TESOL English Language Bulletin
Mar. 28, 2012

Register now for TESOL virtual seminars in May
TESOL will host two virtual seminars in May. On Wednesday, 2 May, 10:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. EDT, Danielle Zawodny Wetzel and Ryan Miller will lead "Teaching Academic Reading and Writing in English," and on Wednesday, 23 May, 10:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. EDT, Roger C. Rosenthal will lead "The Rights of Immigrant Students and English Language Learners in U.S. Public Schools." Virtual seminars are free for TESOL members; nonmembers may attend for $45. Registration is now open. For more information, please visit TESOL's website.More

Are you the TESOL Teacher of the Year?
TESOL recognizes the dedication and hard work of English language teachers worldwide. The TESOL Teacher of the Year Award, presented by National Geographic Learning, rewards one exceptional teacher with a prize package that includes US$1,000; a free year of TESOL membership; 2013 convention registration, hotel and airfare; and much more. Nominees need not be TESOL members. Learn about the award, nominate a colleague, or apply now. The deadline is 30 June.More

TESOL announces 2012 award winners
TESOL International Association congratulates the winners of its 2012 awards. These award winners were selected for their service to the profession and the association, and for their scholarship in the field of English language teaching. For a full list of award recipients, please read the full press release.More

Check out the TESOL Blog
If you have not read the TESOL Blog recently, you have missed posts on English for specific purposes by Kevin Knight, who dreams of bringing ESP resources to the world, ten ideas to get the most from the conference from Joe McVeigh, and posts on how to use Paper.li to follow TESOL 2012 and on why you should join TESOL as part of a job search by Sandra Rogers. The TESOL Blog is open to both members and nonmembers. If you would like to blog for TESOL, please contact Craig Triplett, TESOL's Web content and social media manager.More

Cheating our children: Suspicious school test scores across the nation
The Atlanta Journal Constitution
Suspicious test scores in roughly 200 school districts resemble those that entangled Atlanta in the biggest cheating scandal in American history, an investigation by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution shows. The newspaper analyzed test results for 69,000 public schools and found high concentrations of suspect math or reading scores in school systems from coast to coast. The findings represent an unprecedented examination of the integrity of school testing. The analysis doesn't prove cheating. But it reveals that test scores in hundreds of cities followed a pattern that, in Atlanta, indicated cheating in multiple schools. More

Preparedness for Common Standards: A work in progress
Education Week
Three years can seem like a lot of time or a little, depending on your perspective. I'm betting that when it comes to the Common Core State Standards, most teachers feel like three years isn't a lot. Three years from now is when the assessments designed for the standards are supposed to be fully operational. Assuming those tests end up being faithful reflections of the standards, students will be tested on how well they've mastered the expectations outlined there. And those results, in turn, are supposed to reflect whether 11th graders are ready for college and careers, and whether younger students are on track to be.More

Arne Duncan: Newspapers shouldn't publish teacher ratings
Education Week
Publishing teachers' ratings in the newspaper in the way The New York Times and other outlets have done recently is not a good use of performance data, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said in an interview. "Do you need to publish every single teacher's rating in the paper? I don't think you do," he said. "There's not much of an upside there, and there's a tremendous downside for teachers. We're at a time where morale is at a record low. ... We need to be sort of strengthening teachers, and elevating and supporting them." More

Abolish tenure?
The Chronicle of Higher Education (commentary)
The Virginia state legislature has been making headlines for discussing whether women should have to undergo a trans-vaginal ultrasound before having an abortion, but the same legislative body is receiving kudos, from the liberal New Republic, for seeking to abolish tenure for teachers in public schools. In backing the proposal, the editors of The New Republic drew a distinction between higher education, where they think tenure is appropriate, and K-12 education, where they want tenure "abolished." Universities are "our country's ideas factories," they write.More

