Fall 2019, Volume 12, Issue 3
Sunshine State TESOLL Journal
Links to Practice: SETESOL Regional Conference
SSTESOL Journal Volume 12 Issue 3, FALL, 2019 p.2 p.2
Tony Erben, Ph.D. University of Tampa
Keya Mukherjee, Ph.D. Saint Leo University
Editorial Review Board
Laura Ballard, Ph.D. Florida State University
Maria R. Coady, Ph.D. University of Florida
Ester de Jong, Ph.D. University of Florida
Katya Goussakova, Ph.D. Seminole State College
Xuan Jiang, Ph.D. St. Thomas University
Jennifer Killam Broward College
Michelle Kroskey University of Central Florida
John I. Liontas, Ph.D. University of South Florida
Terri Mossgrove WIDA
Sergei Paromchik, Ph.D. Hillsborough County Public Schools
Robyn Percy-Socha, Ph.D. Full Sail University
Cheryl A. Shamon, Ph.D. Saint Leo University
Lindsay Vecchio,Ph.D. Alachua Public Schools
Caroline Webb Broward College
The manuscript should appeal to the instructional, administrative, or research interests of educators at various levels, such as adult education, K-12 issues, or teacher education issues.
• The manuscript should be substantive and present new ideas or new applications of information related to current trends in the field.
• The manuscript should be well written, clearly organized, and carefully proofed.
• A complete reference list should be supplied at the end of the manuscript, and the entire manuscript should be formatted according to guidelines in the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, 5th Ed. (2001) or later.
• Manuscripts should generally be no longer than 15-20 double-spaced pages.
• An abstract of 150 words or less should accompany each manuscript.
• A biographical statement of 50 words or less should be included for each author. Information should include current job or title, institution, degrees held, professional experience, and any other relevant information.
• Please include a cover letter with the name, postal and e-mail address, and phone number of the first author (or other contact person) clearly noted.
• Manuscripts must be submitted in electronic format as an e-mail attachment. Manuscripts must be submitted in Microsoft Word). Camera-ready figures and tables are requested.
• Manuscripts are accepted throughout the year and sent out for review. Reviews may take up to three months. Revisions are usually expected within one month (30 days) after receiving the initial review.
Book Review Guidelines
• Materials reviewed must have been published within the last three years.
• Reviews should be a maximum of three pages. (double spaced).
• Each review must provide complete bibliographic information, a description of the book/material, the audience for whom it is designed and how well it accomplshes its purpose.
• A cover letter should provide the author's name, email address, telephone number and a brief (25 word) bibliographic statement.
• Reviews should be sent as an email attachment.
Florida Sunshine State TESOL Journal Fall, 2019
Manuscripts may be submitted via the Sunshine State TESOL www site: https://sunshinestatetesol.
wildapricot.org/page-1075471 or send to Tony Erben at email@example.com
Interested in being a manuscript reviewer? Please contact Keya Mukherjee at firstname.lastname@example.org and detail your area(s) of expertise, a brief bibliography, and if relevant, select publications from the past five years.
Interested in advertising? Submit an inquiry through the Sunshine State TESOL www site or email Keya Mukherjee at email@example.com
Florida Sunshine State TESOL Association is an affiliate of TESOL International Association.
Sunshine State TESOL
4801 Riverside Dr.
Yankeetown, FL, 34496
About Sunshine State TESOL Journal
The Sunshine State TESOL Journal is a refereed journal published annually by the Sunshine State Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages, Inc. The main purpose of the Journal is to provide a forum for TESOL professionals to share ideas and research on second language teaching and learning. The Journal welcomes submissions of manuscripts based on research projects, classroom practices, conference presentations, and other professional activities of substance and interest to the general membership.
A double-blind review process is used in which submitted manuscripts are distributed by the editor to two-three reviewers with expertise in the areas addressed in each manuscript. Written comments by reviewers and a recommendation on acceptance are returned to the editor, who then communicates the comments and decision on acceptance to the authors.
Florida Sunshine State TESOL Journal Summer, 2019
SSTESOL Journal Volume 12 Issue 3, FALL, 2019 p.3 p.2
SSTESOL Journal Volume 12 Issue 3, FALL, 2019 p.4 p.2
SSTESOL Journal Volume 12 Issue 3, FALL, 2019 p.5 p.2
Greetings! With the holiday season just around the corner, it's the perfect time to reflect on what we are thankful for. For me, today is the beginning of an exciting year. I am grateful for the opportunity to serve as your new President of this amazing SSTESOL of Florida at a time of transformational change in the field of language teaching and learning, and as we create pathways for all ELs to gain equal access to quality education.
Past SSTESOL Presidents and Board members have taken SSTESOL from an organization for advocacy to a full-fledged non-profit organization that advances engaging professional development, research, leadership and advocacy. I am proud to be a part of these accomplishments, but there is much more we must do. As we advance into the future together, it is my privilege to help, with your innovative ideas, to take us to new heights and directions in order to improve our ability to better serve a wider-range of members.
Thank you for your dedication to SSTESOL’s mission. After being ushered in by the theme of the 2019 Southeast TESOL Regional Conference in Orlando this November, I sense that we feel more supported and empowered as we face the challenges of English Language teaching. I greatly appreciate the time you spend fighting for ELs every day.
If you have questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out. Lastly, may you and yours enjoy the upcoming holidays.
Arlene Costello Ph.D.
It always fills my professional heart with pride to read how vibrant our ESOL professional community is here in Florida. This past year, SSTESOL established an actual SSTESOL Press and our first publication will be a 40 Year anniversary overview of ESOL-based research, practice and advocacy in Florida. Similarly, SSTESOL will host the South East Regional conference this year in November in Orlando and in 2024 Tampa, Florida will host the International TESOL Convention.
Keep those submissions coming! We have a wonderful editorial board and each reviewer provides great feedback to each author. If your submission is not immediately accepted, read through the feedback and make those revisions with an eye to resubmit at a latter date. If you are interested in becoming an editorial reviewer for the SSTESOL Journal, please send me an email with C.V. at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our SSETESOL members want to read about your research, your practice and/or your work in ESOL! If you have never submitted to a journal, we invite new research, manuscripts that describe classroom practice or thought pieces on advocacy or theory in ESOL. If you are a K-12 ESOL teacher, you probably do things in your classroom that other ESOL teachers across Florida would love to read about or see. Did I write "see"? Since the SSTESOL Journal is an e-publication, you can also send in annotated videos of your classroom practice! The videos don't have to be long. They can describe an activity that works well for you when working with pre-production ELLs, with Elementary ELLs or with adults. If you are unsure, send me an email and let me help you.
In this Summer 2019 issue of the SSTESOL Journal we have an array of articles and reviews. I hope you enjoy them. BTW, we had an acceptance rate of 30.5%.
Lastly, let me thank our SSTESOL board members for their unwavering support as well as my co-editor Keya Mukherjee from Saint Leo University and the rest of the editorial board who give up their time to make this journal a worthy professional platform.
Tony Erben, Ph.D.
2017-2018 Past President
2020-2021 Vice President
Florida Sunshine State TESOL Journal
Florida Sunshine State TESOL Journal
SSTESOL Journal Volume 12 Issue 3, FALL, 2019 p.6 p.2
SSTESOL Journal Volume 12 Issue 3, FALL, 2019 p. 7
President’s Corner 4
Editor’s Commentary 5
Joyce W. Nutta Promoting Linguistically and Culturally Responsive Education
LaSonya L. Moore through preparing Paraprofessionals to Become Certified Teachers: A Qualitative Study of Affordances and Obstacles to Reaching the Goal 8
Jie Li Language orientations in Family Language Policies: An analysis of
parents’ attitudes towards bilingualism in Chinese immigrant families
of the North Florida 17
Lori A. Cole, Paige Gibbs Workshopping with Pre-Service Teachers: A Case Study of
Merve Ozbek, Caitlyn Robey Implementing Social Emotional Learning within an ESOL Practicum 27
Tony Erben, Gina Almerico
Hamed Shafiei Nejad Second Language Writing Assessment and Rater Effects 38
Małgorzata Durygin English Language Teaching as a Second Career
Multilingual Matters (2016 ) 45
Links to Practice
Cindy Fisher Empowering EL Teachers through Close Read for ELA Achievement 48
Imelda Bagun Teaching Metacognitive Online Reading Strategies in Academic Texts
to L2 Learners 49
Carla Huck, Luz Merced The Future of Professional Learning: Transforming Teachers Through Personalized, Sustainable PD 50
Lourdes Albo-Beyda Integrating Students' Career Pathways to Sequencing Writing
Darenda Borgers Assignments in English for Academic Purposes Classes 51
Kim Hardiman Exploring World Cultures Can Empower the Future of English Learners 52
Robyn Socha Blogging in Advanced Writing in Higher Education 53
Angela Padron Increasing Student Engagement through Student-Centered Learning 54
Ahyea Jo , Jo Kozuma The Web 2.0 Tool Kit for Teaching English Language Learners in the
Sangyeon Park K-12 Classroom 55
Sonja Grcic-Stuart The World in Our Classroom 56
Arlene Costello Bringing Diverse SSTESOL Voices as One Through Advocacy 57
SSTESOL Journal Volume 12 Issue 3, FALL, 2019 p.9 p.2
Promoting Linguistically and Culturally Responsive Education through Preparing Bilingual Paraprofessionals to Become Certified Teachers: A Qualitative Study of Affordances and Obstacles to Reaching the Goal
Joyce W. Nutta and LaSonya L. Moore
University of Central Florida and University of South Florida
This study examined experiences of 23 bilingual paraprofessionals who participated in a scholarship program that prepared them to become certified elementary or secondary teachers with an English for Speakers of Other Languages endorsement. Nineteen of the participants completed the program, and all participants were interviewed over a two-year period. Study results indicated that the shift from bilingual paraprofessional to certified classroom teacher was intimidating, especially passing standardized tests in their L2 (English) and managing the classroom. Participants were motivated to pursue the degree and persevered because of their dedication to students who share their cultural and linguistic backgrounds. The 19 program completers credited the financial, academic, and emotional support that the scholarship program provided for their ability to meet their goal. The non-completers indicated that support was sufficient, but two said lack of English proficiency caused them to fail standardized tests and two had family needs that superseded their studies.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the United States English learner population is steadily increasing (NCES, 2019). In fact, English learners (ELs) are the most rapidly growing student population in United States in grades PreK-12 (Sheng, Sheng & Anderson 2011; Brooks & Adams, 2015), with the largest group of ELs in the United States, over 75% of the total EL population, being Hispanic or Latino (Gándara, 2015). English learners (EL) are defined as students enrolled or preparing to enroll in elementary or secondary school, whose native languages are other than English, and whose level of English proficiency may prevent them from meeting academic standards or from successful achievement in English-medium classrooms (ESEA, 2016).
EL students’ assessment performance remains significantly lower than many of their peer groups, and has been slow to improve (NCES, 2015). EL students may feel empty and disconnected in school (Moore, 2016) and have higher dropout rates than other student populations (Brooks & Adams, 2015). In fact, English learners are twice as likely to drop out of school as their English-fluent peers (Abbate-Vaughn & Paugh, 2009). Other factors affect their success at school, such as being socioeconomically disadvantaged and marginalized (Moore, 2016), and born to immigrant parents (Callahan, 2013). English learners’ inability to meet social, emotional, learning, and overall academic achievement goals has even been shown to impact the national economy (Lewis, 2004).
Over 55% of US educators have taught English learners, as reported by the Schools and Staffing Survey of the National Center for Educational Statistics (2012), but most are not prepared to meet the numerous linguistic and cultural needs of the growing numbers of EL students. According to the National Council on Teacher Quality (2015), only 24% of US teacher preparation programs adequately address instructional strategies for English learners. White teachers also have a harder time adapting to the diverse classroom than minority teachers (Amos, 2013). Although nearly 25% of K-12 students are Hispanic (Bauman, 2017), only 9% of teachers are Hispanic (Loewus, 2017).
Teachers who share the home languages and cultures of their students are better able to educate EL students. Bilingual teachers have experience with diversity, they are able to speak to a larger group of students and can more easily transition from the different needs of each student (Fortner, Kershaw, Bastion, & Lynn, 2015). Preparing teachers for culturally and linguistically diverse (CLD) students is an essential component of creating the strong teacher-to-student bond needed for school retention (Lucas, 2013; Osguthorpe, 2013).
While approximately 200,000 teachers graduate each year from teacher preparation programs, few are culturally and linguistically aware of the urgency of bilingual students’ individual needs (Greenberg, McKee, et al., 2013). Thus, school districts have become dependent on paraprofessionals to perform various roles, such as translators for parents, helping new students from other countries get situated, and standing in as a substitute teacher when there is a shortage of main teachers (Abbate-Vaughn & Paugh, 2009). They also give one-on-one lessons to students struggling with content, implement small group learning to English learners as well as students with special educational needs (Stockall, 2014). Researchers have labeled paraprofessionals as “bridge builders” in schools (Abbate-Vaughn & Paugh 2009). According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (2017), there are over a million paraprofessionals in classrooms within the US.
The No Child Left Behind Act of 2002 and its definition of highly qualified paraprofessionals has held districts accountable for placing the most educated paraprofessionals in front of our students. However, this has also shown a clear gap; our country needs more bilingual paraprofessionals with advanced degrees, specifically baccalaureate degrees (Abbate-Vaughn, 2007). It was hoped that developing paraeducators of color within the current educational setting can build systemic teacher leaders while addressing the critical cultural gaps (Valenciana, Morin, & Morales, 2005).
However, studies have shown that paraprofessionals do not stay in the system; 11% will leave after the first year and 39% will exit the profession over the next five (Dupriez, Delvaux, & Lothaire, 2016; Moore, 2016), leading to disruption of student-teacher bonds and failing to provide the long-term bridges needed. The problem does not appear to lie in people not wanting to graduate in education, but rather in the educational systems inability to “support” teachers to persist, and administrator’s ability to retain (Dupriez et al., 2016; Moore, 2016).
Paraprofessionals differ from fully trained and certified teachers in that they are more likely to work full time, attending school part time, have children, have received their prior schooling in a different country, and have a different native language, (Abbate-Vaughn & Paugh, 2009). Fortner, et. al (2015) completed research focused on analyzing the different characteristics, effectiveness and persistence of teachers that were paraprofessionals before becoming official teachers in the classroom. Teacher assistants are typically older, more racially diverse, and score lower on licensure exams (Abbate-Vaughn & Paugh, 2009; Fortner, et al., 2015). When teachers have experience with diversity, they are able to connect with a larger group of students and more easily transition from the different needs of each student (Fortner et al., 2015).
The implementation of a structured paraprofessional development plans has generated a body of research on the need to support bilingual paraprofessionals to certification success. The most supportive scholarly teacher (Para) preparation and progressive professional development plans have greater persistence and retention rates (Moore, 2016). Research indicates the need for multiple levels of support to ensure paraprofessionals are supported through authentic experiences that will increase their ability to work in challenging, diverse inclusive educational environments (Stockall, 2014).
Bilingual school paraprofessionals face a multitude of challenges when attempting to move from paraprofessional positions to teacher positions. They need funds and support systems to pursue a baccalaureate degree and their teaching licensure (Abbate-Vaughn, & Paugh, 2009). The arduous process and lack of educational resources continue to hinder bilingual paraprofessionals from moving up the career ladder to becoming certified teachers. In summary, more needs to be done to support paraprofessionals to become certified teachers who have developed expertise in instructional practices, culturally response pedagogy, and a deep understanding of their students’ communities and families (Bennett, 2016).
