Donna Brinton, that’s Donna Brinton, and UCLA, University of California Los Angeles, a, you want the department too? Officially on the faculty since 1979.
Um, when I started at UCLA, I would say that the bulk of our population in ESL programs was um, international students, or very recent immigrants. Um, and in fact, um, population wise we had a large number of farces speakers um, which is something that today we don’t have at all. Um, and then, our program at UCLA has always been about fifty percent um immigrant students and about fifty percent international students. Also split equally into about fifty percent undergraduates and about fifty percent graduates. Our graduate students are largely international studying on an I-20 visa, and our undergraduate students are almost exclusively immigrant students. Um, over the years what’s happened is that these immigrant students have become and more the long-term immigrant population. That so-called generation 1.5 student and at least, at my university, um, one of the things that we’re seeing is that less and less of these students enter as freshmen and more and more of them enter as transfer students.
Well, what we’re finding is that the um, students who enter a, specially junior transfer students, are quite a bit less prepared than their freshman counterparts. Um, these are students who have gone through the California Community College system and our comunica---community college system is an open access system. It meant that the community college teachers have a, two years to prepare students for the university. And, in terms of what we know about language preparation, um, academic literacy demands, two years is, is hopelessly inadequate to prepare these students for university study. And yet, because of the transfer agreement between the community college system and the university system, these students are entering our university system. Um, and then we test them, of course, when they come in. We test their language proficiency and some of these students who are coming in with freshman composition and one course beyond, which is what our transfer agreement um, requires of an entering community college student, are placing five levels below that, on our English language proficiency test. So, um, that’s the extreme case, obviously, but um, we have a lot of empirical evidence that these students are not at all prepared for the linguistic demands of the university. They’re very bright students, I mean, make no mistake about that, um, they’re also very motivated students. And um, I think a lot of what we call south campus students, because our university, south campus is where their engineering and physics and, you know, the hard sciences are, um, they’re not inclined toward um, the humanities or the social sciences. And they’re not at all interested, really, in that they---their goal is to get through the university in a minimum amount of time with their degree in electrical engineering um, and of course, they’re not exactly pleased to find out that they’re now going to be taking four additional English language courses before graduation. So, um, I think the second part of the question you asked me was um, how our curriculum has had to change to address the needs of that population. Um, one thing is that we’ve had to add more courses at the beginning level. Um, we used to have a sequence with, sort of, three multi-skills courses that led up to um, the composition course. And we’ve added a composition course, um, sort of in-between, we inserted an additional sort of um, developmental composition course in-between the, the sequence that we previously had because there was just a need to work more on academic literacy. Particularly on writing skills, because these students are um, orally very fluent um, because they are generation 1.5 students, they often have no accent whatsoever. They sound like, you know, the typical, typical undergraduate student um, but when you look at the writing that’s where you see lots and lots of sort of residual ESL markers. Um, the other thing we’ve done is; we’ve added an additional um, elective course that’s a grammar review. Um, for many students this is not a grammar review. For many students this is the first time that they have ever overtly, you know, dealt with any, any issues in English grammar. So…
Um, okay, the generation 1.5 student that we’re dealing with, these are students who come at a very young age to the U.S. They’re not born in the U.S., but they find themselves, and I think the reason the term generation 1.5 was coined to describe these students is that they find themselves, in many ways, between generations. Um, they probably, in the early years, um, speak um, the home language and are most comfortable with that home language, but very, very early on, in the process; they begin to be more English dominant. And um, all of these students are students who have a K-12 schooling in the U.S. They might enter at different stages, they might enter in middle school, they might even enter earlier than that. Um, and yet, when we look at their language what we see is that, in a sense, neither language is, is completely there. They’re students who are beginning to lose their um, their home language, or if they’re not losing it, they don’t have ad---academic literacy in their home language. And in English there’re still bits and pieces that are, that are not completely fallen in place. Um, so it’s, it’s a very interesting population that we have, and that um, that we’re dealing with. They’re um, many---in many cases not at all aware of any of the language features that might identify them as non-native speakers of English. They’re often, I would say, when we test them, quite dismayed to find that they’ve been re-identified as ESL students by our standards that the university has in place.