Education report: Shortcomings of US schools pose national security threat
The Christian Science Monitor
Nearly 30 years after the landmark education report "A Nation at Risk," a new report finds that America's failure to prepare its young people for a globalized world is now so grave that it poses a national security threat. Some of the key factors that the report cites in linking education shortcomings and a weakened national security: insufficient preparation of children for the highly technical jobs that both the private sector and the military increasingly need to fill, scant and declining foreign-language education, and a weakened "national cohesiveness" as a result of an under-educated and unemployable poor population. More

Saudis excited at English in govt-run primary schools
Arab News
Saudi Arabia: The Ministry of Education's project to introduce English language teaching in government-run primary schools is receiving enthusiastic response from teachers, students and parents in the Eastern Province. "There is an increased awareness among Saudis about the importance of learning English from an early age," said Najah Al-Rayes, central supervisor at the Education Ministry in the Eastern Province.More

Breaking barriers: Parent-teacher conferences in a multilingual era
The Forecaster
Shamso Farah, a Somali translator and parent liaison for the Portland Public Schools' multilingual department, rushed into her boss's office at Lyman Moore Middle School on March 21 with a minor crisis on her hands. It was parent-teacher conference day at the school, and for five weeks before, Farah and other members of the department had been working to coordinate the meetings, navigating the schedules of teachers, hired translators and the parents of more than 30 students who needed interpretation to understand what the educators would have to say about their child's progress. In February, there were 2,117 students in the city's English Language Learners programs, representing 58 language groups and just over 30 percent of the entire student population.More

Response: Ways to build trust between parents and teachers
Education Week (commentary)
Parent engagement is a critical piece in creating a successful learning environment. Of course, an important way to start building that trust is for we teachers to also try to understand the parent's perspective. I would suggest that this "two-way" street could be a critical difference between parent engagement and parent involvement. I'll be sharing more about these approaches in Part Three of this series.More

Momentum builds for dual-language learning
Education Week
In a pre-school class at Gardner Academy, a public elementary school near downtown San Jose, Calif., teacher Rosemary Zavala sketched a tree as she fired off questions about what plants need to grow. "¿Qué necesitan las plantas?" she asked her 4-year-old charges in Spanish. "Las flores toman agua" was the exuberant answer from one girl, who said that flowers drink water. A boy answered in English: "I saw a tree in my yard." The next day, Zavala's questions about plants would continue — but in English. This classroom, with its steady stream of lively, vocabulary-laden conversations in Spanish and in English, is what many educators and advocates hope represents the future of language instruction in the United States for both English language learners and native English speakers. More

Homeland Security asks new academic advisory group to keep ideas flowing
The Chronicle of Higher Education
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano made it clear at the first meeting of her department's Academic Advisory Council: She doesn't want a report thick with recommendations at the end of the panel's two-year charge. Rather, she wants the group's ideas, and soon. "We want this to be an ongoing exchange," Napolitano told the 19 college presidents and academic leaders, encouraging them to forward her advice and recommendations for best practices and regulatory change. She deadpanned: "We want to take full advantage of your free labor."More

In beleaguered Syria, an American offers 'reparations for the Iraqi educational system'
The Chonicle of Higher Education
For many Americans, the nascent civil war in Syria is a distant tragedy. For Gabe Huck and his wife, Theresa Kubasak, it is a real threat to their effort to help refugees from Iraq get a college education. Since 2007, the Iraqi Student Project, a nonprofit agency founded by the couple, has brought 47 student refugees in Syria, many of whom fled sectarian violence and other strife, to 35 colleges in the United States. Eight students are preparing to make the trip next, depending on whether they are accepted. More

Chinese students regard US higher education as top quality, but also confusing
The Chronicle of Higher Education
American universities remain popular with Chinese students, who often see them as crucial to learning critical-thinking skills, but the students are frequently confused by the country's higher-education system, suggests a new survey. Of 647 high-school students who said they were interested in studying in an English-speaking country, 78 percent said they wanted to go to college in the United States, says the survey, which was published by the Art & Science Group, a consulting company. The quality of the American education and its focus on problem solving and critical thinking topped the list for why they were interested.More

