TexTESOLV Partnership

2008: How Partnership Started... TESOL, NYC, NY (USA)
2008: TexTESOLV and Yakut TESOL Partnership Birthday and Yakut TESOL Summer Institute
By Donald Weasenforth , Larissa Olesova (From Essential Teacher)       
What does a Russian region settled by Cossacks in the early 17th century have in common with a region settled in Texas in the 19th century by cattlemen? Well, there are
several parallels, including a dependence on horses for livelihood and survival. Then there’s the centuries-old struggle against extreme temperatures, albeit opposite extremes. The most recent connection, however, is a formal agreement between the TESOL affiliates of the two regions to work together for their mutual benefit. A formal signing in Yakutsk on July 14, 2008 cemented the partnership between Yakut TESOL and TexTESOLV Don Weasenforth’s (Past President of TexTESOL V) representation of TexTESOL V at the 2008 Yakut TESOL Summer Institute represented an initial step in fulfilling the agreement, and Larissa Olesova’s (Past President of Yakut TESOL) attendance at the 2008 TexTESOL State Conference will strengthen the burgeoning relationship. The partnership began with Larissa and Don’s meeting over a decade ago in Washington, DC while Larissa was on a Junior Faculty Development Program scholarship.  At last year’s TESOL annual convention, Larissa and her colleague Vera Moyseeva met with Don to discuss a possible partnership.  From an initial expression of interest came the formal agreement that was negotiated by both affiliates and signed in Yakutsk this past summer. TexTESOL V is one of five TESOL affiliates in Texas.  Created in 1979, it is the youngest of the five Texas affiliates, serving ESL and Bilingual Education professionals in North Texas, including Dallas and Fort Worth.  Among its many distinctions, it will host the annual TESOL convention in 2013. Yakut TESOL became an international TESOL affiliate in 2002. The initiative to open an affiliate for English teachers in the Republic Sakha (Yakutia)  (Northern Siberian part of Russia) came from the Department of Foreign Languages in Technical and Natural Sciences of Yakutsk State University.  The affiliate has grown to more than 300 members from almost all educational institutions of Yakutia.  It is organizing the English Summer School for June 2009 and plans to invite a TexTESOL V representative. In addition to attendance of representatives at each other’s conferences, the agreement entails professional development for teachers in both locations, both on-site and through communication technologies.  Web-based collaborative projects connecting students in both regions have already begun.  A long-term goal is the establishment of student and teacher exchanges. At the 2008 Yakut TESOL Summer Institute, Don provided workshops to Yakutia language instructors, focusing on the use of instructional technologies.  Both Don and Larissa—with a colleague in Washington, DC—implemented such a project last spring with a focus on global warming.  All three instructors are again collaborating on a similar project, focusing on the US presidential campaign. Larissa has met with TexTESOL V Board members and other ESL/Bilingual Education professionals in the Dallas/Fort Worth area during the 2008 TexTESOL State Conference this fall.  From these meetings we hope the partnership will grow to the benefit of both TESOL affiliates.  Check the affiliates’ websites and/or contact the authors for additional information. 
2009: New EFL Books from Texas in Yakut TESOL Resource Center
Special Thank You to Carol P. Ogden, Assistant Director, University of North Texas
2009: Educational project “Hockaday – Yakutsk”
Lidia Scryabina, Alexandra Borisova, EFL teachers, City Classical Gymnasium, Yakutsk
In January 2009 the City Classical Gymnasium, one of the best equipped humanities – focused schools in Yakutsk, Russia was involved in international educational project “Hockaday – Yakutsk”. This project was suggested and launched by Elizabeth Smith from Hockaday Private School in Texas, the USA. It was decided to create a joint Internet project on teaching English for high school students.The use of computer technologies helped to put the idea of project work into practice.
The objective of the project was thought by our teachers to develop students’ personalities through productive cooperative work, done in English. And learners’ freedom to express themselves  was defined as a main pedagogical principle. From our part, ten students of the 10th grade and two teachers take part in the project. The first step to the work was made by Hockaday students. They created a wonderful video of their school and living environment which was watched by our students with great interest. Our children turned out to be very enthusiastic to establish contact with oversea students and did their best to respond them. They actively discussed the material and the ways of its presentation. The video was completely designed by children and based on their photos, drawings and compositions.There is no doubt that such cooperative work has a great motivating power for students:

·        It helps to gain socio-cultural knowledge and to develop certain communicative skills.

·        Also the project work provides a useful way of integrating the four language skills: reading, writing, listening and speaking.

·        It makes space for more individual, more democratic, more informal learning.

·        The students learn best through doing, being active rather than listening to formal classes.

·        As for teachers’ involvement in this work, we should be participants, facilitators and coordinators when necessary. We should think of the effective ways of evaluating and monitoring both language and the contents of the project work.