Description of the Project
To further understanding about what enables bilingual paraprofessionals to reach the goal of becoming certified teachers, the researchers conducted a qualitative study over a period of two years. Study participants were a convenience sample of bilingual paraprofessionals enrolled in a scholarship program that funded coursework and instructional support for obtaining an initial certification degree. Funding was provided by the Office of English Language Acquisition to improve educational opportunities for English learners in K-12 schools by preparing bilingual teachers certified in a subject area (e.g., elementary or world languages education) and endorsed in English for speakers of other languages (ESOL).
The scholarship program was offered at a large, public university in the Southeastern United States. The university partnered with a local district, which has an English learner population of over 45,000, to identify and provide mentoring support for program participants. Program participants were bilingual paraprofessionals working in the district’s elementary and secondary schools and were guaranteed teaching contracts in the district upon successful completion of the teacher certification program.
Twenty-three program participants were included in this study, all of whom were women, ranging in age from 20-52. The average GPA of program completers was 3.47 in their major. Four of the 23 study participants withdrew from the program prior to completing their initial certification degree. Because the program phased in cohorts of 10 participants per year over the five-year period of funding, at the time of data collection 27 program participants had not joined the program yet and were not part of this research.
The researchers were part of the project staff, including the principal investigator, who had previously interacted with program participants on a limited basis, and a graduate research assistant, who had not interacted with program participants prior to the study. The graduate assistant, the principal investigator, and doctoral students enrolled in a research methods course conducted the interviews.
This study used a phenomenological design, focused on bilingual classroom aides who were studying to earn teacher certification degrees. Phenomenological studies describe lived experiences of individuals who have experienced a phenomenon (Creswell & Creswell, 2018), in this case the experience of transitioning from a classroom aide to a certified teacher through university study. Phenomenology was selected as the research design to explore and represent the participants’ perspective of the process of pursuing teacher certification while preparing to shift roles from a classroom aide to a certified teacher.
The research questions that guided the study were:
1) What do bilingual aides perceive as their greatest personal challenges to becoming certified classroom teachers?
2) What do bilingual aides perceive as their greatest personal assets in becoming certified classroom teachers?
3) What are the major affordances that bilingual aides believe enabled them to become classroom teachers?
4) What are the major obstacles that bilingual aides believe prevented them from becoming classroom teachers?
The study included individual interviews with seven program participants during their student teaching, focus group interviews with 19 program completers (including the eight that had been interviewed during their student teaching), and phone interviews with four non-completers.
Interviews with Individual Interns
In-depth, in-person interviews were conducted with seven programs participants at the time of their final internship, which was the last semester in their certification degree program. One-on-one interviews were a key element of the research design because they allowed each participant to tell her story and share her insights from a personal perspective, allowing for the amount of time each participant needed to express her lived experiences. All interview participants were bilingual paraprofessionals who were native speakers of Spanish (one of whom was raised speaking Spanish and Quechua). The interviews were semi-structured (Morris, 2015) opening with an invitation to talk about participants’ places of origin and how they became bilingual paraprofessionals. The interviews continued with specific questions about participants’ goals, areas of challenge in completing teacher certification requirements, and what enabled them to reach the culminating stage in their certification programs, their final internship experience.
The interviews were conducted, audio-recorded, and transcribed by doctoral students in a research methods course. The transcripts were then read independently by the doctoral students and a graduate assistant as well as the senior member of the research team, who identified common issues and themes that emerged in participant responses. The analysis indicated that participants’ goals were both personal and student-centered. Five respondents shared that becoming a teacher was a long-time personal dream that began in their home countries, before they emigrated to the United States. Becoming a certified teacher was also motivated by their desire to be a role model to their family members and community. One respondent, who grew up in a family that were migrant farmworkers, said:
I know how they [my English learner students and their families] feel. They are frustrated and they do not understand anything, what is going on…We come from the same background. They are really very poor families. We understand each other very well. They do not want to come to school…I know they feel lonely. It is wonderful to help them.
Multiple challenges confronted every intern, with balancing a full-time job, a family, and university coursework noted by all as their greatest stressors. Some had the full support of their family while others struggled to convince their partners and children that time away from them during evening classes and studying during weekends were sacrifices that were worth making. One participant described this common experience, stating “[my husband] used to tell me to stop…’when are you going to stop that? Are you crazy? For how long you have to study?’ At the end…he recognized the importance…and he was admiring me.”
Also challenging for each participant was the new responsibility of managing the classroom during the internship, which was a shift from the responsibilities of being a classroom aide. Five of the respondents suggested that the program of study include more opportunities to practice teaching whole-class lessons and using classroom management, which were not part of their experiences as bilingual paraprofessionals. As one participant expressed, “Now my responsibilities are higher. I am in charge of the class.”
Reaching the internship after completing extensive coursework was an accomplishment that all expressed pride in. Every participant credited the scholarship program’s support as a major factor in their success. Financial support was paramount, essential to even considering the pursuit of their goal of becoming a certified teacher. Equally important, and noted by every participant, was the non-financial type of support that the project provided, such as advising, individual tutoring, and assisting with the university bureaucracy. As one participant described, “Finding people that really care, people that want me to succeed, that give you a lot of help, having someone to take your hand, this program helped me grow professionally. Now I feel proud, because if we didn’t have this program, we would go [drop] out.”
Focus Group Interviews with Program Graduates
Focus group interviews were chosen to explore graduates’ experiences because everyone had the shared experience of being a member of the scholarship program, and because they knew each other since the program and district partner staff gathered all scholarship recipients once a semester to meet collectively with the entire program team, a recurring professional and social event that built community among the participants. Krueger and Casey (2015) note that focus groups foster an ambience where participants can tell stories that may spur others to think of and express similar experiences. This, in fact, was a frequent occurrence in the focus group sessions, which established group confirmation of many original comments and some challenges to individual assertions made.
Similar to the individual interviews, the focus group questioning route discussed participants’ goals, areas of challenge in completing teacher certification requirements, and what enabled participants to complete their certification programs. Questions were designed to move from an opening, introduction, transition to program-focus, key program-specific items, and ending summaries (Krueger & Casey, 2015). The ending summaries served as member checks of the participants’ comments. During the four focus group sessions, the facilitator posed questions while a graduate assistant took notes and audio recorded the discussion. The recordings were transcribed, and the transcriptions were compared with the session notes by the research team for confirmation of completeness. The graduate assistant and the facilitator then individually analyzed the notes and transcripts, identifying common themes that arose from the data. Subsequently, the two researchers met and reconciled their identified themes, some of which were collapsed into broader ones.
Reasons for becoming a certified teacher
Most of the study participants indicated that their main motivation to pursue teacher certification stemmed from a desire to take full advantage of possible opportunities they encountered. In fact, 15 respondents expressed that becoming a certified teacher was a means to pursue better opportunities for themselves, and eight indicated that learning about the scholarship opportunity sparked an interest in becoming a teacher that they had not previously had. The next largest common response was more outward focused, with six respondents indicating that they developed a desire to become certified teachers after immigrating to the US and seeing the need for bilingual/bicultural teachers who could relate to immigrant children. One respondent felt motivated by the treatment she witnessed of EL students:
In my case, I was a chemistry teacher in Cuba and when I arrived to the United States eight years ago I said I want to be a teacher here. I started looking; you know, someway, some information on how to become a teacher in the United States. It was so hard for me to find that. I first started working as a custodian for a year in the school system… I didn’t like how some of the teachers treated ESOL students...they felt like they are not students and they don’t have anything.
The other reasons given included becoming a certified teacher was a longtime personal dream that began in their home country (five respondents) and made them a role model for their own children and other family members, setting a strong example of hard work and achievement (five respondents).
Of all the challenges to transitioning to their new roles as teachers, classroom management and discipline were the most mentioned, with 15 participants noting their difficulty for bilingual aides whose previous classroom experience did not include this responsibility. In addition, twelve respondents indicated that they also felt a lack of appreciation from their students and that teachers in their home countries enjoyed a high level of respect. As one respondent put it:
I think the biggest deal is classroom management. I think it is something that at the beginning is very difficult but once you start it gets easier. It is the big issue. The internship is a very important step and I was pretty fortunate to have a good teacher to help me with classroom management and presentation of methods. It’s a drastic change. At the beginning you think how do you keep control of all those students and sometimes at the end of the day you say did I teach them the right thing, or I was thinking about discipline because you have to spend a lot of time with discipline. That is the hard part.
Assessments were noted by 10 respondents as a major hurdle, with some retaking the teacher certification exam, successful completion of which was required for graduation, more than five times. Focus group members engaged with each other over this topic, expressing agreement that the tests are a barrier but disagreement whether they are a necessary part of becoming a certified teacher. One exchange exemplifies this difference of opinions:
Respondent 1: Taking the tests has been difficult. The GK was so hard to pass all four parts at one time…The stress is overwhelming, the night before I don’t sleep at all…I never understand why we have to…take both tests at the same time you are taking classes.
Respondent 2: They just want to make sure.
R1: I think it’s too many tests for the certification. And I find it very unfair that I will be tested in math and even if I do pass the test, I will never teach math anyway so it just a matter of headaches for us especially because I am an older woman and I don’t remember that.
R2: I think teachers should know elementary things. It’s normal that we are supposed to know that in math.
R1: You’re supposed to be well rounded but that doesn’t mean that because I pass this or I pass that, that I’m going to be a good or bad teacher…I know people who did pass all those and they teach and they won’t have the experience or know how to manage a classroom.
A concerning response from nine participants centered around a lack of understanding of their linguistic differences, especially for those who obtained positions in secondary settings. For example, one participant summed up this barrier as follows:
The students, at this age, are sensitive to our accent, if we don’t pronounce correctly every word, they think we are the problem. They just ignore you and don’t want to listen to you. They don’t believe you. From my experience, you can be excellent, knowledgeable in the civilization, language and culture and a knowledgeable teacher in the subject you are teaching but if your American language is not perfect, we, sometimes, will have a problem.
The most common response was the emotional and financial support they received from the project team. Each of the 19 participants emphasized this affordance as critical to their success. In fact, it was mentioned across the four focus group sessions a total of 47 times. Another factor that led to their ultimate success was seeing how what they were learning and then teaching affected their students, especially regarding the use of culturally and linguistically relevant instruction. Seeing their students’ cultures and languages respected in their classrooms helped them to feel appreciated and respected as well. One other motivating factor that they believed led to their success was earning good grades in their courses. Although they were unsure of their ability to meet the high standards of university-based teacher preparation, when they found that they were able to earn high grades, their confidence and resolve strengthened.
Email and Phone Interviews with Non-Completers
Not all participants were able to overcome challenges to completing teacher certification. During the two-year period of the study, four participants dropped out. The graduate research assistant conducted telephone and email interviews with these individuals, inquiring about their expectations regarding becoming a teacher, the barriers they encountered during that process, what types of support had been beneficial, and if other types of support could have helped them reach their goal.
Respondents indicated that they were hopeful about becoming certified teachers, with no one expressing doubt about being capable of completing the program of study, although one was concerned about being almost 50 when she began and about age discrimination in hiring.
Two of the respondents identified English proficiency issues as the major reason for not being able to complete the program. One said that it caused her to be unable to pass standardized tests, which she retook and failed twice before giving up. The other said that she failed a writing class twice due to her English proficiency and concluded that she had already fell too far behind to keep going. Two other participants left the program because of the failing health of family members and their roles as caregivers.
All four believed the support they received was optimal and three noted that they could not think of other support that would have made a difference. The fourth indicated that providing a financial incentive along the way would have made a difference in her resilience and persistence.
Summary of Findings
The study examined bilingual paraprofessionals’ lived experiences while pursuing teacher certification as part of a scholarship program. This summary of the findings is organized by the four questions that guided the study and includes responses from interns, program completers, and program dropouts.
For the first question, “What do bilingual aides perceive as their greatest personal challenges to becoming certified classroom teachers?” respondents indicated that they were intimidated by the shift from providing support for students as bilingual aides to becoming the teacher who is responsible for the class, especially in keeping their students engaged and on task and in handling incidents requiring disciplinary actions. This response was connected to a perception that some of their students did not respect or appreciate their authority and position, in some cases due to the students’ critical remarks and negative actions regarding their English proficiency. Another major hurdle was standardized testing that participants were required to pass at various stages in their preparation to become teachers.
The second question, “What do bilingual aides perceive as their greatest personal assets in becoming certified classroom teachers?” was answered with references to their previous experiences in the classroom, either as bilingual paraprofessionals or as teachers in their home countries prior to moving to the United States. Knowing the language and cultures of their students, and the importance of reflecting them in instruction, gave the participants a sense of specialness and ability to reach Latino students that other teachers might not. This was a strong motivation for many participants, as they viewed their move to classroom teacher as not only a means to better instruct students from their linguistic and cultural background but also to be a role model for their students’ aspirations.
For question 3, “What are the major affordances that bilingual aides believe enabled them to become classroom teachers?” respondents affirmed that the financial, administrative, academic, social, and emotional support that the scholarship program provided was crucial to their success. Not only having tuition paid for up front (rather than other programs that provide reimbursement) but also the provision of extra academic tutoring and test preparation were essential for many successful program completers. They also noted that many of their professors were encouraging and believed in their potential.
The last question, “What are the major obstacles that bilingual aides believe prevented them from becoming classroom teachers?” was answered by the four non-completers. Those who were not able to complete the program indicated that the support provided was excellent but that personal issues or their own frustration with themselves impeded them from achieving their goal.
As school districts and teacher preparation institutions attempt to address the disparity in the proportion of Latino teachers to the Latino student population, bilingual paraprofessionals are a promising source of teacher candidates. In considering the costs of providing financial support to enable their bilingual paraprofessionals to earn teacher certification through a teaching degree, school districts should also take into account the rising costs of teacher recruitment and induction that come with hiring from outside. Grow-your-own programs can be a successful means of developing a cadre of teachers who represent, reflect, and understand the cultures of their students and who have gone through the process of becoming bilingual.
Teacher preparation programs and local districts can partner to provide financial and academic support for bilingual paraprofessionals, an approach that meets goals of each type of institution in making educational opportunities more accessible to students from diverse backgrounds. By cultivating an ethos of caring at all levels, the success of Latino students and their teachers can be furthered.
Specific types of institutional support that were found to be instrumental to the teacher candidates’ success include:
· Paying, rather than reimbursing, tuition and fees
· Providing academic assistance, including English for Academic Purposes classes, individual writing tutoring, and test preparation
· Designating a coordinator/contact person for the administrative aspects of admission, enrollment, and other bureaucratic requirements
· Offering extra professional development experiences in classroom management
· Bringing the cohorts together once a semester (twice a year)in a motivational event
· Developing individual program of studies plans that are reviewed by the program coordinator and the participant once a semester to gauge progress and set short-term goals
As Stockall (2014) and Moore (2016) found, multiple levels of support are necessary for programs preparing paraprofessionals to become certified teachers. Our study revealed similar results, showing that with coordinated and comprehensive support, bilingual paraprofessionals can be a viable source of teachers who know and represent the cultural diversity of students in today’s classrooms.
