On October 13, American Culture and Language Institute (ACLI) faculty from all campuses gathered at NOVA’s Pender location to celebrate their contribution to the ACLI program and daily efforts to help NOVA’s English as a Second Language (ESL) students succeed. About 70 faculty members attended the event, which was kicked off by a demonstration of MyEnglishLab, an online program for ESL instructors, presented by Pearson Education representative Lynn Napolitano.
Three concurrent learning sessions followed which provided ACLI faculty with strategies to help approach learning and language challenges that are a part of every ESL student’s experience.
Alexandria ACLI Instructor Betsy Wong presented an overview of the differing educational and cultural expectations to which Saudi learners must adjust when attending higher education institutions in the United States. She offered strategies to help instructors tap into these learners’ strengths in order to navigate a whole new way of learning.
Annandale ACLI Coordinator Tonia Rodgers led a workshop that explored ways to identify different issues impeding student academic progress. She discussed different cognitive learning styles and acculturation stress, which may present symptoms very similar to those of disabilities.
Annandale ACLI/ESL Instructor Krisztina Domjan offered participants a foundation for creating challenging and engaging activities to strengthen oral and written communication skills through the application of Web 2.0 tools.
After lunch, the ACLI faculty enjoyed a lively presentation by Nigel Caplan, an ESL instructor and materials writer who is also an ESL assistant professor at the University of Delaware English Language Institute. Caplan’s blog is available online.
Caplan began his presentation with the question, “What have you written lately?” and waited patiently while his audience responded with the usual: emails, texts, greeting cards, lesson plans and other daily writing tasks.
“No one in this room, I’ve noticed, has recently written a five-paragraph essay.”
Caplan’s presentation explored the use of different writing genres, rather than rhetorical modes, increases student motivation, adds authenticity to tasks and promotes writing and language development.
ACLI Instructor John Bennet said, “I found Betsy Wong’s talk on Saudi learners in American IEPs to be very interesting and I could have listened to Nigel Caplan talk for at least another hour. More importantly, both talks provided a wealth of ideas for the classroom. I’m looking forward to the next event.”
ACLI instructor Kathy Ferguson said, “The entire day was an enormous success! Tonia Rodgers’ ‘Difference vs. Disability’ talk and handouts made me look at the question I often ask myself about a student from a totally different perspective. Nigel’s presentation was outstanding, thought provoking, informative, educational and entertaining.”