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Oregon Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages

  • 31 May 2023 6:36 PM | ORTESOL Communications (Administrator)

    Have you worked with students who are English Language Learners? Have you worked as a Teacher of the Visually Impaired or English as a Second Language Teacher between 2020 and today? Then we want to hear from you! 

    We’re recruiting participants for a research study titled to better understand how prepared teachers feel to work with students with visual impairments (blind or low vision) who are also English language learners.  

    For teachers who have worked with students with visual impairments who are also English language learners, we also want to learn about your experience collaborating with your student’s Teacher of the Visually Impaired (TVI) or English as a Second Language Teacher as well as what instructional methodologies, approaches, and informal strategies you have used with students. 

    If interested, please complete this brief screener which will take less than 5 minutes: 

    After reviewing your screener responses, we’ll send you a link to complete the full survey. The full survey may take as little as 10 minutes or upwards of 45-90 minutes to complete depending on how much you choose to share with us.  

    At the end of the survey participants can enter a raffle to be randomly selected for one of ten $25 gift cards to Amazon or Target.  

    Please consider forwarding this survey opportunity with colleagues who may be eligible to participate. We are excited to learn about your experiences! 

    Questions? Email Gabrielle Gosnell (gabrielle.r.gosnell@Vanderbilt.Edu ) or Dr. Rachel Schles at   


    Vanderbilt   Gabrielle Gosnell
    M.Ed. Candidate, Visual Disabilities | Special Education
    Peabody College | Vanderbilt University | Vanderbilt University
    615.322.8195 |

    Pronouns: (she/her)

  • 1 May 2023 7:47 PM | ORTESOL Communications (Administrator)

    HB 3121: Relating to higher education affordability; declaring an emergency.

    2023 Regular Session | More Information

    Requires Higher Education Coordinating Commission to conduct study to determine best method for making public higher education affordable for Oregonians. Directs commission to submit findings to interim committees of Legislative Assembly related to higher education not later than September 15, 2024.] Appropriates moneys to Higher Education Coordinating Commission for purpose of carrying out Oregon's Open Educational Resources (OER) Program. Declares emergency, effective July 1, 2023.

    Open Oregon Educational Resources and Oregon Student Association have created a support letter template.  

    Link to the support letter template

    What we’re advocating for:

    What funding are we seeking for the Open Oregon Educational Resources program?

    Our current funding level from the state is $669,200 per biennium. Based on the recommendation of the Joint Task Force On Student Success for Underrepresented Students in Higher Education Affordability Workgroup, and the House Higher Education Committee, we are advocating for an increase of $4,530,800. This would bring our ongoing program budget up to $5,200,000 per biennium. 

    What will the funding impact be?

    With the ongoing funding increase, Open Oregon Educational Resources will be able to…

    • Expand the open application OER grant program at ~$10 in student savings per $1 spent

    • Expand professional development for faculty to adopt OER at up to ~$35 in student savings per $1 spent

    • Increase personnel to support additional high-quality, equity-focused OER development and translation

    • Expand outreach on impact reporting and statewide coordination

    How will this bill help secure the funding?

    If passed, this bill will appropriate the funding increase to the Open Oregon Educational Resources program for the 2023-25 biennium. The bill will have to go through a series of steps and there will be opportunities to testify throughout this process: 

    1. The bill started in the House Higher Education Committee. 

    2. It is now in the Joint Ways & Means Committee.

    3. We are asking for it to be assigned to the Joint Ways & Means Committee’s Education Subcommittee for consideration in the state’s overall budget. 

    4. It will pass both chambers of Oregon’s Legislative Assembly.

    5. It will go to Governor Kotek’s desk to be signed into law. 

    Background reading 

  • 19 Mar 2023 10:03 AM | ORTESOL Communications (Administrator)

    Find Your Legislators

    Dear Fellow TESOLers,

    The budget process is in full swing in the 118th Congress and we have opportunity to build support for the funding of multilingual learners of English (MLE) in our public education system.

