Author: vfedoretsviuedu

Speaker Spotlight: with Dr. Danks on Humans in Cyber Operations, Espionage, and Conflict.

Interviewed by Victoria Fedorets on February 21, 2018

Listen to our interview here:


A transcript of the talk is below.

VF ( Victoria Fedorets): Hello Dr. Danks. Thank you for joining us today. We are very excited to welcome you at VIU for your talk on March 1st and we appreciate you spending some of your time away from your busy schedule.

I am going to introduce you quickly and then we can go into the discussion.

JD (Joseph Danks): OK.

VF: Thank you. Joseph Danks is Research Professor Emeritus and formerly Technical Director for Strategic Intelligence Analysis at the University of Maryland Center for Advanced Study of Language (CASL). His research has focused on how people comprehend sentences and text, especially across languages, the cognitive processes involved in translation, and how elderly patients communicate their life-sustaining treatment preferences.  At CASL, he has investigated using a cultural lens and social media to forecast the plans and intentions of a country’s leadership and populace, and also how to conduct remote psychological assessment of cyber adversaries.  Dr. Danks received his Ph.D. from Princeton University and taught for many years at Kent State University, serving as Chair of Psychology and as Dean of Arts and Sciences.  He also has taught at Princeton, Stanford, the University of Warsaw, and Aristotle University of Thessaloniki.  Dr. Danks has authored and edited several books, and published extensively in psycholinguistics and cognitive psychology.

So, tell us a little more about your current work and why the topic of your talk is important to you.

JD: CASL is a research center sponsored by the US Department of Defense and it focuses on language, culture, and cognition having to do with issues of national security. It covers a wide variety of topics; we have linguists, psycholinguistics, sociologists, anthropologists, and computer scientists at CASL, so it is multidisciplinary center. I became involved in this particular topic, in cyber adversaries and operations in the community. What struck me in cyber security is that it tended to focus on technical issues, i.e. how to create better firewalls, how to better detect intrusions automatically. There seems to be relatively little attention being paid to the humans in the loop, the humans on both ends of the network and other humans being affected as well. So, I decided to try to do some psychological analysis of the humans involved, particularly looking at human adversaries, to try to develop better means of cyber security defense.

VF: Thank you so much. It’s really intriguing and we are definitely looking forward to your talk, Dr. Danks, not only our students, but also our members of educational communities, agents, partners, and friends. What do you hope that attendees will get out of the talk?

JD: The main bottom line that they should get out of it is that, if we are going to have truly effective cyber security, cyber defense, we have to pay attention to humans in the loop. Otherwise, the humans are going to find ways around the technology and misuse it on their adversaries, or we’re going to use it to improve the security in the United States.

VF: How would you define cyber, for those who might be new to the terminology? What are the defining features of the psychological assessment of cyber opponents?

JD: Cyber is almost everything involving a computer. Unfortunately, the definition is getting larger and larger by the day as we see all the discussion about social media and so on. What I looked at in particular, to be a little more concrete, was to look at trying to do personality, social, and cognitive assessment of cyber adversaries, to see for example, what is motivating them, if they are motivated by power, by ideology, or by money; also, some characteristics such as, are they risk takers, how big of a risk are they going to take in terms of trying to gain an intrusion into another system. So, the variety of psychological characteristics that you could look for might be useful to design cyber defense.

VF: Are there any tangible, palpable misconceptions out there about the topic of your talk?

JD: I think, that a big misconception is, what I mentioned earlier, namely that in terms of cyber security, it is solely a technological issue, building automatic detection, building firewalls, etc. While technology is important, I think it’s important to look at the humans who are in the loop on this. One of the biggest risks for our own computer systems are human foibles, that is when you are getting phishing e-mails from many people, who will click on the link which can insert malware, give out their easily defined passwords, and so on.

VF: What resources might you suggest for someone who wants to know more about your topic? Or, how do you stay informed on the topic of your talk? What would you recommend?

