TESOL International Convention 2017

In 2016, I went to the TESOL Convention in Baltimore, Maryland because it was in my neck of the woods and there was much networking to do. For all intents and purposes, my time there was well spent. And though I met so many people and made some very good connections, a part of me longed to be included in the presenters circle. Well, this year, I get my chance.

I put the notice out a few months ago that I will be presenting my research at TESOL 2017 and certainly I am quite excited about that. Just having my proposal accepted is an honor in itself, but I know there is a lot of more work that needs to be done. The interest in furthering research into the effects of infusing phonics with contextual instruction for adult and secondary learners is growing. This presentation is something I hope will generate even more interest from other professionals in the field and join me in collecting more data and adding to the conversation. If you are going to the TESOL International Convention in Seattle, please come to my session. Thank you.

The 30 Days Song

IWTLE will host all of its audio contents on PodBean. This will make access to the audio tracks that correspond to the textbook much easier with phone apps and free download options. We are nearing the official launch of the textbook. Check out this sample.

The 30 Day Song

Do you know how many days are in each month? Well, here’s a fun way to remember. Sing along.

30 days has September, April, June and November.

The rest have 31 days, you see, except February.

Level 1 Textbook Due for Release Winter 2015

We wanted the book to be released by the end of summer, but due to financial setbacks (and logistical challenges) it was concluded the best thing to do would be to wait to release the I Want To Learn English textbook around the holidays 2015. Even though there were grants to help fund the project, the amount of money was insufficient to get everything in order for a late summer release. Therefore, more time to use the textbook on another sample of students to get more accurate data is clearly the silver lining here.

The Voiced and Voiceless “Th” Sounds

One of the trickiest digraphs to teach new English Learners is the “Th” sound. This is because it isn’t a common sound produced in non-Latin based languages. In fact, with some exceptions like Arabic, Greek, Albanian and Burmese (for example), many languages do not have voiced or voiceless fricative “Th” sounds in their language at all. For Spanish speaking students, for example, learning words with the “Th” sound is very difficult. Most English Language Learners in my classes have expressed their frustrations in learning words with these voiced and voiceless “Th” sounds. What I always recommend to my students is their dedication to practicing words and sentences with these sounds in them to help them produce the sounds a little more fluidly. This is the primary reason I spend a great deal of time going over digraphs in the first place, especially when working with low beginner students and even all the way up to intermediate level students. An entire unit in the “I Want To Learn English” textbook is dedicated to practicing digraphs. I produced the following video for students to practice the voiced and voiceless “Th” sounds and give some examples to practice with. Please feel free to share this video with as many people as you like. Stay focused and practice as much as possible.

Presenting at the Maryland TESOL Conference

It’s always an honor to be selected to present at a conference, since so many people from various backgrounds submit their proposals. However, the MD TESOL Conference 2014 is particularly exciting because Dr. Stephen Krashen, a well respected figure in the field of TESOL, is the keynote speaker at the event and also a presenter on Common Core. Although the excitement is evident, the primary focus for my presentation is to introduce colleagues in teaching English to adult ELLs to the crux of my research project: “Swing Differentiation.” It’s this concept that has lead me to begin creating a prototype textbook I call “I Want To Learn English,” or IWTLE. The birth of this concept came from the inherent need for adult learners to be able to acquire at least some understanding of the essential phonetic foundation of the English language. After some trials and error, I discovered just teaching adults the “bare bones” basic phonetic symbol representations of, say, long and short vowels, paid great dividends in their overall performance throughout the course. For this I needed to work almost exclusively with level 1 students to verify my conclusions. After two years of trials, I had the necessary data to submit to my supervisors at Baltimore City Community College’s Basic English Language Skills (or BELS) program. The number of students who were able to score higher on the CASAS exams and advance to the next level rose exponentially, which made the program director take serious notice of what I had been doing. It was because of their encouragement and support that I have been allowed to continue my methods and studies, which has only become more efficient with each new class. So, my findings, methods, theories and data are at the center of my presentation at the MD TESOL Conference, which I hope will generate more interest from my fellow colleagues and perhaps entice them to participate in my ongoing project. If you were not able to attend the conference, a video stream of my presentation will be made available both through the MD TESOL website (mdtesol.org) and on my channel on You Tube. Stay tuned.