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ESL MiniConference Letters (2002-2003)

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What is the Difference? ESL vs. EFL (October 2003)
I am an English teacher here in Buenos Aires, Argentina and at present I am attending a course on ELT as we were told to make a project on the differences between English as a Second and as a Foreign Language, I would be really greatful if you could send me some articles or information about it. Thank you very much, looking foward to hearing from you.
Roxana Gonzalez
Buenos Aires, Argentina

Dear Ms. Gonzalez,

I am not sure my answer will be helpful. In general, the distinction that a lot of people make between ESL and EFL is in the area of speech production skills. There are a number of English teaching professionals who make a larger issue of this difference than it needs to be. A professor of mine years ago suggested that perhaps there are not as many differences between ESL and EFL as some would imagine, and there is not much constructive that comes from dwelling on the differences. In truth, when someone says they are doing EFL not ESL it is usually to justify expecting less of the learners, setting lower standards and, in general, shirking teaching duties. On the other hand, English is increasingly an international language and the majority of English users in the world did not learn English as their first language. This makes the ESL teacher's insistence on the importance of "native speakers" as models of pronunciation and usage more and more ridiculous. Although ESL is here to stay as a generic acronym that encompasses everything done to help someone learn English as their second, third, fourth language, etc..., the term "English as an international language," or EIL, perhaps, is the most accurate. I do not think the "EFL" teacher is doing something fundamentally different from the "ESL" teacher. That is my position on the question you have posed. I am certain you can find plenty of other opinions and ideas with an Internet search.
Best regards,
Robb Scott, Editor

Re: O. Dean Gregory Festschrift (October 2003)
Dear Mr. Scott,

Dean Gregory was my dearly loved first cousin and I was devastated when he died. I can't add anything to your tributes as I did not know him in a professional environment but I'm delighted to see homage paid to him. I think his abilities were not appreciated nearly enough during his lifetime.

We did not grow up together as I lived in Kansas City, Missouri, but our paths crossed many times over the years. Our grandparents lived in Osborne. We were at KU at the same time for our undergraduate degrees.

When my mother was dying in Kansas City in the early 90s, he and Iri came and read to her while she was in her life ending coma. I was in contact with him weekly from the time he told me of his illness. I live in Oregon so was not able to be near him physically during that time but having visited him in their retirement home, I could visualize him there.

I don't think I have anything to contribute to your honoring him but had to offer my appreciation for what you're doing.

Iris Grimmett

Correction: Reference to Rod Paige (September 2003)
Dear Mr. Scott,

I know that Rod Paige made that statement about blowing up the schools of education, but do you have the source? Where and when he said it? I need the documentation if it is possible to obtain.

Bruce J. Miller
Chicago, Illinois

Editor's Note: The statement was made by Reid Lyon, Chief, Child Development and Behavior Branch, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. On November 18, 2002, Reid Lyon said, "If there was any piece of legislation that I could pass it would be to blow up colleges of education," while speaking at a policy forum held by the Council for Excellence in Government, in Washington, D.C. Rod Paige did not make the statement. Reid Lyon is sometimes referred to as President George Bush's chief policy advisor on education. Lyon has since apologized for his provocative remark. The ESL MiniConference apologizes for attributing that remark to U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige. We regret the error.

English Exchange for Kids! (August 2003)
Hi Robb,

I hope you are well. I just got back from two week visit with my family to Australia. Just a quick note to tell you that the Language Center is to have a cross-cultural exchange workshop for elementary school children in the neighborhood next week. Every summer, at the end of August, we have this "Kid's Seminar" workshop for three days, but we also are to open a web-based cultural exchange forum for children called "KidsWorld". This year will be the test-run.

If you know of anyone interested in children's cross cultural exchange, especially with children in Japan, will you please introduce the following site?

The site "KidsWorld" will be the safe one for students especially at elementary level and their teachers or parents and will welcome either class or personal participation.

