Travel Reports

Text Box: CATESOL State Conference, Santa Clara, April 2010
Carol King

I attended the annual state conference April 24 and 25, 2010, in Santa Clara, CA.
Here are a few things I’d like to share with instructors.

New, FREE resources that all ESL instructors can use:
Marsha Chan, Mission College, spent her sabbatical last year creating 200 vocabulary quizzes with the 2000 most frequent English words.  These quizzes can be found on her website  www.missioncollege.org/depts/esl/faculty/chan/chan.html
Marsha Chan also introduced www.Voxopop.com and explained how she uses it. This is a website where students can record their voices—actually chat, rather than text. Instructors can create a private class site so only students in that particular class can participate, OR create a public class site that anyone can listen to and comment on.
Two instructors at San Francisco City College, (Bophany Huot and Denise Maduli-Williams) shared their tremendous success using a similar website called Voicethread (www.voicethread.com)  Students record their assignments on this site, and they listen to all of the other students’ recordings and make comments. If you would like more information, here are their e-mail addresses: denise.maduliwilliams@mail.ccsf.edu and bophany.huot@mail.ccsf.edu
A number of discussions regarding the successful transitioning of high school students to college took place during this conference.  It appears that high school students and instructors are using discrete points to measure success (i.e. grade-level standards) while college/university instructors believe more general study habits and attitudes—something that cannot be measured on standardized tests—are crucial for student success in higher education.  No concrete solutions were found to address the gap between high school success and college demands/expectations, but teachers at both levels have started to understand each other and are now having more productive conversations.  All participants at sessions I attended agreed that “teaching to the test” has had some dire consequences on high school students’ attitudes toward learning and their development of essential study skills.

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