Issue #24
April 2003

From the President
18th SPELTA Conference (April 2003) Programme
Abstracts of the Conference Presentations

Participation: Full version (1,3 MB) of this issue in PDF format is obtainable here

From the President

Writing my message this year is a special honor as we are all getting ready for 300th anniversary of our beloved city and therefore every event gets a very special meaning. Birthdays and jubilees make us reflective even if we are not quite so all the rest of the time. Three hundred years of St.Petersburg left us with glorious heritage and in spite of all difficulties we manage to remain the cultural capital. For us as educators, who teach and develop and bring up students it is both a great share of responsibility and a challenge. WE ourselves need to be up to the mark and think about keeping fit in our professional development. On behalf of SPELTA Committee I would like to wish all possible success in your noble and complex profession.

Sadly enough the world now is not the safest place to be. We are all seriously concerned about the recent political events and the war in Iraq. However, I strongly believe that conferences like this one and other similar opportunities of sharing ideas and understanding each other ways of thinking will eventually help wisdom take over and eliminate conflicts and wars.

Now let me give you the idea of highlights of my annual report. SPELTA is getting higher and higher profile all over Russia and internationally. We have members from other cities of the NorthWest of Russia and their number is growing. Tatiana Ivanova was a guest of Krasnoyarsk Association KELTA. We started a branch in Petrozavodsk. Authors from other countries send articles to our newsletter. (You will find Christine Coombe’ s and Joan Morley’s articles in this issue) Our members more and more often find opportunities for participation in international confe-rences. SPELTA was represented at BESIG Russia in June, Business world and ESP in Moscow, Umbrella-3 in Samara, Response seminar in Lvov, Fedorov readings-4 in St.Petersburg State University and 2 major methodology conferences in St.Petersburg State University, in Russian American Links Conference in the Aca-demy of Sciences. SPELTA was mentioned in one of the major Russian newspapers «Izvestia» on March 24th 2003 in the article about the conference on alternative and further education.

This year 7 members of SPELTA participated at TESOL. Elena Petrova was SPELTA official delegate; Galina Startseva went as individual TESOL members, but helped Elena do things on behalf of our organization. Vitaly Ashkinazi was there with a group of International Visitors program participants, but also had some duties to represent SPELTA at Electronic village. In the same group TESOL welcomed SPELTA members from other cities - Natalia Anshakova from Samara and Tatiana Minakova from Orenburg. Natalia Orlova, who is currently teaching in Czech Republic  and Ludmila Devel participated in the round table.

In domestic policy we keep maintaining our traditions. One of them is participation in important educational and social projects. SPELTA was involved in competitions on public speaking, and Shakespeare Drama festival. We participated in All flying flags and in Social Petersburg exhibitions.

One of the traditions is SPELTA Day. The most successful is usually held in the town of Pushkin. This year it will be organized on May 17th. Another thing which is already traditional and growing is electronic communication and electronic journal ESP World edited and maintained by Vitaly Ashkinazi and has a very big number
of readers all over Russia and abroad.

As for the new developments, please, read about them in the rubric Inside SPELTA.

To finish up let me thank all presenters (you can see their names both in the newsletter and in the program), those who prepared this conference and sent contributions to our newsletter: Galina Startseva, Elena Petrova and Vitali Ashkinazi sent the description of their TESOL impressions, having written them almost literally on the way. Alina Chitova who found some of the material in the Internet, Tatiana Guria-nova, Stanislav Derkatch, who helped with organizing catering., Alina Chitova, Irina Grishenkova who helped at the registration, Nina Ulinskaya, Svetlana Klimova and Yuri Tretyakov for the work in Nomination committee. Special thanks to Christine Coombe and Joan Morley who sent their materials to be published. Thanks to all devoted long term members and newcomers whose support I have always felt through the whole period of my presidency.

             With kind regards and wholeheartedly,
                                                    Tatiana Ivanova


American Studies and ELT Methodology:
Communicating across Cultures

April 11 – 13

The conference is supported by the Public Affairs Section of Consulate General of the USA
International Banking Institute
Bookhouse Company

Venue: International Banking Institute (6, Malaya Sadovaya)

Friday, April 11

Registration – 4 p.m. Book Exhibition by Bookhouse company
Conference Opening - 5 p.m.
Welcome words by:
Tatiana Ivanova, SPELTA President
Adair Mathers, Senior Fellow, Public Affairs Section, US Embassy,  Moscow
Terrence Graham, Director of ACTR
Margarita Mudrak, English-Speaking Union
Lilia Korelskaya, Arkhangelsk delegation
Plenary – 5.30 p.m.: News from TESOL: Vitaly Ashkinazi, Alice Murray, Elena Petrova, Galina Startseva
Plenary: 6.15 p.m. Tatiana Ivanova. Comparing Language Environment in Russia and in the USA
Wine and Cheese Reception– 19 p.m.

Saturday, April 12

Registration – 10 a.m.
Parallel Sessions 11 a.m.-12.00
1) Focus on Students. Lyn FogleGiving Students a Voice:  Designing and Implementing a Student Needs Analysis(workshop)
2) Focus on Literature. Alice MurrayTeaching Contemporary American Literature (workshop)
3)Textbook writers.. Julie ZdanoskiA Content Based EFL Textbook in Cross-Cultural Communication for Russian Secondary and Tertiary Level Learners

5 min. Break
the same sessions continue
1) Inna Frolova  Student Portfolios (talk)
Anna Nevzorova Personal Independence Through Learning (talk)
2) Galina Bougon.  Web-based American Studies Resources: What & Where (talk)
Leonid ShishovFreedom of Choice and Respect to the Choice of Others (talk)
3) Evgenia Vlasova25 Basic Gospel  Stories in World Art (presented in a textbook "Bible Stories and World Art for Teens" by Evgenia  Vlasova )
Lilia Korelskaya. EuroArctic Cross/Cultural Studies for ESP Language Users