Children in Japan will start posting their drawings/photos and ideas on the current topic "between-meals" from next week. We would appreciate very much if you could introduce our site to the children, teachers and parents who are interested in exchanging cultures with us.

The site will develop to have variety of topics and forums for exchange in the near future. "Between-meals" exchange is our first step.

Seiko Oguri
Associate Professor, The Language Center, Chubu University
Kasugai, Japan

New Site for English Language Learners (August 2003)
Hi Robb,

If the site is taking links, I'd like to suggest a reciprocal link to my new site,, over 1000 pages of listening and reading to choose from. You'll find news, movie reviews and stories all graded to suit different levels of English.

Tourist ID and password available for testing the site.

Let me know what you think.

Lindy Meinking
Principal, Educational Design

Natural Language Learning (July 2003)
Dear Sir,

My name is Nellie Deutsch. I am an ESL teacher. I am trying to find articles and research studies done on "natural language learning."

I am a believer in learning by doing. I believe experiencing both positive and so called negative experiences are the sole contributors to learning. I am a great believer in hands on learning. Language learning must be experienced in the same way. Students, however, must be guided so that regardless of their experiences in the target language they will feel "happy." How a learner feels is of paramount importance to his learning.

I have only had my own 30 years or so experience teaching ESL to young children, teenagers and adults. I don't have any other empirical basis for my ideas.

I am currently working on an ESL site I created for the sheer pleasure of sharing my work with others. I would like to add links to as many research papers and articles as possible on my site. Would you be able to help me?

I have added a link to your site for teachers.

Hoping to hear from you,
All the best,
Nellie Deutsch

New Subscriber to TESL-L (July 2003)
Dear Robb,

I am a new subscriber to the TESL list, and I wanted to thank you for introducing me to the ESL mini conference site. As an EFL teacher of 18 years in Israel, I am always on the lookout for enlightening, thought provoking articles on EFL teaching for myself and my teaching staff.

Adele Raemer
Kibbutz Nirim

Correction: Web Address for CEA Accreditation Info (July 2003)
Dear Robb,

Perhaps you already know, but just in case. The Web address on your page for the CEA accreditation is listed as:

http://www.ceaaccredit .

It should be:

Thanks for the newsletter! Keep up the good work!
Ron Martin
Dokkyo Saitama Junior/Senior High School
Temple University Japan doctoral candidate

New ESL MiniConference Participant (June 2003)
My name is Fran Lambert and I teach English, French, and Spanish at Marceline High School at Marceline, Missouri. Despite the fact that the local population is only 2500, we have earned top ratings as an educational institution and are proud of the fact that Walt Disney called this his boyhood home.

I'm very interested in the field of ESL, after studying in Mexico and feeling the increasing need to teach English to our new neighbors in our area. We have had a couple of industrial concerns bringing Spanish-speaking workers from Mexico without providing assistance for "living" and "functioning" in an English-speaking community.

I've checked with our state department about the qualifications for an ESL certification and am looking for a chance to work in this area. Therefore, your listings should prove most interesting to a beginner in this field.
Fran Lambert
Marceline High School
Marceline, Missouri

New ESL MiniConference Participant (June 2003)

I am an EFL instructor at the Language Center of Kuwait University. Currently, I teach two courses at the English Unit of Science College. A General English,(090) and an ESP, English for Science (161), and both for freshmen students. I started my teaching profession two years ago, after I completetd my MS program in TESOL at State University of New York,(SUNY) Albany, in January 2001.