Indian student jailed in Australia English testing scam
Indian Express
Australia: An Indian student was sentenced to 14 months in jail for his involvement in a bribery scam under which the English test scores used for granting Australian permanent residency and visas were falsified. A local court in Perth sentenced Rajesh Kumar, who had pleaded guilty to 10 counts of bribery between November 2009 and June 2010. The court heard that Kumar became an intermediary in the scam and personally received between 32,000 dollars and 44,000 dollars.More

Study: Teacher turnover affects all students' achievement
Education Week
When teachers leave schools, overall morale appears to suffer enough that student achievement declines — both for those taught by the departed teachers and by students whose teachers stayed put, concludes a study recently presented at a conference held by the Center for Longitudinal Data in Education Research. The impact of teacher turnover is one of the teacher-quality topics that's been hard for researchers to get their arms around. The phenomenon of high rates of teacher turnover has certainly been proven to occur in high-poverty schools more than low-poverty ones. The eminently logical assumption has been that such turnover harms student achievement. More

Brain's involvement in processing depends on language's graphic symbols
Readers whose mother tongue is Arabic have more challenges reading in Arabic than native Hebrew or English speakers have reading their native languages, because the two halves of the brain divide the labor differently when the brain processes Arabic than when it processes Hebrew or English. That is the result of a new study conducted by two University of Haifa researchers, Dr. Raphiq Ibrahim of the Edmond J. Safra Brain Research Center for the Study of Learning Disabilities and the Learning Disabilities Department, and Prof. Zohar Eviatar of the Department of Psychology.More

Angry words
The Chronicle of Higher Education
A Christian missionary sets out to convert a remote Amazonian tribe. He lives with them for years in primitive conditions, learns their extremely difficult language, risks his life battling malaria, giant anacondas and sometimes the tribe itself. In a plot twist, instead of converting them he loses his faith, morphing from an evangelist trying to translate the Bible into an academic determined to understand the people he's come to respect and love.More

Rice study: Minority administrators, school personnel key to engaging immigrant parents
Ultimate West U
A new study by Rice University, the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee and Vanderbilt University demonstrates that minority principals and other administrative personnel at elementary and high schools play an integral role in implementing policies and practices aimed at engaging immigrant parents of students. Researchers focused on the manner in which schools in districts with immigrant populations address low levels of parental involvement in their children's education and what measures they take in providing opportunities for engagement and support. More

Do students know enough smart learning strategies?
What's the key to effective learning? One intriguing body of research suggests a rather gnomic answer: It's not just what you know. It's what you know about what you know. To put it in more straightforward terms, anytime a student learns, he or she has to bring in two kinds of prior knowledge: knowledge about the subject at hand (say, mathematics or history) and knowledge about how learning works. Parents and educators are pretty good at imparting the first kind of knowledge. We're comfortable talking about concrete information: names, dates, numbers and facts. But the guidance we offer on the act of learning itself — the "metacognitive" aspects of learning — is more hit-or-miss, and it shows. More

Caring teachers may help keep kids from trying alcohol, drugs
HealthDay News via Yahoo News
The connections youth have with their teachers may help prevent kids from experimenting with alcohol and drugs at an early age, a new study suggests. The researchers found that students in middle school who felt more emotional support from teachers had a lower risk of early alcohol and illicit drug use. The students defined teacher support as feeling close to a teacher or being able to discuss problems with a teacher. More

A picture of language
The New York Times
The curious art of diagramming sentences was invented 165 years ago by S.W. Clark, a schoolmaster in Homer, N.Y. His book, published in 1847, was called "A Practical Grammar: In which Words, Phrases, and Sentences Are Classified According to Their Offices and Their Various Relations to One Another." His goal was to simplify the teaching of English grammar. It was more than 300 pages long, contained information on such things as unipersonal verbs and "rhetorico-grammatical figures" and provided a long section on Prosody, which he defined as "that part of the Science of Language which treats of utterance."More