In this blog post, we are interviewing INTO OSU Instructor Allison McMurtrey on her approach to teaching summarizing & paraphrasing. We hope to feature a couple of these interviews each month on the blog as a way to share the unique contributions that teachers at INTO OSU provide to the center.

Q: At one of the past PEDs you presented on a unique approach to summarizing & paraphrasing that included breaking down ideas in a passage among other steps. What led you to develop this approach?

A: It came from two places. My dad used to tell me that any process is “awfully simple” if you knew the next step and “simply awful” if you didn’t even if you could see whatever your ultimate goal was. I also used to do tech support (live and over the phone) for people who really struggled with computers, and I developed a reputation for doing click by click instructions. I realized that even when students know what a summary or a paraphrase is supposed to look like, they may not know how to take the right steps to accomplish that. Therefore I broke paraphrasing down into the smallest  8 steps I could; summarizing soon followed.

Q: Summarizing and paraphrasing are taught in many classes at INTO and across multiple skill levels. What are some issues you see with the way these two skills are generally approached by the textbooks that we use in our courses?

A: I think many textbooks assume students understand how to apply information just because they understand what a summary or paraphrase is, basically its definition. Textbooks often rely too heavily on models, which are great, but they assume that students can glean how to do something just from seeing that example. Those skills are higher on Bloom’s Taxonomy than a lot of our students are. I am just trying to meet students where they are really at.

Q: Can you describe the way that you approach paraphrasing & summarizing by breaking a text down into ideas, say in a reading/writing class? What are the steps involved in this approach?



(I always use a quote from the previous night’s assigned reading so that it is as relevant as possible to the student’s work.)

Step 1: Choose a quote from the essay that is approximately 40 words or fewer. Make sure it is relevant to your own ideas.

Step 2: List all of the ideas the author includes. Use the original author’s words. Sometimes an idea will be a single word. Sometimes it will be 2-4 words. (See the example.)

Step 3: Change vocabulary words. Remember that some words have a lot of possible changes. Some words are very specific or technical, and it is okay to to keep those words if they are the only accurate possibilities.

Step 4: Rearrange the ideas into a new order. Maybe Idea #1 becomes Idea #3 or maybe Idea #6 becomes Idea #1. Remember that sometimes an idea will stay in the same position as the original.

Step 5: Change the grammar structures to fit your new order of ideas.

Step 6: Put away the original so that you cannot see it. Rewrite the sentence in your own words. Use your new vocabulary, sequence of ideas, and grammar. Read the sentence out loud to yourself so be certain it makes sense.

Step 7: Look at the original quote. Does your paraphrase have all of the same ideas as the original?

Step 8: Check for the three major problems.  Is your paraphrase too similar to the original?  Is your paraphrase incomplete or inaccurate? Did you accidentally include ideas of your own that were not included in the original quote? If you see a problem, go back and fix it.


Step 1: Gather your supplies: a pen or highlighter is a color you like (more than 1 if you want), a blue pen, and your book.

Step 2: Read the entire article. Use the colored pen or highlighter to underline the main idea.

Step 3: Write 1 to 3 key words in the margins next to each paragraph as you read using the blue pen.

Step 4: Paraphrase the main idea on a blank piece of paper. Remember to follow the process completely.

Step 5: Write a list of all of the keywords that you wrote down.

Step 6: Close your book so that you cannot use it as you write.

Step 7: Look at the list. What ideas appear multiple times? What ideas can be combined? What can be condensed?

Step 8: Write a topic sentence that introduces the article. Include the name of the author, the author’s expertise, the title of the article, and the date. Remember that you need all of this information, but you can write it in any order you want.

Step 9: Write the rest of the paragraph using the information from your keyword list. Cross off each idea as you incorporate it into your summary. This will help you to be sure you have included everything that you need to include.

Step 10: Open you book and skim the article one last time. Did you leave anything out of your summary? Did you add any of your own ideas? Are all of the ideas connected in a logical way?

Step 11: Cite your source! Add an APA in-text citation and a correctly formatted and punctuated reference on your reference page.

Q: How has this approach been received by your students? How successful has this been in the courses where you’ve used it?