JD: There are quite a few resources available. Actually, in the last spring semester, Spring 2017, I offered an undergraduate course on cyber psychology at the University of Maryland and I didn’t have any trouble finding materials for students. To be specific, this topic is based on the chapter that I published with my co-author in a book published by Oxford University Press. The title of my talk is the same as the chapter. The book is entitled “Binary Bullets: the Ethics of Cyberwarfare.” by Fritz Allhoff and Adam Henschke.

I would like to mention another article, that I came across recently, that was published [in January 2018] in Strategic Studies Quarterly, published by the US Air Force. The article is by Jerrard Prier called “Commanding the Trend: Social Media as Information Warfare.” He does a very good job summarizing the very current use of social media by the Islamic State and by Russia. This is quite an interesting article that should be accessible for everyone. It is available online. If you just search in your browser for “strategic studies quarterly”, it pops right up. You can download and there is an article of no charge.

VF: In general, are there any predominant principles that guide your own research or work philosophy? If so, what are they?

JD: Most of my research has very much involved multidisciplinary approaches. I rarely start with psychological theory and then try to test hypothesis. Rather, I look for a real world problem, something that needs to be solved, to help people live their lives better, and then I try to figure out how basic research in psychology can shine some light on possible solutions. Cyber operations are very critical both for the US Department of Defense but also in a public sphere as part of social media.

VF: What role might language and linguistics play in cyber security?

JD: It plays a very critical role when looking at foreign social media. For example, I have worked with social media in Arabic. I don’t know Arabic, but I had Arabic speakers on my team, and by looking at social media in the Middle East, we thought it was essential to look at it in the speakers’ native language. Otherwise, many nuances are missed. Just recently the disclosure of Mueller’s indictments involving social media, that the Russians were engaged in social media in the United States and much of their English was excellent and got to the nuances of American English. So, obviously they are paying attention to language. If we are going examine social media around the world, such as ISIS’ social media, we have to know the local language.

VF: What is your source of motivation?

JD: I read the newspaper. By reading what’s going on in the world, I feel like I can contribute to the solutions, how can I not be involved, be motivated, and stay interested these problems. Plus the fact, over the years the problems that I am curious to solve are just downright intriguing. I’m very much a problem solver. I’m not a theoretician, and so trying to solve this problems that have intrigued me over years.

VF: What are some current projects you are working on?

JD: The project that I’m working on currently involves counter-proliferation of nuclear weapons. A number of countries around the world that have a motivation perhaps, if you’re reading the newspaper, if you see what’s in the news, they have some motivation to develop nuclear weapons. For example, Saudi Arabia may develop a nuclear weapon in response to Iran; South Korea and Japan in response what is happening in the North Korea, etc. These are called “over the horizon” countries, because we don’t know whether they are going to start developing a nuclear weapon or not. So we have been doing some cultural analysis, not so much political, economic, or military analysis; we have been doing some cultural analysis involving, looking at motivations of the horizon countries, to see whether they might have tendencies to move in that particular direction.

VF: Is your research available online?

JD: Yes, it’s under the College Park, University of Maryland, CASL website.

VF: Thank you for your time again, Dr. Danks and we are looking forward to your talk here, March 1st. For more information on our upcoming Voices from the Field series, please visit the School of Education’s website at There, you can click on “community connections”, where you will find information about previous and upcoming speakers in our series.


Speaker Spotlight: with Sevtap Frantz on the Non-Native English Speaking Teachers Caucus (NNEST)

Interviewed by Victoria Fedorets on September 21st, 2017

Sevtap is currently an Assistant Professor at Prince George’s Community College’s Language Studies Department. She holds an MA in Curriculum and Instruction with an ESL specialty from George Washington University. She is a Swiss born Turkish-American citizen who has had the opportunity to teach students from various social-cultural backgrounds.

VF: Sevtap, thank you for stopping by VIU today to introduce our students to [WATESOL’s] NNEST caucus and to answer some questions for us. Tell us a little bit why you are here today.
SF: Thank you again. My name is Sevtap Frantz, and I currently teach as an assistant professor at Prince George’s Community College as a full-time faculty member. Prior to that, I have worked as an adjunct faculty member in different institutions, such as George Washington University, Georgetown, and Northern Virginia Community College. I’m here today on behalf of the NNEST Caucus which is comprised of dedicated native and non-native speaking teachers.

