Vol. 12, Issue 1, October 2011

Tamara Kirson

Culture, Dance, and Learning English Event
Panel Presentation:  "Understanding the Classroom Culture: Differences from Home Countries to Here"; Dance Performance: "Floating Words"

Panel Discussion

Osiris Romero, Ufuale Afola Amey, Ahmed El-Habashi, Tomoko Kihara, and Elena Lyumanova

On Friday, May 13, 2011, a joint venture between NYS TESOL and The New School took the form of a student panel presentation and a dance performance about learning English.  Wollman Hall was bursting with people who sat enraptured as the five panelists from Dominican Republic, Egypt, Japan, Russia and Togo compared their English language learning in their home countries with their experiences in New York. The panelists consistently expressed the value of an accessible teacher who respects them and views learning as a reciprocal process. They lauded the effect of project-based learning and of community in the classroom.  The panel discussion was followed by a mesmerizing modern dance, choreographed and performed by a former English language learner from Peru.  The dance, to Afro-Peruvian jazz, incorporated words and movement to convey the challenges of language learning.  When the dance concluded, the audience was asked:  "How many of you would like to study dance with this performer?"  Everyone in the audience raised their hands!  It was a compelling evening where educators and administrators were able to peer into the hearts and heads of English language learners. 

The event was orchestrated by Elaine Roberts, NYC Region Chair, and Tamara Kirson, Adult Education SIG Chair, in co-sponsorship with The New School.