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