MITESOL Messages

August 20, 2020*Vol. 46, Issue 2

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President/President-Elect Updates

Hello MITESOL Members! We are so thrilled to share some exciting news regarding the MITESOL 2020 Virtual Conference! While the format and dates of our conference have been adapted to meet the new needs that the Covid-19 Pandemic has brought upon us, our passion for learning from each other in the field has not. Please read the following key updates for the MITESOL 2020 Virtual Conference, Empowering Diverse Voices.

We are excited to announce a special keynote speaker to address the unique times we are all facing: Dr. Caelan Soma, Chief Clinical Officer from Starr Commonwealth. Dr. Soma will present live to our attendees on Friday night along with a Q and A session. This is a rare opportunity for us to hear from Dr. Soma as we better understand the various ways our current situation has impacted us while addressing the resiliency strategies we can provide for ourselves and others.

On Saturday, we will also feature invited speakers from the field as well as concurrent sessions. Our conference will include pre-recorded concurrent sessions for viewing during the event and extended access to the specialized conference webpages for attendees. We will have virtual exhibitors to meet our members’ needs and Special Interest Group (SIG) meetings to discuss current issues and views in the field with our attendees.

Please note that we have been working diligently the past six months to create a conference experience that allows for our members to benefit and connect at a reasonable cost. Conference registration will open in early September and will also include a year-long membership with the cost. Our website will house all conference content with your secure membership login. Please stay tuned for more information and the open registration announcement!

As a reminder, we want to hear from you! The Call for Proposals closes on September 1, 2020! Please visit our Call for Proposals and website to submit your presentation ideas!

On behalf of the entire MITESOL Board, we would like to wish all of our members a successful fall and we look forward to seeing you virtually on November 6th and 7th, 2020. While this fall will look unlike any other we have faced in our careers, we know our ESL community is in great hands from the work each of you continue to do in the field. Please continue to visit

See you in November!

Tina Kozlowski, President & 2020 Conference Chair

Liz Sirman, President-Elect & 2020 Conference Co-Chai

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From the Editors


  • President-Elect Updates
  • Past President Updates
  • Conference Grants Available
  • CALL SIG Updates
  • Adult Education SIG Updates
  • Advocacy and Policy SIG Updates
  • Post-Secondary SIG Updates
  • K-12 SIG Updates

Updates from the field:

  • Preparing Volunteers to teach Adult ESL Students
  • A Reflection on the Diversity of an ESL Classroom at Estabrook Elementary
  • Asking Colleagues for Help
  • Accommodations for EL Learners in Virtual and Blended Instruction
  • Where to Begin
  • Please, No More Popcorn
  • To Be or Not To Be
  • Room of Riddles!
  • International Students in Higher Ed, Pt. 2
  • Thank You!

If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions, please do not hesitate to contact us!

Your co-editors,

Clarissa Codrington

Jessica Piggot

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Past President Updates

Thank you to all the MITESOL members who voted in this year’s board elections. Unanimously the membership elected the following slate of officers.

Laura Hancock as Communications Coordinator

Laura is a master’s candidate currently enrolled at Eastern Michigan University in the MA TESOL program as a Peace Corps Coverdell Fellow; she also holds a CELTA. For 10 years, she has been teaching EFL in a variety of countries: Kazakhstan, Russia, Ukraine, the Republic of Georgia, and Japan. She completed her Peace Corps service as an EFL teacher in Kyrgyzstan in 2010. She currently holds a GAship with IELTS and an internship with Washtenaw Literacy. In addition to a keen interest in TESOL, Laura also has extensive experience with content marketing and entrepreneurship. For three years she was a partner in a multi-member LLC providing content marketing services to hundreds of clients in a variety of verticals. She continues to moonlight in content marketing and consulting, even though she is far more passionate about teaching.

Allison Piippo as Computer Assisted Language Learning (CALL) Special Interest Group (SIG) Leader

Allie has been teaching English to speakers of other languages, both in the US and abroad (in Turkey and Japan), since 2002. She holds an MA in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages and a Graduate Certificate in Business Administration from Eastern Michigan University, and a BA in English Language and Literature from the University of Michigan. She also holds a certificate in Developing an Online Teaching Program from TESOL, International, and has been developing and teaching online English courses since 2017. Always willing to try new things, she has consistently been an early adopter of educational technology and is continuously looking for ways to enhance quality English language instruction with pedagogically sound technology integration.

Yevgeniya Pukalo as Membership Coordinator

Yevgeniya is currently an ESL teacher at North Farmington High School (Farmington Public Schools). Yevgeniya has experience teaching K-12 English learners as well as adult learners. She has a BA in English and is certified to teach ELA and ESL courses. As a graduate student, she attended EMU and received her MA in TESOL in 2019. Yevgeniya was part of the MDE SIOP Trainer of Trainers program in summer 2019 and helped facilitate the SIOP PD sessions for content teachers in her district. Currently, she participates in the WritEL research at EMU with the focus on improving argumentative writing of English learners. In her spare time, Yevgeniya enjoys reading and spending time with her husband and their two children while traveling, hiking, and camping. The goal as a family is to visit as many of America's national parks as possible. She is very excited about being a member of the MITESOL board.

Virginia David as Post-Secondary Special Interest Group (SIG) Leader

Virginia is originally from Brazil and moved to the United States in 2008 to pursue a master's in TESOL at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign. After that, she did my PhD in Second Language Studies at Michigan State University. She has taught English as a foreign or second language for different ages and proficiency levels for almost 15 years. Currently, she is a faculty specialist and coordinator of the TESOL programs at Western Michigan University. In 2017, she and her colleagues were awarded a National Professional Development grant by the U.S. Department of Education, so the majority of their students are in-service teachers seeking their ESL endorsement. Virginia also volunteer teaches ESL at the ESL of Southwest Michigan program, which is run by the Kalamazoo Literacy Council. She would love to become part of the MITESOL organization because this will be a wonderful opportunity to meet more people in our field in the state of Michigan and become more involved with ESL teaching statewide. She has always attended and presented at MITESOL and she admires the hard work the MITESOL board puts into the conferences and organization.

Jennifer Musser as President-Elect

Jennifer is a Program Coordinator at Washtenaw Literacy, a non-profit organization serving adults seeking ESL and adult basic education in Southeast Michigan. For the past two years, Jennifer has been managing and providing instruction in a pre-GED program in collaboration with Washtenaw Community College as well as a home-visiting tutoring program for low-income parents. Outside of Washtenaw Literacy, Jennifer is an active ESL tutor with the Syrian American Rescue Network and has also worked with Eastern Michigan University to conduct family writing workshops at area elementary schools. Jennifer earned her M.A. in TESOL from Eastern Michigan University in 2018, and before that she taught middle school, high school, and business English in Japan for seven years. Since 2016, Jennifer has truly enjoyed the support and opportunities provided by MITESOL. She served on the Board as Newsletter Editor for one year followed by two additional years as a Webmaster, and she supported the 2018 MITESOL Conference as part of the planning committee for that year. Additionally, in both 2017 and 2018, Jennifer was honored to represent MITESOL at the annual TESOL Advocacy & Policy Summit alongside our MITESOL Advocacy & Policy SIG Leader. While the experiences have been amazing, what Jennifer has appreciated most are the relationships, and she hopes to join the Board once again as the next President-Elect to bring more opportunities for connection to ESL educators across Michigan.

Khalil El-Saghir as Professional Development (PD) Special Interest Group (SIG) Leader

Khalil is an English Learner Consultant at Wayne RESA, the largest ISD in Michigan (serving about 275,000 students) and home to more than 37,000 ELs. With two decades of experience in EL education, Khalil is the professional development lead in the RESA EL Program and has been presenting at local and state level conferences and workshops on curricular and instructional issues related to second language development and acquisition. Khalil is trilingual (Arabic, English and French); he is a PhD candidate and holds an Education Specialist certificate in curriculum and instruction and a Master’s degree in English as Second Language (ESL); he is also endorsed in Bilingual Education and ESL.

Matthew Ostroskie as Webmaster 1 of 2

Matt is currently studying Japanese business, language, and culture, with a minor in TESOL. He has always enjoyed helping and teaching others, as well as learning himself! He is teaching General English, Japanese, and Professional Business English (marketing, management) TOEFL, TOEIC at Koby Learning Group. He is also working with Koby as a business manager and another PR firm as an intern to further learn about PR and marketing, which he wants to do along with teaching. He is working with non-profits and for-profits in and outside of school, including, but not limited to, Circle K International, EMU Japanese Association, JETTAA, etc. He has always been interested in deeper, psychological topics and studies; as well as most other social sciences. Eventually, he would like to pursue a graduate degree in Psycholinguistics. He is interested in joining the MITESOL board as a webmaster to give back to the community. He would like to be part of something bigger than himself, and being able to work with a non-profit team with similar interest is an invaluable experience. He uses nearly all social media. He has experience managing his own sites and also working with many different and diverse teams of great people.

Julie Molnar as Webmaster 2 of 2

Julie is currently completing her Master’s degree in Teaching Elementary Education with an ESL Endorsement at Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan. She substitute teaches a wide range of students, and volunteer tutors adult ESL students through the Oakland Literacy Council located in Bloomfield Township. She also volunteers tutoring students on literacy instruction at a school in Pontiac, Michigan. By contrast, she earned her Bachelor’s degree in Business with a Human Resource Minor from Oakland University. After getting real-life experience working for The Big Three automotive original equipment manufacturers in Purchasing, Business IT, and HR for IT, she went back to school for her life-long passion of teaching. She is eager to bring practical experiences from her background to best serve ELL individuals, and continue to be a lifelong learner of teaching English as a second language.

