ACTA (Australian Council of TESOL Associations) Update

ACTA held its annual general meeting on March 6th. After 2 years, the incumbent ACTA Executive of Adriano Truscott (President), Jenny Barnett (Vice President), Treasurer (Mairead Hannan) and Liz Davison (Secretary) decided to step down. They leave ACTA in a position of strength internally with improved finances, communication and administrative procedures, as well as externally, with new and important partnerships and projects with national education institutions. WATESOL thanks the Executive for their leadership, advocacy and support over this period.

The outgoing Executive has made way to a new and exciting team:

Michael Michell (ATESOL NSW – co-opted)

Karen Barber (WA Councillor)

Jennifer Mayers (ATESOL ACT – co-opted)

Margaret Turnbull (NSW Councillor)

The new group combines strong academic, schooling and adult sector credentials and we congratulate the new Executive on their election and commit our support to them to continue ACTA’s well-founded position as the national TESOL peak body and advocate. Adriano Truscott (WA Councillor) remains on the Executive as Immediate Past President, and will be attending the TESOL International Convention 2015 in Toronto to represent ACTA in TESOL affiliate meetings, present (See below) and hold a stand to promote ACTA 2016 and TESOL in Australia.

 Keep posted for a report from us on the conference that takes place from 25-28th March, 2015.

*** Below is description of the session Adriano Truscott is leading with educators Dr Mayra Daniel from Northern Illinois University and Dr Mari Rasmussen.

TESOL and Indigenous education in the US, Guatemala and Australia

We are to host a discussion that explores the language rights and cultural inclusion of Indigenous peoples in specific contexts in the US, Guatemala and Australia. In particular, we propose a role for TESOL in the acknowledgement and maintenance of Indigenous languages and cultures in the classroom and the involvement of community in formal education.

 We believe this is an area that requires attention in TESOL and is an important field in global education in its own right.
 Session Description* The UN Declaration on Rights of Indigenous Peoples establishes the rights of peoples to access education in their own language. Guatemala, Australia and the US, while all signatories to this declaration, enact these rights in different ways. For example, Guatemala legally recognises its indigenous peoples and grants them access to bilingual education; Australia does not constitutionally recognise its first peoples, but maintains some formal acknowledgement of their English language learning; and the US neither recognises its Native Americans in formal documents or education practices. Challenges across these contexts merit examination and problem solving by all stakeholders to assure equity at school and society become a reality. Interpreting lofty laws related to human rights so they become implementable measures is a task to embrace with energy, conviction and commitment.

This panel addresses two intersecting domains of concern: the importance of L1 for socio-cultural well-being and continuance, and the importance of L1 in the development of additional languages, such as English or Spanish. By describing specific situations in each country, the panel will elaborate on how TESOL can enhance learning for aspiring multilingual Indigenous learners. TESOL leaders can promote a balanced approach to education that acknowledges learners’ identities whilst explicitly teaching that non-Indigenous ways can be part of mainstream cultures. This effort will help ensure ALL learners an education that is non-threatening, culturally responsive and respectful of home cultures and languages.

Book Reviews

ESL Extras

The Coat & Can You Keep a Secret?

Can you keep a secretClare Harris ( has crafted two interesting and exciting short stories with a twist at the end for adult learners of English as a second language. The stories, both set in Australia, carry along at a fast pace with clear language and basic, perhaps universal, concepts.



The Coat is a story that moves along at break-neck speed with twists and interesting characters, which would appeal to both young and older adults. The Coat tells the story of a young woman who has moved to Melbourne to start her own business leaving her boyfriend in Brisbane. She needs a warm coat because of the cold weather and that coat leads her through questions of love and ethics. The language is at a pre-intermediate level and remains so throughout the book. The grammar is explicit in the text.



Can You Keep a Secret? is a story that would appeal to migrant adults, particularly those with families and jobs. The story centers on George a migrant who is up for a promotion at work but he is asked to keep it secret from his colleagues and family. This moral issue along with George’s concern that his English is not adequate for the job and a birthday party make for a highly entertaining sequence of events with a twist at the end. The language starts at an elementary level and progressively gets more difficult ending up at a pre intermediate level.


