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Dr. John Nelson began his ESOL adventures as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Ethiopia soon after the Peace Corps came into being. He has taught English as a second or foreign language to ELLs of all ages and administered ESOL instructional programs domestically and internationally. Along the way he earned an MA in TESOL from UCLA and a Ph.D. in Adult Language Acquisition from McGill University. Recently he worked as an ESOL Parent Involvement Specialist in Prince George’s County Public Schools in Prince George’s County, Maryland. For the past 20 years he has been primarily an ESOL teacher trainer specializing in methodology, grammar and testing. He is currently an Assistant Professor and Graduate Program Director for ESOL programs at UMBC (The University of Maryland Baltimore County).
A New Approach to Teaching Grammar
Teaching grammar has long been a component of teaching language. Traditionally grammar was the primary concern of ELLs and the primary focus of their teachers with the result that ELLs learned a lot about English, but not how to use it very easily. More recently attention to grammar has been less emphasized as more communicative approaches to language teaching have come into practice. As a result, ELLs have become more fluent in English, but often at the expense of accurate English production. This presentation bridges the abyss between these two instructional practices with a new approach to teaching and learning English grammar that is both revolutionary and simple. Traditional grammatical terminology includes an abundance of names for English features that are difficult to learn, and not intrinsically descriptive of the features they refer to. The new approach uses descriptive terms that name features for what they are and what they do.
Furthermore, traditional approaches to teaching grammar emphasize large numbers of structures covering numerous specific applications. Although often taught in meaningful contexts, they are also frequently taught individually. The new approach looks at English grammatical systems holistically. Overall, this approach makes grammar a tool for accurate language usage rather than as a subject sometimes considered more difficult to learn than the language itself. It enables ELLs to be more acutely aware of English grammatical features and to use them accurately as their English competency increases.
Randi Reppen is Professor of Applied Linguistics and TESL at Northern Arizona University (NAU) where she teaches in the MA TESL and Ph.D. in Applied Linguistics programs. She has extensive ESL and teacher training experience, including 11 years as the Director of NAU’s Intensive English program. Randi’s research interests include the use of corpora for language teaching and materials development. She is the author of Using Corpora in the Language Classroom and an author of the series Grammar and beyond, both published by Cambridge University Press.
Getting the balance right: Corpora, research, and language teaching
During the last several years, there has been an increased interest in using corpus research to inform language teaching decisions, and in using corpora as a resource in the language classroom. This presentation will provide numerous concrete examples of how information from corpora can be used to inform and guide instruction, and how corpora can serve as a resource for materials development. In addition to specific examples for teaching vocabulary and grammar, resources that are available, and general guidelines that can be used in a variety of different contexts will also be provided.
Dr. Robin Scarcella is a professor in the School of Humanities at the University of California at Irvine, where she also serves as the Director of the Program in Academic English and ESL. She has written over sixty scholarly publications on ESL teaching and second language acquisition, edited numerous volumes, and written many methodology books and textbooks for teaching academic subjects to English language learners. Dr. Scarcella holds a master's degree in second language acquisition in education from Stanford University and a doctoral degree in linguistics from University of Southern California.
Getting the Balance Right: Teaching Academic Language and Foundational Language to English Learners
Among the most challenging tasks for teachers of English learners is ensuring that students have a strong foundation in the basic structures and features of the English language and, in addition, academic language, including the language necessary for their students to access challenging subject-specific content and reach rigorous content standards. Without proficiency in the foundational features of English, students can reach a plateau in their development of English and never be able to produce the features of academic language that are necessary for them to attain success in their schooling. In Illinois, teachers instruct a variety of learners, including long-term English learners with limited proficiency in English who have lived in the United States for many years, and recent arrivals to the United States. Both groups of students require instruction in foundational and academic language. This session will address pedagogically sound and effective strategies and instructional practices that can be used to help teachers get their instructional balance correct: helping all English learners, long-term English learners as well as recent arrivals, develop strong proficiency in foundational and academic language.
Associate Editor Kory L. Stamper joined Merriam-Webster in 1998 and has defined and edited entries for a variety of titles, including Merriam-Webster's Collegiate® Dictionary, Eleventh Edition, Webster's Third New International Dictionary, Unabridged, and Merriam-Webster's Advanced Learner's English Dictionary. She writes for the Daily Buzzword (Merriam-Webster's daily word feature for kids ages 9-14), answers questions from English language learners in the blog at LearnersDictionary.com, and was the managing editor of Merriam-Webster's now-defunct Word History of the Day. Kory also writes, edits, and appears in the popular video series Ask the Editor, which is found on the company's free Web site, Merriam-Webster.com. She was an ESL tutor for four years at a private preparatory school in Connecticut and worked primarily with teenage EFL learners. Kory earned a B.A. in Medieval Studies from Smith College with a concentration in Indo-European languages and literature. In her spare time, she writes and has published a handful of short stories and essays in small literary publications.
English and How It Got That Way
Have you ever been asked by a student why "rough," "cough," and "through" don't rhyme, even though they look like they should? Or why you can "keep a chicken" and "eat chicken," but you "keep a cow" and "eat beef"? English is a uniquely complex language, but few people know why. Join Merriam-Webster editor Kory Stamper as she takes us through a short history of the English language and discusses language trends that have shaped English throughout the ages—past, present, and future.