Beatriz Martine, Teacher Candidate at Touro College on Prepositions and Articles

11102782_10152791417766381_2687658104203970642_nBeatriz Martine is a certified 7-12 Mathematics teacher currently working in the Roosevelt Union Free School District. She has had the experience of teaching in the 7th and 8th grades for four years and is looking forward to teaching many more. Beatriz has found a love in working with ENL students because of the predominantly high ENL population in her school district. She is currently pursuing her Masters in TESOL at Touro College to better support her students. Beatriz is hoping to continue her studies and work towards her Bilingual extension after graduating with her Masters.

Here the questions for the Discussion Board of our Touro online learning environment with Ms. Martine’s answers. Ms. Martine has given express permission to use her discussion board postings in my blog.

Why do you think learning correct prepositions, articles and when a noun needs an article or not takes so long to learn? Is this also true for native speakers?  

I think the reasons why learning correct prepositions, articles and when a noun needs an article or not takes a long time to learn is that the rules are complex, have many exceptions, and in certain situations interchangeable. Most of the time, practice is the key to learning these grammatical components. Tara Arntsen explains in Gerund vs. Infinitive, that “it takes a lot of practice to recognize which words this applies to and there is no rule to help,” referring to specific words that must be followed by infinitives or gerunds (2011). Prepositions are hard to learn because they have multiple meanings. Take the preposition on, for example, we can use this for different situations: to be in physical contact with something (on a shelf) or to participate in something (on a team). There are also instances where depending on where you are geographically, prepositions are used differently (standing in line vs. standing on line). Prepositions can also be interchangeable. When someone is waiting inside a restaurant, they can be in or at the restaurant.

Create a short worksheet requiring your students to demonstrate their proficiency in the use of prepositions, infinitives and/or gerunds. Post this on the discussion board for your colleagues to address.
I would use this as a Do Now for a succeeding lesson on when to use gerunds or infinitives. 

Name: __________________________     Date: ________   Period: _____

Gerund vs. Infinitive

Directions: Fill in the blank with the correct gerund or infinite


1. I enjoy (play)  ________________  hide-and-seek with my friends.

2. My teacher always says, “Keep (try)  ________________, next time you’ll get it right!”

3. I need (clean) ________________ my room this weekend, it’s a mess.

4. I don’t like (go)  ________________ to the store with my mom, she takes forever!

5. When my mom walks in my room, I pretend (sleep)  ________________ but I’m really on my phone!

Post two, thoughtful and insightful questions about grammar proficiency for your colleagues to discuss.

1. Does anyone have a good classroom resource for practicing gerunds and infinitives?

2. Matthew Lubin explains, “It’s easier to explain to an ESL class that gerunds sound more natural than infinitives when used as subjects or complements of a sentence” (2017). How would you model this to your students?


Arntsen, T. (2011, August 22). Gerund vs. Infinitive: How to Explain the Difference. Retrieved from

Arntsen, T. (2016, October 30). How To Teach Prepositions Of Place (8 Simple Steps). Retrieved from

Lubin, M. (2017, July 27). How to Teach Gerunds and Infinitives to ESL Students Without Confusing Them. Retrieved from

Larita Hudson on Trends and Current Issues in Second Language Acquisition

As a Professor at Touro College I teach EDDN 639-  Trends and Current Issues in Second Language Acquisition – an Online Course at Touro College, TESOL/ Bilingual Advanced Certificate Programs, Graduate School of Education.  Students move as a cohort through the online course and produce weekly writings on complex questions.  Highlighting some of these excellent contribution of students is a privilege and honor as an instructor and guide.  Here the writing of Larita Hudson, who gave express written permission to use her contribution in my blog.

Larita Hudson:

I am currently in my 17th year of teaching at public schools in the Bronx, New York. I currently work at PS 140, as a 5th grade ELA/Social Studies teacher, in a departmentalized setting. I teach two single-gender classes, an all girls class and an all boys class, including several students from Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Mexico, Colombia, Gambia, and Senegal. I started in Touro’s TESOL program in the early 2000s, but took a long hiatus. I started again last semester and am on track to graduate next winter.

