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December 11, 2012 - Penn GSE’s Educational Linguistics Division (ELX) is a pioneer in the field. One of the first two educational linguistics programs in the world, Penn GSE’s ELX has been home to powerhouse scholars like Dell Hymes, Nessa Wolfson, Teresa Pica, and Nancy Hornberger – giants who have shaped research and practice across the globe. Never resting on its impressive pedigree, the ELX division continues to promote excellence in its search for the next generation of researcher/educators. Just this past September, Nelson Flores joined the faculty as an assistant professor and has quickly become an integral member of the division. Flores, a dynamic young scholar whose research bridges theory and practice in ways that transform educational programming for language minority students, is especially instrumental in the highly acclaimed Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) specialization.
“Nelson came highly recommended by respected colleagues. His work and his lively personality completely bowled us over,” says ELX Chair Nancy Hornberger. “That initial impression has only strengthened as we have seen how he has thrown himself into his teaching and his work with master’s students, as well as his outreach to the Philadelphia School District.”
The M.S.Ed. program in TESOL prepares students to teach English to non-native speakers in settings where English is a second, foreign, or international language. Focusing on both the practical and theoretical aspects of the field, the TESOL program’s interdisciplinary approach keeps students highly attuned to the motivations and needs of immigrants who settle in English-speaking nations, international scholars and professionals, and students in countries where English is a foreign language.
“What this program does well is place language learning within larger social and cultural contexts,” Flores says. “That’s fairly unique. Most TESOL programs are more focused on methods and abstract concepts. Here, students have the opportunity to engage with larger social and cultural contexts and really engage with the English language. They get to do micro and macro at the same time.”
Flores also cites the TESOL program’s international focus as a unique attraction to students. Many of the program’s students are international, making it a hub for sharing sociocultural linguistics practices around the world.
After completing the TESOL program, many international students use the theoretical frameworks they engaged with at Penn GSE to change the face of language education in their home countries – and they are armed with the practical experience they need to make a difference.
A search for an additional tenure-track professor is underway for fall 2013, and ELX chair Nancy Hornberger is impressed by the energy and quality of applicants who seek to join the program. In recent years, four other faculty members have joined this increasingly robust program – Robert Moore, Santoi Wagner, Junko Hondo, and Diana Paninos. For the fall of 2012, ELX was also able to persuade the renowned Diane Larsen-Freeman to remain as a visiting professor for a second year.