Special Interest Groups

Adult Education

A Skilled Immigrant Project

By Regina M. Postogna

IIt is a well- known fact in the Bilingual and ESL education community that skills in native language will transfer to English. This includes the knowledge and skills that adult immigrants possess.

There is an interesting report entitled, “Transforming ESL at NJ Community Colleges,” which was produced last year by the NJ Community College Council. This report (http://www.njccc.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/NJCCC-ESL-White-Paper.pdf) seeks to accelerate the progress of ESL students in New Jersey’s community colleges and recommends a number of innovations that would be consistent with a project to capitalize on the educational background of skilled immigrants.

Some of the key components of a skilled immigrant project, including more effective intake and assessment; a strong counseling component; close ties with referring immigrant-serving organizations; a mentoring and/or volunteer component; contextualized ESL, and a sector-specific career path, at least at the outset. Given the state’s emphasis on health care as a growth industry, there are advantages of focusing on health care and attempting to create a New Jersey branch of the Welcome Back Center. Some benefits of this approach are the availability of a ready-made curriculum and set of assessment tools. Although most Welcome Back Centers are housed at community colleges, it was mentioned that a number of them operate under the auspices of nonprofit or government entities.

At the NJTESOL/NABE Spring Conference in May an Adult Education Special Interest Group (SIG) roundtable discussion will be held in order to share our successes as well as challenges. Resources will be shared.

The Adult Education SIG Chair  is Regina M. Postogna, Ed.D

Bilingual/ESL Middle School

After a Cold and Snowy Winter, A Vibrant Spring Conference

By Noreen Drucker

Our Spring Conference is quickly approaching. Are you ready for the plethora of workshops, presentations, and informative sessions that we are planning for you? Get ready, get set and get those dates- May 28th and 29th  - posted in your smart phone right away. Yes, Ladies and Gentlemen, it is the NJTESOL/NJBE annual conference, Pathways for the Next Generation of Language Learners  and it should not be missed.

We will have something for you to marvel at:

Our keynote speakers are world renowned and very highly respected professionals in their fields:  

Our SIG ( ESL / Bilingual Middle School) will meet on Wednesday.  We will have the opportunity to discuss many of the issues that are pertinent to our particular niche.  Bring your ideas and share with all of us.  Here is a partial list of things we could discuss:

The Elementary Bilingual SIG will be meeting right after us in the same room, so perhaps some of you would like to stay and share some of your experiences with them.

All in all, it will be a great two days. Please come and join us. Remember May 28th and 29th.  Hoping to see you there.

Noreen Drucker, Bilingual/ESL Middle School SIG Representative

Work at Mastery


Bilingual Elementary 1 - 8

Focus on the Spring Conference

By Gregory Romero

Gregory Romero

The NJTESOL/NJBE Spring Conference is getting nearer. The excitement is building as NJTESOL/NJBE prepares for the important collegial conference.  This year the conference is scheduled to run May 28th through May 29, 2014.  Once again, the Hyatt Regency Hotel in New Brunswick will be the location for the big event.   It is a great opportunity for ESL and bilingual education teachers and administrators to receive a variety of experiences in the field of second language learning. This year's conference will run the scope from renowned presenters, including Dr. Deborah Short and Dr. Diane August, that will speak about the latest issues within our field; fellow teachers that will present on strategies that are proven to work in the classroom; the opportunity to attend discussion groups dealing with relevant topics; and, let's not forget our venders who will introduce materials that will help English language learners acquire the skills and knowledge that they need to succeed -with our help, of course!

This year's conference theme is The Pathways for the Next Generation of Language Learners. With all of the changes taking place in education, including the on-line assessments through both WIDA and PARCC that our students will be taking, a new generation of learning and instruction is starting. We teachers of ELLs must be prepared for the challenges that will meet our students by learning all that we can about these changes and how to prepare students using instructional strategies that rise to the challenge.

I can't imagine another field that is as inspiring as that of teaching English to non-English speakers. There is great joy in seeing the progress our ELL students make as the year progresses going from using just a few words in the target language to a plethora of words and phrases that makes you wonder if the student before you is the student you met in September. Incredibly, the role of the ESL and bilingual teacher has evolved from merely teaching everyday language and social language skills, to teaching the language of content. The range of our instruction has widened and deepened in the last twenty years and we must be ready to meet the challenges this new world of instruction requires.

