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Oregon Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages

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  • 8 Jul 2024 3:16 PM | ORTESOL Communications (Administrator)

    Call for Proposals

    ORTESOL is now accepting presentation proposals for the 2024 fall conference.  Deadline is October 15, 2024.

    Presentation Types

    Before you make a presentation, look at these presentation types:

    • Long Presentation, 60 minutes - This can be a workshop, panel, or lecture, but should include some participant discussion/activity time

    • Short Presentation, 25 minutes - Best for research reports, book or method introductions

    • Future of ESOL Topic Talk, 12-minute session repeated with different groups of participants - This is like a poster session on steroids. With other groups in the same room, you talk with a small group of people on whatever topic you choose: a book you recommend, a research project, policy, teaching basics, or even just a discussion. We require that you speak just half the 12 minutes and leave the rest for discussion. After 12 minutes, participants change groups and you do it all over again. For novice presenters, this is a good way to get your feet wet in presenting.

    Note: If accepted, you must be registered for the conference to keep your presentation.

    Register for the Conference Here

    Submit a Presentation Proposal


    Due to the limited number of rooms, all presentations will be vetted for quality and appropriacy.

    Polish your Presentation 

    We will be offering presenters opportunities to have other experienced presenters help them with their presentations at any stage along the way, from designing the initial presentation to giving it a last listen before going onstage. In the past, even plenary speakers have taken advantage of this opportunity and our experts have helped them sharpen their presentations. To take advantage of this free opportunity, contact presentation trainer Curtis Kelly at

    Download this list of ten presentation tips that we highly recommend!

    Commercial presentations policy

    Any presentation demonstrating how a textbook, app, or English teaching device or service works, that is not available for free, must be labeled as a commercial presentation. Sponsors will be given a limited number of unvetted presentations. See sponsorship.


    Every room is equipped with a technology podium that includes a computer, a document camera and an overhead projector. People can connect their own computers with the HDMI, VGA or an aux (for audio) cables present. If you plan on using a computer, we suggest you bring your own computer and adapters (Mac VGA especially). Just bringing a USB A flash drive will work too. Our tech support is limited, so you might want to go to your room early to check out setting up.

  • 7 Aug 2023 10:35 PM | ORTESOL Communications (Administrator)

    World Language Teacher Summit 2023: Shared Essentials

    By Linda Rasmussen

    Introduction In my first official year of US school-teaching, while making last-minute worksheets, a more experienced teacher advised me, “If you do it right, it’s always like the first year.” Thus, continuing life-long learning, this ESOL educator of over 30 years attended the “Back-to-School & New Teacher World Language Teacher Summit 2023,” an online video conference. Nineteen recorded presentations were available this July 17-21, and interaction with the presenters was only available by sending questions on Facebook during each of the presentation periods. Teacher-presenters explained how students need to speak as much and as soon as possible from the broader perspective of “world languages,” as well as English. Doing so also implied the value of input by listening. Getting to the essentials, the seminar’s language teachers further agreed upon students’ need to learn to communicate, just as the concept of learning how to learn is recognized. The entire seminar emphasized how to teach communication, activate listening, and generate speaking in a Second Language (L2). The Summit topics, “Back-to-School & New Teacher,” were most directly addressed by the presenting world language teachers Sherry Sebesta and Allison Wienhold, (neither in ESOL).

    ~Applying the goals of learning to communicate, activate listening, and generate speaking an L2~

    Sherry Sebesta ( is a high school French and Spanish teacher who also taught elementary students and adults in community centers and at after school programs. Her M.A. is in Spanish, and she has a store at Teachers-Pay-Teachers (TPT). Ms. Sebesta presented “First Week Lesson Plans to Get Students Speaking More All Year.” Although reminiscent of the “don’t-smile-until-Christmas” teacher, Sebesta’s energy and use of structure just resounded. Her goals begin with “establish control and take the lead.” She wants her students to have “a mindset of success” and engage in “intense communication.” From her communication methods, Sebesta wants her students to leave their first class period in thought, as she prefaces, “Prepare to have your minds blown.”

