World Book Day at Touro University Graduate School of Education Thursday, April 7th, 2022

Touro University Graduate School of Education will celebrate World Book Day Thursday, April 7th, 2022 through a marathon read-aloud from 9 am to 4 pm. Concurrently, Touro University celebrates its 50th anniversary by sharing award-winning books and resources for teachers, parents, and caregivers. Click here for the complete schedule:–events/events/world-book-day-2022.php

Registration Required for This Free Event: Webinar Registration – Zoom

Dr. Jasmin (Bey) Cowin presents Reimagine and Redesign: Augmented Reality Digital Technologies and 21st Century Education at ICLTTE 2022, the 16th International Conference on Language Teaching and Teacher Education in Jeddah

I am pleased to share my presentation and abstract for Reimagine and Redesign: Augmented Reality Digital Technologies and 21st Century Education.

The International Conference on Language Teaching and Teacher Education aims to bring together leading academic scientists, researchers and research scholars to exchange and share their experiences and research results on all aspects of Language Teaching and Teacher Education. It also provides a premier interdisciplinary platform for researchers, practitioners and educators to present and discuss the most recent innovations, trends, and concerns as well as practical challenges encountered and solutions adopted in the fields of Language Teaching and Teacher Education.

Algorithmic approaches to decision-making are starting to permeate both institutional and personal spheres through decision support systems. In education, AI and intelligent systems are poised to become change agents with deep impacts not only on assessment, administrative functions, organizational strategic planning, student acquisition, and retention but also on curriculum design, and personal learning networks (PNL). The global competitiveness of educational institutions and their graduates’ rests on their ability to be agile and nimble in adopting adaptive technology spaces.

Dr. Jasmin (Bey) Cowin

This paper explores augmented reality digital technologies (ARDTs) and their use in educational cases in the artificial intelligence (AI) age. The future of education and work are evolving to a fluid landscape with an uncertain job or career trajectories due to a VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity, ambiguity) environment. Structuring education as a menu of predefined
disciplines and degrees, situated in brick-and-mortar educational institutions may no longer be an optimal education model.
Algorithmic approaches to decision-making are starting to permeate both institutional and personal spheres through decision support systems. In education, AI and intelligent systems will become change agents with deep impacts not only on assessment, administrative functions, organizational strategic planning, student acquisition, and retention but also on curriculum design and pedagogies.
The convergence of three areas: ARDTs, big data, and global demand for a highly qualified teacher workforce will bring forth far-reaching consequences to the field of education while raising fundamental questions about the functions of educational institutions and educators.
Transformative ways of knowledge generation and pedagogy come on top of business processes enabled through data aggregation and analytic forecasts. Areas in which AI is already entwined in education include smart content, intelligent tutoring systems, virtual facilitators, ARDTs, and yet-to-be-invented learning environments with the distinct possibility of blockchain or Holochain integration for administrative organizational purposes.
The future of education will need to be reimagined and redesigned while implementing and harnessing innovative technologies. Reshaping educational philosophies and their underpinning pedagogies will transform the modes of delivery in educational institutions worldwide. Ultimately, 21st-century ARDTs present significant opportunities and challenges to educational institutions and learners alike.
Fourth Industrial Revolution, artificial intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things (IoT), Augmented Reality Digital Technologies, Distributed Ledger Technology

Cowin, Jasmin. “Reimagine and Redesign: Augmented Reality Digital Technologies and 21st Century Education.” virtual presentation, ICLTTE 2022: 16. International Conference on Language Teaching and Teacher Education, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

Dr. Cowin publishes in the Journal of Systemics, Cybernetics and Informatics on “The Fourth Industrial Revolution: Technology and Education.”

I am pleased to share that my latest article on The Fourth Industrial Revolution: Technology and Education was published:

Cowin, J. (2021). The Fourth Industrial Revolution: Technology and Education. Journal of Systemics, Cybernetics, and Informatics (2021) 19(8), 53 63,

Touro TESOL/Bilingual Candidate Ashley Cosenza’s Materials Critique and Redesign for EDPN-673

The Touro College TESOL/Bilingual Program course EDPN-673 – Methods and Materials for Teaching English as a Second Language provides a historical overview of second language acquisition theories and teaching methods. Students learn how to apply current approaches, methods, and techniques, with attention to the effective use of materials, in teaching English as a second language. Students engage in the planning and implementation of standards-based ESL instruction which includes differentiated learning experiences geared to students’ needs. Emphasis is placed on creating culturally responsive learning environments. Includes 15 hours of fieldwork.

One assignment is the Materials Critique & Redesign where candidates will: (1) prepare a written critique description of the material or resource, analyzing its effectiveness for ELLs and (2) based on your analysis, redesign one section/activity of the original material so that it meets the need of ELLs. The materials chosen will promote culturally and linguistically responsive classrooms and instructional practices.

