Join me at the Emerald Coast TESOL conference in Pensacola

A highway with road signs with the words Emerald Coast TESOL 2019>Exploring Paths to Literacy Proficiency

I serve as the professional development officer for the Emerald Coast Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (ECTESOL), which is a chapter of the Sunshine State TESOL of Florida. Our local conference for the Gulf Coast area will be held in Pensacola on February 9th from 9:30-3:00. It will take place at the International Center, Building 71, at the  University of West Florida (UWF). Registration costs $25 and includes lunch. The theme is Exploring Paths to Literacy Proficiency. See the itinerary below.

9:30 – 10:00 Registration (and refreshments)

10:00 – 10:10 Welcome General Session: Ms. Rachel Hendrix, Executive Director, International Affairs, UWF;
Overview of Conference: Dr. Arlene Costello, President, ECTESOL

10:15 – 10:55 Keynote Speaker: Ms. Ginger Alberto, Program Director, Student Achievement through Language Acquisition, Florida Department of Education, Topic: Meeting the Needs of English Learners in Literacy Proficiency

11:00 – 11:30 Concurrent Sessions
Room 1: Engaging English Learners, Dr. Arlene Costello
Room 2: The Pragmatics of EFL/ESOL, Dr. Laureen Fregeau, University of South Alabama

11:35 – 12:00 Lunch & 12:00 – 12:15 Cultural Performances & DOOR PRIZES

12:20 – 1:00 General Session
Featured Presentation: Dr. John Pecore, Associate Professor, University of West Florida, Topic: Writing a winning TESOL grant proposal

1:05 – 1:35 Concurrent Sessions
Room 1: ESOL Professional Development & Career Opportunities, Dr. Sandra Rogers, Spring Hill College
Room 2: Room 2: Reaching for the Stars, Mrs. Milagros Sessions, Escambia County School District

1:40 – 2:15 Concurrent Sessions
Room 1: Language Writing Frames to Aid ESOL Elementary Students’ Research Projects, Dr. Sandra Rogers, SHC
Room 2: Supporting Non-Literate Adult Learners of English on Paths to Literacy, Dr. Meg Smith, SHC

2:20 – 2:50 Special Presentation General Session
The Dynamics of Literacy: Language and Science Dr. Vanessa Mangual, Bi-literacy Consultant, Benchmark Education

2:50 – 3:00 Business Meeting: Report by President; Paper Report by Treasurer; Ms. Vicki Murphy, ECTESOL Conference Chair, DOOR PRIZES

3:00 – 3:20 ECTESOL Board Meeting, Conference Room

Please register by January 29, 2019. You may bring your payment onsite on the day of the conference. Visit the ECTESOL website to download the registration form and learn more about our organization. Contact persons for more information and registration: Dr. Arlene Costello at aces103@cox.net; Vicki Murphy at vmurphy@escambia.k12.fl.us. We hope to see you there!

The Multilingual Mozambican: Remembering my U.S. English Language Fellowship

The English Language Programs of the U.S. Department of State is celebrating their 50th anniversary of the Fellow Program. As a former English Fellow to Mozambique, I want to share my teaching English experience as part of the celebration. I wrote about my fellowship in a newsletter while working elsewhere. Sections of the article are provided below. Please note that this information is outdated. It’s a snapshot of the early 1990s in Maputo, Mozambique from the perspective of a foreign worker.


The Multilingual Mozambican (Rogers, 1995)

I miss Africa. It was as great a pleasure as a hardship to teach in Mozambique. From September 1992 to December of 1993, I was employed by the Universidade Eduardo Mondlane (UEM) in Maputo, the capital city. After interviewing at TESOL Vancouver, the (USIS) United States Information Services provided me with an English Teaching Fellowship (ETF) contract for one year. Having always wanted to visit Africa, the stability of a US government contract made my adventure-in-the-wait a job reality with roundtrip airfare, medical insurance, and a generous stipend. In addition, UEM provided me with housing.

…My (US) salary as a visiting teacher was better than that of the host nationals. Monthly, I received $600 and the equivalent of $200 in their currency (Metical), which suffered from superinflation: one dollar equaled 5K meticais. My first check was for a million meticais.

