P R T E S O L
A publication of PRTESOL: An organization concerned with the
teaching of English to speakers of other languages.
A Quarterly Newsletter Volume 35, Issue 3 WINTER 2008
Post-Convention Highlights Professional Articles
President’s ﬁnal message Language Acquisition: A Critique of Page 16
the Theories We Apply to the
Page 3 Teach Me how to Laugh
Classroom and Why We Don’t Know
Regional Chapters: Directory of new Luz Estrella Méndez Del Valle, Ph D
Chapter Presidents Ann Albuyeh, Ph.D. Page 7
Page 11 Page 4
True progress is bilingualism for all: A
Page 14-15 Page 26
response to Porter’s plenary address
at the 2008 PR TESOL Conference 2009 Calendar of Events
Financial Report 2008 Miriam Eisenstein Ebsworth, PhD
Page 27 Page 24 Back cover
The 35 Annual PRTESOL
Convention has taken its rightful
place in history. Teachers from all
over Puerto Rico and the Dominican
Republic met for two exciting days
of training, learning, sharing,
planning, and having fun. What a
joy it was to meet so many of our
Teaching English is a science
(lingistics, phonology, morphology,
etc), but it is also an art. The art of
communicating, of motivating
students, of creating materials,
designing lessons, even decorating
We look forward to 2009 with high
hopes of seeing PRTESOL grow in
inﬂuence around Puerto Rico and
the Caribbean helping teachers at all
levels in both the science and the art
of teaching English.
Prof. Carmelo Arbona,
P R T E S O L - G R A M
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INSIDE THIS ISSUE: issues -
Message from the President 3 20%)
Cell Phone Use: A Convenience, A Hazard or An
About Faculty Resource Network 5
May reproduce articles for classroom use. Quotations up
Teachers: Who are They? 6
to twenty - ﬁve (25) words are permitted if credit to the
Videogames as a Potential Tool for Classroom
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Pre-Convention Section 9-16
Convention Registration Guidelines
Keynote Speakers p.10
Hotel Information p. 11-12
Pre-Registration form p. 13
Concurrent Sessions p. 18-21
2008 PRTESOL Membership form p. 22
P R T E S O L - G R A M
FROM THE PRESIDENT
Dr. José R. Sellas Aponte
President, PRTESOL 2008
Greetings! PRTESOL Family,
It is with great pleasure and joy in my heart that I write my ﬁnal message as President of the PRTESOL Organization during 2008. We
have had an extremely challenging year. It has been a year of many surprises, a year of high expectations, a year where PRTESOL
demonstrated that it is one of the ﬁnest organizations on this beloved issland. As I reﬂect upon everything that was carried out during this
year, I am extremely proud of our accomplishments. Here is a brief summary of PRTESOL’s major achievements during 2008.
We carried out 6 successful Regional Conferences during this year where we impacted hundreds of classroom teachers and professors
Island wide. We had over one hundred ESL Professionals participate of our Summer Institute in UPR, Humacao. We had special activities
that were carried out by the Chapters, in addition to the Regional Conferences. These special activities provided additional beneﬁts to
teachers, classroom students, and their parents. The 6th Annual – Dominican Republic Outreach was held in Dominican Republic with
Regarding membership, we had over 500 ESL Professionals with active membership status during this year. Over 100 of these became
members for the ﬁrst time in 2008. In addition to this, we have approximately 20 active members from the United States and over 100
active members from Dominican Republic. This shows that we have a solid reputation as a prestigious organization.
We had three successful publications of the PRTESOL-Gram that included professional articles, pictures of our different activities, and
the general information we wanted to share with our membership. Our ﬁrst PRTESOL-Gram came out in summer 2008 and we sent over
900 copies by mail. Our Pre-Convention Issue came out in fall 2008 and we sent out over 700 copies by mail. Our post-convention
PRTESOL-Gram will be sent to over 700 members. I am extremely satisﬁed with the evolution of this Newsletter, and proud to have
carried out 3 successful publications during my Presidency.
The PRTESOL-Website was one of our most challenging and rewarding tasks. Even though it was an immense challenge at the
beginning of the year, by the end of the year the PRTESOL-Website was up and running adequately. In addition to our main website, we
have three Regions that have created Chapter Websites. And we look forward to the moment, that all six chapters have websites linked
to the main website.
We relied heavily on E-Mail to keep in touch with Board Members and also with our Membership. This type of communication became a
primary source for the instant promotion of all our activities, by the forwarding of messages to the majority of our membership. This year
PRTESOL has take a gigantic step embracing advanced communication technology.
Two of our most important accomplishments this year dealt with the PRTESOL By-Laws and the PRTESOL Election. This year the 2008
PRTESOL By-Laws were ratiﬁed through the mail by over 100 members. The By-Laws of PRTESOL had not been revised since 2003. In
addition to this, over 100 members voted by mail in the PRTESOL Election. This is the ﬁrst time in many years that we have broken the
mark of over hundred votes counted for each area. This demonstrates the unconditional support of our membership throughout the year
to the PRTESOL Organization. Our Membership understands the importance of professional development and that the PRTESOL
Organization marks the pace of ESL professional development on the island.
The most important accomplishment for the PRTESOL Organization this year was the 35th Annual PRTESOL Convention & Exhibit, titled:
The Next Generation of ESL: Tapestry for Success. Our two-day Convention at the Gran Meliã Hotel in Rio Grande, Puerto Rico was
fabulous: 60 presentations, over 30 exhibit tables, over 300 attendees, the PRTESOL Band, 10 ushers that guided and helped our
attendees, 2 outstanding keynote speakers, and the extraordinary PRTESOL Board of Directors making sure that every aspect was
perfect. Everyone is well aware of the economic difﬁculties that Puerto Rico and the world are undergoing at this time. I feel extremely
satisﬁed to know that our membership had faith in us and supported our convention.
Finally, I would like to thank all the PRTESOL 2008 Board Members for your outstanding contribution and hard work throughout this year.
We have accomplished many things this year. To our attendees, keynote speakers, presenters, entertainers, exhibitors, sponsors, ushers,
hotel personnel, family, and friends thank you all for your contribution to the success of the 35th Annual PRTESOL Convention & Exhibit.
I want to extend a warm welcome to Prof. Miguel Camacho our new PRTESOL President and the Board of Directors for 2009. May this
year’s journey be smooth and rewarding!
God Bless You All!
José R. Sellas Aponte
PRTESOL President 2008
P R T E S O L - G R A M
Language Acquisition: A Critique of the Theories We Apply to the Classroom
and Why We Don’t Know More
Ann Albuyeh, Ph.D.
Professor, English Linguistics
University of Puerto Rico- Río Piedras
Theories of how people learn language have been around for hundreds of years, but the application of such theories to
second language teaching really dates from the 1950’s. Since theories of Second Language Acquisition have been applied to
classroom methodology, the degree of optimism they have inspired has been negatively reflected by a notable lack of results in
the classroom. This fact, no doubt, explains the following observation made by Rod Ellis (1994, 685) in his ground-breaking
book The Study of Second Language Acquisition: “Theories of SLA [Second Language Acquisition] are not usually dismissed
as a result of empirical study or powerful argumentation, but, instead, tend to slip slowly and gently into oblivion.”
If one is easily discouraged, the fact that in 2008—after some forty years of sustained research—“the jury is still out” on
the most basic questions regarding language acquisition might be cause for despair. And so, Muriel Saville-Troike’s excellent
book, pondering Second Language Acquisition over a decade later than Ellis’s, can present us with a coherent picture of the
range of confusing views regarding: 1) What is learned?, 2) How is it learned? and 3) Why is the success rate so variable? –
but no definitive answers to even one of these questions.
This paper will explore the problems involved in both theorization and classroom application; outline an original – but
possibly equally doomed! – suggestion regarding how language acquisition works, and outline a not-so-original application of
this to the classroom, intended to avoid the pitfalls of the past.
Although I’ve been teaching English as a Second Language on and off for 35 years now, by mere coincidence I was
exposed to language acquisition theory more than a decade before I had every taught in a classroom. In the late 1950’s, while
still in grade school, I had the good fortune to have a babysitter who was an elementary education major at the University of
Wisconsin-Madison, and, no doubt out of boredom, liked to tell me about what she was learning in her classes. Tracking the
linguistic behavior of my infant brother over the two years she babysat for us, Peggy described to me, in simplified form, what
she had been taught about how children learn language.
As I realized when I myself attended the UW-Madison as a young adult, what she had described was the theory of
behaviorism as applied to language acquisition. But by the period I’m talking about, the 1970’s, linguists discussing language
acquisition at the UW-Madison, spoke of behaviorist theory with ill-concealed condescension. I learned that what Peggy had
been taught, and had no doubt subsequently applied to her own teaching, was just plain wrong. Innateness was the ticket, and
some fellow university student babysitter may have described LAD, Noam Chomsky’s “Language Acquisition Device” to his
or her young charges during the 1970’s just as Peggy had passed on to me the accepted truths surrounding behaviorism a
As much as any other field, (and I’ll bring up a parallel point about math education a little later), Teaching English as a
Second Language has been plagued both by the force of such theoretical shifts and a natural tendency in the academy to frame
theoretical discussion as an “us vs. “them” debate in which “we” are right and “they” are wrong. In fact, from the late 1950’s
when Peggy was simplifying the tenets of behaviorism for my benefit, formal, highly publicized debates (which continue to be
published) were held between the famous linguist Noam Chomsky and the even more famous psychologists, the behaviorist B.
F. Skinner and cognitive development psychologist Jean Piaget. I’m going to first consider these influential views regarding
how children learn language, whether first or second, and then bring up adults later in the paper.
2. Philosophical Underpinnings to Views of Language Acquisition
It’s worthwhile to consider the fact that the different views regarding language acquisition held by these three famous
scholars, which have continued to inspire language learning theories to the present day, owe as much or more to the opposing
Western philosophical world views which directed their thinking than to experimental research results or the like.
The nineteenth-century English poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge wrote: “The great majority of men live like bats, but in
twilight, and know and feel the philosophy of their age only by its reflections and refractions.” Because I think Coleridge was
right, I’m going to briefly discuss the philosophical schools influencing the thinking of Skinner, Chomsky and Piaget, and
subsequent generations of language theoreticians, to emphasize to what extent, bat-like, we teachers of English as a Second
Language have been buffeted about by these reflections and refractions of the major Western philosophies.
(Continued, page ??)
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As has often been pointed out, modern epistemology, the branch of philosophy which investigates the origin, nature,
methods, and limits of human knowledge, has two bases: empiricism and rationalism. Polar world views, the former focuses on
the material world, the latter on reason and the mind. To understand to what extent shifting back and forth between the two
philosophies has epitomized the western academy, we have to march back in time to fifth-century BC Greece, and contemplate
the influence of Socrates who taught Plato who taught Aristotle – the three scholars credited with laying the philosophical
foundation of Western culture, no less.