Online Book: Understanding Second Language Acquisition by Lourdes Ortega


Considering both Ortega’s discussion of types of conversational modifications, your own experience/observations as an L2 learner, what kinds of interaction moves, interlocutor type, and contextual conditions have been the most effective for making input comprehensible, and what kinds have been the least effective?

Larita Hudson:

From my experience, asking clarifying questions and confirming have been effective interaction moves for negotiating meaning in language.  I think it’s extremely important for both interlocutors to engage in these techniques to ensure that each speaker’s utterances are valued and understood.  It boils down to respect for each other’s thoughts, ideas, and efforts.  As far as interlocutors, I think the least effective is one who is  “prejudiced”, exhibiting pre-existing or negative attitudes (Ortega).  For input to be comprehensible, Krashen says it must be delivered in a clear and safe way (as stated in Hamza, 2016).  One who is prejudiced will not be encouraging and praise successes, creating a hostile learning environment, which will result in the learner having high anxiety and low self-esteem (an affective filter to language acquisition development).


As by Ortega, the five factors of the linguistic environment that assist in L2 learning are: (a) acculturated attitudes, (b) comprehensible input, (c) interaction and negotiation of meaning, (d) pushed or comprehensible output, and (e) noticing. Ortega states that “these five ingredients were likely present in a case like Julie (see Chapter 2, section 2.2), the first of several exceptionally successful learners discovered since the mid-1990s” (p. 79). Revisit that article and discuss the ways in which these factors are evident or not evident in her language learning situation, and how positive attitudes alone were not sufficient for L2 language learning. You may compare Julie’s situation to that of Alberto and Wes, if applicable.

Larita Hudson:

Unlike Wes, Julie’s acculturation into Egyptian society was strong.  She had a husband and children there and was more invested in building a permanent life in Egypt.  Therefore, it was important for her to pay closer attention to the form of the language.  Wes only moved to Hawaii for business and career reasons.  This might explain why his drive to pay attention was missing (Schmidt, as cited in Ortega, 2009).  In addition, although Wes was interested in communicating with others, he didn’t have interest in negotiating meaning.  Schmidt (as cited in Ortega) noted that Wes was unwilling or unable to revise.  He didn’t explore checks for understanding.  For example, Schmidt “never caught Wes using the kinds of strategy that would foster longer-term learning, such as consulting a dictionary or asking his interlocutors metalinguistic questions about subtle differences or idiomatic appropriacy” (Ortega, 2009, p. 58). On the other hand, as a teacher of English to Arabic students, effective communication (comprehensible output) was probably very important to Julie as her career and livelihood depended on it.


Name and define the five components of Krashen’s Monitor Model. As teachers and language learners, what makes these components appealing or logical? Krashen5Hypothesis.pdf Click for more options

Please watch this YouTube Video of Krashen on Language Acquisition and Input.

Larita Hudson:

The five components of Krashen’s Monitor Model are the Acquisition-Learning Hypothesis, the Natural Order Hypothesis, the Monitor Hypothesis, the Input Hypothesis, and the Affective Filter Hypothesis.  The Acquisition Learning Hypothesis explains the difference between acquisition (the “gist” of the language) and learning (more explicit and formal with explanations and lessons).  The Natural Order Hypothesis is a way of understanding that learners acquire grammar on their own at their own pace, in a predictable order.  The Monitor Hypothesis provides an explanation of how learners make conscious choices to edit and monitor their writing and/or speaking.  The Input Hypothesis pertains to how learners acquire language via the quality of the input (messages) they receive, which leads to understanding.  Finally, the Affective Filter Hypothesis stresses the importance of keeping anxiety low, and motivation and self-confidence high for language acquisition.  Krashen himself explained “We acquire language in one way, and only one way…when we get comprehensible input in a low-anxiety environment” (Hamza, 2016).

