From The Editor

Beyond Expectations

By Roselyn Rauch

Four times a year, I have the distinct pleasure of editing Voices, NJTESOL/NJBE’s newsletter. I have expectations that all submissions will be relevant and timely; I’m almost never disappointed.

This Spring Conference Edition goes beyond my expectations as it will yours. There is so much pre-conference info that will tantalize you to register and attend if you haven’t already done so. With this year’s new format of dedicated academic levels spread over three days, and longer hours, there will be so much more to gain.

Remember that I always encourage you to read beyond your Special Interest Group (SIG); you employ scaffolding within your classes but you should also consider scaffolding up and down through the SIG levels. See what is coming your way as well as what the next higher level expects from you. Attend a different SIG meeting and see what is happening at another level.

Be sure to read through the Features and see what has happened in the Bilingual Code courtesy of Ken Bond, high school graduation requirement changes, and BJ Franks’ testimony before the New Jersey Department of Education board members. Read how Advocacy Works! These legal bits affect us and our students from Pre-K to High School and beyond.

Check out the new website that Marilyn Pongracz has critiqued for you and her guide to the technology workshops at the conference.

Reading through all of these submissions once again reminds me of our dedicated bilingual and ESL colleagues and all the hard work you all do, though sometimes misunderstood and under-appreciated. Sandy Nahmias is our guest contributor for this issue; her article, Magdalena: Exaltation! will brighten your day and remind you of why chose your profession. Join NJTESOL/NJBE at its spring event, network, grow professionally, and become reinvigorated. It will be beyond your expectations!

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


Spring Conference Sneak Peek

As we await the new three- day Annual Spring Conference this June, you may wish to peruse the following information detailing the keynotes presentations and breakout sessions. I hope you enjoy looking through the descriptions.

Presentations by Dr. Debbie Zacarian on Wednesday, June 1, 2016.
Keynote:  Unleashing the Power of Academic Language 

Whether we measure achievement by test scores or graduation rates, the outcomes for some groups of students have not changed significantly.  An important means for understanding the achievement gap is to understand it as an academic language gap between students who carry academic language to, in, and from school and the growing number of students who are learning academic language while simultaneously attending school.  This professional development draws from extensive research to provide a four-pronged asset-based model for addressing the needs of academic language learners and to promote family engagement.

Breakout Session:  Harness the Power of Partnerships for Student Engagement and Achievement  

Teaching effectively in diverse classrooms and building strong family-school partnerships has become more complex than ever, particularly when our student and family communities represent changing cultural, linguistic, racial, and economic experiences that are distinct from our own. Explore scientifically proven methods for tapping into the rich resources of students, families, teachers, the school community, and the community-at-large to systematically: build coalitions of support around learning and engagement; develop positive relationships with students and their families and communities; foster positive, reciprocal partnerships; promote peer-to-peer relationship building; and support inclusive practices for the entire community of students and families.

Presentations by Dr. Michael Smith on Thursday, June 2, 2016.
Keynote:  “I Just Like Being Good at It:”  Helping Our Students Become More Competent Readers and Writers

“One of the most striking findings of my research on the literate lives of young men both in and out of school is the importance of competence.  Like most of us, the boys in my study liked to do things that they were good at and rejected activities in which they struggled.  In this keynote, we’ll explore the power of providing practice in miniature as a way to develop students’ competence before we ask them to read or write.  We’ll focus especially on developing key interpretive skills or the ability to write persuasive papers.”

Breakout Session:
Making It Matter:  Harnessing the Power of Inquiry to Support Students' Reading and Writing

This workshop will focus on devising instruction that engages students in the here-and-now even as it prepares them for the future. The power of building units around essential questions and/or on discussion strategies that promote inquiry about, and engagement in, reading particular texts will be discussed.

Presentations by Dr. Eli Hinkel on Friday, June 3, 2016. 
Keynote: Academic Writing and How to Grow Vocabulary

This talk takes a look at research findings that specifically focus on academic vocabulary essential to improve the quality of L2 writing.  Effective teaching techniques and strategies are suggested to increase L2 learners' productive vocabulary base and lead to a noticeable improvement in the L2 text quality.   

