Oregon Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages

  • 26 Dec 2019 3:00 PM | Anonymous

    by Helen Johnson, TIUA, Salem, OR, USA

    I am a Senior instructor in the American Studies Program (ASP) at Tokyo International University of America (TIUA) located at Willamette University in Salem, Oregon. The ASP program is a one-year English immersion study abroad program for students of Tokyo International University (TIU) in  Kawagoe, Japan.

    I recently presented a teaching tip, the Readlang web tool, at the Fall 2019 ORTESOL Conference in Oregon. My presentation came to fruition from a workshop I attended at the World Languages Studio at Willamette University which is a place where students can use numerous resources to support and enhance their foreign language learning efforts, to engage in learning about other cultures, and to participate in cultural events. At this workshop, I was introduced to a free web tool, Readlang, which functions as an instantaneous translator of text, dictionary and vocabulary builder offered in various languages.

    Recent literature indicates that in the era of technology the language learner will opt to use an online translator, dictionary, e- tool, or an app to facilitate language learning. According to Jin & Deifell (2013), “online dictionaries are most often consulted when learners are creating and/or deciphering digitally mediated written texts.” Given that the Readlang web tool is user friendly and ideal for any language learner,  I decided to pilot Readlang in my (B1-B2: CEFR) reading class at TIUA.

    As educators, we know that in any given class, even though the class may consist of a specific level of language proficiency, we will have an array of students with different capabilities and skills within that level. Readlang was an effective tool for my class; it allowed my students to read any online material, ebook or text that one can import from the internet while using the Readlang tool to translate words and phrases, and check vocabulary definitions while reading. For every word or phrase one clicks, vocabulary lists and flashcards are automatically created to allow for vocabulary review.

    The Readlang blog http://blog.readlang.com/about/ is informative and very interesting with details of the history and creator of Readlang.  There is a variety of features https://readlang.com/features albeit some of the advanced features may require a paid subscription.  The Beginners Guide to Readlang Tutorial https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I10qWoQEi5U offers step by step instructions on how to get started and create a free account.  There is a Facebook account as well: https://www.facebook.com/readlang/.  I continue to use Readlang in my classes to support, enhance and evaluate the progress of my students. Readlang is a teaching tip worth exploring in the language learning process.


    Jin, L., & Deifell, E. (2013). Foreign language learners' use and perception of online dictionaries: A survey study. Journal of Online Learning and Teaching, Fall. Retrieved from http://jolt.merlot.org/vol9no4/jin_1213.pdf

  • 16 Nov 2019 10:02 AM | Anonymous

    We have been living out the mission of ORTESOL in many ways over the last year. Here are just a few of the achievements of members of our all-volunteer board of directors.

    ● Hosted “Empowering Teachers, Empowering Learners” a spring workshop at Clackamas Community College’s main campus with close to 100 participants, including the AVID Student Spotlight, hosted by K12 SIG Chair, Patrick Ahern.

    ● Established the “Advocacy” page on our website under the direction of Jessie Jimenez, our Advocacy SIG Chair, and proudly sponsored ESL Awareness Week, March 10-16, 2019 with a proclamation from Governor Kate Brown’s office.

    ● Advocated for Oregon teachers in Washington D.C. by meeting with staff members of three representatives and both Oregon senators to discuss the impact of policy on teachers and learners in Oregon. Two Oregon lawmakers subsequently co-sponsored the Reaching English Learners Act, which will provide resources to better equip educators to identify and instruct English learners.

    ● Walked with Portland Parks and Recreation’s Walk with Immigrants and Refugees.

    ● Walked at the “Red for Ed” rally in support of funding for K-12.

    ● Advocacy Chair, Jessie Jimenez, attended the TESOL Advocacy Summit in D.C.

    ● Vice-President, Davida Jordan, awarded two ORTESOL members, Kelsey Daniels and Maiko Hata, the James Nattinger Travel Grant to attend the TESOL Convention.

    ● Gave seven free TESOL memberships (value $98).

    ● And journal editors Verena Sutherland and Jennifer Morris Published the ORTESOL JOURNAL Volume 36, 2019. Check out current & past issues at ortesol.org/journal.

    We look forward to continuing to support all ESOL professionals in Oregon. As we look ahead to 2020, Davida Jordan will lead ORTESOL as President, Jessie Jimenez will be Vice President, and Delpha Thomas will be staying on the board in a post-presidency role. If you are passionate about leadership and service, consider joining the ORTESOL board!  

  • 17 Sep 2019 8:24 PM | Anonymous

    by Kelsey Daniels

    This past March, I had the privilege of being awarded the James Nattinger Travel Grant to attend the TESOL International Convention in Atlanta, Georgia (thank you, thank you, ORTESOL!). Given that this was my first ever convention, I was absolutely filled to the brim with the vim and vigor of a very eager beaver—and I was determined to use this opportunity to learn everything I could, meet everyone I could, and fill every moment I could to the maximum. So, strapping on my shoes and slinging my laptop bag over my shoulder, I marched out the door of my Airbnb before 7 a.m. (that’s 4 a.m. on the west coast!) on the first morning of the conference armed and ready to take it all in. 

