From The Editor

Empowerment and Power

By Roselyn Rauch

“Empowerment” — To invest with power; to promote the self-actualization or influence…

Power” -— The ability to act or produce an effect…

November, 2015: A year ago, for the 2015 Winter Voices, I was in this exact same place as I am right now: in NJEA Convention Hall working the NJTESOL/NJBE booth along with Membership Chair Joan Pujol. We have been so busy these past two days, renewing memberships, signing up new members (more than fifteen), meeting old friends and colleagues, and dispensing ESL/bilingual advice.

The educational climate has been evolving so much that our ESL and bilingual students are finally, however slowly, getting the recognition deserved. But we are not finished. At NJEA, now in November, we are empowering our colleagues of all classroom types through the following workshops. By increasing their professional repertoires, they will have more power to advocate for our bilingual and ESL students.

The NJEA Presentations were:


Empowerment is the one of the goals of Voices just as it is a goal of NJTESOL/NJBE: to keep you abreast of current topics, to keep you in the loop, as they say. (Try that idiom with your students.) With that empowerment comes power; knowledge is power. As an organization we are strong; we are there to support each other, to keep the power at 220 voltage.

This edition’s articles will keep the flames burning brightly and the sparks flying.

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

Spotlight on Access 2.0 Winter Regional Conferences


ow that you've had some training from WIDA online, and perhaps attended a workshop or two regarding the ACCESS 2.0 test, NJTESOL/NJBE is providing additional information for you at our regional conferences. For your convenience, we have three sites throughout New Jersey: William Paterson University, Stockton University, and Rowan University. This winter, these workshops will highlight the procedures and requirements for administering the ACCESS for ELLs 2.0. During these hands-on presentations, you will become familiar with ACCESS 2.0 so that you can be as prepared as possible for its administration through the use of training materials and resources. Explanations and clarifications will be provided. Your questions will be answered.

Here is the line-up:

1) Northern Regional Conference will be held on Saturday, January 23, 2016, at William Paterson University, Wayne, NJ. Presenters: Monica Schnee, Maggie Churchill and Sandy Nahmias.

2) Southeastern Regional Conference will be held on Saturday, January 30, 2016, at Stockton University, Galloway, NJ. Presenters: Sandy Nahmias and JoAnne Negrin.

3) Southwestern Regional Conference will be held on Saturday, February 6, 2016, at Rowan University, Glassboro, NJ. Presenters: JoAnne Negrin and BJ Franks.

Check-in at 7:30 AM.

Conference: 8:30 AM – 12:30 PM.

A light breakfast and 4-hour Professional Development Certificates will be available. Please follow this link for registration information: http://www.njtesol-njbe.org/Access-mini-conf/default.htm .

Sandee McBride, President, smcbride@njtesol-njbe.org
Adjunct, Rutgers University and Brookdale Community College

Vice President's Message

A New Spring Conference Format

By JoAnne Negrin, Ed. D

On a beautiful, 70-degree day in December two weeks before winter break, the extremely dedicated members of your volunteer Executive Board sequestered themselves in a conference room all day. At the top of the agenda was the review of proposals for the Spring Conference. The way the adjudication works is that proposals are divided by interest area, and then members of the Board review and discuss the merits of the proposals that are specific to their area of expertise. There are always lively discussions about the proposals, and they generate a great deal of excitement. At the end of the exercise, the basic frame of the Spring Conference has begun to form. It is a very exciting experience and I am always amazed and humbled by the level of our collective expertise.

Our field is growing, and we are attracting the interest of non-language specialist teachers as well as administrators. We are also seeing a blossoming of interest in higher education, adult education, and teacher education. These are wonderful developments but they have presented challenges in maintaining the quality of the experience while being responsive to changes in the larger context of the language acquisition specialist’s role.

