From The Editor

Life's Cycles

By Roselyn Rauch

And so it began again just as in years past and so it will again a year from now and then again and again: the start of another academic cycle, September through June. Some routines old, some new; some bilingual/ESL students returning, others arriving for the first time. Familiar cycles to some and weirdly strange to others. Yet, bilingual/ESL teachers are trained for all of the disparities and incongruities of the language-learning classroom.

With the horrors of war in Syria and the mass emigration of its citizens pouring out of its borders attempting to reach European nations, how many of those fleeing will actually make it to America? How many of those displaced individuals will we be seeing in our classrooms? Traumatized as they are, those students will be greeted by ESL and bilingual teachers who, more than anything else, are compassionate. Bilingual/ESL teachers have long been trained in lowering affective filters bringing their students to a point at which they can begin to learn. In Embracing ELLs: Beyond a Friendly Hug by Carole Maurer, many ways of reducing students’ anxieties are mentioned and although this is an Early Childhood SIG article, it applies across the board. (This is one of the reasons that I always encourage everyone to read beyond their own SIG; we scaffold, we overlap through all levels.) In The Tangle or the Weave?, Angeline Sturgis reports on resources to bring parents into the crafting of their children’s success in school.

In Back to School by Kristi A. Bergman, there is solid advice for teachers just beginning their careers but her suggestions also serve as reminders/new ideas for veterans. The World in Your Classroom by Michelle Land offers strategies that she crafted to “grapple[d] with the difficulties in meeting my diverse students’ needs. “

Making the decision to exit students from ESL programs may often be a touchy issue though it shouldn’t be with the right objective guidelines. Both Sonya Bertini in Considerations for Exiting a Classified Student from an ESL Program and guest contributor, Natalie Pereira, in The Importance of Using Multiple Criteria to Exit ELLs address these criteria.

Though it may only be October, we have to think ahead to our next spring conference, in June, 2016. JoAnne Negrin and Gwen Franks wrote about submitting proposals to present and that registration for this annual event is now online. Some of our members have to submit to their districts far in advance to get permission to attend.

And while on the subject of conferences and conventions, read Membership Chair Joan Pujol’s heads-up on NJEA next month in Atlantic City. She provides general information including that of available baby-sitting services. Listed are our 13 presentations, a new high for us.

Also in the Features section, Tina Kern retells her experience in French Quebec this summer and how it raised an awareness of how a political agenda can be reached without a vote; Marilyn Pongracz reports on Lanternfish and ESLflow.

Special Interest Group (SIG) pieces include using common sense for selecting software for the ESL/bilingual classroom (Romero); conquering diversity and skills disparity (Land); a 2015-2016 Update: High School Graduation Requirements (Garavaglia); and Integrating Academic Study Skills (Pomann.)

The submissions for this edition once again cover much ground: academic, social/emotional, and practical ideas. Happy reading, happy Fall.

Looking forward…..


Roselyn Rauch, Ed.D, is the editor of Voices and a retired ESL/ESL Resource teacher from the Paterson Public School System. She is a consultant with ESL Unlimited and may be reached at rrauch@njtesol.org .

Sandee McBride

President's Message

By Sandee McBride

Events and Resources

Autumn is a beautiful time of year in our state. It's a time of change when warm weather begins to leave us and the leaves turn into lovely colors. Our organization is experiencing some changes as well this year.

A few new transformations include new dates for our annual spring conference and the addition of a third day to our event. This year, it will be held on Wednesday, June 1, and Thursday, June 2, for our Pre-K, Elementary, and Middle School groups, while Friday, June 3, will be reserved for our Secondary Ed, Higher Ed, Teacher Ed, Adult Ed, Graduate School Forum, and Supervisory/Administrative interest groups. It is our hope that spreading the conference across three days will alleviate congestion within the conference area. We are also returning to our 75 minute workshops with a 15 minute break between each one to allow for smoother flow of traffic throughout the hotel conference space.

Our Regional Conferences will be held at Stockton, Rowan, and William Paterson Universities in the winter/early spring. Much appreciation goes to these institutions of higher education for their support and collaboration with NJTESOL/NJBE. Information on these conferences will be available on our website as soon as the plans become finalized.

Watch the Hotlist for information throughout the year on workshops sponsored by your local chapter groups. These chapters offer a great venue for sharing information, professional development, and camaraderie. More "Chapter News" can be found at the following link:

There are also informative sessions offered by the New Jersey Department of Education (NJDOE) during the school year. Please go to their website, click on Programs, then click on Bilingual/ESL Education. You can find information regarding ACCESS for ELLs 2.0 here:

and professional development videos, convenient webinars, and workshops here:

Sandee McBride, President NJTESOL/NJBE, smcbride@njtesol-njbe.org
Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey

Vice President's Message

Make Your VOICES Heard — Submit a Proposal for Spring Conference

By JoAnne Negrin

One of the wonderful things about being on the NJTESOL/NJBE Executive Board is the opportunity that it has given me to interact with educators from around the state. Although I am, of course, partial to my elite squad of Vineland language ninjas, I am always impressed and humbled by the level of dedication, knowledge, and expertise that I see in districts and institutions of higher education throughout New Jersey. We all work in environments where there is never enough – enough time, enough money, and enough emotional reserves. Still, I think it’s important to appreciate that we are at the forefront of ESL and bilingual education in the United States in many ways.