I think one interesting aspect of this generation 1.5 population is that obviously the current political climate in California with proposition 227, the uns---initiative um, the, the perception on the part of a lot of California citizens who voted for prop 227 um, was that these were students who did not acquire English because they were schooled um, in---schooled bilingually. They were products of bilingual education, and in, in fact, I think, the reality is that many of these students weren’t products of bilingual education. They were students who went through um, ESL programs, either in their middle school education, or in their high school education and, of course, these students were then mainstreamed into regular English classes, based on the criteria that were in place in the school system. Um, what happens in---I’ve been involved a lot with um, work on articulation from segment to segment. Um, a student might meet the criteria for um, being mainstreamed at the middle school level, or at the high school level, but when they enter a, an additional educational segment, say, they move from high school to community college. The community college has a different set of standards in place, and they look at the language production of these students, particularly their written production, and they might say; this students needs to go into an ESL program. Um, the same thing, of course, happens when they exit the community college and enter either the California State University system or the UC system. We re-test them, we look again at their skills, and we might, again, re-identify them as needing additional English language um, education in order to succeed in our segment. Um, so…
Um, I think when we look at um, at student’s production and we’re in---our a, placement vehicle at, at UCLA is a, is a three hour examination that consists of a composition, a listening ses---a listening piece, and then a reading slash vocabulary piece. The thing that identifies this--- undergraduate immigrant, long-term immigrant student as needing additional ESL instruction is not the listening or even necessarily the reading/vocabulary, but it’s the composition um, data that would lead us to look at this student and say this is a student who needs to be placed into an ESL program. Not necessarily at a beginning level of the ESL program, but, most often these students fall into a---our composition sequence. Um, the type of, of thing that you see with a student like this, you see a lot of fluency, um, the students can, obviously, navigate around a topic very easily. They have ideas they can express their ideas, um, but in terms of the actual language that they’re using to express themselves, it’s--- neither syntactically um---a correct or---um, lexically also. I think what we see is um, lexically, these students lack an academic vocabulary, much more than their native speaker counterparts. Um, they might be using----even wrong word forms, often wrong word forms, um, and, a so you see this kind of juncture of syntax and lexicon where it’s hard to determine from a---from our point of view, is this a lexical issue, is this a grammatical issue. Um, and then of course these students have all of the typical problems that a freshman writer would have. Um, inability to write to a particular genre, they tend to write in a sort of more narrative sequence rather than being able to, to address a topic um, more analytically. They’re not able to, for example, compare and contrast, or look at a cause-effect sequence. But I don’t think that’s what marks this student um, as, as needing ESL course the---tha---in that case, if that was the only issue, we’d be tracking them into a freshman writing program. Um, and so one of the things that also comes into play, is, is a kind of um, (bells in the background) careful tracking of students, and we have a sort of two or three step mechanism of actually making sure that this students really belongs in an ESL class as opposed to a freshman composition class. And we have courses that carry parallel credit a, for freshman composition. We---they can either satisfy freshman composition through the ESL sequence of courses, or through writing programs. But it’s a determination that we make in conjunction with writing program faculty to, to place the students in---in a sequence that would benefit them the most.
No, no, it’s a pretty unusual thing I think. Even having credit bearing courses for ESL is often a battle, I think, that universities um, fight. And I know that’s an ongoing battle at the community college in California right now as well.
Actually not on my part thought, I can’t take credit for that because that was in place already when I began working um, as the coordinator of the ESL program at UCLA. And I would credit, that battle really to Maryanne Sulsmercia (?) and to Bea Schwabie (?) who did a lot of um, work in the early years of our program um, with a, university committees and with the articulation boards to make sure that um, that ESL courses were given credit and were seen as, you know, a discipline that um, that deserved to have---to have credit issued.
I became involved sort of on a more political level I would way, probably about six or seven years ago now. Um, because I was asked to serve on a committee that was a tri-partite effort um, of the California Community Colleges, the CSU system, the California State University system, and the UC system to write descriptors that would allow us to use a common language to talk about our ESL students and their proficiency. This was a, you can imagine, a gigantic project um, we wrote a, proficiency descriptors for um, speaking, listening, reading and writing. Um modeled a lot on some of the work that had been done in foreign languages and other, other programs, the benchmark um, project in Canada. We looked at practically every version of language descriptors that had been written before and what we were most concerned about, though, was looking at the range of students that attend California Public Institutions. So, um, early on in the project we decided that rather than really being a tripartite committee, that we needed to get down into the high schools, and um, middle schools. So we asked some additional people from the K-12 segment to join this project. And we began writing these descriptors, which was a work of um, that required a lot of compromise, um, because, when you’re working with, I think there were something like fifteen of us avol---involved a---di---in---involved in the project. Um, in the long run a, we had different ideas about what constituted, you know, a low beginning student. Obviously the people coming from the K-12 segment had a very different idea than I did about a low beginning level university student and that was a---it was a fascinating project in negotiating ideas, um, just about practically everything. What eventually happened is that we got off track from the descriptors and we began talking about um, the course or the path that our students take through, through the school system. And um, we felt that we needed to write an additional piece that we would append to the descriptors that would des---because the descriptors were really intended for um, for people who educate um, English language learners. But we’v---we were afraid that this document, if it were just the bare descriptors, would get in the wrong hands and might be used for the wrong purposes and we wanted to explain why the language acquisition process takes such a very long time. So we began dialoging about all of these other things and giving ourselves additional writing projects. Um, so we eventually wrote the second part of the descriptors which was the sort of process of articulation, and um, explained in very simple terms to, perhaps, a---an ESL counselor, or, a program administrator, the path that an ESL student takes toward a, language proficiency. And um, that document which a, was actually eventually approved, officially recognized by the California Community College system, by the CSU, a, system, and by the UC system, and therefore became as---a kind of official document. Um, it’s called California Pathways, and that’s a document that is available on the CA TESOL website, if the people would be interested in looking at it. It’s www.catesol.org. um, but, it’s, it’s a very interesting document. Um, unfortunately the project is not really finished because; once we wrote the descriptors um, we learned that it would be a very important process to also validate these descriptors. Um, the only part of the descriptors that have actually been validated at this point are the a, writing descriptors, we collected samples statewide from all four segments. From K-12, from community college, and from the two university systems, um, written to one prompt and we then got together and sifted through all of these and found representative samples that we as a group could all agree fit those particular descriptor levels. So those have been validated, um, those are now included in the second version of this California Pathways document, and um, I’m hoping we won’t have to do the other descriptors (chuckles) because it’s such a very long and tedious process. But, for me personally, it was a very enriching process, because it allowed me to talk with K-12 people who educate the learners that eventually end up in my classroom. And it, it meant that I had a much better, and richer, idea of how these students come into the UC system. And where they’re coming from and why they might still have issues in terms of their own language development that haven’t already been taken care of by someone who teaches in their---them in the community college, or their high school, you know, high school teachers. Um and so that I think has been a really good project for me.