For the past several years, we have been searching for a way to provide both depth and breadth of topics. This year, we are expanding to a three-day format in order to provide some repetition of workshops that we expect will be very popular. We will also have different interests represented on different days. Wednesday, June 1, and Thursday, June 2, are dedicated to the PK-8 teachers; Friday, June 3, focuses on high school, higher education, adult education, teacher education, and, for the first time, a strand dedicated to PK-12 program administration. There will be workshops that will appeal to a general audience on all three days and vendors will be available each day as well.

With the three-day, staggered interest group format, we will revert to 75-minute presentations with 15 minutes of passing time in-between. In addition to the regular presenter sessions, we look forward to keynote speakers each day who will address the specific interests of the targeted groups. The Department of Education will be there each day and we will also have featured advocacy sessions and invited featured speakers all three days. We plan to have a preliminary conference schedule available to you with plenty of time for you to make planning decisions.

I hope to see you at what promises to be our biggest and best Spring Conference ever.

JoAnne Negrin, Ed. D, Vice President/Conference Chair, NJTESOL/NJBE
Supervisor of ESL, Bilingual Education, World Languages, Performing Arts, & ESSA, Vineland Public Schools


Register Now!

By Gwen Franks

Registration forms for the 2016 Spring Conference are available on-line now. Early registration rates expire on March 4th; All registrants wishing to pay this discounted rate must be RECEIVED BY this date. If you are paying at the member rate,  please make sure that your membership is valid through June, 2016.  Your membership expiration date is listed under your name in the introduction letter to this Voices newsletter.  Don’t delay the processing of your registration. Due to an overwhelming response last year, we unfortunately had to turn away disappointed colleagues since we had reached our maximum capacity.

3 Ways to Register:

    1. Register online only if paying with PayPal or credit card;
    2. Print out the form and mail in with a check (must be RECEIVED BY March 4th (for early registration rates or May 6th for the regular registration rates), these dates are FIRM);
    3. Print out the form and send in with an approved and signed purchase order (the purchase order and registration form must be sent together and must be RECEIVED BY March 4th for early registration rates or May 6th for the regular registration rates), these dates are FIRM).


Requisitions or just a Purchase Order (PO) number are not accepted.  Do not send a registration form without the actual PO; it will not be processed.  Please follow up with your district to make sure the PO and registration are processed and mailed on time. Do not assume that is all taken care of as we do not take walk-ins at the conference.   Please let your districts know that we DO NOT accept emailed or faxed registrations.  

Must be mailed to:
230 Ashland Ave
Cherry Hill, NJ 08003

When filling out the registration form, please use your personal email address; many schools are using blockers that will not allow your confirmation to go through. Once you receive your confirmation please read the confirmation in full to make sure that your registration is correct. Check the date(s) you are registered for carefully! If there is a problem, please email Gwen Franks at gfranks@njtesol-njbe.org so that we can straighten it out.


It STILL Takes a Village

By Tina Kern

H e knocks at my door. “Hello, Miss. It’s long time I see you.” “Yes,” I reply haltingly, “It’s been a long time since I’ve seen you.” My chest knots and my eyes burn as I gaze at one of my students from last year who sought me out just to say, “Hi.” I try not to tear up as I look down, then up at his smiling face – smiling!  He survived – not just a survivor anymore, but one of thousands of students looking forward to building a future. 

The atmosphere is less charged now.  Their eyes are softer and perhaps destructive memories are fading recollections becoming softer around the edges.  They were being replaced by perseverance and hope, purpose, and ambitions. 

It’s been just a little over a year since the influx of the unaccompanied minors that flooded some of our schools with emotion and adversity, walking across the border in spite of danger and misfortune.  What they discovered was a future riddled with barriers that at times seemed insurmountable.  They had to adjust to a new culture, new family, new education, a new direction – and many new rules that frustrated and confused them.