Aristotle’s stress on sense perceptions led in the seventeenth century to John Locke’s affirmation of the foundational
principle of empiricism: “There is nothing in the intellect that was not previously in the senses” (Tarnas 1991, 333). The
empiricist philosophies of Locke, and later Berkely and Hume led to a “scientific materialism” which was reflected centuries
later in the narrowed scope of behaviorist theory and more happily the experimental rigor of its methodology as propounded by
the psychologist J. B. Watson in 1924, and generations of scientists thereafter. Famously, of course, linguists such as Leonard
Bloomfield applied the theoretical and methodological perspective of behaviorism to their own teachings and research from the
Rationalism has a parallel history, moving from Aristotle’s student Plato to the seventeenth-century philosophers
Descartes, Spinoza and Leibniz, who in turn influenced the modern linguist Chomsky, culminating in his 1966 publication of
a work entitled: Cartesian Linguistics: A Chapter in the History of Rationalist Thought.
3. The Three Most Influential Theories Regarding How Language is Acquired
For those who aren’t familiar with them or who may appreciate having their memory refreshed, here is a thumbnail sketch
of the different views of language acquisition upon which even the most recent first and second language acquisition theories
Behaviorism tends to conceive of the brain at its initial state as a tabula rasa, a blank slate, to which knowledge is added
through sense experience and interaction with the environment, i.e. the focus is on Nurture. Learning typically involves
stimulus-response conditioning. In language acquisition this view highlights imitation and feedback. Through the successful
imitation of adults and the accidental combination of rewarded sounds, words are learned which are then combined to form
short phrases which in turn are combined to form sentences. Skinner conceived of language as “behavior reinforced by other
persons” and asserted that language behavior can be accounted for in a way that is in principle no different from the learning
behavior of rats in the laboratory. Thus, importantly, in this view language learning is seen as just one type of general learning
(See e.g. Malmkjaer 1991, 53—57).
Rationalist thought posits the existence of mental structures in the initial state, i.e. at birth. In language acquisition as
conceived of by Chomsky this translates into the proposal that a baby is born with a brain equipped to learn language. The
baby’s brain contains innate structures which have sometimes been referred to as LAD (Language Acquisition Device) as
mentioned above, or sometimes thought of as a “Universal Grammar” consisting of linguistic principles and parameters.
The term “principles” refers to sometimes highly abstract and specific properties of grammar, often broadly defined to
include many aspects of language. These principles have in practice reflected the current version of linguistic analysis being
carried out by Chomsky and his followers. The idea is that although a given language will only contain a subset of the total
number of principles, no human language will have a structure that contradicts any one of them. An example of an innate
principle is the “Projection Principle.” This principle would predispose a child to expect that syntactic structure is determined
by entries in the lexicon. For example, the choice of the verb give entails the use of a specific syntactic pattern including a
subject and an object.
“Parameters” involve fixing a value or resetting a default based on exposure to linguistic data. Parameters have two or
more possible values and the setting of one may imply the setting of others For example, a parameter may involve whether a
language is the type that allows the dropping of subject pronouns or not. Thus, the setting would be “Yes, this language does
drop subject pronouns” for Spanish, or “No, it doesn’t” for English. (See e.g. Akmajian et al 1995, Field 2004.)
Since the current tendency is to see the brain as being somehow hard-wired for language learning, with innate capacities
and cognitive structures already in place, interaction with the environment, following an Innateness view of language
acquisition, is downplayed, i.e. the focus is on our genetic endowment and Nature. As you can see from the specificity of the
proposed principles and parameters, language learning is unique, special, and distinct from general learning.
If you think that Chomsky’s innateness views are stupid—an intelligent person told me that just the beginning of last
semester, or if, as in my own case, you were trained to think that the behaviorist views of B. F. Skinner are stupid (well, my
professors didn’t use that word, but that’s what they meant)—you might reflect on the following. The most profound minds in
the history of Western culture have swung back and forth between these opposing views of what knowledge is and how it is
gained for over two thousand years.
There have been philosophers who have positioned themselves midway between the two extreme viewpoints, and who
have also significantly influenced modern thought regarding language acquisition. The eighteenth-century philosophy of Kant
is a case in point. Kant criticized Leibniz and the rationalists for believing that reason alone without sense experience can
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calculate the universe, and he criticized Locke and the empiricists for believing that sense impressions alone, without a priori
concepts of understanding could ever lead to knowledge (Tarnas 1991, 345). A self-proclaimed advocate of “dynamic
Kantism,” Piaget rejected both Skinner’s extreme behaviorism and the extreme innateness arguments of the newcomer
Chomsky. Identifying himself as “anti-empiricist,” Piaget pointed to the “insufficiency of an ‘empiricist’ interpretation of
experience,” arguing that “no knowledge is based on perceptions alone.” But although his focus on the mind makes him
essentially a rationalist, Piaget also rejected the strong innateness claims of Chomsky (hence his debate with the younger
linguist), arguing “nor do any a priori or innate cognitive structures exist in man . . . the functioning of intelligence alone is
hereditary” (Piatteli-Palmarini 1980, 23). Agreeing with Skinner and opposing Chomsky in this regard, Piaget also conceives
of language learning as merely a case of general learning.
Using a computer analogy doesn’t totally work here, but you could say that what Chomsky is claiming is innate is what’s
on the hard-drive of the brain and what Piaget is claiming is innate is part of the software, a learning program. You might
describe Piaget’s view, therefore, as claiming that knowledge structures develop in the mind as a result of the ongoing
interaction which occurs between this learning program and the environment.
According to Piaget, the child’s genetically determined developmental program dictates the stages and the pace of the
learning. The learning progresses as a result of twin processes called “assimilation” and “accommodation.” In assimilation,
the learner’s existing knowledge structures modify perceptual input. In other words, the interpretation of the perceptual input
is limited by the level of knowledge which the child has at any given point. In accommodation, the knowledge structures
themselves become modified as they adapt to perceptual input. In other words, contact with the environment leads the child to
modify and advance his/her state of knowledge. Through these two processes, the learner in effect climbs step by step to new
generalizations in the development of language.
For example, a child is at the most basic level 1 linguistically. Using this basic linguistic knowledge the child interprets
language input in a limited way. But this partially successful interpretation of language input itself adds to the knowledge the
child has of the language. This allows the child to progress to level 2 of linguistic knowledge. Then the child uses this level 2
linguistic knowledge to interpret language input with a bit more success. This more successful interpretation of language itself
adds to the child’s growing language corpus and that allows the child to progress to level three of linguistic knowledge. Then
the child uses level 3 linguistic knowledge to interpret language input with even more success. This more successful
interpretation of language in turn adds to how much language the child knows leading to level 4 of linguistic knowledge. And
so on, until the child has mastered the language. Second language acquisition theories which focus on input and interaction as
well as “interlanguage” stages owe a debt to Piaget’s model.
Significantly, Piaget’s developmental stages which relate most obviously to language acquisition occur within a time
frame which is roughly parallel to that proposed as the “critical period” for language learners. As many of you know, the
Critical Period Hypothesis was proposed by Eric Lenneberg in 1967. This notion has been supported in various versions these
last four decades and in its most usual form hypothesizes that from about 18 months to nearing the onset of puberty there exists
a sort of “window of opportunity” for successful and complete language acquisition. Once this critical period is passed,
language learning is both more difficult and probably destined to never achieve complete fluency (See e.g. Field 2004, Lust
and Foley 2004.)
4. Second Language Acquisition Theories
If Nature vs. Nurture is essentially a problem which no one should imagine will be solved in the near future, it hasn’t
stopped linguists and psychologists from lining up on either side of the debate. (In point of fact, second language acquisition
theorists have mostly focused on Nurture.) As Vivian Cook pointed out in 1988, the opposition between these two approaches
in language acquisition has been a “long and acrimonious” one in which “neither side concedes the other’s reality.” Something
made equally obvious by the historic Chomsky, Skinner, Piaget debates of decades past referred to above and any review of the
literature carried out today. The recent state of the Nature vs. Nurture debate is outlined in Ewa Dąbrowska’s 2004 book
entitled Language, Mind and Brain, and illustrated throughout the review of second language acquisition theories presented in
Mitchell and Miles (2004) and Saville-Troike (2006), for example. Dąbrowska asserts that still today: “One of the most
controversial issues in contemporary psycholinguistics is the extent to which our linguistic abilities depend on ‘general
purpose’ cognition,” i.e. following Skinner and Piaget vs. what she terms the “modularity hypothesis,” i.e. that language
learning is separate, following Chomsky and his supporters. (Dąbrowska in her book argues against the latter view.)
It may be because I proposed my own second-language learning theory in my 1985 Ph.D. dissertation that I think this, but
in my opinion, the field of second language acquisition has been more guilty than most in producing a regrettable proliferation
Certainly this concern was voiced as early as the 1990’s when linguists such as Roger Griffiths (1990), Michael Long
(1993) and Rod Ellis (1994) raised the alarm. Weary of the theoretical overload, Ellis complains about “too much theorizing
and not enough empirical research.” However, I don’t think the real problem has been any lack of empirical research. There
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actually have been a lot of empirical studies done in the last few decades. (I also carried out empirical research in Mexico to
test my theory.)
In fact, from the Contrastive Analysis Theory, which focused on teaching the differences between L1 and L2, to the
multiple manifestations of Stephen Krashen’s theories, with their various claims regarding how people learn second
languages, much sustained empirical research has been carried out—but for all the heroic efforts of the researchers the
findings have been, to say the least, inconclusive. Certainly for any happy detail of language learning that has been
uncovered, it is no coincidence that a number of people in the field have made recourse to the story of the blind men and the
elephant. (I used this myself a number of years ago only to discover that some other linguist had also proposed it, and I’ve
since seen it referred to again in relation to second language acquisition.) Of course, each blind man’s concept of what an
elephant was depended on which part he happened to grab a hold of.
Lacking the critical understanding of the brain which will light up the whole picture, our philosophic predispositions, the
happenstance of the decade in which we received training, the structure of the languages which we are observing (a point
made by Ewa Dąbrowski), any number of constraints on our perspective—all of these factors inevitably lead us to the kind of
partial truth which rendered each of the blind men both right and essentially wrong when they tried to describe the whole
animal. Yes, it will finally be possible to understand the processes of both first and second language acquisition, but I can
confidently say it will not happen in our lifetimes. That this view is not mere pessimism, but just a reflection of the reality we
face, is supported by Saville-Troike’s (2006, 175) comment regarding basic disagreements as to what constitutes knowledge
of a second language: “Resolution of the disagreement is not likely in our lifetimes, and perhaps it would not even be
desirable.” She continues with a non-elephant analogy: “I have suggested that we recognize these differences as being like
different views we get of Mars through seeing it with different color filters. They complement one another and all are needed
to gain a full-spectrum picture of the multidimensional nature of [Second Language Acquisition].”