    The President has called for a 34% increase to ESEA Title III funding, but to ensure that funding keeps pace not only with inflation but also the numbers of learners, the budget amount needs to reach $2 Billion.

    As part of this process, the House of Representatives is reviewing appropriations and we have support from Representatives Garcia, Craig, Espaillat, and Grijalva in the form of a Dear Colleague sign-on letter (see attached).

    Please encourage your Representative to sign-on and support our MLEs! Time is of the essence as the sign-on letter is open only through close of business 21 March 2023!

    To send a letter to your representative, visit our Advocacy Action Center now by clicking the link below.

    TESOL Advocacy Action Center

    We look forward to seeing many of you Portland next week and hope to see you at the Advocacy and Colleague sessions (see here). 


    Jeff Hutcheson
    Director, Advocacy & Public Policy

  • 5 Feb 2023 7:59 PM | ORTESOL Communications (Administrator)

    Review of BurlingtonEnglish

    Submitted by Nanci Leiton

    February 4, 2023

    This review was originally written on May 11, 2022, to determine applicability of the curriculum in a specific context. It has been updated to reflect the reviewer’s opinion after adoption and implementation.


    BurlingtonEnglish posits itself as a “standards-based, fully blended curriculum” serving as an “online digital solution for adult language learners.” Intended for use as a tool for in-person learning with digital components to support online learning and practice, BurlingtonEnglish (BE) offers extensive multimodal student learning activities and comprehensive instructor support. 

    With the inevitable integration of AI in the language learning process, this review supports BE as a useful resource for a range of ESOL courses. This review is my opinion after using the program to supplement an Integrated Education and Training (IET) course at Portland Community College. 


    The BE components that have supported my course outcomes are primarily the English Language and Career Readiness materials. Those most relevant to my initial review included:

    • General English - Burlington Core (6 levels, Basics - Advanced)
      Example: Scope & Sequence for High Beginner 

    • Career Exploration and Soft Skills (3 levels, Beginners - Advanced)

    • Grammar (3 levels, Beginners - Advanced)

    • Digital Literacy (List of topics)

    In my mixed-level course, I have used material ranging across 3 Burlington Core levels, and this has worked well with my students at PCC ESOL Levels 4-7, or English Language Proficiency levels (ELPS) 2-4. The ability to assign similar topics at different levels to meet each student where they were was also a plus. I’ve used the Burlington Core component extensively and augmented those modules with grammar and topical vocabulary.

    Additional components that became part of the course and that demonstrate the extent of options available in BE span 2 sets of word lists in the English for Specific Careers modules and CASAS test prep:

    • Prepare for CASAS  With an enormous database of test items, students can take dozens of practice tests without repeating questions. Using BE to prepare students for the exam environment, especially if they are unfamiliar with digital test-taking when they walk into the computer lab on Test Day, helps to lower performance barriers like test anxiety.

    • The Welders Wordlist and Factory/Plant Workers Wordlist, specifically the categories Safety (nouns and PPE) and Tasks (action verbs) became student favorites. I’ve included an example with the accompanying Vietnamese translation here.

    BurlingtonEnglish offers further resources that this reviewer has not yet had the opportunity to use in class, but that look useful in a typical ESL pathway:

    • Readers (high beginner to high intermediate), ranging from Ghandi and Tutankhamen to Frankenstein and Last of the Mohicans. Note: Peers at other institutions who use BE readers have mentioned them as key resources in their classes.

    • English in America (Civics) Internet Safety, Housing, Diversity, Becoming a Citizen, Emergencies and Banking are just a sampling of the topics available in 3 levels.

    • Messaging This feature allows more direct communication between teacher and student, and student and material. Other instructors report using the messaging feature successfully, but I have been using my school’s LMS to post learning activities and link students directly to assigned BE lessons & practice.


