Report on Academic
Specialist Visit to Honduras:
July 1 - August 14, 1999
By Diana Pascoe
Chavez, Webster College
and St. Louis Community College
About the Specialist
Diana Pascoe Chavez is an ESL instructor
at Webster University and at the St. Louis Community College in
St. Louis, Missouri. For the last five years, she has worked with
the immigrant and refugee population, teaching basic English and
workplace survival skills as well as in academic graduate and
undergraduate programs which focus on academic survival skills.
Before coming to St. Louis, she worked in Honduras for many years
as a teacher trainer, program coordinator and TESOL-Honduras president.
She has a BA degree in Art History from Carbondale, Illinois and
a MA in TESOL from Southeast Missouri State University. She has
also studied in graduate programs in Mexico and Honduras. She
is currently working on a Ph.D. in American Studies at St. Louis
University. She has presented at international and regional TESOL
conferences in the areas of pronunciation, workplace ESL and contrastive
Areas of Specialization
Her areas of specialty are training
teachers in contrastive studies of pronunciation, writing styles
and culture as well as cross-cultural communication skills, with
a special interest in working with Latin American ESL/EFL teachers.
She is interested in integrating "translational thinking" skills
into ESL and bilingual study programs.
Sites: Universidad Nacional Autonoma
de Honduras (UNAH) and the Instituto Hondureno de Cultura Interamericana
My activities at the UNAH had two
main objectives: the revision and development of the:
- curriculum and syllabi of the
translation classes and translation specialization program,
- the reading/writing component
of the English as a Second Language degree program.
The Translation program:
The translation classes and translation
orientation within the language program needed to be revised in
light of the new needs of the university program and the national
job market. I helped change the foundation courses- Gramatica
Contrastiva, Linguistica and Intro. to Translation so that they
would both be useful for the general language students and for
any students interested in specializing in translation in the
fourth year seminar courses.
Of special interest were the workshops
given to and by 12 of the teachers in the related fields of psycholinguistics,
sociolinguistics, intercultural communication and contrastive
rhetoric. We worked on readings, course materials and practical
exercises to be used in classes. The outcome was a revision of
the proposed licenciatura program in translation that is being
developed, as well as guidelines for further research. It was
especially rewarding to work with the teachers, many of whom were
professional writers and translators, on developing an awareness
and appreciation of their bicultural/bilingual thinking skills.
We learned many things about our own cultures and languages in
the process. The importance of rethinking the objectives and topics
of culture course so as to make them more relevant to the programs
was also stressed, especially in terms of cross-cultural studies.
The Reading/Writing Component:
The composition teachers and
I worked on a revision of the new Advanced Composition course,
and then, based on a survey and sampling of students taking courses
during this month, we worked on recommendations for the other
writing classes and the reading/writing skill development in general.
I gave two workshops meant to help the teachers and the academic
committee see the difference between personal essay writing skills
and academic, source-based writing. I recommended that the reading
and writing "talleres" be combined so that the writing be more
meaningful, based on academic readings and real tasks assigned
in the content area classes. I also recommended less literature-based
readings and more readings in the areas of business, the sciences,
diplomacy and general real world fields that would both prepare
the students for bilingual jobs in the commercial fields as well
as lay the basis for the translation program.
My final recommendation was
to incorporate academic and creative writing based on readings
starting in English I in a more systematic way, as part of the
syllabus and course objectives, and as a way to bolster language
acquisition. Up to now, the first levels of English were mainly
focused on oral skills and fluency. Based on recent research and
the fact that the UNAH students are not just language students,
but also future language teachers and bilingual professionals,
we worked on strengthening the theoretical and methodological
framework for the integration of writing and reading skills in
all the courses. The pilot Advanced Composition course was designed
using readings about the teaching of writing and the reading/writing
connection in language learning and for academic cognitive skills
in general. The course will be both a language acquisition objective
as well as a content area focus: they are working on their report
and academic essay writing skills, and they are taking a methods
course in teaching composition at the same time.
At the IHCI, I gave two workshops
on "Teaching Intercultural Communication Skills in the Business
Environment" , and "Teaching and Using Translation" to 23 teachers.
I also looked at the Business English project and some of the
programs for the bilingual secretarial program. I also had the
opportunity to talk to teachers and directors of bilingual school
English programs and to discuss the type of teacher and professionals
they were interested in hiring.
Conclusion and recommendations:
By the end of the visit, we agreed
on the need to study the unique nature of "bilingual education"
in Latin American cultures and the need to integrate the two programs:
both English and Spanish in a way that would help the students
appreciate their bicultural identity and more efficiently develop
their language skills in both languages. The growing need for
cross-cultural communication skill training for the teachers is
apparent since most do not know what to do with this kind of material
when they find it in their text books, nor how to tailor it to
their classes' specific needs.
Translation, as a profession and
as a teaching tool, is a rapidly growing area of interest since
it is increasingly seen as an interdisciplinary field with relevance
and application in language and cultural studies programs both
inside and outside the U.S. Some of the observations of the teachers
were the need to study this area more and to redefine the objectives
of these kinds of classes.
In all the programs that I visited,
there was a growing awareness of the need to integrate the Internet
as a source of information and language practice in the academic
programs. Both the UHAH and the IHCI have the infrastructure to
begin to train teachers and devise programs that could be offered
to the public and used in the language programs. The need for
better trained translators for both written and oral material
in professional fields was also apparent, especially if the use
of the Internet in English becomes more generalized. The amount
of information available for students in these virtual libraries
opens the possibilities for being able to compete academically
with any research program in the rest of the world. However, the
teachers need to be trained to feel comfortable using these resources
first, and then shown how to integrate them into existing programs.
Hall, Edward T. The Silent Language.
New York: Doubleday, 1990.
Kramsch, Claire. Context and Culture
in Language Teaching. New York: Oxford University Press, 1996.
Paz, Octavio. "Translation: Literature
and Letters". In Theories of Translation, Schulte, R. ed.,
Chicago:University of Chicago Press, 1992.
Pusch, Margaret D. Multicultural
Education: A Cross Cultural Training Approach. New York: Intercultural
Samovar, Larry, and Porter, Richard.
Intercultural Communication: A Reader. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth,
Seelye, H. Ned. Teaching Culture:
Strategies for Intercultural Communication. Chicago: National
Textbook Co., 1994.
Stewardt, Edward, and Milron J. Bennett.
American Cultural Patterns: A Cross-Cultural Perspective.
Yarmouth, MA: Intercultural Press, 1991.
Storti, Craig. The Art of Crossing
Cultures. Yarmouth, MA: Intercultural Press, 1990.
Vasquez-Ayora, Gerardo. "La Estilistica"
and "Anglicismos de Frequencia", in Introduccion a la
Traductologia, Washington D.C.:
Georgetown University Press, 1977.
Robert Kaplan's bibliography for
Contrastive Rhetoric: http://e.usia.gov/education/engteaching/kap0299.htm#biblio
Schmidt, Helen. The Internet Minicourse
for International Students. (from TESOL 99) http://www.public.iastate.edu/~hschmidt/homepage.html
St. Louis Community College ESL Program
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