5. A Possible Model of Second Language Acquisition: My Newer Theory
Here’s a hypothesis:
1) What is provided by Nature? Everyone is born with a language specific hard-wired learning device such as
hypothesized by Chomsky which exists in the brain as a result of thousands of years of evolution. Like the discussion of what
neuroscientists are discovering about the brain and mathematical learning which I’ll discuss below, the “messy, random
process” of evolution has resulted in a complex intermingling of language circuitry with other brain functions, making our
sorting out of where this “hard-wiring” is and how it functions even harder to identify. You have this for your whole life and
it allows you to learn not only aspects of your first language but any additional languages, including learning languages as an
2) What is provided by Nurture? I’m hypothesizing that behaviorists were also always right about the learning of
particular aspects of language e.g. function words and inflections, and that these aspects of language are learned from input
and interaction in a more or less stimulus-response conditioning manner such as hypothesized by Skinner. Also I’m guessing
that this allows you to learn aspects of not only your first language, but any additional languages, including those learned as
3) How does Nature interact with Nurture? Of course, Piaget focused most on child development, and I think there will
turn out to be a good reason for this focus with regard to his concept of language learning. If I can continue with the idea of
Piaget’s learning model as a software program (when we discuss the brain more specifically below, you’ll see this isn’t quite
adequate), my guess is that since the function of Piaget’s general learning program is to allow child cognitive development, it
plays itself out and ceases with the onset of puberty. My hypothesis is that this learning program provides a boost to the
general learning achieved through a behaviorist stimulus response model. In other words, language learning which relies
heavily on input and interaction (e.g. the learning of function words, inflections, pronunciation, etc.) receives substantial
assistance from this general learning software between infancy and puberty. This additional assistance accounts for the
perfect acquisition of first and additional languages by children who receive sufficient exposure. This software would “run
out” at puberty, and this would account for the effects of the “Critical Period” proposed by Lenneberg.
6. Factors that Matter More in Second Language Acquisition than First Language Acquisition
The first group of factors affecting second language acquisition involves internal differences between first and second
language acquisition. Obviously, a big consideration here is how knowing a first language affects the learning of a second. At
the brain level the questions include: Is the same brain circuitry involved in learning a second language? It seems that the
answer will be “No” or at least “not completely.” Another question involves where the second language is stored. Is there an
overlap between first and second languages? For example, if the languages are Spanish and English, how are the lexicons
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stored? Do the words casa and house share a single storage point? Are they organized with words from their respective
languages, but these words are co-indexed somehow? Moreover, if parameters have been set for L1, how are they reset for
L2? If the Spanish parameter for no required subject pronoun has been set, how will the brain add a contradictory setting for
English? Furthermore, how is processing first one language and then another achieved as language acquisition proceeds?
Additionally, if L2 is typologically very different from L1 (say Spanish and Chinese) does restructuring of the brain proceed
in a different way than if L2 and L1 are similar (say Spanish and Italian)? Also, age is a significant internal biological factor.
Not only may there be fewer learning processes available to the older learner of a second language, but conversely the older
learner may profitably take greater advantage of already developed analytic abilities.
The second group of factors affecting second language acquisition more than 1rst language acquisition involves external
differences between the two. Social contexts of second language acquisition can be quite different, as can the effect of
social factors on learning. As Saville-Troike points out typically, motivation, issues of identity, and the relevant status of L1
and L2 in either a national or global context are considerations which have important consequences for second language
acquisition. Additionally, institutional requirements, and the institutional constraints imposed on learners are relevant to
much second language acquisition. Furthermore, in a social context, biological factors such as age, and sex, and also group
categories like ethnicity, educational level, occupation and economic status affect the learning of second languages. In my
opinion, to date, research into external factors has yielded more useful data for the teaching of ESL than any research into
the internal factors of second language acquisition.
7. Applying These Views to Education: Lessons from Another Field
In March of this year, The New Yorker published an essay which I found both comforting and scary. Called “Numbers
Guy: Are Our Brains Wired for Math?,” the author of this “Annals of Science” piece, Jim Holt, describes the research of the
Paris-based neuroscientist Stanislas Dehaene. Paralleling the breakthroughs in language-brain mapping that began with the
nineteenth-century work of Paul Broca and Carl Wernicke, Dehaene studied a brain-damaged patient who was exhibiting a
number processing deficiency grouped under the general name “acalculia.” Acalculia is to math difficulties what aphasia is
to language problems.
In the late 1980’when Stanislas Dehaene first brought the language -brain mapping successes of the American cognitive
psychologist Michael Posner to the attention of Dehaene’s Ph.D. advisor, his advisor wasn’t interested. Focusing on
determining the abstract organization of cognitive functions, Dehaene’s doctoral advisor “didn’t see the point of trying to
locate precisely where in the brain things happened” (Holt 2008, 44). In my opinion, this is a shortsightedness regrettably
often seen among both researchers and educators interested in second language acquisition.
His advisor, notwithstanding, Dehaene has become a pioneer in a field called “numerical cognition.” Not surprisingly,
in the context of our current discussion, these neuroscientists, in the words of Holt (2008, 43), are also “puzzling over which
aspects of our mathematical ability are innate and which are learned and how the two systems overlap and affect each other.”
In case Piaget’s compromise position with regard to the Nature/Nurture debate outlined above sounded like a happy
solution, the evidence from applying Piaget’s theories to mathematics education provides a sobering lesson. Holt (2008, 45)
castigates the “new math” teaching methodology (I can’t remember much of it, but I was taught this in the Madison school
system), “now widely thought to have been an educational disaster” both in the US and abroad. Holt explains:
The new math was grounded in the theories of the influential Swiss psychologist Jean Piaget, who believed that
children are born without any sense of number and only gradually build up the concept in a series of developmental
stages. . . . and that there was therefore no point in trying to teach them arithmetic before the age of six or
seven . . . .By now it is generally agreed that infants come equipped with a rudimentary ability to perceive and
If I found it comforting to know that it’s not only the linguists and psychologists who are still tackling the basic
questions regarding Nature vs. Nurture, I found it worrisome to reflect on the innocent faith in experts which apparently led
countless educators to “do the wrong thing” in the classroom. This has, of course, been the experience of countless other
educators, from my babysitter Peggy no doubt to myself and other ESL teachers, as I’ll illustrate below.
8. Science to the Rescue
What’s the problem here? How could essentially the same debate continue for two millennia, and how could the
modern research of decades provide educators with so little to go on? To paraphrase the first Clinton campaign: the short
answer: “It’s the brain, stupid.”
The good news is that the gross mapping of lesion sites with both linguistic and mathematical aberrations has in just the
last decade or so been superseded by the sophisticated technologies of MRI’s, Magnetic Resonance Imaging methods, and
the like. And although our picture of what is going on is still relatively crude for example, the same spot in the brain might
light up for two tasks but different neurons could be involved for each one—such technology has the capability of
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supporting or refuting details of models proposed for theoretical reasons. In the words of Dehaene, “Psychology has become a
little more like physics” (Holt 2008, 45).
Over the last few years, neuroscientists such as Judith Rapaport at the National Institute of Health and Paul Thompson at
UCLA have been using MRI’s to track the growth and changes in the brain from infancy to puberty. Rapaport states “One of the
things we were able to find out, almost at once, was how unexpected the findings are . . . just by following a normative
population,” i.e. not looking at aphasia patients but doing MRI’s on normal individuals (De Francesco 2002, 2). An important
finding of Rapaport’s team is that development is uneven across the brain. For example, different parts of the brain reach their
peak in terms of volume or growth at different ages. Thompson’s color-coded MRI mapping of children’s growing brains
illustrates a complex pattern of growth and loss. In particular, Thompson and his colleagues found an unexpected wave of tissue
growth which spread from the front to the back of the brain. They found that the frontal brain circuits which control attention
and are responsible for learning new skills and being able to think ahead underwent their greatest growth period in children
between the ages of three and six (DeFrancesco 2002,.3; PBS 2002, 2). As the brain continued to change, key reorganization
was evident in the MRI’s of children of approximately 7 to 11 years of age. Between the ages of 11 and 15, the region known to
house language centers underwent a rapid growth spurt and then declined abruptly. This, of course, may be an important reason
for the perceived differences in child and adult language learning which motivated hypotheses regarding a critical period which
ends around puberty, referred to above. In a PBS interview, Thompson reports that “Perhaps the biggest surprise of all was how
much tissue the brain loses in the teen years. Just before puberty, children lost up to 50 percent of their brain tissue in their deep
motor nuclei [which] control motor skills such as writing, sports, or piano” (PBS 2002, 2—3) Thompson and his colleagues’
work has been compiled in a “brain atlas,” which you can access on the Laboratory of Neuro Imaging UCLA website
(www.loni.ucla.edu) and Thompson 2000 (reproduced on the same site), which show color brain scans which are the first maps
of brain growth in individuals and teens.
In the same PBS interview, William Greenough, a neuroscientist at the Center for Advanced Study at the University of
The principle news based on both newer techniques like fMRI and other technologies is that the brain is a very dynamic
place and continues to be so throughout development and even into adulthood. New synaptic connections continue to form
between neurons throughout life. Patterns of myelination [the process by which brain cells are covered with a fatty white
substance called myelin, which aids in the transmission of information between cells], while perhaps most dynamic from
early development through adolescence, continue to change at least into the 4th decade of life. . . . Perhaps most exciting is
that at least some regions of the brain continue to generate new neurons in adulthood, and those neurons appear to
participate in the learning and memory process (PBS 2002, 2).
Kurt Fischer, director of the Mind, Brain and Education Program at Harvard points to how much still remains to be
Most of the recent advances in brain science have involved knowledge of the biology of single neurons and synapses, not
knowledge of patterns of connection and other aspects of the brain as a system. In time, the new imaging techniques will
help scientist and educators to understand how brain and behavior work together, but we have a very long way to go (PBS
9. Conclusion: What to do in the Meantime; What to Take to the Classroom
A graduate student and ESL teacher in the Puerto Rico school system told me this semester that educational policy now
favors an eclectic approach to teaching methods. This was good news. I remember teaching Language Acquisition not so long
ago to graduate students who told me that the Department of Education had required them to go out and buy one of Stephen
Krashen’s books, The Input Hypothesis, if I’m remembering correctly, and apply it to their ESL teaching because he had been in
Puerto Rico presenting this theory. This was just one of a series of five theories that Krashen put forth—that very fact tells you
that his ideas were not writ in stone—and these hypotheses were merely in the process of being tested out by him and other
linguists to mixed results. In fact, Rod Ellis’s award-winning 800-plus page survey of the study of second language acquisition
(1994, 685) which I referred to above specifically points to Krashen’s infamous Monitor Theory as an example of the way in
which second language acquisition theories “slip slowly and gently into oblivion.” As the Piaget- new math disaster illustrates,
it has been dangerous to adapt teaching methods to the theorizing of even scholars of greater renown, and some would say with
a better track record too, than some of the Second Language Acquisition theoreticians who have influenced teaching
Moreover, if as appears likely, second language acquisition involves multiple structures in the brain and both language
specific and general learning processes—and. in the latter case, it appears some which continue beyond childhood and some
which don’t—surely language teaching would have to rely on multiple methods to capitalize on all of these factors. In fact, I
think that the success of some of the computer programmed teaching, especially supplementing face to face language use, is to a
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great extent a result of the variety built into the tasks of the computer learning programs and the eclectic nature of the second
language instruction that’s offered.
Therefore, whether you prefer the analogy of the blind men and the elephant or the multi-lenses with which to view Mars,
it’s my firm belief that we let theorizing and even empirical research designed to test second language acquisition theories
intrude on teaching methodology at our peril. On the contrary, it will be the eclectic, multi-task methods drawn from the
classroom experience of generations of ESL teachers, combined with the more recent stunning technological breakthroughs,
that will prove to be the source of successful, innovative ESL teaching for years to come.
[The paper concluded with an eight-minute excerpt of a PBS DVD entitled “The Secret Life of the Brain,” which included
the study of the brain of a child learning both Spanish and English, cited below.]
