Music and Technology with Argentina TESOL

TESOL affiliate Argentina TESOL held its annual convention in May, and TESOL Board Member Misty Adoniou was invited to deliver a keynote. In this post, she discusses her visit with ARTESOL.

TESOL Board Member Misty Adoniou

It was my absolute pleasure and privilege to represent TESOL International Association at the Argentina TESOL Convention held 12–13 May at Paraná, Argentina. The theme of the convention was “Democratising English Language Teaching,” and, perhaps inevitably, many of the speakers noted the role of technology in this enterprise.

Micah Risher, director of the Regional English Language Office in Peru, opened the conference and challenged participants to consider whether they understand the world in which their students live. Who are Generations X, Y, Z, and Alpha?

Many of the concurrent sessions tackled the use of technology in the classroom. Gonzalo Fortun presented the flipped classroom, and Alejandro Manniello discussed using your students’ mobile phones in the classroom. Featured speaker Mercedes Kamijo picked up this theme in a very interactive session that had the audience participating in online quizzes and using QR codes.

Trish Goslin

Trish Goslin’s interactive keynote

Interactive keynotes were a feature of the convention, never easy when speaking to a large audience. Trina Goslin managed superbly. She had the crowd engaged and involved working oral language activities in small groups.

As much as I love attending academic sessions when I attend conferences, I really love the social programs! They can really help you connect to your fellow participants.

Argentina TESOL featured a groovy saxophone player, who had the crowd dancing and singing along and a fun raffle evening where everyone seemed to be a winner.

A saxophonist entertains the attendees

Music was a feature of other keynotes as well, including my own. I spoke about the professional career trajectory of teachers, and how we can maintain our passion—and I set it all to music. The final song was disco favourite, “I Will Survive.”

My second keynote was focused on the teaching of grammar in context, a theme that Monica Gandolfo expanded on in her session titled “Experiencing Genre-Based Teaching in a Foreign Language.”

Graciela Martin, President ARTESOL

I attended the Argentina TESOL conference as part of TESOL’s affiliate speaker program, which gives TESOL affiliates the opportunity to have a member of the board of directors speak at their event. And it was such an honor to be in Argentina for their annual conference.

I made so many new friends, and ate a lot of lovely Argentinian steak! I would particularly like to thank Argentina TESOL’s President Graciela Martin, and her hard-working conference committee, for their wonderful hosting.

In 2018 the conference will be in Mendosa, which is Argentina’s wine country. It promises to be a great event—put it in your diary.

Misty Adoniou is an associate professor in language, literacy, and TESOL at the University of Canberra, Australia. She has received numerous teaching awards, including a National Citation for Outstanding Contribution to Student Learning and the 2014 Vice-Chancellor’s Award for Teaching Excellence.

She was a lead writer for the national English as an Additional Language Teachers Resource which accompanies the Australian Curriculum and has served on several national advisory boards in Australia the Federal government’s Equity and Diversity Advisory Group and the Orientation Consultative Committee advising the Federal government on the settlement needs of refugees. For more information, please visit the Argentina TESOL website.

from TESOL Blog


A Model for TESOL Leaders: A Virtual Choir

Hello, ESPers worldwide!

Before the start of a business English class for adult learners in Japan, the students and I were looking at the Virtual Choir 2.0 first presented by composer Eric Whitacre in a 2011 Ted Talk titled A Virtual Choir 2,000 Voices Strong. Although I had watched the TED Talk before, I was focused in this viewing on listening to a leader describing a successful project. As such, I thought that perhaps the TED Talk could be a useful model for ESP project leaders.

In the transcript of the TED Talk, Whitacre describes his vision of the virtual choir.

And I had this idea: if I could get 50 people to all do this same thing, sing their parts—soprano, alto, tenor and bass—wherever they were in the world, post their videos to YouTube, we could cut it all together and create a virtual choir.

The next step in the creation process was communicating to achieve the vision.

I sent out this call to singers. And I made free the download of the music to a piece that I had written in the year 2000 called “Lux Aurumque,” which means “light and gold.” And lo and behold, people started uploading their videos.

