We Are the Advocates

fist-424500_1280Does the Dream Act matter? If it does, then there is a dire need for us, teachers of English to speakers of other languages, to become very active members in your state education association. We have the responsibility to make sure that our students are getting their well-deserved education and that they can be citizens if they choose.

I want to talk about Ferguson, Mo., and the aftermath of the tragic shooting that occurred there. African American males are in a very precarious position in America. In Portland, Maine, the high school achievement of black males is at 2 percent. In Ferguson, as well as in different cities and towns in the U.S., black males are being targeted.

I believe wholeheartedly that there is a certain group of people who still have strong racist feelings. That is why NNETESOL needs to address culture, tradition, and human rights. Academics is great, but specific basic needs require our attention, or teaching will not mean anything.

Our students are human beings and have human rights, but their parents are not familiar with their own rights, so we must become their advocates. In Maine, our governor has decided not to give refugees and immigrants who are undocumented their benefits. However, the Portland and Lewiston mayors have been strongly opposed and have funded the program locally. Aside from this benefits cut, the governor has also cut school funding and have allocated more money to have more charter schools in Maine.

I am deeply concerned with our gubernatorial election as November is right around the corner. We have a three-way run. Portland has only funded 43% of its mandated 55%, and the shortfall has even made it worse for districts to have sufficient funding. Our ELL students come to the U.S. to be able to live and be educated but somehow, they are victimized once again.

As educators, we are compensated, but I feel and observe that these students are not being served well. Until their basic needs are met, they will not be able to power the filter, which allows effective learning to happen.

Thank you. I welcome any suggestions or discussion.

Ina Demers

Maine representative

2014 NNETESOL Conference



Saturday, November 8, 2014 8-3:30

Keynote by Dr. Diane Larsen-Freeman

Capacity, Not Competence

Diane  Larsen-Freeman, School of EducationIn this talk, Dr. Diane Larsen-Freeman will suggest that learning is not a two-step process.  It is not that one develops a mental grammar or competence through exposure to comprehensible input, and then converts it to output through practice. For one thing, speaking of “input” and “output” is dehumanizing.  For another, it denies the unity that underlies learning. Instead, from a complex systems perspective, one that she currently favors, “the act of playing the game has a way of changing the rules.”  She will interpret this quote and suggest that it heralds a new(er) view of learning—one that strives to build capacity in students, rather than competence.

Diane Larsen-Freeman is Professor Emerita of Education, Professor Emerita of Linguistics, Research Scientist Emerita at the English Language Institute at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. She is also a Distinguished Senior Faculty Fellow at the Graduate SIT Institute in Brattleboro, Vermont. Currently she is a Visiting Senior Fellow at the University of Pennsylvania.  Some of the books she has written are Techniques and Principles in Language Teaching (Oxford University Press, 3rd ed. with Marti Anderson, 2011), Grammar Dimensions:  Form, Meaning, and Use (Series Director, Heinle/Cengage, 4th ed., 2007), Teaching Language:  From Grammar to Grammaring (Heinle/Cengage, 2003), and Complex Systems and Applied Linguistics (co-authored with Lynne Cameron, Oxford University Press, 2008).  Complex Systems and Applied Linguistics received the 2009 Kenneth W. Mildenberger prize from the Modern Language Association. Dr. Larsen-Freeman is currently working on the third edition of The Grammar Book: An ESL/EFL Teacher’s Course, co-authored with Marianne Celce-Murcia and published by Heinle/Cengage.

Check here for more conference details, including a schedule of presentations!

And then register below:
Eventbrite - NNETESOL Fall Conference

TESOL Call for Standing Committees

NNETESOL is an affiliate of TESOL International.  Want to get more involved? Check out the links below.

Get Involved! Serve on a TESOL Standing Committee
Looking for ways to get involved with TESOL International Association? Would you like to use your expertise and experience to help guide TESOL programs, services, and publications?

Apply to serve on one of TESOL’s standing committees.

These committees help the TESOL Board of Directors implement the association’s strategic plan and conduct association business. Terms of service vary in length, but all new committee members begin their service at the annual TESOL convention.

Serving on a committee will sharpen your leadership skills and help the association better meet the needs of its members and the field of English language teaching and learning.

The deadline to apply is 14 September 2014.

Read more about the Standing Committees and apply here.

Here we go again!

Back to school time is nearly upon us.  Where has the summer gone?  I’m starting to look forward to seeing my students again, and seeing how they have grown and matured over the intervening weeks. 