Breakout Session: Building Vocabulary for Academic Writing and Making It Stick

A variety of teaching techniques include what to teach and why, and how to teach abstract words and phrases to effectively improve students' vocabulary.  This workshop demonstrates successful and time-tested techniques for academic vocabulary learning -- recycling, reviewing, and practicing -- to promote vocabulary retention.  Retention rate is the single most important factor in expanding learners' academic vocabulary range that can be effectively used in L2 writing and speaking.

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

Vice President's Message


By JoAnne Negrin

The sun is shining, the birds are singing, spring has sprung, and that means that the NJTESOL/NJBE Spring Conference can't be far away.

We have responded to your requests for repeat performances, longer workshops, and more travel time [between workshops] by providing a more extensive conference schedule than ever before. We are trying out a three-day format with staggered areas of interest. We will have workshops geared for preschool through middle school on Wednesday, more elementary and middle school workshops on Thursday, and high school, higher education, teacher education, and adult education on Friday. Friday will also contain our first ever conference strand dedicated to K-12 administration, with many workshops given by representatives of the Department of Education and the New Jersey Principals and Supervisors Association. If you are an administrator, aspire to be an administrator, or want to send your favorite administrator, this day will be full of practical information for building and district leaders. Of course, each day we have workshops that are of general interest, workshops from the Department of Education, and advocacy workshops.

Our conference days will also be longer. As always, breakfast service and registration begin bright and early. Come early to get a good parking space, relax over breakfast, and peruse the many vendor booths. Our keynote presentations begin promptly at 8:30. After the keynote, you will have difficulty deciding where to go given the sheer quantity and quality of the workshops offered. Our workshops run until 5:15 pm, and of course, I saved some of the very best for last. You will also have the option of relaxing with a yoga class at the end of the day on Wednesday and Thursday so wear comfy clothes if you plan to take advantage. Rather than rushing to beat traffic, plan on staying to soak in what for many people is their one time each year to have their Professional Development needs catered to, and then enjoy a little of what this lively section of New Brunswick has to offer before heading home.

Speaking of parking, if you have been to the conference before, you know that parking spaces are a hot commodity. Directions and parking information are on the website; but if you can, please arrange to carpool or take mass transit. If there are several people coming from the same district, see if your district is willing to arrange for bus transportation. Sometimes this is a cheaper option than paying individual mileage, especially if your district is far from the conference site.

We have some amazing keynote speakers lined up. On Wednesday, Dr. Debbie Zacarian will be discussing how to incorporate academic vocabulary and how to use the power of partnerships to unleash student achievement. Thursday brings us Dr. Michael Smith and what's sure to be a lively talk on where the authors of the standards go wrong about instruction, and how you can get it right. Friday is Dr. Eli Hinkel talking about academic writing and how to grow vocabulary.

If you are staying over, or are nearby, the President's Reception on Thursday evening is sure to be a powerful experience. In addition to recognizing our student scholarship winners and our award recipients, we will be celebrating the New Jersey students and districts that made the new Seal of Biliteracy law possible. The celebration will include leaders from around the country who have been instrumental in the spread of this movement towards providing a tangible symbol of the value of biliteracy and bilingualism. Please note that there is an additional charge for the reception, and the proceeds go to providing scholarships for deserving ELLs in New Jersey.

As you can imagine, this year's Spring Conference is going to be a unique experience. I sincerely hope that I will see you there. You can find information on registration, the reception, and a preliminary conference schedule on the NJTESOL/NJBE website.

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


2016 Spring Conference — Register Now!

By Gwen Franks


aven't registered for the 2016 Spring Conference yet? ACT NOW!


If you haven't registered yet there is still time (until capacity is reached).  You can choose from one of the following three ways:

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 May 6th, this date is 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 RECEIVED BY May 6th, this date is FIRM). Requisitions or just a 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.