A:  It’s pretty successful. I always model it the first time in class, going over each step carefully and thoroughly. Then they practice in class with partners and with me there to help. The first time, I make them show their work at each step so that I can see they aren’t missing anything. Some students get it faster than others and are able to start sliding through the steps really quickly. Others really need to go meticulously through the process more times, but because the steps are clear, they are able to do so relatively independently.  By the end of a term, most students can manage to do the whole process with realistic speed. I also like it because I can ask a struggling student where s/he got stuck; we can focus on that step so that they genuinely understand what to do. I can also tell a student who has made a mistake to go back to a particular step and start again from there.

Q: Can you comment on how this summarizing/paraphrasing technique might work in a low level course verses a higher level course?

A: I typically use this technique most in level 4 -6; however, I’ve used a version that was only slightly modified in a Foundations Prep class. We did it the first time as a class, and then they followed the steps on their own. Of course, the reading was very simple, but they were able to manage it. I’ve also used it in level 2 reading, so it can easily be simplified. On the other hand, I used it in a STEM graduate level course, and it worked just as well there too. My grad students like the process nature of the activity, but it is possible that it was because it appealed to their engineering natures.

Q: This is a very interesting approach to summarizing/paraphrasing. For teachers who are interested in trying out this technique in their classroom, what advice would you give them?


  1.  Work through ALL of the steps. Students get confused because teachers don’t realize that they are taking logical leaps. 
  2. I like to show higher level students how to use the thesaurus tool in Word, just to jog their memories about words they already know. 
  3. As part of the modeling process, I do one of my own for real. I work through the steps, I make mistakes, I correct them, I blank out on vocabulary words and look in the thesaurus, etc. Summarizing and paraphrasing are hard skills to master even for native speakers, so I think it is good for them to watch me do one.


Q: For our last question, we would like to know what are you currently reading?

A: I just started a couple of books. Awaken by Katie Kacvinsky, who is a local Corvallis author. It’s about a teenage girl who lives in a world where everything is done by computer, and she has to figure out if that is the life she wants. Indian Killer by Sherman Alexie, who is just brilliant.

This has been a very informative interview. Thank you for your contribution to the OSU Professional Development Blog.

The resources here are curated in order to provide a more in-depth knowledge of language assessment and testing.

Online Resources in Testing and Assessment

  • Language Testing Resources Website — a website maintained by Professor Glen Fulcher that provides a wealth or resources related to language testing. Fulcher mentions that it features “resources on language testing, such as articles, features, videos and audio, [which] are made freely available for language teachers, language testers, and students of language testing, applied linguistics, and languages.”
  • International Language Testing Association (ILTA) –ILTA is an international group of language testing and assessment scholars and practitioners whose dedication and work are respected both within and outside the profession, and who together define what it means to be a language tester.
  • Program for International Student Assessment (PISA)–a triennial international survey which aims to evaluate education systems worldwide by testing the skills and knowledge of 15-year-old students.
  • Midwest Association of Language Testers –The purpose of the Midwest Association of Language Testers (MwALT) is to foster understanding of the principles of language assessment in educational settings in the Midwest.
  • Association of Language Testers in Europe –ALTE is an association of language test providers who work together to promote the fair and accurate assessment of linguistic ability across Europe and beyond. They also feature resources on their site that are helpful for designing assessments related to the CEFR.
  • Canadian Association of Language Assessment –CALA is a professional and academic association dealing with language assessment in Canada.

Academic Journals

  • Assessing Writing
  • Language Assessment Quarterly
  • Language Testing
  • Language Testing in Asia
  • Papers in Language Testing and Assessment
  • Journal of Educational Measurement
  • Directions in English Language Teaching and Testing


  • The Companion to Language Assessment (4 volume set) — This set includes 140 articles written by 185 authors and is the most comprehensive and authoritative account of the field of language testing and assessment assembled to date.
  • Language Testing in Practice: Designing and Developing Useful Language Tests by L. Bachman & A. Palmer
  • Fundamental Considerations in Language Testing by L. Bachman
  • Criterion-Referenced Language Testing by James D. Brown
  • Language Assessment: Principles and Classroom Practices (2nd Edition) by H.D. Brown & P. Abeywickrama
  • Measurement and Assessment in Teaching by Miller, Linn & Gronlund

If you have ever written a conference proposal and gotten rejected, then you’ve probably been left wondering why your proposal was not selected over others. Writing a successful conference proposal continues to be a daunting task for us as teaching professionals. Whats more, the feedback we receive on rejected proposals is often written in cryptic commentaries that provide little to no direction on how to better successfully meet future proposal expectations. We know that the work that we do both in and out of the classroom is valuable and can help make a difference in our field when shared with others, but the conference proposal for many of us continues to be a murky genre navigate.