On August 1, I attended the Educational Summit at Keene State College.  I attended a workshop on the Question Formulation Technique (QFT) and found it very interesting.  It is a technique which can be used at any point in teaching a topic to encourage students to think about what they want to know about that topic.  The teacher gives them a focus for their questioning with a ‘Question Focus’ statement that is not a question.  It could be used as an extension of KWL.  At the same summit, I presented a workshop called Customs (Culture), Kids, Learning, and Language.

The South Central TESOL professional group in New Hampshire will have its first meeting of the year on from 4 on September 9 at New Hampshire Technical Institute, in Concord.  There will be more information on the agenda as the time approaches.

On October 14, I will present my full day workshop (“What’s it Like to Be an Immigrant High School Student in American Public Schools?”) at the Marriott Convention Center in Portland, ME.  Included in the registration fee, participants will receive a 600+ page ESOL program.  More information on that will be available on the Maine listserv in the near future.

I hope all our colleagues throughout the Northern New England TESOL area have had a restful and restorative summer break.


Karen Boxell is NNETESOL’s publisher’s liaison.

Equity Conversations: Updates in STEM Education K-12

Equity Conversations: Updates in STEM Education K-12
Keynote Speaker:  Dr. Okhee Lee, Professor of Education, New York University

Friday, June 6th, 2014, 8:30 – 3:30 pm
University of Southern Maine, Portland Campus, Hannaford Hall
Admission is free and includes a boxed lunch; registration is required.

Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont educators are invited to join in conversations with researchers, community partners, and other practitioners focused on best practices in STEM education K-12 for inclusion of all students, including ELLs.  This is an interactive day designed to promote conversation framed by the implications of the Common Core and Next Generation Science Standards for underrepresented students. Register for the event by May 23, 2014.

Presented by the New England Equity Assistance Center in co-sponsorship with University of Southern Maine Teacher Education.

News from the conference

The fall 2013 conference at University of Southern Maine was a great success thanks to our conference chair, Farrah Giroux, and all the other amazing members of our board.  Linda Marshall gave an engaging keynote on how accountable talk read alouds can be used with ELLs to help them reach the new Common Core Standards.  There were also many interesting workshops given by our colleagues from all over northern New England and we

enjoyed checking out the publishers’ goodies and networking with colleagues and friends.

This year we’ve just added three new members to our board: Mary Lou Donahoe (NH State Representative), Karlene Groshek (Secretary) and Rebecca Wurdak (Veteran Board Member-At-Large).  We’ve also moved some of our old members around: Kevin Giddens is becoming VT State Representative, Farrah Giroux is now our president and Anne Wright Shank is President Elect and will be Conference Chair for our fall 2014 conference which is already being planned!

In other news Kathryn Peppe received the Graduate Student Award from NNETESOL this fall and Shauna Wight received our Research Award for work she is doing with adolescent multilingual writers.  Keep checking our grants page on our website for updates on our awards.  The deadline for applications is September 1st each year, so you have plenty of time to start thinking about it.

Last, but certainly not least, SAVE THE DATE for our fall 2014 conference!  It will be held Saturday, November 8th, 2014 somewhere in Vermont.  We look forward to seeing you then!



Kirsten Kollgaard, Past President

Here We Go Again!

Well, here we are back at “back to school” time. 

No matter how the years roll by, those of us who are dedicated to education have mixed feelings at this time of the year.

It’s the end of the more restful days of summer and the beginning of a new season in the classroom-new faces and names to get acquainted with, and a return to the daily schedules required by the educational process.  It is exciting and daunting all at the same time.

One of the things I like best about this time of year is renewing old relationships with last year’s students-whether I will still see them in my classroom or not.  What changes the summer months have wrought in young, growing, questing students!  I enjoy hearing about their vacation time and listening to their plans for the coming months.  I’m especially delighted to see the looks of anticipation on their faces as they contemplate the road to their future.

I also look forward to getting to knew new students.  I am reminded anew of the responsibility of being an educator.  These young people arrive in our classrooms hoping for answers and assistance as they  move forward on their way into the unknown.

What an awesome task we have!  What a challenge!  What a reward when we see the “Ah-ha” moments pop onto their faces.

You know? I wouldn’t change my job for–as my mom used to say–“All the tea in China.”

Happy, successful year, everyone!!

Karen Boxell,

publisher’s liaison

‘Let’s Talk’ is Keynote Topic

This fall our keynote will be “Let’s Talk: How Accountable Talk Can Help ELLs Reach the Common Core,” by Linda Marshall of Palm Beach County Public Schools in Florida.  This keynote will focus on the literacy and oral skills standards from the Common Core and show how the practice of Accountable Talk Read Aloud can be used at all levels to enhance students’ speaking and listening skills, reading comprehension and writing proficiency.