Alison D. Roberts as Treasurer

Alison is the Assistant Coordinator for the American Language and Culture Program at the University of Detroit Mercy. She was previously the Lead Instructor at Language Center International in Southfield, Michigan. Her specialties include mentoring new instructors, program administration, and curriculum design. She earned an MA TESOL from Brigham Young University in Utah. While in Utah, Alison taught at BYU's English Language Center and at local community ESL programs. In her spare time, she enjoys kayaking, reading, learning to play the cello, and taking weekend trips around Michigan. She has been a member of MITESOL since relocating to Michigan in 2013. Why I’m interested in this position: I have been impressed with MITESOL as an organization for many years. I would like to give back and support the organization as a member of the board. I have 10 years of experience managing my household budget and taxes. I’m looking forward to learning, growing, and contributing in the position of Treasurer.

On behalf of the entire membership, I would like to welcome all of you on the Board of MITESOL. Thank you for devoting your time and expertise to improving the experiences of students, teachers, researchers, administrators, assessors, etc. of English as a second language.

Ildi Porter-Szucs


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Conference Grants Available!

We are now accepting applications for grants to support participation in our virtual conference taking place this November. There are three grant categories for K-12 educators, adult educators, and post-secondary students in TESOL or related fields. More details about eligibility requirements and how to apply can be found on our website The deadline to apply is 11:59pm on Monday, September 7, 2020.
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Hello! My name is Allie Piippo, and this year I took over from Austin Kaufman as the CALL SIG Leader. I have been teaching English to speakers of other languages, both in the US and abroad (in Turkey and Japan), since 2002. I hold an MA in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages and a Graduate Certificate in Business Administration from Eastern Michigan University, and a BA in English Language and Literature from the University of Michigan. I also hold a certificate in Developing an Online Teaching Program from TESOL, International, and I have been developing and teaching online English courses since 2017. Always willing to try new things, I have consistently been an early adopter of educational technology and I am continuously looking for ways to enhance quality English language instruction with pedagogically sound technology integration.

This year really took a turn in March, and I have been trying to support teachers in the sudden switch to online teaching however I possibly can. As the CALL SIG Leader, I am happy to answer any questions that our members may have about virtual teaching. The best way to contact me about online-instruction related questions is through our CALL SIG Facebook page or on the CALL SIG Forum. Over the summer, I taught two online writing courses at Henry Ford College, and I’ve been tutoring online for the Sweetland Center for Writing at the University of Michigan.

This summer for my college writing courses, I offered an optional synchronous weekly meeting via Microsoft Teams, but most of the instruction was asynchronous. The three principles of online instruction that have helped me the most in “these unprecedented times” include:

1. Instructor presence. I don’t particularly love seeing my own face on the screen, but I’ve found that having videos of me talking helps students connect with me and with the work they need to do. Of course, that’s not just about videos, but also about providing timely feedback and responding to students’ emails. I’ve been using Remind to encourage students to contact me. They can “text me” via Remind, and I can check their messages via email, which encourages them to contact me more frequently, but allows me to keep my mobile number private and manage my workload efficiently. There is also an option to download the Remind app to your phone if you prefer to respond to students via that method. I have received far more questions this term using Remind than I did last semester without it. Remind also features embedded emoji replies to texts. Since starting to communicate with emojis, I have noticed better connections with students, especially those who tend to only communicate via asynchronous means, and it requires just a couple of clicks to add an emoji reply. In the fall I plan to use my Bitmoji in student communications in addition to emojis to improve instructor presence and encourage more communication.

2. Chunking information. Break lessons down into manageable “chunks” (I’ve seen recommendations anywhere from 6 minute to 15 minute mini-lessons). Although it’s been time consuming, I’ve been creating short lessons that walk students through each step of the learning process. I think about it as I would a classroom lesson, so I include elements of instruction (via screencast, textbook pages to read, or written guidance), guided practice, and free practice, and then use quizzes and discussion boards to assess comprehension in an asynchronous virtual environment. The advantage of this over face-to-face teaching is that students can go back and watch it again if needed. I recommend being careful to not refer to the course or semester name during any recordings, as that makes the lessons easy to repurpose for future/other courses.

3. Clear instructions with models. Make sure instructions are clear, in multiple formats if possible (I try to do written instructions and an explanatory video with highlights each week) and provide models of what you want students to do where possible. I attended a pre-conference workshop before TESOL a couple of years ago where we engaged in an activity that forced us into the mindset of language learners, and I remember thinking “If only I had a model of what this sentence should look like, that would really help me know what I was supposed to produce – OH!” Since that “aha moment,” I’ve tried to provide models for my students, especially when teaching online, so that they can see what I want them to do. I’ve also been making a lot of tutorials using Yuja and Canvas Studio. Walking students through something on the screen often helps them see exactly where to go, but also helps you check that your directions are clear and include all the steps! If your institution doesn’t provide these applications, I’ve heard good things about Screencastify as free screencasting software.

I hope these tips remind you to keep these best principles of online teaching in mind throughout this next school year. Please feel free to share what is working for you on the CALL SIG Facebook page or the CALL SIG forum!

As we head into an uncertain fall, no matter how you may be teaching (face-to-face, hybrid, fully online, synchronous or asynchronous), I encourage you to keep your mental and physical health at the forefront. Take breaks from the screen, set reminders to stand up from time to time, stretch, and try to get outside and go for a walk when possible. Keep in touch and get support from your fellow MITESOLers when needed, and of course please do your best to stay safe and healthy. Here’s wishing you the best possible fall 2020.

Allie Piippo


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Adult Ed SIG Updates

I hope the summer months have allowed all of you to enjoy some vacation time and hit the recharge button. As we head back into classrooms that will largely look much different from previous years, here are more resources, news articles, and advocacy opportunities to give you something to sink your teeth into. REMINDER--please join us for the FIRST EVER virtual MITESOL Conference on November 6-7!

As always, let me know if there are any topics, articles, or concerns of interest that you would like for me to address via the website and/or at the conference.

Collin Blair

Adult Ed. SIG Leader

Professional Development

Online courses and virtual seminars at

Even if we’re not having in-person conferences, there’s no reason to stop growing professionally!

Resources for Adult Students (and their teachers!)

VOA News Learning English

One of my all-time faves. ESL-centered materials in all skills, videos, grammar lessons, idioms, current events and beyond.

Support Ed

Updated for virtual class 2020! Free tools to help educators and administrators better serve English learners.

Public Libraries: Adult literacy, GED, & citizenship classes

Detroit Public Library (but many offer these services)--

Citizenship Test Practice

As the printed books + cds are no longer being produced, this website is the place to refer your students for citizenship test prep.

Pure Michigan jobs and skills training

Peruse this website for many options to aid your students with workforce training and jobs:

*Also, refer students to local Michigan Works! offices for asssistance with resumes, interviewing skills, and locating available jobs:


Be an advocate for ELLs

Building bridges

Supporting ELLs through Covid-19

How can schools best support English language learners (ELLs) and immigrant students through the COVID-19 pandemic? What lessons have we learned so far?


Various articles that touch on topics and themes that affect our students and our teaching:

Changes in USCIS processing:

Covid-19 delays in filings:

Census 2020

What it means for immigrant communities:

Michigan Public Radio:

Michigan community college students can now more easily transfer to 4-year institutions

Refugee Education Center

Responding to COVID-19 for Refugees in West Michigan

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Advocacy & Policy SIG Update

TESOL 2020 Advocacy & Policy Summit

Even though this year’s June 20-24 Advocacy & Policy Summit went virtual, its reach in bringing together a collaboration of justice-minded professionals from all over the country (and world!) was impressive. Along with MITESOL President Christina Kozlowski, I attended numerous presentations from policy experts, educators, and advocates regarding federal policy updates, immigration, and national and global affiliate experiences. The third day of the summit was an Advocacy Day of Action in which attendees made use of TESOL’s Advocacy Action Center to contact their representatives on issues such as legislation supporting EL teacher candidates, COVID relief funding, bilingual education, and immigration reform. The Action Center is a free resource that anyone can use at any time to easily contact legislators. MITESOL held its own advocacy campaign on that day encouraging members over social media to make use of the the Advocacy Center and call their representatives’ offices using TESOL’s Policy Recommendations for the 116th Congress. Using TESOL’s Advocacy Center and MITESOL’s legislative contact information is advocacy work that can be done at any time. I encourage your involvement in this cause! #TESOLadvocacy #TESOLadv2020

Get Involved!

Did you know that as a MITESOL member, you can join the MITESOL Advocacy & Policy Special Interest Group? The MITESOL website offers this platform as a message board where interested advocates can share documents, links, and hold extended discussions that aren’t possible on a social media site. I invite you to check it out and join the conversation!

My Top 10 Advocacy & Policy Resources to Stay In-the-Know

Michigan Immigrants Rights Center @michiganimmigrant

TESOL Advocacy Resources

Migration Policy Institute @MigrationPolicyInstitute

National Clearinghouse for English Language Acquisition (NCELA)

National Coalition for Literacy @NationalCoalitionforLiteracy

Refugee Concerns - RCIS: A TESOL Interest Section @tesol.rcis

Education Commission of the States @edcommission

Michigan League for Public Policy @MichLeague

MITESOL Advocacy & Policy Facebook Group (shameless plug ;)

Sharon Umlor

Advocacy and Policy SIG leader

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Post-Secondary SIG Updates

This is my last SIG Update for MITESOL Messages as I am stepping down as Post-secondary SIG leader at the end of this year. I am sad to be leaving but it is time to welcome someone new. I wish my successor all the best as the next SIG leader.

In other news, MITESOL’s new website is going strong and plans are in full swing for the MITESOL virtual conference - Empowering Diverse Voices - on November 6-7, 2020. Check it out at: Hope to see you there.

What extraordinary times! We may be facing budget cuts and lack of resources, uncertainty, and fear. Others may be facing unemployment, illness and death due to Covid 19. I take solace in the many acts of kindness and generosity that I have observed because these give me renewed faith in the strength of the human spirit. Our profession is one that celebrates humanity and I am incredibly impressed by how TESOL educators and English language teachers at all levels have managed their work during the global pandemic with professional dedication, creativity, and grace. It is also good to see so many virtual sharing sessions, conferences, webinars and training sessions in academic content and research, pedagogical skills, technology use, and coping strategies, which provide lots of learning opportunities.