·        It is helpful as for students so for the teachers to face different ways of learning/teaching being involved into present day language.
We are looking forward to long-lasting collaboration between our students, schools and countries. We hope much interesting and meaningful work is expected to be done.
2009: Yakut TESOL English Summer Camp in Yakutsk

2009: Web-Based International ESOL Collaborative Learning: Hockaday and Yakutsk Meet More than Half-way

By Elizabeth Smith

In the days before I attended the 2008 TexTESOL conference in Richardson, Texas, I perused the list of presentations, excited about learning a new teaching technique or approach
for my classroom. I was circling all the sessions I planned to attend, when an intriguing headline caught my eye: “Global Partners: Yakut TESOL and TexTESOL V.” After “googling” Yakut, I wondered what a region in Eastern Siberia could have in common with Texas. I soon learned there are several similarities, “including a dependence on horses for livelihood and survival,” “the centuries-old struggle against extreme temperatures, albeit opposite extremes” and “the most recent connection, a formal agreement between the TESOL affiliates of the two regions to work together for mutual benefit.”
One aspect of this alliance encourages both affiliates to integrate Web-based collaborative projects into their courses in order to connect Dallas and Yakutsk students with “an authentic audience with which they can share information.” At the conference, I met Larissa Oleseva, Immediate Past President of Yakut TESOL. Inspired by several technology presentations at my school in Dallas as part of faculty professional development, I asked Larissa about the possibility of having my Advanced ESOL class join in such a project. A few weeks later, Larissa virtually introduced me to Alexandra and Lidya, Yakut English teachers who, like me, were actively motivated to begin a web-based collaborative project for their classes.
Once we met, I learned their 15-year old students were eager to meet my class of 14-16 year-old students. It was the first time for all three of us to attempt such a project. Alexandra, Lidya and I began a virtual discussion of ideas and assignments that would be fun for our students while still in keeping with our respective schools’ curricula. To get started, we each began by presenting a PowerPoint or a video featuring our students. The idea was to show the differences and similarities of both classes.
I brought this idea to my students. I told them they would be my first class to participate in a web-based collaborative project. They were very excited about the idea of communicating with the students in Yakutsk. However, they were a little more reluctant when I told them they would be making videos introducing themselves to the class in Yakutsk. None of them were thrilled about the idea of recording their voices for someone else other than me to hear. But the students soon overcame their initial apprehension and had fun with the assignment.
I chose to work with the software Photostory, which is available as a free download at www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/using/digitalphotography/PhotoStory/default.mspx). With this program, students can easily make a “show and tell” presentation using their own photos, their own recorded voice narration, captions, effects and transitions. Additionally, the small file size makes the photo stories easy to send as an email attachment. I handed out instructions to the students about what to include in their photo stories. Each photo story had to be 2 minutes in length, and include 10 pictures with grammatically correct captions. Students were to narrate “their story” by using a theme that would connect their pictures and narration. Students only used their first names.
The students’ photo stories described in detail their daily life at school. Before recording their voices, students had to practice their narrations, practicing discrete phonological sounds and intonation. I used about 15-20 minutes of class time to go over the requirements for the photo stories. My students already knew how to use the software, and if they had questions about its use, I told them to see me after class. In past years, I have taught students how to use Photostory as part of one 80-minute class period.
Students took their pictures and prepared their photo stories as homework. We watched “rough drafts” in class and peer reviewed, focusing on the success of the chosen theme connecting the pictures and narration, and discussing the comprehensibility of each student’s speech. Students then revised their drafts to create their final drafts.
We sent our photo stories to Yakutsk. Alexandra and Lidya responded, telling me that their students were impressed. Their students practiced listening to, watching the photo stories and experiencing the way my students described their lives. Lidya and Alexandra sent a picture of their class by email. My students loved seeing the students who listened to their photo stories. Seeing the photo led to a broader discussion of Yakutsk and its history. As the next step, Alexandra and Lidya’s class sent my class a PowerPoint introducing themselves and their school. My students adored listening to the students in Yakutsk. They noticed that “everyone had the same accent,” a difference from the multilingual ESOL classes they are used to. After viewing the PowerPoint, my students wanted to continue the exchange, asking me eagerly what they get to do next.
Some of the students in Alexandra and Lidya’s class have requested to send another video introducing themselves on an individual level. I told my students about this, and they were really excited to meet the Siberian students on a more personal level. Subsequent plans also include writing and reading an essay. We have also discussed the possibility of a competition for the students to review and judge each other’s essays. My students prefer to send oral-based projects because they like the pronunciation and speaking practice.
This is the first time all three teachers have added a web-based collaboration to our classes. I asked myself several questions. Is the use of technology helping students gain a greater degree of fluency in English? Is the use of technology fitting in with our curricula? In this case, the technology is allowing for an innovative way to provide students with oral/aural practice within a collaborative framework. The photo stories allowed my students to use techniques for good writing (picking a theme, organizing thoughts, narrating) and combine these with oral practice. By peer reviewing the oral part of the photo stories, students are participating in collaborative work in class oral work which leads to more speaking practice. Rather than simply calling on students for their opinions during a class discussion, peer reviewing and self- reflection got even the quietest student to talk because all students had to participate. Lidya and Alexandra’s students wrote, produced and acted their entire PowerPoint – it was a true class collaboration. In addition, these students are connecting with people in a different part of the world. This project is providing my class with an outlet for sharing their experience living in the US as international students. Lidya and Alexandra’s students are connecting with students who share a common goal – fluency in English.
The most recent development in this project is that this virtual collaboration between ESOL colleagues is soon to become a live, face-to-face meeting as I prepare to visit Yakutsk this summer to teach English in a summer camp. When I meet with Lidya and Alexandra, we will have the opportunity to exchange and discuss ideas about the best practices and caveats to preparing a web-based collaborative project between our classes.
2010: Global learning: Russian exchange students experience life at Hockaday School 11

