I organized a TESOL Forum on October 26th, 2023 in collaboration with the English Language Programs and the English department at the Higher Normal School of Navojoa in Sonora, Mexico.  We had a fantastic webinar on reading and language learning with 90+ participants joining via Zoom, along with large groups of students tuning in from their classrooms to celebrate the 30th anniversary of teacher education at the Higher Normal School of Navojoa in Sonora, Mexico. It was a pleasure to award certificates of recognition to the three speakers: Dr. Stephen Krashen, Dr. Linh Phung and Pilar Capaul. They shared valuable insights on the transformational power of reading in education and language development. The recording of the Facebook Live can be found here: https://lnkd.in/eijpfATv

  • Pilar’s key point is to avoid testing students’ comprehension as a means to teach reading. She also provided effective strategies to build students’ background knowledge, helping them read, predict, and compare what they know and learn.
  • Dr. Stephen Krashen emphasized the importance of self-selected reading for pleasure. It not only enhances language and literacy skills but also broadens one’s knowledge and empathy. Access to books through the school, classroom, and community library is vital.
  • Dr. Linh Phung‘s approach involves creating engaging activities based on texts. There’s a wide range of tasks teachers can develop around texts, and even in the process of teaching writing, analyzing model texts is a crucial step. Additionally, she talked about her APP, EDULING Speak, and how there are many engaging activities on it that involve the four skills.

💡 I hope these ideas the panelists shared have sparked new insights for pre-service teachers. There’s always something that resonates and helps us think more expansively, connecting the dots.  In the Q&A session, some participants expressed their frustration with a lack of books, understocked libraries, and books that were too difficult for their students.   Each speaker gave tips and strategies to overcome the challenges. The lively, thought-provoking Q&A really brought out some creative and original ideas and solutions to making reading accessible and engaging for English Language Learners.

Student responses: 

“I loved the forum. It was very interesting to hear all the people talk and share their knowledge with us, I think we all took something from that conference to take to our classes and with our students.” -Darey (5th Semester)

“In the Telesecundarias where I have done my student teaching, there have been many students who do not know how to read fluently or some do not even know how to read, with these ideas from the TESOL forum I can make a little more dynamic and interesting the way to teach reading to my students.” -Ervin (5th semester)

“I learned the fact that I have to share interesting readings with my students because any boring reading means a waste of time.” -Gabriel (3rd semester)

“In my future class, if I have the students read a text, I can use different strategies to get their attention and hook them, such as seeing interesting topics and making the students reflect on why reading benefits us so much, we can ask ourselves questions and based on or What we read we answer in our heads to make reading more interesting and try to guess what it is about.” -Jorge (3rd semester)

“During the forum, I learned from Pilar that as teachers we can guide students to find a purpose in reading. Also, in the classroom we can connect reading with previous experiences.” -Lesly (5th semester)

“I learned some methods that we can use to get our students interested in reading such as finding books that interest them with a purpose and that allows them to activate their previous knowledge.” -José Daniel Girón (5th semester)

“Something I learned from the TESOL forum was that the readings that are shown when learning English must have a text that is meaningful, there must be some meaning that students extract from it. It may also be understandable.” -Gema  (3rd semester)

Personal Reflection: 

As a Virtual Educator, I am grateful to the English Language Programs from the U.S. Department of State for the opportunity to organize a TESOL Forum with such renowned voices in ELT .  This Forum was definitely a highlight of my year since it was a collaborative effort and it was so fulfilling to see the student teachers’ takeaways and appreciative responses.  Also, I enjoyed working collaboratively with the English department and the speakers, months, weeks, and days in advance to prepare fo the talk.  I was extremely nervous the day of the event, but everything went smoothly and was a big success.