We DO NOT accept emailed or faxed registrations, so act quickly.   

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

Registration forms can be found on our web site: www.NJTESOL-NJBE.org and by clicking on the 2016 Spring Conference Registration & Information link. 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, that your name & affiliation are correct! If there is a problem, please email Gwen Franks at gfranks@njtesol-njbe.org so that we can straighten it out.



aven't received your confirmation for your conference registration yet?




ther Important Conference Information:



Gwen Franks is the business administrator and a conference planner for NJTESOL/NJBE.
She may be reached at
gfranks@njtesol-njbe.org .



By Tina Kern

As I write this, my head is spinning with testing, standards, portfolios, and lesson planning for skills to instill in my students before their long summer devoid of English learning.  Also, I look forward to ideas to mentally file as I anticipate a new year with a fresh set of faces and challenges.

I’m at the end of my second school year at the high school and, as I reflect, I think about the learning experiences for all of us.  I learned about the rich culture of my students, from lip pursing for pointing to traditional lives of peoples filled with their daily customs. I hear students chatter to each other in Mam [Ed.: a Mayan language spoken in Guatemala,] while embracing the new technology now offered to them.  My students learned how important rules are to Americans, and how being in school is different than doing school.  They learned to stifle the anger which threatened them and to strive for shared expectations.

Some of my students from last year are only memories.  Some tried to conform; others lured by more material things were not able to hold onto a dream too far forward to fathom or grasp. Some gave in to obligations and responsibilities; some left abruptly; and some faded, ever so painfully.

The majority, thankfully, are still in classes. They are struggling to learn the new language, embracing the dream, as I hope that the dream one day solidifies and becomes as real to them as it is to me. I cry inwardly for them as they remember their past, and smile with them as each milestone is reached.  I exalted this week in the experience of having my first student accepted at college.  As I posted his letter, we clapped and shared the joy.  The student was beaming, for his story was one of struggle and determination.  His epiphany of what embracing school could mean affected his classmates, and, for me, was quite infectious. 

I remember the sea of faces that continued for rows and rows last October, 2015, as I struggled to learn each distinct and, sometimes, quite unusual name.  I remember the multitude of needs I attempted to fulfill constantly.  At first they couldn’t sit in their seats and wait, but would jump up shouting, “Miss, Miss.”  It seemed like a major feat when they learned to wait in their seats and not form a conga line of impatient teenagers. I remember the intense sadness, the loneliness and isolation they felt, the impossibility of a new culture, a new family, a new educational environment, and strange rules and customs.  I remember trying to anticipate what new situations, like their first fire drill or lockdown, would create angst.

This year, I have a class of these not-so-new students.  Last month, I stepped back and perused my room.  Twenty students were working on a “Playlist” on their Chromebooks, engaged, attending to the lesson, and involved.  Their problems were temporarily forgotten, their difficulties faded as the lesson became more focused.  I felt so proud of them.  It’s not over yet – emotions are sometimes close to the surface.  Most have so many new skills to learn, and each day is a challenge – a challenge to get to school on time even when they were up late working a part-time job – a challenge to get their tongue around the pronunciation of our difficult, sometimes guttural sounds – a challenge to merge their culture with ours – and challenge to embrace their new life.

As I watch them, I feel a great responsibility to create the best lessons I can and to provide a pertinent and relevant education.  Many times I ask myself, “How do I pick what to use with our ELLs?”  Of course, we can defer to the model NJDOE curriculum information and WIDA standards.  We can look to our curricula and those of other ELL programs.  At this point I feel like I am surfing the Internet constantly, compiling websites, integrating technology with print material, differentiating and adapting – and adapting and differentiating again.

How do I choose material and software to use for our students?  It is difficult because no matter what I use it seems  “too”…too difficult…too easy…too densely presented…too many tenses….too many random vocabulary words, etc.  Then when I find a great source from a company, there’s a gaping gap between Book 1 Newcomer and the next level.  And so I go back to the computer… and adapt and differentiate with my own material once again.