It’s spelled c-a-t-e-s-o-l.
I think for any person in the profession, um, it’s really important to see the span of a, language proficiency that is in---in---the---educational s---system. We see students, of course, entering all of the different segments um, and we might see that, that entire span um, in our segment. It’s conceivable that we could see students entering with zero English and students who have already, you know, very finely tuned English skills in the same educational segment. And I couldn---imagine that, that is possible, say, in the K-12 segment. It’s much less likely that I, at the university, would see the zero level language because anyone entering the university already has to have, you know, either a tofol (?) score, or some other evidence of English language profici---proficiency to be admitted. And yet, for me as a teacher trainer, I’m training teachers who are going to be going out into all of these different segments. Um, and I need to know how they could address that, that student who’s in the very early stages of developing literacy. Um, in terms of the work I do with, with novice teachers in the, the tesol practicum, I place students into adult education and literacy programs because that might be where their ultimately headed and I want to make sure that that’s an experience that’s available to them at the university.
Um, I would say; really early on in my career, and this goes back to when I first began working at UCLA, probably, I became involved in working with English language instruction through a model that we---began to call content based instruction. The very early work that I did was with a program called ‘freshman summer program’, which is a um, a high school to college bridge program. And it employed a model of instruction called the adjunct model that I’ve written a lot about, a, with other colleagues, with Ann Snow and Maury Vesha particularly. Um, what we were doing, and this---is---this traces back to, probably---um---’78, ’79 um, even earlier than that, um, we were working together with professors from the content discipline. I worked a lot with psychology and the students in the program that we were teaching were, um, enrolled in a content course, namely introduction to psychology, for four credits. And they were also enrolled in a language course, which I was teaching, um, also for four credits. Um---in the very early years that we did this, this was an unknown model, this was something quite revolutionary at the time, it’s hard to imagine now, looking back at it, um, but we were doing this sort of by the seat of our pants, and we were learning how we could actually teach, or deliver, you know, our language curriculum using the content materials. Um, this required a lot of collaboration with content faculty, and that is not an easy thing to do. It’s hard t---to break down walls between classrooms, and at the university level I think it---it’s even, perhaps, more challenging, um, especially at a mega university like UCLA. Requires leaving your building (chuckles) and walking across campus to some spot that you never walked to, you know, knocking on the office door of that prof---that professor and saying we want to collaborate. Um, so, that was sort of the beginnings of my work, I---I taught in that freshman summer program for something like eight to nine years, and, curiously worked with just about that many professors um, of either psychology or I also worked with political science. Um, th---the---um administrative part of that program was an---especially important um, piece because I don’t think that content faculty and language faculty work naturally together without some force that’s sort of propelling them to do that. Um, we were carefully guided through the process by the administration of this particular program. We had regularly scheduled meetings. We had to come also to a meeting of the mind about ways in which we were going to instruct these students, and um, that was a really wonderful, and enriching experience for me, and became the focus of a lot of the work that I subsequently did. In the program that I work with right now, which is a university level program (background laughter) for mati---matriculated students, we’re unable to do that kind of adjunct instruction where we are actually working with one professor and one course, and--- and offering our ESL course in tandem. But, we’ve um, developed a sort of alternative model where we bring in real content um, from actual university courses into our ESL course in the form of video footage, in the form of actual reading assignments, and so what we’ve done is we’ve sort of tailored five week units that work with a particular content. Um, it might be from---um, atmospheric sciences course where the whole focus of that course is how winds develop and wind systems, and we then work with um, enriching that um, particular content by adding components that would um, specifically address the language needs of the students: reading comprehension, but, obviously also, um, listening and speaking. Um, we enrich it with pieces from literature, so they might read something from Joan Didean about Santa Anna winds, with that unit. And um, that’s also been a kind of interesting experience that I’ve had of how to translate this adjunct model, which is possible to do in---um---in a, I would say, a high school to college bridge program. But during the regular year at the university it’s really difficult to do that just because of timetables of students. And we’re largely a commuter college so you can’t ever get all of the students that need particular level of English instruction in the same content course. So this is sort of a compromise that we’ve arrived at.