Mozambican money in $10,000 bills

When I first arrived in Maputo, the country was still at war. There were numerous war orphans and amputees on the streets. During my stay, I witnessed the uneasy steps towards peace that eventually led to a peace accord and democratic elections. I saw the UN tanks replace their army’s. I experienced the rebel leader leaving the bush and taking up residence in the city (my neighborhood). I talked to teachers who after being restricted from traveling outside the city for 15 years, finally got to go visit their hometowns. It was an amazing time in Mozambican history, one that I’m glad I can share. The UN Mission (UNOMOZ) was a success and the troops pulled out. The country was a tropical paradise in ruins that needed to be rebuilt. The major obstacle to rebuilding the infrastructure and a normal lifestyle was the litter of hundreds of landmines. Mozambique had the largest landmine problem in the world.

…Portuguese, as well as many African Bantu languages,  are spoken in Mozambique. Spanish is understood by the Portuguese speakers and vice versa. It’s very close. I think it’s important to mentions this because, like most Americans, I was completely unaware of this fact. However, in my humble opinion, Portuguese is a more structurally complicated language.

Being fluent in Spanish helped me meet the language requirement to get the job. Also, my volunteer work with the Peace Corps (PC) in Honduras (1985-87) and an internship in Guatemala (1991) showed my ability to adapt to harsh conditions. Due to severe droughts and a sixteen-year-old civil conflict, Mozambique was one of the poorest countries in the world.

Teaching conditions at the university were definitely third world: no window panes to keep the dust out, sometimes no running water to wash hands or flush toilets, and frequent power outages. Most importantly, transit was limited for the students. Public transit was nonexistent in Maputo. Given these hardships, one must wonder why anyone would want to work there. Well, I knew from my PC experience that no matter how much I put into a job like this, I would gain more from it; and I strongly believe I have.

As a light-skinned, American female raised in a democratic society, I underwent a complete minority immersion. Placed in the Engineering faculty to teach English for Specific Purposes (ESP) to beginners, I encountered a majority of black males as well as a host of visiting professors from Communist countries. Mozambique was a Socialist/Communist country undergoing political change. In the past, they received assistance from Russia and Cuba, as well as other former East bloc countries. Some of my students had received military training in these countries and thus spoke Russian, German, and Spanish. Additionally, many Mozambican professionals had studied abroad…Not many Mozambicans spoke English, but a good number of them were multilingual. One charming example of this was the night I went out with some German backpackers to a simple open-air bar and had half the locals buying drinks for us and speaking German.

Another factor adding to the multilingualism in Mozambique is that many educational materials had been donated to the university in languages other than Portuguese… So learning how to read in English (the language of the largest selection of books) is necessary for third and fourth-year students at UEM. Hence, ESP programs focused on reading proficiency.

To add to the multilingualism, many visiting professors didn’t speak Portuguese and thus lecture in their native language. For example, my students were used to receiving math classes in Spanish because of the numerous Cuban professors employed at the Engineering faculty. Visiting professors make up about 50% of the staff due to the  ‘brain drain’ caused by the civil conflict and previous war of independence. In such a case, the majority of management and PhDs are very young and abroad obtaining their credentials.

As for the communication in my classroom, students received instructions only in English at first, but they were informed of my Spanish fluency and consequent comprehension of Portuguese. We exchanged English for Portuguese during free periods. The only formal instruction for non-native (adult) speakers at that time was the Brazilian Cultural Center downtown. I attended classes for one month, but the accent was so different that I decided it wasn’t a good idea. Mozambican Portugues is truer to Portugal given the colloquial insertions and accent. This is because Mozambique was Portugal colony until 1975.

Eventually, I learned to communicate in Portuguese. My students were at ease after my acquisition. It led me to question the ‘English only’ rule: If I’m to be the facilitator, how can I help them if I can’t speak their language? That year (1993) an article appeared in the TESOL Journal questioning the validity and general acceptance of such rule with no empirical basis. In my opinion, this rule creates a high affective filter. I was made aware of this by reading hundreds of my students’ journals each week.

To further expand on my minority immersion, I was the only American teaching English in the city, probably the entire country. British English dominated Africa. This is due to…their colonization…and their continued outpouring of funds for English programs throughout the continent. For example, the British Council had a wonderful library and resource center in … Maputo.

I taught these students English for Specific Purposes (ESP), which included vocabulary on the subject of civil engineering.