I have been researching how to choose our material and software.  I know it must be adaptive, aligned to the standards, and assignable.  I know it must align with in-class learning and integrate with what you are doing.  If not, it could be too overwhelming. I want the material to be engaging, and pertinent.  I want to be “wowed” and have my creative spirit soar with ideas from the springboard the publishers provide.

So I look with anticipation to our next NJTESOL/NJBE Spring Conference on June 1, 2, and 3,  at the Hyatt in New Brunswick.  I know I’ll have a plethora of material to browse and spike my imagination.  Each year I thrill knowing that the exhibitors will present to us their newest and best for your students and mine.  I love being part of your discovery, searching for more exhibitors and inviting them to join us at the conference. I have been reaching out to companies and exhibitors to provide options for you and your classrooms.

I am also looking forward to seeing you, to share what I learned, and disseminate ideas and sites that I have found to enrich my classroom.  I want to share our successes, and the experience of integrating blended learning and Playlists in my ESL classroom. 

Soon we’ll be together in the energized and exciting atmosphere as the conference unfolds, and we get caught up the workshops, keynotes and inspiring material in our exhibitors’ areas.  I can’t wait for it to begin again. See you in June.

Tina Kern, Liaison, NJTESOL/NJBE



TESOL International Honors Former NJTESOL/NJBE President

By Barbara Tedesco

Sandee McBride

During the week of March 14th, I was catching up on what my Facebook friends were up to and came across a very special post.  Judith (Judy) O’Loughlin is a former NJTESOL/NJBE president who upon retirement from the Ho-Ho-Kus school district decided to move to California with her husband, Joe.  Like many, she was not really ready to fully commit to retirement and so became active in CATESOL among other educational activities. However, Judy’s involvement with TESOL has been over decades and what has earned her this prestigious honor. After reading her notification letter, please follow the link to see the names of the other 49 honorees. Many of their names will resonate with you because of their international status. New Jerseyans are very proud of Judy.


Dear Judith,

It is with great pleasure that we let you know that you have been honored with selection to TESOL International Association's 50 at 50 recognition. The 50 at 50, along with the 30 Up and Upcoming, and TESOL Success Stories, were established in recognition of 50 years of TESOL and looking towards the future of the profession. As noted on the 50th Anniversary website, individuals "should have made a significant contribution to the TESOL profession within the past 50 years....Their accomplishment need not involve TESOL International Association, but it should rise above other accomplishments in significance over a period of years."There were more than 130 nominations from across the globe for this honor. The 50th Anniversary Advisory Team then had the difficult but important task of selecting just 49 individuals. The late James Alatis, a TESOL founder and first executive director was the first selected for the recognition.

The list of 50 at 50 along with the 30 Up and Coming, and TESOL Success stories will be announced within the next week with an international press release, on the TESOL website, and in multiple TESOL publications. In addition, there will be recognition at the TESOL Convention in Baltimore.

If you are planning on attending the TESOL Convention in Baltimore, we wish to invite you to the 50th Anniversary VIP reception. The reception will be held on Friday 8 April at 6:30 PM immediately following the TESOL Annual Business meeting and just before the big 50th Anniversary Block Party, at the Hilton Baltimore Hotel, 4th floor patio. Please let us know of your attendance plans here.

Again, please accept our congratulations on this honor and we hope that we will see you in Baltimore.


Andy Curtis
TESOL President Maria Makrakis
Chair, 50th Anniversary Advisory Team


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


Advocacy I

Testimony on Behalf of NJTESOL/NJBE before Members of the State of the Board of Education

By Elizabeth (BJ) Franks

Members of the State Board of Education
New Jersey State Department of Education
100 Riverview
Trenton, NJ 08065

February 10, 2016

Dear Members of the State Board of Education:

Thank you the opportunity to testify on behalf of NJTESOL/NJBE, a statewide educational organization, which represents over 1500 bilingual and English as a Second Language educators who teach over 70,000 English language learners (ELLs) in NJ.