The language and the concepts in these two stories encourage the reader to read for meaning and not get bogged down in the language. It is understandable that the author has termed these readers “easy-read” stories and allocated them to the elementary/ pre-intermediate level (CSWE 1,2,3 depending on the level of support provided by the teacher). The readers are available in a ‘library’ version and you can download two chapters (story and activities) from the Book Next Door website: http://www.thebooknextdoor.comthe coat


If you want to focus on the language, the Teacher’s Guide and Workbook contains photocopiable worksheets for each chapter covering various areas such as:

1) Vocabulary (word quizzes, fill in the blanks, opposites, prepositions, collocations, similies, prefixes, Australian expressions);

2) Comprehension (sequencing, True/ False, sentence half matching, multiple choice quizzes);

3) Grammar (tenses, word order)

4) Punctuation (contractions)

Further, these language activities contained in the worksheets encourage the reader to refer back to the story for support. As such, the reader could do the worksheets independently.


These books are clearly designed for varying levels of support- independent, low to high. Depending on the level of the student and the aims of the teacher recommending the books, there are different options:

Independent- Assign the book to students to read for enjoyment.

Low support- Give the students the worksheets to complete and a copy of the audio CD so they can listen and read.

High support- Design lessons around the book and use the Teacher’s Guide and Workbook in its entirety using the worksheets and audio CD. The Guide also contains the story pages of the book that are photocopiable so you can copy them for your students to make notes on- no need to buy a class set of the books. Each pair of chapters in the Guide starts out with a page dedicated to teaching ideas which includes items such as pre-reading questions, vocabulary, prediction, post-reading questions, language notes, and discussion ideas which extend the text and personalise the concepts.


Certainly, one could get picky and say that there are some minor problems with the worksheets (e.g., multiple choice word quiz choices are more complex than the question in some instances). However, the positives of the worksheets outweigh the negatives. For example, the extra language rules for the past tense, similes, collocations, half and half sentences, tables and categorization exercises teach the students excellent learning strategies for analyzing language. Further, the answers are provided.


In summary, if you want to find books for your students that they will read with interest through to the end and go on to read others after, these books are a great choice. With this excellent set of materials, Clare Harris, the author, has certainly achieved her five goals for students, which are 1) reading for enjoyment, 2) fluency and pronunciation development, 3) vocabulary and idiom learning, 4) confidence with narratives and recounts, and 5) achievable comprehension review.


Samantha Vanderford

Independent ESL Consultant


We have a new partner – Education Perfect!

WATESOL Members,

We have negotiated for each of our member schools to have to access 50 free entries in the world’s premier online competition, the Education Perfect World Series. Please use the special partner code: WATESOL to register your students NOW for the Education Perfect English Championships 2014 and you will unlock 50 free student entries in these competitions (normally valued at $20 per student).


Click here to register NOW!

Register your students now to take part in these EXCITING competitions:


There’s a MASSIVE $100,000 Prize Pool for 2014! Click here for full details.

We are looking forward to seeing YOUR STUDENTS learn, compete and win!



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Australian Literacy Educators’ Association (ALEA)

Australian Literacy Educators’ Association (ALEA) provides information for teachers, educators and others that can be found on their website. One interesting section is called ‘Hot Topics’. Two articles currently available are written in response to current educational debates or concerns in Australia.
Article 1:
‘Indigenous Australian Theme in the Australian Curriculum: English: Necessary or Not?’ by Beryl Exley and Lisa Kevin March 2014

The authors discuss the relevance of ‘Indigenous Australian’ theme in the Australian Curriculum with a particular focus on the area of English. This is in response to Education Minister, Christopher Pyne’s comments in January 2014 about a review of the Australian Curriculum and the necessity to have themes.

They outline how the theme ‘reconciliation’ can be taught through the sub strand ‘Language for Interaction’ where acknowledgement rather than participation in ‘otherness’ is the outcome. They provide a brief outline of a series of lessons that can be used to promote this by using a range of literary texts.