Lunch break 12.50 -1.30
1.30 Annual General Meeting. President's Report. Council report. Auditors report. Elections.
15.00-15.15 tea/coffee
15/15. Parallel sessions
1)Focus on writing. Anna Gavrilova (Petrozavodsk)Writing Assignments: How to Make them Exciting (talk)
Adair Mathers.  (Moscow)Writing across the Curriculum: Graphic Organizers (worskhop)
Alina Chitova.(St.Petersburg) Facing the Facets of Writing Process (talk)
2)Focus on Literature and Culture.
Yulia Belova.   Historical Awareness in Modern American Novel (worskhop)
Ksenia Shtykina. Features of teaching Intercultural Communication (talk)
Elena PhilippovaAmerica Through the Eyes of Traditional Singer (talk)
Natalia Bespalova. Attitude to time across cultures
5.00 p.m.Closing Plenary:
New Dictionary of MacmillanHeineman

Sunday, April 13

Registration -10.a.m.
Parallel sessions 11.a.m.-1 p.m.

1)Culture and media
Maggie BergImage Theatre (worskhop)
Galina StartsevaTeaching Translation from an Intercultural Perspective (talk)

2) Materials in the Classroom
 Erik LundellUsing Authentic Materials in the ESL Classroom (worskhop)
Olga Bovarskaya The English-Russian Business Companion -- a good aide to specific cross-cultural communication(talk)
1.30-2.30 Roundtable. Keywords in American Studies
Closing and Raffle


Abstracts of the Conference Presentations

Yulia Belova
Historical Awareness In Modern American Novel
Looking through the modern American novel written after the Civil rights de-cades a careful reader cannot help noticing historical themes constantly lurking in the background. The observation concerns every kind of book published and read. Yet there are some pecularities in the tone and way of presentation.
The hallmark of romance-plus-history novel is the minutest detail in representation of crucial moments in American life and positive depiction of the leading figures. The historical process in such books is never revisioned, always carried out for the sake of future happy generations by noble and spotless people. A good example of this kind of book is Mary Higgins Clark’s «Love Story at Mount Vernon».
The books for more sophisticated audience tend to have critical attitude to the official history of the US and ideological cliches popular at the time described in the book. Depending on the author the range of historical flashback ranges for simply mentioning the discrepancy between the official story and the reality of «those times» to a comment on an unknown bit of history hushed down by the officials because it didn’f fit the picture. The examples of the latter are Betty Greene «Summer Of My German Soldier» and Philip Roth «The Dying Animal».

Yulia Belova, Senior Lecturer, Tcherepovets State University, IV Program 2002 participant.

Maggie Berg
Image Theatre
Thousands of years of literature have given us themes that continue to be reworked through different media.  Film fixed many of these themes into images.  After a half of a century with television, our minds are filled with images of someone else’s creation.  This workshop will focus on developing the participants’ own images on themes of their choosing. After a short warm-up exercise, we will all perform in Image Theatre.  Please be ready to actively work with other participants upon arrival.  After the workshop, people will leave with an outline of Image Theatre so that they may use it in their classrooms if they like.  In addition, they take home paper lists several other short exercises teachers can use to get students active when their energy is low.

Maggie Berg, English Language Fellow, US Embassy Office of English Language Programs, based in Vologda

Galina Bougon
Web-based American Studies Resources: What & Where
The number of resources available via the Internet is immense. The Internet seems to have a lot to offer both English language learners and teachers and those who are involved in American Studies courses.  It is possible to find plenty of useful information on the official sites of different governmental, political, business organizations. The aim of this presentation is to analyze several sites designed specifically for those who are interested in American Studies.
The American Studies Web site:
(http://cfdev.georgetown.edu/cndls/asw/) might be the starting point. This is the largest bibliography of web-based resources in the field of American Studies. The editors have established a series of categories to help guide your search. Among categories there are such issues as Education, Folklore, Government, Politics, Culture Studies, History, Literature, Religion and many other aspects. It contains a lot of links to different Internet resourcesOne of the most valuable features of this site is that it includes subsection called SiteScene. This is a collection of reviews of new electronic resources in American Studies.
One of the sites reviewed in the Site Scene is American Collection: Educator’s Site (http://ncteamericancollection.org). This vastly comprehensive resource serves both teachers and students of all levels who are interested in American literature and/or televised adaptations of American classics. This website showcases the «American Collection» a series of nine films based on American literary classics. The site primarily offers information on each of the film adaptations and educational resources connected to them, as well as on additional works of American literature.

Galina Bougon, Senior lecturer, Saratov State University, IV Program 2002 participant.

Elena Filippova
America through the Eyes of a Traditional Singer
The folk model of reality is viewed by many scholars as one of the basic sources of modern national conceptual systems. Therefore the close study of certain traditional patterns of folk heritage helps to interpret the cultural differences between the nations.
Analyzing the traditional songs and ballads of America, one may observe the human experience portrayed through this unrecorded (at least until recently) literature of the people.
The cowboy, the miner, the tramp, the lumberjack, the Forty-niner, the soldier, the sailor on the Great Lakes, and even the boatman in the early years of the Erie Canal, all have  made up  songs describing their experiences or detailing situations religious, tragic, sentimental, humorous, and at times didactic. In these anonymous creations we can find a composite photograph of the country and the people in the field and forest, on mountain and plain, by the roadside and in the cabin, on big cane or cotton plantations and in prison camp, where they have made up their songs that reflect their own customs, dramas, and dreams.
Although America has inherited the beautiful examples of the European folk culture, it definitely has developed its own traditional way of composing words and tunes, invented its own national heroes. In this respect the Negro created the most distinctive of folk songs   the most interesting, the most appealing, and the greatest in quantity.
Using the traditional folk songs and ballads in the English Language class may provide a new look at the American way of life through the eyes of simple people, ruin some of the existing stereotypes and myths, thus facilitating cross-cultural competence of our students.