The impending graduation requirements are of grave concern to those of us who work with 2,500+ senior ELLs. These students are most affected by these new requirements.  The ELL subgroup already has the lowest graduation rate and we fear that the current guidelines will increase the number of dropouts in this vulnerable population unless the second language acquisition process is taken into consideration.

Learning a second or third language to a high academic level takes time. ELLs experienced a greater degree of success in the former process of testing in 11th grade with multiple administrations of HSPA in their senior year as well as the options offered under the Alternate High School Assessment (AHSA). The graph below clearly indicates how students at the higher proficiency levels had the greatest success on HSPA. So the more time with appropriate instruction that a child is provided, the better they will ultimately perform.

It is well-known that the majority of English speakers did not pass PARCC, therefore it is no surprise that only 9% (both current and former) of 11th grade ELLs achieved proficiency. In comparison to the previous process, the seniors who did not pass PARCC have the option of passing one of a menu of alternate assessments in order to meet the graduation requirements: SAT, PSAT, ACT, ASVAB, or Accuplacer Writer, or AP classes. However, none of these alternatives allow accommodations for ELLs which were available under AHSA. So, NJTESOL/NJBE decided to conduct a survey to discern how many of the ELLs who did not pass PARCC (91%) were able to demonstrate proficiency through any of the alternative assessments. Fifty-two districts responded representing 750 seniors. Of that sample, only 10% demonstrated proficiency through any of the alternatives, leaving the vast majority of ELLs with the portfolio appeal process as their only vehicle to graduation. This creates a tremendous, cumbersome burden for those districts with a number of ELLs as well as time lost in valuable instruction for these students. Obviously, the addition of these alternate assessments has not been equitable or fair for this specific group.


Due to these facts, NJTESOL/NJBE is requesting that the NJ Department of Education consider allowing ELLs to take the ESL Accuplacer as an alternate assessment to demonstrate College and Career readiness. In consultation with representatives from the county colleges, we found that many ELLs typically begin their college career at the county college level for various reasons. Most importantly, many of the county colleges offer Developmental ESL classes so that ELLs can continue learning and refining their academic English. The colleges use the ESL Accuplacer as a tool for placement. The representatives from the county colleges would be able to offer an appropriate cut score based on their vast experience of working with this motivated population. Certainly, that would reduce the number of ELLs who would need to participate in the portfolio appeals process.

In looking ahead, NJTESOL/NJBE would also encourage the Department of Education to consider the English language proficiency level of students who are required to take the PARCC in grades 9 and 10, respectively. Data support the fact that the longer the ELL is in school, the more English they learn and the better they can perform on standardized tests. ELLs are already required to take an English language proficiency test (ACCESS 2.0 for ELLs) each year. By monitoring their progress on this assessment, districts can identify when students would most likely be able to demonstrate proficiency on PARCC. Assuming the same trajectory of success based on the English proficiency level, we can estimate that students who are at ELP levels 1 and 2 would actually benefit from more instructional time rather than sitting in front of a computer and attempting to take a test in a language that they do not understand. This is apparent in this year’s PARCC 9 and 10 results. It would be also be extremely useful to disaggregate the ELL subgroup by English proficiency level to clearly identify the trends and make better decisions regarding these students.


As a result of these concerns, NJTESOL/ NJBE urges the NJ Department of Education to seriously consider these requests to develop appropriate guidelines so that ELLs can demonstrate their proficiency and achieve the goal of high school graduation. I truly appreciate this opportunity to advocate on behalf of 2,500 senior ELLs and their parents who often do not have a voice.

Respectfully submitted,

Elizabeth J. Franks
Advocacy Representative

Elizabeth (BJ) Franks, the Advocacy representative for NJTESOL/NJBE, also serves as a consultant for Language & Literacy Associates for Multilingual and Multicultural Education.


Advocacy II

Advocacy Works!