Ashley Cosenza:

Touro TESOL/Bilingual candidate Ashley Cosenza submitted an exemplary project. She is receiving her Master’s degree in Teaching English as a Second Language in Spring 2022. She is in her second to last semester at Touro College with Professor Cowin. Ms. Cosenza, “I enjoy learning different strategies to include in my 5th-grade classroom for students to learn the English language. It is important to me to deliver each lesson in such a way to captivate ELLs in each subject.”

GLoCALL 2021 accepted proposal – Simulation-Based Learning Environments: Practice-Based Teacher Education for TESOL Teacher Candidates

What is GLoCALL 2021? GLoCALL 2021 is an international academic conference focusing on the use of computer technology for language learning (CALL). GLoCALL conferences have been held annually since 2007 in various countries across Asia.

When is GLoCALL 2021? The GLoCALL 2021 conference will be held 16th-18th December 2021. Details of important dates are listed on the Important dates page.

Where will GLoCALL 2021 be held? The GLoCALL 2021 conference will be held online with online sessions presented via the website.


Simulation-Based Learning Environments: Practice-Based Teacher Education for TESOL Teacher Candidates

Jasmin (Bey) Cowin, Ed.D.

Touro College, GSE

Post-pandemic, teacher education programs across the globe are searching for alternative pathways addressing practicum and fieldwork completion for teacher candidates. Simulation-based learning (SBL) with emotionally intelligent student avatars no longer seems a futuristic endeavor. Organizations focusing on medicine, nursing education, aviation, corporate work safety training, and the military have used simulations for years, enabling trainees to make decisions based on best industry standards through practice in virtual environments. With the growing diverse population in US schools, it is essential for Teaching English as a Second Language (TESOL) teachers to practice incorporation of culturally responsive pedagogy and providing a safe environment for English Language Learners (ELLs). This presentation focuses on reviewing, contrasting, and framing two different virtual training environments for TESOL educators searching for additional opportunities to offer interactive field and practicum experiences: simSchool and Mursion. The presentation and paper will identify, illustrate, and interpret practice-based teacher education (PBTE) and SBL. PBTE illustrates high-level teaching practices, with a specific focus on situated context of use. A PBTE model in SBL can engage TESOL teacher candidates in task-based approaches and help candidates to solidify their knowledge of the distinctions between teaching approaches, methods and techniques.

Keywords: Simulation-based learning, practice-based teacher education, simSchool, Mursion, practice-based teacher education, avatars, practicum. 

Dr. Abdullah M. Al Ghurbani and Dr. Jasmin (Bey) Cowin presented: Fulbright Alumni, Global Friendships & Action: Teacher Training in Yemen October 21st, 2021

Dr. Al Ghurbani, Sana’a, Yemen and I were honored to present at the conference “Fulbright at 75: Celebrating a Legacy of Global Friendships.”

“For 75 years, the Fulbright Program has engaged passionate and accomplished students, scholars, artists, teachers, and professionals of all backgrounds. We believe that by living and learning together with people from different countries and cultures we can shape a more positive vision for our communities and our world. A hallmark of the Fulbright Program has been its longstanding commitment to Diversity and Inclusion (D&I). We strive to ensure that Fulbright reflects and values the diversity of U.S. society and societies. Equally important to diversity is inclusion. Fulbright takes steps to ensure that the Program’s diverse participants have successful and rewarding exchange experiences.” US Fulbright Program – Diversity & Inclusion (

Touro candidate Noelia Feliz, PSGN 698 Field Experiences in Bilingual Pupil Personnel Services, on bilingual assessments

As part of the Touro practicum experience for Bilingual Pupil Personnel Services candidates research bilingual assessment, which is the evaluation of a bilingual individual, by a bilingual individual in a bilingual manner (Rhodes, Ochoa & Ortiz, 2005).

Noelia Feliz is a second-generation immigrant of Hispanic descent. As a school psychologist for Yonkers Public Schools, she proudly serves underprivileged communities and families by aiding them in receiving and obtaining the best service possible. Noelia is currently working towards her bilingual extension at Touro College because she wants to be able to work with a broader population and be a hand and voice for families who are often underserved.

WISC-IV Spanish – What Does It Measure?

The Wechsler Intelligence Scales for Children has been broadly utilized in research and clinical applications to distinguish designs of cognitive performance such as neurodevelopmental disorders like attention-deficit disorders autism as well as to obtained conditions such as traumatic brain damage and helping identify learning disabilities. The WISC-V Spanish is a linguistically and culturally diverse test that is used to measure cognitive ability in Spanish for children ages 6:0 through 16:11. This test was adapted from the English WISC-V, however, test items have been validated to limit cultural bias amongst different origins and regions. Factors such as acculturation, socioeconomic status, educational disadvantage, and bilingualism may affect the child’s performance on cognitive tests (McGill & Canivez, 2017).


