News from the Center for Applied Linguistics

October 1997

Cover Story
CAL Launches Discussion Series
News About CAL Projects
Content Standards for ESL Students
Language and Academic Programs for Newcomers
High Standards for English Language Learners
Agenda for Adult ESL
CAL Briefs
Rubrics for Alternative Assessment
Language Tests by Computer
Assessments of Foreign Language Teachers
ERIC Documents Online
Back by Popular Demand
Fellowship News
Tucker Summer Fellowship 1998
News About CAL Publications
Joint Publishing Venture
New CAL Publications

CAL Launches Discussion Series

The Center for Applied Linguistics announces a new discussion series on Language and Literacy in Public Life. The series will provide information about a range of language-related issues to inform public debate and promote more enlightened decisions in many spheres of public life.

CAL and the Center for the Book at the Library of Congress will co-sponsor the first event in the series on Wednesday, October 22 at the Madison Building of the Library of Congress. The topic, "The Politics of Language and Literacy," will be moderated by Deborah Tannen and discussed by Terrence G. Wiley and Reynaldo Macías. The discussants will respond to questions from the audience.

Dr. Tannen is a professor at Georgetown University and a member of CAL's Board of Trustees. Dr. Wiley, a professor at California State University, Long Beach, wrote Literacy and Language Diversity in the United States (CAL and Delta Systems, 1996). Dr. Macías is the director of the Linguistic Minority Research Institute at the University of California, Santa Barbara and a board member of the National Institute for Literacy. He and Wiley contributed a new introduction for the forthcoming re-issue of The American Bilingual Tradition by Heinz Kloss (CAL and Delta Systems).

For more information about this event and others in the series, contact Fran Keenan at CAL (202-362-0700).

Content Standards for ESL Students

In June, TESOL (Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages) released the ESL Standards for Pre-K-12 Students (TESOL, 1997) at a press conference held at the National Press Building in Washington, DC. The document describes what students should know and do as a result of their English as second language coursework. TESOL intends for the ESL standards to be used by bilingual and ESL educators and content teachers alike to facilitate a meaningful change nationwide in the learning environment and academic success of students learning English as a second or additional language.

The ESL standards and assessment project at the Center for Applied Linguistics continues to manage activities for implementing the standards. Three-day seminars at the TESOL Academies in Baltimore, MD and Seattle, WA provided educators from the United States and abroad with an understanding of how the ESL standards can be implemented in their own schools and districts. Additional conference presentations, as well as work sessions with school district curriculum developers, have also been held.

In the coming year, CAL proposes to continue technical assistance to school districts for standards implementation. CAL will also continue to collect and disseminate samples of ESL standards-based curricula and assessments, helping school districts that are in the midst of the implementation process to network with one another. Additional implementation activities will continue through 1998 and beyond.

Another ongoing activity is the development of companion volumes to the standards document. Guiding the Assessment Process: A Framework for Measuring Student Attainment of the ESL Standards has been revised based on feedback received from TESOL members throughout the country and will be published in TESOL's Professional Paper series. Work has begun on a second document that will include assessment scenarios based on the ESL standards, and other companion volumes are in the planning stage.

To order the ESL Standards, contact TESOL, 1600 Cameron St., Suite 300, Alexandria, VA, 22314-2751. Telephone: 703-836-0774. E-mail:

Language and Academic Programs for Newcomers

What can be done to meet the educational needs of immigrant teenagers who arrive in the United States with a limited knowledge of English? What is done for such students when they have gaps in their schooling that put them below the expected grade level for their age?

One answer to these questions is found in specially designed, short-term language and academic programs established for newcomers by many schools. In the first year of a three-year study, the Newcomer Project at the Center for Applied Linguistics conducted a national survey that resulted in a directory profiling 60 middle school and high school programs located in 18 states. The 60 programs vary in their definition of newcomers, but most include recent arrival to the United States or school district and limited English proficiency as characteristics. Half of the programs also note students are below grade level for their age or have limited formal education.

While most of these programs are located in urban settings, eight are in suburban areas, and five in rural locales. More than half (33) are found in high schools, with the remainder serving the middle school level (18), or a combination of middle and high school (9).