Relevant research to reflect on….

In light of the pandemic, I thought it might be helpful to explore some of the current literature related to remote teaching and learning. Whether we are supervising a virtual TESOL practicum, teaching a remote EAP course, or implementing interactive media like Voicethread, it is good to share and learn from the insights of others.

Readers involved in pre-service TESOL education may be interested in O’Dowd, Sauro, and Spector-Cohen’s (2020) study of the role of the teacher as a pedagogical mentor in intercultural virtual exchanges in initial English teacher education classes in Israel, Spain, and Sweden. Their results showed that “simply engaging students in virtual exchange does not guarantee successful intercultural learning” (p. 147), nor does it automatically develop their digital competencies. Hence mentoring in technological, intercultural, linguistic and pedagogical competencies are required. While they acknowledge that every virtual mentoring interaction is different, they developed the following five principles to help guide instructors:

  1. Use mentoring to introduce students to linguistic and interactional features and strategies.

  2. Raise awareness of the effectiveness and specific features of different tools for different types of communicative tasks.

  3. Monitor online interactions frequently and identify possible rich learning points.

  4. Maintain regular contact with the partner teacher(s). Exchange insights and reports about how the different classes are experiencing their exchange and what concerns and issues they may have.

  5. Crucially, stress to students that communication breakdowns and misunderstandings in online intercultural exchange should be considered as opportunities for reflection and learning and not as failure of the learning process.

In a US example of a technology‐mediated online TESOL practicum course, Song, Kim, and Zhao (2020) explored how creativity was manifested “by reflecting critically and collaborating with peers, by adapting and generating new pedagogical approaches, and by mediating technology not only to enhance their virtual dialogic engagement, but also to promote their 21st‐century teaching and learning skills” (p. 2) . In essence, TESOL practicum students shared Voicethread projects and the instructor facilitated discussion and critiques of teaching videos. They found that “Online learning technology can provide new forms or tools for teachers to become innovative about language teaching, but it is teachers themselves who should creatively connect to and draw from what their ELs can bring to the classrooms (p. 15).

If you are teaching EAP, read Stanchevici and Siczek (2019). They compared two university EAP writing courses - one online and one face-to-face and found that, with intentional course design and assessment, results in terms of GPA are comparable. That said, they recommend that “future online courses provide more instruction on source integration, library research, and building an interactive learning community” (p. 132).

In another comparative study, Moradi and Farvardin (2020) investigated the frequency and quality of negotiations of meaning in a face-to-face course and a synchronous online course in an EFL context. Interestingly, their results showed that more output was produced in face-to-face tasks even though more time was taken for online tasks. They suggest that the online platform possibly led to longer processing time and more checking of online postings. Findings for quality revealed that grammar modifications were overlooked in both modes. Other indicators of quality, like comprehension checks and requests for clarification depended on the participants involved.

Some questions to reflect on:

  • How do you choose the right technology for your teaching needs?

  • How do you encourage quality interactions online?

  • How would you evaluate the technology platforms that you are currently using?

  • In an online environment, how do you address other hot topics that your students and colleagues may be interested in, such as Black Lives Matter and language education?, government immigration policies during the Covid 19 pandemic?, ESL and special needs education?, US election and impacts on post-secondary education?, etc.

  • In February’s Post-secondary SIG update in MITESOL Messages, I posed the question: What is your institution doing to address xenophobia and white nationalism? Much has changed since then. How is your institution coping with the pandemic? Has the pandemic resulted in these issues being moved to the back burner?

I would love to hear your thoughts. Please email or post comments on the SIG discussion board. If you have read or published some interesting research or teaching materials, do share.


Moradi, A., & Farvardin, M.T. (2020). Negotiation of meaning by mixed-proficiency

dyads in face-to-face and synchronous computer-mediated communication. TESOL Journal, 11(1),

O’Dowd, R., Sauro, S., & Spector-Cohen, E. (2020). The Role of Pedagogical Mentoring in

Virtual Exchange, TESOL Quarterly, 54(1), 146-172. doi: 10.1002/tesq.543

Song, S., Kim, K., & Zhao, Y. (2020) Manifesting multidimensional creativity in a technology‐mediated online TESOL practicum course. TESOL Journal, 11(2), 1-17. DOI: 10.1002/tesj.472

Stanchevici, D., & Siczek, M. (2019). Performance, interaction, and satisfaction of graduate EAP students in a face-to-face and an online class: A comparative analysis. TESL Canada Journal, 36(3), 132–153.

Upcoming Conferences

Get out your calendars and save the dates for these upcoming events:

MITESOL Award Opportunity

If you are a MITESOL member enrolled in a preservice or inservice education program and are interested in learning more about what is happening in the field of TESOL, consider applying for the MITESOL Conference Travel Grant for Post-Secondary Students. Application details are posted on the MITESOL website ( – click MITESOL Grant for University Students. The deadline is September 11, 2020.

Cynthia Macknish

Post-secondary SIG leader

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K-12 SIG Updates

Hello! I hope this update finds you well...or at least keeping your head above water. As you know, our field is constantly growing and changing-and especially during these extenuating circumstances. With that in mind, we have developed ways to keep you informed outside of the biannual newsletter. Please join the K-12 SIG message board on our MITESOL website, follow us on Twitter @MITESOLK12SIG and/or join the MITESOL K-12 SIG Facebook group to stay connected with the K-12 MITESOL world on a regular basis. We would love for you to tag us with exciting research/articles from the field, best practices in action, or interesting professional development opportunities. I hope you find the information below helpful. Please let me know if you want more information about a particular topic, as well.

K-12 SIG Webinar

In mid-June, we were beyond excited to host MITESOL’s very first virtual webinar! Kelly Alvarez, MDE’s English Learner Educational Consultant, shared important K-12 state updates during the live event. Attendance was free for MITESOL members, and our audience included educators from across the state. We were extremely grateful for Kelly’s time and expertise. Thanks again to Imagine Learning for their sponsorship!


The August 13th edition of the Michigan Department of Education Spotlight Newsletter includes OEAA In-Person WIDA Screening Considerations . As stated in the newsletter, “The Michigan Department of Education will also soon be releasing information related to screening students who are participating in distance learning opportunities.” If you have not signed up to receive the Michigan Department of Education Spotlight Newsletters, click on the heading above to subscribe to the Spotlight Listserv.

This link will bring you to information released by WIDA in regard to Covid-19.


The Michigan Department of Education (MDE) and the Center for Educational Performance and Information (CEPI) students will be automatically processing EL exits based on predetermined WIDA 2020 ACCESS and Alternate ACCESS test scores. Districts will still be required to exit within their local systems and to create their own list of the students for FEL monitoring. Please click the link above for additional information.

On August 18, Venessa A. Keesler, Ph.D., Deputy Superintendent Division of Educator, Student, and School Supports, released this memo for screening Potential English Learners during remote learning.

If you are not familiar with this website, please check out the EL specific information provided within this resource. The MDE-English Learners Resources link is a particularly helpful link provided on this page.

This website is not EL specific, but it does offer numerous resources for schools, including tools for Family Engagement and Learning at a Distance.

Resources and Websites

I strongly recommend reading the article within this newsletter shared by Christy Osborne and Suzanne Toohey, from Oakland Schools, the creators of the Level Up for ELs-Oakland County ESL Team Website. They have provided amazing resources for K-12 educators!

Also, be sure to check out the links below for a number of helpful tools and resources that have been designed to support the teaching of English Learners.

2020 Professional Development Opportunities:

All questions, comments, or suggestions are welcome. Please contact me if you would like more information about reaching and teaching K-12 English Learners.

Thank you for reading!

Rachael Wenskay

K-12 SIG Leader

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Preparing Volunteers to teach Adult ESL Students

by Bashar Al Hariri and Fatmeh Alalawneh

Adult education has been gaining momentum over the past few years as increasing numbers of adults find themselves at crossroads where they must change careers and gain new skills to become competitive in the job market today. An important population of adult students are immigrants, both refugees and non-refugees, who join these programs not only to acquire a degree but also to learn English. Since most adult immigrants are ESL speakers, adult education programs developed language classes to accommodate their linguistic needs. Usually, these classes are offered at community colleges, non-profit organizations, churches, refugee resettlement agencies, and other community organizations. Refugee resettlement agencies and community organizations are mostly nonprofits, which means that their funding is limited and relies heavily on donations. In spite of their continuous struggle with financial resources, these organizations offer essential services to help the communities they serve, which is why many depend on help from community volunteers who work side by side with the employees. One important role volunteers play is teaching adult ESL classes. However, since most of them have little-to-no-experience teaching adults, various problems arise in the classroom which is why we should think about different ways to help them better prepare for their jobs. An option that should be considered is to provide volunteers with a form of training in order to better prepare them for their roles as adult ESL instructors. Keeping in mind that this training will not transform these volunteers, with no backgrounds in adult education into professional teachers, we should look for a practical form of training that will enable them to become more qualified and equipped with some necessary skills that will help them better understand their students and teach English language.

It is common for adult ESL programs to group all students together assuming that they all have similar linguistic needs; however, this cannot be further from the truth. This student population includes adults from all walks of life with different educational, social, professional, and economic backgrounds. This means that in the same classroom, we may find students who are illiterate in their first language and others who are highly advanced in their educational degrees. Another point of difference among the students is their immigration status as some of them may have come into the country as immigrants where others are here as resettled refugees. While immigrants, most likely, came to the US by choice and prepared for this move on the academic, personal, and professional levels, refugees did not make the choice to leave their countries and probably did not have a choice of country for resettlement. This is important for the adult ESL instructors as they should be aware of the potential psychological and emotional baggage refugees bring into their language learning experience. Furthermore, Wrigley (2008) pointed out to the significance educational and literacy levels play into learning English as illiterate students who had little experience with formal education may not perceive language as students with high levels of education.

