Recent ATESOL ACT events


Spelling it out – Associate Professor Misty Adoniou – 18 February 2017

Associate Professor Misty Adoniou presented her ground-breaking approach to teaching spelling.  The session explored phonology, etymology, morphology, and spelling pedagogies.

If you would like to purchase Misty’s new book, Spelling It Out – How Words Work and How to Teach Them, here are some links;

Angus and Robertson –

Booktopia –

Book Depository –

Amazon –

Follow this link to download Misty’s slide;

Bilingual tools to enhance EAL/D students’ language development – 30 July 2016

Presented by Mallika Das (Auburn Public School)

With over 18 years of experience, Mallika has participated in PIEP (Primary Intensive English Program) for Refugees, Using Mobile devices for EAL/D learners, Multicultural Story-box Project, Leadership Project as well as Developing Student’s Linguistic Repertoires for Language development project.

On Saturday 30th July 2016, a highly motivated group of teachers gathered at Duffy Primary School to take part in a most informative presentation by Mallika Das, an EAL/D teacher mentor at Auburn Public School in Western Sydney – a school with a population of 99% EAL/D students.

Mallika started by providing a rationale for bilingual reading programs at her school.  We heard all about her research based evidence that reading in the home language can positively affect reading ability in the target language.  She also touched on the positive effects for parents as they gain knowledge of how Australian school systems function.

We moved on to playing a game of Bilingualism – Myth or Fact? We discussed such myths as “Bilingualism causes language delay” and lamented the fact that not all educators recognise that “Parents should discourage use of home language in order to assist their children develop the majority language” is absolutely a myth.  But, it wasn’t all doom and gloom as Mallika assured us of the truth of “Bilinguals are better listeners” and “Bilingualism promotes all areas of cognitive function.”

After reviewing some relevant legislation and policy documents, Mallika went on to detail some of the successful programs in place at her school.  We watched video clips of Bilingual Stories in Class and heard about Community Language Programs.  Mallika explained how classes were structured according to home language in the first year of schooling and consequently how students shared their learning with their parents.

Parents are valued as active participants and Mallika runs various parent information sessions, providing training in how to read with children, ensuring their access to bilingual texts and enlisting their help in creating resources.  They are even assisted in gaining their WWVP cards!
Mallika outlined the school’s Bilingual Story Time program and shared some related activities to enhance comprehension and writing skills.  We saw how Language Maps were used effectively in the classroom and got the chance to draw our own!

As always, we ran out of time and had to farewell Mallika as she made her way back to Sydney.

A huge thank you Mallika for taking the time to share best practice with us here in chilly Canberra!

PL event report by Isabel Winch

Also on the program for the morning were the presentations by ATESOL ACT’s 2016 ACTA Conference registration scholarship winners Jennifer Mayers (School sector winner) and Lesley Cioccarelli (Adult sector winner).  Read their Conference reports on our Blog page.

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Minimal English as a Pedagogical Tool: Workshop – 6 May 2016

On Friday 6th May, interested professionals from all sectors gathered at the ANU for a workshop facilitated by Lauren Sadow, a PHD candidate with an extensive background in the fields of Linguistics and TESOL.

Lauren launched us straight into our first activity.  How would we explain the concept of “proof” in our classrooms?  This generated much lively discussion.  Would we use scientific, mathematical or textual examples?  Would we physically demonstrate?   One thing we all agreed upon was the difficulty in explaining concepts which are not directly translatable into other languages or which don’t exist in many languages.  “Proof” is a classic example!

Luckily, Lauren’s work with Minimal English provides a tool to help.  Lauren has built upon Natural Semantic Metalanguage to create a core list of basic vocabulary relating to universal concepts.  Minimal English is a structured approach which is clear, universal and translatable.   Lauren guided us in creating explications, or grammatically correct, if not naturally sounding (to the native ear) sentences for explaining “proof.”