I don’t want to intimate that every story is a success or that everything is fine now. With tons of patience, determination, and the cooperation and collaboration of a number of teachers, staff, counselors, and supervisors, these students were encouraged to become a part of our community. As you can imagine, some of these teenagers were loath to leave their past behind.  They chafed against the new rules and laws imposed upon them.  Others slowly learned how to negotiate the system and their new families.  Others tarried, some strayed.  Some found their way back; others followed more destructive paths.  All were encouraged to stay and work for their degree.  What they encountered were educational challenges amid all the other challenges, like language, culture, and even staying in one classroom for 80 minutes at a time.   What we encountered were challenges of engaging students whose concentration sometimes wandered, whose focus often was not on the material we presented.

What challenges did we as educators face and still encounter?  What is working? What isn’t?

Every day I ask myself those questions and I work toward the goal of reaching more students.  Sometimes I have to squint in order to see progress – but every effort is worth the one student that responds that day. 

I rework lessons.  Often, I break down a lesson and see what parts comprise the whole.  Many times I create a lesson by visualizing that I am one of my students.  What will motivate me?  What do I need to learn?  Often I create goals and then create the lessons backwards to reach that goal. 

In my other “life”, at the elementary school, many of my students were actually educationally on the same level as my high school students.  Because so many of my students were familiar with our culture and our educational system, the challenge was to bring them to an achievement level for success in the regular classroom.  They were familiar with our books and our technology.  They knew how to “do school.”

In contrast, the high school students had “interrupted education.” Some had never used a computer or Internet.  They were inexperienced and unsure of the new system in which they were now immersed.

Once again, as an ESL teacher, I realized that teaching academics was only one of the focuses of my day.  I had to anticipate their needs, model class behaviors, advocate for them, and summon an incredible amount of patience.
I learned consistency was paramount.  I could not afford them any more surprises. When they came to my classroom, they had to be assured that one behavior would lead to the same consequences; they had to know the rules didn’t change for one student.  I would be fair to all of them.  I was there to teach them.

Luckily, a team of educators were available to attend to emotional and educational needs – and crises –teachers, counselors, administrators; all came together at various times to attend to the plethora of needs that arose. Successes resulted from a collaboration.  It was daunting how many people exerted incredible effort and expertise to bring these teens forward for an opportunity to achieve success.  Our community came together.  The progress we made was a result of all of us.  At times the students needed a counselor more than an educator – and they were a phone call away.  As research has taught us, emotional barriers thwart educational progress.  They need to be addressed as well as other obstacles to learning. 

Technology was another barrier that thankfully was surmountable. Our new immigrants were not familiar with computers.  As a new teacher to the high school, I soon realized the incredible advantages our American students had with a knowledge of technology.  Once again a pair of teachers that were available for my millions of questions and requests for help with our students were part of the “village” that assisted our students. As each new student entered my class – and it seems that every week we had a new addition to our class – we taught them to utilize a computer for assignments and updates.  Unfortunately, our new students were also introduced to user-friendly Facebook and YouTube, a struggle as they learned to hide various Internet windows from teachers as effortlessly as their American counterparts.

But technology also becomes a vehicle of learning as we introduce them to language-friendly websites and the ability to reinforce their vocabulary, speaking and reading via the Internet. Vocabulary has also been an issue while educating ELLs.  How do you enrich and extend vocabulary in order for ELLs to understand more rigorous information? I have found several sites to reinforce the synonyms, antonyms. prefixes, suffixes : any vocabulary I chose for a lesson. These sites combine reinforcement and games so that the student encounters various ways and multiple times to utilize their new vocabulary.  One of my favorite is Quizlet.   It is free, but for less than $20 a year, words can be paired with images.  It offers online flashcards and games to reinforce the vocabulary words you choose, or sets that others have made available to you.  I’ve used www.vocabulary.com , too. In addition, www.cram.com  which encompasses many languages was introduced to me by a colleague.  There are flashcards, tests, and games such as Jewels of Wisdom, a game that parallels those that they already play for pleasure.   The added benefit of utilizing your own vocabulary on these sites makes them winners.  I also reinforce vocabulary by making puzzles. I design crossword puzzles with my own vocabulary words and clues on TheTeachersCorner.net .  Their crossword puzzle maker is superior to others I have used. Also for teachers is a great website that helps teacher simplify difficult literature as well as lessons in vocabulary at www.rewordify.com

In the beginning of June, our bilingual/ESL community will come together again.  Right now I am in the midst of inviting publishers to our conference for you to peruse some of the latest materials designed to enhance learning and facilitate optimal progress. Our conference is just one way we, on the Executive Board, thank you for your dedication to our community of learners.