Many volunteers approach the issue of teaching English language to adults with a set of unrealistic expectations and a naïve perception of language. They assume that if the students are taught enough vocabulary and grammar, they will be able to learn the language. This simplistic view of how adults develop skills in a new language is a direct result to the large number of volunteers, with no adult ESL teaching backgrounds, who have joined the numerous programs that teach ESL classes. In addition, volunteers may also lack the knowledge of pedagogies, teaching approaches, and classroom management, which are essential to any successful teaching environment. Perry (2013) explained that a knowledge of content and pedagogies in relation to adult ESL literacy along with a set of skills and experiences to work with a diverse adult student population are essential to the volunteer s’ success. Likewise, Burt, Peyton, and Schaetzel (2008) emphasized that volunteers should be equipped with necessary instructional strategies to help them teach. Furthermore, another aspect that volunteers may be unaware of is the strong influence of cultural backgrounds on the classroom’s learning environment and the delicate nature of such issues, which may lead to the lesson’s success or failure. A consideration for cultural diversity becomes even more fundamental when adult ESL classes are offered at religious organizations. Durham & Kim (2019) pointed out that failing to provide training for volunteers at faith-based organizations may cause them to be “religiously or culturally imperialistic” (p. 5) since these classes receive students from different religious and cultural backgrounds and volunteers may not be equipped with the necessary skills to teach English objectively without the influence of their own religious beliefs.

Keeping in mind the different factors mentioned above, we should think of a practical training program that will provide volunteers with necessary skills to teach. The practical aspect of such training is important as we must consider the limited time most volunteers have and the urgent needs of adult ESL programs which expect volunteers to join their classes as soon as possible. A convenient option may be the use of ongoing workshops, in which volunteers are trained in different aspects of adult ESL teaching and build on the knowledge the volunteers are gaining from their in-class teaching and interactions with the students. These workshops should be taught by experienced adult ESL instructors who have worked with this student population and understand the complex nature of teaching adults. Also, the workshops may include veteran volunteers who may share their experiences working with the students, the challenges they faced, and the solutions they may have found to work.

An important issue that comes to mind at this point is the issue of content to be included in the training. Since these workshops aim at preparing volunteers with practical knowledge to use in a diverse classroom that may include students with various literacy, social, professional, and cultural backgrounds, we should expand our view of language teaching to more than teaching language skills.

Firstly, volunteers should develop an understanding of how adults learn and develop skills in a new language. This may include an overview of adult language theories and practical examples of how this knowledge may influence teaching. This may also include a comparison of language components and how they develop when adults learn a language. An important part to emphasize is the stages of acquiring a language and the adequate skills to emphasize at each phase. It is important that volunteers understand that merely teaching vocabulary and grammar will not enable students to develop language skills. This also means that just because a lesson is taught, students will not automatically acquire the skills. Instead, they should understand that teaching adults takes patience and repetition of the same skills in multiple forms in order to reinforce the information taught.

In addition to how language progresses, volunteers should develop an understanding that students need to learn more than language skills in order to become proficient in a language. This means going beyond the traditional approach of teaching speaking, listening, reading, grammar, and writing, which includes working through a lesson and solving the following questions, to helping students develop critical thinking and comprehension skills which they can apply not only inside the classroom but outside as well.

Developing a degree of flexibility is important to include in the training as volunteers should learn about the characteristics of adult ESL education and the frequent challenges that occur in the classroom such as the irregular attendance of students. Unlike language programs offered at universities, most adult ESL programs do not have an attendance policy because most students have to work or take care of their families and cannot commit to regularly attending classes.

An important skill that volunteers should learn is to develop relevant content which will provide the students with the current knowledge and information of the country in which they live. This is an essential point which is often ignored in adult ESL programs as most of them focus only on developing language skills. The problem that results when teaching students away from the current political, social, cultural, and economic context of the country, is that they are kept in a bubble unaware of the events going around them.

Volunteers’ involvement with adult ESL teaching is integral to the continuity of these programs since most of them do not have the funds to hire professional instructors. To help the volunteers teach while lacking the professional and academic preparation, we must provide them with necessary training that will equip them with skills to navigate classroom teaching and to interact with students from diverse backgrounds.

Bashar Al Hariri is a Visiting Assistant Professor of English at the University of Toledo, where he teaches ESL composition and linguistics classes. He also coordinates the ESL program at US Together Refugee Resettlement Agency, where he teaches multilevel ESL courses to newly resettled refugees and immigrants in Toledo. He can be reached at

Fatmeh Alalawneh is a third-year doctoral student in the Curriculum and Instruction Program at the University of Toledo. Her research interests include adult ESL education, issues of access, diversity, and equity in higher education. She can be reached at

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A Reflection on Classroom Diversity

by Tri-An Hoang

Being an undergraduate student at Eastern Michigan University has offered me the opportunity for some field experience at Estabrook Elementary as a co-teacher for an after school ESL program for third to fourth graders. For the first time in my life I stood in front of over twenty little students and attempted to convey some sort of knowledge about the English language in hopes that their proficiency in the language would grow even if by a minuscule amount. This field work lasted for four short weeks divided into eight lessons each being approximately one hour long. The goal at the end of this field work was to increase the student’s understanding of persuasive writing surrounded by the theme of community; that is, the city of Ypsilanti’s community or the school’s community specifically.

What was comforting about this project was that I was surrounded by colleagues that would teach alongside me. They would aide in things like lesson planning, classroom management, and then give feedback after every week in order for all of us to improve as a whole. This help prior to and after each lesson was productive in my growth as a teacher but I think what I gained most from this experience at Estabrook was that there is so much left for me to understand about the classroom and an ESL classroom specifically. In reflecting on this experience, what I found most challenging about being a part of this field work was the diversity in the classroom.

That word “diversity” is touted as necessary and helpful in building a strong and promising community and under normal circumstances I would wholeheartedly agree. Although, the word “diversity” can hold another meaning of differentiation in not only a student’s cultural background but also their English proficiency. Taking that definition and applying it to my field experience I was weary about how to frame lessons around a group of students that were all placed in the same classroom, receiving the same instruction, and doing the same activities, while their language levels ranged from no spoken English at all to being able to form and understand complex sentences. The biggest help I received was from two sources first being my “scaffolders” or co-teachers that were able to work one-on-one or one-on-two with the students. This chance at being able to individually heed to a student’s unique needs allowed the scaffolders and I to minutely alter the day’s lesson on a whim to fit each student’s mold. This seemed to also encourage the student’s participation in the lessons as a result of having and adult hover over their shoulders, guiding them every step of the way.

The second piece of help I received came from Shelley Fairbairn and Stephaney Jones-Vo’s textbook on Differentiating Instruction and Assessment for English Language Learners. In extremely brief terms, the two authors address in their first chapter of the book the importance of knowing each student’s uniqueness and the necessity of collaborative work by teachers in order to meet individual needs. I think that the first step to understanding how to teach an ESL classroom is the recognition that each student’s language skills exists on all different levels. Individual attention to the students is necessary to understanding how a lesson should be able to be slightly altered in one way or another in order to adjust to this diversity. At Estabrook I was fortunate enough to have my fellow teacher help me in offering this individual attention. I can only imagine how difficult it would be for a teacher to balance basic classroom management in addition to recognizing the diversity of their students. Fairbairn and Jones-Vo offers techniques to combat this dilemma; but I also understand that technique or theory is easily understood but such is not necessarily true in its practice. Field work and student teaching seems to be the most productive way to familiarize oneself with the different dynamics and diversities that an ESL classroom can offer.

Tri-An can be reached at

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Ask Your Colleagues for Help!

by David Kehe

One day, a colleague, Sarah, who was relatively new to the ESL teaching field, told me about two grammar questions that one of her students had presented to her. She said that after class, she had spent quite a bit of time searching for answers on the internet but to no avail. Finally, she decided to ask me.

It turned out to be a fun interaction and a kind of puzzle for me to solve. On my drive home after classes that day, I realized that I was feeling great, but I didn’t think that there was any specific reason for it. A while later, I happened to come across some research that explained my exuberant emotion. And it had nothing to do with it being a Friday.

According to brain research, our brains are designed to want to help others. Studies show that when we do something for others, the part of the brain that becomes active is the same one that is stimulated by food and sex. In other words, it’s pleasurable.

So why do we often hesitate to ask for help?

Thinking about asking someone to help us is painful. Researchers have found that when we feel physical pain, for example, if we hurt our leg, an area of our brain becomes active. Surprisingly, that same area of the brain becomes active when we think about asking someone to help us.

The researchers explain that when we ask for help, we worry that we are bothering that person or that we will be rejected or liked less, or that that people will think that we are weak or stupid.

This uncomfortable feeling is especially strong at our workplace because we want to show our expertise to our boss and co-workers and to look confident. If we need help, we believe that others will consider us as being unqualified for the job.

According to Heidi Grant, a social psychologist and author of Reinforcements: How To Get People to Help You, there is no evidence that people will think less of us if we ask for help. In fact, according to research, people will actually like us more if we do ask for help and like us more after they have helped us.

So, thanks to Sarah’s willingness to ask me for help, she got an answer to her questions, and I ended up with a happy brain for the rest of the day. Oh, and she is still one of my favorite colleagues.

I knew this research could be especially interesting and useful for my students, so I put together a reading unit. The article in the unit includes more about research into why people hesitate to ask for help and into the more effective and less effective ways to ask for it. If you’d like to download it for free to use with your students, here is a link: Reading Unit: Why it's Hard to Ask People to Help You

David Kehe is a Faculty Emeritus at Whatcom Community College, Bellingham, WA. He has taught ESL and been a teacher trainer for over 40 years in Asia, Europe and with the Peace Corps in Africa. He has co-authored nine textbooks, including the award-winning Conversation Strategies. You can find his blog about teaching ESL at

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Accommodations for English Language Learners in Virtual and Blended Instruction

by Christy Osborne and Suzanne Toohey

In our changing virtual and blended classrooms, educators have had to quickly shift to providing high quality remote educational experiences. However, many multilingual students and families do not have equitable access to technology, content and communication in this new reality. As districts and schools navigate learning online platforms and new tech tools, how can we assure that we reach our Multilingual students and families?