The conference presenters include two well known experts in the field of education,Dr. Deborah Short and Dr. Diane August. Dr. Short is well known for her work with SIOP instruction and will speak about connecting academic language to content while Dr. August has worked with several states in the implementation of the core-content standards and will speak on helping ELLs meet the requirements of the core in the area of language arts. These topics are clearly related to classroom instruction and instructional practices that teachers need to open pathways of learning for ELL students.

One of the issues that will be discussed at the conference will be the identification of learning problems in second language learners and determining the roots of those problems, so that students can receive appropriate interventions to enhance their learning.  As a teacher, I know that many of our students will face hurdles to learning a second language that sometimes are mislabeled as learning disabilities. Barbara Tedesco and BJ Franks will present Making Decisions about ELLs and Special Education and review the characteristics of second language acquisition versus learning disabilities. Ms. Tedesco and Dr. Franks are both experts in the field of ESL and have worked diligently in the last few years with the Department of Education to create instructional practices for ELL specialists that will enhance the learning of ELLs. They have especially dedicated themselves to helping teachers understand the instructional needs of ELLs and the understanding of the differences between second language acquisition and learning disabilities.

I would also recommend that our participants attend the workshop by the Department of Education, the Bureau of Bilingual/ESL Education: State Initiatives in Bilingual/ESL Education. As educators, we must be continually aware of the changes in our field that may impact our students, so that we can help students meet with success in their school years and beyond. Changes to the Bilingual Code as well as to assessment and enrollment requirements are the concern of all ELL specialists and administrators. Being better informed permits educators to develop an educated stance on the issues and to defend both the rights of students and the programs we represent.

Participants should also make it a point to attend some of the conference SIGs and share concerns and ideas with colleagues who have the same challenges. The Bilingual Elementary Special Interest Group (SIG) will be holding a forty-five minute discussion group on both Tuesday and Wednesday. Those attending will discuss concerns, questions, comments, and ideas regarding elementary bilingual students and/or classes. This year it will be especially important to discuss teacher evaluations, SGOs for bilingual and ESL teachers as well as the SGPs for bilingual teachers teaching multi-graded classrooms. All are invited to share news or experiences relating to our elementary bilingual students and practices within our districts during these sessions.

Regardless of which workshops you attend, each and every one of them will enhance your knowledge of second language learning and instruction. Besides the topics mentioned here, there are countless others that will make this a memorable conference and experience. This year's participants will walk away from the  NJTESOL/NJBE with knowledge that will help augment their learning and instruction. Memories will be made as colleagues share experiences and knowledge. Enjoy your time at this year's convention; we look forward to seeing you there.

Early Childhood

Advocating Until the End
By Monica Schnee

The March Workshop offered by the Bergen/Passaic Chapter at William Paterson University dealt with the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), their impact on ESL instruction and the challenges they pose to our students. It was a successful event that had advocacy at its core.

We have always been the strongest advocates for our students, no need for the CCSS. At present, our expertise on second language acquisition and what English learners need is more crucial than ever given the extra-ordinary demands placed by the CCSS. However, our students need us to speak on their behalf in many different situations.

Sometimes we have to fight for them to get special services, sometimes to get them out of special services. Other times we have to fight for them not to be retained or to receive basic skills instruction even though some districts see this as “double dipping.”
We fight for them to be exited if the ESL services no longer are the necessary support because they may not be making progress in reading and writing due to an underlying processing issue. The multiple criteria for exiting a student apply conversely. We use multiple criteria for keeping a student in ESL if the data and observations we have on that student determine that he can still benefit from services.

We also find ourselves fighting for them so they can still receive services when we know that they do not have what they need to succeed in the general classroom without our support.

Recently, a teacher who was in a very difficult situation, “the ESL teacher versus the misinformed administrators,” emailed me directly to share his story. I truly believe that it should be shared with all of our readership since it shows true advocacy.

