TESOL English Language Bulletin
Feb. 18, 2014

New English language tests developed for university entrance examinations in Japan
Mainichi
Japan: Amid accelerating reforms being introduced to the English language segment of university entrance examinations, new domestic tests have been developed by private corporations and other entities that aim to assess incoming students' level of reading, writing, listening and speaking. The government's Council for the Implementation of Education Rebuilding issued a recommendation in May last year that the Test of English as a Foreign Language — which is utilized in the United States to assess English language ability — should also be introduced for Japan's university entrance examinations. High schools criticized the proposal, however, saying "the level is too high" — thereby resulting in the development and implementation of the domestic tests.More

Announcement of 2014 TESOL award winners
TESOL
The 2014 TESOL Teacher of the Year, presented by National Geographic Learning, has been awarded to Ann Fontanella, a tenured EFL instructor at the City College of San Francisco in California. The 2014 TESOL Award for Distinguished Research, presented by ETS TOEFL, goes to Stephen Bax, University of Bedfordshire, U.K. More

Role-playing the present perfect: A speaking activity
TESOL
This role-playing game allows students to take on familiar roles and incorporate the present perfect tense in a fun and communicative way. Other recent TESOL blogs: ESL Games: Similarities Galore, The Future of English Language Teaching and Learning Locally and Globally, and ESP and Genre Analysis.More

Refugees could receive extended help under bill endorsed by House committee
Deseret News
The Utah Department of Workforce Services would be able to extend a limited number of services for refugees under a bill endorsed by a House committee.More

Why Chinese schools must push English more than ever
WorldCrunch
China: After months of public debate, China's Education Ministry has finally decided that the college entrance exam will no longer include the subject of English. Instead, students will take several English tests spread over the course of the school year. More

What it takes (and means) to learn English as an adult
NPR
Ana Perez never made it to high school. Her education ended after the sixth grade, when war broke out in her native El Salvador. She says she's "desperate" to learn English, but she gets nervous trying to speak it. More

Refugees could receive extended help under bill endorsed by House committee
Deseret News
The Utah Department of Workforce Services would be able to extend a limited number of services for refugees under a bill endorsed by a House committee. The federal government funds services such as English language instruction, emergency assistance and treatment for victims of domestic violence for eight months after a refugee's arrival.More

A language-learning hat trick
Wail Daily
The local school district is one of only 12 in Colorado to reach all three federally mandated performance goals for English language learners. The objectives measure whether English language learners are progressing toward proficiency. Eagle County's schools are among the 6 percent of Colorado's 178 school districts to hit those marks.More

Their children's first teachers: Latino parents targeted in early education efforts
The Hechinger Report
The pen scribble marks on a light blue folder could have been drawn by a 1-year-old, although the girl who made them was 3. And yet, to a group of women from her neighborhood who admiringly passed the folder around a room, the scribbles represented a victory. Until recently, the girl had never before held a writing utensil, and her mother did not understand the importance of early childhood education. Now, thanks to these women, the mother did. Most middle class parents don't need to be told that they are their children's first teachers, and that the job starts at birth or even earlier. In poor communities, however, that knowledge is not necessarily a given. More

Efforts for students with limited English language skills discussed
Wilkes Journal-Partiot
Efforts to help students with limited English proficiency learn English language skills were discussed during the Wilkes Board of Education meeting. This area of learning in the Wilkes schools was addressed as part of a report on the Assessing Comprehension and Communication in English State-to-State for English language learners test. Dr. Joe Bullis, English as a second language and Titles III and I director for the Wilkes schools, said combined ACCESS scores of English language learners in the school system in 2012-2013 didn't meet expected progress but did meet measurable achievement objectives for their sub-group and overall proficiency standards.More

English language students stuck with outmoded texts
The Times of India
India: Remember the thirsty crow story — how the bird used pebbles to raise the level of water in a pitcher? You may have enjoyed it in kindergarten, but the Gujarat State School Text Board prescribes it to Std six English-medium students to teach them English. The textbook has many such stories, like the "lion and the mouse" and the "crayon box that talked." What is confounding, however, is that the same textbook in the Gujarati medium has more interesting tales, making many wonder if English-medium students are deliberately getting step-motherly treatment from the authors.More

Education for English language learners in rural Idaho
The Blue Review
While Idaho is certainly focused on education reform — all the more so, given the state's low national performance rankings — none of the reforms currently being discussed address the educational needs of English language learners living in rural Idaho. These students continue to be an invisible population. The Idaho State Department of Education's 2008 Rural Education Initiative Report recognized the challenges of rural education and the challenges faced by disabled children. More

English tutors in China — well-paid, not always qualified
UPI (commentary)
China: Beatrice Boulet, a 20-year-old French exchange student at Peking University, was sitting outside the foreign students' dormitory when a Chinese woman approached her. The woman asked whether Boulet could teach her 10-year-old daughter English for $33 per hour. "I told her that I am from France and have never taught English, but she didn't think it was important. I think she talked to me only because I am a foreigner," Boulet said. Some families in China spend small fortunes on foreign English teachers for their children, but sometimes parents mistakenly think any foreigner — no matter what their level of English-language skills — can provide quality education in English. Education experts say this has led to cases of unqualified, unmotivated and sometimes even non-English-speaking foreigners tutoring Chinese kids.More

English trumps regional languages for the young
DNA India
India: Anuradha Devkatte, 21, a third-year MBBS student of Grant Medical College, has enrolled herself in an 'advanced English speaking course' at a Dadar institute. The Nanded girl had studied in English medium throughout but lacks the confidence to speak fluently. "Marathi prevails at home and in medical college. Hence, I've never had the confidence to communicate fluently with my classmates and teachers (in English). Moreover, the accent is also an issue," she says. Devkatte and her classmates study in a class of 15, which includes Marathi-, Gujarati-, Hindi- and Tamil-speaking people in the age group 20-45. They not only practise grammar and public speaking but also overcome their inhibitions and individual accents.More

Taxi drivers sharpening English skills as tourist number goes up
Focus Taiwan
Taiwan: More taxi drivers in Taiwan have realized the importance of learning English as the country has seen an increase in foreign visitor arrivals in recent years, according to the Taiwan Taxi Co., the nation's biggest taxi service provider. The company, which has been offering English classes for its drivers since last July, said it has seen a rising demand for cabbies who can communicate with foreign passengers.More

Infants, words and income
Language Magazine
Fifty years of research have revealed the sad truth that the children of lower-income, less-educated parents typically enter school with poorer language skills than their more privileged counterparts. By some measures, five-year-old children of lower socioeconomic status score more than two years behind on standardized language development tests by the time they enter school. Stanford researchers have now found that these socioeconomic status differences begin to emerge much earlier in life: by 18 months of age, toddlers from disadvantaged families are already several months behind more advantaged children in language proficiency.More