    Ms. Sebesta begins courses by teaching rules and procedures that require valuable language components, such as how to excuse oneself to the restroom. This teacher has even streamlined introducing the goal of staying in the target language. She demonstrates speaking the L2 (Spanish, for example) in the classroom but steps out into the hall and speaks the majority language (i.e., English in this case). Although ESOL teachers might not be able to use that technique, we can be silent while allowing L1’s spoken for the first 5-10 minutes of class, and then start English-only use as we face the class and begin a lesson.

    Sherry Sebesta outlined her first 5 days of class, in her presentation and details more through subscription to her website World Language Cafe. Her version of activities, such as Get-Acquainted BINGO, serves several purposes: by getting to know their classmates -- in the target

    World Language Teacher Summit 2023: Shared Essentials

    language -- students find others with whom they can collaborate, possibly learn from, and make further connections. Sebesta’s language focus and activities vary somewhat per class levels, but the basic contents are here.

    Day 1 “Hi, what’s your name?” “My name is . . . . “ plus numbers 1-6 with oral exercises, TPR, and a dice game.

    Day 2 Review practice of day one oral content, plus “Nice to meet you” and “See you later” plus numbers 7-12.

    Day 3 Review practice of the prior lessons, adding “Who is that?” and “That’s . . . . “ along with possibilities like “How are you?” with answers using basic adjectives of “I’m hot/cold/tired/nervous.” Then, the possibility of a pop quiz is discussed to motivate students. Numbers 13-20 are introduced and practiced, as are a few verbs in TPR and “with humor and cognates.” Also, study of object names begins and students are assigned to attach label names to objects at their homes.

    Day 4 Review again; then on to numbers 20-100 with practice in games. Sebesta names six classroom objects as she passes each to a student who repeats the names and passes the same objects to the next student, and so on around the class. Next, one selected student leaves the classroom while the others “hide” one of the objects. The selected student returns to ask “Do you have it?” and “Does (name of another student) have it?”

    Day 5 Students take the pop quiz, check each other, and Sebesta announces that no grade is recorded, but students have learned the procedure. Speaking practice begins with reviewing language features and the addition of “What do you like to do?” (since the weekend is coming). To answer the question, students illustrate activities with drawings or pictures found in magazines or online and conduct a sort of “Show and Tell,” with vocabulary appropriate to levels. The day and week end with a video clip of a country where the target language is spoken, about which there might be discussion.

    Accordingly, the first day of the next week begins with 20 minutes of “What did you do on the weekend?” This set process clears the path to active learning and communicating.

    Allison Wienhold, also on TPT and her own website Mis Clases Locas, is a middle school and high school Spanish teacher, as well as a Program Associate at University of Northern Iowa. Although her content resembles Sebesta’s, Ms. Wienhold described methods more like Community Language Learning (CLL) and Language Experience in her presentation, “First Weeks of School: Proficiency, Procedures, and Positive People.” Wienhold sometimes referred to “people of the class” and emphasized that students “must get to know each other for comfort,”

    World Language Teacher Summit 2023: Shared Essentials

    (i.e., lowering the affective filter). For example, this teacher builds community with “Find Someone Who . . . “, similar to “Get Acquainted BINGO. The questions are answered by lower level learners only with each others’ names while advanced groups include verbs and do extension activities. Her student-centered techniques are often part of a whole strategy. To empower students, Wienhold’s “I Can Statements” stop the claim “I don’t know (anything).”

    Later, some “I Can” statements are posted on a bulletin board as goals and objectives. Like Sebesta, Wienhold varies strategies to incorporate repetition, scaffolding language development by repeating techniques with adjustments for different levels of learning.

    Both Sherry Sebesta and Allison Wienhold advocate teaching by engaging students in communication and language-rich activities that embed repetition and can adjust to goals for different levels of proficiency. Other presenters during the Back-to-School & New Teacher World Language Teacher Summit were in TESOL but were not able to offer the comprehensive strategies that these two language teachers did. No matter. General aspects and goals are shared across learning all languages. Sometimes we might benefit from recalling that ESOL is communication, not just English grammar and vocabulary. Keeping in mind how “foreign” language teachers – which some of us are virtually -- successfully lead students in isolated classes might keep us grounded, even where the target language is abundant. Diversely, teachers of all languages have knowledge and ways that can benefit each other, and broadening perspectives is valuable in professional development.