But before I sign off, I want to share one experience that you, as bilingual/ESL educators will appreciate:

One of my students packed up to leave my classroom.  He tossed a small piece of paper on my desk as he left. “Bye, Miss,” he said pointedly, as he looked at me before joining the crowd in the hall.   I unfolded the paper and read it: “That was a good lesson. I enjoyed it.”  That’s all I needed, as I smiled and got ready for another challenging day.  I love teaching for the small moments. 

I look forward to seeing you at the annual NJTESOL/NJBE Spring Conference and sharing our small moments.

Tina Kern, Liaison, NJTESOL/NJBE


Favorite Websites: Pronunciation SitesEnglish with Jennifer and other pronunciation sites

By Marilyn Pongracz

A few months ago a question came through the Hotlist about pronunciation apps or sites.  Some recommendations were given, but more recently, through another site, I found English with Jennifer. In the past eight years, Jennifer Recio Lebedev has created over 440 videos on vocabulary, grammar, punctuation, and pronunciation.  From her playlists of videos, one group contains 9 lessons on vowel sounds, and another list of 41 videos, English Pronunciation, focuses on how to pronounce consonants such as /r/, /l/, and /Ѳ (th)/, word and sentence stress, intonation, and thought groups. 

Each topic is presented in an 8 to 10 minute video in clear, simple English suitable for high-beginner to advanced high school, college, and adult students.  Jennifer pairs thorough step by step explanations with clear visuals written on a whiteboard, listening discrimination, and practice techniques.  Videos can be selected individually to address specific problems that students are struggling with.  To navigate from the main page of English with Jennifer, click on Playlists, and then View 16 more to see the links for the vowels and consonants.

For other types of pronunciation practice, I would also recommend these sites.

Duolingo is an extensive free app and website with audio, vocabulary, and opportunities to speak, but for pronunciation, it only accepts or rejects a student’s pronunciation and does not pinpoint the error.

English Central is free for the first 15 uses, and costs each user $15 per month after that, but it offers feedback on specific pronunciation problems and can help students improve vocabulary and grammar as well.

Authentic American Pronunciation, a site with audio created by Eva Easton, a Bergen Community College teacher, offers examples of every sound and many combinations, interconnected by endless links not only within the site but also to her YouTube videos. 

Pronunciation Power is a free app for containing 52 English sounds.  Four features taken from the software or online subscription are sample and comparative words (minimal pairs) and the unique options of front view videos of a person pronouncing each sound, and side view animations of the mouth, jaw, and tongue movement for each sound.

While pronunciation problems usually diminish as language skills improve, these sites can be helpful for students who need more than the recommendations of slowing down and increasing mouth movement.

Marilyn Pongracz is the Technology Coordinator for NJTESOL/NJBE and the English Language Resource Center Supervisor at Bergen Community College.


A Real Gamble... that Paid Off

By Barbara Tedesco

Imagine being in Las Vegas, Nevada, from October 14-17, 2015, and not gambling, soaking up the rays, or sightseeing. There was no time because I was attending the WIDA 2015 National Conference. This year’s theme was Pride in Language: Learn, Reflect, Act. I attended an all-day pre-conference institute on scaffolding presented by Dr. Pauline Gibbons. She had us all engaged from 9:00-4:00. I walked away quoting two statements that she made. The first was, “Scaffolding is about preparing and not repairing.” Is that not the truth? And the second one was, “Rather than change the task, increase the scaffolding.”