Although the profiled programs vary in duration and intensity, typically they instruct the newcomers in day-long special classes for up to a year. However, a third of the schools have programs lasting for more than a year, including ten that add a summer program to the regular school year. Five programs are less than a year in length, and one is offered in the summer only. Instead of full-day schedules, some programs hold classes for half the day, one hour a day, or after school.

Almost all the programs indicated flexibility with regard to individual students. In some, students who make fast progress can exit before the end of the program, while several others provide extended stays for students who have large gaps in their educational background and may be illiterate in their native languages.

The majority of the programs in the study are located within a school, usually the home school of most, if not all, of the newcomer students. The students may participate in some school activities outside the newcomer program, such as physical education and art. Many of the students who exit this type of newcomer program remain at the school to continue their studies in the regular program, which may offer additional follow-up bilingual or English as a second language services.

Twelve programs are located at separate, self-contained sites. Three of these are full-length high schools; in other words, students enter in the 9th grade and remain in the school program until graduation. Two sites are located at district intake centers where all language minority students are assessed and placed. For those designated as newcomers, these intake centers offer special, short-term courses before the students enter one of the regular language support programs in a school in the district.

The programs offer a range of instructional activities for the students. All but one offer ESL or English language development. Most provide cultural orientation to the United States, content instruction in at least one of the native languages of the students, and sheltered content instruction in English. A third have courses in native language literacy for the students as well.

 The Newcomer Project is being conducted under the auspices of the Center for Research on Education, Diversity, and Excellence (CREDE) a consortium funded through a grant from the U.S. Department of Education. For more information, contact Deborah Short or Beverly Boyson at CAL. The directory is available from CAL/CREDE.

High Standards for English Language Learners

What issues arise when schools work to include English language learners as they implement high learning standards?  What school structures and professional development strategies prepare schools to respond to this complex challenge?

As a partner in the Northeast and Islands Regional Educational Laboratory at Brown University (LAB), the Center for Applied Linguistics is participating in an applied research project that addresses these questions. Sited in four linguistically and culturally diverse urban middle schools, the project is connected to the LAB's specialty area, the relationship between school reform and language and cultural diversity.

CAL researchers work with LAB staff from the Center for Resource Management (CRM) and with teachers to examine classroom practice, schoolwide practices, and district policies that are relevant to including English language learners in school reform. The researchers also contribute to professional development sessions and facilitate the work of school-based teams made up of content area teachers, bilingual and ESL teachers, and Title I and Title VII coordinators. During the 1996-97 school year, the group examined the statewide English language arts standards-based curriculum frameworks, effective practices that are aligned with the frameworks, and the educational needs of English language learners. LAB staff from CAL and CRM visited classrooms monthly and conferred with principals to gain a deeper understanding of teaching and learning in the classrooms of the27 participating teachers.

In the current academic year, teacher inquiry groups will analyze student work as evidence of standards implementation and as a vehicle for teachers to reflect on practice. A working paper for school administrators that details the first year's results will be available soon.

The LAB is one of ten regional educational laboratories funded by the U.S. Department of Education. For further information contact Carolyn Temple Adger at CAL (

Agenda for Adult ESL

The National Clearinghouse for ESL Literacy Education (NCLE) at the Center for Applied Linguistics is collaborating with the National Center for the Study of Adult Learning and Literacy (NCSALL) to develop an agenda that could set the course for research and development in adult English as a second language programs for the next several years. The collaboration is part of a larger national effort to determine a research agenda for all of adult education.

The purposes of the agenda for adult ESL are threefold:

As part of the agenda setting process, NCSALL asked NCLE to review the adult ESL literature and write a draft research agenda. This draft was shared with a group of adult ESL experts at a meeting late last year. A second draft, containing both the literature review and priority issues identified at the meeting, was prepared and circulated among the adult ESL community for comments and suggestions. A third draft is now being prepared and will be refined over the coming year and published by NCLE, NCSALL, and TESOL (the professional association of Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages).

The critical questions set by the agenda cluster into four broad categories:

When answered, these questions will yield information that will benefit policymakers, scholars, program administrators, adult ESL teachers, and learners.
For further information, contact Joy Peyton ( at CAL.

