Peace as a Global Language Conference, September 2004

January 2004

How Much Comprehensible Input is Enough?

Willie Nelson Provides New ESL/EFL Teaching Resource

Electronic Village Online Sessions

Michael Two Horses, 1953-2003

Preview of September Peace Conference in Kyoto

Update: Interview with ESL MiniConference Editor

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ESL MiniConference Online!

The Conference Spirit, Online and Off!
Exclusive Interview with Robb Scott
by Meribel Osorio

How do you decide who to interview and which stories to publish in the ESL MiniConference newsletter?

Robb Scott holds son Bill at recent baptismWe published nearly 50 articles in 2003, and our collection of Achievement Profile interviews now stands at 40, including some of the best known as well as lesser known authors, teachers and administrators in the ESL/EFL profession. There are many journals, newsletters, Web sites and listservs in the world today which address various aspects of the ESL/EFL profession. I am a voracious reader of this information, and I am also subscribed to a number of the ESL/EFL related e-mail lists. About 50 percent of the ideas for new articles in the ESL MiniConference come from the discussions I find most interesting on those lists and in other journals, online and off. As far as the Achievement Profiles go, I am fortunate to receive recommendations on a regular basis from our readers regarding new interview candidates.

Also, I am advised by a great group of professionals who constitute the ESL MiniConference editorial board. I bounce ideas off them regularly, and they also are like my eyes and ears in different parts of the world, keeping me informed about what is relevant in their particular contexts. As I have said before, the driving spirit behind the ESL MiniConference newsletter is my intuition that we can recreate online a never-ending conference atmosphere, where novice, seasoned and, occasionally, worn-out, ESL/EFL professionals from around the world can find information, ideas, approaches and, above all, motivation to continue giving of themselves in their particular classroom, school and community settings. Many of the best ideas for new stories in the ESL MiniConference come from our readers, nearly 9,000 per month and growing.

In addition to editing the ESL MiniConference, are you involved in any other projects or activities?

Yes. I work full-time as an assistant professor of special education/ESOL at Fort Hays State University, in Hays, Kansas, about 70 miles northwest of Great Bend, where I grew up. There is a huge need for ESOL training in Kansas schools today because of rapidly changing demographics and the continuous arrivals of culturally and linguistically diverse newcomers to our state. I help to coordinate our ESOL endorsement program, which we deliver via on-campus, off-campus and interactive television (ITV). We are also putting our ESOL teacher education courses online to allow individuals outside of Kansas to receive a Master of Liberal Studies (MLS) degree with an ESOL emphasis, in response to strong demand.

In addition, I serve as first vice-president of the Kansas Association of Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (KATESOL), the Kansas affiliate of both TESOL and NABE (National Association of Bilingual Educators). Our organization is experiencing tremendous growth, and recently passed the century mark, now standing at 103 members. As vice-president, I also serve as conference chair for the 2004 KATESOL/BE Spring Conference, to be hosted by Fort Hays State University on the March 12-13 weekend. We have a great line-up of invited keynote speakers, as well as very strong concurrent sessions, poster sessions and more than a dozen publishers sending representatives to display materials.

These activities and projects are allowing me to make a positive contribution to teachers, schools and communities in my home state, for which I am extremely grateful.

As an experienced ESL/EFL teacher, what do you think are the crucial qualities required for a good English teacher?

That is one very tough question. I have met so many different people during my career, in settings ranging from Ecuador to Japan and New York City. Each teacher is a unique human being with his or her own personality, interests and teaching philosophy. There are so many ways to be good at teaching English to speakers of other languages. I guess that the one common denominator is enjoyment of spoken and written interaction, along with respect for the challenge of learning a new language. Motivation is also extremely crucial--but that can come from a variety of sources, all perfectly valid. I have been fortunate enough to learn from many of the teachers I have interacted with over the years, and I continue to learn from everyone I meet. I guess my philosophy also includes the ability to learn, grow and change as we gain in experience. An educator whose thinking about the learning process undergoes radical change after considerable experience is, in my view, the ideal towards which to strive, rather than endlessly justifying entrenched approaches and beliefs.

What has been the most memorable thing for you in the year 2003?

That would have to be the birth of my fourth child, William John Scott, on June 27, 2003. As with the births of each of my first three children (Robert Bryan Scott, Stephanie Faith Scott, Heather Giselle Scott), Bill's arrival has been a totally overwhelming experience for me. Watching him learn to crawl, clap his hands together, and start to "talk" has been very enlightening. He is great.

Thank you for taking the time to answer these questions.

You're quite welcome. They were good ones.

Story by Meribel Osorio, Hays, Kansas

2004 ESL MiniConference Online