In addition to the singers who were submitting their videos, Whitacre began receiving other offers of help to achieve what had become a shared vision.

And from the crowd emerged this young man, Scott Haines. And he said, “Listen, this is the project I’ve been looking for my whole life. I’d like to be the person to edit this all together.” I said, “Thank you, Scott. I’m so glad that you found me.” And Scott aggregated all of the videos. He scrubbed the audio. He made sure that everything lined up.

The Virtual Choir 1.0 was a success! You can see a part of it in the TED Talk. The success led to the creation of Virtual Choir 2.0. However, the vision for a Virtual Choir 2.0 was driven by the singers.

And the video [of Virtual Choir 1.0] went viral. We had a million hits in the first month and got a lot of attention for it. And because of that, then a lot of singers started saying, “All right, what’s Virtual Choir 2.0?”

Whitacre then contributed to creating the vision for Virtual Choir 2.0 and communicated to achieve the vision.

And so I decided for Virtual Choir 2.0 that I would choose … “Sleep,” which is another work that I wrote in the year 2000 — poetry by my dear friend Charles Anthony Silvestri. And again, I posted a conductor video, and we started accepting submissions.

The goal was to have over 900 voices, but Whitacre received more than 2,000 videos from 58 different countries.  You can see the first showing of the then unfinished Virtual Choir 2.0 in the same TED Talk.

From another perspective, the Virtual Choir 2.0 could be a model for TESOL International Association. The spheres of singers represent the individual groups (like the ESPIS), and the conductor represents the TESOL Board of Directors. As the singers (and musicians), we need room to interpret the music; i.e., we need room to create, while at the same time keeping an eye on the conductor. (See this TED Talk titled Lead Like the Great Conductors, which shows the different levels of control of the conductor.) In order to understand the “musical score and lyrics” with which TESOL leaders should be familiar, take the Leadership Development Certificate Program. It is free for TESOL members!

In comparison with the creation of the virtual choirs above, consider the creation of an ESP program. In Effective Practices in Workplace Language Training, the authors write

The process of establishing a relationship with a client, conducting needs assessments, designing and developing a training program, and evaluating outcomes is highly iterative. Provider and client often refine their understanding of needs as training, and the formative evaluation that accompanies it, proceeds. In other words, the process of setting up and sustaining a workplace language training program is not linear, but overlapping and ongoing. (p. xi)

In view of such iteration, we could say that the creation of the vision (i,e., the training) and how to achieve the vision (i.e., the delivery of the training) continue to be co-constructed (i.e., negotiated) by the various stakeholders over time.

It is the ongoing creation of an ESP program that appeals to me as an ESP practitioner. This creative aspect of program development brings to mind another TED Talk by the band OK Go titled How To Find a Wonderful Idea.

And when we’re done with that project, people will ask us again how we thought of that idea, and we’ll be stumped, because from our perspective, it doesn’t feel like we thought of it at all, it just feels like we found it.

This seems to be what happens to me while teaching in the classroom, developing programs, or writing. I see how very different pieces can fit together to make something wonderful. In this case, the key is to have a lot of pieces to play with and to have fun experimenting with relationships.

All the best,


Friedenberg, J., Kennedy, D., Lomperis, A., Martin, W., & Westerfield, K., with contributions from van Naerssen, M. (2003). Effective practices in workplace language training: Guidelines for providers of workplace English language training services. Alexandria, VA: TESOL.

from TESOL Blog

ESP Project Leader Profile: Pam Dzunu

Hello, ESPers worldwide!

In this ESP Project Leader Profile, we visit Washington University in St. Louis in the United States to meet Pam Dzunu.

Below is Pam’s bio:

Pamela Guntharp Dzunu grew up in rural northeast Mississippi and graduated with an English major from William Carey University (Hattiesburg, MS). She completed a Master of Arts in Intercultural Studies at Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary and an MA-TESOL degree at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale. Her research interests are intercultural communication, socio-cultural anthropology, and ethnic studies.

