Artificial Intelligence, Augmented Reality, Digital Technologies, and Blockchain: Musings on Education and Language Acquisition in the Digital Age by Dr. Jasmin Bey Cowin

Gen Z and Gen Alpha continue to drive the expansion of augmented reality digital technologies (ARDTs) into all industries from corporate environments and marketing to health care, from gaming to language acquisition. Location-independent virtual environments hold the promise of exponential expansion beyond the brick-and-mortar presence of schools, colleges, universities, and other institutions of learning, such as virtual schools and universities.


It is my great pleasure to share  my newest publication “Artificial Intelligence, Augmented Reality, Digital Technologies, and Blockchain: Musings on Education and Language Acquisition in the Digital Age”, JAN 16, 2020by LONDON-TVin BUSINESS

Artificial Intelligence, Augmented Reality, Digital Technologies, and Blockchain: Musings on Education and Language Acquisition in the Digital Age


Reflections on Educational Equality for Students with Disabilities by Touro TESOL teacher candidate Kevin Mongan

As a Professor for TESOL and Bilingual Education, I focus on different domains during our semester-long journey.  This blog features Touro TESOL teacher candidate Kevin Mongan, a Social Studies Teacher from Sachem Central School District. He is seeking his TESOL Certificate to better assist his English Language Learner population and better himself as an educator. He appreciates the hard work and dedication of the Touro College Faculty and Staff.

This weeks focus are on:

Domain 2 – Culture (TESOL Domains )
Standard: Nature and Role of Culture

Candidates know, understand, and use the major concepts, principles, theories, and
research related to the nature and role of culture in language development and
academic achievement that support individual students’ learning.

Domain 3: Planning, Implementing, and Managing Instruction
Standard: Planning for Standards-Based ESL and Content Instruction
Candidates know, understand, and apply concepts, research, and best practices to
plan classroom instruction in a supportive learning environment for ESOL students.
Candidates serve as effective English-language models, as they plan for multilevel
classrooms with learners from diverse backgrounds using standards-based ESL and
content curriculum.

Reflective Journal:

In “Chapter 13: Educational Equality for Students with Disabilities,” written by Sara C. Bicard and William L. Heward, Multicultural Education: Issues and Perspectives by James A. Banks and Cherry A. McGee Banks, the reader is posed with a question that reaches into the core of every teacher: Am I providing ALL of my students with the best education I can provide for them? The authors present a statement very early in their piece:

The skill differences among most children are relatively small, allowing these children to benefit from the general education program offered by their schools. When the physical, social, and academic skills of children differ to such an extent that typical school curricula or teaching methods are neither appropriate nor effective, however, equitable access to and benefits from educational programs are at stake. (Bicard, p. 315)

Every teacher has had at least one moment where they asked themselves, am I doing enough? When students with disabilities, whether physical, social, or academic, are not being given the proper tools to succeed in their learning environment, they will not succeed. It is up to the classroom teacher, administration, family at home, and the students to make sure that their needs for success are constantly being maintained inside and outside of the classroom.

color coded 3
The authors explain how students with disabilities are identified and classified, how students with disabilities do not benefit from a single change to the classroom environment, and also, how not all students with disabilities will benefit from the same accommodations. The classification system for students with disabilities is often targeted as a problem than as a system that can lead to solutions. “Some educators believe the classification and labeling of exceptional students serve only to stigmatize and exclude them from the mainstream of educational opportunities” (p. 319). “Others argue that a workable system of classification is necessary to obtain the special education services and programs that are prerequisite to educational equality for exceptional students” (p. 319.) If labels and classifications are not present, how can general education teachers, special education teachers, parents, various professionals whose sole duty is to help the child, communicate common goals for the student? Real issues need real solutions and without having a real comprehension of the task at hand for all parties involved, the student can never benefit from any services provided because there would be no goal to reach or endgame in sight.

The authors then embark on a legislative study on how students with disabilities have been treated in the public education system of the United States. When students with disabilities were brought into public schools they were immediately judged and labeled, often cast aside and not granted access to the public school system. Students were labeled by their teachers as “slow learners” and “disciplinary problems” when they would act out in class, from the frustration of not understanding the material (p.320-321). In Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka (1954), “the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that education must be available to all children on equal terms and that is unconstitutional to operate segregated schools under the premise that they are separate but equal” (p. 321). For most students and teachers, this case falls under the constructs of African-Americans and the Civil Rights Movement, however, to parents of children with disabilities, this ruling pushed the door wide open for students with disabilities to have the right for the best education they can receive in their local public school district. Laws would be created to further protect the right and liberties of those with disabilities, but under the amendments of the Education for All Handicapped Children Act, which renamed it the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), it “ensure[s] the rights of students with disabilities to a free appropriate public education, including early intervention services, and to provide the necessary supports for oversight for states, districts, schools, and educators to improve the educational results for students with disabilities” (p.322).

The final area of concern for the authors is the inequality and discrimination that students from “culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds” often face in special education. They are often overrepresented or underrepresented. The authors ask educators to focus on three specifics when it comes to students of culturally and linguistically diverse students: the assessment and placement procedures are sensitive to the student’s culture and language, appropriate services are provided to that students with their linguistic and cultural needs in mind, and lastly, that teachers and other professionals who work with the student understand the student’s culture and home values. “The instructional materials that educators use and the methods that they employ while teaching must be responsive to the differing cultural backgrounds of their students” (p. 334). Every professional that interacts with students with disabilities must contribute to the betterment of the students’ lives. It requires work on the professional’s part: not just teaching the curriculum as is, but adapting the curriculum every day to fit the needs of their student’s body. Respectful and sensitive teachers will make the special education setting a more trustworthy and worthwhile environment for students with disabilities.