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The increasing number of immigrants whose heritage languages are not English living in the United States of America catches more and more scholarly attention on the immigrants’ bi/multilingual practices and learning in home contexts, as well as on the role of parents and other significant family members to a child’s early language and literacy development (Curdt-Christiansen, 2009; King & Fogle, 2006; Li, 2006, etc). Accordingly, the investigation of the interactive pattern between parents and children in immigrant families, including how various languages are managed, learned and negotiated, is coming to fore in the public domain. Early in the 2000s, the interactive pattern, or Family Language Plan, became an important area of research as it set a framework for child language development (Li, 2006). This language education related concept is further clarified by Schohamy (2006). In addition to the investigations of the functionality of bi/multilingualism among immigrant families in the United States of America, recent studies also investigate parental language ideologies which reflect broader societal attitudes and ideologies about language(s) and parenting (Curdt-Christiansen, 2009; Edwards & Newcombe, 2005; King & Logan-Terry, 2008).
Soto, Hooker and Batalova (2015) highlights that 4% of the nation-wide ELL population is Chinese. Less than 1% of the Chinese ELL population lives in the state of Florida. After carefully studied existing research, I found Chinese ELLs’ language needs in the state of Florida fails to capture scholarly attention. Conducting this research could possibly provide a window to capture more scholarly attention about Chinese living in North Florida, in order to better support them in the diverse needs of languages for schooling and education.
Language ideology has been defined as the subconscious beliefs and assumptions about the social utility of a particular language in a given society that reflect values and patterns rooted in a society’s linguistic culture (Schiffman & Ricento, 2006).
Language ideology, in particular, plays a vital role in language policy and in the language acquisition process. Language ideology exists in language, which is influenced by social dominant interests and power. Social power leads to actual and potential inequality among languages and generate language hierarchy in society (Ng, & Deng, 2017). English is a great example with high social prestige in many developing countries (Hornberger, 2003), as a consequence of a widespread English supremacy language ideology and social values. According to King and Logan-Terry (2008), language policy is defined as deliberate efforts to influence the others’ linguistic acquisition, language codes’ functional allocation and language behaviors.
Family Language Policy (FLP) is an seamless plan for language policy and education in the home domain (Curdt-Christiansen, 2009). It is a reflection of parents’ linguistic attitudes and language social status (Schiffman, 1996). Parental attitudes towards bilingualism is variously oriented in “language-as-problem” to “language-as-resource” (Ruiz, 1984). Some studies reveal parents are reluctant to prioritize their children’s heritage language development; even though they acknowledge the significance of heritage language maintenance for family unity and heritage cultural continuity (Conteh, Begun, & Riasat, 2014). Some inquiries find parents hold positive attitudes towards their heritage language maintenance (Curdt-Christiansen, 2009; Fishman, 2006; Kirsch, 2012). Some parents value and take advantage of external support their children’s heritage language development, for example, Sunday schooling, bilingual programs (Lao, 2004; Schwartz, 2008). Many immigrant parents are interested in their heritage language and home culture, and they demonstrate different language learning ways of participating in sociocultural domains, as well as maintaining ways of interacting with others from their home culture community, many immigrant parents resist English-only ideology and encourage their children to maintain their heritage language and culture, in order to decrease the difficulty level in transitioning to a new cultural unit, and to strengthen familial unity and cultural continuity (Song, 2016).
The theoretical framework in this study has two parts. Part 1 illustrates the relation between language ideology and FLP. The relationship between language ideology and FLP can be illustrated as seen in Figure 1 (Curdt-Christiansen, 2009, p.355).
Figure 1: Language Ideology and Family Language Policy
Part 2 is language orientation (Ruiz, 1984). According to Ruiz (1984), there are three language orientations to plan language and initiate language policies: orientations of “language-as-problem”, “language-as-right” and “language-as-resource”. The orientation of “language-as-problem”, excludes the value of minoritized languages in a society, and only highlights it as a barrier for the newcomers to be Americanized. The orientation of “language-as-right” regards language choice as a civil right for all the human beings. Accepting “language-as-problem” or refuting “language-as-right” may lead to a subtractive bilingual/multilingual instruction, being replaced by monolingual instruction. “Language-as-resource” orientation presupposes languages can be valued as an asset, while the value of asset is hard to generalize and to derive from other kind of resources (Ricento, 2005). Many scholars concur that these three orientations are by no means inclusive in dealing with all current political and societal issues, even though they are not always mutually exclusive to each other (de Jong, Li, Zafar, & Wu, 2016).
This qualitative study aims at exploring how family language policies are formed in 2 families who recently immigrated in North Florida from China. The study focuses on examining parental beliefs and attitudes to their children’s language choice and practices in Mandarin and English at home. In order to reach the purpose of this study, two research questions are generated as below:
1. What attitudes are held by the Chinese immigrant parents towards the maintenance of their heritage languages in the North Florida?
2. What are the parents’ language orientations in their family language policies and why?
Data Collection & Analysis
This is a qualitative study, with ethnographic inquiry (Merriam & Tisdell, 2015) to depict two families’ parental language ideology profiles and their bilingual practices at home.
Data collection procedures included one semi-structured interview with each family, and twice-home visits to each family in four months, to observe their linguistic-interaction patterns, bilingual practices and their children’s languages’ development. Field notes were taken and carefully kept in each visit.
Data collection got the approval from Institutional Review Board in 2017 and updated in 2018. All the parents have been asked to know and sign the written consent form. The primary source for this study was 40 minutes audio-recorded interviews. Besides it, two times in-home visits and observations (1 hour each time, 2-hours visits and observations to each family in total) were conducted as supplementary sources for testing children’s language development and their family language policies’ change in a span of four months, mainly examine orally interactive pattern among the family members, as well as materials and environment related to language cultivation. All the interviews were conducted in Chinese Mandarin, and partly translated in English. Field observation were written in English.
Grounded theory (Creswell, 2003) was used for data analysis, as a means of providing an explanation behind parents’ language ideology and its influence on bilingual practices at homes and children’s language development. The interviews were reviewed and transcribed verbatim in English. Field notes as a supplementary resource, were carefully organized and studied to support the data from interviews. All the data were thematically analyzed. Themes generated across all the cases. Within the themes, subcategories were further developed in each theme. After the analyses, three themes stand out: FLP profiles, parental ideologies rooted in “language-as-problem” orientation (Ruiz, 1984), and parental expectation on their children’ s school success.
Participants and Contexts
The participants’ selection in this study is based on purposeful selection (Palys, 2008). The participants in this inquiry are 2 immigrant families who are currently living in a city of North Florida. Both of the families are originally from Mainland China, carrying a distinctive cultural mark from American mainstream cultures and identities. Both the families in this study have only one child in each family with an early teenage age whose first language is Chinese Mandarin. The two families are currently immersed in English, a completely different language use environment community. In the selected families, all the fathers and mothers are competent English speakers. Both of the families originally from Mainland China, relocated to a city in North Florida, near a public university for degree or research purposes. Their education level is quite high. Family 1 holds an F visa. Parents of Family 1 are graduating and will go back to China in the near future. Family 2 holds a Green Card of Unites States of America.
More details about the participant’ demographic features are displayed below in Figure 2 (all the names are pseudonyms).
Although the high level of education of these parents cannot represent the general immigrant population education level in the U.S. it represents the general immigrant population educational background from Mainland China, especially of those arriving in recent years. The parents’ ages are in the early forties, their higher education was received in China in the era of Reform and Open Policy after 1978, in a period of re-valuing education as a crucial indicator for strength of China’s international influence. All the parents in this study hold “education should go first” beliefs for building up their expectations on their children’s school success and future education.
Findings reveal family language policies, or to say, actual language practices in the home domain, are directly influenced by national language policies from China and the United State of America and social values of the languages social status and parents’ socioeconomic status. Additionally, the parents’ educational background, purpose of immigration, cultural values influenced by Confucius contribute to establishing their aspirations in their children’s Mandarin as a heritage language for maintenance and cultural preservation.
Family 1 held an English-first stance for implementing their FLP throughout the four months. They paid a lot of academic attention on literacy practices, reading comprehension and writing skills development in English. As Mr. Zhou, the father of Family 1 stated, “Qi will come to an American college. Her English should be at an academic level in order to catch up with her American peers. And I am afraid she will be marginalized if her English is not good enough. When we came here two years ago, we spent plenty of time learning English with her at home, starting with the alphabet. English is first because we are living here. English is a must. You have to learn English because everywhere is English in America”. They allowed their daughter to use Mandarin at home, but it was used as an aid to better understand the text in English and to motivate Qi to learn English. Family 1 valued English more than Mandarin for their career and their daughter’s school success, whether in America or back in China next year, as “English is an international language. Everyone in the modern time should learn to speak English”. They want to take the “last minute” to learn English in America as it provides “authentic” English speaking contexts, “English is so important, and finally we find Qi an authentic American English environment without paying anything additionally. We need to take advantage of it.”
Family 2 had a dynamic FLP. The flexible FLP depends on their child’s two languages development. The first time when I came to visit them, they made more efforts in their daughter's English presentation skills. During the second home visit, I found they spent more time on their daughter’s Mandarin practices than English. English was largely restricted in their causal conversation. Also, they hired a Chinese tutor to teach their child Chinese twice a week, in order to make their daughter “speak Mandarin as much as possible with Chinese people”, because they got limited exposure in Mandarin speaking environment in their workplace, Xiao’s school and their living community.
Parental Language Attitudes- “Language-as-problem” Orientation
Interestingly, both of the families claimed they had positive attitudes to Mandarin-English bilingualism and they did put great efforts to their children’s Mandarin and English development. Interestingly, neither of them encouraged their children to spend extra time to learning a third language, more specifically, Mrs. Li told me, “language is just a communication tool to make the others understand our demands. Sometimes, we can say gesture is more helpful than verbal expression. We do not have time and energy to learn languages as many as we can. It is unnecessary.” Also, no evidence found in both of the families that they had any other languages’ materials at home. Moreover, in the two families, their local dialects, Hunan dialects and Shandong dialects were completely overlooked in their language practices at home.
Though both of the two families' positive English and Mandarin bilingualism perspective, their family policy and their attitudes to the other languages reflect “language-as-problem” orientation (Ruiz, 1984). Mrs. Zhang regarded an over emphasis on multiple language learning as unnecessary and a waste of time and energy, “Take Sweden for example, why that country has few scientists, but have lots of artists and linguistics, because this country has such a rich languages system and people there spend most time learning different languages. They do not have time care about science and technology”. Although the North Florida provides ample Spanish resources, no parents in this study had enthusiasm for learning Spanish or pushing their children to learn Spanish as a third language.
Parental Expectation on Mandarin-English Bilingual Development
Parental expectation, for children’s school success through different languages, is one of the micro motivators to initiate and enact their Family Language Policies for children’s Mandarin and English development. Parental expectations are often shaped by the parents’ socio-cultural-historical backgrounds through both primary and secondary socializations in and out of their home country (Curdt-Christiansen, 2009). Both of the focal Chinese families are well-educated, but they were suffering challenges due to limited English proficiency when they first came to the United States of America. It triggers the parents to set up high expectation on their children’s’ English competency development. That’s why the two families held an assimilationist perspective with ‘English-only” ideology to initiate and implement their Family Language Policies.
Both Family 1and 2 demonstrated strong inclinations to cultivate their children in a Mandarin-English bilingual way. Family 1 would move back to China very soon and they stayed in the North Florida for a very short period, they were confident to maintain their daughter’s Chinese skills even they had limited access to the Chinese environment for two years, so they put greater attention on Qi’s English practices and development. FLP in family 2 demonstrated a more dynamic interactive patterns from English-only practices to Mandarin-English bilingual practices, according to their and their daughter’s different language development stages.
Discussion-Reasons Behind Chinese-English Bilingualism
Evidence from this study indicates these Chinese parents believe in bilingualism as an advantage, but the bilingualism only specifically refers to Mandarin-English. That is, they hold the view of being Mandarin-English is a must but in a passive way. They view English as an international lingua franca and a condition to survive in the United States of America, but actually they believe “language-as-problem” (Ruiz, 1984) no matter from their critique of Swedish language diversity, or their intentionally or unconsciously avoid using their local dialects. Data shows that the parents in this study hold a negative attitude to multilingualism, but hold a bilingual stance, due to their immigrant experiences. This conclusion contradicts Curdt-Christiansen (2009), who examined the Chinese parents’ attitudes to multilingualism in Quebec, Canada and discover an optimal result from their FLP to multilingual education. I believe the difference may be from the number of participant’s selected, language proficiency, immigrant history and length, and recent national language policy updates.
FLP, like the other language polices, advocate economic advancement (Curdt-Christiansen, 2009). In Bourdieu (1991), linguistic capital has three principle forms; economic capital, social capital and cultural capital. The first form directly reflects economic benefit such as money, and the other two can be indirectly converted into wealth and economic advantages. The parents in the study all acknowledged the potential of Mandarin-English bilinguals nowadays because of the socio-economic position of the two languages. They hold a positive attitude toward Mandarin and English language capital for it can create financial opportunities and material wealth for their children in an international job market. Many economic goals or potential economic advantages are only achieved through English. Furthermore, all of them recognized the increasing importance of China on a global scale and in an international political arena and Chinese' increasing position among languages throughout the world. Additionally, the Chinese government and its national policy increasingly inclines to protect, value and spread Mandarin and Chinese culture. As a result, these parents consider Mandarin and English are essential to prepare their children for better opportunities and economic advantages.
Chinese Identity Adherence
Language as a symbolic presentation is intertwined with socio-cultural identity (Duff & Uchida, 1997). Cultural capital is acquired by the process of collecting “capitals” in terms of language use pattern, the modes of interactions, and cultural dispositions (Bourdieu, 1991). In other words, language is indexed in culture and contributes to shaping identity (Curdt-Christiansen, 2009).
In this study, both of the family valued Mandarin as a way of adhering to their cultural identity and position themselves as Chinese, regardless of their immigrant status - permanent or not. These views are rooted in the strong beliefs that identity is reflected, reinforced and developed simultaneously via linguistic practices. Though both of the families encountered the problems of fitting themselves into mainstream language and communities in America, they still firmly adhered to their Chinese identity and they wanted their children to experience a sense of belonging to Chinese culture. Mrs. Li viewed language as both a part of culture and a tool to get access to the culture, by sharing her understanding of Chinese culture which is linked to a wealth of human knowledge. Besides, Family 2 highly respected Confucius value and philosophy. They wanted their daughter to be humble and modest because it is the best way to talk to the world and live with the world peacefully, but “only to be mastery of Chinese and Chinese literature could truly understand the core spirit of Confucius. Translation loses its original meaning and contexts”.
Perceptions about bilingualism, with a monolingual lens are deeply rooted in the parents’ own culture and educational experience, and these beliefs are visibly played out in interactions under the influence of English dominant society in the states and driven by the more and more intensive Mandarin-only policy from China, with an increasing global status of Chinese language.
The political motivation for language-learning decisions is often associated with “equality” and “inequality”, ethnicity and discrimination, based on their immigrant experience and the length of immigration. It is also related to the optimism towards education (Curdt-Christianses, 2009). During the interview, Mr. Pan shared his first job-hunting experience in a lab in America, as “English proficiency is the strongest and most direct indicator to demonstrate you are competent to that job. English is like a name card. You must show them your impressive English skills at first, as a foreigner. Otherwise, there is no way to compete with the native speakers.”
Mrs. Li followed up by stating her daughter’s education in America, “You have to be much better than your White peers, then your voice can be heard”. As a resource, English is so privileged that can demonstrate ability and brilliance. Suffering of inequities or even racism contributed to their FLP with a core of “English-only” at the very first year of immigration.