Elena Filippova, PhD in Linguistics, Associate Professor, Saratov State University

Lyn Fogle
Giving Students a Voice:  Designing and Implementing a Student Needs Analysis
A student-centered classroom is one of the basic building blocks for Communicative Language Teaching; however, promoting student-centeredness may be difficult when programmatic curricula need to be followed and exams prepared for.  This session will introduce the basic concept of a student needs analysis in which students identify topics and skills they feel they need to learn as well as the learning styles they prefer.  We will analyze aspects of designing an effective needs analy-sis, the benefits of allowing language students to have a say in their course of study, and the challenges of incorporating the results of a class needs analysis with the course objectives set by the institution at large.  We will also discuss and critique my own efforts to design relevant course materials, using a needs analysis and objectives set by the host English teacher, for Russian high school students in the current academic year.

Lyn Fogle, Fulbright Fellow, MA TESOL

Inna Frolova
Student Portfolios
Learner portfolios, common in the USA and some other countries, are still a fairly novel development on the Russian ELT scene. Together with other forms of continuous (formative) assessment, such as learner journals, peer evaluation, etc., portfolios are a valuable alternative to traditional, more judgmental forms of assessment.
There exists a wide body of theoretical research proposing the use of portfolios at all levels of education. In my presentation I’ll describe how I have applied theoretical research at the practical level in the advanced Legal English class at International University in Moscow. I chose the “Best-Work” type of Portfolios where students collect and organize evidence of their accomplishments throughout the course together with their reflections on their achievements.
The issues of using a portfolio system include: identifying portfolio’s purpose and focus, the general content to be assessed, appropriate organization, evaluation of entries. The most important question that arises in this connection is how to develop students’ reflecting abilities and take them further down the road of cognitive development.

Inna Frolova, Associate professor, International University in Moscow

Anna Gavrilova
Writing Assignments: How to Make them Exciting
There is nothing new about the statement that students are more willing to write when they are interested in what they write about and when assignments are imaginative and varied. The emphasis in a composing in an ESL writing course must be on communicating meaning the writer must have something to say. Therefore, a teacher needs to identify areas of students’ interest. We must, be the assignment and topics we create, motivate students to write. The importance of motivation for writing is crucial. The typical mistake of some writing teachers has been to assign topics that are deadly dull and boring. The teachers ask students to write about their families, school, and friends, the age-old and school-initiated topics that evoke nothing but some mechanical response from the students. However, the standard use-proven assignments such as comparative/contrast, paraphrase, analytical, research essay etc. can be presented to students in a nonstandard and fresh manner which will motivate them to write.
We would like to suggest some writing assignments ideas that could be at some points incorporated in the regular writing courses and make it fascinating. The first kind of writing assignments involves writing based on movies. Nowadays watching movies in foreign languages is one of the most popular and attractive methods of learning. Watching movies help get students interested in a foreign language.
Another way of motivation is the “personal experience” kind of writing which can be rendered in several kinds of formats (narrative, description, argumentative). Such assignments make students analyze their personality, actions, and feelings and thus make it interesting and motivating activity. It’s an open secret that most people like to talk about themselves and find it exciting to be in the spotlight and there is nothing wrong about that. So why not to use it in assigning writing tasks?

Anna Gavrilova, Senior lecturer at Petrozavodsk State University, working on her PhD on teaching writing

Tatiana Ivanova
Comparing Language Environment in Russia and in the USA
Language is a result of culture and mentality and in its turn it creates mentality and culture. Being linguists and teachers we tend to use language found in textbooks, and other sources of written language: newspapers, journals, etc., but language can, in fact, be picked up everywhere, it is the environment we live in and we should not underestimate its influence on people.
The presenter tries to compare what kind of language is around us when we come to the US and when we are in Russia. Various areas are analyzed: language of public places (hotels, transport, canteen, etc.), language in the museums, language of service (talking to shop assistants, reception people) language of signs and posters. The examples provided show the influence of values accepted in each society.
The analysis is based upon concepts of  Anna Wierzbicka on language cultural parameters and the author’s own perceptions. Methodology implications are connected with student’s awareness of the differences and expectations the representatives of other cultures may have.

Tatiana Ivanova, PhD in Linguistics, Associate professor of St.Petersburg State University, TESOL member and IV participant 2002

Erik Lundell
Using Authentic Materials in the ESL Classroom
The use of authentic language materials in the EFL classroom such as menus, songs, directories, jokes, magazines, newspaper articles, recipes, charts, graphs, etc. benefit students in several ways.  They give language learners experience dealing with language created by and for native speakers. They expose students to vocabulary and structures that are real and natural for native speakers. They allow students to analyze cultural aspects of the language. They engage students effectively when authentic language samples reflect their interests.  They also provide variety in EFL instruction.
senter begins with a brainstorming session to elicit types of authentic language that can be developed into useful classroom activities. A brief explanation as to the benefits of using such materials will follow. Then he gives examples of how written and recorded authentic language samples can be used for developing reading, writing, speaking and listening skills in beginning to advanced levels of instruction. In addition, cultural elements of the language samples will be highlighted. The participants will take part in the activities demonstrated and will leave with samples of authentic materials that they can develop and use in their own classrooms.  It is the presenter’s hope that EFL teachers are inspired to create a more authentic language learning environment thus motivating and enabling language students to function successfully in English.

Erik Lundell, US Embassy Office of English Language Programs, based in Ufa.