Two siblings arrived at his district early this year. He tested them and both of them qualified for services. Their composite WIDA MODEL score was 3.5. They were placed in the program until the guidance counselor said one of the students did not need services. The teacher advocated for his student, explained that the child needed services but did not succeed. At that point, the principal got involved and decided that the students should be given part-time services. The teacher then used his knowledge of the Bilingual Code and cited that that was not permissible.

Conclusion: the students are now struggling without services, the teacher has been written up and has received low scores in Domain 4 - Professional Responsibilities - of the Danielson’s Framework for Teaching. He will probably not be rehired. The students no longer have their advocate and their advocate might no longer have his job.

So in this climate of fast and furious changes -new systems of evaluation, CCSS, Student Growth Objectives, PARCC Assessment - and no time to learn or adapt to the “new normal” let us take this example to be reminded that we are the language experts, the Bilingual Code experts, the ACCESS scores and the multiple criteria experts. We must be informed and knowledgeable so we can advocate for our students and for ourselves. Our administrators and supervisors do not always know what is best for our students, but we do.

Please make every effort to attend our Spring Conference and to stay informed. The more we learn about best practices and legislation for our students, the better advocates we will be.

Monica Schnee, Pre-K-K SIG Representative, River Edge School District


ESL Secondary

Lifelong Learners

By Marcella Garavaglia

"Teachers have homework, too. We never stop learning.” My students are accustomed to hearing me say this every time I inform them that a substitute teacher will be in for me the next day due to professional development. I explain that educators are collaborative and share their expertise with other educators in hopes of instilling an understanding of lifelong learning and respect for peers and professional colleagues.

I hope that you will join us at the 2014 NJTESOL/NJBE Spring Conference: Pathways for the Next Generation of Language Learners on Wednesday, May 28th and Thursday, May 29th in New Brunswick. The following workshops will be especially informative for Secondary Bilingual and ESL teachers and administrators:

Wednesday, May 28th
Common Core State Standards and High School ELLs
Engaging ELLs Holistically
Enhancing Bilingual/ESL Teacher Ed through the Charlotte Danielson's Framework for Teaching
The Magic of Teaching Writing
The Seal of Biliteracy: One District's Experience
What Today's ESL Teachers Need to Know
Writing and Evaluating SGOs in the ESL Classroom

Thursday, May 29th
Adolescent Literacy for SIFE in a Model Newcomer Program
Advocacy and the Common Core State Standards
Creating ELL Assessments for the Common Core
ELLs and the Common Core Standards

Hot Topics in Bilingual AND ESL Secondary Education
• A Holistic Approach to Serving Newcomer & Refugee Students
• Imparting Tier 2 Academic Vocabulary to ELLs
• Inspiring Students to Write
• Teacher Toolbox
• Technology Ideas for ESL Classes
• Strategies for Teaching Academic Language
• Strategies for Teaching Students with Limited Formal Education
• UDL Meets ESL: Strategies for Success
• Uncovering the Central Theme/Overall Main Idea
• Writing Curriculum for ESL Courses

The Bilingual and ESL Secondary SIGs will meet together on Thursday, May 29th, 2014, from 1:30pm-2:45pm. We will discuss topics such as the Common Core State Standards, the NJDOE Model Curriculum, SGOs, the Bilingual Code, teaching strategies, and strategies to help general education teachers. I look forward to seeing all of you at the spring conference!

Please don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions or concerns.

Marcella Garavaglia, ESL Secondary SIG Representative, ESL teacher, Freehold Regional High School District, marcellagaravaglia@gmail.com


Higher Education

Computer Aided Language Learning (CALL)

By Howard Pomann

This year’s Spring Conference will provide opportunities to enhance student learning through integrating Computer Aided Language Learning (CALL).   The Higher Education Workshop Strand on Wednesday, May 28, includes CALL workshops in the areas of micro-blogging with Twitter and other social media, on-line writing labs (OWLS), ESL-writing lab management, and other interactive CALL approaches.  Various CALL materials, activities and strategies will be presented throughout the conference workshops and at publishers’ exhibits.