    And…by about 3:34 p.m. that afternoon, all my gusto and gumption had all but petered out as I sat in the lobby of the Georgia World Congress Center like a deer caught in the headlights, scrolling through the TESOL app unsure about which of the 21 talks to go to at 4 p.m., which of the 6000 attendees I should introduce myself to next, and which compartment of my brain I could possibly squeeze more new information into.

    Obviously, I write in jest, but—in all sincerity—an international conference of this size is truly overwhelming even for the most enthusiastic of us in the bunch. So, I’ve decided to summarize here what I learned in Atlanta about how to survive and thrive at the TESOL International Convention. I give you below five of my best suggestions for making the most of your time at TESOL. And, like any good teacher, I’ve tried to allocate you with alliterations to alleviate the trouble of trying to remember all my tremendous trips, I mean, tips! Hope you enjoy!

    1. Apply the app

    My first piece of advice is to apply the app. By that I mean, download the TESOL app—familiarize yourself with it, search for attendees with it, message other attendees with it, find presentations with it, schedule the talks you want to see with it. Seriously, this app was so useful. So, use it!

    1. Find a friend

    My second piece of advice is to find a friend at the conference who can help you acclimate. I was the only person from my school who went to Atlanta, but I was able to find a few friends from a previous school I taught at who were also attending. These colleagues were lifesavers when I first arrived. They helped me get from the airport to the convention center, store my luggage, check in, go to the first session, and eat dinner—all in the span of about 3 hours. Whew! After that first night, we all adventured around the conference separately, but I was so grateful for their help in learning how to navigate the conference—in fact, points #3 and #4 came from them!

    1. Choose a cherry

    My third piece of advice is to “choose a cherry.” Let me explain. As I mentioned above, the information available to you at the convention is astonishing. There is absolutely no way any human being could drink non-stop from that fountain and retain it all. So, decide ahead of time what you’re looking for from the conference. Narrow your focus to a few topics of interest for the week. For example, because I had recently started working at a community college for the first time, I chose to prioritize talks that would help me understand the uniqueness of the community college ESL landscape a bit better. This simple heuristic helped me choose between dozens of simultaneous talks more easily.

    Eventually, I used this same principle of “choosing a cherry” within each session as well. At first, I was feverishly taking notes on everything each presenter said, but I soon wearied under the weight of information overload. So, instead, I began to listen for the cherry on top that I would take away from that session. You don’t need to remember everything (indeed, you can’t!), so just listen and ask yourself, “What is one thing I can take away from this session of the conference?” Write that down.  

    1. Sit on the sidelines

    My fourth piece of advice is to sit on the sidelines. Now, I do not mean to say that you should not participate fully in the conference. Rather, I mean that, literally, if possible, sit on the edge of the aisle in the sessions you attend. Unfortunately, you will regularly have to choose between 3 or 4 concurrent talks that you really want to go to, and occasionally you will need to slip out of one to go to another. Sometimes you didn’t realize this was an hour-and-forty-five-minute session, and there’s another talk you’re dying to hear in an hour across the hall. Other times the session description was unclear, and now you realize that you’d prefer to spend this 30 minutes in a session that’s more relevant to your work. Whatever the case may be, it’s best if you sit near the edge of the row so you can exit respectfully and quietly if necessary. 

    1. Network with (n)tension

    Finally, my fifth piece of advice is that you network with (n)tension (please pardon the poor punctuation—I was desperate for another alliteration!). With 6000 attendees at TESOL, it would be unrealistic to think that all of your random introductions pre- and post-sessions are going to spontaneously lead to productive collaborations in the future (I lost track of how many times I introduced myself to someone new after about 168). Relying on these chance meetings to connect you with a future mentor, collaborator, employer, or employee in the field is silly. Instead, use the TESOL app to strategize about who it is that you would like to connect with. Reach out to them and ask if you can grab coffee for 30 minutes. Maybe they work at a school you would like to; maybe they work in a subfield or a role you’re exploring; maybe they gave a talk on a topic you want to know more about. Regardless, be intentional about who you meet with and how. Those 5, 30-minute, strategically-planned, coffee breaks are much more likely to shape your career long after the conference than any of the 30, 5-minute, chance encounters before and after each session. So, be intentional, and go ye therefore and network!

  • 27 May 2019 1:04 PM | Anonymous

    by  Kara Sappington, ORTESOL Post-President and Associate Director – Corban Language Institute

    I knew going into my trip that I would have a “formative” experience at the U.S./Mexico Border but I did not realize how challenged I would be to see in agendaless wonder, immerse in community, and process what contending and restoration could look like both on the border and in my own community in Oregon.  

    I had the privilege to participate in an immersion trip with other professors, leadership, staff and students from my university.  It was an intense three days of hearing personal stories from immigrants, learning about different perspectives on the topic of immigration, and seeing creative ways communities have worked to meet needs -- an immersive experience that would have otherwise been inaccessible to me.    