Maybe let me begin by saying: when I first began working with university level students, and this is many, many years ago, um, I was handed a, basically, grammar based curriculum. Um, it was a three page list of grammar points that I was to cover in my class, and of course being a good teacher who knew that you don’t just lecture at your students but you get your students involved, the challenge for me, at the time, was to find content that I could overlay on that three page list of grammatical points and put together a course that was somehow coherent. Um, a lot of the early things that we did in our curriculum was to find content and sort of map in over that. But we were not entirely happy with that because it was sort of like that movie from a long time ago ‘If This Is Tuesday This Must Be Belgium, and If This Is Wednesday It Must Be Paris’, we sort of felt like we were something like: if this is Tuesday it must be the green house effect and if this is Wednesday we must be doing women’s liberation. And we felt like we were skipping from topic to topic. The students were, you know, sort of dizzy---dissala---where are we today. Um, and it just didn’t feel very satisfying. I think the---the thing that molded my thinking most was working with, with adjunct instruction where we were offering, you know, paired courses in language and content. And um, so---th---the thing that I see as being really different between a---a course that, where the point of departure is language versus a course where the point of departure is content, is that; when you begin with content, which is very rich and engaging in and of itself, or tha---that’s at least the challenge, to find good content that does engage the students and that allows you to sort of navigate around different areas of language that you can highlight. And do conscience raising and actual overt attention to certain features of that language. Um, I found that much more satisfying. I like to, you know, in any course that I work with, begin with content, (breath) do an assessment of the students language needs, and then find ways to use the content to explicate the language that I feel is relevant to the students. And I, I would say, any course that I do currently, um, would---would be of that nature. Even if it’s not what we would officially call content based course. Um, I recently taught a course on---a literature course. I redesigned an ESL literature course that I had taught many years ago and just looking at the syllabus that I had from, say, ten years back, and I thought: I don’t want to do, you know, a poem by Robert Frost and a short story by, you know, Summerset Vaughn, and a play by Arthur Miller. This isn’t feeling like the right thing for me to do. What I’d rather do is---is---is find content that I could work with. So I decided that the most relevant content to my students would be Los Angeles. Because that’s where they live, and they’re relatively new to Los Angeles and many things about Los Angeles peak their interest, intrigue them, they’re puzzled by it. A, Los Angeles is a fascinating place and many people love to hate it. Um, and so I picked---pieces of literature that---where Los Angeles was almost a character in fiction. And we investigated the theme of Los Angeles through reading literature. And we looked, also, at aspects of language that came out of that. But, that would just be an example of how you begin with content and, we also analyzed, you know, genre, we looked at, you know, what makes an effective piece of literature. But again, always going back to the theme that surrounded the course.
Working directly with, with content faculty, um, as I’m sure anybody who’s done this is aware of, can be extremely challenging. And it can also be extremely rewarding. I would say that in some cases working with, with content faculty I’ve found that is was just a very natural process, and that there was lots and lots of understanding on the part of the content faculty of the importance of language and of um, the fit between language and content. But, I’ve also had the exact opposite experience as well of content faculty who really---didn’t see how---how they could attach themselves to a course that was offered in tandem in---in language. A lot of problems with professors framing assignments that were just not at all appropriate to the level of the students proficiency. Um, so I, I would say that the answer to the---to the question is that it really depends on---on the awareness of the content faculty. Now of course there’s been a lot of work done on that area of---of heightening the awareness of content faculty on the needs of---of English learner population. And there’s a lot of resistance on the part of those faculty to the fact that these are the students in their classrooms today. If you look at the population of California, and even the population of a large, urban university like UCLA, um, which is----incredibly diverse in terms of the students enrolled. Every professor needs to understand tha---the needs of these learners, but a lot are---are still very resistant to the fact that these are the students that they are um, instructing. And they might very well have the attitude; these people shouldn’t be at the university because they don’t speak English perfectly. But the fact is that that is our population and we need to learn to work with them and help them along the pathway to, you know, more polished English skills as well as successful understanding of the content material.
I think there are really two models um, that I know of that are in place um, at a university across town from UCLA, we never mention by name, a---University of Southern California, um, there is a model in place, I believe, where the intensive English program, the IEP and the matriculated program, are actually one program. And students progress kind of naturally through that sequence. I think that’s the rarer model of the two. And the much more usual model is that you have an intensive English program that might be affiliated with the university, often offered through university extension. And then the matriculated program, that is the program where university students are placed if they need additional English language um, development. And the trick then is for those two programs to articulate, um, to communicate with each other. Um, our intensive English program, in fact, is offered through UCLA extension. The matriculated program is the one that I coordinate and that is attached to the Department of Applied Linguistics and TESOL at UCLA. We have a pretty healthy relationship with our IEP, largely because most of the teachers in the IEP are graduates of our MA program. Um, in terms of practicum placement for new teachers um, who are being trained through our program, I often place them in the IEP, um, and I think that that helps um, our IEP have a better idea of how students can be prepared to enter um, the academic program. But there’s always a tension, um, because the IEP’s are self-supporting programs. A lot of students who attend an IEP are not actually planning on attending a university. Um, there’s pressure in an IEP to---um, to keep clients happy. And academically challenging materials aren’t necessarily the thing that keeps young people who are visiting the United States intrigued and interested. So, I think, it’s a big challenge in the IEP to do---to present academically challenging material, even at the upper levels, that would really be---at the level that they might be expected to be performing at the university. And I think the same thing holds true for a community college programs as well. Um, that’s a big---a big gap in articulation that we’re working on filling, we’re working on smoothing over. Um, I think one real nice model is when students can actually take a credit university course um, before they’re actually admitted to the university, that then would transfer over. And that’s a model that a lot of IEP’s have when they’re closely connected with a um, a university level program.