As teachers, it is critical to provide a safe learning environment, in which students are not afraid to take risks and feel free to make mistakes without ridicule or embarrassment.  It is only then that, according to Krashen, true learning can take place, which is the ultimate goal of education.

According to Krashen’s theory, learners should be able to take solace in the idea that language learning is not the same for every learner.  It is situational and happens in its own time, such as the Natural Order and Input hypotheses imply.


Ortega notes that while researchers have concluded that negative feedback is preferable to ignoring learner errors, “much less agreement has been reached as to when, how and why negative feedback works, when it does” (p. 80). Considering what you’ve read in the text and your own experiences teaching or learning language, what is negative feedback?  Give 2 examples.

Larita Hudson:

Based on the reading, negative feedback is simply providing cues to make the speaker aware of errors and prompting the speaker to make corrections.  For example, there is an entering ELL in my class this year.  Each day at dismissal, before I give her permission to leave I ask her to tell me the relation of the person picking her up.  Depending on the day, she responds, “My grandma”, “My uncle”, “My mother”, or “My aunt”.  For the first few months she used the words incorrectly, and I’d elicit the correct responses from her by asking her to try again.  Another example of negative feedback is recasting.  It’s when the interlocutor repeats what the learner has said, keeping the meaning intact, but providing a more suitable form of the utterance.  For example, Parker (2012) provides the example of a learner who says, “I want read”, and the facilitator responds, “Oh you want TO read.”


Hamza, T. (2016, Jan. 28). Stephen Krashen: Language acquisition and comprehensible input [Video File]. Retrieved from

Ortega, L. (2009). Second language acquisition. London. Routledge Taylor & Francis Group.

Parker, R. (2012).  Recasting: A language facilitation strategy.  Retrieve from:

ALWC 2018 accepted Proposal: From Russia with Love

2018 Applied Linguistics Winter Conference (ALWC 2018) accepted Proposal Applied Linguistic Conference 2018 in New York City 2018

Prof. Dr. Jasmin Cowin Graduate School of Education – Touro College

Presentation Title:

From Russia with Love – Communicative TESOL Workshops at Plekhanov University

Presentation Abstract:

Plekhanov’s Winter University organized by the University’s Foreign Languages Department focused on “Current Global Trends in Teaching English.” Over the course of five days, the workshop attendees were challenged to incorporate new teaching approaches based on communicative, student-centered components and activities with a view towards culturally relevant pedagogy.

Presentation Summary:

This presentation is a report on the Plekhanov Russian University of Economics Winter University 2018 conference of the University of Tomorrow: Innovative Pedagogy and Methodology. Thematically, Plekhanov’s Winter University focused on “Current Global Trends in Teaching English.” The overarching conference theme was on the urgency to adapt to a rapidly changing world while creating agile mindsets in students and facilitators. The workshops presented were: Current Global Trends in Teaching English; Developing Materials and Resources in Teaching English – Methodology in Teaching English; and E-Resources Discovery and Analysis. As a final project, participants submitted online learning modules for their EFL courses focused on content-based instruction while incorporating the flipped classroom model. While designing the workshops, it became clear that many of the communicative activities and teaching approaches would require participants to step outside their comfort zone. Over the course of five days, the workshop attendees were challenged to incorporate new teaching approaches based on communicative, student-centered components and activities. Through using Harkness method strategies which encourage open classroom dialogue, the workshops were transformed into “Think Tanks” emphasizing a nurturing environment. This anxiety-free, collaborative approach supported risk-taking, opening-up within the group, and personal initiation of hands-on activities and projects. Upon reflection, the four pedagogical C’s: communication, cooperation, creativity and critical thinking are culturally transferable and as relevant as ever in engaging teachers and students to become agile thinkers, leveraging learning for continuous improvement within a culturally relevant pedagogical approach.

Touro College GSE – Online Discussions & Exemplary Student Contributions



Jasmin B. Cowin, Ed.D.