    BE offers both in-class lessons and assigned or self-directed student lessons. 

    In-Class lessons are project-able, interactive lessons intended to be led by an instructor. Teachers can easily toggle between in-class and student lessons to demonstrate homework or self-guided practice. Whole group review activities and games keep students engaged and prepare them for independent practice.

    The topics are relevant to adult learners, with level-appropriate grammar points and engaging activities (see the In-Class lesson above about Small Talk at work). Note the range from overview to skills practice to review activity.

    Support elements for instructors include a Course & Lesson Planner, In-Class Lessons, Worksheets and a Progress checker. This Progress checker informs both formative and summative assessments. This chart shows progress for one of my students in Module 4: Money Matters. It denotes time spent (total and in/out of class), best scores, and individual completion rate:

    Multi-modal student lessons are presented as sequential modules that can be assigned by the instructor and repeated by students as desired. Tutorials are available for additional guidance. Among the support are Student Lessons, Vocabulary Practice, a Portfolio and Progress tracker (students see their own progress like the progress tracker Money Matters above).  Much like the satisfaction achieved when closing rings on a fitness tracker, this progress has been enthusiastically pointed out when my students complete their “rings”.


    This tool collects data from every speaking activity and “learns” a student’s pronunciation. With this information, the student can focus on improving their common errors through practice delivered by semi-customized instruction. Popular among students, this tool allows for self-correction in an otherwise labor-intensive area of feedback. See this example for the pronunciation of “h”:


    Wordlists are designed for self-directed practice, but students often need guidance to get started. The wordlists can be sorted to focus on various aspects of the target content, which, in my Welding IET, concerned safety, equipment, scientific terms and measurements, techniques and process, weld features, and so on. For each word, students can listen, see model sentences and practice pronunciation. Wordlists can be personalized so that students can revisit key or problematic vocabulary (circled in red below).

    Here is a sample of how students might engage with the vocabulary. Review activities include pronunciation, spelling, listening, speaking, matching, and more. At any point, students can click on the Pronunciation Course icon (circled in red) to practice specific sounds. (phone screen on L; desktop on R):



    • Accessibility options are easy to find and use on every page. 

    • BE correlates with Oregon Adult College and Career Readiness Standards (OACCRS) and Oregon Adult English Language Proficiency Standards (OAELPS) ensuring WIOA success.

    • Instructions can be translated into student’s L1, established at registration, with a single key tap

    • Translations are available in 63 languages.

    • Graphics and lessons are mobile-friendly and technology and learning are integrated seamlessly.

    • Support and training for instructors is readily available and provided by friendly, helpful trainers.

    • Instructors/students can access the Pronunciation Course at any point in the program. 

    • Tutorials are located on the app. 


    • Site navigation is not intuitive; however, with instruction and prompting, it is easily learned for those with minimal tech skills (learners who are familiar with navigation on their own phones, for example).

    • The speaking exercises require a headset with a mic for best results with the pronunciation trainer. For my IET, these were supplied to the students. Another option might be to use BE in your school’s language lab. 

    • Students who are unfamiliar or uncomfortable with technology will face greater challenges than those who are not. That said, each lesson offers a number of printable handouts, and each module ends with a downloadable assessment. I found that offering a paper worksheet yo accompany each in-class lesson eased tech anxiety for some students. 

    • My students used BE on both their phones and assigned Chromebooks. Early in the course, we spent some class time downloading the BE app and practicing navigation on these devices. After that, students functioned mostly autonomously. Instructors at other levels and institutions report using a more hands-on approach, which has been equally successful. 


    During my initial review, I recommended using the BurlingtonEnglish curriculum with ESOL courses at my institution, and, after using BE for several months, I firmly support BE as a learning resource for ELL adults at multiple levels. Real-world topics and naturally integrated skills with a range of engaging and easy-to-use interactive activities make it popular among students as well. Learners were highly motivated to use the app on their phones; they reported working on assigned tasks during their lunch breaks and in waiting rooms as well as during planned study times both in and out of the classroom. The flexibility BE offers as a cell-friendly platform serves our students well as we move forward in the digital age. 