You know that picking a worthwhile workshop based on the program description is a real crapshoot because it can be misleading. Well, I hit the jackpot! Every workshop I attended was informative and hands-on. The sessions were outlined in strands and I followed those dealing with language development or effective instructional practices. There is no-limit to the amount of new knowledge one can accumulate by being a participant and appreciating the time and effort presenters put into their delivery.

Several of our own New Jersey educators were presenters. Karen Nemeth of Language Castle, LLC, co-presented on Effective Early Education for DLLS: The Secret’s in the Environment. Karen also organized a table of “Twitterers.”  Margaret Churchill (Closter Public Schools in Bergen County) and Sandra Nahmias (Linden Public Schools in Union County) delivered a session on Exemplar Units for ELLs. It was a great opportunity to reconnect with former NJTESOL/NJBE past-president, Judith O’Loughlin, who now resides in California and who co-presented on the topic Five Best Practices for Academic Success for New Arrivals.  There is no telling who will be at a national conference but the conference had a full house; registration was closed out early.  Not presenting but also in attendance from the Garden State were Alicja Banning from Clifton, Ken Lamastra from Linden, and my partner, BJ Franks. The New Jersey contingency continues to grow each year.

You can bet your bottom dollar that the keynoters were magnificent and, of course, a conference would not be complete without vendors.

WIDA did reveal their hand by mentioning that two changes will be taking place in the coming year. First, the ACCESS Reports will take on a new format. Second, the Can Do Descriptors are in the process of being revised. Therefore, I encourage everyone to visit the WIDA website frequently and check for these updates.

Next year, the event takes place October 12—15, 2016, in historic Philadelphia, PA, under the theme, “Drawing on Life’s Experiences: Designing Bright Futures.” The WIDA National Conference call for proposals is now open. The deadline to submit proposals is Monday, January 22, 2016. If you have any questions, contact conferences@wida.us.

So now, I will quit while I am ahead and end this little article. Hope to see you in the City of Brotherly Love. It will be an “all in” event.

Barbara Tedesco is a Past President of NJTESOL/NJBE and its current Historian. She is Co-manager of LLAMAME, LLC



An Interview Jacquelyn León, MPH, CHES*, the Newest Bilingual/ESL Educational Specialist at the Bureau of Bilingual Education

By Barbara Tedesco



Jacquelyn León was recently hired to fill the vacancy that was created when Raquel Sinai retired. She was so gracious to take the time to respond to my questions in time for this issue.

Where did you go to college?

I went to Trenton Central High School right here in New Jersey. My undergraduate degree was from the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, Massachusetts, and my graduate studies were at Morgan State University in Baltimore, Maryland. I also studied abroad at the School for International Training, Pará, Brazil.

What are your major, minor, and post-graduate degrees?

My undergraduate is a double degree: Sociology and Anthropology, Latin American Studies Certificate. My Masters is in Public Health (MPH.)

What experiences have you had?

I was the Program Coordinator at the Center for Community Health and Education, Columbia University, New York, NY. I was also the Senior Research Analyst at the Center for Applied Research and Technical Assistance, Baltimore, MD.

What experiences did you have with ESL before you entered the field full-time?

I worked with non-profit agencies in various capacities, including mentor, Intensive In-home Care Manager and Parent Coach. 

What made you decide to apply for the position at the DOE?

I have always worked with the Latino community peripherally, but never had the opportunity to dedicate 100% of my time.  My background is research and I always had a focus on youth development outcomes.  After several years out of state, I landed at the DOE by happenstance; I was able to grow at the Department and develop a new perspective in a different subject matter area for the past 4.5 years.  However, it was not my passion.  When the opportunity became available with the Bureau of Bilingual/ESL Education, I knew it was the right time and a right fit for me to make a move that would be rewarding and link the work that I was drawn to do and my career path

Do you have a goal or mission that you hope to accomplish there?