Pamela has extensive travel experience, including living two years in Ethiopia (East Africa) and two years in Azerbaijan (Central Asia). In both countries, she taught English as a Second or Foreign Language among high school or university students. Pamela’s wide-ranging travel experience has given her a broad worldview and appreciation for all cultures. She has been teaching in the English Language Program at Washington University since 2003 where she specializes in legal English.

Pam is also a representative for English in academic settings (EAS) for the TESOL English for Specific Purposes Interest Section and a colleague of Karen Schwelle, another ESP project leader. I was able to talk with Pam at TESOL 2017 together with another ESP project leader in the legal English field, Stephen Horowitz. We learn more about the legal English training provided at Washington University in Pam’s responses to the interview questions about leadership.

Pam Dzunu
Legal English Specialist
Washington University in St. Louis
Co-founder, Baobab People

Define leadership in your own words.

Leadership is the ability to recognize the strengths and talents in others, and then to engage those people in using their talents to accomplish a mutual goal. A good leader does not necessarily have all the answers but knows how either to find the needed answers or to work around the lack of information while continuing to seek the answers. This is a continuous process of leading and learning, just as John F. Kennedy said, “Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.”

Tell me an ESP project success story. Focus on your communication as a leader in the project. How did you communicate with stakeholders to make that project successful?

In the English language programs (ELP) at Washington University, we have a summer intensive English program called English Advantage (EA), in which we train incoming graduate students in business and law. Due to a strengthened partnership with the School of Law and some minor tweaking of our schedule, 2016 saw record enrollment in our program for masters of law (LLM) students. The two courses in the program, Intensive Listening/Speaking for International LLMs, and Intensive Reading/Writing for International LLMs, increased from one to four sections, and student enrollment increased from 16 to 54. Consequently, the ELP recruited six additional instructors who had strong backgrounds teaching ESL and English for academic purposes (EAP), but none of them had a law background. To help the instructors prepare to teach legal English for the first time, we held an instructor training workshop about a month before the program began, and we held regular meetings throughout the term. In the end, the feedback from the instructors regarding their experience was very positive. One listening/speaking instructor commented that it was the best course she had ever taught.

One of the components of the EA-LLM program of which I am very proud is the program-wide Moot Court Competition, which was our culminating activity. As the lead listening/speaking instructor, I worked closely with the lead reading/writing instructor to create the assignment, which included a hypothetical case about a lesbian couple who brought suit against a florist for refusing to provide flowers for their wedding on religious grounds. We researched and provided real cases that students read and used to make legal arguments. We chose this topic because of its relevancy in current American culture at the time, and because it is a Constitutional issue. In English Advantage, we are not only preparing LLM students for law school but also helping them better understand American culture, so this project gave us multiple opportunities to discuss various American viewpoints. Students conducted community surveys, so they could get a more accurate idea of local Americans’ attitudes.

The two courses were interwoven for this project: In the reading/writing course, students wrote a mini trial brief, in multiple drafts. They then used the legal argument that they had written to make an oral presentation. Students wrote their arguments and then competed in giving oral arguments as either plaintiffs or defendants. First, they competed against the students in their own sections. Then, finalists from all four sections competed against one another. Winners were recognized at an awards ceremony on the last day.

This project gave us an integrated way to measure students’ attainment of the goals for each of the courses. Students gave very positive feedback, even though it was extremely challenging for them to complete it in such a limited time. The project certainly was not without mistakes, and we learned from this first attempt. Overall, we considered it so successful that we are repeating it this year, with a new hypothetical, with two additional sections and over 80 students.

When I read Pam’s definition of leadership, I was very pleased to see that she had drawn upon John F. Kennedy in connecting learning and leadership. In addition, as Pam writes above: “A good leader does not necessarily have all the answers, but knows how either to find the needed answers or to work around the lack of information while continuing to seek the answers.” From my perspective, the leader is focused on creating and achieving visions, and learning is a part of that.

I could also see connections in her program development and a TED Talk by Adam Grant titled The Surprising Habits of Original Thinkers (filmed in 2016).