I am a member of a CoP called Webheads in Action(WIA), where I learned about ESL Miniconference. I have developed a home page for the use of my students enrolled in both courses.To view my home page , please go to the URL:

To view web page created for GE 090 & ESP 161, please go to the URLs:

At present, I am reconstructing a number of web pages included in the URLs above, trying to integrate more CMC tools to the online activities created earlier. I also intend to develop a new homepage so that I can have a separate and independent website for each course. I love and enjoy e-learning and teaching. I try very hard to help my students become discoverers and independent learners, and I believe that e-learning is a great means toward that end. Besides that, using e-teaching helps me to become a life learner. I have participated, online, in a group presentation on the benefits of joining comminities of practice (CoP), at the TESOL Convention, 2003, held in Baltimore, Maryland, USA, last March. I am very glad to have joined ESL Miniconference and hope to share with you useful information.
Buthaina Al Othman
EFL Instructor, ELU/Science College
Kuwait University

Re: "Adjuncts Call Personnel Decisions Unfair" (May 2003)
Dear Robb,

I had the privilege of observing Phil Fayon teach an ESL class at WCC. I was impressed by his clarity, passion and enthusiasm. I was most impressed, however, by his amazing rapport with the students -- a skill often lacking in well-paid full professors with decades of teaching experience. I am saddened by the fact that adjuncts are underpaid and generally treated poorly even though constitute an important part of our teaching workforce. As the pun goes, adjunct is short for "ADD in the Fall and JUNK in the Spring."
Marty Lewinter
Professor of Mathematics, Purchase College (SUNY)

Re: "Adjuncts Call Personnel Decisions Unfair" (May 2003)

Hooray for these ESL adjuncts for standing up for better working conditions! As an ESL teacher who once worked four adjunct jobs and drove 3,000 miles a month for the magnificent sum of $18,000 a year, I understand how difficult it can be to make a living as an adjunct. At some colleges, adjuncts are not told whether they will be employed or not until the day before classes are to begin. Some are told their employment has been cancelled when they arrive on campus the first day of class. This can be a disaster for those who depend on bundling the income from multiple jobs just to get by.

The reality is grim. As one departmental dean (who later became the Vice President of a major university) told me when I was a program administrator, "We support the ESL program here because the money is unencumbered. It helps the real courses that we offer and our overall bottom line. The ESL program should be staffed entirely with adjuncts. It is much more profitable. Some colleges just take those ESL students by the ankles, turn them upside down and shake them until the money falls out. Of course, we are not one of those. But let's get rid of the three-year ESL teaching contracts as they expire. We don't care if we have a big turnover of teachers because, if you want to keep an ESL program on this campus, you have to increase your return to overhead each year."

It's cold out there when you don't have a full-time job. Those of us who are lucky enough to have one must do all that we can to support our colleagues who love this profession.
Jean Bodman

Re: "Phonemic Awareness Training: Both Boring and Ineffective?" (March 2003)
Actually my paper is about phonemic awareness, not phonics. (Although PA is considered to be a prerequisite to phonics.)
Stephen Krashen
Professor Emeritus, University of Southern California
Editor's note: In e-mails linking to Dr. Krashen's article, we used the headline, "Does New Research Mark the End of the Phonics Craze?" That should have been, "Does New Research Mark the End of the Phonemic Awareness Craze?" The ESL MiniConference regrets the error.

Re: "Memory and Language Learning" (February 2003)
Hi Robb,

I liked your essay on memory tasks and wholly agree with you. In fact, I have been using the same technique with poems for several years. The two poems I use most are "Dreams" by Langston Hughes and "The Wind" by Christina Rossetti. They are both short and need a minimum of explanation.
Best wishes,
David Papier

Re: Your Story About Riley School

I wanted to share this with someone. Guess you are it. I attended Riley School starting first grade, September 13, 1937, my teacher was Flora B. Rayson and the Principal Bertha Scott. I just located my report card. Would love to see the old building. Best of luck, glad to see the name is still there. Don't think it is the same building.
Jean Jennings
Amarillo, Texas

WAESOL: The Betty Azar Plenary
Hi Robb,

We had our WAESOL (Washington State TESOL) Conference and we had Betty Azar as our featured speaker. She was great! As I mentioned before to you, the theme of our conference was Languages of the Heart. I could tell from your interview that Betty Azar was influenced by the language of her heart, so I thought she would be perfect as the featured plenary of our conference.

