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University Of Virginia Hosts Statewide Conference For Teachers Of English As A Second Language

October 9, 2003 -- The population of schoolchildren in Virginia who are non-native speakers of English has exploded over the past few years and schools around the state are struggling to meet their needs, according to the Virginia Association of Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages. Add in the initiatives to raise scholastic standards, such as Virginia’s Standards of Learning and the federal government’s No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, and the challenges facing English as a Second Language teachers in financially strapped school districts are daunting.

Those are among the topics to be addressed at the annual VATESOL conference on Saturday, Oct. 11 at the University of Virginia. Rescheduled to avoid Hurricane Isabel, the conference is being hosted by the University’s Center for American English Language and Culture from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. in Wilson Hall. It is open to the public for an on-site registration fee of $25, which covers lunch and refreshments.

More than 130 educators from around Virginia are expected to convene in Charlottesville for the 2003 conference, which is built around the theme of support for instructors and staff working with English learners in regular classrooms.

Judy Richardson, professor of education at Virginia Commonwealth University, will deliver the keynote address, “Challenges and Solutions: Working with ESL Students Who Have Special Needs in Reading.” And Roberta Schlicher, ESL coordinator for the Virginia Department of Education, will speak on the implications of SOLs and Title III (No Child Left Behind legislation).

Other scheduled sessions include creating a course for scientific English, developing an awareness of sexist language, and designing a writing workshop that incorporates storytelling.

There also will be a presentation on building community networks by Paula Mehring, director of Virginia Migrant Education, Waynesboro, and on Virginia migrant education and the International Rescue Committee in Charlottesville, by Heidi Gordon, an ESL instructor for the Charlottesville city schools and the International Rescue Committee. The pair will share their recent experiences developing an advocacy group for Hispanics in Waynesboro and a networking group for organizations serving immigrants in Charlottesville.

The Center for American English Language and Culture was conceived by the Virginia 2020 Commission on International Activities and is funded by the Office of the Vice President and Provost. Its two-fold mission is to provide national leadership in intercultural communication and teaching English as a second language, and to help members of the U.Va. community attain the linguistic and cultural proficiency needed for academic success. All segments of the Virginia education system are represented in VATESOL, preK-12, adult and migrant, college and university.

CAELC partners include the English Department, the McIntire School of Commerce, the School of Engineering and Applied Science, the Office of the Vice President for Research and Graduate Studies, the School of Law, the Teaching Resource Center, the Speech-Language-Hearing Center, the International Studies Office, the International Center, the Summer Language Institute, and the Office of the Summer Session.

Contact: Charlotte Crystal, (434) 924-6858

FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: Contact the Office of University Relations at (434) 924-7116. Television reporters should contact the TV News Office at (434) 924-7550.

SOURCE: U.Va. News Services


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