Rubrics for Alternative Assessment

The Center for Applied Linguistics collaborated with the Arlington County, VA Public Schools in an 18-month project to investigate alternative assessment in two-way (Spanish and English) partial immersion programs. One outcome of the project was a set of rubrics for measuring growth in Spanish and English speaking and writing proficiency of students in grades 1-5. A bilingual introduction explains how and why to use the rubrics. An expanded rubrics packet is now available for use in two-way programs in other elementary schools. The packet includes a variety of classroom matrices for charting scores, as well as other instruments to guide the elicitation of spoken and written language for assessment with the rubrics.

To order a copy of the rubrics, contact: Immersion Coordinator, Foreign Language Immersion Office, Arlington Public Schools, 1426 N. Quincy Street, Arlington, VA (1-703-358-6097). For more information about the project, contact Dorry Kenyon at CAL (

Language Tests by Computer

In 1985 CAL developed the first of a series of Simulated Oral Proficiency Interviews (SOPI), a speaking proficiency test administered by means of audiotape and scored by trained raters using the Speaking Proficiency Guidelines of the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages. Now CAL proposes to undertake a two-phase project to explore the use of computer technology to administer and score performance-based foreign language speaking tests.

In the first phase, funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Education, existing materials from SOPIs in Spanish, Arabic, and Chinese and from CAL's bank of SOPI tasks will be adapted to a computer-administered format. Administration in the new computer format will be compared to the face-to-face Oral Proficiency Interview (OPI) and the tape-mediated SOPI, looking at reliability and validity of test outcomes, affective reaction of examinees, efficiency of administration and scoring, and affective reaction of the raters. A second phase of the project will explore the use of speech recognition technology and natural language processing in computerized scoring of the computer-administered test.

For more information, contact Dorry Kenyon at CAL (

Assessments of Foreign Language Teachers

Across the country, states are writing learning standards and setting stiffer requirements for the study of foreign languages. With this greater concern for the quality of foreign language education, state and local education agencies, as well as teacher preparation programs, are requiring teachers to demonstrate their competency in the language they teach.

There is no general picture as yet of the policies, practices, procedures, and instruments being used to assess teachers' competency. The Foreign Language Education and Testing division at CAL has been awarded a grant from the U.S. Department of Education to conduct the first comprehensive survey to investigate and document foreign language competency requirements for our nation's language teachers. Issues to be studied include state certification requirements, competency requirements set by districts, and language proficiency requirements in university teacher preparation programs.

For further information, contact Dorry Kenyon at CAL (

ERIC Documents Online

Now users have even faster and easier access to documents in the database of the Educational Resources Information Center (ERIC). The ERIC Document Reproduction Service recently announced that documents entered in the system since January 1996 are available through secure online credit card transactions or by fax-back. All documents, including those entered prior to 1996, continue to be available in microfiche or paper copy.

Visit the expanded EDRS website to search the ERIC database of curriculum and instructional materials, research reports, and conference proceedings (1966 to present, documents with ED numbers only). Order documents online and help to test the new delivery system. Electronic images of recent ERIC documents are available in Adobe Portable Document Format.

Back by Popular Demand

"Why, How, and When Should My Child Learn a Second Language?" the most popular title in the ERIC system's Parent Brochure series, is now in a second printing. Developed at the CAL-operated ERIC Clearinghouse on Languages and Linguistics (ERIC/CLL), the pamphlet discusses the many benefits of early language learning and offers numerous sources and references for further information. It is available free of charge from:

Tucker Summer Fellowship

Charlotte Ullman, a doctoral candidate in the Department of Language, Reading, and Culture at the University of Arizona, Tucson, was the recipient of the 1997 G. Richard Tucker Summer Fellowship at the Center for Applied Linguistics. During her eight weeks of residency at CAL she researched the literature on her primary interest, social identity and its relation to language learning, and made numerous contacts with practitioners in the field of English as a second language for adult immigrants.

For two weeks she moderated an international exchange of questions and comments on social identity issues which took place on the listserv managed by CAL for the National Institute for Literacy. She also authored a digest on social identity to be disseminated from the National Clearinghouse for ESL Literacy Education, which is housed at CAL. Her perspective on the benefits of the Tucker Fellowship is shown in the following excert from a letter to CAL staff.