From Russia with … education (Yakutsk students learn English, experience Texas)



“The students were so bright, so hungry, so enthusiastic,” she said. “It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for me.” This summer, a handful of Yakutsk students, chaperoned by Marina Protopopova, senior teacher of English in Russia of Yakutsk State University, are spending their first summer in America, developing their language skills, said Tresa Wilson,

ESOL summer school director at Hockaday. “It’s a great opportunity to improve their English skills, to get knowledge about the culture,” Protopopova said. “It’s a first experience for me to take students from Yakutsk to another foreign country, and for most girls, a first experience to go to a foreign country.” However, learning isn’t easy. “It’s really hard to talk with other people,” said Masha Byuraeva, 14. “I can’t understand things, but really interesting to learn things.”Dasha said the language skills are something they can take home. “I think when we all come back to Yakutsk, we will be much more patient and tolerant of people of other origins because now we communicate with Chinese, Mexicans,” she said. “Sometimes we do not understand their speech because they have a very strong accent, but we, too.” Wilson said the program is about a global exchange of ideas that will help the students improve their understanding of the rest of the world. That’s exactly what Luda Grigoryeva, 13, wants to take home after the program ends July 17. “It’s hard here. It is America,” Luda said. “Times in Russia, I wish about America because I think it’s really cool country. When I came here I feel, ‘Oh, America!’ It’s country where you can improve yourself.”



Submitted photos by JEANETTE KHAN

Danielle Dupuis, a summer English for Speakers of Other Languages teacher at The Hockaday School, instructs international students from China and Yakutsk. The students will continue their studies at Hockaday until summer school ends July 17.




Yakutsk, founded in 1632, is widely regarded as the “coldest city on Earth.” This time of the year, it is in the mid-’70s with a forecast of 91 F on Monday. Yakutsk students visiting Hockaday were asked to list what makes their city so special. Temperatures range from -50 C (-58 F) in January to 30 C (86F) in July.

Yakutsk is the capital of the Sakha Republic. The city is characterized by mountains, river streams and icy

temperatures. The city is located on the Lena River in northeastern Russia, about 450 kilometers south of the Arctic Circle. The entire republic has permafrost underneath that has never melted. The population is more than 210,000. Languages spoken are Russian and Sakha (Yukutskian) SOURCE: Yakutsk students


2010: Russian students enrolled in Hockaday program catch glimpse of life in the U.S.

12:00 AM CDT on Monday, July 12, 2010

By ANANDA BOARDMAN / The Dallas Morning News


Eight students from Yakutsk, Russia, are studying at the Hockaday School as the first foreign group to attend a summer session at the private girls' school.


Russian exchange students  (from left) Alina Aslanova, 12, Aina Luginova, 12, and Anya Barabanova, 13, waited out a rain delay at a RoughRiders game at Dr Pepper Ballpark in Frisco on July 3. Hockaday School worked out a summer program so the students could experience American culture. Although the school has long served students from other countries, a Hockaday educator's visit to Russia evolved into an idea to bring a group of Russian girls to Dallas. They are now working on their English skills, enjoying yoga and ceramics classes and learning about life in the United States. Yakutsk is located near the Arctic Circle and is one of the coldest inhabitable places in the world.  "It was exhausting, but it's worth coming here," said 16-year-old Dasha Ludina of the six days it took to travel to Dallas. The students arrived to a hot Texas summer on June 15 and will return home Friday. "It's a very good chance for our students to learn English, to learn about the culture and traditions of the United States of America and make friends," said Marina Protopopova, who teaches English in Yakutsk and accompanied the children on the trip. Nicole Carlson, director of summer session residents, said the school has integrated the Yakutsk students into their summer program, along with 21 other international students studying at Hockaday this summer.  The idea came about after Elizabeth Smith, director of English for speakers of other languages at Hockaday, spent two weeks in Yakutsk last summer to teach English. Smith stayed in touch with her Russian students and over the course of a year planned a trip to bring the Russian students to the U.S. through Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages Inc. Their parents paid for the cost of the trip. "I was extremely excited ... my mother told me I was going to Hockaday last winter and I didn't believe it," Dasha said. The students take two English for speakers of other languages classes in the morning, and an elective class such as yoga, ceramics or dance during the afternoon. The first few weeks of the trip focused on the differences between the U.S. and Russian cultures; the second half is called "Discovering Dallas." "I was very happy because to go to U.S.A. was my wish, my dream," said 14-year-old Masha Byuraeva. "Here, people are different, more happy, more easy."


Larisa Olesova,
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Larisa Olesova,
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