2) Initial Emotional Response:
I have always found that pieces about students with disabilities always bring out a passion within me as an educator. I believe the root of passion is frustration. I try to provide my students with the best education possible and I know there is nothing I can control about what has happened before they walk through my classroom door, but I always encourage them to be the best students they can be, to always ask for help if they need it, and to truly give it their all. In turn, I will provide them with the best education I can. I know that not all teachers extend so much of themselves into the classroom and into the lives of their students but at least I know I am doing my part. We, as educators, always need to be advocates for our students. If they are struggling, our job is to get down to the root of the problem. Why are they struggling, what can I help them with, where can I access resources to provide them with the help that they need? All of these questions should flow through the mind of a passionate educator when their students struggle. To quote Bicard, “Good teachers must…be responsive to changes (or lack of changes) in individual students’ performance” (p. 334). We always need to be invested in the betterment of the lives of our students. If we are not, why do we do it?

3) Prior Assumption/Opinion
As an educator, I had always assumed that students with disabilities have been slowly but surely been granted the rights to an equal and equitable public education over time. Just African-Americans, women, and Native Americans had to wait for the right to vote, as African-Americans had to wait for equal access to public education, and as Civil Liberties were protected under the law for all Americans, students with disabilities received equal protection under the law as people fought for the rights of their children and their students. In a country where “all men are created equal,” it is often forgotten that most Americans had to wait, fight, and wait a little longer to be fully protected by the legislative body of the U.S. government.

4) Source of Assumption
As a social studies teacher, I discuss the protection of freedoms regularly. But rarely do we discuss the freedoms of the student or the freedoms of the education that we are entitled to as Americans. We have to consistently wait for, fight for, and plead for equality across all facets of American life, but at least we know, that all have access to a free, public education. It is what we do with that access that defines our futures.
5) Assumption Check
According to Bicard and Williams, “Teachers must have the knowledge and skills to recognize and to be instructionally responsive to the diversity their students represent…[the chapter] lays the foundations for teachers to examine educational equity for learners with diverse skills” (p. 316). Most teachers assume they can spot a student’s issues or disabilities from a specific assessment or from simple encounters with the student. Educators understand that students with disabilities have rights, but teachers have the responsibility to make sure that those rights are not only be protected, but they are being fulfilled through every single school day for the betterment of the lives of their students. Educators must continue to challenge the educational hierarchy so that they can provide their students with most fair educational system that can be created. Bicard and Williams said, “All students are alike in that they can benefit from an appropriate education that enables them to do things they were previously unable to do and to do things with greater independence and enjoyment” (p. 317). If educators can provide their students with the skills and necessaries to become as independent of the teacher as possible, lifelong learners can be created and nurtured.

6) Realization (Epiphany):
Educators need to always fight for the rights of their students. If teachers can unite under a common banner of student equity and teacher responsibility for their students, then teachers will work harder for their students. Teachers should not be judged for how their students perform on tests, teachers should be observed and guided toward creating a more positive, nurturing, and safe learning environment for their students. Encourage teachers to get to know their kids, to invite students up to their classrooms to eat lunch, to actively seek out parental involvement rather than avoiding them like the plague. Teachers should not be in the profession for the paycheck. They should be in the profession to foster passion in their subject area, to provoke thought, to provoke future citizenry and change, and to create future leaders of the world. The first thing that teachers need to do, as a whole, is a smile. Too many educators walk through the halls with a look of gloom and dissatisfaction on their faces. Say hello to a student, a colleague, a custodian, a secretary, and if you can’t take the moment to get a word out of your mouth, at least smile.
7) Implication of Future Teaching Practice:
Making sure every single one of our students has access to every resource we can guarantee them. Making sure our culturally and linguistically diverse student populations have the resources they need to succeed, not only within the four walls of the classroom, but in every hallway, every room, and in every step, they take inside and outside of school. Students from diverse backgrounds need to know where to access resources that can assist them and their families whenever they want them. A true teacher makes time for all of their students and makes time to make sure that all of their students are being taken care of. We may not have control over what happens in our students’ lives when they walk out of our classrooms, but we can encourage them to seek assistance, show them where resources are, and be a resource for them whenever they need it. I know that I can become better by making sure all of my students’ needs are being met. I do not keep a good record of the resources my students utilize and the accommodations that my students utilize as well. We often find ourselves separated from the other departments, but just as Bicard said, “our kids,” is becoming and needs to continue becoming the terminology used when describing our student body, if we truly want to watch a positive learning environment take hold.

Banks, J. A., & Banks, C. A. M. G. (2004). Multicultural education: Issues and perspectives. Hoboken, N.J: Wiley.


An Exploration of Learning and Teaching in 3D Immersive Environments: Transcending Boundaries, Immersive Technology Trends

Attractive online programs are not aggregations of online courses filled with PDF documents, short video clips and discussion boards all housed in modules, featuring standardized learning objectives, extensive rubrics (and possibly chatbots in the future). In such environments individualized student teaching and learning is sacrificed on the altar of efficiency and standardization.


Jasmin Cowin, Ed.D.
Assistant Professor, TESOL and Bilingual Programs
Graduate School of Education


The Fork in the Road

It started with Minecraft and my son. His fascination and hours of focus on and in Minecraft, paying little attention to all the lovingly displayed books on his bedroom bookshelf drove me to shock, denial, anger, bargaining, depression and finally acceptance. Realizing that I would not win this particular battle, I decided to join him on his Minecraft, Mario and Pokémon forays. His total focus, relentless research into different winning or creation strategies, and astonishingly deft manipulation of objects in 3D environments, created an increasing fascination of these gaming technologies, nascent virtual spaces, open simulation environments and their possible future impact on institutions of learning, teachers, and learners.