Um, I think the---the kind of classic definition of content based instruction is that you---you begin with content as the point of departure and you---then---um map language onto that content. And, of course, content based instruction is such a, sort of a, Morpheus term, that it’s been applied to any number of-f-forms of content based instruction. Um, so many ---today, so many hybrids from the original three that um, (Ansnori-----?) and I talked about in our original volume, that it’s even hard to name them. But um, I think what they all share is this idea that language develops---with rich content, that the more you can expose students to content and get them---yo---you know, using their language skills, um, as they discuss this content, as they read about this content, as they process it, as they, you know, have to um, to address the---the questions that are central issues in any particular area of content that we’ve chosen, um, that---um---that would lead to language development. And there’s a big issue within content-based instruction um, about---the---the degree to which---um---language is overtly taught. Um, and I think, again, depending on the model of content based instruction, you might be working with a model where the---the focus is much more on---on just giving students lots and lots of input, and getting them to, sort of, talk about that content, but, you wouldn’t overtly be teaching that. And that’s---that’s one side of the picture, the side of the picture that I’m much more familiar with, and probably much more of an advocate for, is a model in which you both give them lots and lots of rich input, but you’re also overtly addressing some of the issues that you see, as a teacher, or as a person who analyses the needs of the student as needing attention. And certainly the population that we teach at the university is a population where I see a lot of need for additional focus on---on form. A lot of, sort of, overt attention, I would---I would say maybe consciousness raising is what I would characterize what we’re doing for students because these are students who are very familiar with the English language. English is often and often---often times their dominant language. Um, but when you point out to the, you know, there is an article system in this language, and um, here are some basic rules that you could use to---to attain more accuracy in your output. Um, they’re often just astounded, you know, that, my gosh, why didn’t anybody ever tell me about this before. So, um, we see both pieces of that as---as very necessary pieces.
Um, when, when Ansnor Moriveshna (?) and I originally wrote the content based second language instruction volume, many, many years ago, we defined three, what we called, prototype models of content based instruction---theme based, sheltered, and adjunct. Um, today, of course, there are many, many more models. But we saw a big difference between these three because we saw them as sort of a long---stretched along a continuum. With theme based being the model that um, is probably more broadly applicable, where you would begin with um, a theme that was of high interest to the learners. And you would um, integrate your language um, curriculum within that theme. Um, but the students in that program would all be taught by a language teaching professional, it---it’s aim is a language course, it’s not a content course. The um---the assessment of students would be not assessment of their content but rather assessment of their language. The, I often call it the flip side of the coin, is sheltered instruction where the teacher is usually a content teacher, rather than a language teacher. The aim of the course is to teach content not, overtly, to teach language. Although the idea, of course, is that language acquisition occurs incidentally as students are exposed (tape ends)
So obviously then a sheltered language course is a course that’s a course---taught by a content teacher. The focus of that course---is---the content itself. Incidentally language learning is occurring, but that’s not the overt focus of the course. Um, what would be assessed would be the students content knowledge, although, of course, we know that their ability to---to discuss that content does hinge on their language skills. So, um, but I---I would still say that---that theme based instruction and content---a, and sheltered instruction are kind of flip sides of a coin. And then the adjunct instruction, which is something that’s much less broadly applicable, it requires a lot of-f-funding. It requires a lot of –a-coordination efforts, but that is where you would have two paired courses in tandem. A language course and a content course with the curricula of those two courses being closely articulated. The faculty members working side-by-side on what their objectives for those students were.