In this blog post, I’ll cover share some of the genre expectations behind the conference proposal and provide you with some tips on writing one. This post is written with a nod to a Swalsian genre analysis perspective of the conference proposal in that it attempts to identify the major moves of the genre.

  • Indicate the structure/format of your presentation. It is important that you indicate to your reviewer what they can expect to occur in your presentation. Think of this like a loose outline of a lesson plan. If your presentation is more of a workshop, then identify what the main activities your participants will be doing. If it is more of a paper presentation where you are presenting a particular teaching practice(s), then indicate how the various sections of your presentation will be divided. Don’t get too specific, but at least commit two to three sentences to helping your audience understand that you have made a detailed plan for your presentation. Use some of those sequence transition phrases you’ve been teaching your listening/speaking students to use when giving the introductions of their academic presentations.
  • Integrate major approaches and terminology in the field that aligns with your presentation. This may mean you need to dust off that methods book from graduate school, make a visit to INTO OSU’s professional development library or browse through a recent publication of TESOL Quarterly (or another relevant journal in the field) through OSU’s library database. The key here is to refer to an approach or sub-discipline of the field that helps your reviewer place how your presentation fits within the interest section and/or session type you are submitting your proposal to, and for that matter, the field of language teaching and research as a whole. Are you submitting your proposal to the English for Specific Purposes interest section? Then what buzzword/term would you use to help place your presentation? Is there a framework or approach that is often referred to within the area of language English teaching or research that you are presenting on? In my recent TESOL proposal, for example, I mentioned in my title the phrase “Business English” to help place my presentation within a subset of English for Specific Purposes, which is the interest section I submitted my proposal to. By narrowing the focus of your presentation and being more specific with the approaches and terminology that aligns with your presentation, you help distinguish your proposal from the more general content and areas that are likely to see the most submissions. Your reviewer should be able to see that your presentation fits clearly within a specific niche or theoretical framework within the field of TESOL or Applied Linguistics.
  • Identify a research/teaching gap. This is where you place the importance of your presentation within the field. There are generally two ways of accomplishing this. One way is by referring to current research citing that there is a problem area or lack of some type. Research studies in teaching listening, for example, might indicate that we need more ways of teaching listening strategies in our English for Academic Purposes (EAP) courses, but that teachers lack training and materials for helping them accomplish this. You can cite a recent study in a major journal that supports this gap, then follow this up by mentioning that your presentation fills this gap through your demonstration of listening strategy instruction. This is what I like to think of as filling the research gap. The second way is the inverse of the first. Instead of research indicating that there is a gap, you use your own teaching context as support for the gap. A recent research study might indicate the importance of using corpus driven vocabulary materials in the classroom, yet your own experience in creating and using these materials in the classroom might demonstrate that students often don’t view these materials as important for language learning, and what’s more, teachers lack the training to use and create these materials. Your action research presentation on implementing corpus driven vocabulary materials fills this teaching gap by showing how these difficulties can be addressed and (hopefully) overcome. Thus you are filling the teaching gap with your presentation. The key with this move is to make reference to one recent study that justifies a need for your presentation, showing in the process that there is a disconnect/gap between theory (research) and practice. I’ve generally seen most conference proposals only make use of one to two in-text citation references. I would error on the side of using a more recent article in the field than a dated seminal one, unless it connects directly to the approach or theoretical framework you are adopting (see previous point).
  • Describe what your audience can expect to get from your presentation. This is an easily overlooked aspect of a conference proposal. We can get so focused on what we will cover in our presentation and how it connects with pedagogy that we forget the perspective of our audience. When our audience leaves the presentation, what will they walk away with? Will they come away with a new teaching tip that they can easily integrate into the EAP reading/writing classroom? Or will attendees come away with an understanding how a specific approach to content-based instruction be applied to teaching Business for English for Specific Purposes? This is usually the last part of the conference proposal, but it is vitally important in helping your reviewers understand that you have carefully considered how your presentation can contribute to the field and attendees. I like to think of this section as the conference attendees’ version of learning outcomes and objectives. In a 2016 TESOL presentation that I collaborated on with Lauren Funderburg, we included this last line in our proposal help describe the takeaway for reviewers: “Attendees will leave the presentation with handouts outlining TED Talk related tasks and activities, our choice of TED Talks designed to fit specific language learning objectives and criteria and steps for the digital curation of TED Talks.” You want to limit the use of personal pronoun and focus on the audience as the subject.