Lauren then led us through another exercise where we applied the Minimal English tool to explain other concepts –  amazing, interesting, fantastic, wonderful, great and terrific.  There was much debate about the nuances of meaning in that list!

Lauren impressed upon us that when applying Minimal English to feelings we needed to bear in mind that every culture has value judgements on emotions, and that this knowledge helps us to create our explications.

There was so much more to explore in Lauren’s research, but sadly, time dictated that our session draw to a close.  Most participants could still be heard debating  the differences between “amazing” and “terrific” as they walked through the door.  We were fortunate  indeed to have Lauren present such cutting edge research which many of us will apply in our classrooms.

report by Isabel Winch

Lauren’s Slides and Handouts from the session:

ME Slides image
Imprisoned in English cover imageM

Imprisoned in English: The Hazards of English as a Default Language
by Anna Wierzbicka

If you’d like to know more about Minimal English and Natural Semantic Metalanguage (NSM),
Lauren has recommended this book as a “great one to get people started … It’s aimed at
non-experts so is really accessible. It is primarily NSM and not Minimal English though, but
the discussion on concepts is still just as valid.”

These two short papers, prepared for a 2015 Symposium by Cliff Goddard and Anna Wierzbicka,
might also be of interest: Global English, Minimal English: Towards better intercultural communication, and What is Minimal English (and how to use it)

At the end of her workshop Lauren gave us a very brief overview of “typographical nuance” on the Internet.  The blog post on ‘no’ that she mentioned can be found here: … how we Young People Today use ~improper~ punctuation/grammar in actually really defined ways to express tone without having to explicitly state tone…

Lauren’s PhD project is to create a teacher’s resource using Minimal English. The resource will work its way through the hierarchy of cultural scripts discussed in the workshop all the way down to the cultural keywords that embody the core values of the master scripts. This resource will also include classroom activities based in Minimal English. The explications, scripts and activities will be developed in consultation with teachers in Semester 2, 2016. If you’re interested in getting involved with this project, watch the ATESOL ACT website and Facebook group!

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ATESOL ACT AGM and Youth Coalition of the ACT – 10 March 2016

Our 2016 Annual General Meeting was held on Thursday 10th March 2016 at the Youth Coalition of the ACT, 46 Clianthus St, O’Connor.  2015 President Jennifer Mayers delivered a report on the past year’s activities, our new Committee was elected, and our new Constitution was passed.

Read PRESIDENT’S REPORT                   Read about our NEW 2016 COMMITTEE


YouthCoalitionLogo        MYANlogo

Following the 2016 ATESOL ACT AGM, Emma Robertson, Director of the Youth Coalition of the ACT  provided an excellent overview of the work undertaken by the Youth Coalition and its partnership with the Multicultural Youth Affairs Network (MYAN ACT)

While the Youth Coalition website  will provide you with a very comprehensive coverage of the organisation’s objectives and activities, you may decide to go there because:

  1. The Network is a key body for information about policy relating to young people in the ACT
  2. Policy is agreed upon in close consultation with its members, including young people
  3. The Network represents members’ interest to other stakeholders, including the ACT Government, Australian Government and to independent Commissions and statutory bodies
  4. The Network provides relevant information on young people and provides a summary of important activities, events resources and information relating to young people and the youth sector in the ACT.

EAL/D teachers may find the following resource of assistance if reviewing cultural awareness in their workplaces – MYAN ACT Cultural Competency Good Practice Guide – a resource for both organisations and individual workers to enhance cultural competence and improve supports to multicultural young people. The Guide includes six good practice standards:

  1. Respect and Commitment; 2. Staff Knowledge and Development; 3. Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Workforce and Employment; 4. Culturally Appropriate Service Delivery;   5. Engagement with Communities; 6. Service Development and Evaluation.

