiative has launched open source materials extensively annotated to illustrate how the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) in mathematics can be used for English language learners. Materials cover three grade spans (elementary, middle, and high school) and include Principles for Mathematics Instruction and Guidelines for Design of Mathematics Instruction and Materials, together with templates for teachers to design their own tasks.
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States' teacher evaluation methods vary widely
eSchool News
In the drive to hold teachers more accountable for student learning, states are revolutionizing how they evaluate teachers. This year, for example, 34 school districts in Illinois will begin evaluating teachers based in part on student test scores for the first time.

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What does the possible government shutdown mean for schools?
Education Week
Brokedown Congress appears likely to spend the weekend attempting to keep the government from shutting down and the U.S. from defaulting on its debt. The sticking point this time isn't schools. Instead, education is getting caught in the crosshairs.

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Cutting to the Common Core: Making vocabulary No. 1
Language Magazine
The Common Core State Standards (CCSS, 2010) call upon students to tackle increasingly complex informational and narrative texts and articulate their comprehension using academic register.

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Reform in a recession
Scholastic Administrator
Making lasting change to a large educational system isn’t easy even when jobs and resources are plentiful. But the last few years, since the beginning of the Great Recession — and especially since the wind-down of the federal stimulus program — have shown that making progress is extremely difficult during tough economic times. Whether reform efforts will stall out before the economy begins to rebound is anybody's guess. There are things that can get done during hard times that might otherwise be too difficult or unpopular to accomplish. A crisis should never be wasted, as Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel likes to say.
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Cutting to the Common Core: Analyzing informational text
Language Magazine
The Common Core State Standards for reading focus heavily on students gathering evidence, knowledge, and insights from what they read. In fact, 80-90 percent of the reading standards in every grade require text-dependent analysis — being able to answer questions only by referring back to the assigned text, not by drawing upon and referencing prior knowledge and experiences. Equal emphasis is placed on the sophistication of what students read and the skill with which they read. With an aim of equipping students with 21st century literacy and learning skills for college and the global workplace, the standards demand an increased percentage of informational text exposure and rigor as students advance in their coursework.
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Budget tensions cloud hopes for end to 'sequester'
Education Week
Sequestration — the across-the-board budget cuts that represent the biggest slash in federal education spending in recent history — may continue for the foreseeable future, education advocates fear, a consequence of the budget deadlock that shuttered the U.S. government and congressional brinkmanship over the debt ceiling. With those twin fiscal crises having consumed lawmakers' attention for weeks, stopping the sequestration cuts has been shoved to the side, leaving school districts likely to cope with yet another round of reductions to programs that serve the neediest children and students in special education.
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Ensuring quality in English Foreign language schools
The Malta Independent
Malta: In summer the English as Foreign Language Monitoring Board visited each one of the 72 centers used for the teaching of English to foreign students in Malta and Gozo. This monitoring exercise is carried out every summer in a bid to ensure higher academic standards in the EFL sector. These centers include 42 licensed EFL schools and an additional 30 annexes which are used only in the peak season due to the increase in the number of students. Just like the schools, the annexes must meet legal requirements to be approved. Each center was visited twice, with the first visit focusing on academic standards. The academic visits form part of the EFL Monitoring Board's efforts to enhance the quality of teaching standards.
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English songs, films help us learn
New Straits Times (commentary)
The best age to start learning a second or a foreign language like English is when one is 7 to 13. As a university lecturer the last 20 years, I have seen and heard my share of English mistakes from my students. Many tend to translate from Malay into English when they speak and write. I have encountered atrocious English out of class as well, from waiters in restaurants to bank officers on the phone. Why does this happen?
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Diversity of the Sioux Falls, S.D., school district
KELO-TV
South Dakota's largest school district is using its annual demographics report to find ways to improve and grow with the diverse population. According to the district, kids are speaking 60 different languages with several dialects in Sioux Falls schools. And that number could continue expanding with new ethnic students moving to the area. "Right now this year, we are 30.4 percent diverse. So that number continues to grow at a rate of about one to two percent over the last 15 years or so," Community Relations Supervisor DeeAnn Konrad said. To help acclimate these kids into regular classrooms, there are programs to help them learn English at their own pace. The English language learning program, or ELL., is designed to work with kids on a one-on-one basis. According to the "Demographics Report", there are currently more than 2,000 students participating in ELL.
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English language in Ghanaian schools
Ghana Web
Ghanaian: English language is, needless to say, the language of instruction in Ghanaian schools, colleges and universities. It is also the language of all formal professions in Ghana. In Ghanaian schools all subjects such as mathematics, science, social studies (history, geography and civics), art, and information and communication technology are taught and learned through the medium of English. Yet English language is a second language to a vast majority of Ghanaian students regardless of their stage in the education ladder. Ironically, it is equally a second language to teachers who are supposed to teach that language.
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China's English fervor under scrutiny
China News Service
China: Though the word "promontory" may sound unfamiliar to many native English speakers, Luo Jia, a 13-year-old Chinese student, knows its meaning, spelling and the exact sentence in the textbook where it appeared. "I know the word even better than the uncommon Chinese character with the same meaning," said Luo, as he located the synonym for "cape" while flipping through "New Concept English," a textbook widely used in China's English training programs. Though he is more interested in biology and chemistry, the middle school student in Fujian Province attends English classes every weekend upon his mother's order. The class teaches advanced English with a rich vocabulary containing words like "bedraggled," "outlandish" and "parquet."
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Students thrive in dual language program
El Paso Times
Fourth-grader Sofia Hernandez's first language is English but she already has practical reasons for mastering a second language at an early age. "When I'm bigger I want to be a doctor," she said. "If I don't know what's wrong with the patient and they speak Spanish, they can tell me what's wrong." Hernandez and other classmates at Kohlberg Elementary get more than the typical exposure to Spanish. Two out of six fourth grade classrooms at the campus are dual language — students alternate instruction in language arts, social studies, math and science each week in English and Spanish.
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Texas A&M closing the educational achievement gap for English language learners
Tamu Times
Closing the educational achievement gap for children who are learning English as a second language is the focus for researchers in Texas A&M University's new Center for Research and Development in Dual Language and Literacy Acquisition. In Texas alone, more than 809,000 students were served in English language learner programs in 2011-2012, according to the Texas Education Agency. Nationally, nearly 11.2 million school-aged children and their families are non-English speakers and 73 percent are Spanish speakers. Dropout rates among Hispanics/Latinos are a major concern and are reported to be the highest among all ethnic groups, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
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Framingham, Mass., adult ESL program sees decline in Portuguese speakers
The MetroWest Daily News
A decline in Portuguese-speaking students in the school department's adult English as a Second Language program may reflect a larger trend in the region's Brazilian community, people familiar with that population say. But overall demand for the Framingham Adult ESL Plus Program and other English classes in the region is still high, with hundreds still on the waiting list for the schools' free service.
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English as a first language
The Hartford Courant (commentary)
Regarding "Grant Aims to Boost School Attendance": How completely lost a youngster must be when expected to begin his/her education (kindergarten) with too little knowledge of English. One wonders: How many parents who still consider "English as a second language" are the real problem behind youngsters' willingness to go to school? My immigrant mother taught me, a first-generation American, my ABC's when I was still in the highchair, so my use of English was at least equal to children whose parents had been in our country for generations.
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TRENDING ARTICLES
Missed last week's issue? See which articles your colleagues read most.