By Elizabeth (BJ) Franks

NJTESOL/NJBE advocated for a change in the graduation options for high school seniors. Our testimony before the State Board of Education is posted on our website, www.njtesol-njbe.org . Thanks to our member who suggested ACCUPLACER ESL and our coordination with our county college colleagues, the Education Law Center and the NJDOE Bilingual office, the Standards and Assessment Office announced on April 5th the following:

Effective immediately, the Accuplacer Write Placer ESL can be used as a substitute competency assessment for current English language learners (ELLs). The Accuplacer Write Placer ESL is an English test of writing for ELLs. The score scale for Accuplacer Write Placer ESL is 0-6. The passing score for meeting the English language arts assessment requirement for graduation is equal to or greater than four. All other graduation requirements (math assessment, credit requirements, etc.) will remain unchanged for students who meet graduation requirements using the Accuplacer Write Placer ESL.

The complete document can be downloaded at: https://education.state.nj.us/broadcasts/.
​Lessons Learned: Our voices matter! Please keep up your efforts advocating for our students. Get involved! We will have a strand of advocacy workshops each day at the conference. So check the preliminary schedule! Updates and opportunities to get more involved will be offered each day but there will be a different focus on issues each day: Pre K -5 focus on June 1st; NJEA and Seal of Biliteracy focus on June 2nd; Secondary ESL and Legislative Updates on June 3rd.

Elizabeth (BJ) Franks, the Advocacy representative for NJTESOL/NJBE, also serves as a consultant for Language & Literacy Associates for Multilingual and Multicultural Education.




Important NJDOE Bilingual/ESL Update

By Kenneth Bond

Dear NJBE/NJTESOL members,

Over the last week, the New Jersey Department of Education has added information to the Bilingual/ESL Education webpage.  At your convenience, please visit http://www.nj.gov/education/bilingual/ for information regarding ELL services during state assessments, transferring students for ACCESS 2.0, ELL civil rights fact sheets, and other important updates. 
Thank you for continuing to advocate for ELLs in New Jersey.

Kenneth Bond, Program Development Coordinator, Bureau of Bilingual/ESL Education,
New Jersey Department of Education



High School Graduation Requirements Updated March 2016

By Kenneth Bond


In this document, you will find charts containing the current list of New Jersey requirements for high school graduation for the Class of 2016, the Classes of 2017, 2018, and 2019, and the proposed requirements for the Classes of 2020 and 2021. With the transition to PARCC last year, the Department of Education has continually explained that students graduating as members of the classes of 2016 through 2019 can meet graduation requirements through a variety of ways, including (1) achieving passing scores on certain PARCC assessments; (2) achieving certain scores on alternative assessments such as the SAT, ACT, or Accuplacer; or (3) the submission by the district of a student portfolio through the Department’s portfolio appeals process. (Special Education students whose Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) specify an alternative way to demonstrate proficiencies will continue to follow the graduation requirements set forth in their IEPs.) The State Board of Education is currently reviewing proposed changes to state regulations on the high school graduation requirements for the classes of 2020 and 2021 and beyond. Proposed changes for the Class of 2020 would permit students to demonstrate graduation proficiency through the same alternative means as those in the classes of 2016 through 2019, provided that students in the Class of 2020 take all end-of-course PARCC assessments for which they are eligible as of the effective date of the proposed amendments. For the Class of 2021 and thereafter, the proposed changes would allow students who have not demonstrated proficiency on English language arts and mathematics through the end-of-course PARCC assessments by their senior year to demonstrate graduation proficiency by meeting the criteria of the portfolio appeals process. It is important to note there has always been a system for students to demonstrate and meet graduation requirements through an alternative assessment or pathway to graduation throughout New Jersey.
Kenneth Bond, Program Development Coordinator, Bureau of Bilingual/ESL Education,
New Jersey Department of Education

Technology I

Favorite Websites: My English Images

By Marilyn Pongracz


y English Images provides a variety of lessons based on photographs or hand-drawn pictures created by the author of the site, Mike Kloran, who teaches English in Japan. He has taken his successful lessons, formatted them as PDF files, and uploaded them to his website. They are organized by topics such as images, vocabulary, conversation, functions, and patterns,. Each topic contains five to twenty lessons. Functions is one of the best categories with describing people and places, apologies, giving directions, asking for clarification and more.