The Center for Applied Linguistics invites applications for the 1998 G. Richard Tucker Summer Fellowship.  The fellowship pays a stipend plus travel expenses for an eight-week summer residency in Washington, DC while the Fellow works with CAL senior staff members on one of CAL's existing research projects or on a suitable project suggested by the Fellow.  Priority will be given to proposals that focus on language education or on language issues related to minorities in the United States or Canada.
The competition is open to candidates for a master's ordoctoral degree in any field which is concerned with the study of language.  Minorities are especially encouraged to apply. Applicants must be currently enrolled in a degree program in the United States or Canada and must have completed the equivalent of at least one year of full-time graduate study.  Applications must be received on or before April 24, 1998.  For further information contact Grace Burkart at CAL (

Joint Publishing Venture

In a project completed for the state of Illinois, the Refugee Service Center at the Center for Applied Linguistics recently published a health guide for refugees detailing services and resources in the state. Illinois health practitioners provided content knowledge and served as writers. CAL served as editor and publisher, with CAL staff drawing on their expertise in preparing materials that are understandable and useful to refugee populations. The joint venture provides a model that may serve the needs of other states.

A work group of key health practitioners in the state met with an editor from CAL to determine the specifications for the guidebook (target audience, content, level of detail, timeline). The work group drafted chapters, which were then edited and sent out for review to health and resettlement agencies throughout the state. On the basis of comments from reviewers, the chapters were edited again and sent out for final review.

Final manuscripts were put into production, with CAL staff providing the publication resources, including photographs from CAL's archives. The entire project took nine months. CAL is now at work on a follow-up project, the translation of the guide into the languages of the three largest refugee populations--Russian, Bosnian, and Vietnamese.

.New CAL Publications

Polish Pronunciation Tutor

With the aid of the Computer-Assisted Polish Pronunciation Tutor (CAPPTor), by Waldemar Walczynski, learners of Polish can hear the pronunciation of model words, record their own rendition, and compare the result with the model. The software covers all Polish vowels, semivowels, diphthongs, and consonants, modeled by male and female voices. Additionally, the program displays the waveforms and spectrograms of the model pronunciations and the user's renditions. Designed for the Macintosh, the package consists of five high density diskettes containing the application, sound files, and user's guide. ($20.00). For ordering information, contact Dora Johnson at CAL (

Managing Workplace ESL Programs

Workplace ESL Instruction: Interviews from the Field, by Miriam Burt, discusses issues such as securing funding, customizing curricula, demonstrating results, and developing a professional workforce for service delivery. ($5.00). To order, contact Miriam Burt ( at CAL.

Immigrant Adolescents in School

Secondary school educators need strategies to help ease the institutional transitions that immigrant adolescents face. As the foundation for successful policies and programs, Into, Through, and Beyond Secondary School: Critical Transitions for Immigrant Youths, by Tamara Lucas, proposes four major principles, gleaned from studies of excellent secondary schools and examined in light of current thinking about school reform. ($20.95). Order from Delta Systems Co., Inc. (1-800-323-8270).

Two-Way Immersion Programs

For a better understanding of successful two-way bilingual immersion programs, Profiles in Two-Way Immersion Education features three schools that have been implementing two-way programs for at least 10 years. The authors (Donna Christian, Christopher L. Montone, Kathryn J. Lindholm, and Isolda Carranza) describe each program's evolution, current operation, and academic outcomes, making comparisons and drawing conclusions wherever feasible. ($15.95). Order from Delta Systems Co., Inc. (1-800-323-8270).

More CAL Publications

Digests and Q & As are two- to four-page publications that highlight a topic of current interest in the field of education. They may be ordered from CAL free of charge. Longer publications may be ordered from CAL for the price given in parentheses following each title.

Center for Research on Education, Diversity, and Excellence 

ERIC Clearinghouse on Languages and Linguistics 

National Clearinghouse for ESL Literacy Education 

© Center for Applied Linguistics ---
Revised: 10/4/96, more information at