Attractive Online Programs

As higher education is under increasing demographic and financial pressure, the forecast looks grim. The survey How Enrollment Challenges Can Spur Change released by the Chronicle of Higher Education, January 2018, found that 52 percent of private colleges and 44 percent of public colleges didn’t meet their enrollment goals in fall 2017. Thriving in a competitive atmosphere for student enrollment “the most popular responses to enrollment and revenue shortfalls remained the same: Start attractive new programs, improve enrollment strategies, and pump up marketing.”

Attractive online programs are not aggregations of online courses filled with PDF documents, short video clips and discussion boards all housed in modules, featuring standardized learning objectives, extensive rubrics (and possibly chatbots in the future). In such environments individualized student teaching and learning is sacrificed on the altar of efficiency and standardization.  Attractive online learning programs need to connect with students through better tools to support experiential learning, “the process whereby knowledge is created through the transformation of experience. Knowledge results from the combinations of grasping and transforming the experience.” (Kolb) While the current ed tech field is populated with many contenders (and expensive losers), I chose to focus on six current trends at the forefront of teaching and training simulations.

Dr. J’s Six Trends

Augmented Analytics focuses on a specific area of augmented intelligence, using machine learning (ML) to transform how analytics content is developed, consumed and shared. One day, data storytelling might become ubiquitous in Virtual Worlds (VW’s) democratizing “data visualization with narrative techniques across multiple experiences and channels.” https://www.gartner.com/webinar/3900998?pcp=wb_ddc&srcId=1-3478922220

360° photos are controllable panoramic images that surround the original point from which the shot was taken. Essentially, they are situating the learner in the shoes of a photographer, allowing a look around a photographed setting as if in the middle of it. 360-degree photograph

360° videos, a fairly recent technology, enables learners to not only look around and interact with the setting, as in the case of 360° photos, but place “the viewer within the context of a scene or event rather than presenting them as an outside observer, and giving the viewer the ability to control the orientation of the scene and viewing direction.” https://studio.knightlab.com/results/storytelling-layers-on-360-video/an-introduction-to-360-video/

3D simulations are computer-generated environments, recreating lifelike experiences where learners freely interact with objects in the 3D simulation. Learners “gain hands-on training to quickly master new knowledge needed to perform certain tasks, either completely new or part of increased job responsibilities.” https://blog.matrixlms.com/5-types-immersive-technology-training/

Virtual Reality (VR) needs a VR headset which immerses the learner in the 3D environment, a Virtual World (VW). VW’s are becoming increasingly popular not only for gaming but also for teaching and learning in schools, professional environments, colleges and universities worldwide. According to Educational Virtual Environments “Virtual Reality (VR) immersive technologies support the creation of synthetic, highly interactive three dimensional (3D) spatial environments that represent real or non-real situations” (Mikropoulos and Natsis, 2010, p. 769).

MR (Mixed Reality) takes VR a step even further, as it introduces elements of Augmented Reality (AR)  in learning environments. AR’s “primary objective is to provide a rich audiovisual experience. AR works by employing computerized simulation and techniques such as image and speech recognition, animation, head-mounted and hand-held devices and powered display environments to add a virtual display on top of real images and surroundings.” https://www.techopedia.com/definition/4776/augmented-reality-ar

IN JokaidiaGRID

Richly conceived 3D environments feature all 7 e-learning affordances and lend themselves to a more communicative approach and the flipped classroom model. Unique technological characteristics such as the creation of 3D spatial representations, multisensory channels for user interaction and intuitive interaction through natural manipulations in real time enable more holistic teaching and  learning experiences. While the field is not quite there yet in terms of full online immersion teaching spaces, it is at the cusp of viability.  Working in beta spaces carries risks and rewards.  Risks are limited functionality, tech issues, and a learning curve for institutions, facilitators and students. However, creating novel tech experiences in 3D environments prepares not only students but also institutions for  the Fourth Industrial Revolution which according to Klaus Schwab ” is characterized by a range of new technologies that are fusing the physical, digital and biological worlds, impacting all disciplines, economies and industries, and even challenging ideas about what it means to be human.”

Works Cited

B, Livia. “5 Types of Immersive Technology for Training.” MATRIX Blog, MATRIX, 19 Mar. 2018, blog.matrixlms.com/5-types-immersive-technology-training/.

Carlson, Scott. “How Enrollment Challenges Can Spur Change.” The Chronicle of Higher Education, The Chronicle of Higher Education, 21 Jan. 2018, http://www.chronicle.com/article/How-Enrollment-Challenges-Can/242276.

“Data Storytelling With Multiexperiences.” Gartner IT Glossary, Gartner, Inc., http://www.gartner.com/webinar/3900998?pcp=wb_ddc&srcId=1-3478922220.

“The Fourth Industrial Revolution, by Klaus Schwab.” World Economic Forumhttp://www.weforum.org/about/the-fourth-industrial-revolution-by-klaus-schwab.

Kolb, David A. Experiential Learning: Experience as the Source of Learning and Development. Pearson Education, Inc., 2015.

Mikropoulos, Tassos A., and Antonis Natsis. “Educational Virtual Environments: A Ten-Year Review of Empirical Research (1999–2009).” Computers & Education, vol. 56, no. 3, 2011, pp. 769–780., doi:10.1016/j.compedu.2010.10.020.

Shukla, Umang, et al. “An Introduction to 360° Video.” Knight Lab Studio, studio.knightlab.com/results/storytelling-layers-on-360-video/an-introduction-to-360-video/.

Taylor, Stephen. “The Fork In The Road.” PoemHunter.com, 15 Feb. 2009, http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/the-fork-in-the-road-2/.

“What Is 360-Degree Photograph? – Definition from WhatIs.com.” WhatIs.com, whatis.techtarget.com/definition/360-degree-photograph.

