USIA English Language Programs

Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs
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Report on Academic Specialist Visit to Morocco:
July 4-17, 1999

By Jann Huizenga, University of New Mexico at Los Alamos

 


About the Specialist

Jann Huizenga has worked in ESL/EFL teacher education around the world since 1982, in countries as diverse as Mongolia, Uzbekistan, Slovakia, and South Africa. She is currently working with Albanian experts on a national EFL curriculum for Albania, funded in part by USIA. She has taught in the M.A. in TESOL Program at Hunter College, CUNY, in the M.A. in Education Program at the College of Santa Fe, and is currently a teacher trainer at the University of New Mexico at Los Alamos. Ms. Huizenga has an M.A. in French Language and Literature (1975) and another in Linguistics/TESOL (1978) from the University of Michigan. She has been a Fulbright grantee in Yugoslavia, Turkey, and Italy and is the author of more than 20 ESL/EFL textbooks, including Arrivals: Cross-Cultural Experiences in Literature, Writing Working, Reading Workout, All Talk, and Collaborations.


 

Areas of Specialization

Literature and ESL/EFL; cooperative learning and interactive classroom management; second language literacy; cross-cultural awareness; vocabulary, idioms and lexical approaches; ESL/ESL curriculum design; and materials development and assessment.

 

Trip Report

The 15th annual (two-week intensive) Summer Institute of English in Rabat, Morocco focused this year on the teaching of writing. More than 120 secondary teachers of English from all over Morocco participated in this exhilarating event, expertly organized by Abdelkrim Raddadi of USIS, Casablanca with the help of Abdellatif Fauzi.

The seminar accomplished a number of important goals. First, there was a clear and very positive shift over the course of the two weeks in teachers’ perceptions of the teaching of writing in their English courses. At the start of the course, teachers registered a startling distaste for the teaching of writing, and many acknowledged that glorified grammar exercises were the only type of writing their students engaged in. At the end of the course, an informal survey of about 50 participants indicated that most had developed a much more optimistic view of teaching writing. Teachers were eager to talk about the ways in which they planned to alter their classrooms: a) by paying more attention to writing and to the writing process, b) by focusing more on the content of student writing and allowing students to write for self-expression, c) by setting up cooperative classrooms where peers helped each other, and d) by focusing on student writing progress rather than student deficits. My sessions dealt with ways to turn young students on to writing, managing cooperative classrooms, and contrastive rhetoric.

The Institute also fostered beautiful cross-cultural exchanges. The American staff members experienced the generosity of Moroccan hospitality in its many forms. One evening, for example, we were clothed in Moroccan gowns and treated to traditional hand tattoos with henna. Conversely, we shared aspects of American culture with the teachers- especially in the evening activities, which focused on modern American literature (my session), American embroidery patterns, Zydeco music, and songs and games.

The seminar encouraged an ongoing relationship between American and Moroccan English-teaching professionals. Four members of the Institute staff were Moroccan and four members were American--a very healthy balance, I found. The American staff members joined the Moroccan Association of Teachers of English (MATE)--soon to be a TESOL affiliate-- and were invited to return to Morocco in March to present at the annual MATE convention. Some of us exchanged addresses with the Moroccan participants and plan to keep in touch regarding common interests and problems.

Participating teachers expressed a keen appreciation for the American/USIS presence at the institute.

 

 

Suggested Bibliography

Connor, U. (1996). Contrastive Rhetoric. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Huizenga, J. (1995). Arrivals: Cross-cultural experiences in literature. White Plains, NY: Longman.

Huizenga, J. and Thomas-Ruzic, M. (1990). Writing workout. Boston, MA: Heinle and Heinle.

Kagan, S. (1994). Cooperative learning. San Juan Capistrano: Resources for Teachers.


 

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