In addition to considering some of the rhetorical moves described here, it is important to carefully consider the interest section, content section or thread that you are submitting to. Some areas tend to get much more submissions than others. Pick up a recent catalog of presentations or look up some of the past sessions online, then you can see what sections get the most submissions. Try  to tailor your presentation to fit within one of the sections that often sees less submissions. If you do end up submitting to one of the more saturated content areas, be sure your presentation is novel and strong enough to stand alone from the rest of the herd.


Related Links:

Publishing online course content to Canvas has almost become a necessity for us as teachers. We need to make our content accessible to learners and cut down in printing costs. But how effectively do we design our courses? Are they readily accessible to our students?

In the following blog post, “Seven Deadly Sins of Online Course Design,” DePaul University instructional designer Adam Sanford outlines some of the biggest mistakes that teachers make when designing content online. He then recommends how these pitfalls can be avoided.

I know that I have sometimes made the mistake of what he calls digital hoarding, where I overshare by providing a number of assignment related materials with too little context. This was a good reminder that more is not necessarily better when it comes to providing students with resources. And by providing a short description of a resource (perhaps in parenthesis) students will be able find the resources they need to complete a task more efficiently, which is much better than dumping a big heap of uncurated links and files on a page in Canvas.

In my experience, digital hoarding comes about because students are not meeting the expectations for a specific task or assignment. For instance, in one class I found that, as students were struggling with their reading response assignments, I continually uploaded more materials online in an attempt to help them. The problem wasn’t a lack of materials, though. Rather, it was that the assignment and grading criteria needed to be completely revised to provide more clarity. I simply needed a few quality materials, not a large quantity of them.

Which of Sanford’s 7 sins of course design seem especially salient for you? Where do you think you can make improvements in course design?

Related Links:

This past March I attended the TESOL 2017 conference in Seattle. While there, I sat in on many sessions, focusing mainly on vocabulary, reading comprehension, and practical activities for the classroom. One of the best research-focused sessions that I went to was by Scott Douglas from the University of British Columbia. He was presenting on the lexical needs of University bound ESL students in order to be successful with the reading and writing demands of their studies. I found this session to be eye opening and very engaging because I had never before thought about vocabulary in terms of word families needed or the fact that the vocabulary needs for reading may differ from the vocabulary needs for writing. Below I give a brief summary of the main points of his presentation. If you find it interesting and want to learn a bit more or discuss it further, I will be presenting the information at the Winter 2018 PED as well as adding the full reference list from the presentation to this post.

As we are all aware, students need to learn a lot of vocabulary to be successful at the University level in the U.S. (and I am sure other countries), and the words that they need to learn are not static; they change depending on a variety of things. Therefore, students need to be aware of whole word families as well as the many different meanings one word can have.

A typical college bound 18-year-old in the U.S has around 18,000 word families at their disposal (Nation, 2001) and they learn +/- 5,000 more during their undergraduate studies (Zechmeister et al., 1995). While this is a daunting number of word families, fortunately, ESL students do not have to learn this many to be successful in their own studies. This is because of the Lexical Frequency Principle, which basically means that some words are used more often than others, so students should focus on those higher frequency words first.

The General Service List (GSL) and the Academic Word List (AWL) are both word family lists that help teachers and students focus on the word families that are used most often in English. Together they make up the first 2,570 word families that students should learn/are taught. Also, together they make up around 86% of the words in an average academic text. 86% sounds like a god portion of a text, right? However, to be successful with reading comprehension, without getting frustrated and discouraged, one needs knowledge of around 98% of the text (Hu and Nation, 2000; Nation, 2001). This is for fully independent reading without the aid of an instructor and students would need to know around 8,500 word families. With a good instructor and some classroom help students still need to know around 95% of the text for good comprehension to occur, which is around 4,500 word families. To break this down further the following bullet list shows how often a student would need to look up a word in the dictionary at the varying word family levels:

  • 2,570 Word Families (The Struggle Level)
    • Encounter an unfamiliar word ≈ 1 in 7 times (86%)
  • 4,000 – 5,000 Word Families (The Instructional Level)
    • Encounter an unfamiliar word ≈ 1 in 20 times (95%)
  • 8,000 – 9,000 Word Families (The Independent Level)
    • Encounter an unfamiliar word ≈ 1 in 50 times (98%)