During my travels, I see such amazing things that I often find myself wishing there were a way to bottle what I’m seeing and experiencing and give it to as many other teachers as I can. In fact, there is a way to do that: as VP and Conference Chair, my mission is to provide encouragement for teachers who are doing excellent work to put it out there so that students across the state may benefit.

There are some great advantages to presenting at a conference like ours in the spring. First of all, ESL and bilingual education can be lonely jobs. Many of you are the only ones in your building, or perhaps even in your district who are in these fields. Being a presenter gives you the opportunity to get feedback on the work you’re doing. Even if you are doing amazing things, there’s often someone out there who has a great suggestion to make it even better, or who is trying to do something similar and wants to collaborate with you. Don’t underestimate the importance of what you do. If you’ve worked on a particularly interesting piece of curriculum, if you have a classroom organization method that works especially well, expertise in some aspect of technology, or just some quirky thing you do that seems to resonate, please don’t hesitate to share.

If you aspire to a leadership position, whether in a district, an institution of higher learning, or as a consultant, being comfortable and confident in front of a crowd is vital. When you present at a conference in front of your peers, you have a receptive and supportive audience that will ask good, intelligent questions. It also gives you an opportunity to network and be remembered.

Finally, by sharing your skills and knowledge with your peers, students all over New Jersey and beyond benefit. One of the reasons we become educators is to touch the future. An educator never knows the impact they will have during the course of a career. By sharing with other educators, you may be profoundly affecting the lives of students you may never meet.

Proposals can be submitted on our website, www.njtesol-njbe.org, through November 15. I look forward to hearing from you.

JoAnne Negrin, Ed.D   is NJTESOL/NJBE Vice President and is Spring Conference Chair. jnegrin@njtesol-njbe.org


2016 Spring Conference Registration is On-line Now!

June 1, 2, and 3

By Gwen Franks

Wednesday (June 1) & Thursday (June 2) – Workshops for Pre-K through 8

Friday (June 3) – Workshops for HS, Higher Ed, Teacher Ed, Adult Ed & Supervisors

Visit http://www.njtesol-njbe.org for more information.

NJEA 2015 Convention

NJTESOL/NJBE at the New Jersey Education Association (NJEA) Convention: General Information and Our Workshops

By Joan Pujol

T his year, we have an unprecedented thirteen presentations.  The NJEA Convention will be held on Thursday, November 5, and Friday, November 6, at the Atlantic Convention Center.  The Exhibit Floor will be open on Thursday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.  Admission/replacement badge area, in Hall D, will be open on Thursday from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and on Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

NON-MEMBERS pay an admission fee based on how much access they wish to have to the convention.  The fee covers both Thursday and Friday.  There is no discount for attending only one day.  Non-members may not bring guests.

Non-members may purchase their admission badges in the box office located in the atrium or register and pay in advance at NJEAConvention.org . Non-members who register on-site will receive a certificate of attendance at the box office when they receive their admission badge.  Non-members who register in advance may receive their certificate of attendance at the Will Call booth in the atrium.
Admission may be paid on site by credit card (Visa and MasterCard only) or cash.  Checks are not accepted.

For questions, email tickets@njea.org.

CHILDCARE is available by ACCENT on Children’s Arrangements, a national leader in child care.  They will provide a comprehensive menu of activities for children ages 3-12.  While you attend workshops or other NJEA Convention programs, ACCENT’s experienced and professional staff will create a safe, nurturing, and educational environment with age-appropriate activities.

Space is limited.  Register now at NJEAConvention.org . You can learn more about ACCENT at www.accentoca.com.