The Spanish WISC-V is composed of Four indexes that make up the Full-Scale Index Quotient (FSIQ). These four include Verbal Comprehension (similarities, Vocabulary, Comprehension, & Information), Perceptional Reasoning (Block Design, Picture concepts, Matrix reasoning Picture completion), Working Memory (Digit Span, Letter-Number Sequencing, & Arithmetic), and Processing Speed (Coding, Symbol, Search, and Cancellation). In supplement to cognitive abilities measured in these areas, the WISC-V Spanish offers language-environment amended scores for the verbal subtests and indexes. The FSIQ is derived from 7 subtests and is considered what is most typical of universal intellectual functioning (Maccow & Henke, 2016).

Subtest Item Content:

The quantity of adjustment necessary was different across subtests. For the Processing Speed and Visual-Spatial subtests, and all Fluid Reasoning subtests with the exception of Arithmetic, only instruction translation to the child was needed; and all items, stimuli, and art, stayed mirroring that of the English WISC–V. On the Arithmetic, Verbal Comprehension subtests and Letter–Number Sequencing, changes throughout languages needed some modification of item content (Maccow & Henke, 2016).

Subjectivity can be viewed in terms of the Verbal subtests in which the child wither gives you a definition of a word, or compare two things together. The subjectivity comes when depending on the cultural background (dialects) of administrator vs that of the child, the definition of words might vary, thus affecting scoring.

Who should be the users of the WISC-V- Spanish?

Someone who is able to comprehend and communicate in both English and Spanish. Also, someone who is experienced and trained in the assessment linguistically diverse children, in this case, Spanish, who are comparable in linguistic background, cultural, age, clinical, and educational history to the children examiners will be evaluating with the WISC-V Spanish (Maccow & Henke, 2016).

Norming Sample


Restructured normative sample standardized on 2,200 children aged 6:0–16:1. The primary language of the children in the sample is Spanish and have gone to schools across the United States for as little as 5 consecutive years. It is compared to the English normative sample using Item Response Theory (IRT) approach (Maccow & Henke, 2016). Normative sample stratified to correlate with the recent US census data based on race/ethnicity, parent education level, sex, and geographic region for the groups. This entails the added validity evidence based on Spanish-speaking clinical and validity samples. The accumulative weight of reliability and validity evidence proposes that psychologists should focus their efforts interpretively at the general level and have a lot of caution when using group factor scores to make decisions (Maccow & Henke, 2016).

Optional Language-Environment Verbal Score Adjustments

Psychologists who assess children from diverse linguistic and cultural backgrounds have to face unique trials and complexities. Specifically, practical approaches are needed to weed out the impression of non-cognitive factors (socioeconomic status, educational disadvantage, acculturation, bilingualism) that may affect cognitive test performance (Maccow & Henke, 2016). The adjusted scores give us an approximation (not a precise) of the level to which personal (preferences and language use) and environmental (school, home, neighborhood) variables may have impacted the performance of the child. These adjusted scores have not been validated for determining eligibility for special education. This is why the standard age-adjusted norms are advocated to make such decisions about eligibility (Maccow & Henke, 2016).

Overall Impressions/appropriateness

Overall, The WISC-V Spanish is available, for online/manual administration. It is an easy tool to use both ways. The full kits run for $1,300. The kit includes the manual, the technical interpretive manual, record forms, three stimulus books, 25 response booklets, symbol search and coding scoring keys, and the block design block set ( I really do enjoy the assessment, in terms of the time it takes to complete it beats it’s opposite, The Woodcock Munoz which is another cognitive measure and the Spanish version of the Woodcock Johnson. The WISC-V Spanish is typically between 45-65 minutes to complete. The updated norms have updated tremendously from the WISC-IV Spanish and it makes the test that much more reliable to use. They went from having a norm sample of sole Puerto Rican students for the WISC-IV, to expanding on that sample to ELL students across the US. This update makes the test more reliable. The English WISC-V is a personal favorite of mine, and I have seen collogues use the WISC-V Spanish and it looks like something I would enjoy just as much.

The Leiter-III (cognitive)

What does it measure?

The Leiter-III is an assessment tool that is used to evaluate neuropsychological, attentional, and nonverbal abilities in typical and atypical children, adolescents and adults. The test is administered completely in pantomime, and it is not verbally charged like a WISC-V or WJ would be. Administration age is 3–75+ years and takes about 20-25 minutes to administer. This non-verbal assessment is perfect for population of those with Speech/Language disorders, autism, and the English Language Learners (ELLs). With the Leiter-3 postulates an IQ score, and it also gives the percentile and age-equivalent scores for each subtest. The test kit runs for $1,185, and it is only administered manually. ((Leiter-3) Leiter International Performance Scale, Third Edition).