    I’d like to express appreciation to my ESOL and IET peers at Chemeketa Community College, Rogue Community College, and Blue Mountain Community College for their reflections and comments on using BE in their courses. Some of these instructors have already used BE for years, and their comments encouraged me to expand my use of the program in my own courses.

    Funding for the BurlingtonEnglish curriculum at Portland Community College has been provided by the State of Oregon’s Higher Education Coordinating Commission (HECC) and Community College and Workforce Development. 

    In sum, the more I use BurlingtonEnglish, the more I like it. If you would like an expansion on any part of this review, feel free to contact me or respond on this platform. To request a demo account or learn more about BurlingtonEnglish, contact BE’s representative listed below or visit



    Nanci Leiton, MA TESOL

    ESOL Instructor, Portland Community College

    BurlingtonEnglish in Oregon

    Daphne Lagios

    Teacher Trainer

  • 24 Jan 2023 8:23 AM | ORTESOL Communications (Administrator)

    Contributed by Sandra Banke
    This text is another version of the original message that was approved by the family.

    Teressa Schroeder

    January 6, 1966 - January 18, 2023

    It is with tremendous sadness and grief that I announce our dear friend and colleague, Teressa Schroeder, passed away at 8:00 a.m. on Wednesday, January 18, 2023 at St. Vincent's Hospital in Portland after a courageous and heart-breaking battle with cancer.  She was a bright star, taken away from us way too soon, that we had the singular privilege to work with for many years -- loving, compassionate, generous, and absolutely devoted to her family, friends & students, for whom she always went the extra mile! Teressa was a Portland Community College ESOL instructor and longtime ORTESOL member. We will miss her ebullient and joyful presence in our midst!

    A Celebration of Life service will be held at Sunset Church,14984 NW Cornell Rd, Portland, OR 97229, on Saturday, February 11, 2023 at 2:00 p.m. All are welcome!

    A memorial gathering for PCC colleagues will be announced at a later date.

  • 12 Oct 2022 8:20 AM | ORTESOL Communications (Administrator)

    TESOL Panel on Adult Education

    Submitted by Linda Rasmussen

    Ending Family Literacy Week, the Adult Education Interest Section (AEIS) of TESOL International featured a free webinar with a panel discussion on the current status of Adult TESOL. Three TESOL leaders explained the latest developments.

    For this attendee, the highlight was “Federal Policy and Investment in Adult English Learners” by Judy Mortrude, who provided links to print, video, and downloadable  resources. AEIS described Ms. Mortrude as “a Senior Technical Advisor with World Education, Inc.,” an organization partnering in educational development, and as “the President of the National Coalition for Literacy.” Her 35+ years’ experience in Adult Ed. in state and national organizations clearly enabled Ms. Mortrude to demystify the current status and US funding of Adult ESOL. 

    • Over 50% of the people now served in Adult Education programs are English Language Learners (ELL’s). 

    • As our students’ advocates, we can join the nationwide effort to increase learning opportunities for all adults with Educate and Elevate

    • Federal funding for adult education is distributed by states and then local agents by applications. For funding per state, Ms. Mortrude referred us to the National Association of State Directors of Adult Education (NASDAE): Oregon

    • To focus the nation on manifesting “integration and inclusion” in education, Biden has issued a Presidential Order to “restore strength and inclusivity” in education. 

    • The Digital Equity Act, “a big investment,” according to Ms. Mortrude, benefits digitally underserved populations, like ELL’s, with $2.7 billion.