Lilia Korelskaya
EuroArctic Cross/Cultural Studies for ESP Language Users
Within the frame of our description we are to confine ourselves to the subject of Cultural Studies in Foreign Language Professional Communication as a part of Sustainable Development in the Barents Euro-Arctic Region /BEAR/
The convergence of interest, concern and the need for collective collaborative action in the BEAR has recently resulted in a number of important events.
The Department of Foreign Languages of PSU is launching a new project on Euro-Arctic Cross/Cultural Studies: creation and publishing a multilingual (5) textbook “Culture in the North”. It is going to be the First Part of the unique collection of creative works of the teachers on the staff - the originally structured texts in the form of essays, interviews, excursions/itineraries, etc. They reflect the polyphony of cultural values of the Northern Region of Russia. The coursebook is designed and intended for LSP (language for specific purposes) students as well as those who are keen on or interested in intensive language-culture learning.
The main objectives of this academic edition are, among others, to not only encourage the acquisition of knowledge and competence of the cultural heritage of one’s own country through a variety of languages, but also to give an opportunity for a representative of other neighbouring countries (Norway in particular) to dive into the creations of a different culture, and to possibly invite a cross-cultural dialogue, an interested response and feedback.
Polylinguistic method of presenting educational material with a Mother tongue support, multiplies by 5 the possibilities of a language learner in his movement towards a multi-lingual world which makes the present course-book attractive to language users of different levels of mastering foreign languages, both national and overseas, Norwegian readers, in particular. Additionally, an Electronic Project «Intercultural Bridge” has been well underway now, e.g. some materials in German about the culture in the North of Russia are studied by some Norwegian students (Kristiansand gymnasium) etc.
The coursebook contents 17 thematic blocks (both in printed and electronic forms), an author’s version of which is translated into 4 other languages - English, German, French and Norwegian - with the proof-reading and reference of the native language speakers. Among authentic topics offered in the book are Icons in the North, Merchants of Arkhangelsk, the Solovets Isles, Arkhangelsk Coat of Arms, etc., multilingually representing elements of Russian culture with due account of the Northern regional component.
The coursebook provides self- and on-line monitoring as well as pleasure from work due to friendly interface and design.

Lilia Korelskaya, Associate professor, Pomor State Uiversity, Arkhangelsk.

Adair Mathers
Writing Across the Curriculum: Graphic Organizers
From the beginning of time, or so it seems, teachers have been struggling with how to get their students to write a composition. As they had the same problems with writing when they were students, teachers often tend to relegate written assignments to the bottom of their list of priorities. It is much easier to have them translate something already in readable form, so these types of exercises can be substituted with a minimum amount of guilt on the part of the teacher.  It no longer needs to be so. Some thirty years ago, a group of educators began to look at various pre-writing activities that would ease students into the writing process. These techniques are based on graphic organizers of various sorts. The teacher develops the graph on the chalkboard as she encourages the students to brainstorm both topics and subtopics. As the teacher and class develop the graphic organizer, the students copy onto their own paper. They are free to call out contributions as the graph is being prepared without fear of evaluation as the first part is not bound to any “right” or “wrong” criteria. Simple steps are then followed to decide which items should be included in the finished paper, and which are not essential to the development of the topic. Students learn to organize their thoughts into general categories, then to refine their information and use appropriate examples to give credibility to their finished product. A valuable side benefit of these organizers is that when properly done, paragraphs are clearly visible on the chalkboard. Subtopic order and information to be included can be the choice of the student. Although clearly teacher-directed at first, graphic organizers are basically a student-centered activity. Best of all, once understood, the process is adaptable to any level and any subject.

Adair Mathers, Senior Fellow, English Language Program, Public Affairs Section, US Embassy, Moscow

Alice Murray
Teaching Contemporary American Literature
American literature has been referred to as multi-cultural literature on more than one occasion. This is not a new phenomena; American writers have often drawn from the past and their own cultural heritages to reshape the future.  The resulting cultural pluralism reveals permutations that create and consolidate identities and subjectivities as well as linguistic and social selves.
However, contemporary American literature can seem overwhelming and intimidating, even to the most experienced teachers at first glance. When we read book reviews, we sometimes come across the phrase, “destined to become a classic,” but what exactly does that mean?  Who decides the difference between popular fiction and which will be read by future generations?  Whose opinion counts?  This workshop will examine differences between popular fiction and recent award-winning literature in the United States as well as discuss ways to motivate students to read outside of the classroom.

Alice Murray, English Language Fellow US Embassy Office of English Language Programs, based in St.Petersburg

Anna Nevzorova
Personal Independence Through Learning
Teachers of foreign languages deal with different cultures: their own, and that of another nation whose language they are teaching. If we take into account that such thing as national character exists, we need to compare typical features of Russians and Europeans.
When children start learning a foreign language they get to know a different  way of living. To my mind, teaching a foreign language is a good opportunity to bring up independence and responsibility in children and ability to work and manage by themselves.
It is necessary to make students more and more aware of «European» traits analyzed in the talk. One of them is independence as a characteristic of activity with its own dimensions, levels and criteria which can be measured. These levels and criteria will be described during the presentation.
The presenter would share ideas on organizing teaching process in order to form independence and responsibility in English language learners.

Anna Nevzorova, Senior Lecturer, Pomor State Uiversity, Arkhangelsk.