Leiter-3 Subtests

Cognitive Scales (Fluid Intelligence)

Unlike other cognitive testing, the Leiter-3 highlights fluid intelligence, the firmest measure of an individual’s distinctive cognitive abilities.

· Sequential Order (SO)

· Form Completion (FC)

· Classification and Analogies (CA)

· Figure Ground (FG)

· Matching/Repeated Patterns (M/RP)- optional. ((Leiter-3) Leiter International Performance Scale, Third Edition).


The Leiter-3 gives individual subtest, and various composite scores, that measure intelligence, and discrete abilities. These scores recognize the weaknesses and strengths of individual aptitudes, as well as skills. Percentile and age-equivalent scores are provided. Growth Scores are given for all domains, empowering experts to measure little, but imperative, cognitive shifts inside their skill set, especially vital for children with cognitive inabilities. Following these shifts permits experts, teachers and guardians to see the change (development) over time, independent of age-based standard scores. With the Leiter there is little room for subjectivity. Everything is done completely non-verbal. The pantomime signs are all standardized ((Leiter-3) Leiter International Performance Scale, Third Edition).

· Appropriateness/Limitations

When a student is linguistically diverse, it is important to, along with a verbally charged cognitive test, to include a non-verbal to see the difference in the person’s IQ. See if there is a discrepancy in scores based on the child’s language or ability and use those scores and results appropriately. This is something we do in our district. However, the fact that we do not have a verbal aspect to this tests limits our overall picture of the diverse child, which is why it is essential, if the student is able to speak, to include another measure with the Leiter-III.


· Validity / Reliability

The norm of the Leiter-III is based on a sample of 1,600+ typical individuals reflecting the general population in terms of ethnicity/race, gender, and age, and cultural background. The technical appropriateness of the instrument, including standardization and reliability, is strong. However, the data for this measure suggests flexibility in performance over the course of time. validity was supported for both language groups. ((Leiter-3) Leiter International Performance Scale, Third Edition).

Overall Impressions

Overall, I am not a fan of this assessment it is a personal choice. There is nothing wrong with this test, it is just out of my personal comfort zone. My times administering this test have not been the most fun. It was difficult for me initially to get a hang of it as it is different than anything I have ever done before. Sometimes I find students get easily distracted with all the manipulatives that this test does entail, and it is time-consuming. One limitation I find is that since one does not speak on this test, for bilinguals especially, the different pantomime signs might be confusing. Culturally non-verbal signs might vary from culture to culture and that could serve as a downfall if the student is pretty new to the American culture.


“(Leiter-3) Leiter International Performance Scale, Third Edition.” WPS,

Maccow, Gloria, and James Henke. “Introducing WISC-V Spanish.” Pearson Clinical, 2017.

Touro TESOL Teacher Candidate Christine Agnello’s website review for EDDN 639 – Trends and Current Issues in Second Language Acquisition

Christine Agnello is currently a TESOL candidate at the Touro College TESOL graduate program. She has worked with children for over fifteen years and looks forward “to becoming a classroom teacher who can help my English language learners succeed in their academic career.”

Ms. Angelo’s submission is exemplary as it focuses on 6 websites or applications featuring:

  1. The Common Core Standards as they relate to ELLs
  2. The New York State English as a Second Language Achievement Test (NYSESLAT)
  3. The Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol (SIOP), the Specially Designed Academic Instruction in English Protocol (SDAIE), and the Cognitive Academic Language Learning Approach Protocol (SIOP)
  4. NCLB & AYP requirements and RTTT
  5. Bilingual Education

Website 1: Common Core 

This website is about the New York State common core standards and how they apply to English language learners. This website offers a wide variety of information to help guide parents and guardians in understanding the common core standards and how they apply to ELLs. When you first click on this link, you are brought to a page that showcases a video of a bilingual classroom; from there, you will find information regarding the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). It is explained that the CCSS are meant to make sure that all children succeed once they graduate from high school. This website explains that the CCSS are essential because they help all children, regardless of their age, race, gender, or background. The website offers a description of the CCSS, which states clear expectations for what each student should know in key critical areas of reading, writing, speaking, and listening. This website is meant to provide parents and guardians with the standards as a way to help them work along with their child’s teachers in guiding their children to be successful. 

A positive aspect of this website is that it provides a ‘Parent Workshop Backpack Guide’ in multiple languages. This will allow all families to become familiar with the CCSS, regardless of their home language. The backpack guide is a two-page information sheet, which details the CCSS and what they should expect to find in their child’s backpack in regards to learning. This information is vital to helping parents keep up to date on what is going on in their child’s academic learning. This website also offers a wide variety of information about ELLs regarding their education. Parents and guardians can navigate the website and view extra details by clicking on the links located on the left side of the screen. While it is significant that the website offers so much information, I do believe a negative is that there might be too much information which will cause parents and guardians to become overwhelmed. 

