The CESL Voice Newsletter Fall 2015

Friday, January 15, 2016

CESL traveled to Myanmar

CESL has joined with the UA College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and the Southwest Institute for Research on Women (SIROW) on a USAID project to develop a sustainable seafood industry in Myanmar. The $1.7 million grant funds a three-year project that the UA, in partnership with Yangon and Pathein Universities and the Myanmar Fisheries Federation, will develop the infrastructure that will allow Myanmar to compete in the global seafood industry. CESL’s role in the project is to improve field-specific English language proficiency among the various stakeholders: fishermen and fishery workers, processors, distributors, academics, and businesspeople.

Myanmar, which in the last few years has been transitioning to democracy from 60 years of military rule, will be joining the Southeast Asian Free Trade Zone in 2016.  Kevin Fitzsimmons, the director of international programs for the UA’s College of Agriculture and Life Science, and principal investigator for the USAID project, stresses that “improving human and physical capacity will be critical” if Myanmar is to compete economically with other nations in the region, such as Vietnam and Thailand.

Linda Chu, CESL’s Assistant Director of Global Programs, and Julianne Hammink, a Content Developer at CESL, are developing a bilingual Burmese/English multimedia dictionary of business and seafood vocabulary. In June, 2015, Chu and Hammink traveled with the UA team to Myanmar, where they introduced the first edition of the dictionary to groups of students, workers, businesspeople and academics at several locations around the country. In addition, they presented workshops on using English in business and industry.

The dictionary and English for Specific Purposes project will continue for two more years. Future plans for the CESL component include the addition of a web-based version of the dictionary, a phone app, and additional workshops in business English.


Students Doshisha University

In August, 15 students from Doshisha University in Kyoto, Japan came to CESL to experience the American culture for four weeks. They made a lot of new friends from many different countries while studying in the Intensive English Program (IEP). Doshisha students also had the opportunity to travel to the Grand Canyon and Sedona, and try authentic Southwest cuisine!

Jim Epstein, an experienced ESL CESL teacher, shares his advice for teachers and students

I would tell students what most teachers would and that is while you are here in the U.S. whether in Tucson or wherever, that a lot of your learning takes place outside of the classroom. It’s the most important thing, as hard as it is, to get yourself away from the people from your own country and do your best to make connections with native English speakers. It will not only speed up your language learning, but it will give you a much richer experience if you’re more connected to where you are right now. I know that is hard, especially for the younger students, but that would be my biggest piece of advice.

For teachers, I would say, there has been all kinds of methodologies and pedagogy that has been researched and cycled of how much grammar to focus on or the communicative approach vs. a more drill and practice approach, but the perspective I have now is that you are comfortable with a method and that it works for your personality and your view of how languages work. Don’t get too caught up in if it is the way to do it. Students will learn best if the classroom is comfortable and students are motivated and lessons are somewhat fun. Not just fun with games all of the time, but they are enjoying it even if they are working hard. They are getting a lot of nurturing and positive feedback from you and help. I’m obviously not poo-pooing theory or anything, I mean you’ve got to know the grammar, that is really important, but that is not the most important thing.

Summer and Fall Special Programs

CESL was busy with a variety of Special Programs in the summer and fall semesters.  Three CESL instructors went to the University of Fortaleza in Brazil to train a group of 25 content area teachers.  These Brazilian teachers of business, law, and other areas, were an enthusiastic group who were ready to improve their skills in teaching English in their content areas.  Also new for CESL is being involved in a university USAID grant to improve sustainable seafood industry practices in Myanmar.  The CESL Content Developers created an English/Burmese dictionary and went to Myanmar to work with people at Myanmar universities and fisheries.  In the summer we hosted another great group of teens for our popular Teen English program.  In August we hosted another group of students from Doshisha University in Kyoto, Japan.  This group takes classes in our IEP and also takes an American studies course, along with a visit to the Grand Canyon. 

Upcoming Special Programs

In January we are looking forward to hosting two groups from UNAM in Mexico:  one group of teachers for our Content Area Teacher Training (CATT) program, and one group of students who will enter our IEP.

CESL will also welcome a group of SABIC Foundation Year students in January.  These students will take courses in our IEP, and also become involved with the UA and local community outreach activities.  Look for more information about these Special Programs in our next edition of the CESL Voice newsletter!

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