Today I would like to talk about the Caucus and encourage the pre-service teachers, your graduate students, to become part of this group so they can feel empowered and encouraged in order to be well-informed about what to expect in the field.

VF: Thank you so much, Sevtap. How did you discover that you have an affinity for working with the ESL students?

SF: Well, I was born and raised in Switzerland. Even though I am a Turkish citizen, having grown up in a bilingual environment I was always inspired by foreign languages. I really enjoyed learning languages because in Switzerland they focus on teaching English, French, and German at a young age. Due to my background, when I went back to my home country Turkey, I was valued more by my language teachers, so I always felt inspired by them. Since then, I love and enjoy being with language learners as well as being in this field as an English language teacher.

VF: Thank you, Sevtap. Seems like you are very multilingual. You speak up to three languages.

SF: Yes, I speak three languages- fluently Turkish, English, and high intermediate German.

VF: Yes, and to briefly tell you about my story, I used to be fluent in German but when I stopped practicing it, I lost it completely. Now my level of German is not even novice.

VF: If you could give some advice to pre-service or in-service teachers about how best to approach the potential challenges of having multilingual classrooms, for example the socio-cultural differences, traditions, etc., what would that be?

SF: Especially for pre-service teachers, they need to be involved with the community; they need to know what they will be facing one day when they are in the classroom environment. So collaborating and being a part of local and national organizations will definitely give them an opportunity to collaborate, to learn what other teachers do. This will help them and guide them in the process to be better prepared for their teaching practices. Once they are teaching, keeping up professional activities and being continuously involved with these big national and local organizations will definitely help them in the field. Little things help a lot, so I would definitely encourage being involved with national organizations.

VF: Thank you. Thank you for your encouragement. What resources would you suggest for someone who wants to learn more about teaching ESL, and how do you stay informed in the topic yourself?

SF: First important resource for me, when I started in this field, was the TESOL Association. I definitely got a lot of information from their website and the blog. They have amazing online trainings. For example, I took their Foundations of Online Teaching course. So, the TESOL organization would definitely be good place to start.

VF: Sure. Thank you very much. In general, how do you plan your instruction?

SF: I try to differentiate my teaching. I focus on communicative teaching skills. In some classes, I start with a presentation and then I give my students a chance to practice and produce with the language, the traditional PPT style teaching. In some other classes, I may just start with integrating technology. I use free web tools to keep my students engaged. There are some amazing tools that we can use to differentiate our instructions. For example, one thing that I like using nowadays is Kahoot and Plickers. So, I might start my class with an online activity and ask my students to use their cell phones to participate in a game and have them review the material that we have learned through this tool together in class in a communicative way before we start evaluating the content further.

VF: So, it looks like your classes are filled with technology.

SF: Yes, I definitely enjoy technology integrated classroom teaching and I try to stay updated in the field, and again as I said, being part of the local and national organizations helped me see what other professors in the field prefer using, so I get inspired by them too. When I see a good presentation, it encourages me as well.

VF: Thank you so much, Sevtap. Last question if I may, what is your source of motivation and how do you keep yourself motivated.

SF: My main source of motivation is my students. I teach in a very diverse setting. Sometimes, I have adults; sometimes I have 16-year-old teenagers in my classes in a community college setting. It is not as traditional as the university setting, I would say. Therefore, it can be very challenging, but seeing my students enthusiastic, motivated, and willing to learn is the key motivating factor for myself. Getting that inspiration from them energizes me, and I try to look into different ways to make my classes more invigorating so they can keep their motivation up. I do believe in motivation. External motivational factors encourage students to keep up the hard work, seeing my students motivated is key for me so I do get my motivation from them.

VF: Thank you, Sevtap for being here today, for answering a couple of our questions and for your motivation, for your inspiration and for staying devoted to the field of ESL, for your participation in the NNEST Caucus, and I am looking forward to your talk.

SF: Thank you for having me here.