    Two native women from Tijuana shared about both the positives and negatives that have stemmed from non-profit and faith based groups coming to their region.  They stressed the importance of relationship and having both parties contribute to help solve a problem. We walked thru part of the city that has medical tourism and a red light district filled with brothels.  One woman caught my eye as she stood with a short skit and heels reading a book on the sidewalk in front of a club. I wondered what her story was, what access to education she had, and what her hopes were for the future.  Each person had a story.

    At a local café, I was able to hear from two Dreamer moms who had been deported from the U.S. and separated from their children.  Dreamer children, also referred to as DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), are those who were raised in the United States since before they were 16.  One Dreamer mom had a short term visa to the United States but when they went to Mexico she was unable to enter back into the U.S. It has now been 10 years, she has experienced her children getting married and having kids all by distance.  She said how it was hard each time they had a video call to be strong for her family. Dreamer Moms USA/Tijuana was formed in 2014 to support other deported parents whose children are still in the United States with services offered include legal assistance, housing referrals, therapy, food pantry, and other support.  

    Another population that hit close to my heart was deported Veterans.  Hector Barajas-Verela is the director of DVHS (Deported Veterans Support House). The mission of the Deported Veterans Support House is to “support deported veterans staying at the “bunker” on their path to self-sufficiency by providing assistance in the realms of food, clothing and shelter as they adjust to life in their new country of residence.  Ultimately, they hope to see an end to the need of our services as people advocate for political legislation, which would prohibit the deportation of United States Veterans, both former and current.” I met a veteran that was honorable discharged after serving in Vietnam and continued additional years serving in the coast guard. He understood at recruitment that he could gain citizenship while serving in the military but it appeared there were not clear steps or support on what he needed to do to become a U.S. citizen.   

    There are thousands of men, women and children who continue to make their way to Tijuana with hopes of finding a job, resettling or seeking entrance into the United States.  I was able to visit and stay overnight at a men’s shelter, Casa del Migrante, that supports deportees and migrant men. They process around 10,000 men at the shelter each year and provide holistic services including basic care, education, employment services, legal advice and counseling.  Here is an old video on Casa del Migrante shelter: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wvVHlcFKI84   Historically, single men have been the primary populations but over the last few years the demographics have changed.  This required a quick response from the community to house women and children. I was able to visit the Salvation Army Women’s Shelter, which has been in existence for four years now in Tijuana to meet the needs of migrants and deportees.  A mom from Guatemala with her 11 year old son and 5 year old daughter shared her story of feeing the local gangs who were targeting her son and threatening her family. Families like her need to make a decision if they will continue their application for asylum even though their chances for approval are low or look for other options for resettlement.  

    As shelters continue to grow in the Tijuana area, there is a new effort to have better collaboration, sustainability and empowerment across the dignified shelters network.  For example, a local orphanage was often visited by groups that would bring junk food. This is high cost, not healthy for the children and youth and can promote a dependable attitude. As an alternative, the dry dead ground on the campus was revitalized and now houses a garden.  The children and youth have been taught sustainability and now are grow many items in the garden.

    The last day of my formative experience I got to hear from two very different groups: U.S. Border Patrol and Border Angels.  The U.S. Border Patrol shared about their goal of “catching the big fish” and tracking the cartels. It was evident that there would be a benefit on additional funding for judges to process the back log of immigration and asylum requests, additional agents, updated holding facilities that could accommodate women and children and more resources at the ports of entry.  Border Angels is a humanitarian and activist group that was formed in 1986. Enrique, Executive Director of Border Angels, is quoted as saying, “If you’re not outraged, you’re not watching”.

    As I traveled to the border, this was really a physical illustration of the walls that have developed in hearts.  One leader said it well, “walls in our hearts, breeds walls outside”. At Friendship Park you could see the pillar that years ago was the only line separating the U.S. and Mexico Border.  Now you can see two layers of fence that separate San Diego and Tijuana. One thing I continued to remind myself throughout the journey is how important it is to hear personal stories and understand both side of a controversial issue such as immigration and not form opinions by one media source.   

    There are 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States. (DHS.gov)  Immigration isn’t an issue reserved to the halls of politics, it’s a daily reality in your city. How might schools, businesses and non-profit organizations be mobilized as an instrument of peace in this human reality? How are students and families in your classroom being impacted?  How might we approach immigration from a human perspective?

    During our debrief, we got to hear from Adam who was a math teacher for 12 years and now works with helping bring together communities to address immigration issues.  As a teacher he didn’t realize how close the issues of immigration were until he was helping some of his students apply for college and financial aid and they didn’t have social security numbers.  He saw a need and continued to follow doors that were opened and now uses his understanding of education and desire to help others in a new way. Another woman shared about how she got involved in a community center when she moved to a new neighborhood in Tijuana.  Her Zumba instructor approached her about tutoring her and having English conversation after the classes. This relationship allowed for her to advocate when the Zumba instructor had a confusing insurance bill from a hospital visit. Having opportunities to see, immerse and contend can come from the classroom, the community or personal relationships.   