You may just be looking for information on what the Youth Coalition and the MYAN are all about, but they seem like a good resource or contact point for anyone working with young people between the ages of 12 – 25.

report by Jennifer Mayers

More information and Links from the Youth Coalition of the ACT and MYAN:

  • Check the Youth Coalition of the ACT YouTube channel for video recordings from the Just Sayin’ event hosted at the ACT Legislative Assembly during National Youth Week in April 2015. Just Sayin’ featured a panel of young people who spoke to their own experience and passions, as well as addressing the question, “Why should decision-makers care what young people have to say?”
  • Rate Canberra – Survey of Young People
    The Youth Coalition has recently launched Rate Canberra 2016, the biggest survey of young people in the ACT.
    This 10 minute survey of 12 – 25 year olds aims to collect information on what it is really like to live in Canberra as a young person, and the issues that are important to young people.
    Schools and youth services can win $1000 for having young people complete the survey, and prizes are also up for grabs for individual participants.
  • National Youth Week 2016 – 8–17 April
    The Youth Coalition coordinate National Youth Week in the ACT.  Emma mentioned that they are trying to get a Student Ambassador from each school in the ACT. Please contact them via this webpage for more information.

additional links by Lesley Cioccarelli

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ATESOL ACT Annual Dinner – 4 November 2015

It’s the end of another successful year.  And another successful ATESOL ACT Annual Dinner! Thanks to all who came along on the night, and an extra big thank you to all the hard working Committee members who helped bring it off.

Our guest speaker this year was Yvette Berry MLA, Minister for Multicultural Affairs, Minister for Housing, Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs, Minister for Community Services, Minister for Women and Minister assisting the Chief Minister on Social Inclusion and Equality.

The Minister reminded us all how important it is to welcome migrants and refugees in the community by being a friend.  She also shared her own experience of witnessing the value of the old workplace language and literacy program (WELL), and welcomed questions and comments from our members about other topics of interest.

We again raised enough money to sponsor 14 Cambodian provincial teachers to attend CamTESOL in 2016.  I think everyone dug deeper in their pockets after hearing from our special guest Mongkul Tep, Dean of the Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Languages at Western University in Phnom Penh, currently studying TESOL at the University of Canberra.  He spoke about how the money we have raised in the past has helped people like him attend the CamTESOL conference, and how meaningful the sponsorship is to teachers from provincial areas. (Mongkul Tep is from – the remotest part of Cambodia, Ratanakiri Province!).  Thanks to all who donated.

Finally, congratulations to Jennifer Mayers and Lesley Cioccarelli for winning the inaugural ATESOL ACT sponsorship to the ACTA/ACAL 2016 Conference in Perth. Jennifer should have laid a bet on this result as she had dreamt about it!

Mongkul Tep and Yvette Berry MLA

Mongkul Tep and Yvette Berry MLA

ATESOL ACT President Jennifer Mayers welcomes dinner guests

ATESOL ACT President Jennifer Mayers welcomes dinner guests

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 Scaffolding Literacy – Community of Practice – 31 October 2015

Reading imageScaffolding Literacy is an integrated reading and writing pedagogy that uses authenticWriting image literature to teach literacy and language skills.

Several Scaffolding Literacy practitioners shared their practice from ACT classrooms, and lead discussions about working with the Scaffolding Literacy pedagogy.

On Halloween morning, a dedicated group of teachers gathered at the Hughes Primary School Hall to participate in an offering of six different workshops centred around this integrated reading and writing pedagogy.

Laurel Rodrigues and Fern Hyde welcomed us all with an introduction to the fundamentals of Scaffolding Literacy.  The importance of following the sequence was emphasized and many examples were given to demonstrate the effectiveness of this high support inclusive pedagogy as part of a high challenge curriculum.  The sequence is as suitable for adult learners as it is for children and is great for its ability to differentiate for all learners.

Bec Smith spoke to us about the Word Study stage of the sequence.  Her highly informative presentation was jam packed full of examples from her own teaching context and she very generously shared many resource tips and ideas.  Bec stressed the importance of   teaching in context with high quality texts.  We learnt how to use six different knowledges about words and spelling in our Word Study; semantic, visual, morphological, etymological, orthographic and phonological.