    • Toward this direction, World Education, Inc.’s project “Transforming Immigration Equity” focuses on remote learning, which many in Oregon’s TESOL community have found to expand our reach, during the COVID -19 quarantines

    The other panelists were Cynthia Kilpatrick, Assistant Professor of TESOL training at The University of Texas-Arlington and Director of the English Language Institute, as well as Hali Massey, ESOL Specialist at Virginia Commonwealth University's Adult Learning Resource Center and the Adult Education Special Interest Chair for VATESOL. Both of their presentations, “MA TESOL & Community ESOL: Partnerships for Future Practitioners & Community Language Learners” and “Serving Refugees in Adult Education in Virginia,” respectively, added much to the discussion. Thus, this brief ends hopefully, that when available, a recording of “TESOL's AEIS Presents: Adult ESOL Education in the US and Canada” will be shared on the ORTESOL website for your complete viewing.
  • 9 Aug 2022 11:41 AM | ORTESOL Communications (Administrator)

    Snapshot of an Adult Ed Classroom: Technology, Post-COVID

    Author: Dr. Cassie DeFillipo, Klamath Community College

    In the post-COVID world, the use of technology to teach online or hybrid English classes to adults has become more common than ever. Serving a rural community with around 1,500 students in Southern Oregon, Klamath Community College (KCC) had a large advantage entering the pandemic—it was already using some technology to educate individuals in its region prior to 2020. My classroom was built with an instructor computer and a large screen, which allowed us to quickly transition classes during the pandemic.

    When I started my position as an ESOL instructor at a community college in the middle of the pandemic, I first taught using Zoom on my office computer. One month later, however, we adopted Hybrid-Flexible classes, or HyFlex classes, which allow students the option of attending sessions in person, participating online, or doing both. I taught in the classroom, and my students had the choice to come in-person or via Zoom.

    Figure 1 : The view of the classroom from the camera lens

    Figure 1 : The view of the classroom from the camera lens

    Figure 2: The 3-camera setup facing the teacher in the classroom.

    Figure 2: The 3-camera setup facing the teacher in the classroom.

    After teaching HyFlex classes for almost two years, I have five tips to share with other teachers of adult learners about using technology in the post-COVID classroom.

    Tips for Using Technology in the Classroom

    1) Update the technology in your classroom. It doesn’t need to be highly advanced, but a good camera or cameras can make class much more interesting and engaging for the students. It also creates a wide range of learning skills and techniques that teachers can employ in class. In my classroom, I have one camera connected to my large screen in the front of the classroom, and I can flip the camera around to show the classroom whenever students are talking. This allows my students at home to feel like they are in the classroom. I also added two extra cameras after I had a camera stop working mid-class. Having extra cameras means I am always ready for technological difficulties and can more quickly recover from them.

    Figure 3: A student's view of the classroom.

    2) Get comfortable using the online tools on Zoom or your chosen platform. Using Zoom, I can create breakout rooms, write on the screen, and connect information using arrows and other shapes. Employing these tools serves as a form of scaffolding for lower-level students and allows you to support your words with visuals. Be ready to troubleshoot when you have technological issues and find training when possible. Don’t be afraid to touch buttons to figure out how to use the technology.

    3) Allow students to catch up when they miss classes by recording your classes. I record every session and add it to our class Canvas page. It is available for students to access for a few weeks. While not everyone likes being recorded, my students have overall been happy to have access to class recordings. I try to support the comfort of the students by telling those at home that it is perfectly fine not to use their camera during class. In addition, there are some areas in the classroom where students can sit where they will not be seen by the camera.

    4) Teach students how to use the technology they will need to use in class. This is the hardest step and the step that we are still working on in my department. I have found some techniques that help. First, you can show students how to use their Zoom in a one-on-one or group orientation. If your institution has IT support, make sure students know how to access the support. Finally, you can use a video editing software, such as Screencast-o-matic, to make students a video where you give directions on how to use the technology. Screencast-o-matic is a paid program, but your institution may already have access to a similar program you can use to make videos.

    Figure 4: With Screencast-o-Maticand similar programs, I can make students short and simple videos showing them how to use class resources like Zoom or Canvas.