Throughout the conference, workshops and publisher’s exhibits will demonstrate
the growing possibilities of CALL through increased accessibility to video, text, graphics, and voice recognition as well as accessibility to tutorial software, internet resources, productivity tools, social media, and mobile modalities.  To me personally, the growth has been quite amazing, as I still vividly remember the implementation of an Apple IIE computer lab with a Corvus network in 1984 for students to enhance their grammar and writing through text-reconstruction activities and with no sound capability.

Despite these enhancements in CALL, the difficulty to train faculty and students to use CALL effectively at times remains a frustration.  In evaluating and implementing any  CALL materials and activities, we must consider the student’s language goal while training faculty and students.  At times, the desire to complete an individual CALL task overrides a student’s focus on the language goal he/she may have.  In training students to use CALL, they need to understand several steps to enhance their independent language learning:  1. their language goal, 2. the language strategies related to the goal, and 3. when and how to apply digital assistance (i.e. feedback screens, audio/video sliders, transcripts on-line dictionaries) to meet the goal.  This training process is most successful when it is extensive over time, and involves collaborative development of strategies. (Hubbard, 2004) (Kolaitis, M, Mahoney, M, & Pomann, 2006)  http://www.stanford.edu/~efs/phil/papers

The TESOL Technology Framework (2008) addresses the training of faculty and students in CALL with specific goals, standards, and performance indicators. http://www.tesol.org/docs/books/bk_technologystandards_framework_721.pdf?sfvrsn=2

In addition to technology presentations, the Higher Education Strand workshops focus on academic writing and reading, pronunciation, tutorial center models, accelerated courses, and other higher education teaching/learning/administrative areas.  We will have an important Higher Education SIG meeting to share ways of increasing ESL student completion:  obtaining general education foreign language credit for advanced courses, acceleration models, earning Certificates of Achievement, and other state-wide and national strategies.

I look forward to seeing you at the conference.
Hubbard, P. (2004) ‘Learner training for effective use of CALL’, in S. Fotos and C. Browne (eds) New Perspectives on CALL for Second Language Classrooms, Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum, pp. 45–68.

Kolaitis, M, Mahoney, M, & Pomann, (2006)  ‘Training Ourselves to Train Students for CALL’ in Teacher Training in CALL Vol 14,  Hubbard, P. & Levey, M., John Benjamins, NY
Howard Pomann is the Director of the Institute for Intensive English, Union County College (pomann@ucc.edu, 908-965-6030)


Special Education

Especially for Special Educators at the Annual Spring Conference

By Sharon A. Hollander

Everyone on the board of NJTESO/NJBE is very busy getting ready for the annual Spring Conference. It’s an exciting time, with sessions to prepare, exhibitors to contact, and scholarship competitions to judge. There is no doubt in my mind that this conference will be amazing. With so much for participants to see and do, there are two presentations I want to bring to the attention of Special Interest Group members.

The first session of interest is entitled “Challenging Behaviors in DLLs with Disabilities.” According to the description from presenter Pam Brillante of William Patterson University, this workshop will help attendees understand the challenging behaviors of young students with dual language and/or disabilities.  This includes finding the function of the behavior and determining how to teach new replacement behaviors.

I recently read Pam’s article, “Solving the Puzzle: Dual Language Learners with Challenging Behaviors,” co-authored with NJTESOL/NJBE board member, Karen Nemeth,
in the July 2011 issue of the journal, “Young Children.”  In this piece, Karen and Pam look at underlying variables, resources, and strategies relevant to the problematic behavior of students with language differences, as well as potential delays and disabilities.  With behaviors that can range from acting out and frustration, to withdrawal, sadness, and noncompliance, each situation is remarkably complex.  According to Pam and Karen, better language supports and reduction of language stress make it easier for educators to address all student difficulties, including any necessary referrals to other services in school and around the community.

As the article progresses, Karen and Pam address a variety of important topics, including prevention of non-preferred behaviors, observation and understanding of these behaviors, and how to adapt instructional strategies. I would recommended this article and workshop to any SIG member. Furthermore, I am looking forward to Pam and Karen’s upcoming article in “Teaching Young Exceptional Children.”