Leonid Shishov
Freedom of Choice and Respect to Choice of Others.
What do we really learn when we study about other cultures? First of all we learn about our own. Analyzing another culture we can realize that not everyone behaves and does things the same way we do. Behavioral choice or cultural patterns of others sometimes can be confusing or even shocking. But in fact the way they behave is absolutely natural and normal, often came from collective unconscious of their community. Knowledge of values and attitudes, awareness of  deep culture  encourages to be more tolerant, to get rid of stereotyping, to show respect to behavioral choice of others.
Once at a conference I asked an American diplomat and expert of education what essential American values might be called. The answer was: Freedom of Choice and Respect to Choice of Others.
Studying the issues I found myself on one hand regretting that I miss the opportunity to teach this powerful topic. On the other hand, I was looking forward to discussing these exiting things with my students. Since that time these issues have been the most popular at my American Studies classes.
How I motivate students, what materials and how we use them, what results we get I would like to share with my colleagues.

Leonid Shishov, Metrostoy Lyceum.

Ksenia Shtykina
Features of Teaching ESP Students Intercultural Communication
The level of foreign languages (FL) acquisition by graduates of non-linguistic specialities of higher institutions in our country does not meet the requirements of a modern society. There are several reasons for it analyzed in the presentation.
The concept of ESP has recently become very popular where the distinction is made between teaching linguists and non-linguists. For the former the language as such is more important, while the latter are more focused on the contents.
Practice of FL teaching at the faculty of State Management at Pomor State University  shows that the central place in FL teaching for the apparent reasons at non-philological faculties should belong to the situational use of language. The situational use of language assumes the performance of 2 basic functions: content and communicative. Observation of FL training process shows that the content function of language use is less complex for students than the communicative one.
The reason of it is that teaching of the communicative function of language use is carried out through social situations. For example, teaching of conversational practice assumes that certain themes are appropriate in a number of communicative situations: hotel, transport, restaurant, mail, shop etc. thus the students don’t understand that the same speech acts can be applied in all or in the majority of communicative situations, otherwise, the communicative function of language use is more universal in comparison with its content function. It means that the number of speech acts of communicative character is more limited, than number of the speech acts appropriate to the content side of the communication so, for example, we make a request, try to receive any information, we state the point of view, we object etc. in very different situations of communication.
This fact may facilitate teaching of students’ skills of communication: so the focus should be at the communicative function of language use, i.e. speech reactions to a communicative situation or a necessity of creating a communicative situation.

Ksenia Shtykina, English Instructor, Pomor State University, Arkhangelsk

Galina Startseva
Teaching Translation from an Intercultural Perspective
The usual format for presenting intercultural elements in English language programmes has always been through special courses designated as “Intercultural Communication”, but it doesn’t mean that all other aspects of language teaching can be devoid of intercultural elements. One of the most obvious aspects that can serve the purpose of teaching culture is translation, which by its very nature invites speculation  and involves contrast.
A translation class can begin with the explanation and discussions of language difficulties and cultural allusions in the text, followed by translation itself and, finally,  by the discussions of students’ work. It is not enough to just explain cultural phenomena; it is very useful to discuss why the information that is revealed in particular texts is of interest to Americans or the English. Special attention should be paid to the choice of material for translation, which needn’t be confined to literature; it should be authentic and wide-ranging in scope, so that the learner could be brought in touch with much more numerous parts of language and culture, than those isolated by an ordinary textbook. Of particular interest can be  those materials  that contain implicit intercultural view.

Galina Startseva, PhD in Linguistics, Associate Professor, St Petersburg University, TESOL-2003 participant.

Evgenia Vlasova
«BIBLE STORIES and WORLD ART for TEENS» (Intermediate)
The text-book aims at upgrading the English language learner’s communication skills. It is designed to equip teenage learners with the background knowledge (they generally lack) of the basic Gospel stories which underlie paintings created by masters of world pictorial art. It is very often the case that looking at a painting (or sculpture) in a museum, the viewer has a very vague idea of the underlying Gospel story. This is not enough to adequately understand the painting. The text-book  «BIBLE STORIES and WORLD ART for TEENS» aims «to kill two birds with one stone»: while improving the learner’s communication skills it will bridge a gap in his education by filling him in on the most fundamental work of human culture - the Bible or, to be more exact, basic stories of the New Testament dealing with the life of Jesus Christ. The chosen stories inspired numerous  artists and writers to create remarkable masterpieces of world art.
The text-book introduces the English language learner to the basic stories of the New Testament through lively and natural conversations of three high school students - Jake, Derek and Andy. Andy is a Russian exchange student living in an American host family. They all are eleven graders at a High School in Massachusetts. All the information about the Gospel comes from Jake’s and Derek’s Granddad who is a retired Harvard University professor. It is true that the basic stories of Christ’s life are certainly available in numerous editions of the New Testament. But will a morden teenager, too busy with surfing the Internet, care to read them? Hardly likely. Here he finds teens like himself, his peers actually, ingaged in lively conversations which go on throuout UNIT1 to UNIT 25 (there are 25 UNITS altogether). They learn about the basic stories of Christ’s life and the works of art based on them.Their manner of speaking is very natural and easy-going, filled with the colloqualisms that teens use today («That’s neat!», «Cool!», «That’s for sure», etc.)
The second party of every UNIT is SUPPLEMENTARY MATERIAL.Thus Unit4 («The First Christmas») is supplemented with informative texts about Madonnas of the Italian Renaissance (Raphael’s  Madonna in the Hermitage, etc.), as well as with the texts about famous Russian icons of the Mothers of God.Thus , besides the Gospel stories presented in a lively colloquial form, the text-book contains texts in simple English about Russian schools of icon painting, masters of the Italian Renaissance(Leonardo da Vinci, Titian, Raphael, Micheangelo,etc.) as well as masters of the Spanish school - El Greco, Velasquez, etc. Other Gospel stories are accordingly suppled with information about such famous Russian 19century painters  as N.Ge, I. Repin, Kramskoi, Polenov, whose interpretation of Christ’s personality differed from that of Italian masters. The text-book also contains EXERCISES intended to provide the language learner  with various  formulas for adequate speech behavior.
The author was fortunate to have all the material read and edited  by two native speakers.
Editor: Matina Heisler, B.A.
Consultant on the Bible stories : Breed Hall, M.A

Evgenia.L. Vlasova, Associate Professor, Foreign Languages Department, Russian Academy of Sciences.