English Learners have additional linguistic and cultural considerations that must be addressed, and they need the same research-based accommodations in both virtual and face to face classrooms. However, the tech tools, methods and strategies may need to shift. Here are some resources from Oakland Schools that can help support ESL and general education teachers in providing equitable language and content instruction for multilingual students in remote learning environments.

Guidance and Tools for General Education Teachers of ELs: Remote Learning & Beyond

This tool is for use by English Learner educators and intended to be shared with general education teachers week by week. The structure allows for chunking and sharing critical concepts to support English Learners in blended and virtual learning settings. Corresponding tools and resources are suggested to support the implementation of each critical concept. This aligned Collaborative Planning Lesson Template can be used for teams of ESL and general education teachers to co-design instruction for ELs.

*The critical concepts are adapted from the following article: Critical Concepts in distance learning for multilingual learners, Eric Herrmann

Accommodations for ELs: Remote Learning & Beyond

This guidance document reviews seven essential, research-based accommodations for English Learners in every classroom. Each accommodation includes links to high leverage tools that can allow ESL and general education teachers to integrate language, content and cultural accommodations in K-12 virtual and blended learning environments. Educators can explore best practices for using digital tools and platforms to meet the needs of multilingual learners as they return to school.

Online Platforms with Accommodations for English Learners

This guide identifies features of online platforms that can be used to differentiate digital instruction for English Learners, including interactive tools and native language supports. A chart is included to compare Google Meet, Zoom, Webex, SeeSaw, Flipgrid & Screencastify.

Christy Osborne is an ESL Consultant at Oakland Schools Intermediate School District. She provides Title III/ ESL/integrated school improvement consultation, coaching, and professional development for educators and administrators. She earned her Master’s degree in Linguistics with TESOL endorsement at Oakland University, and held ESL Coordinator, ESL and classroom teaching positions for 16 years. She can be reached at

Suzanne Toohey, M.Ed. is a MITESOL Past-President, a current Member-at-Large for the National Association of English Language Program Administrators, and a member of the Michigan Department of Education Title III Advisory Council. Presently, she is Supervisor of Instruction and Pedagogy for Oakland Schools Intermediate School District, the Supervisor for Instruction & Pedagogy Unit and ESL/Title III Consultant for Oakland Schools. She can be reached at

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Where to Begin

By Marla Metler

All teachers, not just ESL/ELL teachers, that work with beginner ELLs, need to be aware of the importance of celebrating and supporting beginner ELLs and need to know how to celebrate and support them. Beginner ELLs also need a place to "begin" in class and teachers need this too. To help celebrate and support beginner ELLs, I suggest that teachers begin with looking through two specific “lenses”: “mind” and “heart”. The "lenses" of "mind" and "heart" will be “unpacked” in this article. Furthermore, I suggest that teachers also begin with the following additional "categories": Urgent Support, Environmental Support, Support Through Actions, Vocabulary Support, Offline Resources, and Online Resources. These categories will be “unpacked” in this article as well. It is important to note that the information in this article is not an “exhaustive” list of all resources and ideas, but rather it is focused on some resources and ideas that could be helpful.

Under the “lens” of “mind”, I suggest that two main areas are explored: “Informed” and “Understand”. So, what do teachers need to be “informed” about for beginner ELLs? There are several things that are important to be “informed” about such as a student’s name/nickname, language(s), education, L1 literacy, test scores/data points (WIDA/WIDA Screener/W-APT scores and using these scores along with the WIDA Can Do Descriptors for goal setting), strengths, challenges, interests, and other information from parents. Additionally, what do teachers need to “understand” about beginner ELLs? Teachers need to "understand" things like beginner ELLs may be in a silent period and be overwhelmed. Beginner ELLs could be adjusting to a new culture, country, home, time zone, and climate among other things. Furthermore, they may have stress from their family, differing levels of home support, fears, challenges with confidence, be a perfectionist, and be feeling exhausted. I think that it is important that teachers recognize and acknowledge that all of this is understandable and encourage students to try their very best (things do not have to be perfect).

Under the “lens” of “heart”, I suggest that three main areas are explored: “Welcomed”, “Valued”, and “Included”. So, how do we make beginner ELLs feel “welcomed”? Teachers can use greetings in English and in their students’ home language(s). Additionally, a map of the world can be displayed as well as flags of all of the countries. Furthermore, how do we make beginner ELLs feel “valued”? To help beginner ELLs feel “valued”, teachers can acknowledge how much their beginner ELLs have to offer. They can simply show and tell them what they notice (for instance, how much their beginner ELLs know and the strengths that they have). Also, they can tell them how knowing another language is a great skill to have. Another idea is to display beginner ELLs’ personal stories in school. Lastly, how do we make beginner ELLs feel “included”? Teachers can pair beginner ELLs with a buddy for class activities. Also, if a beginner ELL is not speaking, they can observe their buddy’s responses. Furthermore, teachers can make sure to connect to their beginner ELL students’ first language and/or background knowledge. They can also utilize resources or have books in their library that include their beginner ELL students’ culture or country or language(s) and display things from their culture or country and/or have them share things about their culture or country.

Teachers can also begin with the category of Urgent Support. For instance, they can make sure that their beginner ELLs know survival language (for example, the word “bathroom”). They can also have pictures that students can point to for words that they cannot say yet or do not know yet (for example, a picture that represents a bathroom). Furthermore, teachers can have a buddy or buddies for the student (they can be a speaker of the same language, but if this is not possible it can be another student(s) that is responsible and caring.).

Additionally, teachers can begin with the category of Environmental Support. They can have labels/signs for classroom objects and routines (for instance, if the teacher asks students to “push in your chair”, they can have a sign that says “push in chair” with a picture of this and L1 can be added to this as well). Furthermore, teachers can make sure that beginner ELL students have clear views of the board and books during read alouds. They can also make sure that objectives are on the board, there are word walls, and examples. Plus, they can use graphic organizers, word banks, sentence starters/frames (and L1 can be added to this).

Furthermore, teachers can begin with the category of Support Through Actions. They can slow their rate of speech as needed and stay away from using figurative language/idioms, point to things and/or use gestures/facial expressions as they talk (and show expression of emotions), emphasize key words, and write key words and draw pictures of them as they say them (or point to them as they say them). Additionally, they can use visuals as much as possible, but I would recommend making sure to connect the English to the visual (for instance, add labels and/or say/practice the pronunciation of what the picture is). They can also model using gestures, pictures, and realia. Lastly, additional actions that teachers can implement are to read aloud and point to the words as they read them and point to pictures and say the key vocabulary words (for each picture) as well as provide activities that allow for communication and language use (give beginner ELLs examples/structures to use if needed). It is also important to keep in mind that beginner ELLs might be in a silent period and teachers should not make them speak.

Additionally, teachers can begin with the category of Vocabulary Support. They can work on school vocabulary with their beginner ELL student(s) with flashcards and having a picture with the word (L1 can also be added to the flashcard). Teachers can also work on other basic/foundational vocabulary and provide pictures and labels if possible. They can also pre-teach vocabulary. Furthermore, teachers can utilize cognates if possible.

Also, teachers can begin with the category of Offline Resources. There are several offline resources that can be utilized such as picture dictionaries, alphabet books (where students can practice letter ID, letter sounds, and vocabulary) and sight word books (to practice sight words in context). Teachers can also utilize educational games such as using the letter tiles in the game Bananagrams® to work on skills such as letter ID and spelling sight words and using them in a sentence and using the game Zingo!® to work on basic vocabulary and Zingo!® Sight Words to work on sight words.

Lastly, teachers can begin with the category of Online Resources. There are several online resources that can be helpful for beginner ELLs. For instance, the site has grammar and vocabulary quizzes (Easy, Medium, and Difficult), bilingual quizzes, and other activities and links. Also, on the site, for grades PreK-Grade 6+, students can work on letters, numbers, and other activities. Other sites that can be helpful include the International Children’s Digital Library,, which has books in other languages and Unite for Literacy,, which has books in English and other languages (that can be listened to). Another great site that can be helpful for beginner ELLs is Starfall (for PreK-3rd grade): On this site, students can work on the alphabet and phonics as well as stories (that can be listened to) in addition to other activities.

Through using the “lenses” of “mind” and “heart” as well as the additional categories (Urgent Support, Environmental Support, Support Through Actions, Vocabulary Support, Offline Resources, and Online Resources) as suggested in this article, teachers can find a place to “begin” with their beginner ELLs to celebrate and support them. However, it is important to make sure that the support(s)/scaffold(s)/resource(s) used for the student is appropriate and needed. It is also important to continue to informally assess students to best provide support that meets their needs.

Marla Metler is currently an ELL Teacher in the Ann Arbor public school district. She holds a Bachelor's Degree and a Master's Degree from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. She also has an ESL Endorsement from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. She can be reached at

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Dear Teacher, Please Don't Use Popcorn Reading and Its Allies in Your Classroom

By Adeline Mansa Borti


For the 20 years of my career as an English, English as a Second Language (ESL), and literacy educator, I have observed and heard of inservice teachers' use and endorsement of popcorn reading and its allies. Recently, some of my new preservice teachers have proposed its use in their classroom. My experience in Ghana and the USA shows that popcorn reading and its allies are used irrespective of the country. These encounters, especially the recent one, have increased the urgency in me to write to you, Dear Teacher. So, what are popcorn reading and its allies? They are methods of reading that comprise of students taking turns to read or students being randomly called upon to read (Hill 1983; Fair & Combs, 2011; Shanahan, 2019).