This year’s presentations are listed below:

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Learning in Two Languages
Presented by Ruth Jurado & Cassandra S. Lawrence, Room 304

The Arabic Language:  What Teachers Need to Know
Presented by Jory D. Samkoff, Room 301

Lessons that Engage English Learners
Presented by Cassandra S. Lawrence & Larry Bello, Room 304

Writing Curriculum for ESL Courses (Common Core and WIDA Standards)
Presented by Marcella Garavaglia & Caia Schlessinger, Room 301

Building Writing for ELLs, One Word at a Time

Presented by Michelle Land & Noreen M. Drucker, Room 401

Creative Language Arts and Math Activities
Presented by Ivelis SanFilippo, Room 304

Friday, November 6, 2015


Engaging the Families of ELLs

Presented by Sandee McBride, Room 301

Scaffolding Instruction for English Language Learners (ELLs)
Presented by MaryEllen Fitzpatrick, Room 304

Basic Strategies and Principles to Support ELLs in the Classroom

Presented by Debra L. Billmann & Timothy Hall, Room 301

Dual Language and the Early Childhood Learner
Presented by Monica M. Charris, Room 308

Teaching English Language Learners (ELLs) in the High School
Presented by MaryEllen Fitzpatrick, Room 304

Culturally Responsive Teaching:  Meeting the Needs of All Your Students

Presented by Lois N. Spitzer, Room 304

New Jersey has a Bilingual Education Law?
Presented by Elizabeth J. Franks, Room 301

Remember to come to the NJTESOL/NJBE booth at the end of NJEA Main Street, by the Clock Tower.  You can renew your membership, visit with us, get a pick- me -up candy, and have your questions answered.  Looking forward to seeing you at the NJEA Convention.

Joan D. Pujol, Membership Representative at Large        


Language as a Political Tool

By Tina Kern

What do bilingualism, my vacation, and language have in common? 

This is the most unusual hook I have written, but hopefully this question has whetted your appetite to read more.

This summer I took my first actual vacation in – well, let’s just say more years than I want to admit.  We went to Montreal in the province of Quebec, Canada, and were able to visit friends we hadn’t seen in a long time.  I expected wonderful food, much walking, great conversation, and music since it was the Jazz Festival, quiet nights (without kids), etc.  But I never expected it to also be a lesson in politics – a lesson that would impact my attitude and my teaching.

I always advocated the importance of teaching English as a second language as so much more than lessons and information.  I am a serious career professional who also is a lifetime learner.  After a tumultuous political atmosphere in college, I demurred from that arena and immersed myself in education.  Let the politicians argue for that which didn’t immediately affect myself or my children, in and out of class.  Language is pure and like a puzzle it falls into place.  It curls around our tongue and mind, and forms a safe abode as we teach the students to take control of the pieces.  As students progress we continue to bring them forward.  It is a simple premise, yet it is complex.  It guides the lives of teachers and we have our purpose.

But what if the purpose was not so pure, or simple?  What if the purpose was guided by more than one agenda?

Contemporary Quebec nationalism has been an ethnic, linguistic and territorial struggle to create a separate nation instead of a province.  The people desired to speak French, have a French-speaking government, go to French-speaking hospitals and have their children educated only in French.  Vive Quebec Libre [Long Live Free Quebec: ed.] was a slogan taken quite seriously in the entire province.

On a trip to Montreal over ten years ago, there was turmoil in the province.  The English- dominant citizens were celebrating Canada Day, while the French dominant groups were still incensed by a failure to create their own country yet again.  I deferred to wearing United States flags on my shirts as speaking English brought very unfriendly glances.  I learned to say, “I am American… American…”

A few years later, I visited Montreal again. I spoke English everywhere and was pleasantly surprised to be understood by almost everyone.  I was amazed by the linguistic agility of these people.  Smiles of understanding and gratitude that I didn’t have to use my fractured French helped make my vacation there almost perfect. As I reflected upon the reticence of many districts within the United States to implement dual language programs, I was saddened. Why couldn’t we embrace bilingualism with the same alacrity as these people?

This summer I stayed in the same “bed and breakfast,” visited some of the same places, and enjoyed the Jazz Festival.  But my visit was punctuated by miscommunication and puzzled looks.  Surprisingly, very few natives in the city were able to help when I needed directions, or translation. They couldn’t respond in English. They didn’t understand anything more than a cursory greeting. I quickly found a bookstore and bought a French phrase book.  There are still enclaves where English is dominant, but the downtown areas are French dominant with very little bilingualism.  Street signs are French, stores are French, and most of life revolves around the dominant language there, French.

I tried to speak to several people about the changes and the lack of bilingualism that I found refreshing ten years before.  Finally some men enlightened me. It seems that schools were not teaching English in the same manner as before.  Anyone with an English background was sent to a “bilingual” school where they were quickly schooled in French so that most of their subject matter could later be taught in French.  Those students from French-speaking backgrounds went to monolingual speaking schools where everything was taught in French.

“But,” I questioned, “don’t you take any English classes anymore?” 

“Oh, yes,” a young Quebecois answered.  “We played games, video games on the computer. “  I could hardly understand her English as she turned to another young girl who helped translate.  Though I was in a major shopping mall in the city, trying to buy a coffee and croissant, no one could take my order in English.

Finally, I realized what had happened:  What politics could not accomplish, education had. After several generations, English-dominant citizens in Montreal would be the minority.  French WOULD be the dominant language. The plan was not to teach English so the new generation would be bilingual; the plan was to minimize English.