She held the audience, which flocked to hear her, spellbound. She told stories, humorous antidotes, discussed the importance of ESL teachers giving their students a firm base in English grammar, and related her speech to how all ESL/EFL teachers are bound by the languages of the heart.

We video-taped Betty's presentation. It is perfect for use in teacher training programs, as it is professional, timely, and educational. WAESOL, with Betty Azar's blessing, is selling the tapes at $15.00 plus shipping & handling. Our website will have ordering information. Thank you for doing that interview, or I might never have had the tenacity to make all the contacts I needed to make to get Betty for our featured speaker.
Carol Gillespie
Washington State TESOL

Hello from South Africa!
I'm responsible for developing a model of language learning strategies to be incorporated in Macmillan's grades 4 to 12 learner's books and teacher's books. The rationale behind this project is to address the language obstacles that English L2 (and even L3)learners may experience from grade 4 onwards, once they have to make the switch to English as the medium of instruction, after having had their first three years of schooling in their L1.

Teachers of subjects other than English in South Africa generally seem to feel that teaching English is the domain of the English teacher. I want to raise their awareness that they are indeed responsible for addressing the language needs of their learners, and I want to show them that they can do so even though they have not necessarily had language-teaching training. I plan to do this by helping them analyse the subject-specific language expectations they have of their learners in the classes that they teach, and by showing them how to identify and address the language difficulties their learners might experience.

The project is still very much in its infancy, and since I'm not a teacher and am only two years into a three-year MA specialising in Applied Linguistics, I'd welcome any advice and suggestions from 'real' teachers!

I look forward to reading the articles and debates published on your website, and I hope to build my knowledge base in the process.
Linda Weber
Publishing Manager
MACMILLAN SA, PO Box 32484, Braamfontein 2017

Re: "Do-It-Yourself Teacher Training"
Actually, in rereading Gabriel Skop's article, I agree with only part of it, at least for myself. It may be true that many teachers are teaching the way they did in their second year (and if so, that's sad) but it's not my case at all. It's a cliche to say that teaching is learning, but it's valid nonetheless. A good teacher is always on the lookout for new ideas, new ways to add interest to the class. I can think of a dozen things I do now in the classroom that I hadn't even dreamed of in my early years of teaching. I would say that a teacher who never evolves is a failure. However, Gabriel did offer some good suggestions for teachers who want to get out of a rut. But you really have to have it in you to want to's just so cushy to fall back on the same old stuff, isn't it?
David Papier

Re: Survey
I work in a low incidence ESL program in a community which has no experience with second language learners. I work directly with elementary school students and help the staff with classroom strategies to help these students. I recently moved here from New Jersey. I miss the TESOL meetings and conversations with fellow ESL teachers. Thanks so much for this Web connection. ESL MiniConference is my lifeline to the profession!
Brigid Flynn

Re: NJTESOL/NJBE Summer Institute
The article is wonderful. I shared it with members of our board and our general membership. Hope all is well. Thanks for being such a good friend to NJTESOL/NJBE.
Judy O'Loughlin

Re: Innova Demo
I first saw your miniconference items because of a listing on FLTEACH. I want to thank you for the ESL MiniConference. It is an excellent resource that I will be using as I construct the fall semester WebCT program for my methods course. I will also tell grad students about it. Thank you.
Alan Garfinkel

Hello Robb,
ESL MiniConference is a fresh new presence on the language scene, free from a lot of the nonsense rampant in academic journals. A recent publication of mine (on language acquisition) is the subject of a CETEFL discussion now. I referenced your journal, and have gotten some positive feedback. It's one of the the few "journal" email postings I take the time to examine. Congrats, I think you have a success on your hands.
Steve Schackne
Schackne Online (
"Internet Resources For Life Long Learners"

Letters from 2002 2nd Quarter

Letters from 2002 1st Quarter

Letters from 2001