My Experience of Popcorn Reading and its Allies and the History of Popcorn Reading

As a child and a second language speaker of English, I remembered my encounter with popcorn reading and its allies in my classroom from the early 1980s through the late 1990s. This method of reading had existed when I was an elementary kid and is still here during my time as an educator. During the 1980s, as an ESL student in Ghana, I remember the tension, confusion, and fear that enveloped other ESL students and me each time we were in class. Whether it was an English class or not, we knew there would be the use of popcorn reading in the English language because it was our official language and language of instruction, although it was our second language. The fear of making mistakes while reading prevented me from enjoying the reading and understanding the texts. This fear led to confusion, and I am not the only one with this awful experience. Research has shown that students experience fear, confusion, and humiliation due to this ineffective method (Ash, Kuhn, & Walpole, 2008; Hilden & Jones, 2012; Kuhn, 2014; Pennington, 2009; Shanahan, 2019; Somme, 2011) and the case of the ESL student is worse.

Tracing the history of my encounter with popcorn reading and its allies from the early 1980s to 2020 shows that this ineffective way of teaching reading is entrenched in many teachers' pedagogical toolbox. No wonder Robinson (1955) stated that popcorn reading and its allies, such as round robin and popsicle reading, have been in existence for more than 300 years, although no research supports their effectiveness (as cited in Hill, 1983). Not only was this method used in English class, but it was used across the curriculum based on my personal experience as a kid and my observation as an educator. Additionally, (Hill, 1983) stated that popcorn reading and its allies are used across subjects.

Our Expectations When We Read

Dear Teacher,

What reflection, comprehension, and analysis do you expect from your ESL students who are in a state of fear, pain, humiliation, confusion, and tension? Dear Teacher, would the purpose of reading, which includes decoding, fluency, vocabulary acquisition, comprehension, analysis, and application of the information read be achieved? Can the nurturing of strategic independent readers be accomplished in the state of chaos that occurs in the minds of many of your ESL students?

Dear Teacher,

Reading is not the continuous linear process it appears to be. We read in "fits and starts," skimming, backtracking, re-reading, thinking, and moving on. While trying to follow the reader, one cannot stop and re-read confusing passages, think about the implications of complex text, or savor an especially descriptive or well-turned phrase (Fair & Combs, 2011, p. 226)

Dear Teacher,

I know some of your reasons for using this misguided method of reading. Yes, some of your students love reading aloud, so this is the way you want to engage them. You may argue that some of your students are fluent readers and can read aloud well. When less proficient readers read during popcorn reading, what good example do they set for the rest of the class? I understand you use popcorn reading and its allies to ensure that everyone is given the opportunity to read to ensure all students are engaged. Dear Teacher, you indicated that students must read, and the way to get them to read is to use popcorn reading and its allies; however, you stated that they don't understand when they read (Fair & Combs, 2011). You also mentioned that students lack the motivation to read when this method is used. In fact, I wonder if they can comprehend the text and be motivated when there is some confusion in their minds.

Dear Teacher,

You may claim that students are well behaved when you use popcorn reading and its allies. Surely, you may also say that classroom management is easy with this method, and the students are outwardly calm. You are not alone in this. Research has shown that teachers give similar reasons as yours (Hill 1983; Fair & Combs, 2011; Kuhn, 2014). However, note that inwardly, in the minds of some of your ESL students, there is chaos.

Dear Teacher,

I don't fault you because I also used popcorn reading and its allies as a teacher in the early 2000s until I realized I was repeating an unproven method that my teachers used. My journey to effectively teach reading led me to my search for research articles on this method to understand why it is not an effective way to nurture strategic and independent readers. I chanced upon some research articles (e.g., Hill, 1983; Kelly, 1995), and that was the beginning of my liberation from popcorn reading and its allies.

Dear Teacher,

Please Stop and Ponder. We need to raise strategic readers who regulate their speed and read with prosody. We need readers who can read aloud and think aloud. Also, we need readers who can read silently and engage in metacognitive strategies during their reading, comprehension, inquiry, and application of reading.The reading process is essential to raising strategic readers, and this includes pre-reading, reading, responding, exploring, and applying reading information.

Dear Teacher,

Do you consider your ESL students' background before starting your reading class? Do you engage your ESL students in pre-reading (i.e., activating or building background knowledge, thinking about the genre, setting purposes, introducing and discussing key vocabulary, making predictions, and previewing the text)?

Dear Teacher,

Have you considered what goes into the actual reading time (i.e., reading independently, engaging in shared reading with a partner or teacher, modeled reading, guided reading, readers theatre, choral reading, literature circles, teacher read aloud, applying reading strategies and skill, examining of illustrations, charts, and diagrams)?

Dear Teacher,

Responding to reading (i.e., writing in reading logs, writing reflections, and goals in notebooks, participating in grand conversations, and small group discussions) is equally important. How about exploring based on the reading (i.e., rereading all or part of the text, learning new vocabulary, participating in mini-lessons that involve explicit instruction, examining genre and other text features, or the writer's craft, learning about the author, collecting memorable quotes)? Have you considered ESL students applying what they have read (i.e., constructing projects based on the reading related books and conducting text-to-text analysis, using information from reading to reflect on the reading experience)?

Finally, Dear Teacher,

In trying to raise fluent, strategic, independent ESL students, please note that popcorn reading and its allies would not help you to achieve your aim. The ESL students you teach need extra care. They need more explicit instructions as to what to read and how to read. They need modeled reading and enough practice time while reading. They need an environment devoid of intimidation. Your ESL students do not need to suffer this humiliation because this experience will stifle their self-confidence and future reading and learning abilities.

Dear Teacher,

Please share this information with your colleagues and loved ones in order for us to nurture strategic and proficient independent ESL readers.

Adeline Mansa Borti has a Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction (Literacy Education) from the University of Wyoming. Also, she holds an MA in Teaching English as a Second Language. Currently, she is an assistant professor of English education at Grand Valley State University, Michigan. Her research interest includes second language teaching and learning, English and literacy education, diversity, inclusion, and social justice. She can be reached at

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To Be or Not To Be...A Bilingual Teacher

By Anna Przybylo

Nowadays, more and more schools are gaining possibility of opening bilingual classes. Some schools are following International Baccalaureate Programmes, some have got just few subjects in English. It all sounds wonderful, especially for the parents, who seem to be overwhelmed with the idea of their child using fluent English after one or two years of attending this kind of school. However, the aims of parents and their way of understanding the bilingual education is, in my point of view not clear for everybody. I wish to start the discussion that may bring some changes in bilingual teaching for three parties – teachers, parents and students.

I have started my work as a history teacher in a bilingual and IB school last year and I have encountered many problems. Let me start from the beginning. As an English teacher, working for about ten years I had quite a lot of experience with kids on different levels. I thought that changing the subject for History in English will be a new, fresh start. Especially, knowing that the kids at this school had a great knowledge of English and for some it was even a mother tongue.

And here comes reality! I didn't assume that there is a very big difference between social language that we teach during our regular English classes and between academic language ( in this case connected with history), which is completely something else. After the first lessons my students were depressed and discouraged as they were not able to follow the pace of the lesson, stuck with a bunch of completely new definitions, geographical names and king's or queen's names that sounded differently in English. That was too much. Especially when the material introduced was connected with something that they were not familiar with.

Another very big obstacle for us was the matter of student books and materials to be used. There are actually no materials for bilingual classes and no books in English that would correspond with the polish curriculum which would be the support especially for those kids, who, for example, came back with their parents from other countries. That is why I had to translate and prepare all materials by myself with a little help of the internet if the topic would touch the world history. Unfortunately, there was a much bigger problem with polish history as there are very poor resources available that could have been used for the lessons with kids in English.

There comes another problem. One could say that Polish history is said to be lectured in Polish so there is no need of translating materials into English. However, what to do with students that do not speak polish or they speak polish using common language but do not understand the student books. Furthermore, there is a matter of tests – in which language they should be written? Some pupils would not be able to construct an answer in Polish, on the other hand I have noticed, that if the lesson was in English, my kids had a very big problem in constructing the test answers in polish because of a proper language used only in English. Even bigger problems appear during the exams. First and foremost, tests for foreigners are written in Polish!

The next thing is connected with students themselves. Their getting into the point in which they can easily communicate with others, makes it enough for them not to study as hard as they should. However, a general ability to lead the conversation does not mean that this is the end of their education. Student's books are usually too easy for them which means that students are not encouraged to study. Pupils should realize that they are good but they still need to improve language skills to get to the academic level of proficiency. Again, it is in teacher's hands to motivate them and prepare materials that would be on adequate level.

Another part of the story are parents and their expectations connected with bilingual schools. They believe that the main goal is to use English, forgetting that their children need to face polish standards in future education. They need to be fluent in both languages and for that we need a balance.

At this point the level of my frustration was really high. I knew that the expectations of headmaster, as well as the parents, were clear – the lesson should be conducted in English. Fortunately, it has turned out that leading bilingual classes is not only a problem in Poland but it is still a very big problem everywhere, also in the USA although in this topic they have much more experience.

So a few conclusions for all of us – teachers, parents and students.

First of all, in my point of view, the plan and the idea for bilingual education is needed. It cannot be connected with just learning English it needs to be connected with preparation of gaining the knowledge in both languages. We cannot deny our native language. So we should balance the usage of both languages in order to get equal effects and minimize the anxiety that occurs when children are suddenly immersed into another language. Bilingual does not mean monolingual. Following Jose Cardenas in his “Current Problems in Bilingual Education: Part I” the most important aspect is to keep the balance between usage of both languages. Unfortunately, we teachers, are left with the problem, because a very small number of materials are available on the market. Therefore, we need to help each other in every possible way by constructing the bilingual exercises, lesson plans, games and other activities that would suit the level of English, as well as tackle the right subject vocabulary.

The next thing, which I find very accurate is this statement:

Where bilingual programs actually use native language instruction, teachers are under tremendous pressures to make a premature transition into English language instruction or to exit the students from the bilingual program into regular English language classrooms.

This kind of understanding bilingual classes by parents and very often headmasters make it very difficult for teachers to introduce parts of the lessons in a mother tongue. In this case, only the education of parents of what does BILINGUAL mean can change mentioned point of view.

To support this argument I would like to mention a TEDx speech titled: “5 techniques to speak any language”, in which Sid Efromovich was talking about mastering five or more languages. For him, one of the most important thing is to create “a comfort zone” and not being forced to leave it before the learner is ready to take up the risk of making a mistake. For him, what was significant was the possibility of comparing the sounds (which made it easy to memorize some words) or the grammar systems with his mother tongue and gradually switching into the newly learned language.