Julie Zdanoski
Building Bridges: Russia!
A Content Based EFL Textbook in Cross-Cultural Communication for Russian Secondary and Tertiary Level Learners
Ms. Zdanoski will introduce her textbook on Cross-Cultural Communication designed for Russian EFL students. The theme is mindfulness - of how our culture shapes the way we see others and of how they also view us through their “cultural lenses.” Through experiential learning tasks, students develop knowledge, awareness and skills to cross cultural borders and manage intercultural conflicts productively.

Julie Zdanoski ,Senior English Language Fellow, US Embassy Office of English Language Programs, based in Petrozavodsk


The Challenges of Academic Listening

Christine A. Coombe, Higher Colleges of Technology
Jon D. Kinney, Saudi ARAMCO
Christine Canning, United Arab Emirates University

1.   Introduction

Academic listening tasks pose serious challenges to F/SL learners.  Even students at relatively high proficiency levels are often not proficient for the listening tasks they encounter in academia (Mason 1995).  Students themselves report that while comprehending lectures is “a matter of academic survival” (Dunkel 1988), they feel they lack the skills needed to be effective academic listeners.  For an area that is perceived to be so fundamental by faculty and students alike, academic listening problems continue to challenge F/SL students.  Some perspective on the complexity of listening successfully in academic contexts offers a starting point in explaining the challenge academic listening presents to both students and teachers.

2. General Challenges

Richards (1983) summarized the basic problems that EFL students encounter in general conversational listening tasks, all of which would cause problems in academic settings.  Students have trouble processing reduced forms, colloquialisms, and prosodic features even at higher proficiency levels.  Richards further identified listener difficulties with factors such as speech rate; recognizing redundancies; and listening through such extraneous variables as hesitations, false starts, pauses, and corrections-all of which are characteristic of spoken discourse.

General listening problems, however, are only the beginning for the academic listener.  Researchers also point out that academic listening has features which distinguish it from general conversational listening and place additional burdensome demands on the listener (Richards 1983; Dunkel 1991; Flowerdew 1994).

3. Academic Listening Skills

Early work by Richards (1983) separated general and academic listening in a taxonomy of micro-skills.  Richards observed that 18 higher-level micro-skills are necessary in academic listening contexts.  He proposed that successful academic listening comprehension includes the listener’s ability to identify the purpose and scope of lectures, lecture topic and development, relationships between main ideas and supporting details, and the lexical terms related to topics.  He also identified other academic listening skills such as the ability to recognize markers of cohesion and intonation in lectures, to detect speaker attitude toward subject, to recognize digressions and non-verbal cues of emphasis, and to recognize instructional/learner tasks as opposed to lecture content.

4. Additional Demands

Recently, Flowerdew (1994) identified several skills a student must employ in order to listen effectively in an academic milieu.  These skills include:

Add the demands these skills place on the learner to general conversational listening difficulties and the results often seem insurmountable.  Unfortunately, students usually find it difficult to integrate general listening skills with the higher-order skills characteristic of academic listening.  For example, students have trouble understanding continuous rapid oral language for extended periods of time with limited opportunities to interact.  Additionally, they find it difficult to activate content area vocabulary and schemata and to evaluate what they are listening to so that they can distinguish relevant from irrelevant information.

Even if students are able to apply general listening skills effectively in an academic setting, they often cannot take the next step and integrate the more sophisticated skills necessary to understand an academic presentation.

5. The Value of Note-taking Reconsidered

Perhaps the most challenging academic listening demand students face is writing down the main points of a presentation or lecture quickly and clearly so that they can be reviewed later.  Note-taking poses an awesome challenge to the academic listener.

Some researchers, however, question the value of note-taking.  One point which is little debated is the recognition that note-taking is considered a “time-honored tradition” (Dunkel, Mishra and Berliner 1989) in academia.  Faculty expect students to take notes during academic lectures.  Similarly, students believe that taking notes will facilitate academic success.  Finally, the large number of published EF/SL textbooks targeted at developing learners note-taking skills clearly indicates the importance curriculum developers and materials writers place on note-taking (Dunkel 1988).

The value of note-taking in terms of enhanced listening comprehension, however, is a matter of dispute in ELT research.  Supporters of note-taking argue that it has a positive effect on learning and retaining lecture material.  Others, however, point out that there is little empirical evidence to reinforce such claims.  The results of more recent studies (see Flowerdew 1994) divide observers into three camps:  those who believe note-taking has a facilitative effect on comprehension, those who observe no effect on comprehension at all, and finally, those who claim that note-taking actually interferes with lecture comprehension.

6. Conclusion

Academic listening is a complex, multi-faceted process which places enormous skill demands on the listener.  Some studies question the value of note-taking.  Nevertheless, educators do agree that much more research is needed to establish the utility of note-taking as an activity that facilitates academic listening comprehension.


Dunkel, P. 1988.  The content of L1 and Ls students’ lecture notes and its relation to test performance.  TESOL Quarterly, 22, 259-81.

Dunkel, P.  1991.  Listening in the native and second/foreign language:  Toward an integration of research and practice.  TESOL Quarterly, 25, 431-457.

Dunkel, P., S. Mishra and D. Berliner. 1989.  Effects of note-taking, memory, and language proficiency on lecture learning for native and non-native speakers of English.  TESOL Quarterly, 23, 543-549.

