Sunday, May 7, 2017

Webinar: Meeting the English Language Needs of Early Childhood Educators and Families

Throughout the United States an increasing number of nonnative early childhood educators care for young children. Cultural and linguistic diversity form a substantial part of the American heritage and should be embraced in early childhood programs for the benefit of children. This web presentation helps you consider the necessary language skills and strategies needed to enable nonnative speakers of English to be successful. We look at where to start and how to build English language skills through continuous and sustained instruction.

Webinar Objectives:
  • Identify practical skills needed by nonnative speaking early childhood educators and families to listen, speak, read, and write in English on the topics of early childhood care, education, and child development.
  • Explore various strategies to promote English language proficiency among nonnative speaking early childhood educators and families.
  • Discover established curriculum and materials specifically designed for increasing the English language proficiency among nonnative speaking early childhood educators.
Presenter(s):  Julaine RosnerMarsha Chan
Brought to you by: Source for Learning
Assisting the presenters: Kamna Seth, Carrie Scruggs

View the webinar recorded on April 27, 2017 (90 minutes)

Thursday, March 30, 2017

English Pronunciation for Chinese and Vietnamese Speakers

Decades of teaching English to speakers of Vietnamese and Chinese dialects (as well as other languages); taking classes in Vietnamese, Cantonese, and Mandarin; researching linguistic descriptions of these Asian languages; speaking them to varying degrees of fluency; being ever so curious about the articulation of utterances; and enjoying a gift of imitation have all enabled me to guide learners to modify their pronunciation in English. 

This presentation (click the link below), addresses some questions commonly asked by ESL teachers about teaching pronunciation to speakers of these languages, shows not only a static view of the speech organs but also videos of the speech organs in motion, with attention to the articulation of /l/ and r/. The importance of mirrors and the benefit of pronunciation workouts is mentioned before the demonstration and presentation of details on how to articulate American /l/ and /r/, particularly in relation to typical problems encountered by speakers of Vietnamese and Chinese. A comparison of consonant and vowel inventories and syllable structure of these languages and English is offered to explain where and why pronunciation difficulties occur and what features teachers need to address.

Two influential aspects of pronunciation that lack mention in English pronunciation materials are airstream and glottalization. During the session I describe and demonstrate the implosive characteristic of spoken Vietnamese and its effect on explosive English. Next after a review of stops in English, I explain and demonstrate how glottal stops are inherent features of certain tones of Vietnamese, and Cantonese, but when transferred to English, can cause obstructions that impede fluency and intelligibility. I offer steps and strategies for avoiding unwanted glottal stops, including sensory perception and practice with linking. Finally I touch on tone vs. intonation and suggest guided dialogs and singing selected songs as ways to give learners a feel of oral English and to enhance their prosody in speaking. (more on the music of spoken English here)

Click here to access the slides English Pronunciation for Chinese and Vietnamese Speakers.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Software for English Pronunciation, Listening, Speaking, and Vocabulary

At the 2016 CATESOL Teaching of Pronunciation Interest Group workshop in San Diego, Ana Wu and I gave our audience a description and a short peek at six online programs. Here is our "handout" with links.

CATESOL Top-IG workshop: Software for English pronunciation, listening, speaking, and vocabulary

Marsha J. Chan, Mission College (Emerita), TOP-IG Co-founder and Co-coordinator, and Sunburst Media,
Ana Wu, City College of San Francisco,,

Digital Literacy Instructor, or DigLin, is a website founded by LESLLA (Low-Educated Second Language and Literacy Acquisition) to assist a number of non-literate and low-literate immigrant adults in European countries acquire a second language and computer competencies. Ana explains the pedagogical considerations that support the use of this website and demonstrates selected activities.

Learner’s Dictionary

Created by, this site offers 15 sessions where students can practice pronunciation and learn vocabulary independently. Ana explains the advantages and disadvantages of using this website and demonstrates a few activities.


The Mission College ESL Lab has a 10-year site license to use the 17 web-based programs offered in AmEnglish: 2 Writing/Grammar, 4 Pronunciation, 7 Idioms & Phrasal verbs, & 4 Animal Tales. The programs are also available individually by subscription as well as in an e-book format, where a teacher gets lesson plans, uses a program as a course “book,” and gains access to the course management system to manage student learning. AmEnglish is currently being used in the ESL drop-in lab, where students choose from any program. Marsha demonstrates a tidbit from each the following selected titles in the AmEnglish suite:
Pronunciation in English – High Beginning+ 2 Stress
Idioms in English  – YA 2 TOEFL Listening Practice. Volleyball
Animal Tales The poetry helps with pacing, rhythm, and rhyme. TOEIC Skill Builder, TOEFL vocabulary. Scientific facts. The Green Sea Turtle.