Um, ---sheltered instruction is a movement in California that, of course, caught on like wildfire. Um, we have our own term for it in California, which is ‘SDAIE’-Specially Designed Academic Instruction in English, um, CATESOL as an organization has been very, very involved in writing pieces about sheltered instruction in training tea---a---teachers to deliver sheltered instruction. Um, and I think it---it’s shown a lot of promise. Um, I think the---the thing that is, perhaps, most promising about sheltered instruction is that the challenge of doing bilingual education in a state like California, where, in any given class, the learners in that class speak fifteen to twenty different languages, it’s quite impossible to deliver bilingual education in a setting like that. Not to mention the fact that we don’t really have teachers who are able to deliver instruction in all of those languages. The funding is not there, and, in many cases, even the---the---the---the teachers aren’t able to---to deliver instruction in the language of the students. So, sheltered instruction, in a sense, I think, caught on because it was such a wonderful compromise solution. You can work with students in a classroom; you can deliver content, um, at least in theory, at grade level. Um, by training teachers to more affectively deliver that instruction to students who---um, are developing---still developing their English language skills. And of course that requires a whole separate teacher- training piece, to train teachers to deliver that education to English language learners. Um, but that’s something that the state has been very involved in, and we have certification um, that teachers are required to do in order to be designated as sheltered language teachers. Um, I think the---the really promising thing is that (cough) you don’t have any ESL pullout type model for your---pulling students out from the content class to deliver English language instruction, therefore, depriving them of the content that they also need to stay at grade level. But you’re actually delivering that content to them in a very meaningful fashion. Um, the darker side of the picture, is that um---, if you talk to anyone who does sheltered instruction, to any teacher who actually delivers sheltered instruction um---they will tell you that it’s---it’s---it’s basically impossible to go through the same amount of material with a class of English language learners that you can go through---you can cover with a class of learners that speak English as their native language, um, simply because you’re doing a lot more um, interactive activities with the English learner population. You are probably teaching the concepts much more thoroughly, and, in a sense may that’s---that’s a good thing, um, because---a---the---the ultimate aim is to get the students to really engage the content, but you’re clearly not able to cover as much material. And then the reality of the classroom is that you have large classes, and you have students entering at---at many different points in the English language proficiency spectrum. So you might have, what we call, non-English speaking students in the same classroom with limited English speaking students with nearly, you know, what we would call fully English proficient students, all in that same sheltered classroom. And I think that’s a huge challenge for the teacher.
Well, you know those of us who are, who are pronunciation people, (laughs) pronunciation specialists, or people interested in the teaching of pronunciation, often say: pronunciation is the Cinderella, you know, of language teaching. Um---a---I think you’ll---vocabulary people will tell you vocabulary is the Cinderella of language teaching, but it’s that---that thing that we’re sort of putting in the upstairs closet that we’re a little bit afraid to bring out, often because of teachers fear of not knowing really how to address it. Um, and um, I think the same thing can be said of grammar as well. Um, teachers are often afraid to teach grammar because they themselves are not confident. They don’t know the rules, they don’t have the techniques for teaching it, um, pronunciation. I think perhaps even more so because um, many MA TESOL preparation programs have a core course in the teaching of grammar, but not nearly that many have a core course in how to teach pronunciation. Um, it’s something that we’re hoping change, those of us interested in the teaching of pronunciation. Um, but I think there is---there’s quite a bit of anxiety on the part of teachers of how to address pronunciation. Um, it’s also true of materials developers, if you looked at these multi-skills courses, very, very few of them actually address the teaching of pronunciation. There’ll always be a little grammar box but very seldom do you find the little pronunciation box at the bottom of the page of, you know, page three of that---that three page unit. It’s just, they’re trying to, you know, condense teaching into a certain number of pages, and pronunciation, again, gets kind of swept under the carpet. Um, how do we hope to change that? Well, I think you have to start with training teachers, and you have to start with giving them---methods for how they can teach. But even before that, um, because pronunciation involves a lot of knowledge, um, just articulatory aspects of, you know, ho---where do you put your tongue? If the teacher doesn’t know how to explain to the student, you know, about that particular articulation of that particular consonant or vowel sound or, the rhythm of English, or intonation patterns, or linking phenomena. If the teacher herself isn’t aware of that then there’s no way that that would be able to tell the students how to do that. And, perhaps even before that, to assess what it is about the student’s pronunciation that’s getting in the way of---of intelligibility. Um, it becomes a really critical issue at the university in terms of international teaching assistance, um, but that’s---that’s far too late in the stage, when you hit somebody who’s already been speaking English for eight to ten years, and you then want to suddenly make drastic changes in their pronunciation so that they can be---serve as a teaching assistant for a chemical engineering course. That’s probably not a realistic expectation, it would be far better to be working with really beginning level learners and giving them the skills and heightening their awareness about how they have to---articulate that sound differently in English than they do in their native language.
Well, teaching pronunciation, I think, um, most commonly---um, people who aren’t very schooled in that---teaching that skill area think of it in terms of the, sort of, segmental um, area. How to teach the pronunciation of a particular vowel sound, how to teach the pronunciation of a particular consonant sound, and this is true of learners too. Learners, if you say to them, you know, what about your pronunciation? They’re answer will usually be: well I don’t know how to say t-h, or I don’t know how to pronounce r, or I have a lot of problems with---I can’t tell the difference between sheep and ship. Um, so I think that people tend to immediately gravitate toward that area of segmentals, and um, the particular vowels and consonants of English. But, of course, in terms of the whole map of pronunciation, we’re talking, not only about---about the segmentals of English, but we’re also talking about the supre-segmental features. Um, intonation, rhythm, stress, and other um, connected speech phenomena, linking phenomena, so um; the whole area of pronunciation is much, much broader. And, a lot of the thinking and the teaching of pronunciation today is that, especially with learners who already speak English, and who already have a great deal of um---of---of proficiency in that language, we can---we can---um---achieve more success by working with the supra-segmental area than we can with working with the segmentals. I’m not advocating that we don’t teach segmentals at all, but, in terms of intelligibility, um, I might better focus on slowing a learner down, getting that learner to learn, you know, where to place the---the stress to coincide with words that are focus words, rather than working on how to---how to articulate t-h. And, intelligibility very much is---is---a an issue that we could talk about if we had more time (laughs).