It’s much easier to improve on somebody else’s idea than it is to create something new from scratch. So the lesson I learned is that to be original you don’t have to be first. You just have to be different and better.

I was already familiar with moot court and mock trial. Pam has improved on this idea to meet the needs of her students. Similarly, I have adapted how I teach business case studies in view of my students needs to develop their communication skills. As David Kertzner has written in ESP News, “[the] wheel does not need to get reinvented every time.” We can all learn from this.

If you have questions or comments for Pam, please feel free to contact her directly!

All the best,


from TESOL Blog

New Workshop! Friday September 29th!

ELD Make and Take Workshops
By Fun To Teach 

ELD Toolbox Booster
Fun effective strategies and activities to fill your ELD toolbox!

Save your seat now! Fax in the registration today 
2017 – Our New Workshop!
September 29, 2017
Portland, OR 

Are you interested in adding another layer of practical knowledge to your ELD instruction? Then this workshop is for you. Join us for the ELD Toolbox Booster workshop and enhance English Language instruction with procedures, routines, strategies and activities that will develop oral language, vocabulary and fluency in English learners. Come fill your ELD toolbox with language games, activities, strategies picture cards, songs, chants, sentence frames, and “make & take” activities that you can use in your classroom the next day! 

Who should attend?
ELD and ESL teachers, K-5 classroom teachers, specialist teachers and everyone who wants to fill their ELD toolkit!

ELD Toolbox Booster
Portland, Oregon
Fun effective strategies and activities to fill your ELD toolbox!


 Call for more info or visit our website!
Click here!

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fax or mail a Purchase Order or

Happy Teaching! Lori
from Fun To Teach ESL – Teaching English as a Second Language

Are Your ELs Are Ready to Exit ESL?

How do you know if your English learners (ELs) are ready to exit their ESL program?
Under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Equal Educational Opportunities Act of 1974, public schools must ensure that English learners can participate meaningfully and equally in educational programs. ELs should not be exited from programs until they have become proficient according to a reliable English language proficiency assessment.

The Office for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Education has published guidelines and resources for students and parents on their website: Schools’ Civil Rights Obligations to English Learner Students and Limited English Proficient Parents. The Education Commission of the States has published a chart comparing measures that schools across the country use to reclassify students as English proficient.

Length of Time ELs Are in ESL Programs Can Become a Civil Rights Issue

It is important that ELs do not exit too soon or too late. According to the OCR documents mentioned earlier, students who are exited too late may be limited in their access to the general curriculum and this can become a civil rights issue.  Those who are exited too soon may not be able to adequately participate in content-area learning in the general education classroom.

Monitoring of ELs After Exiting

ELs must also be monitored by local education authorities (LEAs) for at least two years after they are exited to ensure that they

  • can participate in the general education content area classes
  • have not been prematurely exited
  • have had academic deficits remedied that were incurred while they were is ESL programs

In addition, LEAs are now required to report on the percentage of former ELs that meet state standards for four years.

How ESEA Affects EL Exit

According to the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), state educational agencies must use reliable assessments that test reading, writing, listening, and speaking. When ELs exit a program, they must be able to participate in grade-level subject-area classes.

What about students who do not score a “proficient” on assessments of content-area subject matter?  Well, according to ESEA, exiting students do not have to score “proficient” to exit ESL programs because many of their English-speaking classmates do not score at that level. They just have to be able to participate in the grade-level instruction.

WIDA Exit Criteria

Currently, 37 U.S. states and the District of Columbia, as well as Puerto Rico and the Northern Mariana Islands, participate in the WIDA Consortium. WIDA Exit Criteria state that ELs are generally reclassified when they have achieved an English language development level that allows them to communicate socially and participate in academic classes with mainstream students without modified materials and texts.  According to WIDA, ELs being considered for exit should achieve the following:

  • understanding and speaking  conversation and academic English well
  • near proficient in reading, writing and content area skills
  • require only occasional support in English language development

The needs of our English learners are best served when teachers and administrators who work with them  know the laws that affect the exit or reclassification of English learners.  Reading the documents posted mentioned in this blog post will help reach this goal.

from TESOL Blog