Albuyeh, Ann. “The Constituent Analysis Theory of Complexity.” Ph.D. diss., University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1985.
Akmajian, Adrian, et al. Linguistics: an Introduction to Language and Communication, 5th ed. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press,
Chomsky, Noam. “Review of B. F. Skinner’s Verbal Behavior.” Language 35 (1959): 26—58.
Cartesian Linguistics: A Chapter in the History of Rationalist Thought. New York: Harper and Row, 1966.
Coburn, Kathleen., ed. Inquiring Spirit: A Coleridge Reader. London: Minerva Press, 1951.
Cook, Vivian. Chomsky’s Universal Grammar. Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1988.
Dąbrowska, Ewa. Language, Mind, and Brain: Some Psychological, and Neurological Constraints on Theories of Grammar.
Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press, 2004.
DeFrancesco, Laura. “Watching How the Brain Grows: MRI Offers New Insights into Brain Development.” The Scientist
16:27 (February 4, 2002), 6 pages. http://www.loni.ucla.edu/~thompson/MEDIA/PNAS/thescientist.html/ [June 11,
Ellis, Rod. The Study of Second Language Acquisition. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1994
Field, John. Psycholinguistics: The Key Concepts. London: Routledge, 2004.
Griffiths, Roger. “Speech Rate and NNS Comprehension: a Preliminary Study in Time-Benefit Analysis. Language Learning,
40 (1990): 311—36.
Holt, Jim. “Numbers Guy: Are Our Brains Wired for Math?” The New Yorker, March 3, 2008, 42—7.
Krashen, Stephen. The Input Hypothesis: Issues and Implications. London: Longman, 1985.
Long, Michael. “Assessment Strategies for SLA Theories.” Applied Linguistics, 14 (1993): 225—49.
Lust, Barbara and Claire Foley, eds. First Language Acquisition: The Essential Readings. London: Blackwell Publishing
[check, now part of Wiley], 2004.
Malmkjaer, Kirsten, ed. The Linguistics Encyclopedia. London: Routledge, 1991.
Mitchell, Rosamund and Florence Miles. Second Language Learning Theories, 2nd ed. London: Hodder Arnold, 2004.
PBS Online and WGBH/Frontline. “How Much Do We Really Know about the Brain?” Frontline: Inside the Teenage Brain.
2002. Reported in http://www,loni.ucla.edu/~thompson/MEDIA/PNAS/pbs_brain_interview.html/ [ June 11, 2008].
Piatteli-Palmarini, Massimo. Language and Learning: The Debate between Jean Piaget and Noam Chomsky. Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press, 1980.
Saville-Troike, Muriel. Introducing Second Language Acquisition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006
The Secret Life of the Brain, prod. by David Grubin, 5 hours, PBS, 2002, DVD.
Skinner, B. F. Verbal Behavior. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1957.
Tarnas, Richard. The Passion of the Western Mind: Understanding the Ideas that Have Shaped Our World View. New York:
Harmony Books, 1991.
Thompson, Paul, et al. “Growth Patterns in the Developing Human Brain Detected Using Continuum-Mechanical Tensor
Mapping.” Nature 404 (March 9, 2000), 190-193. http://www.loni.ucla.edu/~thompson/JAY/nature_paper.html/. [June 11,
P R T E S O L - G R A M
PRTESOL 2008 Elections
Meet the Regional Chapter Boards
During the Convention each regional chapter held meetings and events including elections. It is vital that every
member attend his or her chapter meeting. Find your chapter below and make sure you take an active role in all
your chapter’s activities.
President: Dr. Evelyn Lugo, Universidad
del Este, Carolina
President: Dr. Gladys Cruz,
Bayamón Campus website: http://
NORTHERN CHAPTER SOUTHERN CHAPTER
President: Carla Rodríguez, Student President: Celeste Morales, University of
Inter American University, Arecibo Puerto Rico, Ponce Campus
email: email@example.com email: firstname.lastname@example.org
WESTERN CHAPTER CAGUAS
President: Prof. Enrique Chaparro, President: Denise Ferrer, Department of
Manuel Morales Feliciano Elementary, Education
email: email@example.com ,
Professor Idia Rodríguez González, of the University of Puerto
Rico in Arecibo (UPRA) died on Friday, January 23, 2009 of
pancreatic cancer. Idia had been a long-time member of
PRTESOL and a member of the committee that revived the
Northern PRTESOL Chapter in 1990. She later served as
President of the Northern Chapter from 1994-96. Idia also
served as Higher Ed representative and was a familiar face
both as attendee and workshop presenter at many a PRTESOL
conference throughout the years. Before her illness, she had
been director of the Honor program at UPRA and had been
coordinating The Center for Faculty Development at the
Arecibo campus. Totally involved in campus life, she served
from 2000-2003 as Academic Senator and from 1996 to 2000,
she was director of the English Department as well as a
member of the Administrative Board.
The University and the English Department benefited
enormously from Idia’s service as a professor, administrator,
and colleague. She was a versatile and dynamic professor who
served on numerous committees within the University. She was a
vibrant and resourceful colleague who will be sorely missed.
Professor Rodríguez had a Master’s Degree in secondary education from the University of
Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras. She is survived by her husband, Edgardo Cabán and her two sons
Edgardo and Leonardo. Her funeral was held on Sunday, January 25 in Arecibo.
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Teach Me How to Laugh: Humor in the Teaching-Learning Experience
Luz Estrella Méndez Del Valle, PhD
“A merry heart does good, like medicine, but a broken spirit dries the bones.”
Proverbs 17: 22
Humor through time, has been considered an important factor in human socialization (Pollak and Freda 1; Cassidy 1;
Granick 74). It has the capability of easing an individual’s daily routine, and making life more bearable during moments of
great strain (Goldstein and McGhee xiii; Granick 73; Millicent 268). Research reveals that humor can reduce the negative
feelings that provoke sickness, tension, and stress burnouts (Cousins 1979; Check 1997; Laurence and Dana 1982; Coleman
1992; Ziegler 1998; McMahon 1999; Cornett 2001; Lawson 2001; Weaver and Cotrell 2001; Olsson 2002). Because of this,
many researchers have suggested the presence of humor in the classroom setting. According to their findings, humorous
classroom interactions reduce the anxiety students confront when being exposed to rigorous study and unknown concepts
(Monnot and Kite 1974; Gomes de Matos 1974; Trachtenberg 1979; Maurice 1988; Deniere 1995; Khelr et al.1999; Thorne
1999; Korobkin 1988). Moreover, many students consider a good sense of humor as one of the most important characteristics a
teacher should have (Pollack and Freda 1; Berk 4).
Hence, the purpose of this particular study was to briefly review the definitions, theories and taxonomies concerning
the concept of humor offered by various researchers (Robinson 1977; Morreall 1983; Glasser 1986; Granick 1995; Long and
Graesser 1998; Ziegler 1998; Cornett 2001; Schmitz 2002). The investigation focused on how humor affects the classroom
setting, and how it is used as a motivational tool in teaching (Vizmuller 1980; Koestler 1964; Nilsen 1999; Minchew 2001).
Through the use of a brief questionnaire, this study examined how a specific group of college professors teaching at a campus
located in the central mountain region of Puerto Rico used and perceived humor in their classroom interactions. The study
objective was to assess these college professors’ perceptions and usage of humor in order to reaffirm what other studies have
stated: humor is also a powerful motivational instrument for college level instruction (Cohen and Herr 1982; Moses 1985;
Lowman 1994; White 2001).
1. College teaching dynamics have dramatically evolved from the strict monotonous lecture to the energetic
interaction of thought, creativity and technology (Korobkin 1988).
2. Humor has not weakened the educator’s standing. On the contrary, teachers have become strong role models that
use humor to transform their teaching strategies, enhance the classroom setting, and the way in which their students
view the world (Khelr et al. 1999). Sixty-five percent (65%) of the respondents admitted using types of humor in
their classroom interaction.
3. Personal experience (93%) and funny anecdote (93%) were preferred in general as a group and by gender.
4. Gender differences showed that women were more willing to make fun of themselves in front of their students
contrary to men. On the other hand, sarcasm (15%) was rejected by all respondents (Ziegler 1998; Sudol 1981).
5. Sixty-four percent (64%) of the respondents used various media channels for humorous interaction in their
classrooms. Books (90%) and articles/news prints (85%) were preferred by group and gender.
6. The findings on the whole disclosed the faculty’s perceptions on the effects humor has in their teaching dynamics.
Eighty-five (85%) of the participants stated that humor should be used to: relieve stress, motivate, create a healthy
environment, promote thinking and gain attention. Humor as a mechanism to discipline students negative attitudes,
developing students’ self-image, helping students understand other cultures and handling unpleasant situations was
totally rejected by the respondents.
Overall, humor wisely used has the capacity of changing poor pupils into outstanding achievers.
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Berk, Ronald. Professors are from Mars and Students are from Snickers. Virginia: Stylus Publishing, 2003.
Cassidy, A. “And Then the Elephant Said…” Parent Magazine 71 (1996): 96 – 98.
Check, John. “Humor in Education.” Physical Educator. 54.3 (1997): 165 – 168.
Cohen, P, and G. Herr. “Using an Interactive Feedback Procedure to College Teaching.” Teaching of Psychology. 138 (1982):
Coleman Jr., Gordon. “All Seriousness Aside: The Laughing-Learning Connection.” International Journal of Instructional
Media. 19.3 (1992): 1-7.
Cornett, Claudia. Learning through Laughter: Humor in the Classroom. Indiana: Phi Delta Kappa Educational Foundation,
Cousins, Norman. Anatomy of an Illness Perceived by the Patient: Reflections on Healing and Regeneration. New York:
Deniere, Marc. “Humor and Foreign Language Teaching.” International Journal of Humor Research. 8.3 (1995): 285 – 298.
Glasser, William. Control Theory in the Classroom. New York: Harper and Row, 1986.Goldstein, J., and McGhee, P. The
Psychology of Humor: Theoretical Perspectives and Empirical Issues. New York: Academic Press, 1972.
Gomes de Matos, Francisco. “Humo(u)r, A Neglected Feature in Foreign Language Teaching.” Creativity: New Ideas in
Language Teaching. 8 (1974): 1-2.
Granick, S. “The Therapeutic Value of Laughter.” USA Today. 124 (Sept. 1995): 72-74.
Khelr, Neeleam, Susan Molstad, and Roberta Donahue. “Using Humor in College Classroom to Enhance Teaching
Effectiveness in Dread Courses.” College Student Journal. 33.3 (1999): 400 – 407.
Koestler, Arthur. The Act of Creation. London: Hutchinson, 1964.
Korobkin, Debra. “Humor in the Classroom: Considerations and Strategies.” College Teaching. 36.4 (1988): 154- 158
Laurence, Peter, and Bill Dana. The Laughter Prescription. New York: Ballantine Books, 1982.
Lawson, Wendy. “Engaging with Humor.” Adult Learning. 12.8 (2001): 1- 4. The Living Bible. London: Tyndale House,
Long, Deborah, and Arthur Graesser. “Wit and Humor in Discourse Processing.” Discourse Processing. 11 (1988): 35-60.
McMahon, Maureen. “Are We Having Fun Yet? Humor in the English Classroom.” English Journal. 88.4 (1999): 70 – 72.