    The trip compelled me to move the topic of immigration from a polarizing, political issue to a human, social issue to really think about how I can be more aware, advocate and care for the strangers or students in my midst.  I am continually challenged by how I can see, immerse and creatively contend for those in my sphere of influence.

    What can you do to learn more?

    • Walk around your neighborhood with open eyes.  Meet those around your neighborhood, community centers and other spheres of influence.  Take time to learn and listen.

    • Learn about immigration resources in your area.  

    • Learn about Oregon programs such as ORSAA (Oregon Student Aid Application), which allows Oregon residents who are undocumented to apply for higher education financial aid.

    • Learn about relevant House Bills in the Oregon State Legislature.  For example:

      • House Bill 2015 would eliminate the requirement that a person provide proof of legal residency to obtain a non-commercial driver’s license, driver’s permit, or ID card.

      • House Bill 2508 would requires Department of Human Services to award grants to refugee resettlement agencies to provide specified services to refugees.

      • House Bill 2019 establishes a fund for Student Success in education.

    How can you see?  Where can you sit and listen, longer than you normally would? How can you creatively contend by advocating?    

  • 5 Feb 2019 11:25 AM | ORTESOL Info (Administrator)

    The Current Situation

    We all know that the recent immigration crackdown, already strong under the Obama Administration, has intensified under the Trump administration. In the news, we hear of family separations, child detention camps, and troops awaiting caravans of refugees at the border to keep them out. It's hard to know what to do to help our students.  

    We know that this crackdown is generating widespread fear within immigrant communities and ESOL programs in Oregon are being directly impacted.  However, there is  a growing network of informed, engaged, and connected ESOL professionals and volunteers in our state who contribute significantly to the safety and well-being of immigrant communities and of our student base. Collaboration and action to mitigate this difficult situation are needed within our field. You can join us!

    Five Steps We Can Take Now

    Here are five specific actions that you, as an ESOL professional, and your program or institution can take to protect our vulnerable immigrant and refugee communities, and in order to carry out these five steps, please click here to get a PDF with more resources like materials for a KYR workshop:

    1.  Encourage your institution to publicly declare itself a “Safe Haven” or “Sanctuary” site.  Such a resolution lays out the institution’s policies on its handling of personal student data and how school personnel will respond to ICE agents.  This will help allay student fears about ICE’s presence (Immigration & Customs Enforcement) on or near school grounds. Publicize this status on campus in multiple languages.   See a link to Portland Community College’s public statement in the resource list to use as a model.

    2.  Organize “Know Your Rights” workshops (KYR).   Anyone residing in the US, not just citizens, is protected by the 4th, 5th and 6th amendments to the constitution.  It is essential for our students to understand what their rights are in the current climate.  KYR content is relevant to civics and citizenship instruction and in most courses, this material can be integrated while staying within curriculum requirements.  If workshops can be scheduled during class time, they will be more effective in reaching a greater number of students. Offer printed “Know Your Rights” handouts & wallet cards in locations where students and their families can easily take them.  Make curricular materials that include KYR content available to teaching staff so that they can integrate it into classroom instruction. See “Resources” at the end for the names of local organizations that provide KYR trainers and for links to online curricula and materials.

    3. Collaborate with community organizations that serve and advocate for immigrant and refugee populations.  Community groups often have direct experience with and knowledge of the reality that students and their families face.  They can serve as informants to ESL programs and may also be able to extend their services through school networks. Collaboration with these organizations will provide a multi-faceted approach, offering the most safety and support for those at risk.  See “Resources” for contact information for local and national organizations.

    4. Establish a safe environment inside the classroom and on campus.  Provide professional development to staff and instructors on legal issues related to immigration, the school’s responsibilities, referrals and how to enhance emotional safety.  For example, staff needs to know that they cannot provide legal advice (immigration attorneys must do that), that immigration status should generally not be requested nor recorded.  They should also familiarize themselves with students’ constitutional rights and employ strategies for creating emotional safety.

    5. Provide financial aid information for undocumented & DACA students (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals).   These students are not eligible for federal financial aid to attend college.  However, there are scholarships and aid available in Oregon through the “Office of Student Access & Completion”.  See https://oregonstudentaid.gov

    Thank you for your interest in this issue!

    Kathleen Holloway – ESL Instructor, Clackamas Community College


    I got my start in ESL as a volunteer when the wave of refugees from SE Asia arrived.  Since then, I have worked with students from every corner of the world as an instructor and volunteer coordinator.

  • 27 Nov 2018 8:50 AM | ORTESOL Info (Administrator)

    My middle school students use readworks.org which follows up some reading passages with the sentence frame “What I Learned.” I would like to answer that for the November 2018 ORTESOL Fall Conference because IT WAS GREAT and I (have so far) learned a lot  -- how about you? I’m trying to continue learning by contacting presenters and colleagues further about the sessions I could not attend or subjects they introduced me to aside the sessions.