Rosemary Radford then led us in a session focused on the Transformations stage of the Scaffolding Literacy sequence.  Rosemary demonstrated a practical lesson using props, giving many teachers plenty of ideas to take back to their classrooms on Monday morning.  Rosemary shared her enjoyment of the practice for its explicitness, its ease of planning in a set structure, its evident high level of engagement by students and its opportunity for creativity.

Finally, Maggie Quigley took us on a journey through Language Orientations and Patterned Writing.  We all took part in her demonstration lesson, involving cutting up sentence strips and carefully analysing her sample paragraph.  Maggie shared a particularly useful, practical tip – when selecting texts, make sure that it contains some good examples which you can use for patterned writing and try them out yourself, before you let them loose on students!

Jennifer Mayers, ATESOL ACT president for 2015, closed this fabulous PD session with a reminder that this whole practice of Scaffolding Literacy is heavily research based.

report by Isabel Winch

See below the photos for more links to information and resources for Scaffolding Literacy


Fern Hyde and Laurel Rodrigues An overview of Scaffolding Literacy
A diagrammatic overview of the teaching sequence
Bec Smith
Kingsford Smith School
Word study
Elizabeth Hook
Turner Primary School
Working with Scaffolding Literacy with non-narrative texts
Rosemary Radford
ETD Central Office
Megan Mears
North Ainslie Primary School
Working with Scaffolding Literacy as part of a broader literacy program
Maggie Quigley
Kaleen Primary School
Language Orientations and Patterned Writing
Jessie Wilson
Harrison School
Experimenting with integrating Scaffolding Literacy with integrated topics

[Click on an image above to view larger photos.]

More links of interest:

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Tai Chi and Tennis Balls:
Haptic Techniques for Teaching Pronunciation
19 September 2015


If you’d peeped into the Hughes Primary School Hall on Saturday morning, you’d have been forgiven for wondering why a group of teachers were seemingly flowing through Tai Chi exercises whilst simultaneously tapping tennis balls on their right shoulders and bending forwards. What had this to do with language learning?

It was all part of a fast-paced, hands-on workshop led by Michael Burri from the University of Wollongong on Haptic Pronunciation techniques.

Michael dived straight in with an introduction to prosody and had us all analysing our speech for thought groups and prominence. These are two essential elements for pronunciation teaching and led us to our first exercise – the butterfly position. Michael demonstrated how tapping our shoulders with the tennis ball on the prominent words in a sentence can help speakers with stress, fluency and conversational rhythm.

Michael then led us through a short history of EHIEP (Essential Haptic-integrated English Pronunciation) from the Accent Reduction of the 1980s through to contemporary video and cloud-based technologies.

But there was no time to rest! We soon moved on to the Rhythm Fight Club. This time, the School Hall was filled with teachers punching in front of them and using short jabs forward and away from the body! This kinaesthetic approach certainly had everyone engaged and we could clearly see how valuable these pedagogical movement patterns could be, particularly with learners so concerned to “get it all right” that they lose the conversational flow.

Haptic-pron punching for web

Learning the Rhythm Fight Club technique from our presenter Mike Burri

We explored the teaching of intonation with more hands-on exercises before moving to the diagnosis of learners’ speech. Techniques for enhancing intelligibility were discussed and most teachers left the event with concrete ideas for Monday’s lessons!

Michael raised some thought provoking questions too. Is there better retention of new vocabulary if pronunciation is emphasised? Is there a way to incorporate the sense of smell into Haptic Pronunciation Techniques?!

All in all, Michael presented a hugely successful event on an often neglected area of language learning.

Report by Isabel Winch

Michael Burri is a PhD candidate in the School of Education at the University of Wollongong. He was born in the US, grew up in Switzerland, and has lived, taught and conducted research in a variety of contexts in New Zealand, Japan, Canada and Australia. Michael has presented on pronunciation instruction at national and international conferences.
You can follow him on Twitter @michaelburri or read his blog:

Here are the links Michael mentioned in the session:

We also unveiled our gorgeous new ATESOL ACT banners at the event.  ATESOL ACT often get asked to take part in careers fairs and other events, and we realised we needed something to announce our presence.  So, if you see our big purple logo around town, please come and say hello!