One interesting finding is both of the families unconsciously devalued their dialects, especially in the case of Family 1, where the mother and father were from a distinctively different cultural and linguistic unit of China. They seldom used their dialects to talk to their children. Qi even could not understand Hunan. When asked the reasons, Mrs. Zhou responded as, “We don’t have opportunities to use our local dialects a lot except for my parent’s generation, because its utility is so low. And speak dialects often can interfere with their Mandarin’s pronunciation and easily confuse them.” Family 2 also regarded Shandong dialect as inferiori and a less-educated indicator, if one cannot speak standardized Mandarin and American English.
Both of the FLP in this study lead to a loss of their local culture and identities in their next generation, but none of the parents took it seriously as they positioned their children as “Chinese majority”, living with heavy accent when speak Mandarin will be “laughed at by her peers” and it’s not good for her to fit herself when they will relocate to China next especially after a living abroad experience.
The phenomenon reflects Chinese national language policy sending “Mandarin-only” ideology to a new high level throughout the world. This national language policy from Chinese government directly influences immigrant families’ attitudes towards Mandarin maintenance. It has a long story that the Mandarin required of speakers from other dialects to get intensive training at school as a civil service from childhood to adulthood, in order to essentially prepare these speakers to have equal opportunities to education, work and social life (Elman, 1991). Dialects, other than Mandarin, are treated as subordinate languages and policies are set up with “Mandarin only” condemn most who speak only local or regional dialects as illiterate. It reflects the scope of Chinese national policy’s influence on Chinese, no matter in a domestic or an international setting. It also reflects Mandarin's imperial and authoritative status and an inequality among different dialects and Mandarin, as a result of the political perspective with monolingual stance deeply influencing the social beliefs (Li & Li, 2013).
ESSA Influences on Mandarin development in the state of Florida
Evidence from the data of this study shows the parents have their own perspectives, and ways to cultivate their children's bilingual development. They have confidence to challenge school’s traditional teaching methods and linguistic media, to put various emphasis on maintaining heritage languages. To some extent, their cultural background and social class influences the resources the parents use for educating their children for language development. While the power of national and state-level language policy in an English dominance environment has greater influence on their ways of parental investment for their children’s languages learning.
When it comes to the Mandarin and English bilingual cultivation, there is a tension between culture preservation (Mandarin maintenance) due to parents’ home cultural background, Mandarin social status in China, and the standardization of students’ academic performance regulated by federal law (ESSA) and mainstream teaching pedagogy and linguistic resources in the States. Although the goal of Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015 (ESSA) is “to provide all children significant opportunity to receive a fair, equitable, and high-quality education, and to close educational achievement gaps” (Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015, § 1001. 20 U.S.C. 6301), and it confirms the importance of standardized entrance and exit procedures for state language support programs to ensure Emergent Bilingual students receive continuity of services, the ESSA still mandates standardized tests in terms of reading and math in grades 3–8 in English (Fránquiz & Ortiz, 2016). Specifically, the Florida Department of Education (FLDOE) fails to identify any existing assessments in language other than English for content-based examinations and there are no assessments needed in languages other than English (Broughton, Soto, & White, 2019). Furthermore, according to the report from Broughton, Soto and White (2019), FLDOE only reported only five top home languages in 2014, and no longer requires the school districts to update data in terms of student demography and heritage language. The overlooking of the diverse language population results in a mispresenting the schooling needs of other native language speakers to evaluate ELLs’ academic preformation.
To recap, legislation sets up the highest social hierarchy of Mandarin in Mainland China, and English in the state of Florida. Language social hierarchy forms the Mandarin-English bilingual FLPs in the Chinese immigration families’, as a result of refuting the other language development opportunities. “One-size-fits-all” approach of Florida’s enactment of ESSA fails to understand cultural differences and various language educational needs.
There are many implications that can be drawn from the two Chinese families’ attitudes to Mandarin and English development. First, the findings reveal a strong connection between parents’ attitudes to different languages and parental investment to language resources and assistance to their children’s language development. Thus, Chinese immigrants’ parents should deepen their understanding of Mandarin-English bilingualism and the tension between English dominant mainstream schooling and their inclination towards Mandarin maintenance and seek collaboration from school and community to allocate more resources for children’s Mandarin development.
Second, mainstream teachers, ESOL teachers, and teacher educators should put greater emphasis on “culturally relevant pedagogy” (Ladson-Billings, 1995) that makes teaching more relevant to the students’ Chinese cultural background, in order to avoid cultural assimilation, loss of ethnic cultural and language. It requires a closer interactions and cooperation between the teachers and Chinese immigrants. In addition, teachers should reconceptualize the power differences and changing structural relations between mainstream schools and Chinese immigrant parents, who belong the middle-class, well-educated group with strong, firm perspectives and confidence in educating their children.
Third, Florida’s plan of ESSA does not ensure quality preparation for teachers working with ELLs in the ethnic subgroups (de Jong, Naranjo, Li, & Ouzia, 2018), when adopt “one-size-fits-all” approach to teach all the ELLs in the accountability system (Broughton, Soto, & White, 2019) universities teacher education preparation programs should change curricula and enhance teacher candidates’ preparedness to teach ELLs, in order to understand their actual language needs, not only for their English development, but engage into promoting their home language development.
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Language orientations in Family Language Policies: An analysis of parents’ attitudes towards bilingualism in Chinese immigrant families of the North Florida
University of Florida
This study explores parental language ideologies and how they influence family languages policies’ development. Participants are from two Chinese immigrant families in the North Florida, Unites States of America. The focus is on how bilingualism and Chinese Mandarin are valued. Findings suggest parents’ immigrants’ experiences, educational experiences, beliefs towards bilingualism, national language policies and heritage language’s social status influence parental expectations on their children’s languages development for school success. Findings reveal the parents have passive attitudes towards language diversity but have positive attitudes towards Chinese maintenance in the English-speaking communities. The reasons behind parents Chinese-English bilingualism belief then discussed.
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Submission Deadline for the Summer 2020 Issue of SSTESOL Journal is April 1st, 2020
Workshopping with Pre-Service Teachers: A Case Study of Implementing Social Emotional Learning within an ESOL Practicum
Lori A. Cole, Paige D. Gibbs, Merve B. Ozbek, Caitlyn A. Robey, Ruth E. Vogel, Amarilys Wharton, Yolundra Whitehead , Tony Erben, Gina M. Almerico
University of Tampa
Pre-service teachers often focus on the mechanics of their pedagogy when engaged in fieldwork experiences. This may involve the desire to improve classroom management techniques, didactic strategies and what Shulman calls Pedagogical Content Knowledge (1987). Only recently has emphasis turned to how both in-service and pre-service teachers acquire skills in social-emotional learning and subsequently build the social-emotional capital of their students.
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The Collaborative for Academic, Social Emotional Learning (CASEL) defines Social Emotional Learning (SEL) as the process of implementing policies and practices to teach competencies and skills to assist individuals to develop a strong sense of self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, reasoned decision-making, and the ability to initiate and maintain healthy relationships (Almerico, 2017). Educators can teach and model the tenets of SEL in the classroom by introducing and exploring concepts such as empathy, respect, communication, social engagement, positive behaviors and self-management.
There is a need for SEL curriculum in public schools today so students can learn and develop social and emotional skills. It has been shown that well implemented and supported SEL programs can meet the following objectives:
- Develop positive community when students feel as though they belong, feel significant members of the group, and have fun,
- Teach and reinforce relationship-building skills,
- Promote social interest through sharing, listening, inclusion, participation, and dialogue,
- Model and practice social skills such as cooperation, assertion, responsibility, empathy, self-control,
- Merge social, emotional, and intellectual learning,
- Model and practice problem-solving and goal-setting,
- Promote effective decision-making.
Schools across the USA that are incorporating SEL into their curriculum are showing the benefits of using SEL strategies with students (Durlak, et.al., 2011).
In contrast, a dearth of research has shown the detrimental effects of culture shock, refugee trauma and other similar life-changing events have on the academic performance and school experiences of English Language Learners (Kaplan et al., 2015). ELLs have a need for SEL because of the additional stresses and frustrations they have while learning English. Schonert-Reichl, Hanson-Peterson and Hymel (2016) report that teachers who have been trained in incorporating SEL into their curriculum are better able to create the nurturing, safe, and healthy classroom environments needed by students who have experienced trauma or anxiety as mentioned above.
Yet how do pre-service teachers fare in their teacher education programs with regard to learning about SEL? Research indicates that not only are a majority of pre-service teacher programs insufficient in preparing young teachers for working with ELL students, but they do not prepare them on how to teach and integrate social emotional skills into their lessons (Jones, Bouffard, and Weissbourd, 2013).
The focus of this study is twofold:
• to investigate the efficacy of workshopping with pre-service teachers within a practicum setting and to gauge how onsite targeted professional develop may alter their practice, and
• to educate pre-service teachers about SEL and observe how they translate SEL strategies into workable practices with ELLs.
Preservice Teachers and Training in Social-Emotional Learning (SEL)
In order to be effective in the classroom, pre-service teachers need specific training in all aspects of curriculum and instruction. This basic theory of teacher preparation should also hold true for Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) in classrooms with English speaking students and English Language Learners (ELL) (Huang, Dotterweich, & Bowers, 2012). Prior to working with students, classroom management skills are introduced and studied to ensure novice teachers have the strategies and skills needed to build relationships with their students. However, very little is embedded into teacher instruction courses that specifically address incorporating SEL into the classroom or curriculum. National teacher education programs must provide more coursework to ensure preservice teachers can adequately integrate SEL into their educational practice once in the classroom. If preservice teachers are to become highly effective in the classroom, they must understand the benefits of SEL (Schonert- Reichl, 2017). Teachers could benefit from more content-based coursework tailored to SEL, and would feel more comfortable incorporating the curriculum when support is available (Faez, 2012).
Generally, the current education system places high priority on P-12 students’ academic achievement in reading, math, science, and technology, however, there is not the same level of attention devoted to students’ social and emotional life skills. SEL skills are not any less important than understanding any of the core subjects. In fact, arguably, it is just as important. Skills such as, learning how to manage relationships, cooperate with others, developing patience and demonstrating empathy are lifelong social skills that need to be learned and practiced to succeed.
SEL is a relevant focus of educators and educational researchers alike. According to Tim Shriver, chairman of Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL), compared to 15 years ago, we now have evidence to indicate quite solidly that SEL helps develop the child as a whole through the provision of competencies needed to succeed. Current research justifies the ever increasing need to provide additional professional development in SEL instruction for U.S. based pre-service teachers, as well as for in-service teachers. Thankfully, awareness and a plethora of resources through organizations such as "Frameworks" and CASEL promote high quality education and support to teachers in the implementation of SEL.
The Need for SEL in ELL Classrooms
According to the research (DeCapua, Smathers & Tang, 2009), more and more children are coming into school with greater social and cultural competency gaps. This is even more prevalent for ELL students because they have additional language and cultural barriers to overcome. For ELL students in particular the behaviors of the teacher has a greater impact on their feelings and emotions. Therefore, teachers need to be educated and understand the influence that their words, actions, body language can have on their students’ social emotional health. SEL strategies and education can benefit ELL students because it teaches them how to recognize and cope with anxieties that they have, culturally and socially, or how certain behaviors might be triggered in the classroom. ELL students are not just learning new academic content like their peers, but also a new culture, language, and expectations. By teachers weaving emotional scaffolding strategies (SEL) throughout their curriculum, they’re developing ELL cultural competency and overall confidence without singling out any students or making anyone feel isolated. When their confidence and social emotional competence increases, ELL students may feel more empowered to participate in classroom lessons and activities which will enhance their learning. SEL encourages ELL students to collaborate and develop social relationships with their peers.
In Florida, the number of English Language Learner (ELL) students entering K-12 schooling is increasing each year. To assist an ELL’s transition into American school cultures, ELLs can greatly benefit from emotional scaffolding. This is a strategy that teaches students how to manage and control their emotions (Park, 2014). They are able to learn verbal and nonverbal skills through communication and body movements. ELL students are more successful in areas of social competence and academic achievement in schools when they have a higher understanding of emotional control. Examples of how teachers on the one hand can create welcoming classroom cultures that provide meaningful learning experiences for students’ emotional growth and on the other hand promote social and emotional integration for ELLs into schools are; implementing relational task-based learning (TBL) activities (Roessingh, 2014), speaking opportunities through youtube, facebook, twitter and other social media, as well as engaging through communicative technologies. Through their interactions ELLs begin to incur opportunities to engage with peers at an emotional level and thus learn social and cultural customs in a comfortable working atmosphere.
Social Emotional Learning (SEL) is easily introduced through literature and can be used across the curriculum
There are many ways to introduce Social Emotional Learning in classrooms not only by using specific activities and materials, but also with through environmental print. The easiest way is to use children’s literature such as trade books. It is applied through all areas of the classroom and there are a number of different ways to incorporate it. Children’s literature allows teachers to bring SEL into the curriculum by connecting it to classroom or school community, for example choosing a trade book that focuses on the theme of kindness and using it as part of a morning meeting. Another way SEL can be used across the curriculum is through content specific trade books. Teachers can strategically choose children’s literature that address content area standards, while at the same time teaching a SEL skill. Using children’s literature as a platform to incorporate SEL is one means all K-12 teachers can easily implement in their classrooms. Teachers would just need to be strategic about selecting high quality literature that meets the emotional and developmental needs of his or her students. Through children’s literature students are taught values without necessarily having a separate lesson. They are learning important social and emotional skills while still learning the content so students are more likely to assimilate those social and emotional skills into their everyday learning. When teachers incorporate literature, they are able to teach SEL strategies while also meeting statewide curriculum standards. A common reason why teachers do not incorporate SEL into their classrooms is because they do not have extra time to teach lessons on SEL along with the current curriculum. Another reason is because they do not feel that they have the planning time and/or resources to incorporate SEL into their classroom instruction. However, by infusing SEL through targeted children’s literature they are able to use the instructional time that they already have and they do not have to rely on other resources.
Dresser is a professor at San Jose State University in California and she has published several articles related to the benefits of incorporating SEL into reading practices for ELL students. According to Dresser (2012), students’ academic performance is directly influenced by how they feel about learning and school. For example, if a student feels embarrassed and frightened every time they must read aloud, then it’s likely that they will grow to dislike reading altogether. However, ELLs who have a teacher and classmates who accept and encourage them, are more likely to succeed academically. This idea supports the overall positive impact of SEL on English Language Learners, especially since many tend to have negative views of reading because it is difficult for them. If teachers can use SEL practices to create a positive and nurturing reading classroom environments then ELLs will be more comfortable participating and practicing their reading and language skills. Dresser (2013) states that using reading selections with social-emotional content allows students to develop self-awareness and other SEL characteristics. According to Hammer, Blair, Lopez, Leong, and Bedrova (2012), incorporating social emotional competencies through literacy and mathematics in the preschool and Kindergarten curriculum, raises ELL students’ school readiness and self-regulated behavior. By creating a positive learning environment students are encouraged to participate because of their low-anxiety level towards learning; they will also feel more comfortable taking risks and to practice/improve their oral reading skills. Students will focus less on the anxiety these practices create and more on reading because they have the emotional strategies to help them cope as well as a nurturing classroom environment to support them in their language development.
Despite the above, according to Adera and Manning (2014), social and cultural competence in schools is widely taught through social interaction. Coupled with the fact that there is still a widespread lack of SEL educational resources and direction given to educators regarding how to implement SEL much more resources need to be developed.