Martin Luther King, Jr., and Ludwig van Beethoven: Radiant Stars of Love and Brotherhood

Hearing Beethoven’s ode to joy theme, intended as a musical representation of universal brotherhood, built an emotional bridge to MLK’s clarion call to embrace “radiant stars of love and brotherhood.”


The article Martin Luther King, Jr., and Ludwig van Beethoven for the Washington Post was born on my birthday, January 1st, 2020. While rereading Martin Luther King, Jr.’s letter from Birmingham jail, I wondered how to connect  MLK’s clarion call to embrace the “radiant stars of love and brotherhood” to my own life.  It was at this precise time that  Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 in D Minor, Op. 125 started playing on the radio. Beethoven’s only vocal symphony is a statement of yearning for freedom in the repressive political environment of Europe after the Congress of Vienna and celebrates ”All people become brothers, Where thy gentle wing abides.“  Hearing Beethoven’s ode to joy theme, intended as a musical representation of universal brotherhood, build an emotional bridge to MLK’s clarion call to embrace “radiant stars of love and brotherhood.”

Conductor Yutaka Sado directs a 10,000-person chorus singing Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” in Osaka, Japan.


Artificial Intelligence, Augmented Reality, Digital Technologies, and Blockchain: Musings on Education and Language Acquisition in the Digital Age by Dr. Jasmin Bey Cowin

via Artificial Intelligence, Augmented Reality, Digital Technologies, and Blockchain: Musings on Education and Language Acquisition in the Digital Age by Dr. Jasmin Bey Cowin

Access and Equity: Computers for Schools Burundi


It was a true honor to have ICSEI 2020 choose “Access and Equity: Computers for Schools Burundi”, for one of the Innovate sessions.

Computers For Schools Burundi, a non-profit organization, is registered in the Republic of Burundi since March 15, 2012 RN: 530/386. The principal goals are modernizing the Burundi education system by having computers and computer education in all 18 provinces by 2025 to enable access of computer technology to 80% of all pupils, students, and teachers in Burundi.

Information technology training programs are the key to digital entrepreneurship and innovation, ensuring that future generations of Burundians take part in the global digital economy in ways that are successful and sustainable.

To further these goals, the Burundi Government has set up the Five Schools of Excellence project, with the goal to prepare their youth to become future leaders serving in the public and private administration, scientific research centers, and digital innovators.
The “Five Schools of Excellence” are chosen throughout the country with the selection criteria of students based on the national exam for the highest scoring students of six grades in all elementary schools of Burundi. Computers For Schools Burundi has partnered with the Ministry of Education to facilitate these important goals for the well-being of future generations in Burundi.

Attached is a part of my ICSEI 2020 presentation.

WordPress Computers for Schools Burundi_01072020




Case Study in SLA by Touro TESOL Candidate Elcidana Camacho for EDDN 639 – Trends and Current Issues in Second Language Acquisition 

The value of field case studies for TESOL teacher education lies in their potential to create an authentic and safe forum for reflection that can help both novice or experienced teachers to observe, analyze and reflect on real world TESOL environments and student learning.

The value of field case studies for TESOL teacher education lies in their potential to create an authentic and safe forum for reflection that can help both novice or experienced teachers to observe, analyze and reflect on authentic TESOL environments and student learning.

Ms. Elcidana Camacho is a graduate student at Touro College, GSE, majoring in TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages).  As an immigrant student herself, she recognizes the value of providing high-quality education to English Language Learners.  Currently, Ms. Camacho teaches Second-grade bilingual education at a New York Public School.

Case Study SLA Touro Course EDDN 639 – Trends and Current Issues in Second Language Acquisition 


Immigrants come to this country in the search of a better future not just for them but for their children.  They arrive at a strange and unknown country facing challenges day after day yet the dream of seeing their children succeed fuels their continuous drive.  Yet, the children also face daily challenges, they have to learn a new language that will be the road to success in their new country.  The learning experiences these ELLs will encounter will depend on many factors, but one crucial factor will be on how TESOL certified educators support them in their Second Language Acquisition.

For this case study, I chose one student named David (pseudonym).  David is a second-grade student who is repeating the grade.  He came to the United States for Honduras three years ago with his whole family.  David is placed in a bilingual second-grade class that encompasses 26 English Language Learners (ELLs). From the twenty-six ELLs, six of them are at the entering stage of language acquisition, one at the emerging stage, four at the transitioning stage, and fifteen at the expanding stage. David is at the entering stage.

The bilingual second-grade class David attends is a very welcoming and colorful classroom.  It is decorated with paw prints all over the classroom, and in every wall, there are anchor charts and students’ work proven the learning students have been exposed to during this school year. The front wall displays a flexible grouping chart with students’ groups for reading, writing, and math.  It also shows the current Units of studies for each subject, vocabulary and success criteria. Furthermore, there is a daily agenda with the flow of the day at which students constantly look at to know what to expect next. In the back of the classroom, it can be appreciated the writers’ gallery with writings students have been done so far, constructive feedback provided by the teacher, and pictures of the talented writers. In addition, the atmosphere of the classroom seems to be very safe and engaging. Ms. R., David’s teacher, utilizes chants to call students’ attention and transition routines.

I chose David for my case study because he is at the entering stage of language acquisition, he has already passed the silent period and started to get more comfortable with the target language. In addition, David has a strong literacy foundation in his native language, and I wanted to observe how this strong foundation influences second language acquisition and analyze how David utilizes the target language and interacts with it in different areas of learning. I am a big fan of Stephen Krashen’s theory of language acquisition. My purpose for this paper is to observe and analyze how the Five Hypothesis of Krashen’s Theory of Second Language Acquisition are presented in David’s English language acquisition: 1-The Acquisition-Learning Distinction 2. The Natural Order Hypothesis 3. The Monitor Hypothesis 4. The Input Hypothesis, and 5. The Affective Filter Hypothesis (Masciantonio, 1988, pg. 2) (Krashen, 1982, pg. 16).