Um, I did a lot of work with---um---start that one again.
Um, I sort of came---came---into this---into beyond framework through work I did, um, with our um---, UCLA writing programs people, and our---some of our school of education people, who asked if I would be willing to um, to work um, in the K-12 segment, particularly with an eleventh grade project where we were trying to encourage eleventh graders to write more analytically. Um, and one of the things that we were doing at that time was: we were administering the UC subject A exam, which is the---the composition exam that all entering freshman students, who want to attend the university of California take. We were administering this exam to eleventh graders to get them an idea what a college writing exam was like. Um, to make it a less intimidating experience, we decided that what we would do is, um, work with their teachers in producing teaching packets so that they could teach the piece of literature that the students were supposed to write about before they actually wrote about it. And um, to create these teaching packets we used a model that actually comes out of the California literature project originally called: the into-through-beyond model. It’s---it’s a deceptively simple model, um, into being those activities that would sort of get students warmed up and would get students thinking about their personal background knowledge, and experiences, that might somehow get them warmed up to encounter the actual piece of writing, or piece of literature that they were going to be reading, and then subsequently writing about. The---through activities then would be activities that sort of guided them into more analytical thinking about that piece. And the beyond activities um, would include those activities that then enabled them to, sort of, um, process---um, reanalyze that, in terms of their personal experiences, but then, um, critically, um,---critically applying---a---perhaps, a model to the personal experience that would help them to frame that personal experience better. Um---, I found that once I was, sort of, introduced to this model that it transformed my thinking about how to teach content, how to work with literature, and, it provided me with just an incredible number of tools. Um, we would identify, for example, in this project, um, in the into phase, there are fifteen or twenty different kinds of activities that we could do. It might be a quick write, it might be, um, looking at a---a cartoon, or a picture, and just getting the students to talk about personal experience. In the um, through phase it might be using graphic organizers to get students to look at the piece and then see, ok, character A has these experiences, character B has these experiences. Um, and then in the---the---a---through phase it might be, you know, writing the dialog of these two characters in the piece of literature twenty years later when they encountered each other in a---hotel restaurant of something like that. Um, I’ve used this model, not only in my own teaching, but, probably even more extensively, in training teachers to um, create activities for their classroom from um, primary literature that they were working with.
The primary areas that I teach um, I teach the sort of beginning methods course, which is the kind of classic component of any TESOL program, and then I also supervise the practicum, um, those are sort of my two pet courses that I teach. Um, and so I have the advantage of seeing students sort of coming into the beginning of a program, which is the TESOL methods course, and then, a year and a half later, or two years later, seeing them actually putting prac---putting theory into practice in the practicum. And that’s a really fascinating, you know, kind of bookend (laughs) for me to be able to see a new, a new person in the field, you know, just beginning to encounter the issues of the second language learner, the second language classroom, and then seeing them put it into practice. I also, a, do a lot of work with dialog journals, um, with developing teachers, which gives me even more insight into the---their thought processes, because I’m sort of reading about the---the challenges that they’re encountering, and they’re amazingly frank in these dialog journals. So I um, that’s one of my favorite areas of ---of research, and something that I---I talk a lot about at conferences and write a lot about as well in---in journal articles. Um, I think, um, the fascinating thing for me, looking at novice teachers, is seeing how much they know, um, and how many, um, insights they have about what’s happening in the classroom. Um, and, the---the kind of curious disjuncture between their---their knowledge versus their ability to put it into practice. Um, they’re---they’re their own most critical observers. They know immediately when they’ve done something that doesn’t work, and um, and why it didn’t work. But, because they lack the experience, um, they’re often not able to put it into practice. Um, it---it begins with things as simple as blackboard management skills, you know, they know that the blackboard needs to be organized, but, because this whole active teaching is so complex and those of who’ve done it for so many years forget just how complex it is, because so much of it becomes second nature to us. They’ll write something in one corner of the blackboard and---erase it, and, you know, five minutes later want to point it out on the blackboard, and it’s gone. Um, but it comes down to other things like grouping students, and not---not having the---the confidence that they can actually ask a student to get up and join another group. That’s a very difficult act for a---a novice teacher to do, even though that teacher knows, from their theory course, it’s important to group students---here’s the rational for group work. Um, I think that---that it’s---it’s a really complex act for these novice teachers to---to put into practice. Um, it’s like learning a second language, we learn all of these rules, but, in fact, when we’re in the process of having to express an idea, we know we just made a grammatical mistake and it went by so fast I can’t possibly repair it. I’m on to something else already. I think it’s that same thing when you’re engaged in the act of teaching and it’s not something that you’re really comfortable with yet because it’s a new act for you.