The research project was designed to investigate the following research questions:
What are the implications of SEL professional development at the pre-service teacher level?
How do pre-service teachers make sense of social emotional learning when working with ELLs?
A case study approach is a qualitative inquiry utilized in education. Denzin and Lincoln (2011) defined qualitative research as the study of phenomena in their natural settings, with attempts to interpret or make sense or occurrences in terms of the meanings people assign them. Qualitative research study is a choice about what is to be analyzed within a bounded system in a particular space over a specific time period (Crestwell, 2014). This particular research study is a qualitative single instrumental case study bound in an elementary classroom with English Language Learners (ELL) who are predominantly Spanish speaking. The research explored providing SEL training to pre-service elementary education teacher candidates (second semester juniors or J2s) who are taking their second stand-alone (English Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) course and its accompanying practicum.
The research team consisted of seven (7) graduate students earning their M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction and two (2) professors. At the onset of the study, members of the research team conducted pre and post interviews with the teacher candidates to discuss their knowledge of Social and Emotional Learning (SEL). The teacher candidates’ lesson plans were reviewed with research team partners to provide additional insight and feedback on their plans prior to the delivery of the lessons. Observations of the J2s were conducted by members of the research team to determine their application of SEL practices during a series of lessons. The J2s videoed their SEL lessons as they were being observed. The recordings were used as part of a self-assessment to allow the J2s to observe and analyze their performance. Afterwards, research team members met with their assigned J2s who together watched the recordings for analysis and feedback. Common themes were extrapolated from the observations, video recordings, and interview data.
Pre-service teacher candidates
Thirteen teacher candidates in their junior year, second semester of their education program (J2s) participated in the training and conducted follow-up lessons with their ELL students which were observed by members of the research team. Previously in their coursework the J2s had one ESOL course and four ESOL infused courses: assessment, classroom management, and two reading/literacy courses. The J2 students work concurrently in their ESOL methods and their ESOL practicum. Both are delivered at an elementary school site. The structure of their integrated ESOL methods and practicum is as follows: J2s arrive at the school at the beginning of the school day and spend two hours in the classroom with a general education teacher. Then they spend 3.5 hours in an ESOL methods course where they deconstruct what they learned in their general education classroom or in their own teaching. Finally, they teach ELL students in a small group setting after school for two hours. This ESOL practicum is the first teaching experience for the J2 students. Previously, they had only been observers in a classroom with limited teaching experience. The J2 students are currently working towards earning their ESOL Endorsement. The ESOL practicum is 40 hours and will fulfill one component of that endorsement.
Elementary ELL Student Population
In this study, the ELL students were predominantly LYB students which means they are early production/intermediate proficiency students in English. There are 63 ELL students enrolled in the after school program, grades K-5. The contextual factors for the elementary school are as follows:
Grade Levels: PK-5
Ethnicities of student population:
Total Enrollment: 734 students
Free lunch eligible: 76% Reduced-price lunch eligible: 8%
Exceptionalities within classes: English Language Learners
Setting: Urban –Metropolitan
Title I School
Student/Teacher Ratio: 14:1
Researchers are candidates in a Masters of Education program focusing on Curriculum and Instruction. They are participating in this study as part of a Research in Education class, in hopes of finding a way to impact education through the curriculum.
Professional Development Workshop
The pre-service teachers received a three hour workshop at the elementary school where they were interning. Researchers discussed the definition of SEL, its core competencies, and why it is important to incorporate within the curriculum and presented strategies. During the workshop, pre-service teachers watched motivational TEDTalks videos about teachers who are currently using SEL in their classrooms. The videos allowed the pre-service teachers to see what SEL strategies look like in the classroom. Then, members of the research team demonstrated specific SEL strategies that could be incorporated into the daily classroom routine, such as having a morning meeting and teaching mindfulness exercises (brain break activities, relaxation breathing, and stretching exercises). Pre-service teachers were also shown a variety of children’s literature and given lesson plans and ideas that would allow them to infuse Social Emotional Learning into their lessons, while still meeting the Florida State Standards for instruction. The professional development training ended with a question and answer session. Members of the research team then stayed on site to observe the pre-service teachers conduct a pre-planned lesson with each of their ELL student groups.
The research team administered the Self Assessing Social and Emotional Learning Instruction Pre- and Post-Survey to the pre-service teachers as a pre-survey to assess their knowledge, competence, and comfort level surrounding social and emotional learning instruction. The assessment was chosen because the team wanted to see what the pre-service teachers’ background knowledge was on SEL, if any. There are 10 sections on the survey and each one focuses on an aspect of SEL instruction and implementation. The sections are student-centered discipline, teacher language, responsibility and choice, warmth and support, cooperative learning/group learning, classroom discussions, self-assessment and self-reflection, balanced instruction, academic press and expectations, and competence building-modeling, practicing, feedback, and coaching.
After the J2s completed the survey they were partnered with a member of the research team (graduate student). J2s were required to create a SEL infused lesson to teach their ELLs during the ESOL practicum in the next two weeks. Prior to teaching the SEL infused lesson to the ELLs, the J2’s provided the lesson plan to the research team partner for review and feedback.
Research team members analyzed their respective J2 lesson plans to identify which SEL observables were present. Then during the observation, they compared what the J2s planned in their lesson plan with what was actually executed during the teaching episodes.
The 10 sections of the pre survey administered to assess the J2s SEL knowledge was reworked into the observation protocol. The observation tool was used by members of the research team while observing the pre-service teachers to rate their effectiveness of incorporating SEL strategies within their ELL instruction. Using the same 10 sections in the observation tool helped the pre-service teachers when assessing themselves and reflecting on the effectiveness of the SEL practices in their lesson.
The same observation protocol was used by members of the research team to analyze and reflect on the J2’s videoed lesson. At the end of the study, the pre-service teachers responded to the same survey as a post-assessment to show how much they had learned about incorporating SEL into their instruction as well as their competency and comfort level in doing so. The research team members also participated in a post conference reflection with the J2 students to ask them about next steps, how they plan to incorporate SEL in the future and how effective they felt SEL was in their practice.
Figure 1: Pre-Survey Results
The researchers compared the pre and post survey results from the J2s in an effort to identify trends in their understanding of SEL before and after the training. In-person observations and recorded observations were recorded as the J2s presented their lesson plans with SEL implementation. In addition, the J2s observed their own recorded lesson plan presentation prior to their post survey.
One component of the Self Assessing Social and Emotional Learning Instruction Pre- and Post-Survey is Teacher Language. The survey required reflection on their acknowledgement of positive behavior with the student’s social skills and work habits. Specific affirmations were necessary from the J2s to these students. The J2s ranked themselves the highest in Teacher Language in both the pre- and post-surveys. However, this was not one of the highest rankings during the research team observations or when the lesson plans were reviewed.
Warmth and Support; Balanced Instruction
Under the component of Warmth and Support the following actions were determined: appreciation of students with greetings and eye contact, praising and encouraging the student even when answers were wrong, talking to the students and allowing each to feel included and appreciated. Balanced Instruction is questioning the students to extend their thinking. The teacher would also be utilizing multiple instructional methods and incorporating fun activities that have learning goals. In both of these areas, the J2s ranked themselves high in the post survey, these were also the highest areas ranked in the research team observations. After reviewing the lesson plans submitted by the students and observing their lessons, the data revealed evidence of a clear intent to model and demonstrate warmth and support for the learners throughout the lesson.
Student Centered Discipline, Self-Assessment and Self-Reflection
The lowest areas ranked in the J2s pre-surveys were Student Centered Discipline, Self-Assessment and Self-Reflection. These two areas were also two of the least observed during the implementation of lesson plans and as the researchers were observing the J2s. The pre- and post-surveys presented questions for Student Centered Discipline that involved discussions with students about classroom behavior, expectations, consequences, strategies for improvements and modeling expected behaviors. The topic of self-assessment and reflection presented questions about providing students opportunities to reflect on their thinking, learning processes, and academic goals with the teacher providing feedback for improvement.
Academic Expectations and Cooperative Learning
These two topics were ranked low in the pre-survey and were observed the least in the J2s lesson presentations. Academic Expectations allows the students to feel responsible for their own learning and to be supported socially and emotional by the teacher as their learning goals are being met. As these goals are met, more challenging material should be presented to the student. Cooperative Learning allows the student to work with each other and depend on each other for feedback and support. The teacher should also provide feedback as to the students’ progress.
Competence Building, Warmth and Support
Competence Building allows the teacher to model new learning by demonstrating the concepts using different methods and giving specific feedback. The teacher also has the students correct their mistakes and uses their progress to guide their own teaching methods. These two topics, Competence Building and Warmth and Support had the same average score from the pre-survey to the post survey.
Responsibility and Choice, Classroom Discussion
Responsibility and Choice encompasses allowing students to make decisions in the classroom and having meaningful choices with possible opportunities for responsibility. Students should also learn how to listen to others and conduct classroom discussions to express their point of view. The teacher can allow for in-depth discussions. The two areas of Responsibility and Choice and Classroom Discussions were scored poorly in the pre-survey. But, Classroom Discussions was the one discipline that was seen the most in the lesson plans and in the classroom observations. In contrast, the J2s ranked themselves low on their pre-survey.
There was an even amount of observables that were (a) in the lesson plan, but not observed, and conversely (b) observed but not in the lesson plan. This shows that students are implementing SEL practices without really planning it, or planning it and not implementing it. We feel this matches the finding that students are implementing these strategies not because they are SEL, but because they are just best practices.
There were 10 elements of SEL instruction that we used to observe the pre-service teachers throughout our study. The areas that the J2s ranked themselves the highest in on the pre- and post- surveys were in areas that are related to best practices as well as classroom management techniques. Based on conversations with the J2s we also noticed that they thought SEL instruction was a part of their general classroom management pre-requisites or an extension of it. Therefore, it makes sense why they thought they were more proficient in those areas of SEL than they were and why we saw that represented in their survey data as well as their observation data.
Another trend that was noticed in the data was that there was no true intent to incorporate SEL into their lessons. There were specific strategies being used by the J2s, but they were only ones that were explicitly demonstrated in their professional development. Also, we were seeing SEL strategies incorporated inconsistently. For example, either the J2s had a strategy in their lesson plan and it was not observed in their actual lesson, or it was observed but not incorporated in their lesson plan. This shows that they were not purposefully choosing SEL activities that made sense in their lesson or supported their lesson. If SEL was in the lesson it was there because it was a required element in the lesson plan, or they did it in their observation because it is a best practice, not because they were intentionally trying to teach a SEL skill.
Figure 2: Post-Survey Results
Figure 3: Observed vs Plan Trend Analysis
According to our research there is a need for specific SEL training for pre-service teachers. The findings from our research study further support that the targeted pre-service teachers in this study also have the same need.
During our data collection, we did not establish explicit expectations on how to collect the data using the “Observing Social and Emotional Learning Tool.” Some used tallies, while some used a simple “check-off” style to document that SEL component was embedded in the lesson. After analyzing the data and finalizing this study, we found that in order to make this study more effective, there needs to be a more systematic way of gathering data in order to have a more in-depth analysis. We gathered data by using a check-off list. In future studies, it would be beneficial to use tally marks to actually count how many times each aspect of SEL is imbedded in the lesson to further examine the need for professional development and link SEL strategies to student learning. Time was also an issue in our study. Because of this, we were not able to observe more than two days for 30 minutes per student-teacher. In order to gather better data for continued improvement, observations should be done more frequently to track the growth and development of the SEL implementation.
At the beginning of our study we had two research questions that we were trying to answer. The first was, “What are the implications of SEL professional development at the pre-service teacher level?” After completing our study, we realize that SEL professional development for pre-service teachers is very necessary. SEL instruction, as well as professional development on SEL, is just now becoming common knowledge in the education community as a result of recent educational research. The idea of putting SEL in daily classroom practice is a new idea, therefore it is not something that has been adopted nationwide. Only select universities are providing SEL education for their pre-service teachers. Since SEL is becoming more and more popular in educational practice and higher education, it is even more critical that pre-service teachers learn SEL skills and strategies so that they can include them into their teaching. If SEL professional development was more widespread in pre-service teacher education programs across the country, there would be a greater impact on the next generation of educators and their students.
Our second research question was, “How do pre-service teachers make sense of social emotional learning when working with ELLs?” Based on what we observed during our conversations with the J2 teachers and their lesson observations, the pre-service teachers had a superficial understanding of what SEL was. They had the misconception that SEL is another way to describe classroom management, or part of classroom management. During conversations with the pre-service teachers, many made comments such as, “It’s about teaching them to be nice to others and how to work with others”. The J2s only applied strategies that were explicitly demonstrated to them during their professional development. In our observational data, it was clear to us that the J2s were simply replicating what had been taught to them without understanding the “why” behind the activity or the need for it. They included the task with their students, but based on where and when they included it in their lesson, it was apparent that it was a haphazard application of SEL activities with no connection or flow to the lesson. The J2s were “throwing the strategies into their lesson”, almost as if to check a box on a SEL inclusion checklist. Based on our observations the SEL professional development needs to be much more in-depth to help the pre-service teachers really develop the understanding of and the reasoning behind SEL instruction. How preservice teacher engage with SEL will extend beyond the classroom into their own social emotional development.
One of the most valuable pieces of feedback received from the pre-service teachers was the importance of embedding SEL throughout their undergraduate courses in order to see how SEL can be infused in a range of subject areas. For them the professional development workshop was not sufficient, it only provided a more detailed description and some strategies about SEL; some information of which they previously heard through their professors. Their takeaway of the workshop was noticeable during the presentation of their lesson plan. As the data collection shows most of the groups used the SEL strategies presented during the workshop when observations were taking place and not implement in future lessons according to various groups. The incorporation of SEL was not present throughout the entire lesson plan, but in a few sections of the plan. Furthermore, a few J2s did not include SEL in the lesson plan but presented during the supervised lesson. For this, we can all agree SEL should be part of the foundation curriculum for any education major. An introduction should be established from the first year and continued through their graduate level coursework.
After we first met with the J2 students to give them the beginning survey, we found that this was their first experience with Social and Emotional Learning. Most of them did not even know what it meant, or how or why it was used. When we presented the two hour workshop about SEL, the information we were able to include was very limited. Members of the research team took a 40 hour graduate school course to learn about the SEL strategies and how to implement these in our own lesson plans. While we were preparing for our workshop, we were still learning ourselves. It was not possible for us to include enough examples or enough information for the J2s to understand SEL in its entirety. Accordingly, an extended workshop may bear more positive results.
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Dresser, R. (2013, 12). Integrate social-emotional learning into oral reading practices for best results. The Education Digest, 79, 61-66. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com.esearch.ut.edu/
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Roessingh, H. (2014). Teachers’ roles in designing meaningful tasks for mediating language learning through the use of ICT: A reflection on authentic learning for young ELLs. Canadian Journal of Learning & Technology. Vol. 40 (Issue 1).
Schonert- Reichl, K. A. (2017). Social and emotional learning and teachers. Future of Children, 27 (1), 137-155. Retrieved from https://. eric.ed.gov.
Schonert-Reichl, K.A., Hanson-Peterson, J.L., & Hymel, S. (2016). SEL and preservice teacher education. In J.A. Durlak, C.E. Domitrovich, R.P. Weissberg, & T.P. Gullotta (Eds.), Handbook of Social Emotional Learning. Guilford Press: New York.