The five observations for this case study were scheduled for five days. The observations were conducted in five different areas which were: 1-Read-Aloud combined with writing about reading, 2- Math, 3-Writing, 4- Social Studies, and 5- Phonics.  Previously to the first observation, a conversation was held with the teacher, Ms. R., about the student to be observed, which days would be the best to come to the classroom, what areas to observe, and how the observation would be conducted while in the classroom. I was also informed by Ms. R. about David’s background, his reading level, English acquisition level, and ways she had supported him in his L2 acquisition. The following paragraph summarizes this information.

According to Ms. R, David is at reading at level J which is at second-grade level for this time of the school year.  He was held back last year in second grade; therefore, this is his second year in this grade. When David started second grade, he was reading at level D, but when the September running records were conducted, he went from level D to level J. The teacher explained that David has good comprehension, but he still needs a lot of support with accuracy and fluency. Furthermore, Ms. R. teaches Math in Spanish, she mentions that David’s Math skills are above second-grade expectations, for this reason, Dave is sent daily to third grade during first period for Math Review and Problem of the Day. During Math Workshop, David’s work is more challenging than his peers’ work.  He also works with peers who need extra support in math. According to Ms. R., David is very social and outgoing.  He does not hesitate when sharing or defending his thinking.

 During the observations, I sat at the end of the classroom because I thought was the best way to observe and not be in the middle of the students’ learning.  Also, I did not want the students or David to suspect I was there to observe someone. 

Observation Description:

First Session: I observed a Read-Aloud about sharks and writing about reading combined. Ms. R. read two chapters about sharks one about Sharks’ body parts and another chapter about baby sharks.  During the read aloud, Ms. R. utilized picture vocabulary words, and plenty turn and talk, and sentence starters to discuss the main topic, supporting details, and keywords.  Some of the sentence starters include: “The main topic of this section is…”  One detail is…/Another details is…” “One important word I notice is…” “I think this word means…” I noticed David was engaged during the entire Read-aloud, raising his hand to share, and interrupting his peers when they were talking.  I noticed; Ms. R. encouraged students to use complete sentences when sharing their thinking. I was able to observe many times David looking at the sentence starters when communicating his thinking. After the read aloud, students were sent to their desk and complete writing about reading which includes to find the main topic and supporting details of the chapter about baby sharks.

Second Session: a math lesson.  Ms. R teaches math in Spanish. In the lesson, students were learning how they can subtract by counting on. Ms. R. modeled students how she used a number line to subtract 86-19 by counting on.  The teacher started with 19 and added 1 to get to a benchmark number (20), then she skipped counting by tens (6 times) until she reached 80 and finally added 6 ones to get to 86. After, Ms. R. went back to count the tens and the ones she added to count from 19 to 86.  Then, students were asked to solve 95-27. David was the first student to finish the task.  He even solved it using two other strategies students have learned previously. Ms. R. asked students to turn and talk to their partners to explain the steps they took to solve the problem, then some students were selected to share with the class, David was one of the students.  When communicating his process, David used complete sentences and the academic vocabulary of the unit. After the mini-lesson, students were sent to centers and a small group stay with the teacher.  David was assigned to go to the error analysis center, in which he was to guide the small group discussion analyzing the error and possible solutions.

Third Session: Social Study lesson. The lesson consisted of how citizens can create a change in their community by being responsible and following the rules in their community. Ms. R placed four feelings one in each corner of the classroom (Happy, excited, sad, and mad), then she read some statements, and students moved to a corner that reflected their feeling about the statement the teacher read to them. After, students were given the opportunity to discuss why they experienced those feelings when they heard the statements. After the discussion, Ms. Ruiz introduced the “What Should We Do?” template.  She modeled to the students how to use it. She took the statement “Students fool around during lesson” and wrote it under the section “Instead of”, then she modeled filling out the section about “We Can…” section in the template with possible solutions. Each student was given a paper with a statement to complete in their sits. I observed David discussing with classmates in his table. Then, I sat quietly for a while and then suddenly started writing and drawing the annoying situation and the possible solution.

Fourth Session: Writing.  The lesson was about how writers help their readers create a picture in their minds by including descriptive words. For this lesson, Ms. R. modeled how revising her nonfiction book by adding descriptive words.  For the lesson, she displayed an anchor chart with types of descriptive words students could use such as colors, shapes, texture, size, and appearance. David reread his book and added one descriptive word in a chapter of his book. He then got up and grabbed a new booklet to start a new book.  Ms. R. called to do a small group including David to practice the same elaboration strategy. David was able to find another place in his writing that he would like to add descriptive words, but it made little sense.  Ms.  R. suggested to David to reread his chapter to see if his choice made sense.  She stayed quiet for a moment, and Ms. R. asked him to tell her what he wanted to write in Spanish.  She translated the descriptive words in English and David added his best choice to his writing.

20180305_111756 (2)

Fifth Session: The last lesson observed was a Phonic lesson. Students were learning about homophones To-Two-Too.  Ms. R. began the lesson by showing students a video about homophones.  Then, she continued the lesson by reading a sentence that used the tree ways to use the three words, “Two friends went To the candy shop and ate Too many candies.”   Then, students worked with a partner to fix a paragraph where the homophones were used incorrectly.  Finally, students created three sentences using the three homophones.  David took risks sharing sentences with the homophones. He celebrated when got it correct and smiled when it was wrong.  However, getting his contributions wrong, did not seem to stop him from sharing again because he kept trying and even sharing without being called to share.