Maurice, Keith. Laugh while Learning another Language: Technologies that are Functional and Funny. English Teaching
Forum. 26.4.2 (1988): 20-24.
Millicent, Abel. “Interaction of Humor and Gender in Moderating Relationships Between Stress and Outcomes.” Journal of
Psychology. 132.3 (1998): 267 – 277.
Minchew, Sue. “Teaching English with Humor and Fun.” American Secondary Education. 30.1 (2001): 58 – 65.
Monnot, Michel and Jon Kite. “Puns and Games: Paronomasia in the ESL Classroom.”TESOL Quarterly. 8.1 (1974): 65-71.
Morreall, John. Taking Laughter Seriously. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1983.
Moses, I. “High Quality Teaching in a University: Identification and Description.” Studies in Higher Education. 10 (1985):
Nilsen, Aileen, and Don Nilsen. “The Straw Man Meets His Match: Six Arguments for Studying Humor in the English
Classroom.” English Journal. 88.4 (1999): 34-42.
Pollack, Judy, and Paul Freda. “Humor, Learning and Socialization in Middle Level Classroom.” Clearing House 00098655,
70.4 (1997): 1- 5.
Robinson, Vera. Humor and the Health Profession. New Jersey: Charles B. Slack, 1977. Schmitz, John. “Humor as a
Pedagogical Tool in Foreign Language and Translation Courses.” Humor. 15-1 (2002): 89-113.
Sudol, David. “Dangers of Classroom Humor.” English Journal. (1981): 26-28.
Thorne, Michael. “Using Irony in Teaching the History of Psychology.” Teaching of Psychology. 26.3 (1999): 222- 225.
Trachtenberg, Susan. “Joke Telling as a Tool in ESL.” English Teaching Forum. 13.1 (1979): 89-99.
Vizmuller, Jana. “Psychological Reasons for Using Humor in a Pedagogical Setting.” The Canadian Modern Language
Review. 36.2 (1980): 266-271.
Weaver, Richard, and Howard Cotrell. “Ten Specific Techniques for Developing Humor in the Classroom Setting.”
Education. 108. 2 (2001): 167- 179.
White, Gayle. “Teacher’s Report of How They Used Humor with Student’s Perceived Use of Such Humor.” Education. 122.2
(2001): 337 – 348.
Ziegler, John. “Use of Humor in Medical Teaching.” Medical Teacher. 20.4 (1998): 341-344.
P R T E S O L - G R A M
The 35th Annual PRTESOL in Pictures
Exibitors made available a wide range of materials and resources Regional chapters met and elected new leadership.
Hundreds of teachers met at the Gran Melia Hotel and Resort for two dynamic days of professional renewal.
Workshops gave teachers effective tools they can use. Exhibitors eager to help teachers.
The 2008 PRTESOL Board of Directors conclude a successful year.
P R T E S O L - G R A M
The 35th Annual PRTESOL in Pictures
An excellent lunch is the perfect
time for participants to share with
new friends or renew friendships
with former classmates and
Professor Inocencia Nieves,
winner of the Lifetime
Achievement Award, is
congratulated by Prof.
Participants had the opportunity
to choose from over 60
workshops, and they also
enjoyed two excellent keynote
speakers, Dr. Mario Herrera and
Dr. Rosalind Porter.
Some of the
prizes at the
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B. At least one general mee1ng, known as the
Annual Conven1on, will be held each year.
C. The membership will be no1ﬁed of the program
for the general mee1ng at least 30 days prior to
the scheduled date.
D. Members present will cons1tute quorum.
The Bylaws of Puerto Rico TESOL E. The agenda of the business mee1ng shall be
distributed to the membership at the annual
An Aﬃliate of Teachers of English to Speakers of Other
I. Name: The name of this Organiza1on is Puerto
Rico TESOL (PRTESOL), an aﬃliate of TESOL
(Teachers of English to Speakers of Other A. Oﬃcers of PRTESOL are the President, Vice‐
Languages) President, and Immediate Past‐President.
B. They must be members of PRTESOL and TESOL
C. The oﬃcers of PRTESOL and the Execu1ve
PRTESOL, incorporated by the Puerto Rico State
Secretary, the Membership Secretary, and the
Department under the Ley General de
Treasurer shall compose the Execu1ve
Corporaciones para el Estado Libre Asociado de
Puerto Rico (January 9, 1956), is a non‐proﬁt
professional Organiza1on that is dedicated to: D. The term of oﬃce for the President, Vice
President, and the Immediate Past President is
1. promo1ng scholarship and professional
the period established in Ar1cle XIV.
E. The terms of oﬃce for the Treasurer, Execu1ve
2. providing opportuni1es for study and research;
Secretary, and Membership Secretary are
3. dissemina1ng informa1on and research on the
established in Ar1cle XIV.
teaching of English to speakers of other
F. The elected and appointed oﬃcers shall
perform du1es as prescribed in Ar1cle XIV.
4. w o r k i n g c o o p e r a 1 v e l y t o w a r d s t h e
improvement of instruc1on in all programs
which seek to provide students with the VI. Board of Directors
opportunity to become proﬁcient English A. It shall consist of the President, Vice‐President,
language learners; Immediate Past‐President, ﬁve representa1ves
5. coordina1ng informa1on with the local, elected by the total membership, the Regional
stateside, and interna1onal professional Chapter Presidents or Vice‐Presidents, the
organiza1ons with similar goals; Execu1ve Secretary, the Membership Secretary,
t h e Tr e a s u r e r, t h e C o m m u n i c a 1 o n ’s
6. promo1ng the recogni1on of English as an
Chairperson, Sponsorship Chairperson and the
addi1onal language tool for communica1on,
Publishers’ Liaison. The last six, all appointed by
and not as a supplan1ng means of expression at
the Board, have a voice but no vote on the
the expense of the second language learner’s
Board of Directors.
na1ve language and culture.
B. The elected members shall serve terms of oﬃce
speciﬁed in Ar1cle XIV and may not hold more
than one vo1ng posi1on on the Board.
A. Membership in PRTESOL is open to all who are
C. The ﬁve elected representa1ves on the Board
concerned with the teaching of English to
shall represent the Organiza1on’s membership
speakers of other languages.
a s a w h o l e b u t s h a l l b e c h o s e n a s
B. All paid‐up individual or joint members are
representa1ves of the following professional
en1tled to vote in elec1ons and be admiWed to
areas: Elementary Educa1on, Secondary
all mee1ngs held by PRTESOL.
Educa1on, Higher Educa1on, Private School,
C. Representa1ves of ins1tu1onal members enjoy and Student Representa1ve (ESL or teacher
all membership privileges except vo1ng. training. This person must have an ac1ve
D. Membership shall be for twelve months. program of 12 undergraduate credits or 6
D. Only PRTESOL members who are English
IV. General MeeHngs
Educators or students of English Educa1on may
A. A general mee1ng is one in which the total
form part of the Board of Directors.
membership is invited to aWend.
P R T E S O L - G R A M
E. To avoid any semblance of a possible conﬂict of C. Each chapter may accept members from other
interests, none of the posi1ons of the Execu1ve local chapters who have indicated a preference of
CommiWee of the Board of Directors will be aﬃlia1on other than by geographical designa1on,
occupied by mul1ple members of a family unit, but no member can be aﬃliated to more than one
even though they may be PRTESOL members. local chapter.
VII. Annual ElecHon
A. Amendments to the Bylaws may be ini1ated by a
A One secret mail ballot shall be provided to each
majority of the Board of Directors or submiWed in
eligible member for the annual elec1on of the
a pe11on to the Board. The Membership
Vice President and other yearly vacancies.
Secretary shall validate a pe11on to amend the
B. Under no circumstances will lost ballots be
Bylaws if it is signed by at least twenty‐ﬁve
C. Ballots with the slate of candidates and
B. The Membership secretary is required to
informa1on about the candidates shall be sent to
announce the valida1on of the pe11on to the
every member at least thirty days before the
President and the Board at the next Board
Annual Conven1on. In addi1on to the slate of
mee1ng aeer receipt of the same.
candidates, the ballots shall provide a space for a
C. The Membership Secretary will mail the proposed
write‐in candidate for each posi1on.
amendment to the vo1ng membership within
D. Ballots will be accepted up to the ﬁrst day of the
twenty‐one days of its announcement to the
Annual Conven1on by noon.
E. The Nomina1ng CommiWee, the Execu1ve
D. A proposed amendment must be ra1ﬁed by two‐
Secretary, and the President shall oversee the
thirds of the ballots cast within 15 days of its
coun1ng of the ballots and shall cer1fy the annual
mailing to become eﬀec1ve.
E. Ballots will be counted and cer1ﬁed by a
F. A ny c a n d i d a t e w h o w i s h e s t o h a v e a
commiWee of three appointed by the President
representa1ve present at the coun1ng of the
with the approval of the Board.
ballots may do so by making a wriWen request
F. The results shall be announced to the Board at the
that speciﬁes the name and address of the
Board mee1ng aeer the deadline for receiving the
representa1ve. The representa1ve must be a
member of PRTESOL. This person may watch, but
G. Whenever the Bylaws are amended, the revised
may not par1cipate in the coun1ng of ballots.
version of the Bylaws shall be published and
G. Unless there is a viola1on of the Bylaws, the
distributed to the membership within 120 days or
cer1ﬁed results of the oﬃcial coun1ng of the
published in the next issue of the PRTESOL‐GRAM
ballots are ﬁnal.
and be made available for downloading purposes
H. The results of the elec1on shall be announced to
from the PRTESOL oﬃcial website.
the membership before the close of the Annual
Conven1on and subsequently acknowledged
through the Organiza1on’s diﬀerent publica1ons,
such as the PRTESOL‐GRAM and its oﬃcial XI. AﬃliaHon
PRTESOL shall comply with the requirements of
TESOL to retain aﬃliate status and enjoy all
beneﬁts due it.
A. The Standing CommiWees of PRTESOL shall be the
The President, Vice President, or Past President
Nomina1ng CommiWee, Membership CommiWee,
shall act as representa1ves to the TESOL Aﬃliate
Program CommiWee, Communica1ons CommiWee,
Council. The Board of Directors will select
Award and Scholarship CommiWee, Socio‐poli1cal
Concerns CommiWee, Conven1on Evalua1on
CommiWee, and CommiWee on the Bylaws.
B. The CommiWees shall perform du1es as XII. ConsultaHve Authority
Robert s Rules of Order, latest edi1on, shall govern
prescribed in Ar1cle XVI.
the conduct at all mee1ngs to which they are
The Board of Directors may establish Ad Hoc
applicable and in which they are not inconsistent
with the Bylaws.
C. CommiWee membership and chairs shall end
according to the period established in Ar1cle XIV.
XIII. Membership, Dues, and Fees
A. The term of membership shall be for twelve
IX. Regional Chapters
A. Each Chapter shall be composed of those
B. Dues shall not be retroac1ve.
members of PRTESOL who reside or work in a
C. Fees for adver1sing, exhibi1ons, the Annual
Conven1on, and other ac1vi1es are determined
B. Each Chapter shall abide by the PRTESOL Bylaws.
by the PRTESOL Board of Directors.