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Examinees from around the world take tests of English proficiency such as TOEFL and IELTS for several purposes. These tests also include writing tasks, which aim to determine students’ writing proficiency (Barkaoui, 2007). According to Johnson, Penny, Gordon, Shumate, and Fisher (2005), “Writing assessment can play an important role in students’ lives from their entry into public school, through their matriculation into a university, and often into their professional lives” (p. 118). These tests are then assessed by either automated essay scoring engines or human raters or sometimes both. Receptive skills, such as listening and reading, have their own problems and biases; however, they may be assessed objectively as listening and reading tests have a set of multiple choice items, gap filling items, and the like that may not necessarily need human raters’ opinion or analysis to be graded. On the contrary, assessing productive skills such as speaking and writing typically require human raters, who are a source of error and subjectivity in scoring (Dunbar, Koretz, & Hoover, 1991).
In this literature review, I aim to focus on writing assessment and rater effects. As noted earlier, writing tasks are widely used throughout the world to assess English as a foreign language (EFL) and English as a second language (ESL) students’ writing proficiency for multiple reasons. Such assessments typically require human raters whose effects might unfairly increase or decrease the test taker’s grade. Many steps have been taken to mitigate rater effects; however, how objective the assessments are, is a question that has plagued the experts in the field for decades. Objective assessment of writing skill makes the job of raters difficult and in order to tackle this issue, some strategies such as inter-rater reliability have been utilized. This article reviews the literature on rater effects via the following two questions asked in the process of writing assessment:
· How objective is the rating process in assessing EFL/ESL students’ essays?
· What strategies have been utilized to make the writing assessment objective and free from rater effects?
Grading examinees’ writing samples is a time-consuming task and therefore automated essay scoring engines are increasingly used to assess and rate test takers’ essays (Wind, Wolfe, Engelhard, Foltz, & Rosenstein, 2018). For example, Educational Testing Service (ETS) uses Criterion, which is a computer-based grading program to assess examinees’ essays. However, to what extent such programs are able to analyze examinees’ writings is open to examination. According to Ramineni and Williamson (2018), “E-rater scoring system uses 11 features, with nine representing aspects of writing quality including grammar, usage, mechanics, style, organization, development, word choice, average word length, and preposition and collocation usage and two representing content or use of prompt-specific vocabulary” (p. 1). Using computer-based grading programs decreased subjectivity of the rating process and thus rater effects are less likely to be a concern; however, a greater concern is the way such programs work. While some test providers have developed, introduced, and utilized grading programs, they also realized that scoring by such computer-based programs alone is not ideal (Attali, Lewis, & Steier, 2013). Writing is a communicative activity between humans, and the analysis of such highly intellectual communication is beyond the capability of computers. That is why the rating process of English writing proficiency tests has always involved human raters (Lim, 2009). Wilson (2006) argues that because an automated essay scoring engine is just a program, it analyzes the text at the surface level and fails to analyze it at a higher level, which includes emotion, metaphors, creative thoughts, humor, figure of speech and the like that are woven into one another. Wilson continues to explain that a human rater is able to analyze the text and evaluate the text based on various factors and from diverse lenses, whereas a computer-based grading program similar to Criterion only grades examinees’ writings according to pre-scored student papers and is incapable of analyzing the text on a deeper level. Examinees communicate creative thoughts, use figurative language, and insert emotion in their writings, which require a greater level of language proficiency and computer grading programs fail to notice such language traits (Wilson, 2006).
On the other hand, using human raters for writing assessments has its own challenges. Trace, Janssen, and Meier (2017) note, “When scoring performance assessments, even skilled raters can exhibit significant differences in severity” (p. 3) and rater effects on essay scoring is to some extent inevitable. Although there is a sizeable literature on rater effects, it is still unclear what the causes of rater effects are (Leckie & Baird, 2011). The various factors that raters consider when assessing writing, as well as their beliefs and biases that are unintentionally brought to the process, may affect the ratings they give. This is specifically important in that the raters’ beliefs, biases, thought processes, and their linguistic and cultural backgrounds may greatly influence their ratings (In’nami & Koizumi, 2016; Johnson & Lim, 2009; Schaefer, 2008; Wind 2019).
To synthesize the literature on second language writing assessment and rater effects, I used online academic databases and conducted a literature search using the following key terms: rater effects, second language writing assessment, and rater reliability. In framing this literature review, I reviewed 28 scholarly articles and looked for recurrent themes across studies. The following three themes emerged from the reviewed studies: novice vs. experienced raters, holistic vs. analytic assessment, and raters’ backgrounds and experience. I elaborate on the emergent themes in the ‘findings’ section.
Unlike public view, rating process is complicated and multifaceted. It is far more than simply reading an essay and assigning a grade based on feelings or intuition. Cumming, Kantor, and Powers (2002) identify the following three steps in the rating process: (1) scanning the essay at the surface level, (2) reading and interpreting the essay and initializing the judgments, and (3) assigning a score, after summarizing and reinterpreting judgments. Similarly, Lumley (2005) states that the basic process includes (1) reading the essay and pre-scoring it, (2) scoring the essay, and (3) finally reviewing in order to revise and finalize the rating. Although the process seems to be straightforward, there are several factors that may influence this process and therefore affect the overall grades assigned to essays. Cumming et al. (2002) and Lumley (2005) summarize the steps into three sections, which are reading and interpreting essays, pre-scoring and scoring them, and reviewing and finalizing the ratings. The question that needs to be investigated at this point is the factors that influence these steps and the overall process along the way. Using human raters in assessing writing is preferable; however, using them as raters can lead to possible errors (Johnson & Lim, 2009). In addition, human raters, with their diverse language and cultural backgrounds, have biases that may influence the process of rating, thus posing a threat to the validity and reliability of the assessment procedures (Dunbar et al., 1991).
Strategies to Increase Validity and Reliability Rater Training
It is critically important to increase the validity and reliability of the assessment procedures and in order to achieve this goal, scholars, researchers, and practitioners in the field of second language writing assessment have applied many strategies. One strategy is to train raters. Whether native or non-native, raters might demonstrate a strong bias and might be subjective when doing the job of rating. Weigle (1994a) argues that the assessment of writing has always been threatened because of the raters’ biases and therefore rater training may be one effective strategy in removing differences in raters’ severity and increasing the self-consistency of raters. According to McIntyre (1993), “Rater training can reduce but not eradicate raters’ variability of overall severity. Rater training reduces extreme scores in terms of harshness and leniency and brings them in line” (as cited in Fahim & Bijani, 2011, p. 2). That is, when raters are trained, they are less likely to rate based on their biases; however, rater training does not mean that raters will not be biased at all. The findings in a study conducted by Fahim and Bijani (2011) indicate that most raters were able to modify their ratings, resulting in reduced bias, severity or leniency and increased intergroup consistency. In other words, after training, those raters who were initially identified as being severe or lenient were no longer biased, severe or lenient.
Inter-rater reliability is a popular form of score resolution, is an aspect of test validity, and is typically used in high-stakes tests. Research indicates that in order to improve inter-rater reliability, at least two raters should review a writing sample (Johnson et al., 2005). In order to determine inter-rater reliability, multiple raters (minimum of two raters) independently review the same paper and assign a grade to the paper. The degree of agreement among raters is of paramount importance and if the ratings disagree, a third rater will review and assign a grade to the paper. The average value of the entire set will be the final grade. According to Johnson and Lim (2009), “Inter-rater reliability illumines the product of assessment but not its process” (p. 486). That is, only the result turns out to be important and the process of rating is only known to the rater.
A review of literature on second language writing assessment and rater effects indicate that several factors including but not limited to raters’ cultural, linguistic, and educational backgrounds as well as her or his age and experience interrelate with rater effects. In the subsequent section, I elaborate on the emergent themes from the relevant reviewed literature.
Novice vs. Experienced Raters – One of the factors that may influence raters and consequently the rating process is the experience level of the raters. Being experienced means having skills and knowledge of something combined with doing or practicing it many times. In general, being experienced is an advantage and is beneficial. It eases the process, as an experienced person may know how to address an issue more professionally. This does not mean that being novice is equal to failure or lack of quality. Furthermore, it is important to remember that no one is born with experience and experience has to be gained. A review of relevant literature of second language assessment indicates that novice raters rate differently from their experienced counterparts (Barkaoui, 2010; Leckie & Baird, 2010; Fahim & Bijani, 2011; Kim, 2011) and experienced and novice raters have their own approach to the rating process (Barkaoui, 2010). The results of a study conducted by Leckie and Baird (2011) indicate that raters with less experience were more severe in the rating process than were experienced raters. In other words, those raters who were not experienced tended to be stricter when they were rating students’ writings. For example, the findings in a study conducted by Eckes (2008) revealed that novice raters tended to take the scoring criteria more seriously than did their more experienced counterparts. That is, more experienced raters regarded the scoring rubric as less important than novice raters did. Furthermore, raters who viewed the scoring criteria as less important tended to be more severe. In other words, those raters who considered the scoring criteria to be more important were more lenient when rating and assigning scores to test takers. Similarly, the findings in a study conducted by Kim (2011) indicate that “the ratings of experienced and novice raters were significantly different from each other” (p. 211). Cumming (1990); Wolfe, Kao, and Ranney (1998) note that compared to novice raters, experienced raters use a wider range of scoring criteria when evaluating, making judgments and rating. On the other hand, Leckie and Baird (2011) point out that “more experienced raters may make judgments about essay quality using factors not recognized by the scoring rubric, which is a serious threat to both the validity and reliability of assessment procedures” (p. 401).
Holistic vs. Analytic Assessment – Assessing essays holistically might be another reason that provides more room for the impacts of the raters’ backgrounds and the subjectivity of the assessment. Assessing essays or writing samples holistically introduces possible errors and personal judgment. That is, raters are expected to read writing samples and assign grades based on the overall quality of the paper. Using holistic assessment, when deciding on an overall score, raters are apt to use personal judgment to determine the significance of various rating criteria and are more likely to include factors that were not in the rating scale (Goulden, 1994; Leckie & Baird, 2010). The drawback is that there might not be partial credit for certain sections as “holistic scales usually list evaluation criteria without specifying how important each criterion is to the overall score” (Barkaoui, 2010, p. 31). On the contrary, analytic scales focus on the specifics which make the job of a rater easier in that the rater has more options to choose from. Although analytic scoring may decrease the chance of personal judgment, it might still be prone to subjectivity as raters may apply their biased judgment when they give ratings.
Raters’ Backgrounds and Experience – Some research indicates that raters’ linguistic backgrounds as well as her or his experience have relative impacts on the rating process and raters tend to rate differently based on their experience and linguistic backgrounds (Crusan, Plakans, & Gebril, 2016; Goodwin, 2016). For example, the cultural and linguistic backgrounds of both native and non-native raters is considered to be a critical factor when assessing and/or rating a piece of writing. Hill (1996) notes that some believe native raters are the ideal, and consider non-native speakers serving as raters as an exceptional category, if not completely unacceptable. On the contrary, there are those who assert that non-native raters are the most appropriate for evaluating examinee performance in many testing situations. Native and non-native speakers of English have different language backgrounds and depending on their language backgrounds, they read, review, analyze and evaluate through diverse lenses. For instance, languages such as Japanese, Chinese, and Korean are at a greater distance from English than is Spanish or French (Lim, 2009). This can simply make the rating process more complicated because both writers and raters who come from Asian backgrounds have different perspectives and therefore their writing and rating styles may differ from those who come from European countries. The development of rating rubrics has dramatically eased the rating process of second language writing, but there is still room for personal judgment and biases.
Studies that made a comparison of native and non-native speakers of English as the raters of writing performance differ in their findings (Johnson & Lim, 2009). Some studies show that native speakers are more severe in their ratings (Barnwell, 1989), whereas others reveal the exact opposite. For example, Ling (2001) found that non-native speakers of English in China identified more negative features of learners’ writing, whereas raters who were native speakers of English made more positive comments. On the contrary, the findings in some studies suggest the exact opposite. For example, Johnson and Lim (2009) conducted a study examining the existence of rater language background-related bias in writing performance assessment. They found that “the magnitude of bias terms for all raters for all language groups was minimal, therefore having little effect on examinee scores, and that there is no pattern of language-related bias in the ratings” (p. 485).
Additionally, stability of rater effects over time and the experience of the raters may also influence the rating process. For example, research indicates that novice raters do not rate the same way experienced raters do and their ratings are significantly different (Goulden, 1994; Kim, 2011; Leckie & Baird, 2011). Moreover, raters with less experience tend to be more severe than more experienced raters but unfortunately, we do not know much about the causes of rater effects (Leckie & Baird, 2011). The findings of a study by Leckie and Baird (2011) indicate that “while rater severity was unstable for all participating rater groups, there was more instability when raters were less experienced” (p. 415). Rater severity is a serious rater error (Cronbach, 1990) and can unfairly impact the success of an individual test taker. According to Wiseman (2012),
It is conceivable, for example, that one examinee whose paper was scored by the most severe raters could receive a score just below the designated cut score as compared to an examinee of equal or lesser writing ability whose paper was scored by the most lenient raters and received a score just above passing. (p. 151)
This literature review was concerned with rater effects on the process of second language writing assessment. For many individuals taking a writing test is a challenging task. English language learners take international tests of English, which include writing modules to determine their writing proficiency. The rating process of such tests, however, can be an issue, especially when it comes to productive skills due to the fact that they typically require human raters. It might be an issue, for raters may apply their personal judgments and their rating may be based on their biases. In other words, reviewing and rating an examinee’s writing is challenging in that several factors may affect the raters’ ratings. Experience, cultural background, as well as linguistic background are factors that have been discussed in the literature as influential in the rating process.
Automated essay scoring engines have been utilized by testing and assessment organizations such as ETS to ease and accelerate the rating process, assess objectively, and “provide students with practice and instant feedback” (ETS Criterion, 2019); however, their accuracy have been criticized on many levels. On the other hand, human raters have biases and performing objective assessments even when using scoring rubrics can be an extremely challenging task.
Automated essay scoring engines have their own pros and cons. Accelerating the rating process and being bias free are some of the advantages whereas failure to analyze the text at a deeper level is one of the greatest disadvantages associated with such scoring programs. Human raters, on the other hand, have biases and are not free from mistakes and errors. In an ideal but not necessarily feasible situation, an examinee’s essay can be rated both by a scoring engine as well as two or three human raters to increase both validity and reliability of the rating process and to decrease rater effects. Even in an ideal situation like this, rater effects can be decreased but not eradicated.
Implications for Practice
Although the focus of this literature review was mainly on international English proficiency tests, EFL teachers as well as ESL teachers may also benefit from the findings of this paper as EFL/ESL teachers play a key role in preparing students to take these tests. EFL/ ESL teachers are constantly in the process of testing, assessing and evaluating their students. Reading students’ writings, correcting, commenting, grading and/or rating them can be a time consuming task. In a classroom, the teacher’s cultural and linguistic backgrounds, biases, and judgment play significant roles compared to a rater who is rating a high-stakes test such as TOEFL or IELTS. The teacher is familiar with the writer (the student) and therefore has a better understanding of the writer’s knowledge of English and such information may help the teacher with the assessment procedure. However, the same advantage may act as a disadvantage as the teacher knows the writer and therefore can judge based on factors other than the student’s writing. Unlike high-stakes tests, for classroom-based writing assessments, it is unlikely to have inter-rater reliability as it demands a second and sometimes a third rater who may not be available for this purpose. Other teachers are busy with their own classes and they have their own papers to read and grade and therefore do not have time for extra papers to rate. Gamaroff (2000) states that more than one rater in teaching situation is rarely available. Although teachers can be creative and find their own strategies to be as objective as possible when assessing students’ writings, there are some strategies that can be utilized. Classroom tests can be graded anonymously as teachers know their students. When teachers know whose paper they are rating, the students’ backgrounds and their class participation may influence the teacher’s judgment. That is, the teacher’s rating may be based on factors other than the student’s paper. The teacher may re-grade a student’s writing, which was initially graded without the student’s name, and experiment to discover whether knowing the writer of the essay influences the rating process and the overall grade or not. In other words, comparing the results of the two methods of rating may help teachers to have a deeper understanding of the rating process that is objective.