The second session of interest is our SIG meeting. In previous columns, I have written about the importance of social skills instruction for children with disabilities, particularly dual language learners. This year, the Special Education SIG meeting will be an open house on this theme. Much current research supports visual modeling as a technique to build interpersonal skills among children with disabilities.  Accordingly, I will show social skills videos from the “Model Me Kids” series. I will also share articles, books, and curricula that can help students of different ages navigate the social world.  I welcome all conference attendees to come by the meeting and share any relevant ideas, experiences, and materials.

Although the Special Education footprint at the annual spring conference is not a big one, two timely and critical topics, management of challenging behaviors and social skills instruction, will be addressed. In addition, I find that questions (and answers) about disabilities and Special Education come up at sessions throughout the conference. I look forward to seeing you in May.

Sharon A. Hollander is a psychologist at Children’s Specialized Hospital, 94 Stevens Road, Toms River,  08755. She recently started work on an outreach grant to assess children for Autism Spectrum Disorders in underserved areas in New Jersey, including Newark, New Brunswick, and Plainfield.


The Seal of Biliteracy — One District's Experience

By JoAnne Negrín

This year, Vineland is one of seven school districts in New Jersey to be piloting the Seal of Biliteracy initiative in New Jersey. I think that it has been a tremendous experience for our district, and has opened the eyes of many to the importance of bilingualism and biliteracy in today’s economy. It has also been an eye opener for all of us to see how enthusiastically our students have embraced the initiative.

The Seal of Biliteracy initiative began in California, where it has been adopted by the California legislature. Students across the state who demonstrate proficiency in English as well as another language of their choosing obtain a seal on their diplomas and a notation in their transcripts documenting their college and career-readiness in two languages. Although many of these students are English speakers who are looking to certify their proficiency in a World Language, many of the students who are receiving this distinction are ELLs and speakers of English and a heritage language. The program recognizes all routes to bilingualism as equally valuable.

The Seal of Biliteracy initiative has since spread to several states, including Illinois and New York. A proposal has even been made at the federal level for a Seal of Biliteracy. New Jersey’s initiative is grass-roots rather than legislative, and is being sponsored by NJTESOL/NJBE and FLENJ (Foreign Language Educators of New Jersey.) As mentioned, seven districts are now serving as pilot districts, setting the criteria, choosing tests, and just seeing how it all works.

I originally signed up for Vineland to be a pilot district out of concern for our World Languages programs. We are fortunate to offer Spanish as both a World and Heritage language, Russian as both a World and Heritage language, French, German, Italian, Latin, and ASL (American Sign Language.) Like all districts, each year budget considerations make our language programs vulnerable. Unlike the arts, we do not have a large constituency within the community that advocates for our language programs. I thought the Seal program would highlight our language programs and provide a demonstrable and tangible statement of their value.

When I first surveyed the high school ESL and World Languages teachers, they gave me approximately 70 names of students who were interested in taking the language exams. I ordered 90 tests to account for any last-minute test takers. We ended up having 195 students volunteer to take a language test in order to obtain the seal!

We are currently working to coordinate testing for all of our language groups. The testing is taking place the last week of March and the first week of April. I am anxious to see how our students did. The testing will give us rich data on how our program needs to improve as we move forward.

If you are as curious to see how this turns out as I am, come see me at the Spring Conference and I’ll tell you all about it.

JoAnne M. Negrin, Supervisors’ SIG Representative

Teacher Education

Professional Development for Global Competence

By Mary Curran

Learning to teach is a life-long process.  On the way, we can accelerate our learning and improve our teaching by actively engaging in professional development activities.  In a recent talk at the spring Foreign Language Educators of New Jersey Spring Conference (FLENJ,) I spoke about ways teachers can engage in activities to develop their global competence in order to prepare their students for today’s interconnected global society. Teacher educators need to encourage our students to make it a habit to search out powerful learning experiences when aiming for global competence or other objectives.

Several types of activities prompt us to attend to the four key components that demonstrate global competence: investigating the world, recognizing multiple perspectives, communicating across difference, and taking action.  A great way to begin to learn about global competence is by reading Boix, Mansilla and Jackson’s easy-to-read, freely downloadable book, Educating for Global Competence: Preparing Our Youth to Engage the World (available at http://asiasociety.org/files/book-globalcompetence.pdf ).

