Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs

Report on Academic Specialist Visit to Uzbekistan: November 10-16, 1998

By Patricia N. Sullivan, Bilkent University

About the Specialist

Patricia N. Sullivan is the Director of the Master of Arts program in English as a Foreign Language (MATEFL) at Bilkent University in Ankara, Turkey. She has been the Director since 1997, filling that position as a Fulbright scholar. She is on leave from the University of California, Santa Cruz. She holds a bachelor's degree from the University of California, Santa Barbara (1964); a master's degree in ESL from the University of Hawaii (1979), and a doctorate degree in Education in Language, Literacy, and Culture from the University of California, Berkeley (1996). She has been a teacher of English and teacher trainer in California as well as in Afghanistan, Taiwan, China, Vietnam, and Turkey. Her recent publications are on the implementation of communication language teaching approaches by Vietnamese teachers in Vietnam (see Sullivan, 1996; Kramsch & Sullivan, 1996). In addition she has co-authored three books on TOEFL preparation (see Sullivan and Zhong, 1988, 1996, 1998).


Areas of Specialization

Second/foreign language pedagogy
Sociocultural approach to foreign language learning
Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL)


Trip Report

From November 12-14,1998, I participated in the Second National Conference for Uzbekistan Teachers of English (UzTEA) held at the University of World Economy and Diplomacy in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. I was invited to attend the conference to give a plenary address plus two workshops on the TOEFL exam to Uzbek participants. There were approximately 250 people at the conference, most of them English teachers from Tashkent, Samarkand, Bokhara, and Ferghana.

My professional activities included giving the opening plenary and conducting the two workshops as described above. In addition, I attended several other workshop sessions and the UzTEA general assembly, led an interest section meeting, was a discussant in the closing panel, and joined the opening and closing ceremonies.

My plenary talk opened the conference, and was titled "Nasreddin Hodja Meets ELT." In it I outlined four trends in English language teaching, introducing each with a folktale from Nasreddin Hodja. It was well received, as evidenced by the conference participants continually referring to it over the three-day conference.

In addition to the plenary I gave two workshops that focused on the TOEFL exam. The first one, which was filled to overflowing, was titled "Understanding TOEFL: A Background View." For that session, I discussed the history of the TOEFL and its relationship to ETS, SAT, and GRE. I described the new computer-based changes, and the changes in second language research that led to the development of a new test. The second workshop was planned as an interactive session in which participants could practice taking the exam on computers. For that workshop, I had arranged to have a computer projector so that the TOEFL CD-ROM sample test could be shown to all participants. I had visited the computer lab several times previous to the session in order to be sure that the computer program was properly installed and running, and that the computers in the room had the TOEFL Sampler installed. Unfortunately, however, this workshop was less well attended than the first one, possibly because it was the only workshop scheduled in an adjacent building, and possibly because - as I was told - conference participants felt uncomfortable using the computers. It was unfortunate that so few attended the computer session, since that was exactly what they needed to experience in order to train others to use the computer. The two 90 minute workshops that I held were only enough time for an overview of issues concerning the TOEFL.

Feedback from the two TOEFL workshops and various talks with Uzbek teachers of English brought to the fore the amount of confusion there is regarding the TOEFL. It is newly given in Uzbekistan, and there is quite a lot of anxiety and much misinformation that surrounds it. Misinformation led some teachers to think they needed to "write a TOEFL," without realizing that these exams are officially prepared by Education Testing Service, and have strict conformance guidelines. Some were under the impression that young children needed to be prepared for the exam. There was, in short, much need for basic sessions on what the TOEFL consists of, what is purposes are, who produces it, and who should take it. With the initiation now of the computer-adaptive test format, there are additional concerns. Few schools have the necessary CD-ROM equipment to allow students to prepare properly for the test. The participants of UzTEA and of the workshops I gave, especially those from outlying areas in Uzbekistan, expressed the need and desire for us to continue the dialogue and offer informational sessions at a later date. At this point, this is needed.


Suggested Bibliography

Berman, R. (1994) Global thinking, local teaching: departments, curricula, and culture. ADFL Bulletin 26 (1). 7-11.

Brown, H. D. (1994). Principles of language learning and teaching. New Jersey: Prentice Hall Regents.

Gardner, H. (1983). Frames of mind. The theory of multiple intelligences. New York: Basic Books.

Kramsch, C. (1993). Context and culture in language teaching. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Kramsch, C., & Sullivan, P. (1996). Appropriate pedagogy. ELT Journal, 50 (3), 199-212.

Richards, J. (1998). Beyond training. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Richards, J. (1995). The language teaching matrix. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Sullivan, P. and Zhong, G.Y.Q. (1989). TOEFL Skills for Top Scores. ARCO. Simon & Schuster.

Sullivan, P. and Zhong, G. Y. Q. (1998). Supercourse for the TOEFL. 4th edition. ARCO. Macmillan.

Sullivan, P. and Zhong, G. Y. Q. (1998). TOEFL . 9th edition. ARCO Macmillan.

Sullivan, P. (1996a). English language teaching in Vietnam: An appropriation of communicative methodologies. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of California, Berkeley.

Sullivan, P. (1996b). Sociocultural influences on classroom interactional styles. TESOL Journal, 6 (1), 32-34.

Sullivan, P. (in press). Language play and Communicative Language Teaching in a Vietnamese classroom. In J. Lantolf (Eds.) Socio-cultural theory: An approach to second language acquisition Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Sullivan, P. (in press). Spoken artistry: Performance in a foreign language classroom. In J. K. Hall. and. L. Verplaetse (Eds.) The Development of Second and Foreign Language Learning Through Classroom Interaction. Lawrence Erlbaum.

Widdowson, H. (1994). The ownership of English. TESOL Quarterly 28 (2). 377-88.

Woods, D. (1996). Teacher cognition in language teaching. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


Recommended Links

Uzbekistan Teachers of English Association Web Page

Bilkent University MA TEFL Program



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