Additionally, EFL/ESL teachers can raise their students’ awareness of the rating process of such high-stakes tests. The more knowledge the writer (the test taker) has about the rating process, the better she or he may be able to develop a more coherent and cohesive writing based on the requirements of a particular test.
Suggestions for Future Research
As stated earlier, a few scholars note that making judgments about the quality of students’ essays using evaluation criteria that are not listed in the scoring rubric is a major threat to the validity and reliability of assessment procedures and experienced raters tend to make judgments based on factors other than those recognized by the pre-defined rubrics (Goulden, 1994; Leckie & Baird, 2011). It should be further investigated that why more experienced raters consider the scoring criteria as less important and consequently make decisions based on factors not recognized by the scoring rubric. Is it because more experienced raters are experienced enough and have been in the field long enough to know how to rate and therefore, they believe that scoring criteria are pre-determined criteria that may not necessarily match the components of each and every essay? Based on Wilson’s idea (2006) that human raters are capable of analyzing the texts and computers are incapable of doing so, it may be assumed that experienced raters consider scoring rubrics as frozen formulas not appropriate for all contexts and/or essays. Overall, such behavior needs more investigation, as writing assessment is challenging and the process may not be as objective as it should be. In addition, why novice raters tend to be more severe than their experienced counterparts should be also investigated. If the rating process is based on a strict and detailed rubric, what makes a rater to be more severe than other raters?
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Wilson, M. (2006). “Apologies to Sandra Cisneros: How ETS' computer-based writing
assessment misses the mark”. Rethinking Schools 21 (3): 42-46.
Wind, S. A. (2019). A nonparametric procedure for exploring differences in rating quality across test-taker subgroups in rater-mediated writing assessments. Language Testing, 36(4), 595–616.
Wind, S. A., Wolfe, E. W., Engelhard, G., Foltz, P., & Rosenstein, M. (2018). The influence of rater effects in training sets on the psychometric quality of automated scoring for writing assessments. International Journal of Testing, 18(1), 27–49.
Wiseman, C. S. (2012). Rater effects: Ego engagement in rater decision-making. Assessing Writing, 17(3), 150–173.
Wolfe, E. W., Kao, C. W., & Ranney, M. (1998). Cognitive differences in proficient and nonproficient essay scorers. Written Communication, 15(4), 465–492.
Second Language Writing Assessment and Rater Effects
Hamed Shafiei Rezvani Nejad
University of Florida
Few can deny the importance of international tests of English proficiency and the rating process of such tests. Speaking and writing, which are regarded as productive skills, are the most challenging when it comes to assessment, as the assessment processes for the two language skills are prone to personal judgment. This article reviews the relevant literature on rater effects via two questions asked in the process of writing assessment: How objective is the rating process in assessing EFL/ESL students’ essays? What strategies have been utilized to make the writing assessment objective and free from rater effects? The findings indicate that experience of the rater as well as cultural and linguistic backgrounds of the rater are main factors affecting the rating process. Rater training and inter-rater reliability are two commonly used practices to increase validity and reliability of the assessment.
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English Language Teaching as a Second Career. Multilingual Matters (2016 )
Reviewed by: Małgorzata Durygin
Florida International University
There comes a time in life when people reflect on their life path and ask themselves the questions from Paul Gauguin’s famous painting “Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going?”. Sarah S. Shin in her book English Language Teaching as a Second Career provides a new neoliberal perspective on teaching English as a second language (ESL) in U.S. as she gives voice to older members of American society by showing their experience of job change into teaching ESL later in life.
In her book, Shin presents her findings from the interviews and observations of the older career-changers pursuing the Masters of Arts in TESOL program in the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. She describes their previous career paths, reasons for switching to teaching ESL, and challenges in TESOL training and teaching practice. She shows them as individuals whose plans go beyond the retirement years and often include some sort of “a career of service”, which can not only help them stay physically and intellectually active but also committed to “something bigger than themselves” like contributing to the society (Shin, 2017, p. 164).
In the introduction, Shin describes the growing need of the ESL teachers for an increasing non-English speaking population in the U.S. She points out the lack of the literature on the experience of older American career-changers and introduces her study on the participants’ experience leading them to teach ESL.
In Chapter 1 Shin describes the tensions in U.S. between the increasingly diverse younger populations (caused especially by immigration and higher birth rates among non-white groups) and aging older mostly white populations. She discusses how these demographic changes influence the growing demand for ESL teachers and how the older generations fit in. The limited English language proficiency of the younger diverse populations is a significant obstacle preventing them from succeeding academically and career-wise.
It is the neoliberal viewpoint Shin seems to adopt when she argues that older Americans make perfect ESL teachers because while they stay productive and remain intellectually active, they help younger, multiethnic generations overcome the language barrier - which may pay off as an investment in U.S. society which can “capitalize on the strengths” of these teachers (Shin, 2016, p. 3).
In Chapter 2 the author examines the research on human developmental phases. She discusses the new developmental life phase of adults ages 45+ referred to by scholars on aging as Adulthood II, or Third Chapter, among others, that emerged due to the longer and healthier life span. Based on the study the main characteristics of this new stage include the feelings of freedom, empowerment, and need to do something meaningful. It is these features of Second Adulthood that lead many of Shin’s study participants to pursue TESOL training. The author discovers that while this new phase for some comes with challenges in their private life, it is the crisis they face that often stimulates them to make changes and start over, which in turn influences their decision to pursue TESOL training.
In Chapter 3 Shin discusses research on human aging related to the changing perceptions of the mental capabilities of healthy older adults according to which if they stay intellectually active, they may perform better than younger ones in such areas as problem-solving, social relationships and creative thinking. The author examines benefits older teachers report from teaching ESL that include creativity and intellectual stimulation.
Chapter 4 shows how the previous work experience influences older adults’ decision of choosing teaching ESL as a second career. It consists of a detailed description of the participants’ educational backgrounds, and previous and current job histories. Based on the findings the social and linguistic skills are the main common characteristics of individuals who found teaching ESL attractive. Shin identifies the features that draw these career-changers to entering TESOL training such as accessibility due to limited entry requirements (that for MA TESOL provided), no need of previous teaching experience, and their native English language competency seen as a practical and globally marketable skills. In the study adults currently teaching ESL as a second career describe positive aspects of their job.
The next two chapters focus on the process of becoming ESL teachers in later life. In Chapter 5 Shin examines how the previous work experience of the career-changers shape their new professional identity as TESOL community members. She also discusses their back to school experience. While these individuals are usually motivated to learn and find it enjoyable, they encounter challenges in their TESOL programs and practice due to having extended knowledge and experience in the previous field and starting from the beginning in TESOL. Shin recommends that their expertise should be acknowledged so that everyone can benefit from collaborative learning activities.
Chapter 6 discusses teacher learning from the perspective of the participants. The author explores how they perceive ESL teaching at the beginning of their new career as time-consuming, how they gain their teaching experience through cooperation with students and peers and how they deal with the demands of teaching ESL in a variety of settings using what they had learned and their previous knowledge and skills.
In Chapter 7 the author summarizes the optimistic news regarding ESL teaching job opportunities. She points out that currently in U.S. both K-12 and adult ESL teachers are in high demand and it is a growing trend due to teacher shortages and increasing enrollment of English language learners. Shin also examines the participants’ perceptions of teaching ESL in various settings and the differences between them. According to the study, teaching ESL in K-12 schools comes with many formal credentialing requirements and performance demands, but full-time positions with benefits make the job attractive. In contrast, adult ESL teachers are often not required any formal credentials from their institutions, but full-time positions are rare and that is why some study participants keep their previous job while teaching adult ESL courses. Others, however, appreciate the less intense part-time job due to having both job satisfaction and extra free time.
In the last chapter, Shin discusses the conclusions from her study. Due to the longer and healthier life span, there is a growing number of older adults who decide to keep working, go back to school and change their career later in life. However, based on the experience of the study participants, it seems that neither the educational institutions nor the labor market is prepared to support them. The author calls for “a shared vision for lifelong learning’ in form of the training and staffing model adjustment to the needs of older adults as they transition to another career in later life so that they could use their extensive work experience and creative potential longer and benefit the society (Shin, 2016, p.165).
English Language Teaching as a Second Career combines theoretical and practical information useful for a wide audience. It provides practical information regarding TESOL training and practice such as general admission requirements, current and previous TESOL students’ comments about the program, or teaching ESL benefits and difficulties. Young adults who think about their future career, older adults who are about to change their current jobs, as well as immigrants with a good command in English trying to find their way in their new country may find especially helpful the data regarding ESL teachers’ common characteristics, their comments on ESL teaching and its advantages and disadvantages when deciding on their future career path. Older readers may see it as an attractive guide on how to reclaim their Adulthood II. Career counselors, social workers and family members of older adults can find the study valuable in their discussions with boomers searching for their advice on how to spend their retirement with a purpose and stay mentally and physically healthy. Teacher educators and administrators will appreciate the practical tips on how to organize learning to address the needs of diverse multigenerational groups of students so that everybody including themselves gain from such a cooperation. Finally, the book gives a chance to any member of US society to notice older adults and view them not as aging deteriorating burden but rather as useful intellectually growing assets and perceive intergenerational cooperation as a win-win situation for a diverse society.
In November 2019, the Sunshine State TESOL Association hosted the South East Regional TESOL Conference in Orlando, Florida. Over 500 members participated in the conference which was held over four days.
On the following pages, readers can now enjoy selected abstracts and presentations delivered by some of our esteemed members. These are called LINKS TO PRACTICE. Presenters have been asked to highlight how their presentations connect with classroom practice. Presenters' powerpoints and handouts have been included.
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LINKS TO PRACTICE
Teaching Metacognitive Online Reading Strategies in Academic Texts to L2 Learners
University of South Florida
1) Presentation Overview
Second language (L2) reading should be an interactive process (Goodman, 1967); therefore, the reading instruction for L2 learners should be presented in an interactive format. With scaffoldings from the instructors and explicit metacognitive online reading strategies instruction to improve academic reading comprehension of the learners, online reading may provide an opportunity for learners to interact with academic texts in compelling ways.
2) Who is the primary beneficiary of the practical application of the presentation and what are the links to practice? What are the ‘take aways’ for teachers, and practical examples, ideas, suggestions for instructors?
The beneficiary of the practical application of my presentation is practitioners who would like to implement online reading and explicit metacognitive reading strategies instruction to engage and help L2 learners improve their reading comprehension.
Online reading provides an opportunity for learners to interact with academic texts in compelling ways; however, there are challenges to the use of technology-enhanced reading tools. Therefore, L2 practitioners have vital roles in designing a course that involves integrating the teaching of metacognitive online reading strategies into online L2 reading instruction. These links to practice elaborate on the following: (a) the effects and implications of employing technology on interactive reading instructions; (b) the different uses of online reading technological tools (e.g., metacognitive online reading tools and strategies, computer-based texts and glosses, e-book system, and multi-media literacy software); (c) various metacognitive reading strategies that can assist L2 learners improve their reading comprehension; and (d) a lesson plan that can be adapted to various reading classes.
Links to Handouts here.
LINKS TO PRACTICE
Empowering EL Teachers through Close Read for ELA Achievement
School District of Lee County
1) Presentation Overview
Research indicates many teachers struggle with providing EL’s deep access to complex text allowing students to make meaningful connections to literature. This interactive, hands-on workshop demonstrates multiple kinds of close read tools including Contiguous, Leapfrog, and Focus Section. Participants will take away immediately usable methods to grow academic vocabulary, develop artistic ways to connect with figurative language, and engage in higher level text dependent questions in a culturally responsive close read. At the end of this workshop, participants will have high impact tools to create culminating activities demonstrating student ownership of learned skills as well as content and text meaning.
2) Who is the primary beneficiary of the practical application of the presentation and what are the links to practice? What are the ‘take aways’ for teachers, and practical examples, ideas, suggestions for instructors?
The model lesson is directly tied to Florida ELA standards in 2-6th grades. The steps for using the tools to plan is useful for trainers of teachers & K-12 teachers directly.
This presentation can be used by lead teachers and PD presenters K-12 to lead other teachers through developing meaningful close reads using SIOP strategies and Hollie’s VABB.
The actual materials for the close read of Domatila by J.R. Coburn can be used immediately in a 2nd or 6th grade class with the standards already defined and easily adapted 3-5th as the ELA standards for literacy build upon one another. Teachers are currently using the close read itself in classrooms in SWFL in 2-5th grade classes.
The model with examples, instructions and research references can be used by any K-12 teacher of ELL’s to plan a close read lesson using these techniques.
Link to Handouts here.
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LINKS TO PRACTICE
The Future of Professional Learning: Transforming Teachers Through Personalized, Sustainable PD
Carla Huck and Luz Merced
School District of Lee County
1) Presentation Overview
Professional development is a process, not an event. Our challenge in a large district with 12,000 ELs across 120 school sites has been to work within a variety of school settings to design active learning experiences that are based on interest and related directly to teachers’ classrooms and students. Active learning engages educators using authentic artifacts, interactive activities, collaborative practices, video clips, learning walks, book studies, peer lesson plan study, and other strategies to provide deeply embedded, highly contextualized professional learning. Based on principles of adult learning theory and the seven characteristics of effective professional development from Darling Hammond, Hyler, & Gardner (2017), the session contains an interactive menu of practical and effective training options along with action steps to implement them. Our suggested options:
1. Are content focused
2. Incorporate active learning utilizing adult learning theory
3. Support collaboration, typically in job-embedded contexts
4. Use models and modeling of effective practice
5. Provide coaching and expert support
6. Offer opportunities for feedback and reflection
7. Are of sustained duration
2) Who is the primary beneficiary of the practical application of the presentation and what are the links to practice? What are the ‘take aways’ for teachers, and practical examples, ideas, suggestions for instructors?
Our presentation applies to district ESOL Directors, ELL Coordinators and Specialists, Instructional Coaches, and Higher Education Faculty.
We offer a choice board of PD opportunities, with purpose, timeframe, and directions. The suggested formats can be used in K-12 and beyond, with general education teachers tasked with providing content and language development instruction to English learners. We also have a series for ESOL Paraprofessionals. Books and other resources needed are provided, but for the most part these offerings are cost-efficient and can be sustained through use of site-based instructional coaches and shared digital drives for dissemination of resources.
Links to Handouts here.
LINKS TO PRACTICE
Integrating Students' Career Pathways to Sequencing Writing Assignments in English for Academic Purposes Classes
Lourdes Albo-Beyda and Darenda Borgers
Broward College (South Campus)
1) Presentation Overview
EAP students are underprepared for college-level work because they need to learn English. They may also need more guidance to focus on their career related goal to succeed in college and in careers. This presentation focused on our study, which examined two groups to see how five sequencing writing assignments related to students’ career knowledge improved academic performance and personal growth. Each assignment provided a scaffold for the next – mind map, academic writing formats and citations, first essay draft, peer review/editing, and final draft/portfolio. The results of our study also showed that these sequencing writing assignments enhanced students’ persistence, retention, and motivation.