Article 2:
‘Lost for words: Why the best literary approaches are not reaching the classroom’ by Misty Adoniou December 2013

This article is written in response to the debate about the return to ‘phonics’ based teaching to solve our students poor literacy scores in NAPLAN and other tests. The author addresses this point by saying “…the 15 year olds who underperform on the PISA or NAPLAN know their sounds.” (page 2) She suggests that these students are performing poorly because they can’t comprehend the written text.

Reference is also made to the EAL/D students where English only is spoken and written at school. It is up to the school to teach English. As the number of non English speaking students entering our schools in Australia grows, schools are finding it difficult to ensure that these students get equal access to the learning that goes on at school.

Literacy standards of teachers are also raised – not to put down the work that the teachers do but to highlight the importance of teacher knowledge of EAL/D learners. Misty briefly discusses her workshop she delivers “10 things every teacher should know about the English language.”

The ‘phonics v whole’ debate is distracting schools from the real reason the students are struggling, she suggests. The value of rich literary texts and the importance for teachers to have a strong understanding of English grammar is necessary to promote meaningful teaching.

2014 ACTA International Conference

to attend the
2014 ACTA International Conference:

30th September to 3rd October 2014
@ Melbourne Convention Centre

WATESOL is offering one current financial member, financial assistance to attend the 2014 ACTA conference. WATESOL will provide assistance to the value of $1000 for conference fees, travel and accommodation only. Any surplus costs are to be met by the participant.

The successful applicant will be required to share their experience with members through a presentation at a WATESOL event and an article in TESOL Links.

Selection will be made by the WATESOL Committee and no correspondence regarding the decision entered into.The successful applicant will need to submit travel and accommodation quotations for WATESOL approval prior to payment. A maximum of $1,000.00 will be paid by WATESOL. Any surplus will be paid by the applicant.

Please fill in the application form below and forward to WATESOL. Applications must be received by Monday, 26th May 2014.


For further information on the conference please visit their website:

ISLPR Global Conference on TESOL

It is with great pleasure that we invite you to the ISLPR Global Conference on TESOL to be held in Ankara, Turkey on 30 – 31 July 2014. We welcome abstracts/proposals for paper presentations, workshops, and snapshots of posters and or colloquia which address one of our subthemes:

  • Improving reading/writing
  • TESOL assessment and the feedback cycle • Teacher assessment and data management • Educational simulation and language games • Motivating EFL students • Multimedia and distance language pedagogy • Strategies for integrating the macro skills • Globalising TESOL and setting up a virtual learning environment • Networked resources and language pedagogy.
  • Proficiency, Culture and Attitudes
  • Goals and their assessment
  • Critical Issues in Teaching and Testing Real Language • Developing and Measuring Real Language • Teaching and Testing Real Language • Needs Analysis • Program Evaluation Research: Planning, Implementation and Evaluation • Facilitating TESOL students’ speaking opportunities • Tablet PC and Smart Phone-based language pedagogy • Using CLOUD technology • Developing intercultural literacy • Facilitating TESOL students’ speaking opportunities • Deepening language learning through multimedia pedagogy • Improving listening and speaking • Culture and language pedagogy • Teachers: Teaching and Testing; Policy, Methods and Assessment Fostering Professional Self-Development This is the conference with a difference where researchers, academics and teachers join together in conversation.

We’re looking to showcase, explore and share the most exciting and empowering new developments in TESOL. We encourage you to submit an abstract by 30 June 2014.

Registrations are open now at <>

We are looking forward to meeting you in Ankara, Turkey in July!

ACTA Submission on School Funding

The ACTA Council was invited to submit submitted a response to the Australian Parliament ‘Senate Select Committee on School Funding’ inquiry. The submission draws on input from ACTA Councillors from around the country as well as the recent ACTA survey into the State of EAL/D in Australia. 


Click here ( to access the Senate Committee website.


The ACTA Submission is number #74

Please note: When the Senate Committee authorises the release of a submission, subsequent publication of it is protected by parliamentary privilege. Please do not download and forward the submission to others but refer them to the above website.

ACTA Submission