So to return to my hook, my vacation taught me that education can accomplish that which politics would never accomplish.  I learned that language is much more than just linguistic symbols and that the power of education can shape a nation.

Education is powerful.  A nation that provides education for every person creates a power that pulsates throughout that country.  Sometimes, though, education can provide answers that were never asked.  It continues to shape a population, provide support, and even fulfill agendas.

I never thought about how a political agenda could be accomplished through education.  When I had that epiphany walking the downtown streets and feeling so foreign in a city that once announced its bilingualism with signs, people, menus, schools that proudly taught two languages, I was struck with sadness.  I no longer felt I could blend in and be a part of this city because I could no longer read menus, directions, etc.  Here was a dose of the strangeness my students felt.  Here was a lesson in monolingualism.

So, in September, I began school with a renewed respect for education.  My idealistic view that I was teaching the sounds, words, and structure was bolstered by the hugeness that resonates with the learning of a language. Teaching language also means protecting rights.  I shouldered my responsibility once again and welcomed my new students.

And I greeted my returning students with a fervor and happiness that we were together again, and they made it back from the vacation that had been void of English classes and content. Some students didn’t return, though.  Some were drawn to the cash that beckoned with a promise that wouldn’t be fulfilled.  A few even went back to their countries, for the relatives that were here trying to raise them couldn’t compete with the warmth of seeing their mothers or grandmothers again.  Of course, there were others that came back to school, knowing that they would probably never see their relatives again – and they still were struggling with their reality. Their reality included meeting mothers for the first time in ten or more years and the difficulty of integrating into a new family with a stepfather and young siblings was almost insurmountable.  Though they expressed happiness at being back at school, these students still had a mask over their anger, knowing that moving forward meant leaving everything that had ever mattered to them behind forever.

I returned to the high school, filled with the promise that I could help the students succeed, and contribute to their education.  From the beginning, the gauntlet was thrown, the challenge to teach those who craved more, and those who didn’t.  I learned so much the last school year and I was ready to try new techniques, hone my skills, and answer their questions.  I hoped to motivate, educate, and enrich   -- yet I was filled with the knowledge that education was so much more powerful than I had ever imagined.  I had seen that, with time, education could accomplish that which politics could not.  By shaping an education, a linguistic and ethnic goal had been reached.  When a province could not become a country, the citizens shaped an educational system so that quietly and peacefully their goal was reached. 

Now more than ever it was reaffirmed for me that bilingualism is a positive force.  It enriches all of us.  We enrich each other.

I wish everyone a great school year.  I hope the beginning was wonderful and that you find fulfilment in our craft.  This year I hope to try many new methods and I can feel the energy overflowing. I hope to share what I learn from this, my second fall season at the high school.
Tina Kern, Liaison, NJTESOL/NJBE


Favorite Websites: Lanternfish and ESLflow.com

By Marilyn Pongracz

anternfish is one of two sites that I recently came across with free printables that are great for the adult ESL class that has little or no budget for books.  The navigation links, home page menu, and Site Search link on the home page can help teachers find suitable materials. There are many different partner and group activity lessons that can be printed and used with very little preparation. They are in document format so they open without downloading issues.  Some of the lesson plans seem complicated, but others, such as the “Natural Wonder Superlative Activity” are quite easy to use.   Most of the sheets have vocabulary prompts in phrases and words.  The lesson about movies gives these phrases for the setting: 

It takes place ___________________
Where: In the city, in the country, in Italy, on Mars, on a ship, in an airplane . . .
When: In the 80s, in the 90s, in the 1800s, in the future, in the past, in winter . . .

The page that first drew my interest to this site was the “ESL question prompts” which give conversation starters for small groups, in particular, the tutor-led conversation groups where I work.  Lanternfish also has activities for other age groups, such as the “Creative Writing” prompts, but their usefulness seems limited.

The second site is ESLflow.com.  From the home page, printable activities that focus on various common topics can be chosen by level or subject.  Some of the pages have pictures to elicit sentences, and many present useful phrase structures and vocabulary.  For example, the worksheet on polite versus impolite has the students produce sentences such as, “It is impolite to eat too fast.” and “It is polite to ….”

Although most of the links on the Teacher Tools page do not work, I found a Sentence and Paragraph Scrambler, into which a text can be pasted, and the results of which can be copied into a document, so the exercise is ready to use with minimal effort.

IMPORTANT NOTE: All of the content on this site is viewable with the free Adobe Reader.  There is an advertisement for “fromDOCtoPDF.”  Do not download it.

Marilyn Pongracz is the Technology Coordinator for NJTESOL/NJBE and the English Language Resource Center Supervisor at Bergen Community College. She may be reached at mpongracz@njtesol-njbe.org .