In the future, I would use this website to help guide the parents and guardians of my English language learners. I may reference this website during parent/teacher conferences, and use it as a guide to show parents and guardians where their children are in terms of their academics and what steps we could take together to get them on the level they need to be in regards to the common core standards. 

Website 2: NYSESLAT 

This website is designed to detail The New York State English as a Second Language Achievement Test (NYSESLAT). This website offers a wide variety of information in regards to the NYSESLAT, such as a description of the exam, how the exam is measured, and a checklist for review. This website provides a lot of information regarding the exam, and on the left side of the screen, you can view resources and materials that will be used to assess the exam. 

While this website is full of a lot of information, I do believe that it could be overwhelming for English language learner parents and guardians. The website is only in English, which will make it difficult for others to read and understand. At the bottom of the screen, this is another link which brings you to a ‘Parent Brochure.’ Once you click on this link, you are brought to another website which provides a brochure detailing the exam in a variety of languages. 

Although this website may be more geared towards teachers, I believe it is helpful for parents and guardians to view the information provided here. This information can help parents and guardians understand what the NYSESLAT is and what it entails for their children. In the future, I would love for my school’s main office to provide the information regarding this website to newly registered parents, as they can view the data before their child takes the exam. 


Website 3: The Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol (SIOP) 

This website is designed to offer you information regarding The Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol (SIOP). As stated on the homepage of the website, it is understood that The Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol approach is for teaching content to English language learners in a strategic way which will make the subject matter and its concepts comprehensible while promoting student’s English language development. This website provides information on the eight components of SIOP, as well as resources that can be used to implement. 

This website is very clean; there aren’t many areas to explore, which makes it easy to navigate. When you view the eight components link, you are brought to a well thought out PDF that details the eight components that you can use. This information can be useful for future teaching and is easily accessible. A negative to the website is that unfortunately, some of the links do not work, and you are brought to a website that is not helpful. 

In the future, I would use this website to help reference how I could use the Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol (SIOP) in my classroom. With its clean interface, I feel like I would access it more often, as all the information easily laid out for me. 

Website 4: No Child Left Behind (NCLB) act 

This website provides an article detailing the information regarding the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) act, and how it especially applies to English language learners. The article explains that the NCLB act requires all English language learners to receive quality instruction for learning English and grade-level academic content. This act allows flexibility for choosing programs of instruction, especially for ELLs. The article explains that states are required to develop standards for English language proficiency, and to link those stands to the state’s academic content standards. The article goes on to list the requirements of the NCLB act in correlation to English language learners. 

This website provides short but very insightful information regarding the No Child Left Behind act and its relation to English language learners. It gives details that I believe would be beneficial to parents and guardians of English language learners. The website provides alternative links to some terms which are not easily understood by parents or guardians unfamiliar to the act. While I find the site useful, I do find it disconcerting that the information is only provided in English.  

In my future, as an educator, I would use this website to inform parents/guardians about the No Child Left Behind act. I think this website would be excellent if it were used during a parent/guardian workshop, which could be set up for the beginning of the school year. This workshop could be conducted during the parent/guardian outreach time, which is mandated by the Department of Education for all teachers on Mondays and Tuesdays. I think it would be beneficial for there to be translators available, as each translator could assist in helping parents and guardians of a variety of languages understand what is being discussed. 

Website 5: 

This website provides information regarding the requirements for bilingual education and English as a new language program. This website offers a fact sheet, which gives you an outline and guide on these requirements. The website starts off by providing a background in bilingual education and English as a new language program and explains the amendments that are required of school districts in order to provide English language learners with opportunities to achieve the same educational goals and standards established for all students. The website also contains resources for English language learners, as well as definitions of key terms regarding English language learners. 

This website provides a lot of information and has it broken down into easy to follow sections. I believe that this information is vital for any teacher of English language learners, and it is essential to be knowledgeable of this information to reach your students. The definitions of the key terms are a positive aspect of this website, as they can be referenced frequently for clarification. Along the top of the site you can find resources that lead you to another page that has more information regarding educational news. The website itself is self-explanatory and easily accessible. There is also a PDF fact sheet, which is beneficial for understanding the information. 

In my future endeavors as an educator, I will use this website to reference the NYS requirements for bilingual education and English as new language programs. I think it is essential to keep yourself abreast of any new information regarding these programs, as that knowledge will help me better understand the opportunities available for my English language learners, and how I can apply them to my teachings. 

Application 6: NY State Learning Standards, developed by MasteryConnect, for ios.

This application provides you with an overview of the New York State Common Core Standards. Upon opening the application, you are brought to a straightforward screen which states the standards and information regarding the developer of the application. Once you click on standards, you are brought to a screen that allows for a personal search, or you may click between standards for mathematics, language arts, social studies or science. Each standard provided you with a list of kindergarten through high school, and as you further explore the application you will be brought to the common core standards for each grade in each subject area. You can change the font, and you can make notes that can be referenced at a later time. 

