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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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 ConsortiumWIDA 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