Flowerdew, J. 1994.  Research of relevance to second language lecture comprehension-An overview. In Academic listening:  Research perspectives.

J. Flowerdew (Ed.),55-74. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Mason, A. 1995. By dint of: Student and lecture perceptions of lecture comprehension
 strategies in first term graduate study. In J. Flowerdew, (Ed.), Academic
 listening: Research perspectives. 199-218. Cambridge: Cambridge University

Richards, J. 1983. Listening comprehension: Approach, design, procedure.  TESOL
 Quarterly, 17, 219-239.

Biographical information:

Christine A. Coombe is a faculty member and Program Assessment Editor at Dubai Men's College, Higher Colleges of Technology.
Jon D. Kinney is an Instructor at Saudi ARAMCO.

Contact information:

Christine A. Coombe
Dubai Men's College
Higher Colleges of Technology
P.O. Box 15825
Dubai, UAE
Tel:  971-50-6194796
Fax:  971-4-3558359
Email:  coombe @emirates.net.ae

Jon D. Kinney
jondanakinney @hotmail.com


Joan Morley, The University of Michigan

MODEL #1: Listening and Repeating
LEARNER GOALS: to pattern-match; to listen, imitate, and memorize
a) INSTRUCTIONAL MATERIALS: Feature audio-lingual style exercises and/or dialogue memorization; based on a hearing-and-pattern-matching model.
b) PROCEDURES: Ask students (1) to listen to a word, phrase, or sentence pattern (2) to repeat/imitate it, and (3) (sometimes) to memorize it.
c) VALUES: Enables students to do pattern drills, to repeat dialogues, and to use memorized prefabricated patterns in conversation; enables them to imitate pronunciation patterns. Higher level cognitive processing and use of propositional language structuring are not an intentional focus.

MODEL #2: Listening and Answering Comprehension Questions
LEARNER GOALS: to process discrete-point information: to listen and answer comprehension questions.
a) INSTRUCTIONAL MATERIALS: Feature a student response pattern based on a listening-and-question-answering model with occasional innovative variations on this theme.
b) PROCEDURES: Ask students: (1) to listen to an oral text (along a continuum from sentence length to lecture length); (2) to answer (primarily) factual questions. Utilizes familiar types of questions adapted from traditional reading comprehension exercises. Is sometimes called a 'quiz-show' format of teaching.
c) VALUES: Enables students to manipulate discrete pieces of information, hopefully with increasing speed and accuracy of recall. Can increase students' stock of vocabulary units and grammar constructions. Does not require student to make use of the information for any real communicative purpose beyond answering the questions; is not interactive two-way communication.

MODEL #3: Task Listening
LEARNER GOALS: TO process spoken discourse for functional purposes; to listen and carry out real tasks using the information received
a) INSTRUCTIONAL MATERIALS: Feature activities that require a student response pattern based on a listening-and-doing (i.e., listening-and-using) model. Students listen, then do something immediately with the information received, such as: follow directions; complete a task; solve a problem; transmit the jist of the information to someone in speech (i.e., give a message) or in writing (i.e., write a note); listen and take lecture notes, etc.
b) PROCEDURES: Ask students: (1) to listen and process information; (2) to use the auditorially transmitted language input immediately to complete a task which is mediated through language in a context -where success or failure is judged in terms of whether or not the task is performed.
c) VALUES: The focus here is on instruction that is task-oriented not question-oriented. The purpose is to engage learners in using the informational content presented in the spoken discourse, not just in answering questions about it. Two types of tasks are: (1) language use tasks which are designed to give students practice experiences in listening to get meaning from the input with the express purpose of making functional use of it immediately; (2) language analysis tasks which are designed to help learners develop cognitive and meta-cognitive language learning strategies (i.e., to guide them toward personal intellectual involvement in their own learning). This kind of task features consciousness raising about language and language learning.

MODEL #4: Interactive Listening
LEARNER GOALS: to develop aural/oral skills in semi-formal interactive academic communication; to develop critical listening, critical thinking, and effective speaking abilities
a) INSTRUCTIONAL MATERIALS: Feature the real-time/real-life give-and-take of academic communication. Provide a variety of student presentation and discussion activities, both individual and small-group panel reports that include follow-up audience participation and question/answer sessions as an integral part of the work. Follow an interactive listening-thinking-speaking model with bi-directional listening speaking (i.e., two-way exchanges) or multi-directional listening/speaking (i.e., many participants in the discussion). Include attention to group bonding and classroom discourse rules (e.g., turn-taking, taking the floor, yielding the floor, interrupting, comprehension checks, topic shifting, agreeing, questioning, challenging, etc.)
b) PROCEDURES: Ask learners to participate in informal (and formal) discussion activities that enable them to develop all three phases of the speech chain (i.e., speech decoding, critical thinking, speech encoding). These three involve: (1) continuous on-line decoding of spoken discourse, (2) simultaneous cognitive reacting/acting-upon the oral information received (i.e., critical analysis and synthesis) and (3) instant-response encoding (i.e., producing personal propositional language responses appropriate to the communicative episode).
c) VALUES: The focus here is instruction that is communicative-competence-oriented, as well as task-oriented. Learners have opportunities to engage in and develop the complex array of communicative skills in the in the four competency areas of: (1) discourse competence, (2) socio-linguistic competence, and (3) strategic competence, as well as (4) linguistic competence.


Diversity and Variety in ESL/EFL Teaching
Glimpses of 2003 TESOL Convention in Baltimore
Elena S.Petrova, St Petersburg State University

This spring, I had the privilege to attend the 2003 TESOL Convention in Baltimore. This impressive event, which lasted from March 25 through March 29, was organized on a very large scale, with ESL/EFL professionals from all over the world taking part. It was held at the Baltimore Convention Center, a conveniently located modern building with all the necessary services and facilities.