Assistant Professor of  TESOL/ Bilingual Advanced Certificate Programs

Graduate School of Education , Touro College


O: 212-463-0400

232 West 40th Street, Room 408

New York, NY 10018

As an Assistant Professor at Touro College, Graduate School of Education some of my teaching is online.  Part of the student-centered online learning experience are weekly discussion boards with questions and responses related to the assigned readings.

I believe discussion boards are reflective in nature as they provide students with “reflection and maturation time” to absorb and consider the required readings on a deeper level, see Reasons to Use Online Discussions. As courses move forward, student posts often mature in-depth and feature more thought-out commentaries on discussion boards.

In my opinion, the best online postings often personalize and connect the readings to their teaching experiences as is the case with the contribution of Mauricio Riveros-Villanueva, a teacher candidate at the TESOL/ Bilingual Advanced Certificate Programs, Touro College, Graduate School of Education. Mr. Riveros-Villanueva contribution on chapter 3 – Crosslinguistic influences, Understanding Second language acquisition by L. Ortega is exemplary.   Mr. Riveros-Villanueva interweaves his analysis and reflection of the chapter with personalized references to his classroom experiences as an educator. The following discussion board contributions are published with the express permission by Mr. Mauricio Riveros-Villanueva.

My name is Mauricio Riveros-Villanueva. I’m currently a 5th and 6th-grade Bilingual Special Education teacher in the Freeport Public School District. I’ve been with my district since 2012, where at first I taught in the dual-language program prior to switching over to the Special Education Department. I was born in the country of Bolivia and immigrated to the United States at the age of 3 years old with my mother. I was also a student in a Dual Language program from grades K-5; therefore I have a personal connection to the population of students I teach. I speak both Spanish and English fluently.

Understanding Second Language Acquisition by Lourdes Ortega

From reading Ortega and thinking about your own experience/observations as a teacher and a learner, how can an L1 negatively influence an L2 (e.g., L1 Mandarin Chinese and L2 English)? What about the other way around (e.g., L1 English and L2 Mandarin Chinese)? Are there any interesting asymmetries? (The Contrastive Analysis Hypothesis would predict reciprocal influences.) In your written response, please choose two languages to exemplify your discussion.

Mauricio Riveros-Villanueva

According to Ortega, Transferability can hold components that can negatively impact the L2’s development. This is represented by a study publicized in the Netherlands. It explains that learners both consciously and subconsciously have an intuition about how transferable certain phenomena are. One example provided in the text involves a study of the transitive and intransitive meaning of certain verbs in three different groups of L1 Dutch learners. The results showed that L1 learners who were more proficient in their L2 less likely accepted the intransitive verbs in comparison to the group of students who were beginners in the L2 language of English. The text suggests the reason why this may be the case is that the younger learners are more likely to rely on their L1 language when transferring both transitive and intransitive verbs, however, their older counterparts are more likely to mark those transfers as too similar to their L1 and therefore prevent themselves from transferring it. Ortega identifies this theory as “beyond success”, which was an expression created by Kellerman in 1985.
As an educator who has worked with ENL students of all levels, one phenomenon has presented itself over and over again.  Students who I’ve provided instruction to during their beginner levels were always more likely to use cognates as indicators that would assist them when reading out loud during guided reading instruction. As several other students who held higher levels of proficiencies in their L2 were placed in my classroom, it was obvious that some, although at a higher reading level, in fact, demonstrate more mistakes when they were given a running record in relation to phonological mistakes of pronouncing prefixes correctly. My further analysis of their running records was able to provide me data that could support this theory mentioned in the text.

2. From reading Ortega and thinking about your own experience/observations as a teacher and a learner, how does L1 positively influence L2 (e.g., L1 Arabic and L2 English)? What about the other way around (e.g., L1 English and L2 Arabic)? Are there any interesting asymmetries? (Contrastive Analysis Hypothesis would predict reciprocal influences.) In your written response, please choose two languages to exemplify your discussion.

