Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs

Report on Teleconference with Egypt:
December 9, 1998

By Jean Zukowski-Faust
Northern Arizona University

About the Specialist

Jean Zukowski/Faust is a professor of applied linguistics at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, Arizona. She has been at that institution since 1984.

Having received her baccalaureate (1966) from the University of Wisconsin, MA in TESL (1972) and doctorate in applied linguistics and English education (1978) from the University of Arizona, Professor Zukowski/Faust has also served in the Peace Corps, both as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Turkey and as the director of the education project of the Peace Corps program in Poland, where, for her efforts in establishing fifty-six language teacher education programs, she was decorated by the Polish National government (the Medal Komisji Edukaci Narodowej).

Her work has been recognized through AZ-TESOL's Educator of the Year and Distinguished Service awards and an special award from TESOL for her three years of work as editor of the TESOL Newsletter. She has traveled to Yemen, Turkey, Germany, Poland, Lebanon, and Cyprus for USIS and other short-term educational missions.

Professor Zukowski-Faust is a materials writer, having published with Holt, Rinehart, and Winston; Harcourt Brace; Heinle and Heinle; NAFSA, the Asian Communications Network, and Alta Book Publishers. She has served on the AZ-TESOL Executive Board continually since 1976, has been editor of the AZ-TESOL Newsletter for six years, and sits on the editorial boards of two professional journals. She organized and coordinated the first AZ-TESOL Professional Development Institute for teachers in 1998. In addition, she is a professional editor and a frequent presenter at conferences and symposia.


Areas of Specialization

ESL Methodology, materials writing, teaching integrated skills (as well as teaching listening, speaking, reading, writing, culture, and critical thinking skills), teaching cultural aspects of language learning; adapting materials to specific needs, teaching vocabulary, teaching the multilevel class, adult education, teacher training.


Report on Program

The Telepress conference held on Wednesday, December 9, 1998, with Cairo, Egypt, was on the topic of integrating skills within the language teaching curriculum. For this presentation -- which began with a lecture of about twenty minutes and then a question and answer session with participants in Egypt, I prepared a one-page handout, a distillation of what I believe skills in language learning really are:

  • Waves (the sound waves perceived and the sound waves produced in listening and speaking a language);
  • Ink (the intake and output of written language, the acts of reading and writing); and
  • Guts (the cognitive and cultural aspects of internalizing the attitudes and standards of a new language).

Questions from two well-known English language teacher educators professionals in Egypt (Professors Nadia Touba and Amira Agameya) spurred the thinking of the conference participants so that the conference can be considered a combination of the answers to these questions:

Question 1. In activities where we aim to integrate a number of skills, students are usually expected to do several things. In other words, such activities are quite demanding. Is there a chance that we may be overwhelming students by integrating cultural issues in such activities?

Question 2: In ESP courses, the focus is usually on developing certain skills within a specified academic context. In such cases, are we expected to ignore cultural issues? Can cultural issues be divorced from the linguistic content of such courses. Is it our responsibility to ascertain sociolinguistic/cultural features that may be essential to communicative interaction?

Question 3. This question addresses an issue that relates to a applying language acquisition research findings to classroom teaching. Background: research in instructed L2 acquisition has emphasized the importance of teaching grammar (focus on form) in enhancing the process of acquisition. This research has proposed using communicative tasks that focus the learners' attention on particular grammatical features in the INPUT, while delaying production until "noticing" has taken place.

Question 4. Have those research findings found their way to the ESL classroom? Have materials writers become aware of such developments? If yes, how have the suggestions proposed by SLA researchers been incorporated into classroom teaching?

Question 5. Quite often writing teachers find themselves having to deal with grammatical problems. However, the writing syllabus does not allow them enough space to address adequately students' varying grammar weaknesses.

Question 6. Is it possible to integrate a grammar course into a writing course so that the grammar component meets the particular needs of a writing class? How can such a course be implemented?

Questions 7 and 8: I teach in a program that has cultural objectives, such as becoming more familiar with and tolerant of other cultures. Do you think changes in cultural attitudes in a language class can, or should be measured? If so, how?

Question 9: Does the teaching of culture prompt the teaching of stereotypes? Specifically, do you think cultural studies can lead to some unhealthy promotion of stereotype?

Question 10: How much and what kind of culture should be taught in language lessons to children?

Question 11. Which is better for the learner - to acquire the language in Arabic culture or the English one? And why?

Question 12 .The problem of teaching cultural issues in an EFL class is that sometimes it turns into teaching of a set of cultural do's and don'ts. How do we avoid that?

Additional questions and answers have been exchaged via electronic mail.


Recommended Links

Department of English, Northern Arizona University

Arizona Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (AZ-TESOL)



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