I believe that this application is extremely beneficial to teachers. This application provides you with all the information you need regarding the New York State Common Core Standards, at the tips of your fingers. They are easily accessible, and the design of the application is clean and clear. There isn’t much to get confused by, even there are a lot of standards to reference. I believe that the ability to add notes and providing the user to do their own search is especially helpful. The only negative that I found was the lack of a bookmark of some sort just so it is easier to find the next time. 

I know that I will be able to implement this application in my future teaching practice, as it will provide a guide for myself to ensure that my lessons are aligned with the New York State Common Core Standards. I will be able to reference this application when designing my lessons and use the information provided to me to confirm that I am indeed teaching the information I need to help my students become successful. 



Reflections on the article Sociocultural Perspectives on Foreign Language Learning by Samantha Solomita TESOL Course EDPN 673 Touro College

This week I am featuring TESOL candidate Samantha Solomita’s thoughtful Reflective Journal assignment. All teacher candidates are required to write reflective learning journals for every course as part of the TESOL Touro program, CR-ITI-BE in TESOL and CR-ITI-BE in Bilingual Education.  As teacher candidates prepare for a career in TESOL and Bilingual education becoming a reflective practitioner the hallmark for metacognitive learning and taking an active role in one’s own learning. Therefore, the TESOL Program at Touro College, CR-ITI-BE in TESOL, CR-ITI-BE in Bilingual Education requires Reflective Learning Journals for both professional growth and assessment.
Purpose: To provide teacher candidates with a framework making connections between prior knowledge and new information. The framework engages teacher candidates in a systematic process to guide their ongoing reflection, a process they can internalize and practice as constructive educators. Teacher candidates will be able to engage in this process to improve their teaching throughout their careers. Teacher candidates reflective journal entries will be included in the final portfolio.

Bio: Samantha Solomita, a TESOL candidate at Touro College, GSE currently teaches a 12:1+1 bridge self- contained class in  Sunnyside, Queens. Her class is composed of 3rd and 4th graders who have learning disabilities and are mostly English Language Learners. Ms. Solomita is certified in childhood studies and students with disabilities 1-6 and holds a Masters in Educational Psychology.

Description of Highlight(s) – chapter, article or event that pertains to EDPN 673 course. 

In the article Sociocultural Perspectives on Foreign Language Learning, the authors Mansoor Fahim and Mastaneh Haghani discuss how the sociocultural theory (SCT) relates to learning and teaching a second language. According to Fahim and Haghani (2012) “In sociocultural theory learning is thought of as a social event taking place as a result of interaction between the learner and the environment (p. 693) Therefore, language learning is optimal when the learner is actively involved in their learning and interacting with others. Language and learning are also strengthened as the individual participates in cultural, linguistic, and historical settings. For example, the learner is involved in interactions within peer groups, families, sports activities, etc. Sociocultural theory uses a holistic approach in which meaning is developed through complex forms rather than isolated concepts; therefore, learners have a role in their own learning process. They are problem solvers and meaning makers in their language acquisition process. In addition, this theory stresses an interconnectedness among teachers, learners, and tasks. Social interaction is believed to facilitate the learning process. Learners work together with their teacher to solve the problems. As they work together to solve a problem, individuals are internalizing how to solve the problem on their own. As the learner is developing the language, he/she is benefiting from others participation in the process. With the support of peers and teacher, students can develop language (Fahim & Haghani, 2012). Vygotsky introduced a concept called Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD). With this concept, Vygotsky argues that “psychology should be more concerned with the potential abilities of a child, i.e. what a child will be to accomplish in the future but he/she has not achieved yet” (p. 694). Therefore, scaffolding must take place so that the child can grow and develop. Scaffolding can be referred to as social assistance. Scaffolding can also be anything a learner benefits from. Therefore, scaffolds may be textbooks, dictionaries, and diagrams; however, scaffolds can also be peer feedback and teacher support. Scaffolds may be direct or explicit instruction. The key is that the learning takes place within the learner’s zone of proximal development. Therefore, no learning is “out of reach.” Another concept of SCT is internalization. There needs to be an enhancement of interactions among the learners. The expert role can be applied to the teacher but also to learners as well. Reciprocal teaching may be adopted to have expert learners teach students who are still developing the language. Teachers could adopt a learner-centered approach to instruction to help students with internalization (Fahim & Haghani, 2012). Another essential component of SCT is the activity theory. Activity theory focused on task-based performances which provide learners with an active role. The learner becomes socially and academically motivated which leads to success in the language learning process. Engaging the students in interviews, role-plays, and other real-world tasks increase the value of learning for students. The learners’ motives, goals and values contribute to their success in language acquisition. Overall, the SCT argues that learning is optimal when it is within the learner’s zone of proximal development, scaffolds are provided, and there are interactions within social contexts (Fahim & Haghani, 2012).