In this portion of the paper, I will analyze each one of Krashen’s Hypotheses of L2 acquisition based on what I observed on David.  David is at the Entering stage of SLA.  He has passed the silence period and just started to take risks with the target language. Krashen (1982) states that there are two separate and independent systems of developing competence in a L2, the acquired system and the acquisition system. The first system is very similar to the process children experience when acquiring their first language. They are focused not in the form of their utterances because they are using the language to communicate (pg. 17). David was eager to take part in class using the target language, even when Ms. R. restate what he said or encouraged him to repeat using complete sentences, this did not prevent David to communicate his messages. David is gradually learning the rules of the L2. Ms.  R. encourages him to use complete sentences and provide sentence starters to support David.  This happens when speaking and writing in English.

Krashen’s Natural hypothesis believes that the acquisition of language happens in a predictable order (Masciantonio, 1988, pg. 2). In the acquisition of English, learners tend “to acquire certain grammatical morphemes, or functions words earlier than others such as -ing, and -s to mark the plural…while the third person singular marker /s/ were typically acquired much later” (Krashen 1982, pg. 18). While David was writing his ‘All About Dogs’ book, I noticed in his introduction page he tried to grab his readers’ attention by including a question, introducing the topic, and inviting the readers to continue reading the book. David stated the question using the auxiliary verb Do, he used the suffix -ing correctly; however, he struggled in the middle of the book using descriptive words correctly and in the right order. Krashen believes every person acquires a second language in a predictable order throughout four stages (Escamilla K. & Grassi E., 2000, pg.6), I believe Dave is at the third stage. He is using simple sentences, but according to Ms. R., he has been trying using more complex sentences.  I witnessed how David engaged in longer conversations with peers and utilized different verb forms, even though they were not always right.  His writing still shows many grammatical errors.

The Input Hypothesis proposes that ELLs will move forward in the target language if the input (language) is comprehensible. It is the most important source for L2 acquisition. Ortega (2009) explains that L2 learners acquire comprehensible input through listening to oral messages that speakers communicate to them,ands through reading written texts that surround them; for instance, street signs, personal letters, books, etc. Furthermore, the author mentions that L2 learners make sense of the messages if the content is personally relevant to them (Pg. 59). There are many ways teachers can support their ELLs to make the content comprehensible for them. The only class I observed in David’s native language was Math, the rest were all in English. Something I noticed is the importance of using strategies to support ELLs, but most importantly, to make the content comprehensible for them. Ms. R. used visuals such as videos, picture vocabulary cards, anchor charts, native language, sentence starters, group work, to support not just David, but all her ELLs. I witnessed how all these strategies supported David in understanding the content being taught and provided opportunities for him to output the newly gainedd knowledge. I need to highlight, that there was a moment David seemed not to understand the meaning of a keyword (pups) Ms. R. introduced (in this moment she did not have a picture) in the read-aloud. He raised his hands and asked, “is that like a baby shark? A word to call a baby shark, just like we use cubs to name baby wolves.” David negotiated the meaning of something he was confused with.  Ortega (2009) explains that “noticing can be driven from within the learner, as when she struggles to put a sentence together and express her thoughts and, in the process, discovers something new” (pg. 64). The author adds that noticing can also be encouraged by external means such as through a lesson by a teacher, a question or reaction from an interlocutor.

Krashen’s Affective Hypothesis emphasizes that “all people possess a ‘filter’ which moves into one of two positions, low or high” (Escamilla & Grassi, 2000, pg.10). A Low filter will allow the SLA, this occurs when the ELLs are part of a safe learning environment free of stress, pressure, or judgment. On the other hand, the high filter will prevent language acquisition from happening because of a stressful learning environment (pg. 10). Krashen (1982) mentions that three affective variables can affect language acquisition: Motivation, self-confidence, and anxiety. As I observed David, I could infer that Ms. R. has created a safe learning environment in which David feels safe, motivated and self-confident. He knows that he can take risks with the target language and will not be judged, but challenged and supported to improve in his language acquisition, but also academically.


As a Touro TESOL graduate student, I learned many theories and strategies about teaching and supporting ELLs. I try to apply many of them, but many times I just don’t have the time to reflect on them and how they are supporting my ELLs on the spot.  While teaching, I’m looking for understanding, trying to make the content comprehensible and expecting an output that demonstrates the acquisition of the new knowledge. However, while observing David, I put together all these language acquisition hypotheses and how they related to David’s language acquisition. Most of them were present in David’s SLA stage, and in fact, they explained why David master some areas and some haven’t yet. I even spoke with his teacher about Krashen’s hypotheses and we spent a long time analyzing the Natural and Input Hypotheses and connecting with David.  Together, we decided some ways to better support David in his language acquisition. As teachers, we get so much on our plate, but we cannot forget why we became educators of ELLs, we need to always make them our priority and provide them the best support in the acquisition and learning of the new language.















Escamilla K. & Grassi E. (2000) Brief Description of Second Language Acquisition.

Professional Development Resource Series, “Second Language Acquisition”, BUENO

Center, University of Colorado, Boulder.

Krashen, S. (1982) Principles and Practice in Second Language Acquisition.  Retrieved from http://www.sdkrashen.com/content/books/principles_and_practice.pd

Masciantonio, Rudolph (1988) Stephen Krashen and the Classical Languages. The Classical Journal, Vol. 84, No. 1 (Oct. – Nov., 1988), pp. 53-56.  Retrieved from https://www.jstor.org/stable/pdf/3297556.pdf?ab_segments=0%2Fbasic_expensive%2Fcontrol&refreqid=search%3Aa997a3e2d462da88c64dcb2b084393b9

Ortega, L. (2009). Understanding Language Acquisition. New York, NY: Hodder Education.