To sum up, I believe that new educational challenges are coming up. The changes in our kids, who are growing up in a completely new world, in which travelling without any borders or restrictions, switching from one language into another to communicate, playing games with people using different languages; these all are opening new paths for education. Teachers and parents need to support each other as we are always one step behind our kids. Although I have came across many problems mentioned above, I still feel very encouraged and determined to make bilingualism work better for all of us.

1: Jose Cardenas, Current Problems in Bilingual Education: Part I, August 1993,

2: Tamze


Anna is an active teacher of English and History in Open Future International School, manager of “WISHES” school of English, teacher trainer at KIRE, Kraków. She can be reached at

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Room of Riddles!

By Katarzyna Niepogodzińska

I invited my 17 year old students to participate in a project of two steps: to write a scenario for an Escape Room and create a space for it in a language classroom. They took part in a similar event a few months ago, there were three escape rooms, in Poland we call them Pokoje Zagadek (rooms of riddles) relating to three fields of knowledge – Architecture, Sciences and Polish History.

Transforming a classroom into an imaginary platform full of hidden or unexpected difficulties is quite a challenge though. My students reacted either enthusiastically or with a bit of hesitation asking me about the goals of the project. As an English teacher I know very well that setting the goals is the essential part of every lesson so I explained why I wanted them to devote their time and energy into the game I invited them to.

First, my goal was to create a room of riddles on the History of the Great Britain and put some effort into teaching my students some interesting facts about England and its famous capital city. Second, I wanted to see my students being active “in motion”, interacting with one another, negotiating the content of their tasks. My third goal, which was actually a secret one, was to limit their use of mobile phones. Because they like social networking sitting passively on their chairs, their productiveness goes down...But what if there weren’t any chairs? What if they found themselves on a fast moving train and had to stop it using all their skills and imagination?

“Underground” is the name of our new classroom project. To create it we need to have a book with narration, a set of several envelopes, a suitcase with a key, some boxes and posters of different size and also cardboard banners with the names of the underground stations. The class will be divided into two groups, the one I teach is going to prepare the escape room, the other one is going to go through it and eventually... free themselves.

Going through means “arriving” at four subway stations whose names are written in hidden messages. The inspiration for the room was a text about the London underground stations and the history behind them. First the escapees receive a book telling them about the circumstances of the situation. It also contains a quiz on London with answers forming a code TFTFT and a short message “Look for a yellow envelope with a proper code”. The yellow envelope contains a message “Go to Tootong Bec station and find a suitcase under a Self-winding clock. Open it with a code which is a date of a historic event (the battle of Hastings)”. Once the escapees open the suitcase at Tooting Bec station, they find a poster inside.

The poster shows an Elephant on a Castle and there is a message on the other side: “Go to Elephant and Castle Station and look for a red envelope in one of the boxes”. The escapees find a red envelope, open it and read a new message ”Solve a crossword. Its password is the name of the next station. At the station (they will discover the name - Covent Garden) look for a green envelope. It will be in one of the maps/books on the lame chair. Follow the instructions”. The green envelope contains another message - a question and jumbled letters forming the name of the last station (they will discover the name - Piccadilly). The question is ” What do you call a large collar often worn by Queen Elizabeth in the 16th century? There is also an instruction ”After you answer the question look at the reverse side of the letters, they form a phone number. Dial the number and you will free yourself!

The project “Underground” is still in process. The students work in small groups, each of them being responsible for a specific range of tasks. They are to prepare the materials and write the definitions for a crossword relating to British history, famous people and places. They also have to distribute every object according to the scenario and finally choose background music. If everything works out, we shall invite more groups to participate in our project. However, the room cannot be locked; it is only a game, English language revision time, and plenty of fun.

Katarzyna earned her Master of Arts in Applied Linguistics from Wroclaw University in 1997. She is a full time teacher in Gastronomic Schools Complex teaching general and vocational English in the field of gastronomy, tourism and hotel industry. She is keen on VAC Model of Learning that promotes diversity in learning styles. Katarzyna can be reached at

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International Students in Higher Ed Pt. 2


As discussed in Part 1 of this article (Pearson, Nguyen, & AlAsiri, 2020), there are many benefits of having international students in U.S. higher education, especially in MATESOL and related programs. However, there are also many reasons why enrollment is down, specifically in the U.S., including the current sociopolitical climate which has involved changes in immigration policy, length and uncertainty of visa applications, trade tensions, and travel bans. The importance of supporting those students who do come to the U.S. to study was then emphasized in Part 1, along with a discussion of student expectations, including voices of recent alumni themselves. Since publication of Part 1, additional travel restrictions and trade wars have been implemented, as well as the global impact of the novel coronavirus (specifically, COVID-19), all generating additional fear. Thus, this topic remains a current concern of high importance. In this second part, discussion will center on student needs and wants – including from the student perspective – at the university, program, and course levels. Additionally, specific ideas to support international students studying in U.S. higher ed institutions will be offered.

Student Needs and Initial Ideas for Support

As we start with needs (crucial) vs. wants (desirable), it soon becomes apparent that these terms and their concepts can become fluid depending upon individual students and programs. In fact, Nguyet notes that in some situations and for some individuals, needs and wants overlap, and this may be so to such an extent that it is difficult to determine where a want ends and a need begins. Because of this, there may be some weaving back and forth in what follows. Based on Nguyet’s EFL teaching school in her home country, which focuses on speech communication, at the course level she needed an in-depth focus on phonetics and connected speech; however, the program did not have such a course, instead offering a heavier emphasis on morphology and syntax. Another need she had, at the program level, was more hands-on teaching experience: “I would love to have had more hands-on experience teaching, with access to the latest teaching technology and materials used in the world. If the program could have offered me better access to teaching positions in public schools or other private institutions, that would have been perfect.” Nguyet further expands on this by adding that it would have been beneficial if students could have individually arranged other, more applicable, practicum-type experiences which would earn practicum credit. These might have offered greater opportunity for training in the type of setting in which students plan to teach: age level, proficiency level, and functional language (BICS) vs. academic language (CALP).

An additional need at the course level is an awareness by faculty that in addition to adjustment to graduate school itself – a challenge often for even domestic students – international students can have more extensive needs due to very different social and academic cultural differences. Abdulah notes that international students come from crucially different educational systems which could make it difficult to understand how some assignments should work. This is elaborated upon by Shapiro, Farrelly, & Tomaš (2014) who stress the necessity of a more inclusive classroom environment that takes account of different educational backgrounds across the realms of individualism vs. collectivism, formality vs. informality, directness vs. indirectness, learner-centered vs. teacher-centered, end-of-course vs. ongoing assessment, and learning about vs. putting in practice, all along with differences in emphasis regarding creativity, originality, and the use of group work.

In order to begin to address the above, Abdulah suggests that faculty offer more clarifications and examples of work that would meet the instructor’s expectations, more time to prepare work, help in managing multiple assignments, and specific instruction in areas not before experienced, for example, oral presentations. Regarding the latter, Abdulah notes that these can be especially stressful and anxiety-provoking, leaving students worried and exhausted. He further adds the following suggestions: examples of different levels (grade tiers) of work, templates for projects, and later dates for presentations so that potentially more experienced domestic students could serve as models. Additional suggestions could include greater use of rubrics (see full examples in Shapiro, Farelly, & Tomaš, 2014); a variety of assessment types in order to guard against bias in grading, with a goal of equity and empowerment (Shapiro, Farelly, & Tomaš, 2014); and faculty-facilitated out-of-class networking which includes online course support materials, additional practice materials, and an opportunity for students to go beyond study groups, transitioning into student-led “hubs” and a “community of learners” (terms discussed and used by Glass, Wongtrirat, & Buus, 2015).

Personal Connection and Community as Additional Needs

In addition to supporting student needs at the course level, Abdulah notes the need for a more personal connection beyond what is provided for domestic students, a sense of community as also discussed at length throughout Glass, Wongtrirat, and Buus (2015). Abdulah notes that more time with professors in non-academic settings would be helpful, for example, group attendance at local festivals and navigating other community events. At the program level, faculty and programs could help facilitate this need by more explicitly focusing on supporting students emotionally and providing opportunities for connection. Examples include: planning pre-semester picnics, off-campus field trips, and holiday socials; providing links to professional organizations and support (academic and financial) to state (MITESOL) and national (TESOL) conferences, not only to present their work, but also simply to attend; and supporting student-led organizations, e.g., GVSU’s Graduate Organization in Applied Linguistics (GOAL). Also at the program level, it would be helpful to offer two advisors for each student, one academic and one for other needs. Related to additional advisors, Abdulah suggests the incorporation of senior level international student advisors/mentors for all first-year international students, preferably from the same cultural background, country, religion, first language, and gender, whose role would be to inform and help the newer student in their acclimation to the country, university, and program.

Another way to increase connection more personally with students, at the program level, were if students were provided support and greater alignment for specific future needs, as noted by both Nguyet and Abdulah, by a greater range of electives and practicum experiences being offered. Beyond this, a greater sense of community, connection, and support could be extended by providing additional practicum experiences beyond the minimum one course, further helping students develop/refine both their teaching and leadership skills. Finally, at the university level, a central office location for all needs – legal (visas), medical, financial, general academic, and counseling – would provide an easily accessible “community” of services. An awareness by the university of the huge commitment made by professors involved in such programs is also needed, along with making support for students, faculty, and programs a priority. By providing the support, networks, and peer groups described above, students would have the opportunity to expand their identity and feel a greater sense of community – a crucially needed connection.