    Although teaching exclusively part-time online right now, I cannot say I was curious about the theme of the conference, “Navigating Change in TESOL,” but my interest was quickly piqued. Tutoring individuals from my living room has not seemed like a significant contribution or an advancement in teaching.  Have you ever felt that way at some point, and did it prompt a change? Others’ careers fascinate me so I looked forward to features like the Friday Navigating Change panel. The English Learner and Equity Specialist at Oregon Dept. of Ed., Taffy Carlisle brought up issues and needs of ELLs that I realized were addressed by online teaching. Ms. Carlisle said the key to service is to “go to their homes,” which I am doing, every day in every lesson. I latched onto that idea and referred to it and others in my own presentation, “Easy Online TESOL.”

    In sessions I managed to attend, I heard more pedagogical and career-affirming messages. Did you find anything similar? Presenting “Tech Skills Employers Want and Students Need,” Professor Susan Gaer revealed to me that my use of technology develops skills transferrable to my clients’ (current and potential) work and further study. Not only have I guided unfamiliar Skype users, introduced tech tools, and taught PowerPoint use, but engineering and IT professionals who I have tutored frequently teach me tech skills that I later convey to other students when necessary. Obviously online teaching exceeds “tech for tech’s sake”, as Kaitlin Lucas instructed in her “Web Tools for Classroom Differentiation.” Moreover that differentiation is the hallmark of my lessons and recommended in experts’ tips for effective and unique online teaching. With such encouragement by a leader in our field, I am excited to expand my methods and begin using the HyperDocs and Digital Choice Boards Dr. Lucas introduced, which have immediate application in my venue.

    Even where we could not imagine the application of a topic, it wasapparent. Linda Bonder’s “Teaching Listening for the Real World” turned out to highlight internet resources along with her spot-on strategies. Also surprising was the amount of online retail materials and the provision of items I constantly seek, such as the free ones at National Geographic Learning. One vender gifted attendees with a book featuring the type of vocabulary exercises that have eluded my internet searches. As a former social studies major without a current learning community, “Community-based Learning” inspired ideas that might work for some online students. Graciously led by Ms.’s Thomas, Tennyson, and Mendicino, discussion and brainstorming introduced another attendee who teaches a vital course in language acquisition. I am waiting now for further information. What resources did you get “to go”?

    Back at my computer, I miss conferring with colleagues and do not consider myself very influential, but that image is under revision. As the Saturday Plenary speaker, President of AFT-Oregon, David Rives related his career path, I recognized common motivations, values, and concerns. Afterward a group of us were looking together at the upcoming sessions and wondering about the messages of the U.S. Dept. of State English Language Programs in the session “English Teachers as Citizen Diplomats.” Even alone from my little corner desk, might I promote positive foreign relations? I communicate many optimistic viewpoints, find common ground in values and needs, show willingness and ability to understand, and explain some culture to people of different conceptual frameworks. We help people interact with each other, especially the rest of U.S. Succinct or grandiose, the idea is only offered to you here.

    After my presentation, someone repeated a question: “Why do you think you have been successful online?” Urged to explain only the second time ever, I got to the bottom-line, for me – I am an educator with professional training, experience, and official recognition from my peers and superiors. You, ORTESOL, in the Fall Conference, revealed this truth.

    Linda Rasmussen

    Rassmusen FA2018 ORTESOL Conference_easy online teaching resources.pdf
  • 5 Nov 2018 10:51 AM | ORTESOL Info (Administrator)

    Are you new to the field of TESOL? Are you evaluating how to adjust to new employment trends in the field? Check our online and in-person resources to help you explore next steps.

    The theme for ORTESOL's Annual Fall Conference, Navigating Change in TESOL, highlights the need for ESOL professionals to explore how changing learner demographics, employment trends, skills, and teaching strategies create new opportunities for transforming our teaching practice in ways that are relevant, innovative, and adaptable to different contexts. 

    If you are considering a career in TESOL, you will find that the field is as rewarding as it is demanding. Teaching English as a second or foreign language requires skills beyond just knowing the language.

    Properly trained teachers

    • know the latest research-based methodologies for language teaching
    • know how learners acquire a new language
    • have the patience and empathy to support students as they struggle with the language
    • develop specialized skills through years of dedicated practice in the classroom
    Clearly, you must be more than a native speaker.

    English language teaching opportunities exist throughout the world. Opportunities vary depending on the following factors:
    • Where you want to teach (public or private, geographical location) 
    • What level you want to teach (pre-K–12, adult, or postsecondary) 
    • Your background and qualifications
    If you are interested in beginning a career in English language teaching TESOL provides a number of online resources. 

    Getting Started

    Doing the Research

    Finding a Job


    Source: Beginning Your Career http://www.tesol.org/enhance-your-career/career-development/beginning-your-career

    Note: Membership for TESOL is separate from ORTESOL. Attend the Fall Conference for the chance to win a free International TESOL membership! ORTESOL gives away 7 free memberships a year.