P R T E S O L - G R A M
D. Membership dues shall be determined by the special elec1on by the membership will be
Board. held to ﬁll the posi1on. If the posi1on
Ins1tu1onal membership will en1tle the member becomes vacant aeer June 30, the Nomina1ng
to receive the PRTESOL‐GRAM and other CommiWee will add the posi1on of President
Organiza1onal informa1on. The dues for said to the ballot.
membership will be determined by the Board. 3. Assumes the oﬃce of President if it becomes
E. Informa1on about dues and fees shall be vacant and will con1nue in this oﬃce during
published in the PRTESOL‐GRAM at the beginning the following year.
of each year. 4. Assists the President in organizing the Annual
F. No regional chapter may impose a separate Conven1on.
membership fee to its cons1tuents. 5. Chairs the Annual Conven1on Program.
6. Is a vo1ng member of the Board of Directors.
XIV. DuHes of Board Members 7. Acts as liaison with regional chapters to
A. President coordinate the calendar of regional ac1vi1es.
1. The president begins a one‐year presiden1al 8. Serves as parliamentarian.
term thirty (30) days aeer the Annual
Conven1on. The president will preside over all D. Treasurer
PRTESOL mee1ngs during the term s/he 1. Is appointed by the Board for a term of one
assumes oﬃce. year.
2. The president prepares an annual plan for the 2. Assists the president in preparing a budget for
year. the year.
3. The President and the treasurer will prepare 3. Presents an annual ﬁnancial report to the
an annual budget that will be submiWed to the Board at the last mee1ng, a wriWen summary
Board of Directors for approval at the ﬁrst report to the membership at the Annual
mee1ng. The President, not the organiza1on, Business Mee1ng. It is published in the
will be responsible for any amount not PRTESOL‐GRAM.
approved by the Board of Directors. 4. Presents a current report of the ﬁnancial
4. The President, along with the Board of status of the Organiza1on at each Board
Directors, will organize the annual conven1on mee1ng. It shall cons1tute the ﬁrst item of
according to the proposed budget. business following the reading and approval of
5. The president appoints all Chairpersons of the minutes of the previous mee1ng.
S ta n d i n g C o m m i W e e s n o t o t h e r w i s e 5. Organizes, with the Membership Secretary,
designated by the Bylaws. the registra1on of the Annual Conven1on.
6. The president serves as an ex‐oﬃcio member 6. Presents the Board with the report of an
of all commiWees except the Nomina1ng outside audit of the Organiza1on’s ﬁnancial
CommiWee and the Conven1on Evalua1on status at the end of each year.
CommiWee. 7. As an appointed member of the Board, the
Treasurer has a voice but no vote on the Board
B. Immediate Past‐President of Directors.
1. Serves as vo1ng member of the Board upon
comple1on of his or her term of oﬃce as E. Membership Secretary
President. 1. Is appointed by the Board for a term of one
2. Acts as the Liaison Oﬃcer with TESOL and year.
other professional organiza1ons. 2. Keeps an up‐to‐date membership list for
3. Receives a life1me membership in PRTESOL purposes of correspondence, dissemina1on of
with the approval of the Board before his or informa1on, distribu1on of the PRTESOL‐
her comple1on of term of oﬃce as President. GRAM, for use in determining the vo1ng
4. Chairs the Bylaws and Policy Manual membership for all elec1ons and for valida1ng
5. Should this oﬃce become vacant, it shall 3. Presents an annual membership report, which
remain vacant un1l the current President shall include informa1on on the geographical
completes her/his term of oﬃce. In such and professional distribu1on of the
cases the President shall assume the membership. This report will be presented to
responsibili1es of Liaison Oﬃcer. the Board and to the Nomina1ng CommiWee
C. Vice‐President 4. Prepares the mailing of correspondence to all
1. Succeeds to the presidency upon comple1on members.
of the current President’s term of oﬃce. 5. Organizes the registra1on of the Annual
2. Shall act as President whenever the President Conven1on.
is absent. If the posi1on of Vice‐ President 6. Conﬁrms membership by issuing a valid
should become vacant before June 30, a membership card to all members and is
P R T E S O L G R A M
responsible for sending renewal no1ces to I. Webmaster
members to remind them to send in their 1. Manages and monitors the web site.
membership dues. 2. Keeps the membership informed on the
7. Supplies regional chapter presidents with Organiza1on’s ac1vi1es.
up‐to‐date lists of members in their 3. Provides basic documents and ar1cles that
corresponding regions at least twice a year. can be downloaded by the membership.
8. is responsible for 1) valida1ng pe11ons to 4. Polls the members on issues of importance.
amend the Bylaws, 2) distribu1ng such 5. Makes provisions to assure ownership by
pe11ons to the Board, and 3) mailing PRTESOL of said web site domain.
proposed amendments to the membership.
9. Chairs the Membership CommiWee. J. Publishers’ Liaison
10. As an appointed member of the Board, the 1. Shall, on a regular basis, be responsible for
Membership Secretary has a voice but no making recommenda1ons to the Execu1ve
vote on the Board of Directors. Board regarding its rela1onship with current
publishing companies who collaborate with
F. ExecuHve Secretary the Organiza1on and with other prospec1ve
1. Is appointed by the Board for a one‐year sectors of industry wishing to become
term. involved in PRTESOL.
2. Records the minutes of all mee1ngs; no1ﬁes 2. Makes recommenda1ons to the Board of
the Board and the membership of monthly Directors on exhibi1on fees, adver1sing fees,
mee1ngs; validates the receipt of all publisher membership status, and on any
correspondence; distributes mail to the other per1nent issues.
corresponding Board member(s) and, with
the consulta1on of the Board, responds to K. E l e c te d Re p re s e n t a H v e s : E l e m e n ta r y
all leWers. Educa1on, Secondary Educa1on, Higher
3. Supplies all new Board members with a copy Educa1on, Private School, and Student
of the oﬃcial PRTESOL Bylaws. Representa1ve.
4. Shall supply a copy of the oﬃcial PRTESOL
Bylaws to any member of PRTESOL who 1. The ﬁve elected representa1ves shall serve
requests one. two‐year terms. The new members shall be
5. Oversees, in coordina1on with the elected following the same procedures as
Nomina1ng CommiWee and the President, other elected oﬃcers.
the coun1ng of the annual elec1on ballots
and the cer1ﬁca1on of the results. 2. Elected members may serve no more than
6. As an appointed member of the Board, the two consecu1ve terms in the same oﬃce.
Execu1ve Secretary has a voice but no vote
on the Board of Directors. 3. The Elementary Educa1on, Secondary
7. Promo1onal ﬂyers, posters, etc, should have Educa1on, Higher Educa1on, Private School,
the PRTESOL address and not personal and Student Representa1ves:
addresses because of money issues. a. Represent the interests of the members
in their par1cular professional areas;
G. CommunicaHons Chairperson b. Par1cipate in ac1vi1es and/or aﬃliate‐
1. C o o r d i n a t e s t h e d i s s e m i n a 1 o n o f level commiWees related to their
informa1on to the membership and the professional areas and, in this capacity,
general public. will serve on aﬃliate‐level commiWees
2. Chairs the Communica1ons CommiWee. charged with promo1ng and judging
3. As an appointed member of the Board, the presenta1on proposals at all professional
Communica1ons Chairperson has a voice ac1vi1es;
but no vote on the Board of Directors. c. Promote and help organize ac1vi1es and
presenta1ons for members in their
H. PRTESOL‐GRAM Editor professional areas;
1. Solicits, selects, edits, and publishes d. Will prepare on an annual basis up‐to‐
professional ar1cles, book reviews and date lists of all members in their
informa1on of interest and value to the cons1tuency based on the Membership
membership. Secretary’s mailing list and will use these
2. Solicits adver1sing for the PRTESOL‐GRAM. lists to ac1vely recruit new members and
3. Appoints the Assistant PRTESOL‐GRAM communicate with current members;
P R T E S O L - G R A M
e. Recruit possible new members for the Board mee1ngs at the beginning of each
Organiza1on through the promo1on of year either through a mailing or in the
diﬀerent campaign ini1a1ves; PRTESOL‐GRAM.
f. Par1cipate ac1vely on the PRTESOL 6. Members are invited to aWend any mee1ng
Board and its commiWees; of the Organiza1on.
g. Assist with the Annual Conven1on, the
Summer Ins1tute, and any other B. Quorum:
professional ac1vi1es related to 1. Thirty‐ﬁve percent (35%) of vo1ng Board
PRTESOL; members shall cons1tute quorum.
h. Will receive an annual alloca1on of 2. If the absence of quorum does not allow
money, the amount to be determined holding two consecu1ve regular mee1ngs,
annually by the Board, to be budgeted the President and Treasurer may carry on
for promo1onal ac1vi1es, and will issue whatever business is necessary for the
a budget report at the Annual Business func1oning of the Organiza1on.
L. Regional Chapter President and Vice C. ALendance:
President: 1. All members of the Board of Directors must
1. Are elected on a yearly basis by their aWend the regular mee1ngs of the Board.
chapter members on site during the annual 2. If a member cannot aWend a mee1ng, s/he
conven1on. must inform the Execu1ve Secretary prior to
2. Can be represented at Board mee1ngs by the mee1ng, who will then record it in the
the Chapter Vice‐presidents whenever the minutes as Absent‐Excused.
Chapter President is unable to aWend a 3. A vacancy may be declared if a vo1ng
mee1ng. The Chapter Vice‐president shall member, an appointed member, or any
assume the voice and vote of the Chapter member of the board of directors has three
President at the mee1ng. (3) absences in a year whether or not they
are excused. Declaring a vacancy requires a
M. Overall Responsibility 2/3 vote of the Board.
1. If a board member does not comply with his 4. Vacancies caused by resigna1on or declared
or her du1es, the vo1ng board members, so by the Board of Directors should be ﬁlled
aeer discussion and vote, will declare the by this body to complete the predecessor’s
posi1on vacant and will vote for or appoint year of oﬃce. The vacancy is then
another PRTESOL member for the posi1on. submiWed once again for the membership’s
determina1on in the Organiza1on’s next
XV. Board MeeHngs 5. A mo1on to remove any Board Member
A. Regular MeeHngs: from oﬃce requires a 2/3 vote in favor by
1. There will be from 6 to 8 board mee1ngs the Board of Directors.
A. No more than four (4) hours, if done on D. Extraordinary MeeHngs:
Saturday. An extraordinary mee1ng may be called if a
B. Board Mee1ngs may be weekend majority of the Board deems it necessary.
mee1ngs (Residen1al). The residen1al
will begin on Friday night and end on E. Annual Business MeeHng
Sunday by noon. Example: a weekend in 1. Prior to the mee1ng, the membership shall
January, March, June, August, and be no1ﬁed of all items of business to be
2. The 1me and place of all regular mee1ngs 2. Those members present shall cons1tute a
are determined at the ﬁrst mee1ng presided quorum necessary to conduct the mee1ng.
over by each new President.