Mauricio Riveros-Villanueva

As per Ortega, L1 is able to positively influence L2 when the L1 holds certain similarities such as the ones mentioned in this chapter. According to Ortega, research that was collected amongst Finnish students who also spoke Swedish had fewer advantages when learning English as an L2 language when comparing them to Swedish students who also spoke Finnish and were learning English as an L2. Ortega explains that certain similarities in typological features that exist between the Swedish and English languages contributed to the advantage.
One of my own experiences in relation to this is not only knowledge-worthy but also gently humorous. In my first year of teaching there was a student who arrived from Portugal and spoke no English whatsoever, therefore he was placed in a newcomer’s class with a majority of the students who spoke Spanish as their L1. As the year progressed the students became more familiarized both socially and academically, therefore at which point many of us noticed that this student began to grasp the Spanish language at a much faster rate than English. It was clear that the students’ L1 language of Portuguese had many similarities, including cognates that descended from a common language to that of the L1 of the other students. In addition, much of our focus has always been on identifying common roots between our students L1 and their L2, in this case, English having been their L2. Through this emphasis in our instruction, we may have inadvertently identified those same similarities between the L1’s of our students; therefore the students grasped Spanish much faster than English. It truly was one of those cases where the students learned from each other and at the time I found it very intriguing as a first-year teacher.

3. What other issues, such as language universals, complicate cross-linguistic influence? And how is it that sometimes, even if a negative transfer occurs, it does not result in ungrammaticality? Please give examples to support your claims.

Mauricio Riveros-Villanueva

One additional issue mentioned in the text, that complicates cross-linguistic influence is titled Markedness. This source of universal language influence is covered in the text between the distinction of voiced and voiceless final stops. According to the text, English and German languages have the same number of voiced and voiceless consonants, however, based on how they use it within the word differs and can produce performance difficulties in their L2 language, more precisely due to the influence of markedness.

In regards to negative transfer that does not result in ungrammaticality, Ortega identifies errors of omission, also titled avoidance. According to a study by Jacqueline Schachter, ungrammaticality was avoided due to the lessening in probability for when a language learner would use the specific transferable component of their L1, as opposed to having the opportunity when they could. The example most extensively mentioned in the text is when examining the use of relativization by Chinese and Japanese L1 learners in comparison to Persian and Arabic L1 learners. The latter of the two pairs attempted to use relative clauses much more often than the former, consequently producing more errors, and taking additional risks in the L2 usage. The former of the two pairs displayed the consequences of avoidance because the Chinese and Japanese languages differ much more in English than that of the Persian and Arabic languages.
4. Consider Ortega’s discussion of avoidance (particularly Schachter, 1974), underuse, and overuse. How can understanding these phenomena better inform our understanding of cross-linguistic influence? Please give examples to support your claims.

Mauricio Riveros-Villanueva

The understanding of Avoidance discussed in Ortega’s text can better inform our understanding of cross-linguistic influences by providing a more in-depth look at the influences of those avoidances. Ortega provides examples of misdirection when observing the results produced by Jacqueline Schachter’s study in 1974. Although on the surface, her study showed that Chinese and Japanese L2 writers were displaying fewer mistakes than that of the Arabic and Persian writers. However, when further analyzing the writing samples, it was clearly obvious that fewer mistakes actually went parallel with how many attempts were made that would result in such a mistake, this case being in relation to relative clauses.

This phenomenon attempts to explain the impacts that exist from the idea that “accuracy equals appropriate development”, and how this idea can affect an L2 learner in a negative way. Furthermore, the idea of overuse and underuse better frames a picture of how L2 learners from variously different L1 languages can actually underuse a specific rule, based on the equivalency of such usage in their L1 language. The motivators in Ortega’s text indicate that these language differences can be attributed to semantics as well as the morphological rules in the L1’s language. In a practical and relatable view, as an educator, one can learn to understand why it’s so important to understand the differences that exist within the L1 languages that many of our students possess. However, no matter the similarities in educational placements that several L2 learners receive within an educational system, it’s important that we understand the difference that may influence their success at developing their L2. This will provide us with a more individualized picture of each student, precisely focusing on his or her language differences and how they may provide support to their L2.