From the founder - Dr. Nancy butler
I have passed the torch of leadership of the School of Teaching ESL to Bernice Ege-Zavala. I know I will always miss being around the TESOL and ESOL students at the school and the wonderful teaching and administrative staff. No day was ever the same, no class ever failed to contribute new challenges, and I never got up in the morning wishing I could be anyplace except at the school.
I know, however, that the time comes when one must turn planning and inspiration over to the next generations, and not only trust that they will continue your good work but will add and improve because they look at things with new ideas based on differing experiences and priorities. I know this is true of Bernice and her staff. I was originally trained as a historian. Now, I am a history. I am a history of language teaching in the second half of the 20th century.
My career has been affected by new ideas, new theories, new methods, world events that caused waves of immigrants, currency fluctuations that caused students to stay home with a greater need for English teachers to come to their home countries to teach, a series of reforms, and increasing state mandates.
I have supervised teachers going for ELL Endorsement under four different sets of state requirements and have personally met the requirements for three of them.
I studied Spanish in High School using the grammar-translation method, Russian at the University of Washington via the Direct Method, learned to teach Russian in 1963 using the new and very exciting Audio Lingual Method, and worked in a grammar-based ESL program that evolved to a notional-functional syllabus and then to a communicative approach.
I learned about teaching machines in the early 60's, developed my junior-high students' expertise in threading the movie projectors, listened to students repeating over and over in the language lab, used computers in classrooms before Windows, email, or the Internet, and I now teach online classes, including a class on how to use computers to enhance classroom teaching.
I developed an intensive post-baccalaureate certificate program in TESOL for Seattle University when there was only one similar program in the US - now there are hundreds.
I have suffered through the anguish of what to call our students - ESL, EFL, ESL/EFL, ESOL, EAL (English as an Alternative Language), God forbid LEP (Limited English Proficient), and now, I'm sure finally and forever, ELL, English Language Learners.
I have some advice for those of you who will become histories of the first half of the 21st century in language teaching. Pay attention to all the new trends, information, theories, and directives. Absolutely find ways to do what is required of you by your administration. However, at the end of the day, do what you know is best for your students in your classroom. It will be by hanging on to your passion for teaching and your concern for your students and their learning that you will keep everything in perspective and survive it all.
~ Dr. Nancy Butler