3. An agenda is made available by mail and/or XVI. CommiLees
e‐mail to all Board members at least one A. DuHes of the CommiLees:
week prior to the regular mee1ng and is 1. NominaHng CommiLee:
available to any member of the Organiza1on a. The Board shall select the Chair of the
upon request. Nomina1ng CommiWee, and the Chair
4. Vo1ng may not be done by proxy. selects the two other members of the
5. The membership will be provided a commiWee with Board approval. These
schedule of the 1me, date, and place of three members shall reﬂect the broad
P R T E S O L - G R A M
spectrum of the total membership both d. It is responsible for the call for papers,
professionally and geographically. This selec1on of papers, and programming of
distribu1on shall be based on the the presenta1ons.
membership report of the Membership e. It is responsible for overseeing the
Secretary. crea1on and prin1ng of the program.
b. Its members may not be members of the
Board nor candidates for a board posi1on. 4. CommunicaHons CommiLee
c. Its members shall be conﬁrmed no later a. Will be chaired by the Communica1ons
than March. Chairperson, who shall be appointed with
d. The commiWee shall oversee: the prin1ng the approval of the Execu1ve Board.
and mailing of the call for nomina1ons; b. Is composed of the PRTESOL‐GRAM editor,
the receiving of nomina1ons; the prin1ng Assistant Editor, the Webmaster and other
and mailing of the oﬃcial ballots; and the interested members.
coun1ng of the ballots. c. Shall oversee the appointment of the
e. The commiWee establishes the slate of P R T E S O L ‐ G R A M E d i t o r a n d t h e
candidates for the annual elec1on. Webmaster.
f. The commiWee ac1vely iden1ﬁes poten1al d. Selects, edits, and publishes ar1cles and
candidates for the Board of Directors. news of interest and value to the
g. The commiWee, verbally and through membership. This may include ﬁnancial
wriWen communica1on, familiarizes all a n d m e m b e rs h i p r e p o r t s o n t h e
nominees with the du1es of their oﬃce Organiza1on.
and the requirements and restric1ons e. The PRTESOL‐GRAM is published at least
imposed by the Bylaws prior to their twice a year while other publica1ons, such
acceptance as nominees. as the Bulle1n from the Board, will be
h. The commiWee no1ﬁes the Board of the published as needed.
slate at least sixty days before the Annual
Conven1on. 5. Award and Scholarship CommiLee
i. The commiWee oversees the mailing of a. This commiWee is responsible for
ballots with the slate of candidates and iden1fying outstanding language students,
their biographical informa1on to every te a c h e rs , o r s c h o l a rs w i t h i n t h e
m e m b e r, a s d e t e r m i n e d b y t h e membership of PRTESOL.
Membership Secretary, at least forty‐ﬁve b. It should establish criteria for the awards
days before the Annual Conven1on. and grants which provide recogni1on to
j. All ballots shall provide a space for a write‐ the above individuals.
in candidate for each posi1on. c. It should seek sources of funding and
support for these awards and grants.
2. Membership CommiLee d. It should encourage PRTESOL members to
a. This commiWee is responsible for apply for awards and grants by publicizing
promo1ng the Organiza1on and recrui1ng them in mailings.
members. e. It should establish and carry out the norms
b. It maintains an updated membership for reviewing and selec1ng the recipients
roster. of the awards and grants.
c. It is responsible for an annual renewal f. It should inform both the Board and
drive to draw new members to the membership of the names of the
Organiza1on. recipients of these awards and grants.
d. It is responsible for designing recruitment
materials. 6. CommiLee on the Bylaws
a. Between the announcement of the new
3. Program CommiLee Board at the annual conven1on and the
a. This commiWee is responsible for the ﬁrst mee1ng of the New Board, this
prepara1on of the program for the Annual commiWee will discuss the PRTESOL
Conven1on. Bylaws and provide orienta1on to prepare
b. It provides a printed program of the new Board members to fulﬁll their roles
conven1on and collects copies of the on the Board. The Immediate Past‐
papers presented. President shall chair this commiWee.
c. It shall maintain a list of speakers, b. The commiWee shall also periodically
consultants, and workshop leaders who assess or evaluate the Bylaws for possible
have appeared, or may par1cipate, in improvement and discrepancies.
programs sponsored by the Organiza1on.
P R T E S O L - G R A M
7. Socio‐PoliHcal Concerns CommiLee Communica1ons Chairperson; and the
a. This commiWee is responsible for C o m m i W e e o n t h e B y l a w s t h e
exploring, iden1fying and informing Immediate Past President.
about per1nent issues that aﬀect 3. CommiWee Chairpersons select and
teachers, students, and ESL and bilingual present to the Board for approval the
educa1on programs in Puerto Rico. names of their proposed commiWee
b. It should plan workshops, panels, and/or members no later than thirty days aeer
conferences concerning these issues. their appointment as chairperson.
c. It should publish and educate u1lizing 4. Chairpersons of Standing CommiWees
t h e P R T E S O L ‐ G R A M a n d t h e should present a periodic report to the
Organiza1on’s other oﬃcial publica1on Board.
d. It should gather informa1on about XVII. Expenses
per1nent legisla1on and assist the Board A. The Board of Directors authorizes the
in developing policy statements. compensa1on of all services deemed
necessary for the reasonable conduct of
8. ConvenHon EvaluaHon CommiLee the Organiza1on’s goals.
a. The PRTESOL Board of Directors selects B. The President and the Treasurer are
the Chair of the Conven1on Evalua1on authorized to pay regular expenses that are
CommiWee. Its members exclude any below the amount established by the
current members of the Board and all Board of Directors each year. Amounts
current candidates wishing to run for a above that require the Board of Directors’
board posi1on. approval.
b. T h e c o m m i W e e o v e r s e e s t h e C. As the ﬁnancial oﬃcer, the Treasurer pays
d eve l o p m e nt o f t h e co nve n 1 o n all uncontested bills within thirty days of
evalua1on instrument, the prin1ng and receipt.
distribu1on of the instrument, and its D. The membership may ques1on the
collec1on at the conven1on. expenditures at any regular or business
c. The commiWee tabulates and reports to mee1ng and demand an accoun1ng of the
the Board of Directors the results of the ﬁnances.
evalua1ons concerning the conven1on E. The membership dues will be used
and the performance of presenters. exclusively to provide services to the
members such as: membership card and/or
9. Sponsorship CommiLee cer1ﬁcate, publica1ons, promo1onal
a. This commiWee is responsible for documents related to conferences, elec1on
obtaining dona1ons and sponsorships ballots, and any other mailing.
for the Organiza1on and the conven1on. F. An audited Financial Report will be
It will also assist in solici1ng adver1sing submiWed to the Board of Directors by the
for the organiza1on’s publica1ons. end of each year.
G. At the end of each term, the oﬃcers
10. Special Interest Group CommiLees (President, Past President and/or Vice
a. They may be created to serve speciﬁc President) will update all paperwork
needs. concerning the Good Standing status of
b. They will present a statement of PRTESOL, Department of State, and
purpose and report periodically on their Treasury Department, or any other
ac1vi1es. document requested by the State.
H. Board members that travel from distant
C. CommiLee Chairpersons areas to aWend board mee1ngs will receive
1. All of the chairpersons of standing a ﬂat rate s1pend for gas and tolls. The
commiWees shall be appointed from amount will be determined by the Board of
among the Board Members except the Directors at the beginning of each year. The
Nomina1ng CommiWee and Sponsorship amount will depend on the ﬁnancial
CommiWee. situa1on of the organiza1on.
2. The Chairpersons of the following I. The President and Vice‐President’s trip to
Standing CommiWees are: Membership the Annual TESOL Conven1on will include:
CommiWee the Membership Secretary; ﬂ i g h t 1 c k e t , h o t e l s t a y, m e a l s ,
Program CommiWee the Vice‐President; transporta1on, and conven1on fee. The
C o m m u n i c a 1 o n s C o m m i W e e t h e s1pend will depend on the ﬁnancial
P R T E S O L - G R A M
situa1on of the organiza1on. The President O. All documents related to a chapter
and Vice‐President will submit all receipts. conference (ﬂyer, registra1on fee, preliminary
program) will be submiWed to the Board of
XVIII. Regional Chapters Directors at least two months in advance.
A. Each Chapter shall elect its own governing P. The Chapter Board will prepare an annual
body at the PRTESOL Annual Conven1on. It budget that will be submiWed to the Board of
will consist of at least a President, Vice‐ Directors for approval at the ﬁrst Board
President, and Treasurer. Mee1ng.
B. The oﬃcers will exercise their func1ons in
harmony with those of PRTESOL and in line
with the spirit of the Bylaws.
C. Chapters should organize annually at least XIX. Policy Manual
one professional ac1vity to serve local needs; The Board of Directors shall ini1ally establish
it may be a conference, a symposium, addi1onal procedures and policies for the
colloquium, workshop, seminar, luncheon, opera1on of PRTESOL. These shall be referred to
dinner, or ou1ng. as the PRTESOL Policy Manual. They shall be
D. Each governing body should meet according amended thereaeer in accordance with the
to chapter needs. procedures established in the Policy Manual.
E. New chapters will receive a s1pend to
underwrite start‐up costs. This s1pend will be
determined by the Board of Directors. Ra#ﬁed at the
F. Each chapter will receive an appropriate Annual Business Assembly
annual s1pend in compliance with the Bylaws. of PRTESOL at the
The amount will be determined by the Board 35th annual conven#on on
of Directors. Friday November 21, 2008.
G. Financial and chapter reports will be
submiWed in wri1ng to the execu1ve
secretary at the mee1ng, or sent through e‐
mail a week before the Board mee1ng.
H. A chapter may be decer1ﬁed by the PRTESOL
Board of Directors for failure to adhere to the
Bylaws of PRTESOL.
I. A yearly ﬁnancial and membership report will
be presented to the PRTESOL Board and to
the chapter members at the annual mee1ng
that is held during the PRTESOL Conven1on.
J. A copy of the ﬁnancial documents from the
bank will be submiWed to the PRTESOL
Treasurer and to the new chapter president at
the end of the year.
K. Each chapter should have a bank account
under its name and not under a personal
account. This will guarantee that the chapter
may charge a fee for their ac1vity, exhibitors,
and to request sponsorship.
L. Each chapter must have an Execu1ve Board:
President, Past President, Vice‐President,
Secretary, Treasurer, and Membership
Secretary. In Addi1on, the chapter may
include the following representa1ves:
Member‐at‐Large, Secondary Representa1ve,
Elementary Representa1ve, Private School
Representa1ve, and Higher Educa1on
M. If a chapter receives a s1pend but does not
celebrate any ac1vity for its members, the
chapter will return the money to the Board of
Directors, no later than a month aeer the
P R T E S O L - G R A M
True progress is bilingualism for all: most educated people in the world have- an
A response to Porter’s plenary address opportunity to know a second language and become
at the 2008 PR TESOL Conference* aware of another culture both through academic
pursuits and acquaintance with international children.