    5) Lastly, explore new pathways that incorporate technology into the classroom to support your students’ needs. By incorporating technology like Flip, Wordwall, and Kahoot into your classroom, you have an opportunity to teach the same information in a more engaging way. Getting students to use this new technology can be challenging, but my students have requested that I incorporate more of it into our class. While several students feel uncomfortable navigating technology, they also enjoy using it in class.

    Figure 5: Kahoot is a great way to make reviewing grammar fun and exciting.

    Kahoot is a support you can use in your classroom

    Two years after COVID changed the world of teaching, it has also changed the lived experience of teachers. In my rural area, these Hyflex classes are likely here to stay for many reasons. They allow stay-at-home parents to attend classes while home with their children. They allow individuals who live 30 minutes or more away from the school to save time and gas money by attending class online. They also allow students to get extra in-person support whenever they need it, either in person or via Zoom. COVID has caused disruption, but it has also served as an opportunity—both for students and teachers. The wide range of available technological resources can be used as tools to support focused and engaging learning in the post-COVID classroom.

    Author: Dr. Cassie DeFillipo, an ORTESOL Member, is a full-time ESL Instructor at Klamath Community College. She earned her PhD in Anthropology and Development Studies at the University of Melbourne.

  • 29 Mar 2022 7:48 PM | ORTESOL Communications (Administrator)

    No Return to Soviet Winter

    By Nanci Leiton

    The weather was cold and blustery the day I stepped ashore in Odessa, a port city on the Black Sea. Snow blew across the sidewalks and collected in frozen drifts under the eaves of the gray block buildings as we scurried along streets with other brave souls bundled up against the frigid temperatures. 

    It was 1989, and this was the Soviet Socialist Republic of Ukraine. My guides were fellow students, Oksana and Tatiana from Odessa Polytechnic University. They took me to see tourist highlights like the Potemkin Stairs and Primorsky Boulevard but, honestly, it was so cold, much of what I remember is ducking into cafes and bistros every few blocks to stamp our feet and drink hot tea (and turn down shots of vodka from friendly gents) in an effort to warm our numb fingers and toes. Outside, we hurried past barren shops with lines for staples like bread and milk, and we avoided the vendors hawking fur-lined caps and cheap Soviet military memorabilia. Those three days were a blur of ice and snow, friendly people and limited resources.

    Fast-forward 10 years, and I’ve now worked in another country of the FSU (Former Soviet Union) for three years, this time after the Singing Revolution. My Latvian colleagues at Ķeguma Komercnovirziena Vidusskolu remind me daily of what it was like to live under 50 years of Soviet rule: the nationalization of their family land to create the great kolkhozy (Stalin’s collective farms); the theft of Baltic seaside homes and cities—once European vacation destinations—for the Soviet military elite; the deportations to Soviet gulags; the oppression of the Latvian language, folk traditions and culture. That I can converse in basic Latvian brings more than one pensioner to tears because they hadn’t heard their language spoken willingly by foreigners for decades. 

    Later, as the Volunteer Coordinator in the Peace Corps office for the Baltic States, my travels took me to Estonia and Lithuania where I observed similar reactions and the high value placed on language as part of cultural identity. In direct reaction to the intentional “russification” of the republics, the first thing that nascent governments changed after independence were the street signs. From Russian cyrillic to latviešu valoda (Latvian, a language in the Balto-Slavic family), lietuvių kalba (Lithuanian, another Balto-Slavic language) or Eesti keel (Estonian, more closely related to Finnish). This switch was an instant and visible indicator of cultural pride and identity in each state. 

    These practices were repeated across the FSU; from the Baltics to Turkmenistan, countries took back their national identities even as ethnic Russians remained where they had settled, marrying and building lives in these (returned) states. (In 2014, about 17% of the Ukrainian population was ethnic Russian.) Ukraine declared independence in 1990, after almost 70 years under Moscow’s thumb. Now, we see the rise of tyranny–the effort to take back a country that made its wish for autonomy known more than 30 years ago–as the Kremlin shells city after city in Ukraine.