  • 15 Oct 2018 9:27 AM | ORTESOL Info (Administrator)

    ORTESOL is an affiliate of International TESOL.  Many of our goals to increase engagement across all areas of Oregon, provide quality conferences and education opportunities and increase advocacy for ELL professionals and students align with the strategic plan of TESOL. 

    From the Executive Director: TESOL's New Strategic Plan

    By Christopher Powers

    In my first year and a half of serving TESOL International Association as executive director, I have had so many opportunities to meet with members and learn what is most important to you. It is humbling to try to think each day about how we—the TESOL office team, the TESOL Board of Directors, and all of our member leaders—can work together to meet the challenges and opportunities facing us.

    One of the most valuable, and I hope long-lasting, efforts has been the work that so many of us have put into our new Strategic Plan. Following a yearlong process of collaborating on a board working group and incorporating feedback from TESOL staff and leaders from across the association, the TESOL Board of Directors voted to approve the Strategic Plan in March, and it will go into effect this November.

    Through this Strategic Plan, we envision a world where English language teachers are the respected voice of language expertise and policy, where all teachers have the knowledge and learning opportunities they need, and where we all work together as one community to realize an interconnected multilingual and multicultural world.

    We invite each of you on the journey to see TESOL International Association become the global authority for knowledge and expertise in English language teaching.

    To get there, our first strategic outcome is focused on increasing our Global Presence and Connectivity. We see this through our membership that hails from more than 150 countries; our affiliate network that connects an additional 50,000 TESOL professionals; our convention and other face-to-face events that connect TESOL professionals across the globe; and our online efforts to build connectivity in a digital world.

    By focusing on Knowledge and Expertise, our second outcome will help TESOL and TESOL members lead the development and delivery of English language teaching expertise, research, and information to address current and emerging trends in the profession. Our knowledge and expertise is the core of the association and emerges not only through our leading journals TESOL Quarterly and TESOL Journal, our rich array of publications through TESOL Press, and our diverse professional learning opportunities, but also through our professional councilscommunities of practice, our affiliates, and the individual contributions of TESOL members.

    Through Voice and Advocacy, our third outcome, we seek to raise the voice of the TESOL profession and TESOL educators and become the leading advocate for English language teachers and learners worldwide. Given the challenges we all face, advocating for ourselves, our colleagues, and our students has become one of the most critical aspects of the English teaching profession. Whether it is in the schoolroom or the community, local or national governments, or simply in the one-on-one interactions we all encounter daily, TESOL and TESOL professionals must continue to work to raise our individual and collective voices.

    And, of course, it is essential that we continue to care for the long-term viability of the association. So, a final goal will be to ensure that the association has the leadership, both at the volunteer and staff level, and the resources necessary to meet our strategic outcomes.

    Although the Strategic Plan will not officially go into effect until November, we have already begun using it to frame our work. The TESOL Board of Directors has just recently approved a strategic budget for FY2019 aligned to the Strategic Plan. Not only will this allow us to better measure our progress on each strategic outcome, but it will also allow us to better report on our progress to you.

    We have also realigned the TESOL office staff to focus on these strategic outcomes. We have created a new department of strategic communications focusing on the most important aspect of any association—serving and communicating with you, our members. Associate Executive Director John Segota will lead our efforts in this new department.

    And as our office lease comes up for renewal this year, we will even be using the plan to help guide how we redefine our office space, while at the same time modernizing and economizing our facilities.

    As we begin to fully implement the Strategic Plan, I plan to use this space in TESOL Connections to update you on our progress. Focusing on our global presence and connectivity, I plan to share information on TESOL efforts across the globe, including our TESOL China Assembly in Shanghai, activities such as the symposium we held last May in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada and the academy we held in Tegucigalpa, Honduras this past July, along with individual contributions from TESOL members and affiliates. Highlighting our knowledge and expertise, I look forward to recognizing the strong influence that our journals TESOL Quarterly and TESOL Journal have on TESOL scholarship, and the incredible impact signature initiatives such as The 6 Principles, and its breakthrough initial publication The 6 Principles for Exemplary Teaching of English Learners: Grades K–12, are making to English language teaching practice. Amplifying the voices of teachers and strengthening all of our efforts to advocate for ourselves, our students, and our profession—across all contexts—is extraordinarily important, and I hope to trumpet those efforts on behalf of all TESOL members and the students we serve. Finally, we cannot meet these important outcomes if our association does not remain sustainable, so I will also be updating you all on our efforts to ensure that we have the resources, including staff and volunteer leadership, to meet the challenges we face.

    I am excited by the opportunities our new Strategic Plan presents, and I hope that you are, too.

    This is not my Strategic Plan, it is not the board’s Strategic Plan, and it is not the staff’s Strategic Plan; it is our Strategic Plan—the association’s Strategic Plan. It is focused on broad outcomes that will strengthen the association and improve all of our efforts across all the different ways that we teach and support English language teaching.