Teaching as an Act of Love as Featured in The American Reporter

As an assistant professor and practicum coordinator in the Graduate School of Education at Touro College, my focus is on Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL), guiding prekindergarten through Grade 12 teachers certified in New York State to develop the professional skillsets needed to effectively teach and communicate with diverse student populations. My goal is that teachers not only acquire teaching methodologies in second language acquisition but also understand that language is the carrier of the intangible heritage of each nation.

Teaching as an acto of love picMy article Teaching as an Act of Love was just published in The American Reporter.

See the Chinese Version as featured in China Weekly.



Touro TESOL Candidate Alicia Balgobin’s Observational Field Study for EDDN-639

The Touro TESOL course EDDN-639 Trends and Current Issues in Second Language Acquisition field study project involves collecting and analyzing data related to the process of second language acquisition for English language learners. Here an exemplary observational study by Touro TESOL candidate Alicia Balgobin.

by Jasmin Bey Cowin, EdD
Assistant Professor and Practicum Coordinator
TESOL and Bilingual Department
Graduate School of Education
Touro College
Vice President, Chair-Elect 2021, NYS TESOL organization
New York, USA

The EDDN-639 Trends and Current Issues in Second Language Acquisition field study project involves collecting and analyzing data related to the process of second language acquisition for English language learners. This course identifies and analyzes current trends and issues in second language acquisition (SLA) and their impact on English language learners. A central focus will be research on specific topics in second language acquisition and bilingualism (e.g., brain research, error correction, the role of L1, etc.). Students will become familiar with current instructional strategies and methods for professional staff and community resource collaboration in building second language acquisition and respect for cultural diversity in today’s society. Students will engage in a case study research project in a particular area of interest.

Touro Teacher Candidate Alicia Balgobin has been teaching ELA and ENL to 7th-grade students for six years. She earned her Bachelor’s Degree at Queens College for Early Childhood Education and is enrolled in the TESOL Graduate Program at Touro College.

Field study by Alicia Balgobin


I conducted an observational case study on ENL students. The type of class is a 7th grade ELA class for beginner ENL students. There are 26 students in the class, which is a smaller class size compared to the normal 30-33 students in other classes. More than 1/2 of the students were Punjabi, the other ¼ were Spanish speakers (from Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, or Mexico), and the remainder either spoke Bengali or Arabic. I chose this topic for research because I was inspired by the “Diversity Kit Vignette: Supporting Students’ Ethnic Identity in School” (Sheets, 1999). This was an experiment conducted by Dr. Rosa Hernandez Sheets, where failing students were put into a class and given an opportunity to share their cultures and backgrounds with their other peers in their class. The result was that these ENL students achieved academic success in this class, however, they didn’t do so well in classrooms that didn’t allow or promote culturally diverse conversations.  I wanted to see if the results of Sheets’ study were also applicable to the ENL classroom I observed and to examine how I can apply SLA theories into my own classroom to greatly benefit my ENL students.


The observational case study was executed within my own school that I currently teach at in Queens, N.Y. A fellow colleague granted me permission to observe her and her students for 7 periods, which lasts 43 minutes each. The class contained 26 beginner 7th grade ENL students and the subject was ELA. I sat in the back of the classroom for each observation so that I didn’t distract the teacher or the students from the teaching and learning process. She was asked brief questions about her classroom population such as: the demographics of her students, their class strengths based on the standards, what their behavior is like, their cultural backgrounds, etc. She shared her professional experience with teaching ENL students, ways she implements the Common Core Standards and the Next Generation Standards to create her learning and language targets, how she ties in their cultural backgrounds into the classroom lessons and environment, and what she believes are her challenges and successes with teaching the beginner ENL population. She shared samples of her students’ work after each class observation. This gave me the opportunity to assess student comprehension, engagement, and their success rate of learning of the new topic she taught that day.  Findings and Discussion There were many activities and interactions occurring within the ENL classroom that was commendable and enhanced what I’ve learned in EDU 639. The ENL students were highly engaged in the activities, when the teacher asked questions, and when they were interacting with each other. The ENL students’ conversations, activities, and the use of their L1 and L2 reflected many of the practices that also were discussed in our class. The teacher’s planning, execution, and interactions with her students reflect best practices discussed in class and in our reading, Second Language Acquisition by Lourdes Ortega. I found that the ENL students greatly relied on the teacher’s corrective feedback (Ortega, 2009). Initially, the students weren’t very confident to share out their responses aloud with the rest of their peers. Instead of making statements, their responses sounded more like a question, due to their uncertainty. They were only confident to repeat their answers the second time around when the teacher offered them, “explicit and/or corrective feedback” (Ortega, 2009) on their use of the L2. The teacher corrected the students’ pronunciation of certain words in the L2 and could be observed asking for “clarification requests” when students’ responses weren’t clear. I believe the teacher’s input will greatly aid students in becoming more confident in practicing and using the L2 as the weeks and months progress. Next, I noticed that the students were engaged in lessons that followed the SIOP model. The lesson flowed and was well prepared by the teacher, who gave explicit instruction and modeling. This allowed for minimal student misbehavior or disruption. The teacher incorporated questions that tapped into the students’ prior background knowledge, which made students more engaged in learning. For example, she asked students to describe their favorite food to a partner. She called on students to share out their responses with the whole class and then informed them that they will be reading about a boy who ate too much of his favorite food and got sick. This helped students to empathize with the character, piqued their interest in wanting to read the story, allowed students the opportunity to practice the L2 with one another, and gave ENL students the opportunity to discuss their own culture–through food! Also, bringing the ENL students’ culture into the classroom with the use of teacher-created questions, fostered a welcoming and engaging environment for ENL students to feel accepted and connected with one another and the world around them. “The SIOP method draws on and builds upon traditional sheltered instructional strategies, which encourage teachers to speak more slowly, enunciate clearly, use visuals, scaffold instruction, target vocabulary words and development, connect concepts to students’ experiences, promote peer interactions, and adapt materials and supplementary materials for ELLs” (Moughamian, 2009). Observing the SIOP model in action in an ENL classroom shows just how effective this model of teaching is.