(Douglas, 2013)

Now let’s look briefly at vocabulary thresholds for writing. Knowledge of vocabulary is important for writing because it has been shown that low rated writing is usually partnered with simple vocabulary. How often students need to look for a word and how many ways a student knows how to write about the same information directly impacts their writing scores. With the GSL and the AWL students will have 94% of the vocabulary needed for a well written academic essay. This is lower than the reading threshold which may be why students at INTO are often struggling more with their reading than their writing scores. The following bulleted list shows the levels for how often a student would need to stop writing to look up a word in the dictionary while completing an academic assignment:

  • 2,000 Word Families (Struggle Level)
    • Stop writing ≈ 1 in 8 times to search for a word (88%)
  • 3,200 Word Families (Instructional Level)
    • Stop writing ≈ 1 in 20 times to search for a word (95%)
  • 5,300 Word Families (Independent Level)
    • Stop writing ≈ 1 in 50 times to search for a word (98%)

(Douglas, 2013)

The chart below summarizes the thresholds together (as cited in Douglas, 2017)

Word Families Reading Writing
2,000 76% 88%
2,570 86% 94%
3,000 95%
4,000-5,000 95%
5,000 98%
8,000-9,000 98%
12,000 100% (est.)
14,000 100% (est.)

In sum, vocabulary proficiency with students can directly impact their ability to be successful in their university studies. While vocabulary is just one thread of many in overall language proficiency, it is helpful for our own instruction to be aware of students’ vocabulary needs for their future endeavors. This information can help us come up with realistic goals and practical guidelines for reaching the level of vocabulary coverage students need (Douglas, 2017). Most importantly, teachers should focus on the automatization of the word families below the Struggle Level thresholds in order to help free up students’ cognitive space and help them engage in the lessons, whether the task is reading or writing.

Full Reference list from TESOL 2017 presentation:

  • Brynildssen, S. (2000). Vocabulary’s influence on successful writing: ERIC Digest D157. Bloomington, IN: ERIC Clearinghouse on Reading, English, and Communication. (ERIC Document Service No. ED446339). Retrieved from
  • Canning, R. & Canning, S. (2004). British Columbia: A natural history. Vancouver, BC: Greystone Books.
  • Centre for Canadian Language Benchmarks (CLB). (2012). Canadian Language Benchmarks for Adults: English as a Second Language for Adults. Citizenship and Immigration Canada. Retrieved from
  • Cobb, T. (2003). Analyzing late interlanguage with learner corpora: Quebec replications of three European studies. The Canadian Modern Language Review, 59(3), 393-423.
  • Cobb, T. (2016). Compleat Lexical Tutor v.8. Retrieved from
  • Cobb, T. & Horst, M. (2001). Reading academic English: Carrying learners across the lexical threshold. In J. Flowerdew & M. Peacock (Eds.) Research Perspectives on English for Academic Purposes (315-329). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Collier, V.P. (1987) Age and rate of acquisition of second language for academic purposes. TESOL Quarterly 21, 617– 641.
  • Corson, D. (1985). The lexical bar. Oxford: Pergamon.
  • Corson, D. (1997). The learning and use of academic English words. Language Learning 47(4), 671-718.
  • Coxhead, A. (2000). A new academic word list. TESOL Quarterly 34(2), 213-238.
  • Coxhead, A. & Nation, P. (2001). The specialised vocabulary of English for academic purposes. In J. Flowerdew & M. Peacock (Eds.), Research Perspectives on English for Academic Purposes (pp. 252-267). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Cummins, J. (1981). The role of primary language development in promoting educational success for language minority students. In California State Department of Education (Ed.), Schooling and language minority students: A theoretical framework (pp. 3-49). Los Angeles, CA: Evaluation, Dissemination and Assessment Center, California State University, Los Angeles. Retrieved from
  • Dearden, P & Mitchell, B. (2012). Environmental Change and Challenge 4th Don Mills, ON: Oxford University Press.
  • Douglas, S.R. (2010). Non-Native English Speaking Students at University: Lexical Richness and Academic Success. (Unpublished doctoral thesis). University of Calgary, Calgary. Retrieved from
  • Douglas, S.R. (2013). The lexical breadth of undergraduate novice level writing competency. Canadian Journal of Applied Linguistics, 16(1), 152-170. Retrieved from
  • Douglas, S. (March 21, 2015). Characteristics of Test-Taker Vocabulary in Use Associated with Varying Levels of English Language Proficiency Measured by the CELPIP-General Test. American Association for Applied Linguistics Conference, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
  • Engber, C. (1995). The relationship of lexical proficiency to the quality of ESL compositions. Journal of Second Language Writing, 4(2), 139-155. Retrieved from
  • Hakuta, K., Butler, Y., Witt, D. (2000). How Long Does It Take English Learners To Attain Proficiency? University of California Linguistic Minority Research Institute.
  • Hinkel, E. (2003). Simplicity without elegance: Features of sentences in L1 and L2 academic texts. TESOL Quarterly 37(2), 275-301.
  • Horst, M. (2013). Mainstreaming second language vocabulary acquisition. Canadian Journal of Applied Linguistics, 16(1), 171-188.
  • Hu, M. & Nation, P. (2000). Unknown vocabulary density and reading comprehension. Reading in a Foreign Language, 13(1), 403-430.
  • Frye, N. (1963). The Educated Imagination: The Massey Lectures – Second Series. Toronto: CBC.
  • Grabe, W. (1985). Written discourse analysis. In R. B. Kaplan, A. d’Anglejan, J. R. Cowan, B. Kachru, G. R. Tucker, & H. Widdowson (Eds.), Annual review of applied linguistics (Vol. 5, pp. 101-123). New York, NY: 
Cambridge University Press.
  • Laufer, B., & Nation, P. (1995). Vocabulary size and use: Lexical richness in L2 written production. Applied Linguistics, 16(3), 21-33.
  • Laufer, B. (2000). Task effect on instructed vocabulary learning: The hypothesis of ‘involvement’. Selected Papers from AILA ’99 Tokyo (pp. 47-62). Tokyo, Japan: Waseda University Press.
  • Laufer, B. & Ravenhorst-Kalovski, G.C. (2010). Lexical threshold revisited: Lexical text coverage, learners’ vocabulary size and reading comprehension. Reading in a Foreign Language 22(1), 15-30.
  • McNamara, D. S., Crossley, S. A., & McCarthy, P. M. (2010). Linguistic features of writing quality. Written Communication, 27(1), 57-86.
  • Maugham, W.S. (1930). Cakes and Ale. London, UK: William Heinemann Ltd
  • Mecartty, F.H. (2000). Lexical and grammatical knowledge in reading and listening comprehension by foreign language learners of Spanish. Applied Language Learning, 11(2), 323-348.
  • Nation, P. (2001). Learning vocabulary in another language. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Nation, P. (2006). How large a vocabulary is needed for reading and listening? The Canadian Modern Language Review, 63(1), 59-82.
  • Nation, P. (2008). Teaching vocabulary: Strategies and techniques. Boston, MA: Heinle.
  • Nation, P. & Waring, R. (1997). Vocabulary size, text coverage, and word lists. In N. Schmitt, & M. McCarthy (Eds.), Vocabulary: Description, acquisition, pedagogy (6-19). New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.
  • Nassiji, H. (2003). Higher level and lower level text processing skills in advanced ESL reading comprehension. Modern Language Journal, 87, 261-76.
  • Orwell, G. (2004). 1984. Fairfield, IA: 1st World Library.
  • Paragon Testing Enterprises. (2015). CELPIP-General Test. Retrieved from
  • Raimes, A. (1983). Tradition and revolution in ESL teaching. TESOL Quarterly, 17(4), 535-552.
  • Raimes, A. (1985). What unskilled ESL students do as they write: A classroom study of composing. TESOL Quarterly, 19(2), 229-258.
  • Read, J., & Nation, P. (2006). An investigation of the lexical dimension of the IELTS speaking test. IELTS Research Reports, 6. The British Council/IELTS Australia.
  • Roessingh, H. (2006). BICS-CALP: An introduction for some, a review for others. TESL Canada Journal, 23(2): 91-96.
  • Roessingh, H. (2008). Variability in ESL outcomes: The influence of age on arrival and length of residence on achievement in high school. TESL Canada Journal, 26(1), 87-107.
  • Schmitt, N., Jiang, X., & Grabe, W. (2011). The percentage of words known in a text and reading comprehension. Modern Language Journal, 95(1), 26-43.
  • Smith, C. (2003). Vocabulary’s influence on successful writing: ERIC topical bibliography and commentary. Bloomington, IN: ERIC Clearninghouse on Reading, English, and Communication. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED480633). Retrieved from
  • Staehr, L.S. (2009). Vocabulary knowledge and advanced listening comprehension in English as a Foreign Language. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 31(4), 577-607.
  • Stanovich, K.E. (1986). Matthew effects in reading: Some consequences of individual differences in the acquisition of literacy. Reading Research Quarterly, 21, 360-407.
  • Stanovich, K.E. (2000). Progress in understanding reading: Scientific foundations and new frontiers. New York: Guilford Press.
  • Thomas, W. & Collier, V. (2002). A national study of school effectiveness for language minority students’ long term academic achievement. (September 1, 2002). Center for Research on Education, Diversity & Excellence. Final Reports. Paper 1_1_final. Retrieved from
  • Vandergrift, L. and Baker, S. (2015). Learner variables in second language listening comprehension: An exploratory path analysis. Language Learning, 65(2), 390-416.
  • van Zeeland, H. and Schmitt, N. (2013). Incidental vocabulary acquisition through L2 listening: a dimensions approach. System, 41, 609-624. Retrieved from 
  • Verhoeven, L (2000). Components of early second language reading and spelling. Scientific Studies of Reading, 4, 313-30.
  • Webb, S. and Rodgers, M.P.H. (2009). Vocabulary demands of television programs. Language Learning, 59(2), 335-366.
  • Yu, G. (2009). Lexical diversity in writing and speaking task performances. Applied Linguistics 31(2), 236-259.
  • Zechmeister, E.B., Chronis, A.M., Cull, W.L., D’Anna, C.A., & Healy, N.A. (1995). Growth of a functionally important lexicon. Journal of reading behaviour 27(2), 201-212.