The Shifting Nature of Literacy

by Victoria Fedorets 

In 1907, the following text appeared in Edwin C Woolley’s (1907) Handbook of Composition: A Compendium of Rules Regarding Good English, Grammar, Sentence Structure, Paragraphing, Manuscript Arrangement, Punctuation, Spelling, Essay Writing, and Letter Writing. This handbook was intended to provide guidelines for students to refer to while writing, and for teachers to correct the writing of their students. The handbook included a series of independent rules that were either followed or broken.

The handbook was an active effort to shift from the traditional grammar books of the time that focused on the parts of speech, clause modifiers, etc., to include 350 rules governing writing in the English language and style.

Below are some examples from the book (p. 4):

  1. The contractions don’t, isn’t, haven’t, etc. are not appropriate in formal composition. They are proper in conversation and in composition of a colloquial style that structured descriptive.
  2. Do not use high flow language for plain things.

Bad:  To keep the horsehealthy you must be careful of his environment.

Right: To keep the horse healthy you must be careful of his stable.

Note. Showy language, like showy dress, is in bad taste. The essence of artistic language, as of everything artistic, is not abundant ornament but appropriateness. Straining for high sounding expressions to replace plain English makes a style weak and crude. Call a leg a leg not a limb, book a book not an effort, call a letter a letter not a kind favor, call socks socks not hose, call a house a house, not a residence; say “I went to bed”, not “I retired”, “I got up”, not “I arose”

  1. The use of sentence (except a quoted sentence) as the subject of IS or WAS is crudity.

Crude: I was detained by business is the reason I’m late.

Right: “I was detained by business; that is the reason I’m late.”

  1. Double negative ( i.e., the use in sentence, of two or more negative words not coordinate, -as “I couldn’t find it nowhere”) is forbidden by modern usage..
  2. A composition should treat a single subject and should treat it throughout according to a self- consistent method.
  3. Use to the question mark after the direct question, but not after an indirect question.

Bad: He asked what caused the accident?

Right: He asked what caused the accident.

Right: He asked, “What caused the accident?”

  1. Italicize name of ships.
  2. The postage stamp should be attached in the upper right-hand corner. It should be right side up and its edges should be parallel to edges of the envelope. A postage stamp upside down or affixed in a haphazard fashion raises against the sender of the letter a suspicion of slovenliness.

Writing teachers today would be right at home with Wooley’s grammar. His rules were followed by various handbooks for a while- an immense range of rules to be referred to in order to distinguish the possible errors. His method was different from other writers, like Murray’s (22 rules to be learned by heart); however, Wooley’s 354 grammar rules were memorized and to be used for reference. As opposed to other writing/style guides of the time, rhetorical and spoken language was never mentioned.

Reinking, McKeena Labbo, & Keifer (1998) in their Handbook of Literacy and Technology: Transformations in A Post-Typographic World (p.14), refer to a post-typographic world as a time after the printers, typewriters, laser printers and fax machines. That post-typographic time is upon us as we are in the paperless age of television, IPods, Ipads, Tweets, TMS (text messaging services), internet sites, and apps. How do we, as educators, hold students accountable for knowing grammar and writing rules in order to teach literacy? Modern literacy is being merged with media literacy, where the ability to write (i.e., the ability to synthesize ideas and elements to create new text per the core competencies of the public schools) means being media literate. This media literacy is now a necessity for students and teachers alike, as it exists in and out of the classroom.

Referring to Wooley’s (1907) rules, does the metacognitive ability in children provide them with the set of “instruments” to follow the rules of writing as an innate ability while being exposed to the digital and media era? Can—and should— we trace children’s ability of learning a rule as they master their mother tongue? How about the cognate ability of the ESL/EFL speaker? Or that of the L2 and L1 bilingual child raised in the US? Do we have to refer to the “media” rules while educating the individuals K-12 and what are they?



Reinking, D., McKenna, M. C., Labbo, L. D., & Kieffer, R. D. (1998). Handbook of Literacy and Technology: Transformations in A Post-typographic World. New York, NY: Routledge.

Woolley, E. C., PhD. (1907). Handbook of Composition: A Compendium of Rules Regarding Good English, Grammar, Sentence Structure, Paragraphing, Manuscript Arrangement, Punctuation, Spelling, Essay Writing, and Letter Writing. Lexington, MNA: DC Heath & Company



Interview with Dr. Rebecca Sachs: Lifelong professional development

The following is an interview between Victoria Fedorets (VF) and Rebecca Sachs (RS).  Victoria is the Academic Coordinator for the School of Education at VIU.  Rebecca Sachs is a full-time faculty member in the School of Education at VIU. 