Linda is currently a literacy coach in Palm Beach County, \where 99% of students qualify for free and reduced lunch and 90% of entering Kindergartners are ELLs. In the summer she provides ELL professional development and teaches a graduate course at a high incidence district in Vermont. Linda has been working in US public schools for 28 years as a classroom teacher, ELL teacher, literacy coach and ELL district administrator. She has presented at the International Reading Association Convention, the Florida Reading Association Conference, Florida TESOL, Palm Beach County TESOL and Florida ASCD. Her areas of expertise are the Common Core literacy and “Speaking and Listening” standards. In her work she uses the practice of “Accountable Talk Read Aloud” to develop ELL students’ oral skills, reading comprehension and writing proficiency.

The Electronic Village Online CFP

Screen Shot 2013-06-08 at 9.24.29 PMCan’t make it to TESOL in the spring? Really have a topic you’d like to present?

I just got in my mailbox this notice about a CFP for the The CALL-Interest Section’s Electronic Village Online.

The EVO is a free online conference. If you’ve never participated, you should check it out.

Organizers are planning EVO 2014 now, and they would love to have inspiring educators participate in moderating a session.

Sound interesting? Read on below and go to this link for more info: http://tinyurl.com/cfprop2014

The Electronic Village Online Sessions


For five weeks in January-February, participants and ESOL experts can engage in collaborative, online discussion or hands-on virtual workshops of professional and scholarly benefit. These sessions will bring together participants for a longer period of time than is permitted by the four-day convention and will allow a fuller development of ideas than is otherwise possible in convention sessions.Sessions may be on any topic in ESL/EFL (not necessarily about technology) and are free and open to all interested parties.Session leaders (moderators) need not have previous experience in online teaching. Co-moderation with several people is strongly recommended. Moderators, at least one of whom must be a TESOL member, will receive hands-on training in online discussion management and the use of live virtual chat and audio rooms during our moderators’ training session October 21 – November 12, 2013.

Sessions of EVO must be sponsored by a TESOL Interest Section, Forum, or other member group or affiliate. (Our team can help you find sponsors.)

Making Connections and Feeling At Home

There comes a time in every reader’s life when they stumble upon a book that moves them emotionally and intellectually, The Name Jar by Yangsook Choi is that book for me.  I was looking for a children’s literature book The Name Jarto use for my intermediate English language learner classes at Portland Adult Education in Maine. A learned colleague, Kathleen Hiscock, referred me to the book and the New Readers Program from the Maine Humanities Council.  I was not disappointed.

The Name Jar tells the story of Unhei, a young Korean immigrant, who travels to the United States with her mother, father, and brother.  Before departing for America, her grandmother gives her a red pouch that contains her name stamp, a symbol that will connect them though they are thousands of miles apart. Her grandmother writes from Korea, “Here the moon is up, but there the sun is up. No matter how far apart we are and no matter how different America is from Korea, you’ll always be my Unhei” (Choi, p.21).

Unhei (which means “grace” in English) is teased by children on her first day of school and decides that she needs her  “own American name” in order to fit in with the other children.  Of course, her mother disagrees and reaffirms the theme of acceptance.  She tells Unhei that she should be proud of her name even if it is difficult to pronounce and even if it is “different” (Choi, p. 8).

Unhei begins to make friends. Mr. Kim the local Korean marketer is the first to welcome her to the neighborhood and becomes a grandfather figure; and Joey, a young, redheaded American boy, befriends Unhei.  He likes her without knowing her name.  It is after meeting Joey that a jar mysteriously appears on her desk filled with names from her classmates for her to select an “American” name.

Will Unhei change her name?  What are the meanings of names?  What does it mean to feel different?  These are some of the questions posed by Unhei’s journey throughout the beautifully illustrated book.

I spent four weeks (classes met twice per week) teaching this book and it was a complete joy.  I used a combination of reflective writing prompts, CLOZE exercises, cognition vocabulary dictionaries, and story mapping.  My students ranged from 19-68 years old, and all enjoyed the story of an elementary aged girl seeking and finding acceptance and friendship in a new culture.  I strongly recommend this book and hope it helps other educators and students make connections with the text and with their classmates.  And perhaps, they will make a new chinku (Korean for friend).

–Farrah T. Giroux MS. Ed., CAS, is NNETESOL President-Elect and President/WIDA Certified Trainer of the English Language Institute, LLC. Choi, Yangsook.  The name jar.  2001.  Dragonfly Books:NY.

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