…Teaching Mozambicans was a great pleasure. They were very receptive and gracious. I miss my students and the Mozambican teachers. Together they showed me how to relax and have a good time despite the harsh conditions. Thanks to them, I too have become multilingual. Initially, Mozambique was at the end of the world for me, as it appears to many based on their global location, but now it seems somehow closer with the education I carry of the land and its people.

Mozambican student's note on back of class photo

#ELPalumni #Mozambique #TESOL #fellowimpact

Reference

Rogers, S. (1995). The multilingual Mozambican. The Teacher, 1(2). Recife: Brasil: Association Brasil America.

Massive Multiplayer Online Roleplaying Games for Language Learning

MachinEVO: Machinima Screening and Cast Party

I attended the final meeting of the MachinEVO workshop training held on EduNation in SL. The moderators and participants met to share their group machinima projects. I think I was the only one with an individual one. I was timid about sharing mine but at the same time proud of my beginnings. I shared a two and a half minute machinima with the gathering. They way these are shared are to post the YouTube link in the chat box. Then everyone goes to that site to view it separately.

My production is called Adventures with Charlie. It has background music, speech bubbles, transitions for title/credit slides and for the music to fade in and out. There’s no voice for Charlie though. I’d like a male young male voice. I haven’t paid for the “voice morphing” on SL. Instead, I hope my young nephew can read the lines for a recording. Hopefully, I can get that done before the competition next week. I got positive feedback from the workshop participants and moderators nonetheless.

After the screening, we went to a cast party with a live DJ from Berlin. It took place in a virtual castle. It was well attended. There was a magic ball that granted you dance options, so everyone was doing all kinds of dance moves, even my cat avatar. In the spirit of machinima, I filmed the cast party as others did. I saw one posting of a machinima of the party that was beautifully done on our MachinEVO Google Community. If they shared it publicly on YouTube, I repost it here. I have the raw footage and will try to make something of it myself. The cat looked so funny dancing around. I even had him fly around while he was dancing, which was even more hilarious. The flying mode allowed me to capture everyone else at the party. I’ll add some dance photos to this posting soon.

This party was the culmination of a 5-week workshop titled MachinEVO, which is part of the annual offerings by the Electronic Village Online. I like how the moderators of the workshop provided ongoing activities beyond the confines of the 5-week set-up. In true Webhead fashion, their devotion to training educators goes beyond the 100%! They invited us to collaborate on our group projects or create an individual one to submit to a machinima competition at the SLanguages conference on Feb. 28th. It’s the first CAMELOT award for machinima for children’s language learning purposes. I’m honored just to be a part of it all.

TEACHING TIP: Here’s my first original machinima: Adventures with Charlie. It’s geared toward young English language learners. I was thinking of possible uses to teach language such as having the students record their voice for the machinima or add more dialogue. I could add a preview of the vocabulary at the beginning and a quiz at the end. Still shots could be created and uploaded to Pixlr.com for manipulation by the students. That way, they could add dialogue to the still shots in a easy and inexpensive way (no printing of color ink, etc). These could then be shared on a wiki.

P.S. I forgot to mention that this is part of my on-the-job training for my doctoral internship this semesters with let’s talk online, sprl in Brussels, Belgium.

Principles and Practices of Online Teaching Certificate Program

Dear Teachers,

Have you ever thought about telecommuting for work or teaching online?  I just completed a certificate to teach online through my profession.  This yearlong course hosted by TESOL is conducted at the University of Wisconsin via online instruction.  What better way to learn to teach online than taking an online course!  It isn’t a very costly program.  I was able to learn enough from this course to feel comfortable in taking on a new job teaching online at my university.

This course served me well, as I’m excelling at my new job!  Last year, I wrote about making changes, re-educating yourself for the “invisible” jobs.  Trends show that online classes at universities are on the rise, according to the Chronicle of Higher Learning.   This certification is for teaching English as a Second Language (ESL) which is part of my profession, Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL).  However, it is open to anyone from any field.  I was able to design my nonprofit’s website and learn about Web 2.0 tools from this certificate course.

In addition, I’ve been able to get three part-time jobs online!  Now, I’ve gone completely virtual teaching ESL for a company in Israel, teaching reading online for the local university, and scoring tests online.  My nonprofit is wholly online, too.  I’ve even become an online mentor.  I started mentoring ESL instructors in Italy for TESOL and mentoring individuals looking for work for my nonprofit’s mission.

Check out the site:

Principles and Practices of Online Teaching Certificate Program

Your blogger,

Sandra Annette Rogers