Each lesson has not only at least one image, but also an activity worksheet with instructions about how to use it to encourage student participation. For example, the “Describing Places” lesson has four activities that use images to get students to talk to describe the scene, say what might happen, tell a story, or imagine what they would do if they were in the picture.

The activities are based on common, every day English approached through grammatical patterns rather than the explicit grammar instruction.  The example below is from the middle of a conversation from one of the yes/no questions lessons:

A: Do you drive to work?
B: No, I usually take the train.
A: How long does it take?
B: It usually takes about an hour.
A: Wow. Do you read on the train?

The conversation builders help students expand the patterns to other situations and vocabulary. This is from a, “What are you going to do?” lesson.


How long
What time

are you going to

go with?

Although some of the lessons are appropriate for any age, and the author mentions using these with children, most of the content seems more suitable for adults since the conversations are about topics such as chores, gardening, or going out for a drink. The level for the content seems best for high beginners.

For additional materials, the author has three books which can be purchased and downloaded from the site.  I checked with the author, and after buying a book, teachers are permitted to copy the pages they want to use with their students.  The titles are: Conversation: for Competent Beginners; Zombies: The Stinking Dead; and 100 Common Uncommon Words.

The site has a broad spectrum of possibilities, and is very useful for adult education.

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

Technology II

Technology Highlights at the Spring Conference

By Marilyn Pongracz

Technology - a tool for learning.
  • Getting Started With Game-Based Learning for ELLs - Judie Haynes
  • Using Google Classroom With ELLs - LeighAnn Matthews/Tracy Mischell
  • Using Technology to Enhance ELL Instruction - Ana Cunha/Maria Encarna Romero
  • Cultural Identity, Google Apps, and Cooperative Activities - Amy Martinez-Wright
  • Demystifying the Corpus of Contemporary American English - Abigail Bruhlmann
  • Technology Ideas for ELL Teachers and Students - Laurie Floyd
  • Creating the Vision: Implementing ELL EdTech - Heather Hay


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


Guest Contributor

Magdalena: Exaltation

By Sandy Nahmias

"It's information!" the voice called out in perfect English. I turned to my left to see the jubilant face of Magdalena, one of my first grade newcomers, my "little ones" as I refer to them, who had come to School Two in Linden in November. As I looked, my eyes filled with tears and I gasped with happiness. Those two words, in answer to my question about captions and photographs in a non-fiction text, were spoken clearly, and correctly, and confidently. They were the most English Magdalena had ever produced.

It had not been easy getting her to that point: there were 13 ELs [English Learners] in the class of 21 and I and the general education teacher with whom I co-teach had been challenged to differentiate instruction for the myriad of levels within the class—six ELs at PL 1* (Magdalena being one of them); seven ELs at PLs 2 and 3; and 8 general education students. At times, it had been frustrating and disheartening, and we thought and re-thought how best to teach to the academic content and language needs of all the students. But at that minute, at that moment when Magdalena spoke, rivulets of tears [sic] on my cheeks as I gave her a high-five. The other four students with whom I was working applauded her success and it hit me that it had all been worth it. And my heart did a cartwheel.

That was just this morning and I wanted to share this vignette with all of you as we teachers of ELs embark on, or are in the throes of, administering ACCESS 2.0 with all its challenges and new-ness, as a reminder to myself more than anyone that the little face behind the laptop or the little hand gripping the pencil, belongs to a little being who every day makes me realize why I teach, and why I teach ELs. It's for those precious moments that make my heart do cartwheels.

*PL= WIDA English Language Proficiency Level which range from 1 - 6: Entering, Emerging, Developing, Expanding, Bridging, and Reaching.

Sandy Nahmias is a Bilingual/ESL Teacher, Grades 1 and 2 at School Two, Linden, New Jersey.