    Questions and comments for writer Linda Rasmussen may be emailed to, although she is now an ORTESOL Board Member-at-Large. Along with 7 years in this organization, Linda has over 30 years in teaching ESOL to PK-12, adults, higher education, and English for Special Purposes, internationally. In PreK-12, Linda holds TESOL certification in Missouri and Texas, where she earned her B.S. in Ed. and M.S. in Library and Information Science, respectively.

  • 16 Jun 2023 8:11 AM | ORTESOL Communications (Administrator)

    Made Human at TESOL International Conference 2023, Portland, Oregon

    Linda Rasmussen

    James Nattinger Travel Grant Recipient

    Asked to write one paragraph about the  TESOL International Conference 2023, I offer the citation of a complimentary children’s book: Victor Dias de Oliveira Santos (2022). What Makes Us Human? (Anna Forlati). Avant Assessment. The author answers his question with “language.” Maybe the complimentary children’s book that I received and later read to my niece highlights the Conference: Victor Dias de Oliveira Santos (2022). What Makes Us Human? (Anna Forlati). Avant Assessment answers the question with “language.” Of course, the English language is the guest star at a TESOL Conference, but it was not alone, and there was so much of all of it. The event felt like a 5-6 day, 8-12 hour party. In the crowd, I commented that ESOL teachers are a sort of minority and such a convention gathered us to fellowship. Just as humans are characterized by language, language is nothing without people. Not only did several ORTESOL members meet in-person for the first time, but we met ESOL facilitators from around the world who we will remember and/or with whom we will continue long relationships -- starting at the Help Desk with ORTESOL Co-Treasurer Cassie DeFilipo from Klamath Community College to new teacher Nyeisa Bahati from Tanzania to the contingent from Pakistan who sang their national anthem on Pakistan Day in traditional dress for pictures in front of the “TESOL 2023” welcome sign. We learned that we have in common our goal of sharing humanity, thanks to TESOL International and, infinitely so, to the ORTESOL organizers and contributors.

  • 16 Jun 2023 8:05 AM | ORTESOL Communications (Administrator)

    TESOL 2023 Experience by Lisa Allen

    TESOL 2023 was amazing for this first-timer! I’ve been to ORTESOL conferences twice and they were great experiences but this was even better because of the International aspect. I didn’t know what to expect or how much of it I would be able to attend because I work full-time during the day but I decided to take two days off and take in as much as I could.

    I attended numerous sessions that were really quite amazing in part because of the diversity of ideas and countries represented. Interestingly, it turned out that the one that I found most useful for my current classes was presented by a University Professor from the University of Oregon, Jennifer Rice.

    Applying Four Cognitive Psychology Principles to Language Classes. I was not aware of these principles before the conference but now that I am, I’m eager to put them into all aspects of my personal and professional life. The Four Principles are The Retrieval Practice, Spaced Practice, Elaboration, and Growth Mindset.

    There was a discussion and then applications of practical examples of how each principle could be applied in language classes with regard to course schedules, syllabi, feedback, assessments, and assignments. I came away with immediate ideas of how to have my students use the Retrieval + Spaced Practice using creative ways to study what they learn like creating quizzes for other students and using schedules that reinforce items just in time to avoid forgetting. Elaboration is easily something to be done in a reflective writing exercise. I did change my syllabus to include enthusiasm for making mistakes and I model doing so in class too. This came from Jennifer’s discussion on Growth Mindset presentation. It was all around fundamental curriculum-building information and very useful to me.

  • 16 Jun 2023 8:04 AM | ORTESOL Communications (Administrator)

    TESOL 2023 Experience by Heidi Saleska

    ESL Instructor
    Rogue Community College
    Grants Pass, Oregon

    This was my first International TESOL event and it was WONDERFUL! I was able to attend 4-5 workshops each day and all of them were interesting. I am a community college ESL instructor so my primary goal was to walk away with some practical tools I could use in my class room with little additional research and time required. The most useful workshop I attended was Ladders for Everyone: Scaffolding Activities in Mixed-Level Classes by Cassia DeFillipo. Ph.D. from Klamath Community College. She provided us with a power point we could use in our classes with Speaking, Listening, Writing, and Reading activities. Her power point provided us a look into her multi-level classroom and scaffolding in her classroom sample activities. Each of the scaffolded activities had website links to her resources. I am so pleased I was able to attend the TESOL Conference 2023. I can’t wait to get back in the classroom.
  • 16 Jun 2023 7:58 AM | ORTESOL Communications (Administrator)