From Needs to Wants

Moving beyond needs to wants, and ever cognizant of the fluidity of these, as well as possible overlap depending upon the individual, both Nguyet and Abdulah have important points to offer. Nguyet, as noted earlier, desired greater diversity in the opportunities available for experiential teaching experiences. She “also hoped that GVSU could offer a family living community on campus so that I could fully enjoy my student life. I think that could be a great way for my children to get to know other children from other student families.” Finally, Nguyet notes “as money would be a great matter of concern for international students, I also hope that programs could offer more full-time Graduate Assistantships or more scholarships for international students.” Abdulah expressed both similar and additional desires in a program. First, he would have preferred a program which had more emphasis on teaching methodology with less on developing research skills. Second, a greater connection and coordination between coursework and practicum experiences would have been desirable (a specific issue discussed by Pearson in Brice, Pearson, Vander Broek, Wu, & Destrades-Mendoza, 2010). Finally, as noted earlier by Nguyet and here again by Abdulah, a greater relevancy in practicum experiences to future teaching goals, as well as a greater number of options, would have been desirable. Abdulah shares that “we were learning in the classroom about refugees, and low-literacy and illiterate adults, which were not in any way relevant to me, my life goals, or my future academic plans. I wanted this course to be about, or at least relevant to, the population I intended to teach, fully literate adults or at least college-level adolescents.” This point is important to consider when students come from a wide range of countries with differing populations in need of language instruction. Alternatively, if a multitude of different practicum placements were not possible, then perhaps an experience designed for students’ collective needs could be offered, especially since the practicum experience is usually in the second year of a program, thus giving faculty a year in which to get to know the students and seek appropriate community practicum sites.

Addressing Students’ Wants

Length constraints, along with a wide range of what students might desire, prohibit an in-depth exploration of how to address these wants; however, some initial ideas can be offered.2 At the course level, content could be reframed in order to address real world problems (Glass, Wongtrirat, & Buus (2015). Other methodological styles could also be used, including project-based learning, problem-based learning, and analysis of case studies.3 Each of these could be designed in a manner to facilitate student development of leadership skills, encourage agency and a true sense of purpose, and increase the potential for long-term intercountry collaborative relationships. At the program level, the sense of community that is desired – and even needed, as argued above – could be facilitated in multiple ways, including: weekly lunch gatherings of students and revolving faculty; monthly dinners with students and faculty, perhaps with some type of rotating emphasis involving the sharing of different cultures; and the inclusion of family units – spouses and children – in order to decrease the marginalization and sense of isolation often felt by family members who, due to visa regulations, are not allowed to work (Glass, Wongtrirate, & Buus, 2015). The increased sense of community and regular in-person gatherings would also provide a safety net and potentially somewhat cushion against the effects of neo-racism (a term coined by Jenny Lee, professor at University of Arizona) that has become more prevalent on the internet and social media, as well as some campuses (Glass, Wongtrirate, & Buus, 2015).

There is also the need to focus on resilience-based models to support both needs and wants in international students, helping to increase the capacity to adapt to stress and negatives, with the adoption of positive coping mechanisms, thus leading to greater learning and growth (Glass, Wongtrirat, & Buus, 2015). Such a model, as well as the methodological styles noted above, could work well to increase strong leadership skills in international students, as well as to build a strong sense of community, thereby meeting both needs and wants of students. The incorporation of the above could also meet the need for what Glass, Wongtrirat, & Buus (2015) advocate for: a rich educational experience, both in and out of the classroom, with robust engagement of students that becomes transformative.


As we conclude this article, what perhaps stands out is that needs and wants can truly be interwoven, even overlapping, and educational institutions need to take this into account. For example, in the situation of a practicum experience, some might consider a selection of teaching contexts to be something desirable, but not critically needed. However, for students who may only be able to obtain employment in the home country if they can document relevant teaching experience from their graduate program, teaching context in the practicum becomes a crucial need. In a similar fashion, a strong sense of community within and between members of the graduate program is often looked at as being desirous, though not essential. For students far from home and possibly overwhelmed, though, it can be a crucial lifeline – a critical need - that means the difference between graduating or simply returning home.

This need for a caring, understanding community becomes apparent when seen through the eyes of the students themselves. Using the situation of Saudi students in the U.S. as an example, being representative of and applicable to many other students world-wide, Abdulah says that “it is natural for international students to be weary, tired, unmotivated, emotional, afraid or unwilling to speak or participate in or outside of the classroom for the first few months after their arrival (see Lysgaard’s 1955 U-curve model). In my study (2019) on Saudi international students, it was very apparent that although being one of the largest international communities in the U.S. tertiary educational system, Saudi students were still marginalized in the sense that they were not given enough attention, nor have they been the subjects in enough studies to fully understand how to ease their transition into the new environment (Shaw, 2012). These students come from a very different part of the world with differences so vast and huge that they cover religious, cultural, lingual, social, and educational backgrounds (Ourfali, 2015) with an unfavorable media shadowing them (Al Musaiteer, 2015; Denman & Hilal, 2011).” In light of this situation - again, for all international students trans-globally – it is important to fully support these students from the course level up through the program and university levels. As noted in this article, this support should include not only the traditional academic support of which we often think, but also extend to envisioning a strong network beyond the classroom, one which forms a tightly woven community.

Part 1 of this article ended with Abdulah’s comment that “my expectations were not all correct. I did not expect the weather to be so cold, yet the people to be so warm.” We cannot change the tuition amount, or location of country, or weather (Michigan cold!), and we certainly cannot easily change the sociopolitical climate; however, what we can do is make this a warm home away from home, a cohort “family”, a place to both learn and grow, a life-changing positive experience, a place where students are looked at as individuals rather than as bodies in seats. We can make sure that we enhance the experience – the entire experience – for those international students who have faced the challenges and, in spite of the hurdles, do come to study in our programs.

1: For the purpose of this article, international student is taken to mean a student who moves to another country (in this case, the U.S.) in order to pursue higher education and who may or may not have English as their first language. An example would be students who have come to the U.S., specifically to attend GVSU, who are from China, Nigeria, Vietnam, or Saudi Arabia.

2: See Glass, Wongtrirat, & Buus [2015] for a book length discussion on the needs of international students, including descriptions of seven U.S. universities which have been very successful not only in supporting current students, but also in recruiting new ones. A wealth of concrete ideas/strategies are also presented.

3: For more information on these and other experiential and inquiry-based approaches, across a wide range of populations such as K-12 instruction, ESL adult instructions, and teacher education, see the following: the Center for Applied Linguistics (CAL), the U.S. Department of Education (, and the Center for Adult English Language Acquisition (CAELA).

Christen Pearson is Professor of Applied Linguistics/TESOL at Grand Valley State University where she teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in linguistics, language learning disorders, and TESOL. She is also a past-president of MITESOL.

Abdulah S. AlAsiri earned a Master of Arts in Applied Linguistics at Grand Valley State University. He is an interpreter/translator working for the Saudi government, where he translates, revises, proof-reads, and interprets legal and other documents.

Nguyet Nguyen earned a Master of Arts in Applied Linguistics at Grand Valley State University. She is the founder of MoonESL English Training Center in Hanoi, Vietnam.


AlAsiri, A. S. (2019). Influences on international Saudi students’ sojourner acculturation in the U.S. (Unpublished master’s thesis). Grand Valley State University, Allendale, MI.

Al Musaiteer, S. S. (2015). Saudi students’ experience of intercultural communication (Doctoral dissertation). Retrieved from

Brice, C., Pearson, C., Vander Broek, L., Wu, S., & Destrades-Mendoza, O. (2010). ‘Qualification’ challenges in K-12 ESL teacher education and certification. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages International Conference (TESOL), Boston, MA.

Denman, B.D. & Hilal, K. T. (2011). From barriers to bridges: An investigation on Saudi student mobility (2006-3009). International Review of Education/Internationale Zeitschrift Fur Erziehungswissenschaft, 57(3/4), 299-318. Retrieved from

Glass, C. R., Wongtrirat, R., & Buus, S. (2015). International student engagement: Strategies for creating inclusive, connected, and purposeful campus environments. Sterling. VA: Stylus.

Lysgaard, S. (1955). Adjustment in a foreign society: Norwegian Fulbright grantees visiting the United States. International Social Science Bulletin, 7(1), 45-50.

Ourfali, E. (2015). Comparison between Western and Middle Eastern cultures: Research on why American expatriates struggle in the Middle East. Otago Management Graduate Review, 13, 33-41.

Pearson, C., Nguyen, N., & AlAsiri, A. S. (2020, February). International students in higher ed – Part 1: Challenges

and student expectations. MITESOL Messages, 46(1).

Shapiro, S., Farrelly, R., & Tomaš, Z. (2014). Fostering international student success in higher education. Alexandria, VA: TESOL Press.

Shaw, D. (2012). Secrets of success: Saudi student voices. The ORTESOL Journal, 29, 1-11.

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Thank You!

Dear MITESOL Executive Board, Advisory Board, and Membership,

Thank you for the Excellence in MITESOL Leadership Award which was presented to me at the MITESOL Conference this past November 2019. Twenty or so years ago I met a wonderful group of people interested in helping English language learners when I attended my first MITESOL conference. It was a special year for the group as the conference was being expanded from Saturday only sessions to the inclusion of a Friday evening gathering. On that evening in a small room, about a dozen people attended, sitting at a few tables, talking all things ESL. The leadership had even brought refreshments: a loaf of bread, a chunk of cheese, and a bunch of grapes. The next day, there was a small selection of sessions from which to choose, all interesting, and a catered lunch: food trays lined up in a school hallway with paper plates provided – and seating wherever it could be found, including the floor. It did not matter – conversation flowed everywhere. From these very humble times, oh my - how we have grown! What has not changed, though, is the community that can be found here, a community that seeks not only to serve English learners in this state and beyond, but also serve and support each other in our professional development and goals. No matter what I have given through the years in various roles, I have received so much in return from so many incredible people across the state. I am so honored to have been part of this organization over the past two decades, and I thank you all from the depths of my heart.

Christy Pearson

MITESOL Past-President/SIG Leader/Conference-Proceedings Co-Editor/MITESOL Journal Co-Editor

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Stay safe and healthy. See you in February!

Clarissa Codrington

Jessica Piggot

Co-editors, MITESOL Messages