In this blog post are two articles shared by by INTO OSU’s Chinese Language & Culture Advisor, Alice Wang. We are including both the links to the articles and her commentary on the take aways for teachers.

The first NY Times article, “Chinese, Studying in America, and Struggling,”  highlights some of the struggles that international students from China have while studying in America. As much of our student population is from China, this cultural perspective is vitally important for teachers to consider. Below are Alice’s comments.

Alice Wang: While some international students are struggling at American universities, instructors are being challenged to teach and help them. To achieve success, students must do their part, and equally important, instructors and professors need to understand the difficulties their students face in order to adjust their teaching to encourage and offer support to international students.

In the second article, “Yale’s Most Popular Class Ever: Happiness,” the author describes how a popular class at Yale addresses stress and anxiety by focusing on positive psychology and behavioral change.

Alice Wang: While Yale is offering a course on happiness, I’m thinking it may be meaningful and helpful if our instructors integrate guidance on “how to be happy” into their teaching or as an occasional reminder in class to promote students’ well-being.

As Oregon State University pushes towards more hybrid and online courses, it becomes important for us as teachers to find ways to become familiar with and to implement the technological tools that our students will be using in their future classrooms. This requires us to carefully consider the differences between the online environment and the face-to-face one as well as principles of effective teaching required in the online environment. The following article from the Canadian Journal of Learning and Technology (2008) highlights some of these differences and outlines 9 principles for excellent in web-based teaching.

An absolutely riveting online course: Nine principles for excellence in web-based teaching

What are some of your experiences with online course instruction and course development? What principles mentioned in the article seem especially salient to your experiences and understanding of web-based teaching? Feel free to add your comments below.

In the future, we plan to include a number of book reviews for different books in the professional library. The following review for New Ways in Teaching Connected Speech was published in The Electronic Journal for English as a Second Language. This book integrates the teaching of listening and pronunciation in a way that is approachable to both beginning and experienced teachers. You can find the full book review here:

New Ways in Teaching Connected Speech

Writing a conference proposal can be a daunting experience for teachers, especially for those of us who have never written one before. Even after reading through a call for proposals, a number of questions often remain for the proposal writer. Below are some resources provided by TESOL members on what makes a successful proposal and are a great place to start after you’ve read through a call for proposals for an upcoming conference.



In the upcoming months we’ll be adding content to the blog so that teachers have one central location to address their professional development needs.

Some of things you can expect to be posted here include PED write ups, professional development article and book reviews, Professional Conference Call for Proposals (CFPs), and much more!

We invite teachers to post their own comments and contribute. We look forward to hearing from you!

Randy Rebman
Elisabeth McBrien