    I invite everyone to work together and engage in ways that will bring about the outcomes we envision. Please feel free to reach out to me directly at cpowers@tesol.org. Connect with me on Twitter at @TESOL_Powers and use myTESOL to share your thoughts with the TESOL community.

    Thank you for all of the work you do. I am looking forward to seeing you all at the 2019 TESOL International Convention & English Language Expo in Atlanta, Georgia, USA next March and to working and communicating with you along the way.

    Christopher Powers
    TESOL Executive Director

  • 5 Aug 2018 8:22 PM | Anonymous

    What is HB 3499? 

    According to Representative Joe Gallegos, “In Oregon, 34 school districts have a student body population composed of at least 15% English Language Learners (ELL). In many of these school districts, there is a significant achievement gap between English-speaking students and ELL students. Under current Oregon law, school districts receive a 0.5 additional weight per ELL student. However, other than the additional funding weight, little consistency in accountability, curriculum, benchmarks and programmatic standards exist among ELL programs. HB 3499 (-2) addresses three main capacities of ELL policy: Uniform coding & budget transparency, a system of supports & interventions, and long-term strategic development.”

    House Bill: https://www.oregon.gov/ode/studentwills-and-family/equity/EngLearners/Documents/ELHouseBill3499.pdf

    The benchmarks that will be set can dramatically impact districts, schools, classrooms, teachers and students.  It is important to be informed, to speak into best practices for English language learners and advocate for appropriate steps to improve education in Oregon.

    Who was involved in the new EL Advisory Group?

    The Oregon Department of Education’s website states that, “Having a diverse group of community and district stakeholders is an important part of the Oregon Department of Education’s (ODE) decision-making process and effective implementation of the EL Strategic State Plan. This new group is comprised of district and school administration, teachers, students, parents, and community members.” (2017)

    To represent Oregon teachers, ORTESOL Refugee SIG Chair, Susan Kaller was a representative in this important group. 

    Since joining the ORTESOL board in 2016 she began to attend some state meetings and was asked to continue her work with ODE (Oregon Department of Education) on the EL Strategic Plan. The EL Advisory Group prepared a presentation for the COSA (Confederation of Oregon School Administrators) EL Alliance conference on February 8th, 2018. Susan attended the conference March 7th-9th in Eugene and presented on March 8th.

    Kaller reflected, “The EL Alliance conference was extremely well attended with many sessions, so much so it will likely require a different venue next year. For K-12 ESL teachers and administrators, it has become the big “go to” conference in Oregon. The focus of the conference was on SPED/ESL coordination and newcomers in the classroom. There were 13 sessions per breakout covering everything from instructional strategies, program set up, licensure, professional development, recent legislation and regulation, trauma, understanding and accessing information ODE makes available, and research. Jeff Zwiers of Stanford gave the keynote on ‘authentic communication.’”

    Participating in and advocating for English language learners has been a significant part of my role on the board explained Kaller. Throughout the process, the group has made an effort gather feedback from as many as possible in state board of education for approval. 

    What can you do to advocate for English language learners and teachers?

    1)    Educate yourself and clarify the issue.

    2)    Attend a public meeting.

    3)    Continue to understand rights and policies for ELLs.   

    4)    Identify who your allies are. 

    5)    Organize and educate others.

    6)    Identify your outlets for change.  Consider asking the following questions:

    a)    What can I do in my classroom?

    b)    What can I do in my school?

    c)    What can I do in my district?

    d)    What can I do in my community?

    e)    How can I collaborate with other non-school-based communities?

  • 5 Aug 2018 8:18 PM | Anonymous

    TESOL International Association has defined a core set of principles for the exemplary teaching of English learners. The 6 Principles are universal guidelines drawn from decades of research in language pedagogy and language acquisition theory. They are targets for teaching excellence and should undergird any program of English language instruction.  Here are some highlights...

    Principle 1: KNOW YOUR LEARNERS

    Teachers learn basic information about their students’ families, languages, cultures, and educational backgrounds to engage them in class and prepare and deliver lessons more effectively.

    Some Practices for Principle 1
    Teachers gain information about their learners.
    Teachers collect information about their students’ linguistic and educational backgrounds to determine correct placement for students. They also seek to learn a new student’s cultural and geographic background as a resource for classroom learning .

    Teachers embrace and leverage the resources that learners bring to the classroom to enhance learning.
    Teachers tap their learners’ prior knowledge purposefully in their teaching. They try to determine what gifts and talents students bring to the classroom, what interests motivate them, what life experiences they have had that are curriculum-related, and what else in their backgrounds has influenced their personalities and beliefs.

    Check out these Classroom Activities That Support Principle 1.


    Teachers create a classroom culture so students feel comfortable. They make decisions regarding the physical environment, the materials, and the social integration of students to promote language learning.

    Some Practices for Principle 2

    Teachers demonstrate expectations of success for all learners.