2) Who is the primary beneficiary of the practical application of the presentation and what are the links to practice? What are the ‘take aways’ for teachers, and practical examples, ideas, suggestions for instructors?
The primary beneficiary of the practical application of our presentation is the students. These sequencing writing assignments blended with students’ pathways help students to achieve better results and motivate them to overcome any challenge they may face to succeed in the course. Furthermore, they boost students’ college readiness. Students can see their progress in writing and the increase of their knowledge in literacy information and improvement in their critical thinking skills.
The links to practice are the PowerPoint and the SETESOL Roundtable Session handout. Both explain and provide examples of (1) what the sequencing writing assignments consist of, (2) diagrams of the five sequencing writing assignments with examples, (3) tips for instructors to prepare the sequencing writing assignments, (4) students’ writing assignments examples and their quotes, (5) and the findings and implications of the study for teaching and learning.
This practical approach provides the teacher good examples of putting into practice purposely writing tasks related to students’ needs and interests. Moreover, the teacher can lead students to improve their writing skills progressively and enhance their motivation, engagement with peers and knowledge of their field of interest. If teachers create scaffolded writing assignments, they can realize the advantage of these sequencing writing tasks.
Links to Handouts here.
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LINKS TO PRACTICE
Exploring World Cultures Can Empower the Future of English Learners
University of Central Florida
1) Presentation Overview
Exploring world cultures can empower the future of English learners. In this workshop, I demonstrate a special topic course that I developed about world culture and critical issues facing international students. Participants learn how to develop a syllabus with course objectives and lessons for a World Culture class. The primary beneficiaries of the practical application of my presentation includes any instructor in K-12, ESOL, ESL, and EAP courses. I designed athis course to help international students understand global issues at UCF. English learners become future leaders to make salient changes around the world. The workshop includes a review of my students’ classwork through class activities, photos, and videos. During the workshop, participants create a sample syllabus with five course objectives, activities and lessons, and student learning outcomes. Participants then share their ideas with each other.
2) Who is the primary beneficiary of the practical application of the presentation and what are the links to practice? What are the ‘take aways’ for teachers, and practical suggestions for instructors?
These are some suggestions to include in weekly activities, lesson plans, and class discussions.
1. Develop a lesson about cultural diversity. Cesar Chavez describes the importance of cultural diversity, “We need to help students and parents cherish and preserve the ethnic and cultural diversity that nourishes and strengthens this community - and this nation.”
2. Create a lesson to address intercultural competence and communication. According to Byram, 1997, “Intercultural communication is essential for successful communication among speakers of different languages. Intercultural competence is the capability of relating to and understanding people from other countries.”
3. Develop students’ perception about different governments around the world. Thomas Jefferson stated, “The care of human life and happiness, and not their destruction, is the first and only object of good government.”
4. Create a lesson to explain a world problem and add solutions. Ban Ki-moon once said, “Saving our planet, lifting people out of poverty, advancing economic growth... these are one and the same fight. We must connect the dots between climate change, water scarcity, energy shortages, global health, food security and women's empowerment. Solutions to one problem must be solutions for all.”
5. Explore a better education and global future for English learners. Nelson Mandela stated, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”
LINKS TO PRACTICE
Blogging in Advanced Writing in Higher Education
Full Sail University
1) Presentation Overview
Blogging creates a creative space for today’s learner. This presentation shows how to create blogs, as well as reinforcing patterns of organization. Through the writing process of brainstorming and outlining, students also include Venn Diagrams and Infographics. Lastly, the benefits of peer editing is shown within the creative process.
2) Who is the primary beneficiary of the practical application of the presentation and what are the links to practice? What are the ‘take aways’ for teachers, and practical examples, ideas, suggestions for instructors?
For College/University/Higher Education Instructors
This presentation highlights writing tasks to teach strategies for
· Enforcing patterns of organization that can include but are not limited to classification, description, argumentative, compare/contrast, problem/solution, cause/effect, process, and narrative paragraphs
· Brainstorming with Venn Diagrams and using them for the blog
· Creating infographics that are reversed outlines for writing that are engaging and eye catching
· Motivating student engagement in the editing process as well as leadership roles in peer feedback
· Creating a creative space for self-expression that reinforces writing as form of self-expression through technology
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LINKS TO PRACTICE
The Web 2.0 Tool Kit for Teaching English Language Learners in the K-12 Classroom
Ahyea Jo , Jo Kozuma, Sangyeon Park
Jacksonville University and University of Florida
1) Presentation Overview
The current session shares the historical backgrounds of the Web 2.0 Tool Kit and the most widely and effectively used Web 2.0 Tool Kit for teaching English Language Learners in the K-12 classrooms. Important ESOL strategies and teaching tips will be shared with teachers who do not share the language with their ELL students.
2) Who is the primary beneficiary of the practical application of the presentation and what are the links to practice? What are the ‘take aways’ for teachers, and practical suggestions for instructors?
The primary beneficiary of this session would be the English Language Learners under the premise that participating teachers will be utilizing the Web.20 tools in their classrooms. Classroom teachers, ESL teachers, and faculty teaching in the teacher preparation programs will also benefit from the practical application of the presentation.
Means and modes in teaching and learning has been shifted from the traditional style to the interactive technology embedded style and the shift in trend will likely to continue in a rapid speed. In terms of educational aspect of utilizing the web 2.0 tool kits, compared to the traditional form of education, it can provide learners with more possibilities of acquiring self-regulated learning strategies with student-centered instructional design at the student’s own rate of learning speed. In the traditional form of education setting, it can be challenging to assess ELLs’ progress and in-depth participation for various reasons such as different proficiency level, the dynamics among learners, etc. Most of the Web 2.0 tool kits are structured for individual needs of students, and its expectations are explicit at individual learner pace. In this session, the most widely used and the most effective Web 2.0 tool kits for ELLs will be shared and demonstrated for the practicing teachers. After the successful completion of the session, the participants will have examples of the Web 2.0 tool kits for them to utilize in their own classrooms based on the category of; content presentation, community building, collaborative design, creative expression and assessment.
Link to Handout
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LINKS TO PRACTICE
Increasing Student Engagement through Student-Centered Learning
Florida Virtual School
1) Presentation Overview
In this hands-on workshop, participants are exposed to many benefits gained from using student-centered learning with ESL and bilingual students. Active versus passive learning is compared and contrasted. Ways to integrate student-centered learning and address various learning preferences in different environments are presented.
2) Who is the primary beneficiary of the practical application of the presentation and what are the links to practice? What are the ‘take aways’ for teachers, and practical suggestions for instructors?
For K-12 teachers who instruct ESOL students, and K-12 ESOL teachers. These strategies could also work for higher education teachers.
In the age of intense technology usage and distractions, students’ attention spans have dwindled greatly. Lecturing and other teacher-centered methods lead to reduced student engagement and increased tuning out of a lesson. With English Language Learners (ELLs), input must be meaningful and scaffolded for students to be able to retain information in English. In addition, connections must be made between content areas for students to be able to better understand concepts and remember essential vocabulary in English. Student-centered learning helps accomplish these goals.
Student-centered learning revolves around four concepts:
• Place – A classroom that reflects students’ needs, stirs enthusiasm and curiosity, and is cognitively challenging
• Voice – Students have a say in how they learn. They also develop interpersonal communication skills, or the ability to express and share ideas with others.
• Space – This can include centers, small groups, or teams. Maximizing a creative, dynamic, mobile, and emotionally safe space in a classroom is vital.
• Choice – Providing options for students to pick activities, work at their own pace or in a sequential order of their choice makes learning more fun and engaging.
When students are the ones actively involved, they remember more of what they say, write, and do. As students work cooperatively, they gain knowledge from each other and learn to think creatively and critically. They also learn from failure and take responsibility for their learning. Furthermore, student-centered learning assists with developing real-life and real-world connections that are essential for students to become active and productive participants in society.
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LINKS TO PRACTICE
The World in Our Classroom
Halifax Regional Centre for Education
1) Presentation Overview
This workshop provided an overview through PowerPoint, videos and a discussion emphasizing the importance of creating language-rich classrooms for supporting students who are acquiring English across the content areas. The workshop would have been of benefit to classroom teachers, EAL teachers and administrators in K-12. Here are some of the videos that were highlighted:
2) What are the links to practice? What are the ‘take aways’ for teachers, and practical suggestions for instructors?
i. Culturally Relevant Pedagogy (CRP) is a strategy HRSB uses to ensure all students are provided with equitable learning opportunities. Before learning can begin, newcomers must feel welcomed and valued (including their languages) to ensure a sense of belonging. In this video, I describe how students acquire English as an Additional Language, how schools are welcoming new students and their families and what we are all gaining from having newcomers in our classrooms. CLICK HERE.
ii. Celebrating Diversity & Building Bridges Students from three HRSB schools recently took a trip around the world in just 90 minutes - without leaving the city, thanks to an event at Mount Saint Vincent University (MSVU). What did the students take away from the experience? CLICK HERE to watch this short video.
iii. Who am I teaching? What do I need to do to ensure all my students are successful in their learning and meeting outcomes in the English Language Arts classroom? These are questions Amanda Mahar asked herself as she looked around her Clayton Park Junior High School classes last September. The English Language Arts teacher was new to the school, new to the grade level and new to teaching newcomer students. By working collaboratively with a literacy coach and EAL teacher, Amanda shifted her teaching practice to ensure a culturally and linguistically responsive learning environment for each of her students. Find out what that looks like in her classroom in this video : CLICK HERE.
iv. Halifax West High School has long opened its doors and heart to newcomer students. Watch Principal Tim Simony and others explain how Halifax West makes new students feel welcome from the moment they arrive. CLICK HERE. Watch how Halifax West High School helps newcomer youth learn Canada's official languages and adapt to Canadian society. CLICK HERE. and CLICK HERE.
v. In Ms. Bennett’s class, there are a number of newcomers. She co-teaches with English as an Additional Language (EAL) teachers and uses a variety of techniques to assist with dual language instruction. Ms. Bennett embraces many ways of showing and knowing their learning. The six-week magazine project incorporates all course outcomes while focusing on student engagement and ensuring quality instruction and assessment for every student. CLICK HERE.
vi. Additional videos: (a) Message of Peace video . (b) School Opening (c) What I wish my teacher knew (d) What I wish my teacher
Teacher’s New Role: Advocates
Webster’s New World Dictionary defines advocacy as the act of writing or speaking in support of an issue. This term comes from the Latin word advocatus, which means one called to aid. Staehr-Fenner (2014) defines advocacy as working for students’ equitable and excellent education by taking appropriate actions on their behalf. Furthermore, providing a voice for those students and their families who have not developed their own strong voice in education is an act of advocacy. Advocacy is organized action in support of an idea or cause. When we support and promote the interests of English Learners in our schools and institutions of higher learning, we act on their behalf as advocates. Advocacy includes constituents educating elected officials on important issues and sharing ideas on what works (Costello, 2018). This is a teacher’s new role: advocates of ELs, their families, our profession and educational and social justice programs within the circles of difference makers (Fenner, 2014).
Figure 1. Circles of Difference Makers
Welcome to Coffee Chats© where novice difference makers converge and engage in meaningful and honest conversations of topics such as teacher identity, culture, economics, current legislations, and other topics that contribute to the successes and challenges of ELs. The trusting environment in Coffee Chats© allow for sharing of experiences, classroom strategies, brainstorming together, or problem solving together by applying the strategic steps for effective advocacy in school environment and beyond.
Figure 2. Strategic Steps for Effective Advocacy
The ultimate goal is to provide an avenue to support individuals to advocate for equal access to quality instruction and educational programs in public schools throughout the United States of America (Fenner, 2014; Costello, 2014).
A Difference Maker – In the Classroom
Meet Yuliya Williamson, a new member of Coffee Chats©. She is 4th year ESOL teacher who freely and proudly shared that all her senior ELs passed the ACT exams in reading and have met all requirements for graduation. We listened with awe and wanted to know to know the secret of this amazing achievement. Her story revolves around the consideration of the mental health state of students and teachers and its impact on the social, emotional and educational growth of students.
Yuliya believes that ELs could cope with the challenges at home and in school if students are provided the opportunity to address their difficulties and emotions. Providing a low affective filter in teaching and learning environment is beneficial to ELs’ state of mind in the classroom. This concept is the basis for Yuliya’s ten-minute conversation with her students on what they felt their successes and problems were before the beginning of class. Only then will her students delve into the academic aspects of the day. Why?
Research shows that educators intend to help our students acquire academic and social skills, and develop into active participants in their communities (Short, Becker, Cloud, Hellman, & Levine, 2017). Bowles and Gintis (2011) found that teachers strive to teach them more than just knowledge in order to achieve their goals, but also to become responsible family members. The findings of Ghanizadeh & Moafian (2010) affirmed the role of teachers’ emotional intelligence competencies, such as being kind and nurturing, allowing them to apply their knowledge to effectively advocate for equitable access to economic and educational opportunities to become better persons.
Conclusion: Looking Forward
Yuliya is building her reputation and expertise in teaching English Learners for “advocacy to take root and flourish” (Fenner, 2014, p. 60). As president and Advocacy Liaison of SSTESOL, I find myself engaging in an informal and trusting way to provide leadership in advocating for a beginning ESOL professional to develop confidence in herself and her profession. To all SSTESOL members, you should be proud to belong to an organization which is the leading and trusted authority in advocacy, English and academic language in Grades K-12 and adult levels in the state of Florida.
Staehr Fenner, D. (2014). Advocating for English learners: A guide for educators. Corwin, A SAGE Company. Thousand Oaks, California 91320. TESOL International Press. Alexandria, VA.
Ghanizadeh, A. & Mofian, F.(2010). The role of EFL teachers’ emotional intelligence in their success. ELT Journal,64(4). 424-435.
Short, D., Becker, H., Cloud, N., Hellman, A., & Levine, L. (2018). The 6 principles for exemplary teaching of English learners. TESOL Press.
McFarland, J., Hussar, B., Wang, X., Zhang, J., Wang, K., Rathbun, A., Barmer, A., Forrest Cataldi, E., and Bullock Mann, F. (2018). The Condition of Education 2018 (NCES 2018-144). U.S. Department of Education. Washington, DC: National Center for Education Statistics. Retrieved [date] from https://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/pubsinfo. asp?pubid=2018144.
Bringing Diverse SSTESOL Voices as One Through Advocacy
2020-2021 SSTESOL President and Advocacy Liaison
This article is dedicated to bringing to light the impact of leadership and member development in advancing and promoting sound education policies, programs, and practice through advocacy carried out in Coffee Chats© . This is the first of a series of chronicles documenting diverse voices of TESOL professionals who are attempting to bring one message to policy makers and educational leaders: build a purposeful teaching and learning environment that would lead to positive academic achievement in and beyond the classroom walls.
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THANKS TO OUR
2019 SOUTHEAST REGIONAL CONFERENCE SPONSORS
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SSTESOL Affiliate Chapters
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Emerald Coast TESOL
Northeast Florida TESOL
Bay Area TESOL
Central Florida TESOL
Palm Beach TESOL
Broward County TESOL
SSTESOL Journal Volume 12 Issue 3, FALL, 2019 p.61
SSTESOL Journal Volume 12 Issue 3, FALL, 2019 p.62
SUNSHINE TESOL JOURNAL