Another observation I made was that the students were accustomed to the lessons being teacher-centered, as opposed to being student-centered in other general education classes I’ve seen. It seems that the ENL students thrive on a structured lesson that’s planned out, minute by minute. The teacher stated that her students were less willing to participate, were less engaged, and were often off-task/distracted when less structure was in place. The teacher said that as the year progresses, she will move more towards “student-centered” learning as the students also become more comfortable utilizing the L2 on their own.

Another observation I made was that the students were responding to both verbal and written reflections based on that day’s lesson. Students were asked to jot down their thoughts on a post-it (explaining what they understood or didn’t understand about the day’s lesson) and verbally share out with a partner. The teacher used the students’ reflections towards the end of a lesson, as an exit slip or as a summative assessment. Having students reflect on their learning experience requires critical thinking and higher-order-thinking, which is great to implement in an ENL classroom. ENL students liked the visuals the teacher displayed during the do-nows, mini-lessons, to represent unfamiliar vocabulary words, and/or during close readings. The ENL students can be observed giggling and/or breaking into small conversations about the picture which the teacher allowed time for.  The teacher used the pictures as an opportunity to engage her students and then began to teach or explain a concept to them. The students engaged in discussions multiple times throughout each of the lessons I observed. The discussions were about the do now, the mini-lesson, the group task, or just a question she might have posed for that day. Think-pair-shares were used quite often as well. This is reflective of the Hallmarks of Advanced Literacies, specifically, Hallmark #2: Rich Discussion. “To develop their language skills, all students, but especially ELLs, need a lot of practice with language!” (Lesaux & Galloway, 2017). The teacher provided these students with multiple opportunities to practice the L2. ENL students were actively engaged in a Jigsaw activity during my fourth visit to their classroom. They had to close read a short argumentative article on zoos and decide whether zoos were good or bad for the animals, based on the evidence they identified from the article. The students were actively practicing the L2 by discussing the author’s opinions on this subject, as well as discussing their own opinions on zoos, with their peers. The students referred to the text and sounded out unfamiliar words slowly. If they still needed help, they asked a peer or asked their teacher how to pronounce the unfamiliar word. The teacher provided students with graphic organizers to jot down their thoughts and evidence identified and asked them prompting questions throughout the activity to keep them focused, on track, and to help clarify any misconceptions that might have arisen.

The teacher fostered a nurturing environment for students to explore the new language without feeling judged. The students were speaking aloud to attempt to answer questions, although they have limited L2 practice, which shows how comfortable they are in their environment. The Jigsaw activity had many components that was also evident in the Jigsaw video provided to us by our professor.

In addition to all the wonderful observable strategies the teacher had in place for her ENL students, # 7 and 8 of the Blue Print for English Language Learner/ Multilingual Learner Success was very evident. #7 states, “regarding home languages as instructional assets and using them in bridging prior knowledge to new knowledge while ensuring that content is meaningful and comprehensible.” This is evident in students’ conversations regarding their own cultural activities, food, beliefs, games, music, etc. The teacher encouraged her students to share about their cultures and provided them with multiple opportunities to do so. Also, the teacher “employs authentic assessments that require sophisticated uses of language embedded in authentic and rich content.” She assigns them unit exams based on prior New York State test reading passages and standards-based questions. She also gave them exit slips, a type of summative assessment, where students had to use the L2 to respond to verbally or written.

Conclusion/Reflections, and Suggestions for Practice and Future Research

Conclusion/Reflections, and Suggestions for Practice and Future Research It was a wonderful opportunity to see an ENL classroom full of students that were highly engaged and immersed in the L2, when participating in group activities and discussions. The teacher effortlessly taught her ENL students using many of the SLA theories, trends, and strategies we’ve discussed throughout this course. I learned that encouraging students to use the L2 as much as possible during classroom discussions greatly benefits the ENL students. I learned that students liked hands-on activities but also crave structure, as provided by the teacher. I will keep these points in mind in the future when I am lesson planning and interacting with my ENL students. I would like to know how this group of ENL students continue to learn and progress as the school year continues. It would be nice to see how much growth they’ve gained, pertaining to their L2 acquisition, as a result of their teacher’s implementation and execution of all the SLA theories and methods that I observed being used in the classroom.


Blue Print for English Language Learner/ Multilingual Learner Success. THE STATE EDUCATION DEPARTMENT / THE UNIVERSITY OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK. Office of Bilingual Education and World Languages. Retrieved from: http://www.nysed.gov/common/nysed/files/nys-blueprint-for-ell-success.pdfJigsaw Video. Retrieved from,https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=559&v=mtm5_w6JthALesaux,

  1. K., & Galloway, E. P. (n.d.). Hallmark 2 of Advanced Literacies Instruction: Classroom Discussion. Retrieved October 24, 2019, from http://www.nysed.gov/common/nysed/files/programs/bilingual-ed/nys_briefs_brieft-4-of-8_-summer_2017_hallmark_2-final-edited-may-2018.p._.pdf (Links to an external site.)

Moughamian, A. C., Rivera, M. O., & Francis, D. J. (2009). Instructional models and strategies for teaching English language learners. Portsmouth, NH: RMC Research Corporation, Center on Instruction.Ortega, L. (2009). Chapter 4: Introduction. In Second Language Acquisition(pp. 1–11).

New York, NY: Hodder Education.Sheets, R.H. & Hollins, E.R. (1999). Racial and Ethnic Identity in School Practices: Aspects of Human Development. Mahwah,

NJ: ErlbaumThe Diversity Kit. Retrieved from: https://touro.instructure.com/courses/29510/files/1324084?module_item_id=634573