Report on Academic
Specialist Visit to Tunisia: January 30-February 13, 1999
Northern Arizona University
(With Dr. James Coady)
About the Specialist
Fredricka L. Stoller is an associate
professor of English at Northern Arizona University (NAU), Flagstaff,
Arizona, where she teaches in the Teaching English as a Second Language
and Applied Linguistics programs. She received her bachelor's degree
from the University of California at Berkeley (1975), two Master's
degrees from the University of Michigan (1977), and a doctorate from
Northern Arizona University (1992). Shortly after arriving at NAU
in 1985, she founded the university's Program in Intensive English
which she then directed for ten years, from 1987-1997. In addition
to the teacher training and research she conducts at NAU, Dr. Stoller
has trained English as a second/foreign language teachers and language
program administrators in Bolivia, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Italy,
Mexico, Morocco, Panama, Poland, Slokavia, and Tunisia. Dr. Stoller
has published numerous articles on methods of teaching English as
a second/foreign language, content-based instruction, innovation diffusion,
and language program administration. She co-edited (with Mary Ann
Christison) A Handbook for Language Program Administrators (Alta
Book Center Publishers) and co-authored a reading textbook (with Nina
Rosen) with Prentice Hall Regents. She is an active member of TESOL
(Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages).
Areas of Specialization
Dr. Stoller has published and lectured
extensively on issues related to English as a second/foreign language
methodology, content-based instruction, reading, vocabulary, project
work, program administration, and innovation diffusion.
Dr. Stoller arrived in Tunisia on January
30, 1999, in order to co-present at a series of teacher training seminars
on the teaching and learning of English vocabulary. The general topic
of the seminar was decided upon by the Tunisian Inspectors of English
as a response to the perceived needs of Tunisian secondary school
English teachers and the objectives of the national curriculum. The
seminars, sponsored jointly by the United States Information Service
and the Tunisian Ministry of Education, were held in five different
sites (Sfax, Tozeur, Sousse, Beja, and Tunis). Sixty to eighty Tunisian
teachers from surrounding areas attended the sessions at each site;
thus, over the course of two weeks, Drs. Stoller and Coady met and
worked with over 350 English language teaching professionals from
all over Tunisia. Tunisia's English Language Inspectors, and their
assistants, introduced the seminars at each site with a historical
overview of vocabulary teaching in Tunisia and some hands-on activities
to engage seminar participants. The contributions of the Inspectors
were greatly appreciated; their involvement in the planning and implementation
of the seminars helped create a sense of shared ownership and responsibility.
Vocabulary learning and teaching, the
focus of each one-and-a-half day seminar, represent two critical,
and inextricably linked, areas for English language teaching professionals
around the world. Tunisian seminar participants demonstrated a keen
interest in the topic because they readily recognize the power of
vocabulary, for themselves as non-native speakers of English and for
their students. The seminars exposed practicing teachers to current
research on the learning and teaching of vocabulary, and then helped
teachers connect theory to practice. Through a number of hands-on
activities, teachers considered ways of enhancing the national curriculum
and textbooks by diversifying the ways in which they address vocabulary
in their classrooms. The practical activities centered around decisions
that teachers need to make about essential and non-essential vocabulary,
techniques for teaching and recycling vocabulary, and approaches to
teaching students strategies for learning vocabulary on their own.
By the end of the seminars, teachers had a better understanding of
the role of core vocabulary, the importance of multiple exposures
to vocabulary, the need to balance explicit instruction with opportunities
for incidental learning, the role of graphic organizers in vocabulary
learning, and the range of independent learning strategies that students
can learn to become autonomous learners. Although teachers in Tunisia,
like teachers everywhere, are constrained by the demands of a national
curriculum, by the end of the seminar, teachers had a better grasp
of the role that they can play in promoting vocabulary learning in
It is assumed that participating teachers
will share much of the information gained from the seminars with their
peers. In addition, the Inspectors intend to introduce other teachers,
those unable to attend the seminars, to the topics, issues, and techniques
presented during their regularly scheduled teacher training meetings.
Consequently, the effect of the seminars will be far reaching. The
potential for the "multiplier effect" to operate in Tunisia greatly
extends the impact of the seminars.
Those interested in the topic of vocabulary
might want to consult the following volumes:
Aitchison, J. (1994). Words in the
mind: An introduction to the mental lexicon (2nd ed.). Cambridge,
Carter, R. (1998). Vocabulary: Applied
linguistic perspectives (2nd ed.). New York: Routledge.
Coady, J. & Huckin, T. (Eds.). (1997).
Second language vocabulary acquisition: A rationale for pedagogy.
New York: Cambridge University Press.
Hatch, E. & Brown, C. (1995). Vocabulary,
semantics, and language education. New York: Cambridge University
Lewis, M. (1994). The lexical approach:
The state of ELT and a way forward. Hove, England: Language
McCarthy, M. (1990). Vocabulary.
New York: Oxford University Press.
Nagy, W. (1988). Teaching vocabulary
to improve reading comprehension. Newark, DE: International
Nation, I. S. P. (1990). Teaching
and learning vocabulary. Boston: Heinle & Heinle.
Nation, P. (ed.) (1994). New ways
of teaching vocabulary. Alexandria, VA: TESOL.
Schmitt, N., & McCarthy, M. (Eds.).
(1997). Vocabulary: Description, acquisition, and pedagogy.
New York: Cambridge University Press.
Stahl, S. A. (1999). Vocabulary
development. Cambridge, MA: Brookline Books.
Christison, M. A., & Stoller, F. L.
(1997). A handbook for language program administrators. Burlingame,
CA: Alta Book Center.
Department of English,
Northern Arizona University http://www.nau.edu/~english/
Teachers of English to Speakers of Other
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