1) To listen to students and parents and learn how we can best help them succeed in school. 
2) To make bilingual/ESL part of the conversation and not an afterthought; no adaptation needed - inclusivity required. 
3) To truly engage parents as part of the conversation [to lead to] meaningful access to information.
4) To help move the needle in a positive direction on how "Bilingual Education" is viewed [in New Jersey.]

Have you already been assigned a project?

Have you worked with Ken and Lori?? They had projects in their back pockets waiting.....

Several projects have been assigned. Mostly resource documents to make sure the Department is providing our educators and administrators with the appropriate tools, resources, and guidance to best serve the growing diverse EL population around the state.

*Masters in Public Health (MPH) and Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES)

Barbara Tedesco is a Past President of NJTESOL/NJBE and its current Historian. She is
Co-manager of LLAMAME, LLC.



Advocacy Corner: Updates

By Elizabeth Franks

High School Graduation

The Education Law Center (ELC) and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) have filed a lawsuit against the New Jersey Department of Education (NJDOE) due to the fact that the graduation requirements changed for today’s seniors. According to NJ Administrative Code 6A:8-5.1(e), students should know when they enter 9th grade what their graduation requirements are. The ELC is asking for hearings on this issue before the Assembly Education Committee. If they do succeed in getting hearings they will need advocates, parents, students, etc., to testify on a date yet to be determined.

As a result of the graduation requirements, the majority of ELLs will need to complete the portfolio appeals process. NJTESOL/NJBE is collecting data about this reality. If your school has not yet participated in the survey, please ask your supervisor to complete one. The "portfolio appeals" process guidelines are cumbersome and put a burden on English Language Arts, Math and ESL teachers to create Constructed Response Tasks (CRTs). http://www.state.nj.us/education/assessment/district/100615Appeals.pdf     
There are additional provisions for ELLs: “Districts may translate constructed response tasks (CRTs) into an ELL's native language, and an ELL may respond in his/her native language.  The PARCC Portfolio Appeals program also allows electronic translators, Dragon speak, etc.   The district must translate or transcribe the student's responses and the CRTs into English before sending the PARCC Portfolio Appeals to NJDOE.  The MAC II Test of English Language Proficiency is not required for the PARCC Portfolio Appeals.” NJDOE, Bilingual Office Home Page http://www.state.nj.us/education/bilingual/policy/appeals.htm .

Seal of Biliteracy

In a short period of time, NJTESOL/NJBE and the Foreign Language Educators of New Jersey (FLENJ) were able to move the proposed bill S3279 through the Senate Education Committee. Thank you to everyone who wrote to the Senate Education Committee members. Senator Shirley Turner introduced a companion Senate bill. It was voted out of committee December 14th and will hopefully be voted on by the full Senate on January 11th.  In that regard, by the time you read this article we could be the 14th state to establish a Seal of Biliteracy.

No more NCLB-  Now ESSA: Every Student Succeeds Act

Congress passed ESSA and President Obama signed it this week. States will have more authority to set accountability measures. See attached summary from AFT. We will discuss this bill in future issues. http://www.aft.org/sites/default/files/wysiwyg/esea-essa_summary.pdf
Other resources. http://www.edcentral.org/recent-ells-accountability/  
Stay tuned! Stay informed! Continue to advocate for your students and their families.


Elizabeth (BJ) Franks is the Advocacy Representative for NJTESOL/NJBE. She is a retired teacher and administrator who also serves as an educational consultant with LLAMAME, LLC. She can be reached at  ejf24bb@aol.com .


Our New Mailing Address

Please Note!

You may not have noticed but we do have a new address for all membership snail mail.
It may be necessary to use this to contact us rather than using our email link,
mmbr@njtesol-njbe.org .

Our snail mail address is:
NJTESOL/NJBE, Inc. / Membership
230 Ashland Avenue
Cherry Hill, New Jersey 08003