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March 25, 2004 - TESOL Convention - 2004-03-24

Broadcast on COAST TO COAST: March 25, 2004

AA: I'm Avi Arditti with Rosanne Skirble, and today on Wordmaster -- it's TESOL time!

RS: Next week is the thirty-eighth annual convention of the group known as TESOL: Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages. TESOL says there are one-point-three billion non-native speakers of English around the world.

AA: TESOL has fourteen-thousand members across the globe. About half are expected to gather at the convention. This year the convention is in Long Beach, California, with more than a thousand lecture and discussion sessions on the program.

TESOL President Amy Schlessman says the convention will give teachers from the United States and more than one-hundred other countries the opportunity to meet and network with each other.

RS: They will also get a sense of the worldwide interest in the study of multiple intelligences. The convention will open with performances of music, dance and other creative arts -- all to make a point.

SCHLESSMAN: "Of course, we focus on how people talk. But our expression of intelligence can be in multiple ways. Like we have the dance, which is a kinesthetic approach, and we have the music which is a musical approach, and then there are other types of things like intrapersonal intelligence, which is knowing yourself, or interpersonal, which is getting along with others -- which is the whole networking opportunity.

"I recently talked to someone in Bahrain and he's doing research in multiple intelligences. In fact, they did a conference over there about critical thinking in English language teaching. I was also recently in Puerto Rico and they've added a fifth skill area. You're probably both familiar with teaching language often identifies listening, speaking, reading and writing and the four skill areas, and they've added a fifth area which is thinking.

"I think it was (Ludwig) Wittgenstein the philosopher (British, born in Austria, 1889-1951) that said 'the limits of my language are the limits of my world.' We're always interested in people learning another language, but we get to that because we think by increasing their use of language, we increase the options that they have to them for thinking."

AA: "And when we're applying, when English teachers apply these sorts of modern notions of multiple intelligences in their classrooms -- "

RS: "How does that practically work?"

AA: "I was going to say: what do they do this with? With music or with stories or with getting kids out of their seats, if you're going to talk about the kinesthetic intelligence?"

AS: "Exactly. And the example that I'm giving in my presentation on creativity is for us to think about taking what we do a step beyond what we're usually competent in. So the example I'm going to use is a deck of cards. If you think about a straight activity, (it) would be sorting the cards, because you wanted to create a pattern.

"Then the creative step would be, could you use the cards for something other than their original context. Like you would expect the card sort to be by suit or by number or by the type of face card -- face cards versus number cards. But if you give that as the activity to your class, you would kind of get the 'ahhh!' reaction if suddenly a student responded by making a clock out of the cards -- "

RS: "Or a house."

AS: " -- or use the numbers for a clock."

RS: "Or building a house."

AS: "Exactly. Actually that's one that I'm going to use. What we'd like to do is teach that to people so that they can have it as an option. So that's the kind of thing with teaching creativity, you can do it either multiple ways by encouraging different ways to be creative, but then the next step is to identify the principle that you're using, so that that becomes part of the repertoire that students have."

RS: Professor Amy Schlessman of Northern Arizona University is the outgoing president of TESOL. She'll get to present the TESOL President's Award at the convention next week in California. The award this year honors Howard Gardner at Harvard University for his theories on multiple intelligences.