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The Firewall in the Mind (Slide 7) Way back when: early ESL daze

But getting back to my uncle in Morocco, his life-style appealed to me so much that when I finally got tired of traveling after two years of impoverished backpacking, I returned home thinking I might do as my uncle had and go into the field of ESL in order to perpetuate my travels but earn a living wage while doing so. Holding only a B.S. in Biology I went to my first TESOL Conference in 1975 in New York and managed to get a job in Saudi Arabia. I taught there for 5 years before going to Hawaii to get my M.A. in ESL. By this time I had got involved with CALL.

But before telling you how I became a "computer person" as I am often introduced as, I'd like to tell you a bit about language teaching in the mid 70's. Back then the world of ESL was a bit different from what it is today. In my first ESL teaching jobs, I was expected to use the audio-lingual method when teaching. The books were written that way. Chomsky was recognized for his brilliance in elucidating the language and appreciated for helping pull us out of the rut the followers of the behaviorists had got us in to, but his way of describing sentence structure as a series of transformations led his followers to in turn impose transformations on their students. Sentence combining was seen as an improvement on the process, while memorization, and repetition of dialogs had teachers standing over the mimeograph machines seeing who could churn out the wittiest inventions of pseudo-natural language.

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Last updated: May 23, 2001 in Hot Metal Pro 6.0