    We know these actions disturb our friends and neighbors here in Oregon. One of my former students manages the cosmetics aisle at my local Fred Meyer as she completes her economics degree. When I saw her last week, she confessed that she’s stopped visiting her favorite “Russian” store (owned by Ukrainians) because she’s ashamed of her Russian heritage. My Ukrainian neighbors across the street are glued to their social media and the news, rarely leaving the house with their preschool-age children whom we used to see playing in the yard, waving at the garbage truck and chasing the neighborhood cats. Fear for their friends and family back home rules their lives. I feel helpless to respond except to show my support as a neighbor and friend.

    However, my fellow Retired Peace Corps Volunteers have extensive coverage of ways to help the people they know and love in their adopted homeland. (See the link below for locally-recommended and vetted organizations through which to advocate and donate.) In an effort to do SOMETHING, I asked the president of TESOL-Ukraine what teachers in Oregon can do to help our peers there. Here is her reply, in part: 

    Dear Ms. Nanci Leiton,

    We are thankful to the TESOL Oregon and you personally for the desire to demonstrate your solidarity with TESOL -Ukraine and support us in these difficult times for the whole country including all English language teachers of Ukraine.

    TESOL-Ukraine embraces nearly 800 English language teachers all around the country, including secondary school and college teachers as well as university educators. Recently, due to the military conflict almost all students and school students from the eastern and southern parts of the country had to flee to the western part of Ukraine and abroad; more than 250 schools and university buildings have been damaged and ruined. Every second child of Ukraine has immigrated abroad. In these conditions, we are trying now to resume classes at schools and universities online. It goes without saying that teachers are scared, exhausted, disorientated. At the same time we have to calm down and support our students.

    I believe, in these uncertain times, any help from our friendly colleagues in TESOL Oregon will be highly appreciated by us …even the fact you remember us and have made an effort to connect and help.


    Olena Ilienko, TESOL-Ukraine President

    I don’t want to see Ukraine return to the cold bleakness of the brief winter days I spent in Odessa so long ago. Although it may seem obvious that modern Russia is not the USSR, it’s not my Western perspective that matters. Listen to the people who have lived through Russia’s aggressive tactics before. These are real people trying to resume their lives, “scared, exhausted and disorientated.” Listen to the voices of those who thought they’d escaped cultural “rehabilitation”, deportations of their relatives to Siberian gulags, and decades smothered by a blanket of Soviet snow; then reach out to your neighbors, students, and fellow teachers. Lend a hand, a buck or a voice.  

    Photos: The Singing Revolution (Riga, 1989) and Nanci's Business English class (Ķegums, 1997)

    Resources & Recommendations

    RPCV Alliance for Ukraine (List of ways to help)


    Ukraine’s history and its centuries long road to independence

    Language as the core value of Latvian culture: The Australian Experience by Jānis Priedkalns in the Journal of Baltic Studies; available through your school or library at this link:

    Ethnic Russians in the former soviet republics

    The Singing Revolution -

    Ukraine’s economic crisis: A historical perspective 

    Humanitarian Situation Report (UNHCR) 

    Soviet Russia's Persecution of Latvia By Alexander V. Berkis in Institute for Historical Review (1988) 

    Soviet Repression and Deportations in the Baltic States 

    The challenges of re-Ukrainianization: Why and how we must support Ukrainian language  

  • 17 Jan 2022 8:58 PM | ORTESOL Communications (Administrator)

    Doing Drills That Engage

    by Linda Rasmussen

    Entering the classroom, students are at their marks: seated side-by-side at the edge of a table, where individual alphabet charts lay in front of them. Some of these adults are even smiling and glance up at their instructor, showing eagerness to practice the drills that start with “Ready, set . . . . “ and a letter is named that they touch or point to on their charts. Classroom aids walk around, checking the students’ accuracy, and the practice builds to spelling words aloud in unison, with all actively participating – in drills!