    Experience at TESOL 2023 by Jennifer Slinkard

    I had a wonderful time at TESOL in Portland this year! I attended so many good sessions, but one that stands out to me was the first one I went to: Building Antiracism and Linguistic Justice in the Cross-cultural Composition Classroom, with Madeline Crozier and Tanita Saenkhum from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville. The session was a report on how they had included the "Toward Antiracist First-Year Composition Goals" Statement into their cross-cultural first year composition courses. They first elicited definitions of anti-racist pedagogy from the attendees and encouraged us to discuss them in groups. Then, they presented a framework to include in our own anti-racist curriculum development. Some questions they encourage us to consider were: 1) Where do your rhetorical concepts come from (e.g., are they only Western)? and How is time for languaging accounted for in the classroom (e.g., do you include the extra time it takes for students using English as an additional language in your estimation of student work hours)? They recommended Writing Spaces: Readings on Writing, Volume 4 as a text to draw from. The essays included in this text are Creative Commons licensed and include essays on linguistic diversity, grading criteria, racial literacy, and more. They also recommended that teachers adopt a habit of reflective self-assessment, so that we are regularly checking in with ourselves through the lens of antiracist pedagogy. During the session, I asked a question on how to adopt their ideas into a cross-cultural classroom that was still predominantly white. At my past institution in Arizona, I felt more comfortable making linguistic diversity the topic of my first-year composition classroom, but since moving to Eastern Oregon, I've wondered if it was the best for my mostly-white, rural students. They pointed me to Amy Walker's YouTube channel, which has fun videos on different accents. These videos might be used to talk with students about the stigma associated with specific kinds of speech. It was just one wonderful session of many, and I am so grateful to ORTESOL for providing funding for me to attend the conference.

  • 16 Jun 2023 7:48 AM | ORTESOL Communications (Administrator)

    SOMETHING I LEARNED AT 2023 TESOL by Vivianna Maracel

    The experience of attending Dr. Sammy Ramsey’s Opening Keynote address on Tuesday, March 21 opened my mind in a way that made me see and appreciate diversity in a whole new way.  Dr. Ramsey is an entomologist (he really likes insects, especially bees) and shared his history with bees in his opening address.  Honestly, I was sitting there listening and thinking, “What do bees have to do with my classrooms?” His presentation was listed as dealing with various aspects of diversity.  Dr. Ramsey spoke about bees, his life, the interconnectedness of all organisms on Earth, justice, equity, inclusion, and diversity.  He was a POWERFUL speaker. At the end of his address, I knew what I must do to create diversity in my classroom. I learned to…

     Appreciate (DO NOT BE AFRAID OF)  the differences and diversity of the students in my classroom.

    • Offer opportunities to my students to show their different learning styles, personalities, and understanding of the content being taught.

    • Encourage students to share their opinions and ideas about better ways to see, understand, and learn the curriculum in my classroom.

    I unreservedly recommend watching Dr. Ramsey’s Keynote address.  It is a truly inspiring story and a moment on the path of creating truly enlightened classrooms.

  • 16 Jun 2023 7:42 AM | ORTESOL Communications (Administrator)

    TESOL 2023 Report

    by Brandon Kurtz

    Academic Manager, Pacific International Academy, Portland, Oregon

    I was pleased to be able to attend the 2023 TESOL Convention in Portland recently thanks to the location and ORTESOL’s James Nattinger Travel Grant. Knowing that teachers are always looking for practical tips and tricks, I would like to share some of what I learned regarding pronunciation approaches. In Laura Holland’s well-attended “Embrace Teaching Pronunciation: Practical Daily Tips that Work” workshop, Ms. Holland tackled the importance of teaching pronunciation and some of the challenges instructors face in doing so. Pronunciation may be pushed aside by an overcrowded curriculum, and a lot of teachers are not confident in their ability to instruct students on pronunciation. Regarding the latter point, many ESL instructors are nonnative speakers of English, and a lot of educational resources are designed with native speakers in mind. Ms. Holland cautioned the audience against taking a colonial view of pronunciation and acknowledged that there are a variety of regionally and culturally appropriate World Englishes in use around the globe. That being said, she pointed out that any language user needs to be comprehensible to be effective, so explicitly practicing pronunciation is a valuable use of classroom time. One technique for practicing pronunciation and intonation with multisyllabic words and sentences is called “backchaining.” This approach involves leading students in enunciating words or sentences by syllable or word, respectively, starting with the end of the utterance. For example, for the word “multiplication,” the teacher would have students repeat after her, with special attention on which syllables are stressed and unstressed:






