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Using MAELC  

Role of the PSU Adult ESOL Lab School and the MAELC in Professional Development

The Lab School plays a unique role in professional development for adult ESOL practitioners. As a state-of-the-art research center, the Lab School audio- and video- records adult ESOL classes daily. Recording is continuous and unedited. The audio- and video-recordings are part of the Multimedia Adult English Learner Corpus (MAELC) that is used to study the adult language acquisition process, the effects of various classroom teaching and learning practices, as well as factors affecting student retention and progress. Targeted portions of the MAELC are coded and transcribed, creating a searchable data base. The MAELC has great value not only for research, but also for professional development.

In the words of Linda Eckert, NW LINCS coordinator, the MAELC audio-video allows one to see into "the mind of an ESL classroom." Unlike scripted and rehearsed teacher-training videos, the Lab School MAELC permits practitioners to see what real adult ESL classes look like--the kinds of instructional activities that are used and how students respond to them. Professional development opportunities allow practitioners to choose a classroom activity or situation that they would like to explore and view selected video clips from the MAELC that illustrate it. The ability to review, analyze, and discuss these video clips enables practitioners to share their understanding of the video clips, compare that with their own experiences as classroom teachers, and deepen their reflection and understanding through discussions with other practitioners. These activities can result in the unique opportunity to create a community of practitioners engaged in shared reflection that greatly enhances professional development for pre-service, novice, and experienced instructors alike.

First Use of the MAELC for Professional Development

In the fall of 2001, Lab School researchers, practitioners, and professional developers presented a session at Oregon Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (ORTESOL) using video clips from the MAELC. A key focus of the workshop was helping participants see the difference between viewing and using authentic classroom recordings and scripted video training tapes. For a review of this experience, see: Kurzet, R., (2002, June). Teachable Moments: Videos of Adult ESOL Classrooms. A Two-Way Model of Professional Development. Focus on Basics vol. 5, Issue D, p. 8-11. Available:

for more information on using MAELC

Use of the MAELC for an Adult ESOL Practitioner Study Circle, 2002

An internal grant was secured at Portland Community College (PCC), the PSU Adult ESOL Lab School's educational service provider and partner, to allow ten PCC ESL faculty who teach the lowest level ESL classes to participate in a study circle at the Lab School. The grant also provided a stipend for one of the participants to be trained as a facilitator for the group. Participants met twice during winter term and twice during spring term 2002. The topic of discussion, related research reports and video clips from the MAELC were pre-selected for the first session. Topics for the three subsequent sessions were selected by the participants. Study circle meetings used a multi-modal approach incorporating research reports, video clips from the MAELC, and participants' own experiences to develop a deeper understanding of the chosen topics. The multi-modal approach was designed to meet the different learning styles of the participants. Some participants preferred viewing the MAELC video clips to reading research reports; others preferred sharing classroom experiences and ideas with peers. All session topics were related to exploring effective teaching strategies with low-level adult ESOL learners. The four session topics were:

  • literacy activities
  • lesson planning
  • pair work
  • informal assessment activities

In addition, another goal of the study circle was to explore how to use the MAELC for professional development. The initial professional development workshop (ORTESOL October, 2001) using the MAELC showed the diversity of participants' reactions to the authentic classroom media and in some cases the difficulty in understanding how it differed from scripted, rehearsed professional development training videos. In this study circle, participants were first led through discussions of expectations of training videos and how they differed from their own experiences teaching. Describing what they saw in the MAELC video clips, rather than evaluating the lesson after seeing only a brief excerpt, was emphasized. In general, participants were able to gain more depth in their professional development by learning to describe classroom events and then reflect on them than by rushing to judgment. The Lab School will continue to explore how best to use the MAELC for a variety of professional development activities.

Use of the MAELC in Pre-Service Training for PSU MA TESOL Students

PSU Associate Professor Brian K. Lynch is using selected video clips from the MAELC for pre-service training of MA TESOL students in program evaluation and TESOL methods courses, beginning academic year 2003-2004.

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