SPELTA being an affiliate member of TESOL, I went as an affiliate representative and was therefore supposed to attend primarily those workshops and presentations that dealt with the activities of affiliate organizations. Those events focused on organizing conferences locally, newsletter editing, web page management, and general problems faced by affiliate members.

I will now try to give a brief overview of SPELTA’s activity in light of what our counterparts do in North and South America, Europe and Asia.

We are among the few affiliates that manage to host two conferences a year. This seems truly remarkable in view of our financial circumstances. Other organizations hold an annual conference plus a summer institute, or else one conference a year.

Our newsletter looks quite substantial; some other affiliates limit their newsletters to a couple of pieces of paper clipped together. At the same time, we rarely if ever decline proposals for papers, while our US counterparts follow a very rigid selection procedure whereby members of their publishing board carry out a blind appraisal of all proposals, declining those that are not quite up to the mark or those that do not fully conform to the topic of the conference. But then, they can afford to be fastidious, if only because their members are extremely active and literally shower proposals on the organizing committee whenever a conference call is made.

An alternative to publishing all the contributions in the newsletter is putting a number of papers on the Internet, an option that we have not considered so far. On the other hand, few if any organizations consider publishing a volume of selected papers presented at their conferences. This idea has been in the air at SPELTA for some time now, and I hope we’ll be able to carry it out by the time of the next TESOL conference.

There were a few lessons I learnt in the way of minor details that give a touch of heartfelt warmth to conferences. For instance, some of the organizations send thank-you letters and feedback to presenters after the conference, give new member orientation, supply new member ribbons to newcomers and establish awards of various kinds.

A very welcome piece of news is that each affiliate is now entitled to three free memberships a year.
It was very interesting to learn about the activities of our counterparts elsewhere in Russia, e.g. the TESOL affiliates in the Far East and the Republic of Sakha-Yakutia. The latter’s work is particularly admirable, considering that they lack not only experienced teachers, but also course books and teaching aids.

Copies of our newsletters, together with SPELTA flyers, were available to conference participants at the affiliate booth supervised by Galina Startseva.

We met a number of Russian and international colleagues from St.Petersburg, e.g. Alice Murray, Ruth Petzold, Mila Devel and Natalia Orlova. The latter two took part in a joint colloquium on “Innovative EFL/ESL programs from Russia”. Marina Sternina from Voronezh promoted her new book, co-authored with I.Sternin, on Russian and American communicative behavior. Maria Verbitskaya from Moscow, together with her colleagues, presented a new ELT online journal.
Generally speaking, problems and aspects of intercultural communication were extremely prominent during the convention. Clearly, it has become one of the primary concerns of the EFL teaching community worldwide. Some of the presentations were chiefly theoretical, other more of a practical nature, but the issues of intercultural awareness, competence and flexibility seemed to be prevalent.
Participation in the events for affiliate representatives did not leave me as much time as I wanted for attending some of the other presentations that held promise of innovative approaches and new insights, judging from the abstracts in the Convention program. However, the schedule was so tight that many participants wished they could be in several places at the same time.

Fortunately, I had an opportunity to attend one of the testing presentations, the one devoted to new developments in TOEFL. It seems that this international test is becoming increasingly difficult, so much so that some people in the audience were wondering whether an average native speaker of English would be able to cope with the new writing papers to be made effective in 2005. There are going to be two essays: one testing free academic writing skills and the other one testing integrated academic writing skills. In the integrated writing section, the candidates will find reading-writing assignments (that is, a short text on an academic subject and a question based on this text) and a listening-reading-writing assignment (that is, a short academic lecture plus a short text, and a question based on the combination of the two). No matter whether we like it or not, this innovation is likely to have some implications for writing curriculum design, because we need to train our student for the required level, particularly in colleges and universities.

To sum up, taking part in the TESOL convention was an invaluable and unforgettable experience. It gave me, first, a perspective on the work of our sister organizations in other countries, second, a clear idea of TESOL’s concept of affiliate members and their goals, third, new insights into ELT methodology and, last but not least, the joy of communicating with wonderful people dedicated to their profession.

Elena Petrova is a long term devoted member of SPELTA, a regular conference presenter and SPELTA Newsletter contributor, helping with editing from time to time. This year she was nominated by SPELTA for TESOL travel grant as the official Affiliate delegate for the Convention. Elena represented SPELTA at all official TESOL Convention Affiliate events.


The First Impressions of the First Timer
Galina Startseva, St Petersburg State University

The theme of the 2003 Convention, which took place in the very heart of the US, in Maryland, was "Hearing Every Voice" and it reflected very well the general current concern of ESL Teachers around the world. The 1,520 presenters from 71 country, Russia including, talked about the increasing diversity in their classrooms, which brings about new challenges. To be successful today teachers need to integrate culture in speaking, listening, and teaching. As one of the presenters put it, to teach culture means to try to understand "otherness" in one's students, to step into the outsider's shoes. Not accidentally, the focus of the workshops and presentations devoted to teaching methods was on such interactive activities as video conferencing, drama techniques, role-play videotaping. It is these techniques that guarantee maximum involvement on the students' part.  Apart from sessions and workshops the Convention offered a very wide and stimulating program of various pre-and post-conference events: educational visits, organizational meetings, guided tours of Baltimore and Washington, but for me and other teachers it was talks and discussions with one's colleagues that made the Baltimore Convention so interesting and memorable.

Galina Startseva has been a TESOL member for several years. This academic year she received a small discount for membership from SPELTA. She found sponsors and signed for volunteering to help her cover the costs for the Convention trip, which shows one more possible way of joining this wonderful and inspiring forum for teachers of English. She responsible for organizing SPELTA booth at the Convention and will speak about it at our Conference