To spark curiosity and expand our knowledge about the world, we should read broadly—books like British Pakistani Nadeem Aslam’s A Blind Man’s Garden and  Dominican American Junot Diaz’ The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao teach us about regions, cultures, and histories we may not be familiar with.  Other books provide windows into students’ perspective.  For example, Ruth Ozeki’s A Tale for the Time Being, allows us to enter the perspective of 16-year-old Nao, who attended school in both Japan and the United States.  Movies, as well, allow glimpses into other people’s lives.  I encourage my students to choose books and movies about areas with which they have less familiarity, or the regions or cultures of their students so they can learn more about their backgrounds.

Study abroad opportunities specifically designed for teachers are known to be transformational learning experiences.  At Rutgers, we have three summer 2014 programs at the Graduate School of Education: The South Africa Initiative (http://gse.rutgers.edu/southafrica ), Educación y Cultura Argentina (http://gse.rutgers.edu/content/study-tour-argentina-“educación-y-cultura-argentina” ), and Classroom Organization in the Yucatán (http://gse.rutgers.edu/content/classroom-org-yucatan). Friends Beyond Borders (http://friendsbeyondborders.net) offers their annual Social Justice Reality Tour in the Dominican Republic and Haiti this summer as well.  When choosing a program, it is important to investigate the program’s guiding framework and talk to past participants to make sure the program is a match for your interests and professional development needs.

Even if you aren’t able to go abroad for your professional development, there are plenty of service-learning opportunities in the local community that can spark global competence.  For example, in our field, there are many programs looking for volunteers.  Consider volunteering with an ESL population that you don’t work with during your regular work hours.  For example, working with adults is a productive way to expand a PK-12 teacher’s understanding of his or her students and their families, or adult ESL instructors could do some after-school tutoring.  Experiences  like these would broaden understandings of students’ backgrounds, the family literacy practices, the resources they bring to educational settings, changes in the immigrant population, and their experiences in your local community.  At Rutgers, we have a new program called The Conversation Tree, in which we partner with community organizations to provide conversation facilitators at what we call “Conversation Cafés”.  The Conversation Cafés are social spaces where people can go for opportunities to practice English.  Rutgers students enroll in a three-credit course which prepares them for their role as conversation facilitators.  In the course, some of the topics they consider are community demographics, citizenship and democracy, the immigrant experience, and the second language and cultural acquisition process.  Once prepared, students engage in the community with adults who wish to practice their English.  This models provides mutually beneficial learning opportunities.  All participants learn more from each other, while also providing much-needed spaces for new immigrants to practice using English.

Attending conferences is always a great way to get exposed to new ideas and build professional networks. Many opportunities exist for ways to learn about how to develop global competence.  In New Jersey, there is the Rutgers Graduate School of Education Teaching the World Forum held on April 24th.  Keynote speaker, writer and director Alrick Brown, will discuss the global competence needed in writing and directing his Sundance award-winning film, Kinyawanda. Registration information can be found here:  http://gse.rutgers.edu/content/teaching-world-forum-0 .  The 2014 Partnership in Global Learning takes place in Brooklyn on June 27 and 28th.  Details about this conference, are available at http://sites.asiasociety.org/pgl2014/ .

And, of course, we encourage you and your teacher education students to attend our own NJTESOL/NJBE Spring Conference on May 28 and 29th.  Of special interest may be our session titled, What ESL Teachers Need to Know, in which we will hear from two district supervisors as they share their perspectives on the knowledge, skills and dispositions essential for today’s ESL teachers.  This session will be especially helpful for job-seekers, both those who are newly entering the profession and those who may be looking for a new position, and teacher educators who want to learn more about the current needs and demands faced by those who hire their students.  Remember ESL teacher education students are entitled to a free one-year  membership, so if you have not registered your students, check out this website for information: http://www.njtesol-njbe.org/newsletter/Faculty_Recommendation_Form.pdf .

As learning to teach, like all learning, occurs through our social interactions with others, perhaps the most important advice of all is to surround yourself with amazing role models.  Find them and engage, listen, collaborate, and take action with them. 

Mary Curran, Teacher Education SIG Representative, Graduate School of Education, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, mary.curran@gse.rutgers.edu