    One of the main benefits of this practice is that students stop focusing on the meaning of the word/sentence and are able to focus on the sounds. Materials for this technique can be found in the textbook, in authentic materials, or whatever students need help with at the moment. Backchaining can be used effectively to draw students’ attention to important pronunciation features in sentences, such as rising intonation at the end of a tag question: “They’re both doctors, aren’t they?” Working backward, and making sure to maintain the correct intonation throughout, the teacher can help students focus on making sure that they are communicating accurately.

    Similarly, backchaining can be used to practice yes/no questions, listing, final -ed sounds, and more. I used the approach for the first time with some students recently, and I found it to be a fun and effective way to practice intonation. Thank you, Ms. Holland, for sharing your expertise!

  • 16 Jun 2023 7:07 AM | ORTESOL Communications (Administrator)

    TESOL 2023 Experience by Lara Ravitch

    I had a wonderful time moderating the Intersection for the K12 IS and the Supporting Students with Disabilities IS. First, Amy Noggle & Patricia Rice Doran gave an overview of disability in the US educational context. They particularly stressed the four goals of disability policy (Equality of opportunity, full participation, self determination, and economic self-sufficiency) and the importance of involving families. Liz Piñon then spoke about Translanguaging as a strategy for supporting students with disabilities in language learning contexts. While Translanguaging can benefit all students, Piñon noted that students with disabilities are particularly likely to benefit from the scaffolding and clarity that it provides. She gave great, concrete examples of how to increase translanguaging, such as listening corners with materials in all languages, a multilingual cognate wall, targeted use of translators, and giving students the opportunity to translanguage in pair or independent work. Finally, Crystal Cho Jones shared a number of strategies for supporting neurodivergent students, including dimming lights, moderating sound, providing flexibility, using assistive technology and not forcing students to make eye contact. For those who'd like to learn more, the Padlet form the presentation is here:

  • 16 Jun 2023 6:59 AM | ORTESOL Communications (Administrator)

    TESOL 2023 Experience by Nataliia Brown

    TESOL 2023 conference was the first TESOL conference I ever attended. As a current TESOL graduate student, I was very excited to spend a day at a Graduate Student Research Forum. I wanted to meet other graduate students, learn about their research interests, teaching methodologies and, possibly, find ideas for my own thesis. I focused on presenters that talked about teaching techniques, bilingualism and translanguaging, as those are the main areas I am interested in.

    Aram Ahmed, a doctoral student from University of Massachusetts in Boston, presented his research about teachers’ perception of teacher talk in the classroom. He analyzed the data collected from interviews with teachers, who provided their views on the reasons and purposes for teacher talk. The main conclusions of this presentation were the following: the common use for teacher talk for the teachers from the study was to provide clarifications, feedback and instruction to students; high percentage of teacher talk versus student talk in the classroom is not always a negative factor in the learning process, in the lower-level classrooms teacher talk can be necessary to provide additional explanation on the learning material.

    Another presentation I really enjoyed was done by Woongsik Choi from Purdue University. He talked about translanguaging practices in the high school English as a New Language (ENL) classroom. He studied one classroom for several weeks by observing the lessons, conducting interviews and collecting learning material samples. The classroom from his research had a shared language besides English. Most of the people in the class, including a teacher, spoke and understood Spanish, but not all students did. In their interactions, students and the teacher switched between English and Spanish regularly. Some of those Spanish exchanges were interpreted into English while others were not, therefore excluding from classroom communication students who did not speak Spanish. The presenter concluded that translanguaging can be a valuable resource in language learning, but more attention needs to be given to all languages in the classroom.

    Overall, The Graduate Student Research Forum at TESOL 2023 was a fantastic way for me to connect with other TESOL graduate students and learn about their research topics. I was especially excited to hear about the translanguaging practices in the classrooms, their challenges and potential solutions, as I include translanguaging into my teaching methodology as well and planning on my thesis being related to this subject.

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