2. Initial Emotional Response (surprised, embarrassed, sad, inspired, excited, puzzled, etc.)

Initially, I was surprised when I read this article because I did not think that the sociocultural theory applied to language learning. I have researched and read a lot about Lev Vygotsky’s theory in my undergraduate and graduate courses; however, I do not remember any research focusing on language learning. I was surprised and excited to learn that there are connections between what I have learned in psychology courses and TESOL courses. I was surprised that the sociocultural theory connects to language learning; therefore, I was eager to reflect on this article.

Learning Process

3. Prior Assumptions or Opinions about the described highlight

Prior to reading this article, I thought that second language learning should be mostly teacher-directed. I assumed that for students to learn the language they needed to be passive learners. I thought ENL teaching was very teacher-directed with limited interaction and discussions between peers and teacher. I thought that students simply listened to the teacher and repeated what the teacher stated. I perceived ENL teaching as teaching the basics of English such as grammar, spelling, and verb agreement. I also thought ENL teaching incorporated mostly drill practices and repetition. In addition, I believed ENL was a pull-out service which was separate from content. I thought students were pulled out to practice basic English skills which were not aligned to the curriculum taught in the classroom. Therefore, as a student, I thought that ENL teachers were separate from classroom teachers. I did not realize that an ENL teacher could be a classroom teacher as well. Lastly, I also thought that ENL teaching incorporated specific teacher feedback as opposed to self- and peer- feedback.

4. Source of Assumption or Opinion What made you have such an assumption? (

I had this assumption because most of the videos that I have watched for this course have been very teacher-directed. Also, the readings from earlier on in the course were also more teacher-directed methods. For example, the Audiolingual Method, the Grammar-Translation method, and the Direct Method and very teacher-centered. The teacher is the expert and the students practice language without really understanding the content. The student’s role is mostly to listen to language and then repeat words and phrases. However, when I read the title of the article, I knew that the sociocultural theory focused on interactions; therefore, I was eager to read the article and make connections to language learning. Another reason is, before I became a teacher, I always thought that ENL was teaching simply English. I did not realize that it was integrated. I envisioned the ENL teachers doing basic grammar and sentence structure. From elementary school, I remember the ENL teachers having their own rooms and the students only going to their rooms. I do not remember ENL teachers ever coming into my classroom or teaching general content.

5. Assumption/Opinion Check – Validation/Invalidation 

My assumptions about the instruction of a foreign language were invalidated due to research on sociocultural theory and other methods of teaching. For example, Vygotsky’s sociocultural theory proposes for students to be active in their learning in order to create meaning. According to Fahim and Haghani (2012), “the theory also lays great stress on the dynamic nature of interconnections among teachers, learners and tasks and advocates the concept of learning which stems from interactions among individuals” (p.694). Therefore, according to SCT, learners should be engaged in tasks that are meaningful and challenging. Students show optimal growth when learning is within their zone of proximal development and they are supported by peers and teachers. According to SCT, language learning is best when there are meaningful interactions between students and teachers. Similarly, further research has supported and validated the points made by Vygotsky regarding language learning. For example, in the article On Teaching Strategies in Second Language Acquisition Yang Hong argues for creating a learner-centered classroom. According to Hong (2008), “In the learning process, the teacher can guide, facilitate, present materials clearly and answer questions, but the teacher cannot learn the language for students or even make students learn the language” (p. 64). The teacher’s role is the role of the facilitator. It is up to the student to take initiative for their learning. Teachers should facilitate the learners through meaningful tasks. For example, “second language learners are more motivated on tasks that they value (Hong, 2008, p. 66). Students may value a task more if it is applicable to their daily life or if it incorporates their interests. Teachers can try to increase value by incorporating authentic literature, using culturally relevant topics, or providing student choice. Also, Hong argues that teachers should provide opportunities for success. Therefore, teachers should choose tasks that are authentic and appropriately challenging. Appropriately challenging tasks are supported by the Vygotsky’s zone of proximal development. In addition, the Silent Way method also uses some strategies which are reflective of the sociocultural theory. Using the Silent Way Method, the teacher does not have to explicitly model for students. The teacher provides students with learning tasks and activities that encourage student responses. According to Richards and Rogers (2016), “the materials are designed for manipulation by the students as well as by the teacher, independently and cooperatively, in promoting language learning by direct association” (p. 108). Therefore, the students work together to make sense of the content and develop the language. The students rely on each other to strengthen their language; therefore, the students work collaboratively and provide specific, constructive feedback. Also, the silent way uses materials that are meaningful to the students. For example, According to Richards and Rogers (2016). “the materials are designed for manipulation by the students as well as by the teacher, independently and cooperatively, in promoting language learning by direct association” (p.108). Like the sociocultural theory, the Silent Way integrates tasks that are meaningful and authentic in order to promote language learning.