    That’s the beginning of Patrick McDade’s classes in People-Places-Things (find at Instructors use a drill that doesn’t kill (and you can quote me on that). That’s a dream come true for some teachers, especially of language. Students need repetitive practice but how can we engage them enough to do it?

    For a more immediately accessible example of engaging drills, Multnomah County Library offers the following through Kanopy:

    “The Cartoon Classroom: Korea, Part of the Series: Teachers of the World.” National Film and Sound Archive of Australia (1993). Kanopy through Multnomah County Library. Accessed 12/11/2021.

    Teacher Choi Young-Jae mesmerizes viewers with apparently complete participation by his middle schoolers. The fast-paced cartooning and drilling is just the kind of thing kids see on TV or in gaming. It’s also what we might compete with when getting students’ involved in learning.

    Such teachers developed these techniques with preparation and practice. In the same way, we can all apply some similar method. For example, when examining a textbook page or worksheet, instead of just planning to display and define new vocabulary, we could list ways to exercise with the material. Consider the vocabulary “paper,” “book”, “pen,” “notebook,” and “worksheet.” After defining each word as usual, we can direct students to point, touch, pick up, or otherwise display the items as each one is named. The teacher does the same, and all can confirm the answers, as they check each other, too. Then we ask volunteers to call out for the group. Building momentum, we ask what each word begins with, ends with, count the syllables, spell the words in unison/choral reading, and chant the words.

    By the end of this pep rally, students can independently practice and reach a level of mastery over new words, rather than anxiety at actually facing them in further activities, such as completing the worksheet. People who like to lead will have the opportunity, and those fearful of speaking (alone) have lots of opportunity to collaborate with other voices. “What else can we do with these words and letters?” or “What more do you see or know about these words and letters?” might conclude the activity, invite creativity, and provide further techniques.

    With preparation, one can lead this method, and with practice, one could learn to do some spontaneously and throughout lessons, so preparation is reduced and flexibility increased. That achieves two more goals teachers tend to have. We use what we have and play with or extend it. What is you envision? Can you tell us what happens when you try it?

  • 19 Dec 2021 8:20 PM | ORTESOL Communications (Administrator)

    WestEd, a non-profit research and development organization, is partnering with King’s Peak Technology to conduct research and evaluation as part of their Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase II grant from the US Department of Education. LoomVue is a web application which transforms any webpage into diglot weave text, allowing English Language Learners (ELs) to read interesting and advanced content rather than oversimplified elementary-style books.

    For ejemplo, this frase blends English y Española words together.

    LoomVue is designed specifically to engage and motivate students as they learn a new language, while providing teachers with actionable analytics to track student performance.  The purpose of this feasibility study is to garner insight into teachers’ impressions of the product and dashboard’s feasibility for classroom use and their view of its ability to support ELs’ learning and attitudes toward reading. We would also like to gain feedback on what modifications teachers believe would maximize the product’s applicability for classroom use.

    The research study will take place in early spring 2022. Participating teachers will attend a training, distribute and collect parent opt-out forms, aid students in setting up LoomVue, and administer pre- and post-surveys and assessments.  During the study, teachers will be asked to have their students complete 40 minutes of ‘free reading’ using the LoomVue tool and 30 minutes of studying vocabulary words on the LoomVue website per week, for 8 weeks.

    To participate, teachers must: a) be a 6th grade teacher of Spanish-speaking ELD students, b) have approximately 15-20 Spanish-speaking EL students enrolled in your classroom, and c) have students with 1:1 access to internet connected computers, laptops, or Chromebooks. Eligible teachers will be accepted into the study on a first-come, first served basis. 

    Participating teachers will receive $200 for completion of all study activities! 

    If you are interested in participating, please fill out an interest form at this link:


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