ATESOLACT Committee at HapticPronPD for web

Some of our ATESOL ACT Committee members who organised this fabulous PD practicing their Haptic Pronunciation techniques with our presenter Mike Burri.

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Using the Portraits in the National Portrait Gallery with Students Learning English as Speakers of Other Languages – 14 May 2015

NPG PD image

On Thursday the 14th of May we were very fortunate to have had the experience to participate in a special tour of the Portrait Gallery.  The aim of the tour was to open our eyes to what the gallery could offer English language learners through the use of the space and exhibits.  It was really wonderful to gather with other professionals from different sectors and see how such a great resource could be adapted to suit our respective target audiences. We were guided to consider portraits as a rich source of learning about Australian historical and literary figures and as source, record and narrative.  The message is that we should be all taking advantage of this free resource while it is still available!  If transport is an issue, they can come to you and even offer a livestreaming service! What more could you ask for?

        ATESOL ACT teachers at Portrait Gallery       ATESOL ACT teachers at Portrait Gallery PD

For more information, visit the National Portrait Gallery’s Education Program, Bookings and Resource page

After the dinner, several members attended the CIT Restaurant in Reid to continue our professional discussions and enjoy a delicious three course meal.

Report by Diana Chu, Isabel Winch & Bronwyn Singh

* Did you know that there is a National Capital Teacher Pass which provides free access (and/or other offers) to the attractions in Canberra giving you time to explore the opportunities available for planning a school excursion in Canberra? Find out more on our Places & Events that may interest you & your students page.

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Why Oracy is Critical for Improving Inferential Comprehension – 21 February 2015

There was a buzz of excitement as people filled the Hughes Primary School hall early on Saturday morning, eager to participate in Margery Hertzberg’s workshop on why oracy is critical for improving inferential comprehension.

Margery had us thinking about the difference between literal and interpretive/inferential questioning, and at which points of the teaching sequence that we should include oral language activities (at all points!).  Margery explained how communicative activities can be used when introducing topics and concepts, to discuss developing understandings, and when assessing content knowledge.  The communicative crosswords activity is an excellent example of how single-personal activity (a crossword) can be modified to become a rich language experience that requires content knowledge, topic specific vocabulary and is dependant on oral communication.

Margery provided compelling evidence to show why home language use is beneficial in the classroom, and the importance around carefully selecting partners for group and pair work.  I’m sure many people will be referring to Margery’s evidence to explain their use of friendship grouping for class activities, rather than ability level grouping or splitting up friends for work time.

The scaffolding cycle was explored, with explanations and reasoning around building content knowledge through teacher preparation, getting ready for and into the text, and coming back to the text.  The use of margin prompts was a particularly interesting point, and made explicit the process of modelling comprehension strategies.

The role of drama was a highlight in the workshop as a way to develop comprehension.  We really got into the drama activities and opened up the text in a way that made deep connections.  Margery’s tips on how to make drama successful were noted down eagerly.

The richness of authentic texts as a teaching resource was emphasised throughout the workshop, and I’m sure many people will be rushing out to buy Marianthe’s story: painted words, spoken memories by Aliki to use in their teaching.

I left the workshop with ways to modify my current practice, and new techniques and activities that I am keen to try with my students.  An absolute success for professional learning workshop in my opinion!

Report by Fern Hyde

Teaching English Language Learners in Mainstream Classes cover If you would like to buy Margery’s book, which includes all the ideas she demonstrated to us and many more, you can get the paperback or ebook version from PETAA:
Teaching English Language Learners in Mainstream Classes by Margery Hertzberg


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pre-2015 events

For events prior to the current year, please check the Past ATESOL ACT events page.

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