    Student achievement is affected by teacher expectations of success. Teachers must hold high expectations and communicate them clearly to all their students—English learners and other classmates, which will motivate them to perform at a high level.

    Teachers plan instruction to enhance and support students’ motivation for language learning.

    Language learning is difficult and takes a very long time. Learners may not see the benefits of spending time and energy in learning English if the effort does not have an early payoff or it feels outside their own comfort zone. However, we know that motivation is an important condition for language learning, so teachers need to engage their learners and motivate them to work persistently at learning the new language.

    Check out these Classroom Activities That Support Principle 2


    Teachers plan meaningful lessons that promote language learning and help students develop learning strategies and critical thinking skills. These lessons evolve from the learning objectives.

    Some Practices for Principle 3

    Teachers use comprehensible input to convey information to students.

    Comprehensible input is of primary importance for progress in the target language. Whether oral or written, comprehensible input helps English learners understand the meaning of the communication. Teachers scaffold the language input in multiple ways to aid learner perception and promote understanding.

    Scaffolding for ​Comprehensibility

    Teachers communicate clear instructions to carry out the learning task.

    Teachers use and teach consistent classroom management practices and routines throughout the school year in an effort to help students understand what is expected of them in a classroom and throughout a lesson. Teachers use simple directions with patterned language that they repeat each time.

    Check out  these Classroom Activities That Support Principle 3


    Teachers continually assess as they teach—observing and reflecting on learners’ responses to determine whether the students are reaching the learning objectives. If students struggle or are not challenged enough, teachers consider the possible reasons and adjust their lessons.

    Some Practices for Principle 4

    Teachers check student comprehension frequently and adjust instruction according to learner responses.

    To teach effectively, teachers need to evaluate what students know and what they do not know, in real time. We do not want to wait until the end of a lesson or the end of a unit to discover that our students have misunderstood a key concept or have incorrectly learned critical vocabulary.

    Classroom Example: Teachers check comprehension with group response techniques.

    Teachers can use quick comprehension checks during a lesson to gauge how the class is doing. Some group response activities include

         Thumbs Up/Thumbs Down

         Response Boards (all students respond individually on a dry-erase board or sheet of paper and show the teacher)

         3-2-1 for Self-Assessment, and

         Technology options (websites and apps) using handheld devices or tablets.

    Teachers adjust their talk, the task, or the materials according to learner responses.

    If teachers notice student confusion or misunderstanding during a lesson, they make adjustments so that all learners can meet the learning goals. They may vary their oral language input, use home language or alternative texts, present visual aids, or arrange peer support. They might adapt a task by adding more time, finding supplemental resources, or pulling a small group of students together for reteaching.

    Check out these Classroom Activities That Support Principle 4


    Language learners learn at different rates, so teachers regularly monitor and assess their language development in order to advance their learning efficiently. Teachers also gather data to measure student language growth.

    Some Practices for Principle 5

    Teachers monitor student errors.

    By interacting frequently with our students, we can acquire a great deal of information about their progress. Some teachers record the results of their interactions (e.g., correct and incorrect uses of English) in an anecdotal way, use a check list, or change student grouping patterns and/or partners, depending on their newly developing proficiency.

    Classroom Example: Teachers reteach when errors indicate that students misunderstood or learned the material incorrectly.

    When errors are not part of the language development process, teachers plan for reteaching or additional practice. They may present a mini-lesson on the topic for the whole class or work with a small group of learners who need the support.


    Teachers provide ongoing effective feedback strategically.

    To be constructive, a teacher’s feedback in response to a learner’s error is delivered strategically and in a timely manner but it must also suit the age and language development level of the student. The feedback can be positive or corrective. It is important that the feedback be specific and related to what learners are doing well in addition to what they can improve.

    Classroom Example: Teachers deliver feedback in a timely manner.

    Students may be more able to use feedback if it is not delayed. Timeliness is more important with oral feedback than with written feedback. Private feedback is appreciated by all students, no matter their age.

    Check out these Classroom Activities That Support Principle 5


    Teachers collaborate with one another.

    Exemplary teachers collaborate with others in the profession to provide the best possible support for their learners. They meet with colleagues to co-plan and share their expertise about second language acquisition as well as instructional techniques appropriate for students at different levels of proficiency.

    Example: Teachers meet with colleagues regularly to co-plan for future learning.

    ESL/ELD teachers need to become co-planners to ensure their students’ success in developing English language and content proficiency. These planning opportunities permit ESL/ELD teachers to become aware of the extent of the content learning required for students. They also allow ESL/ELD teachers to share information about students’ language proficiency with content teachers. The school administrators can help by making certain that scheduling allows teachers to collaborate with colleagues for planning.

    Teachers are fully engaged in their profession.

    Teachers participate in continuous learning and ongoing professional development and they also reflect critically on their own classroom practices. They develop leadership skills so they can be a resource in their school and get involved in designing programs and developing curricula.

    Check out www.tesol.org/the-6-principles for additional videos, resources and information on The 6 Principles.


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