6. Realization/Aha Moment or Epiphany 

I had an “aha!” moment when I realized how the recent articles I read and the videos I watched related. The articles I mentioned all stress the importance of students collaborating to develop language. In addition, students provide each other with feedback during this process. The teacher works as the facilitator who guides the students through meaningful, authentic tasks. The teacher provides scaffolds such as various materials, teacher support, and peer support to assist the students throughout their language learning process. I believe that this type of second language teaching and learning is the best for my students. For the first few weeks of this course, I was having a difficult time applying the information from the readings and my observations from the videos to my teaching. A lot of the new content I learned about second language teaching was teacher-centered. Methods such as the Audiolingual Method and Communicative Language Method seemed very time consuming and hard to fit in with teaching the general curriculum. Similarly, methods such as Grammar Translation Method and the Direct Method seemed to be very specific and difficult to integrate into content. However, after recent readings and videos, I am envisioning how I can implement strategies into my classroom to teach and support second language learners. After learning more about the Sociocultural theory, I realize that students need to work together more to develop language. Instead of modeling as a teacher, I can have my students act as models for each other. The learning is more valuable when the students are presented with engaging tasks. Therefore, I would like to incorporate more tasks such as the one in the Silent Way video (English, 2013). In the video, the teacher provided the students with a hands-on experience of a floor plan. Students were able to manipulate the pieces and make sense of language as a group. This was a great example for me, students developing language through participating in a meaningful task. Through this task, students learned vocabulary terms, spatial relationships, and prepositions. This was a great “aha!” moment for me because I was able to actually see the concepts that I was reading about portrayed in a lesson. This video helped me put the readings into perspective. Moving forward, I trust that I have research-based practices that I can apply to my classroom to best support my English Language Learners. My thoughts have been changed about second language teaching. I no longer believe that second language teaching should be teacher-centered and teacher dominated. I believe to teach a second language I should use tasks that are meaningful and authentic. In addition, I should provide opportunities for the students to collaborate and provide feedback to one another. I believe that if the students value the learning, they will truly internalize it and strengthen their language.

7. Implications for future teaching practice

As I reflect on what I have learned so far in this course, I plan on making many changes to my teaching and classroom environment. I will incorporate many aspects of the sociocultural theory into my classroom. I would like to incorporate the Zone of Proximal Development as I plan for lessons. As I plan for tasks, I want to ensure that I am selecting materials that are within the ZPD for my learners. I want to make sure that it is appropriately challenging, yet not out of reach; therefore, students can experience success as they work with scaffolds. I plan on scaffolding for my students. Scaffolds will vary depending on the lesson. Scaffolds I would like to include for my students are words walls, reference books, familiar charts, and sentence stems. In addition, I will provide support as a teacher such as prompting questions and guiding the students to refer to resources. In addition, students will scaffold for one another by providing peer feedback. In addition, I would like to implement the Activity Theory in my classroom. For example, I will provide my students with meaningful learning opportunities for them to practice language and learn content simultaneously. For example, I will infuse more group work and partner work into my lessons so that students have an opportunity to share and learn from one another. I will have students participate in authentic, meaningful tasks that target language needs. For instance, my students struggle with prepositions. I would love to incorporate an activity like the one in the video. I would try to connect it to content that is in our curriculum. When my students create dioramas of the rain forest, I can have them practice and use prepositions in their speech and writing. Students task can be to describe the plants and animals in their rainforest using spatial relationships and prepositions. As a group, students can work together to decide where the plants and animals go in the diorama and how to describe them. Similarly, I would like to incorporate real-world mathematics problems in which the students can practice their mathematics vocabulary because that is also something my English Language Learners struggle with. I do anticipate some challenges with incorporating the sociocultural theory into my classroom. I think it will be difficult to incorporate meaningful, authentic tasks into the classroom daily; however, I do believe that it is very beneficial for my learners. Therefore, I will try to start building tasks by evaluating each unit and developing a task per unit. As I continue to develop tasks, I hope to build a repertoire of meaningful tasks that can be implemented into many lessons in all content areas. Overall, there are many strategies that I have learned through coursework that I am eager to implement into my classroom. I trust that implementing concepts from the sociocultural theory will have positive impacts on my English Language Learners.


English, A. (2013, January 25). Language Teaching Methods: Silent Way. Retrieved from

Fahim, M., & Haghani, M. (2012). Sociocultural Perspectives on Foreign Language Learning. Journal of Language Teaching and Research, 3(4). doi:10.4304/jltr.3.4.693-699

Hong, Y. (2008). On Teaching Strategies in Second Language Acquisition. US- China Education Review, 5(1), 61-67.

Richards, J. C., & Rodgers, T. S. (2016). Approaches and methods in language teaching. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.