Victoria (VF): What parts of your life led you to the field of Linguistics?

Rebecca (RS): Well, my family is very multilingual; all of my grandparents or great-grandparents are from other countries. My grandfathers were from Vienna and Montreal; I had a great grandmother from Puerto Rico whose husband was French and a grandmother whose parents were from Ukraine. I also have a grandmother from Romania who lived in Israel for a while and speaks French and German in addition to Romanian and English. I didn’t grow up speaking any of those languages, unfortunately, but when I was in seventh grade, we were given the choice of studying either French or Spanish. I took French throughout junior high and high school and into college and loved it; I think I just got a lot of intrinsic enjoyment out of learning and speaking a different language, so I started taking Spanish in high school as well, then added German on top of those in college, and also took a course in American Sign Language. Then I studied abroad in Niamey, Niger, where the courses were taught in French, and I learned some Hausa and Zarma as well.
When I went to college, my idea was to become a multilingual speech pathologist, so that’s what first got me taking courses in linguistics, including clinical phonetics and semantics, and a course on the anatomy and physiology of the speech mechanism, which I found really interesting. My work-study job involved tutoring immigrants in English as part of Boston University’s Intergenerational Literacy Project, a really valuable program that offers language and literacy classes for adults while also providing language enrichment activities for their kids in another room so that the parents don’t need to worry about childcare. While in Niger, I had the chance to meet some pretty amazing Peace Corps volunteers, and I think that’s when I started thinking that I might go into language teaching instead. I applied for an MA TESOL program so that I would know what I was doing, and my advisor in the TESOL program encouraged me to go on to pursue a PhD in applied linguistics.
VF: Sounds like a life-long process around languages; interesting. Thank you.


VF: Thinking back to graduate school, what part of it did you enjoy the most? What do you remember as a significant moment of your life as a graduate student; what was your most memorable time?

RS: The most valuable aspect of my MA TESOL program, I think, was my teaching assistantship. I taught ESL classes for international students in MSU’s IEP (Michigan State University’s Intensive English Program) every day while I was also taking a full load of courses in the MA TESOL program, so from the very first semester, I was in charge of my own classes, and everything I was learning in my coursework I got to try out and apply and reflect on every day while teaching. It also helped me learn to prioritize and manage my time because every single day (well, except Wednesday since that was the day we were supposed to take students on field trips) I had to show up in both of the ESL classes I was teaching with new lesson plans and materials and graded assignments and everything. Then, of course, I had to do all of the readings and assignments and papers and projects for my own TESOL courses, plus serve on the curriculum committee, proctor and rate placement tests, participate in discussion groups with other TAs and mentor teachers, and so on. The challenge of juggling all of that was a great preparation not only for my PhD at Georgetown, but also for life as a teacher.
What made the MA TESOL program even more special and memorable was that there were several other graduate students in the same situation, so we were going through that tough but rewarding time together, and we built strong connections with each other. The more experienced instructors in the IEP were also an enormous help. They met with us regularly to help us problem-solve issues that were coming up in our classes and shared tons of creative and tried-and-true activities that we could use in our classes. So from the very beginning of our graduate coursework, we also had opportunities to form close collaborative professional relationships with mentors who were generous with their time and talents. That support and the experience as a whole was really transformative and helped to give me a lot of confidence early on in my career as a teacher.
VF: Wonderful. Thank you for sharing.


VF: You currently serve on the board of professional organizations such as WATESOL as well as Co-Chair of VIU’s IRB. So, what do you think it means to be a Teacher Leader today and are you a 21st-century English teacher? How would you envision and rate your approaches?