I wrote an article a couple of years ago um, called, I think the title was something like: ‘Out of the Mouths of Babes’, (laughs), and it was looking at how amazingly aware novice teachers were of the issues um, perhaps because, so much of it is really fresh in their minds from having just read about it. And um, our teachers um, that we’re training, um, also do an awful lot of observation so they---they read about it, they then immediately go into the real classroom and they observe it um, being executed by a---um---an experienced teacher, a teacher who we have identified as a good mentor. Um, so, I think it’s---it’s very much at the forefront of their, sort of, consciousness, you know, I---I know about this issue, I read about this issue, you know, how to effectively um, do listening comprehension. And I watched an experienced teacher do it and now my task as this novice teacher doing the practicum experience is to push the tape recorder button ( laughs), but I know I need to do prelistening before that. Um, and so I’m going to do some elicitation from students, but I’m absolutely terrified, because, what if those students don’t say a word? (laughs) This is the---this is the normal novice teacher (laughs) fear. Um, and they reflect about this in their journals um, in such an amazingly frank and---and candid, an---an---and fascinating way. Um, that um, I think---the act of having them do dialog journals, I partner them with another novice teacher, and um, I myself engage in this dialog journal as well, so it’s a three-way journal. They write each other, they write me, and we all correspond about it. W---we now do it over e-mail, or even over class web sites, web CT, um, so that’s it’s almost instantaneous. The student writes about, we read about it, and you can engage in---in on-line dialog about it if you want. Um, I think getting them to reflect immediately about this is---is really important in their growth as---as novice teachers, because, um, they often get strategies from the other teacher, or even just the comfort of: I’m having that same management problem myself, um, is a really wonderful thing to make them---more encouraged about going in the next time and trying it just a little bit differently. Um, that’s what, what makes me so excited about doing these dialog journals, reading them, responding to them, and sort of encouraging the teachers to reflect. Not all student teachers are equally good at reflecting. Um, sometimes you have to really (voices in the background) pull them along the way. Probe with lots of questions. Others just seem to come by it quite naturally. Um, and---that’s kind of another issue, um, in the actual implementation of doing this kind of work with, with student teachers. Um, we have a new population of students in our program, which is undergraduate students doing a minor emphasis, and, um, that’s an interesting one. I find there are big differences sometimes between the undergraduate students and the graduate students in terms of their ability to reflect. And um, also, we have two very different populations in terms of the non-native speaking teachers doing the practicum, and the native speaker teachers doing the practicum, and often the non-native speaker teachers might be more reflective than the native speaker teachers, but less---um, less---apt to really tell you what’s really on their mind, because they’re afraid that it’s their own failing as a non-native speaker rather than just a---a---typical thing that a---a novice teacher experiences. A---elicitation, which I mentioned before, is one of those things. Um, I had this fascinating study last spring when I did the practicum of a---um---a student teacher who was from Korea, who just could not do elicitation to save her life. One because she’d never been in a language classroom where that was done. And second: because she was just afraid that there---that she would be met by silence. And it took something like six tries of encouraging her every time I observed her, you know, instead of just downloading the rule to your students, you really have to put up a lo---couple of sentences on the blackboard and ask the students: what’s the difference in form here? Do you know the difference in meaning between these two sentences? And when she finally did it successfully, she was so excited she wrote pages in her journal about it. So that was---that was a high moment for me, in my own experience as a teacher educator. T---to make that break through with this particular student teacher. It was a high moment for her too. (laughs)
That’s a really tough one because I myself as a---as a professional I’m so spread over so many issues um, maybe more than the average (laughs) person. You know I dabble in the teaching of pronunciation, I dabble in novice teacher development. I’m, you know, sort of more centrally in content based instruction, and English for specific purposes, and materials development which is a whole other area that, that I’m interested in. Um, maybe---the thing that I’m most---that---that I didn’t talk about yet, um, would be training teachers as um, as professionals. Um, getting them to, even at the very beginning stage of their lives as new teachers, to recognize that---that this is a profession, and, that they are professionals, and that they should continue to develop throughout their lives as professionals. I get on my little soapbox with my methods students and I say: ok, this is your first class in this whole field, and yet I want you to already think of yourself as someone who can make a conference presentation, who can get published, who can join a professional organization, who can volunteer, um, to serve in that professional organization. One of the things I’m proudest about in my own, um, my own personal, you know, development, is that I---I mentor these young people coming into the field to think of themselves as professionals, and I---I manage to help them get published. Um, one of my assignments in the methods course is to write a review of an ESL textbook. That’s a pretty classic, um, assignment, it’s nothing new to me, but I’ve managed to get many, many of our---my students to submit to journals and to get those book reviews published. Um, I had an undergraduate students this last fall, um, in our new undergraduate minor emphasis in TESOL. And um, I---I actually give them whole packet of sample reviews, and I give them all of the web addresses that they can write to, and I tell them: I’m going to edit you book review and, once it’s edited, you’re going to revise it, and then you’ll send it---a---you have to write---they have to write the cover letter to the---um, book review editor as well, so that they’re---that doesn’t stop them from actually submitting it. Um, but this student misunderstood me and um, instead of waiting for my response to the book review, he just sent it off (laughs) to the book review editor. And, um, the day the assignment was due he came in to class all excited, I thought he was excited because he’d finished his assignment, no, he was excited because he’d opened his e-mail that morning and had received a---an acceptance from this book review editor. (laughs) And everyone in the class was saying: Oh, wow, I’m gonna try this too. And so, subsequently almost all of them submitted their book reviews, and, and this is a junior at UCLA getting his first publication. That was really exciting for me. So..