Miriam Eisenstein Ebsworth, PhD Krashen (2004) reviewed several recent studies on
bilingual programs and cautions that while results to
Plenary speaker Rosalie Porter’s date are promising, more information is needed on two
characterization of bilingual education as a recent way bilingual programs to judge them relative to other
experiment that prevented immigrants from learning bilingual models. The Oyster School in Washington
English is not accurate. Her suggestion that ESL is an DC (Freeman, 1998) which teaches in Spanish and
alternative to bilingual education sets up a false English is one of the most well known, but many exist.
dichotomy. And finally, her claim that the elimination of The Dual Language and Asian Studies High School in
bilingual programs has resulted in “progress” and New York City develops Chinese, learners’ first
success for English learners is contrary to the facts. language, while teaching them English and teaches
Actually, the value of bilingual education in promoting English-speaking students Mandarin. Ranked 31 on
successful acquisition of the second language (English the U.S. News & World Report’s list of top high US
in the US) and the benefits of knowing more than one high schools (Stotsky, 2008), every student in the first
language have been replicated in scientific studies not two graduating classes has gone to college, except for
only in the US but in research on a global scale. one who joined the military. However, despite her
acknowledgement that the dual model is successful,
Defining and Designing Bilingual Education Porter dismisses it as a possibility for US immigrants,
First and foremost, as indicated by the name of the ostensibly because ELL’s change schools more
construct, bilingual education involves the frequently than natives do. There is no logic to this
acquisition of two languages and has been going on argument. By the same reasoning, we should not
the in US since the country began (Kloss, 1998). In the expose children to an innovative approach to learning
mainland US context, one of these languages is math or science because other schools do it
English and the other is the mother tongue of the differently. In reality, children who arrive in new
learner. While some programs for immigrants may schools continue to adjust to changes in programs and
exist that do not actually expose learners to English policies which should always be the best that we can
input, these are not bilingual programs- they are offer. And many children remain in the same school
monolingual programs. So Porter and I agree that any and district throughout their education.
US program that fails to teach students English should Another term, sometimes associated with
be changed. Indeed, Porter framed her discussion by bilingual education, is immersion. This refers to
noting that when mainland Latinos were asked teaching children in a single language. It is the “sink or
whether they want their children to learn English they swim” approach recommended by groups espousing
responded with a resounding “yes.” What she failed to an “English only” policy. In Canada, the term was
point out is that there is overwhelming evidence that associated with schools that taught native English
the most effective way for non-natives to acquire speakers exclusively in French. These mostly middle
English is through bilingual programs. class students from literate English speaking
Another important issue ignored by the speaker backgrounds who lived in an English dominant society
is the fact that in designing a bilingual program for learned French in school and developed English
learners, there are many models to choose from. The language and literacy outside of school, what Krashen
major categories include transitional bilingual (2003) calls “de facto bilingual education.” The
education, maintenance bilingual education, and 2- Canadian French learners had continual English input
way or dual immersion programs. Under each of these and were motivated to retain and develop their English
umbrellas many additional options are possible. All as it was the more powerful language in the country.
bilingual programs begin by presenting some content However, for immigrant populations in the US, English
in the native tongue while developing the learners’ immersion is a very different experience. Their first
command of English. The transitional model initially language input is limited and English is the language
provides both L1 and L2 instruction using a biliterate of power and prestige. The result is first language loss
approach and shifts to an all English program over and limitations on English acquisition as learners must
time, usually just a few years (Crawford, 1999). wait until their English is strong enough to use it as a
Maintenance bilingual programs increase learning medium of content learning.
through English as learners’ acquisition moves forward The term immersion must be distinguished from
while developing academic language and literacy in bilingual immersion which uses both languages.
the mother tongue. The additive value of such Interestingly, in her text Forked Tongue (1990) and in
programs, also referred to as “late exit” have also the handout for her talk Porter mentions the Bilingual
been confirmed in the research (Ramirez et al, 1991; Immersion Pilot Project in El Paso, Texas. In this
Thomas and Collier, 2002). study, half the students were enrolled in a transitional
This brings us to the 2-way bilingual or ‘dual’ bilingual program and the other half in a ‘bilingual
model and a second area of agreement with Porter immersion’ program. Porter writes in her book, quot;The
who believes this is a positive approach. Dual bilingual Bilingual Immersion students outscored students in the
education helps all participants by giving them what TBE program at every grade level.” However, Dicker
P R T E S O L - G R A M
(2003 and personal communication) in her analysis, initially used to attack bilingual education, are major
points out that the bilingual immersion program characteristics of the English only programs.” (p.52)
actually exposed students to more Spanish than the
alternative approach! Hence, contrary to Porter’s The experience of ELL’s in English only classes and
implication, the program in which students received what the research actually says.
more first language Spanish input resulted in a better
outcome! Perhaps the most poignant aspect of Porter’s
presentation was her frequent reference to her own
The results of the English only mandates experience as an English language learner in an
Now we come to what for me was the most English immersion setting. Born in Italy, Porter's first
frustrating part of Porter’s talk. She insisted that language was Italian. She came to the United States
immigrants in the states in which bilingual programs at the age of 6, knowing no English. She said that sat
have been eliminated are now successfully learning in the back of the class not understanding anything
English while bilingual programs did not teach them and cried every day when she came home. But in
English, the source of the term ‘progress’ in her bilingual programs students don’t need to go through
presentation. The facts say otherwise. Ostensible such a traumatic experience. They can start learning
short term gains reported for English only approaches and progressing right away using their native
have been criticized on several levels. (See Butler et language. Thomas and Colliers (2002) compared a
al 2000; Monzo 2005, on California, Wright, 2005 on range of treatments for English language learners and
Arizona, and on MA: Markey, 2008 and Sacchetti,, M., found the following order from most to least successful
and Jan, T. 2006 on Massachusetts.) Goldenberg, outcomes: Two way/dual bilingual programs,
2008 notes, maintenance bilingual, transitional bilingual, ESL, and
“Local or state policies, such as in California, Arizona, least successful was English immersion which has
and Massachusetts, that block use of the primary also been referred to as submersion, in light of its
language and limit instructional modifications for devastating impact on learners’ first language, culture,
English learners are simply not based on the best and self esteem.
scientific evidence available. Moreover, these policies Since then several meta-analyses have
make educators’ jobs more difficult, which is reviewed research studies on bilingual vs.
unconscionable under any circumstance, but monolingual approaches to educating English learners
especially egregious in light of the increased on the in local and international contexts: all have
accountability pressures they and their students reached the same conclusion: Students in bilingual
face” (pp42-23). programs have better outcomes in learning English,
Let us consider the vote in Massachusetts literacy skills and content while reaping cognitive and
energetically promoted by Porter, widely known as economic benefits, and retaining the advantage of
“Question 2.” Its mandate is as follows: All children . . . knowing an additional language and culture (Krashen
shall be taught English by being taught in English and & McField, 2005; Goldenberg, 2008).
all children shall be placed in English language
classrooms. Children who are English learners shall A final note:
be educated through sheltered English immersion Amazingly absent from Porter’s entire talk was
during a temporary transition period not normally a consideration of ESL and bilingual education in the
intended to exceed one school year. (Question 2 Puerto Rican context where English is typically a
Section 4 of G.L. c. 71A) foreign language, or where an alternative variety of
First, the idea that English learners can acquire Puerto Rican English exists for bilinguals (Fayer et al.,
sufficient English to function successfully in 1998). Is Porter suggesting that immigrants and return
mainstream classes after only one year of ESL migrants to the island be placed in Spanish
instruction is simply preposterous. While some highly immersion? Would she suggest duplicating the loss of
educated non-native speakers may find this time language engendered by the English only policy she
period sufficient for a reasonable transition, most espouses?
immigrant students require a much longer transition And what would Porter’s recommendation be
period which researchers find may range from 3-7 for Puerto Ricans who have migrated to the mainland
years, depending on the circumstances (Genesee et US? Although Puerto Ricans are US citizens, Brisk
al., 2006). Students must learn not only conversational (2006) points out that they are often treated as
English but also must become familiar with academic immigrants by the general American public. And
English, the language, the constructs, and the abstract furthermore, attacks on bilingualism are directed
cognitive approach involved in academics (Cummins, mainly against immigrants of Spanish speaking
2000). The best that can be said of a one year background.
approach is that it is probably better than nothing and In Puerto Rico, my home away from home, I
will help some children while leaving many others to am proud that my friends, colleagues, and extended
flounder in a setting in which they cannot succeed. family live in a place where a second language is
Furthermore, Brisk (2006) notes that “infringement on taught to everyone from the beginning of schooling.
local and parental control, two of the arguments Our goal should not be to eliminate bilingualism.
Rather, in Puerto Rico and on the mainland, we
P R T E S O L - G R A M
should continue to work with researchers, teachers, and Question 2 ,Section 4 of G.L. c. 71A
curriculum developers to improve our language teaching www.doe.mass.edu/ell/chapter71A_faq.pdf Retrieved
and give all learners the gift of two languages. That’s from the Internet, December 20, 2008.
progress. Ramírez, J. David; Yuen, S.; & Ramey, D. (1991).
*Acknowledgement Final Report: Longitudinal Study of Structured
I want to thank several colleagues who have helped me Immersion Strategy, Early-Exit, and Late-Exit
with references and thoughts including: Angel Arzan, Transitional Bilingual Education Programs for Language-
Theresa Austin, James Crawford, Sue Dicker, Timothy Minority Children. San Mateo, Calif.: Aguirre
Ebsworth, Kate Menken, and Stephen Krashen. International.
Sacchetti,, M., & Jan, T. (2006, May 21). Bilingual
law fails first test: Most students not
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Erlbaum. 2006/05/21/bilingual_law fails first test/
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Inadequate conclusions from an inadequate ranked with nation’s elite. Downtown Express. 21:33.
assessment: What can SAT9 scores tell us about the Retrieved from the Internet Dec 20, 2008.
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If you would not be forgotten,
Dicker, S. (2003) Languages in America: A
as soon as you are rotten,
Pluralist View (2nd edition). Clevedon: Multilingual
either write things worth reading
or do things worth the writing.
Fayer,J., Castro, J., Marta Díaz, M. & Plata, M
Benjamin Franklin (1706 - 1790)
(1998). English in Puerto Rico. English Today, 14, 39-44.
Freeman, R. (1998) Bilngual Education and
No race can prosper till it learns that
Social Change. Clevedon:UK: Multilingual Matters
there is as much dignity in tilling a
Genesee, F., Lindholm-Leary, K., Saunders, W., &
field as in writing a poem.
Christian, D. 2006. Educating
Booker T. Washington (1856 - 1915)
English Language Learners. New York: Cambridge
Detail makes the difference between
Goldenberg, C. (2008) Teaching English
boring and terrific writing.
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It’s the difference between a pencil
not say. American Educator. 80-23, 42-44.
sketch and a lush oil painting.
Kloss, H. (1998). The American Bilingual
As a writer, words are your paint. Use
Tradition. Rowley, MA: Newbury House.
all the colors.
Krashen, S. (2003) Condemned without a Trial:
Rhys Alexander, Writing Gooder, 12-09-05
Bogus Arguments against Bilingual Education Westport
CT: Greenwood Press
True glory consists in doing what
Krashen, S. (2004). The Acquisition of Academic
deserves to be written;
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in writing what deserves to be read;
research say? Presented at the annual NABE
and in so living as to make the world
Conference, Albuquerque, NM http://sdkrashen.com/
happier for our living in it.
articles/the_2-way_issue/all.html Retrieved from the
Pliny The Elder (23 AD - 79 AD)
Internet Jan 12, 2009.
Krashen, S. & McField, G. (2005) What works?
There are three rules for writing the
Reviewing the latest evidence on bilingual education.
novel. Unfortunately, no one knows
Language Learner. 7-10, 24
what they are.
Monzo, L. (2005) The aftermath of proposition
227. Bilingual Research Journal, 29:2, 365-386
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P R T E S O L - G R A M
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