RS: A major part of being a 21st-century language teacher, whether you’re teaching English or any other language, is being multilingual and having international experience yourself (or at least knowing about other languages and having an international orientation). I have to say, I’m a bit envious of the students we have in our TESOL and Applied Linguistics programs here at VIU because they navigate so well between languages and cultures; it’s impressive and admirable! They come from so many different countries – Thailand, Vietnam, Korea, China, Mongolia, Nepal, Bangladesh, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Russia, Jordan, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Greece, Poland, Brazil, Colombia…. I’m sure I’m missing a few – but anyway, they interact with each other so fluidly, with such great cultural sensitivity; it’s uplifting to witness.
Speaking of the WATESOL Board and leadership, we have an NNEST Caucus which is working to raise awareness of the importance of professional expertise and the valuable benefits that so-called “Non-Native English-Speaking Teachers” can offer, including the fact that they can serve as relatable role models for their students – people who have been through similar processes and experiences and have succeeded. I’m excited for our students to graduate and start teaching or go back to teaching because I think they epitomize 21st-century English teachers better than I do!
VF: Thank you for sharing your vision on that. You are a wonderful teacher and being in this field for so long, and more than sure all your students nowadays look up to you as a role model.


VF: What do you primarily teach nowadays?

RS:  There are about 7 or 8 courses that I teach regularly at VIU. Some of them are introductory courses in linguistics and language acquisition, whereas others are more practically oriented, such as a course on language curriculum and materials design and a course on pedagogical grammar for communicative classrooms. Among the more advanced courses I teach are a seminar on individual differences in language acquisition, a research methods course, and the TESOL practicum. I also serve as a mentor for the thesis course.
VF: Do you have any suggestions or initiatives in mind for the graduate students for the future, something you would like to wish them all.

RS: Sure! I would encourage them all to get involved in professional development opportunities outside the classroom. The School of Education offers so many PD opportunities, from our yearly Conference on Language, Learning, and Culture in April, to our monthly Voices from the Field speaker series. Local professional organizations such as WATESOL (the Washington, DC-area affiliate of TESOL International) also provide a variety of events throughout the year, many of which are free for members or volunteers. All of these are excellent chances not only to gain knowledge and exposure to different perspectives and practical tools, but also to network and build connections with other language education professionals in the community.
VF: You mentioned that in addition to inservice, inhouse conference like CLLC, Voices from the field, you also participated in such events as SLRF, AAAL, WATESOL, and GURT. It is difficult to enumerate how many times you’ve shaped the community in profound way- but can you share your experience about what is the most exciting part of being a presenter at the events mentioned.

RS: Well, besides the excitement of getting exposed to cutting-edge research and having the opportunity to share my work and receive valuable feedback from others, it’s great to form new connections with people who attend my talks and whose talks I attend. It’s also a chance to reconnect with colleagues and friends from grad school who have since moved on to other universities across the US and around the world. We still collaborate on research, so we email each other and discuss our projects over Skype, but it can be so much more enjoyable and productive to meet in person. Plus, in the midst of a million other responsibilities, it’s very motivating to be able to take a step back, devote time to finding out about recent developments, get re-energized with excitement about the field, and make plans to explore new ideas.
VF: What are you currently working on, on some sort of research or project knowing you are always so busy while working on your professional development?

RS: I just finished drafting a chapter on reviewing manuscripts for academic journals that I was invited to write for an edited collection whose goal is to provide advice for graduate students and early-career faculty in the field of applied linguistics. During the school year, I gave conference presentations at SLRF (the Second Language Research Forum) and AAAL (the American Association for Applied Linguistics annual conference) on some research I have been doing on the relationships between individual differences, depth of processing, and language learning in instructional conditions that provide different types of feedback. I measured a variety of learner characteristics, including working memory capacity, visual short-term memory, grammatical sensitivity, metalinguistic knowledge, sensitivity to linguistic ambiguity, enjoyment of grammar, motivation, and others; asked half of the participants in each experimental group to speak their thoughts out loud while they were interacting with a computer-mediated language learning activity; and had all of the participants complete retrospective reflection questionnaires. Then, some colleagues and I transcribed and coded their comments to characterize the thought processes they were apparently engaging in, such as looking for patterns, testing hypotheses, formulating rules, drawing on prior knowledge, trying to memorize, and so on. We analyzed the data to see which individual differences predicted what sorts of cognitive processes, and which cognitive processes were associated with greater learning.
VF: Is that the new data that you are working on or you are collecting the prior available one?