Connected Speech

This Window-based installed software is served to the Mission College ESL Lab in a permanent site license. Connected Speech is especially good for suprasegmentals: phrasing/pause groups, syllables and stress in words and phrases, pitch changes/intonation, linking, contrastive stress & intonation. Besides site installation, CS is also available for classes by subscription. Marsha used the online version of Connected Speech when she taught an online accent modification class at Mission. This software does not run on Mac, so Marsha demos via these video clips.
Connected Speech Level 1 Aaron–Pause groups: mark and record (2:12)
Connected Speech Level 1 Rita–Stress on content words (0:35)
Connected Speech Level 1 Becky–Pitch: Focus (0:34)
Connected Speech Level 1 Guillermo–Linking: Mark and record (1:40)
Connected Speech Level 1–Identifying the reason for linking (1:03)

Pronunciation Power

Like CS, Pronunciation Power 1 and 2 are licensed for use on the PCs in the Mission College ESL Lab. In addition, individual users can subscribe to the online version. Pronunciation Power is especially good for segmentals: consonants, vowels, and consonant clusters. Marsha demonstrates selected lessons in the online version or shows a selection of a video clip Pronunciation Power Overview.

English Accent Coach

English Accent Coach is a free web-based program that trains the brain to recognize new sounds and provides the basis for improved pronunciation of selected North American vowels and consonants. EAC Creator Ron Thomson, Brock University, has published research on the effects of distinguishing phonemes through High Variability Phonetic Training (HVPT) on producing them. Marsha demonstrates a few items.

Additional Resources

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

English Pathways to Child Care and Child Development

Schools and colleges are seeing a greater emphasis on, and in some cases, funding for, English for the Workplace, as opposed to English for general purposes. At the poster session, I talked about how Mission College (Santa Clara) has been meeting the English language needs of parents, child care providers, and early childhood educators. English for Child Care-Child Development curriculum was created through needs assessment, materials research/development, and collaboration among English as a Second Language (ESL) and Child Development (CHD) college faculty, community leaders, and workforce development. We started with one course in 2000 and have grown to four courses. The sections that are taught on-campus enroll a wide range of students, while the ones that are taught off-campus at a professional training site target employed (or underemployed) child care providers, in other words, people already in the workforce.

In addition to the four college courses spanning ESL Levels 3–6, my co-authors (Marianne Brems and Julaine Rosner) and I have created course materials (books + audio) where there are no others on the market. We would be happy to share the curriculum, our experiences, and information on the books with interested parties. They are being used not only in college ESL departments, but also in I-BEST programs, community centers, and non-profit organizations across North America and overseas.

The Mission College research office collected data from five semesters (Fall 2013-Fall 2015) on the retention and success of students who took ESL 930ECC and/or ESL 940ECC classes (“ESLCC” for short) using the English for Child Care course material, and who subsequently took a CHD course. These data show:
  • The success rate of students who took ESLCC before taking CHD exceeds the average of all students who took CHD (i.e., native and non-native English speakers).
  • The retention rate of students who took ESLCC before taking CHD exceeds the average of all students who took CHD.

Child Development Course
Course Title
ESLCC Students
Success Rate
Retention Rate
Child Growth and Development
Child, Family, and Community
Practicum A
Principles and Practices in Education
Child Health and Safety
Introduction to Curriculum

Further research is desired, including the success and retention rate of students who have taken ESL 950ECD and ESL 960ECD prior to enrolling in a CHD course, but since the researcher left the college, data collection is difficult. 

Additional resources

  • Handout from a session delivered at NAEYC PDI 2016 (National Association of Educators of Young Children Professional Development Institute) handout
  • Content-Based Instruction (CBI) at the Community College Level: Is It Feasible? blog post
  • English for Child Care: Language Skills for Parents and Providers slides
  • English for Child Development: Language Skills for Parents and Providers video introduction 
  • ECC and ECD publisher: Sunburst Media
Below are photos of a two-sided poster display.