    The order of words: Understanding differences in how children and adults learn (Sissa Medialab via Science Daily)
Filipino students improve English skills (Arab News)
Science, Maths subjects should be taught in English (New Straits Times)
Cutting to the Common Core: Making vocabulary No. 1 (Language Magazine)
Smart strategies that help students learn how to learn (MindShift)

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




Teachers should refrain from self-deprecation when trying to engage students
National Communication Association via Science Daily
A new study finds teachers need to thread the needle between chilly distance and over-exposure of their own foibles if they want to gain the confidence of their students and avoid disruptions in the classroom. The study, "The Relationship of Instructor Self-Disclosure, Nonverbal Immediacy, and Credibility to Student Incivility in the College Classroom," was published online today in the National Communication Association's journal, Communication Education.
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New approach urged for 'abysmal' K-12 writing instruction
Michigan State University via Science Daily
Writing instruction in U.S. classrooms is "abysmal" and the Common Core State Standards don't go far enough to address glaring gaps for students and teachers, a Michigan State University education scholar argues. In a new study, Gary Troia calls for a fresh approach to professional development for teachers who must help students meet the new writing standards. His research, funded by the U.S. Department of Education's Institute of Education Sciences, appears in the journal School Psychology Review.
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Surveys synthesized: What are teachers' attitudes about classroom technology?
MindShift
The Joan Ganz Cooney Center reviewed five national surveys that polled K-12 classroom teachers about their practices and uses of technology. The report includes findings from PBS LearningMedia's Teacher Technology Usage Survey (January 2012); The Gates Foundation's Technology and Effective Teaching in the U.S. (February 2012); The Joan Ganz Cooney Center's National Survey of Teacher Attitudes & Beliefs on Digital Games & Learning (May 2012); Common Sense Media's Children, Teens, and Entertainment Media (Fall 2012); and Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project Online Survey of Teachers (February 2013). The review highlights some of the benefits and obstacles of using different kinds of technology in the classroom, but it also raises some great questions that have yet to be explored with thorough surveys.
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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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