RS: It’s all based on data I collected before I started working at VIU. But I’m collaborating with some colleagues from other universities on designing an experiment that we hope to conduct this summer. In studies of implicit learning, researchers sometimes use subjective measures to assess whether participants have become aware of a particular linguistic target – essentially just by asking them to indicate whether each response is based on a guess, intuition, memory, or a rule. Then, to see whether there’s evidence of implicit knowledge, they check whether participants’ accuracy is at a level that’s greater than chance when they report guessing. We have some doubts about the validity of that approach, and specifically also about whether participants are really guessing when they say they’re guessing, so we’ve come up with a way to try to test that and will also be measuring individual differences in locus of control to see if that’s related to how often participants report guessing, both in a condition where subjective measures are used in the traditional way and in an experimental condition where we try to improve on the method. We’ll also be interviewing the participants about their approaches.
VF: Thank you so much for sharing, Dr. Sachs, and for your time to share your professional experience and other ideas that you have worked and work and good luck on that.

RS: My pleasure! Thanks, Victoria.
VF: Thank you!

Congratulations to Islom, Master of Arts in TESOL Graduate!

As an international student, I chose Virginia International University for two reasons: first, I wanted to experience the university’s diverse cultural atmosphere; second, I wanted to become a more experienced professional in my career – teaching English to the speakers of other languages (TESOL). My two years in the MA in TESOL program at VIU has been truly memorable, and I never regret having made the decision to complete my master’s degree at this university.

When I reflect on my time at Virginia International University, I see that I have been able not only to improve my skills in teaching but also gain a deep understanding of theories in the second language acquisition process. Through lessons with incredibly supportive professors, I was challenged to discover a voice that I didn’t know I had. The knowledge and experience I had at VIU gave me confidence, which serves as an internal force to drive my career further to be able to teach English successfully.

Having been educated in a supportive environment at VIU, I found myself able to understand the second language acquisition process inside out and am ready to put this knowledge into practice. With carefully-chosen textbooks and small group lessons, I became familiar with recent research theories. Through challenging me, my professors have helped me to develop my own critical thinking ability. It was incredibly useful to learn about different aspects of the teaching field and to connect these practices with modern informational technology.

Also, I benefited from the real-life teaching practice in the practicum class at VIU. I was given a tremendous opportunity to work with competent ESL instructors to observe their lessons and learn teaching techniques under their supervision. It was a great experience to teach culturally diverse ESL students at VIU. It was incredibly beneficial in terms of developing my professional teaching.

Moreover, we were exposed innumerable workshops, festivals, student activities and “Voices from the Field” talks. This was another awesome opportunity given by VIU, we gained more valuable knowledge about new achievements in our field of expertise. Through my coursework, I conducted several research case-studies on different aspects of second language acquisition, which I was able to display at VIU’s Academic Showcase to the VIU community and guests.

Having completed my MA in TESOL at VIU, I am excited to go back to my home country – Uzbekistan, to deliver my knowledge to teach the younger generation. By teaching English in my country, I will create a great opportunity for my students to become knowledgeable and see the world. I express my endless gratitude for my mentors who helped me to find who actually I am.

International Students in Higher Education: More Than a Fish Out of Water

Congratulations to Kevin Martin, the Associate Dean of the School of Education, on his chapter, International Students in Higher Education: More Than a Fish Out of Water in Cultural Awareness and Competency Development in Higher Education.

ABSTRACT: The world continues to experience rapid advances in technology and transportation that increasingly expand opportunities and accessibility for international students to study in ways that were not possible even a few decades ago. Such changes create both challenges and solutions for the modern higher education institution in the U.S. With the goal of higher education to work toward opening minds and creating a space for sharing and learning within an open and diverse learning community, it is imperative that international students be incorporated in a way that engages and invigorates the quality of learning on campus. Some of the challenges to this notion include a variety of learner variables influencing how international students integrate into the broader learning community. This chapter focuses on some of these variables impacting international students with an emphasis on the problems, potential solutions, and critical areas for future research.

Access to the chapter can be found here: