August 2021
RVIS Newsletter



Dear ReadVoc Readers,

I would like to start by thanking you, our readers, for taking an interest in our newsletter, and I hope that this also means you have joined the Reading and Vocabulary Interest Section (RV-IS) in TESOL. We are trying to build an active community of practice for people with a professional interest in second language reading and vocabulary and welcome your participation.

I would also like to thank our editors, Doreen Ewart and Christy Williams, for putting this newsletter together. They have gathered and reviewed submissions and put together a coherent package of short readings that it is hoped will in some way help you in your professional development and practice.

I would be remiss not to take this opportunity to publicly thank our Past Chair, Tom Robb. Tom was very instrumental in getting the RV-IS up and running in TESOL, stepped up to be the inaugural Chair, and continues to be heavily involved in keeping us moving forward. Without his contributions, there almost certainly wouldn’t be an RV-IS, and even if there were it would be much less than what it is. As I have taken up the mantle of Chair, I can hardly hope to be half as active and energetic in contributing as Tom is.

Speaking of contributing, our steering committee has been meeting virtually and exchanging emails, and we are focused on trying to bring you professional development events (virtual and face to face) throughout the year. People are volunteering their time and efforts to make these happen, and I would like to encourage you to do two things. One, please participate when they happen, whether it is a summer webinar or our sessions at the International Conference next March. Two, please speak up with ideas, particularly ones you are willing and able to help facilitate. This is a community of practice, and as such all members of the community can and should contribute to making it as vibrant and active as possible.

While I am strongly committed to this Interest Section being a community of shared practice, and feel I have no special status other than a willingness to serve as Chair, it might be appropriate just to tell you a little about who I am. While I grew up in Michigan and did my BA in Women’s Studies at UC Berkeley and worked for a few years at a women’s college, my whole teaching career has been outside the USA, mostly in Japan, where I am now an Associate Professor and coordinate a small Business English program within the Department of Business Administration. I started my professional volunteer and leadership activities in JALT, which included a few years as Coordinator of the Extensive Reading Special Interest Group and a year on the Board of Directors.

I will close by saying that I hope that you will enjoy reading this newsletter, and look forward to hearing from you in myTESOL.


Thomas E. Bieri


Christy Williams

Doreen Ewert

Happy Summer to you all!

We hope that many of you are beginning to experience some respite from the difficulties of the past 17 months of pandemic life.

We are delighted to bring you our second Read-Voc Newsletter. In spite of the challenges of the past year, the RV-IS is growing in membership, from 38 to 632, and activity. In this edition, you will see that we have added a webinar survey constructed by RVIS Events Team, Xin Chen and Hetal Ascher, to gather information on what type of webinars you might be interested in. Upcoming events with Bilingual and Multilingual Education (B MEIS) and Computer Assisted Language Learning (CALL-IS) will be held in March around the TESOL 2022 International Conference.

The response to our second Call for Submissions was successful in bringing us several articles and a book review that address both reading and vocabulary from multiple perspectives and contexts. Our authors in this edition come from around the world, and they represent our growing IS diversity.

Aybüke Uzunca, in Turkey, introduces us to some useful digital tools to increase learning opportunities in reading and vocabulary while providing formative assessment and maintaining learner engagement. Leah Carmona, introduces a strategy for raisin vocabulary awareness while reading, in the US, and Tara Mcllroy, in Japan, reviews a new edition of a resource for finding and using young adult literature in the ESL/EFL classroom, especially to meet certain criteria in the revised CEFR (2018).

One of our goals is to include diverse voices, contexts, and experiences in teaching and researching reading and vocabulary learning. To this end, we encourage you to respectfully respond to content in the newsletter by posting comments on the RV-IS Discussion Board in MyTESOL Community. Please check out the range of topics we are eager to include in future newsletters here. Our next deadline for submissions is December 21, 2021. Feel free, though, to send submissions at any time.

  • University classrooms: Critical Reading Strategies & Tiered Vocabulary
  • PreK–12 reading and vocabulary instruction
  • Reading learner communities in the classroom
  • Extensive Reading
  • Improving/Encouraging Reading Fluency
  • Vocabulary strategies specifically for ESL/EFL
  • Vocabulary retention strategies and application/transference of Vocabulary
  • Professional development in Reading and Vocabulary Topics
  • Potential technological aids for reading and vocabulary
  • Book/media review
  • Lesson plans
  • Handouts and activity sheets
  • Proposed joint research project

Thank you for taking the time to read our newsletter! Please invite others to join our community!

With utmost respect,

Christy and Doreen


Christy Williams is a Senior Instructor at the INTO University of South Florida. Christy is a mentor, instructional designer, and researcher on intercultural communications and mentoring as well as information and communication technology (ICT) and refugee education.

Doreen Ewert is a Professor in the Department of Rhetoric and Language and the Director of the Academic English for Multilingual Students Program at the University of San Francisco. She regularly teaches research writing courses for graduate and undergraduate international and domestic students and researches aspects of L2 literacy development.



Blended learning is an approach to education where one portion of the course is provided asynchronously online so that the student can study at her/his own pace, and another portion of the course is conducted in an instructor-led environment which can be a physical or again an online classroom (Lawless, 2019). With the necessity of more blended and/or remote in-learning because of the pandemic, the need to motivate or encourage learner autonomy and self-monitored Continuous Formative Assessment (CFA) has grown. CFA is not a new concept in language classrooms. Every teacher who reflects on student performance and adjusts course materials and instructional design to promote student learning actually applies formative assessment (Popham, 2008; Shepard, 2005). However, the traditional in-class formative assessment strategies, such as student questioning or quizzes, may not be possible or adequate in online classroom settings. I have found that using add-ons for common web-browsers like Google, Safari or Firefox can help monitor student progress and reinforce learning autonomy while students learn new vocabulary or read in a foreign language. Three of these are presented here along with some suggestions on how to exploit them during reading or vocabulary classes in online or blended learning settings.

1. Fluany

The first extension is Fluany, and it can only be added on the Google web browser. It is a kind of vocabulary revision tool, which can be utilized by the students to remember the vocabulary covered during class hours. Fluany provides an easy to use virtual notice board often used in physical classrooms. With Fluany, you can prepare different flashcard decks, and you can group them by assigning different names and colors to the decks. When you activate one deck, a small screen automatically pops up on the right corner of the web browser and asks the meaning of a word in the deck you are reviewing. Here is a video showing how it basically works:

Even though Fluany is appropriate for self-study, it can be exploited as a formative assessment tool as well. You, as the teacher, can prepare some flashcards for your students to save in their Fluany app. Each deck might have a different name, so you can assign a different deck for review each week. At the end of the week, you can go over the vocabulary in one of your face to face meetings with the students (remote or in person). For example, you can run the assigned deck in 5-10 minute intervals. When the word appears on the right side of your screen, you want your students to write the first related word that comes to their mind on a piece of paper and show it to you. Meanwhile, you can allow your students to explain the meaning of the word or give an example in a sentence about how to use that word in context. Similarly, you can run Fluany and ask students whether they remember the word that appears on screen or not. If the students remember the meaning they can write “Yes”, if they do not, they can write “No” on their papers to show you on screen or in person. Otherwise, they can use the chat box if the face to face meetings are done remotely. In that way, it will be possible for teachers to see whether the students regularly do their vocabulary revisions in their self-study times because the students usually study the content and input of the class on their own, leaving more class time for more productive activities for teacher-led meetings in person or online. By using Fluany, the teacher can change the class into a more interactive vocabulary revision session, and meanwhile monitor the students progress in vocabulary development. Accordingly, they can pay extra attention to the slow learners.

One of the advantages of using Fluany regularly in blended/online classes is that it creates a peripheral learning environment for students both when they are online and when they are working alone. As so much of their time is spent in front of a computer screen, Fluany can provide multiple opportunities to review vocabulary both explicitly and implicitly. Unfortunately, this extension is only supported by Google’s web browser, and this is not available in all countries. It may seem disadvantageous that the flashcards have to be prepared one by one,but if the students engage in this process, it can become another learning and review experience. It is also possible to buy already prepared packs in different themes and proficiency levels when you create or log in to your account as demonstrated below. For now, there are only packs for English language learners.

Figure 1

Sample Flashcard Decks Available in “Fluany” Accounts


The second add-on is InsertLearning, which is an application that can turn online reading passages into interactive activities.

Together with the quick changes both in the social and working environment of teachers, maintaining the attention of students and monitoring their progress during their online reading lessons has become more of a struggle. With the help of InsertLearning, you can easily turn every open access reading source into class material. Additionally, you can use InsertLearning as a formative assessment tool because you can monitor the student answers by creating an account. On the webpage of the extension, you can create different classes and share your reading activity with whichever class you want. If you want, you can assign different points to the questions depending on their difficulty level and change the reading tasks into mini quizzes for students. In this way, the students can also see their progress in a quantitative way.

The following video I prepared shows how to create and share a lesson with your classes, and how to monitor student progress on each task.

Depending on student answers and outcomes from the assigned activity, the teacher can prepare extra material, go over the problematic areas during face to face meetings if he/she has classes in blended format, or modify and enhance the material to be able to use it in another class.

As for its benefits and drawbacks, the good side of the application is it is easy to find and easy to use. It can be integrated with GoogleClassroom. The bad side of the extension is that it can again only be supported by Google as the web browser like Fluany and you need to have a Google account (G-mail) to be able to exploit the add-on together with its full features. Moreover, the program cannot be supported on tablet or mobile devices. The students have to have a computer to do the activities assigned by the teacher.

3. Edpuzzle

Finally, Edpuzzle is another extension allowing adding interaction to online videos. Thanks to this add-on, you can add open-ended or multiple choice questions to the videos that you want to assign as homework or to present during your class hours. In this way, the students will have an aim to watch them and be mentally occupied by the tasks provided for them in videos. Especially if you continue teaching in blended or online format due to pandemic or any other reasons, it is a nice tool to prepare interactive vocabulary course content for the students as the tool allows teachers to track student progress for the video activities, and it does not allow the students to skip parts of the videos. In this way, the teacher can see whether the students watch the course videos regularly before coming to the class, and whether there are any words the students do not understand in terms of form or meaning. In this way, the teacher can revise her/his lesson plan according to the lesson outcome. This extension can benefits a teachers and learners both as an interactive presentation tool and a formative assessment tool.

The following video shows how to create an account and content in Edpuzzle and how to share this with the students.

In terms of availability, Edpuzzle is a great tool because it is supported by most of the web browsers such as Google, Mozilla Firefox or Safari. It can also be integrated with most of the learning management systems like Moodle, Blackboard, Schoology or Canvas. You can import your student list to Edpuzzle, or you can embed the application in learning management systems to share your presentations and exercises with students directly. Additionally, the students can do Edpuzzle activities by using whatever electronic gadget they want because it works on all tablets, phones and computers. Once you add it to your browser, it will automatically show up under Youtube videos so that you can add interactive content.. The main drawback of the add-on is that the application only works with Youtube videos for now.

Figure 2

An illustration of Edpuzzle button after the add-on is activated on the web browser

To wrap up, attracting and maintaining student attention as well as monitoring their progress at the same time in online / blended classes can be harder than in physical classrooms; however, it is not impossible as long as the right tools are chosen and applied during the course hours. Even though only three add-ons have been discussed and some suggestions given regarding the use of those three in reading and vocabulary classes, they provide almost limitless options depending on teachers’ creativity and students’ needs.


Lawless, C. (2019, January 17). What is blended learning?. LearnUpon blog.

Popham, W. J. (2008). Transformative assessment. Association for Supervision and

Curriculum Development.

Shepard, L.A. (2008). Formative assessment: Caveat emptor. In C.A. Dwyer (Ed.), The future

of assessment: Shaping teaching and learning (pp. 279-305). Taylor & Francis Group.

Aybüke Uzunca graduated from Middle East Technical University Foreign Language Education Department in Turkey and completed her Master’s degree in English Linguistics at Hacettepe University. She is currently working at Atilim University Department of Basic English as an English language instructor, and meanwhile assisting the Educational Technologies Unit about the design, preparation and integration of online materials into the Moodle system of Atilim University.


In order for English Language Learners (ELL) to reach their goal of understanding another language in a proficient manner, they need to consistently practice for as long as it takes. However, because no student is the same, the teacher as well as the students need to figure out certain classroom applications that work for all. Two of the many methods that can be used to help students with their proficiency levels are word study and/or phrase recognition exercises and semantic connection exercises.

Learning a new language requires knowledge on how to organize ideas in a way that native speakers can understand; therefore, from a structural linguistics point of view, focusing on the word order, form and Parts of Speech seems to be a good starting point. For instance, the noun phrase which consists of the combination of the article, adjective/s and Noun/s or the Noun phrase and verb relationship at the sentence level that determines the agent and action or its morphology require a certain word order. Since students speak languages where this may differ, it is necessary for them to understand this and have enough practice to assimilate it into their language use routine. For example,

1. It is a little expensive. —> a little + adjective

2. She needs a little money. —> a little + noun

Although both sentences are syntactically correct, “ a little” plays different roles because of the part of speech it is modifying. In sentence 1, “a little” is working as an adverb since it is before an adjective; however, in sentence 2, “a little” is working as a determiner since it is modifying a noun. By practicing word forms and their function in a sentence, this could be somehow easily understood by ELLs at all levels. However, when learning languages we cannot forget the manner in which some words work together naturally. That’s why, after learning word forms, students need to be introduced to the concept of collocations. Showing students that within the same relationships not all combinations are acceptable is where things become cumbersome.

For instance,

3. She screamed stressfully.

In sentence 3, even though the sentence structure, the word order and function are correct, “scream” and “stressfully” cannot be combined naturally. Instead of “stressfully, adverbs like “loudly” or “hysterically” are appropriate associations. This is not an easy concept to explain, and it requires the help of various resources, such as dictionaries and other reference tools. Nowadays, with the development of new technology, dictionary look-ups can pop-up with a simple tap or the click of a mouse making learning new information fun and less intimidating; consequently, focusing on developing a more enhanced flash card or word study activity (see picture 1) may encourage students to search for new words and/or their word families.

Picture 1: New & Improved Flash Card

The goal of the enhanced flash card is to focus on one meaning and to give students the chance to discover word families, synonyms, antonyms, collocations and parts of speech related to only one definition in the dictionary.In addition, ensuring the flash card is fully completed challenges students to spend as much time as needed searching for all items on the list.

When completing the enhanced flash card, the first step is to find the appropriate meaning of the word to study based on the context of a reading. This focus will control the word search, especially when looking for synonyms and antonyms, and, most importantly, it will be a strategy students can apply when reading and writing. For example,

Sally admires Dr Evans. She has a lot of respect for her professor because he is brilliant. He always knows the answers to her questions and never makes her feel dumb for asking so many. He also graduated from one of the best colleges in the world, Oxford University.

The paragraph in the example introduces the verb “admires” in the first sentence and the noun “respect” in the second one which is supported by “brilliant.” When looking at the dictionary’s definition of the noun “respect”, admiration is chosen because of the words “admires” and “brilliant”. Moreover, because “respect” and “admiration” appear in the same entry, they are closely related, and therefore, synonyms, Also, the dictionary shows that for that specific meaning, the verb and noun need the preposition “for.,” so this needs to be added to the flash card. Finally, It is important to note that not all word families have nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs; therefore, sometimes there is a need to borrow information from its synonyms. In the case of “respect,” in the adverb section, “admirably” should be added(see Picture 2).

Picture 2:

This may take a little time at the beginning since students are not used to the concept of word study, so they may not dedicate the time required to complete this task. However, when given the chance to practice working with it in class and at home, this activity will become part of their language study routine promoting this not only independent but also “incidental learning.”

Integrating Vocabulary study to Writing

Integrating the idea of creating a flash card /word study focused on one meaning is very useful when preparing vocabulary to write and support the topic sentence in a writing assignment. In addition, organization plays a significant role in this exercise because it allows for the generation of new ideas which could be categorized as supporting ideas to develop the topic assigned. For example, if students were asked to write a paragraph, or essay, about somebody they admire and why, they’d usually struggle with finding vocabulary that could help them express their ideas; however, if they were to look at the already completed flash card of the noun “respect,” (Picture 2) which is a synonym for “admiration” or “to admire,” writing down and grouping supporting ideas should not be intimidating.

To provide an easy process of transferring the information gathered on the flash card to an outline, students use the Say/Explain/Example (S.E.E.) rule and chart (picture 3) which is a much simpler version of the theory of evidence chart. This is a task-based activity, which some may consider as a more developed concept of mapping guides, for students to find vocabulary pertinent to the topic, evaluate all the gathered information and assess which piece is relevant to help support their opinion. The S.E.E. chart reminds students of the writer’s need to clearly visualize what they are communicating. The following is an example of how a student applied the enhanced Flash Card and SEE activity in class:

Word study

Picture 3: SEE chart

After receiving feedback and editing the students’ paragraph, the final product was:


All in all, students were very motivated to write since these activities allowed them to break down the essay writing process and focus on supporting their ideas one paragraph at a time in a less stressful manner. The flash card and word study helped them stay on-topic and provided plenty of information for them to use naturally.

Integrating SEE to Reading

Carrell (1985) suggested focusing on strategies learned in writing class such as exploring discourse patterns or text organization could improve students’ reading comprehension.

As students read, they encounter words unfamiliar to them. However, by following the S.E.E rule they learned in writing class, they know that if they do not understand the first idea, the second one will be an explanation or example of it, and so on. This is very helpful because it allows them to infer the meaning of new words based on the fact that they know synonyms and antonyms are being used in the “Explain/Example” to explain the “Say” in the SEE strategy. For example,

(1) Sally admires Dr Evans. (2) She has a lot of respectfor her professor because he is brilliant. (3) He always knows the answers to her questions and never makes her feel dumb for asking so many. (4) He also graduated from one of the best colleges in the world, Oxford University.

SEE - breakdown:

(1) admire (S) => (2) respect for (E) => because => brilliant (E)

(2) brilliant (S) => (3) knows all the answers (E) => and => she does not feel dumb (E) => also => he graduated from one of the best colleges (E)

Although the main idea in this paragraph is “admire” which is supported by “brilliant,” when students are asked to explain it with their own words this is not a difficult task since all the information is in the flash card / word study (Picture 2); therefore, the answer could be:

“Sally looks up to her professor because he is very intelligent.”

In general, as part of students’ assignments, students are expected to skim through long articles looking for important information which will be used to write summaries that paraphrase the writer’s main ideas. This may be a little intimidating; however, if students are aware of the SEE process in writing and apply this rule to their reading, then articles could be broken down into smaller parts.

Also, knowing that the focus is on one meaning, encourages students to further their study of a word’s theme. For example, in a reading about a bank robbery, the vocabulary in the story is related to the themes “crime” and “law.” Students can expand their vocabulary by looking into each theme (Picture 4) in the dictionary or online:

Picture 4:


Speaking naturally and confidently is a goal all second language learning students aspire to; therefore, introducing learning strategies such as a flash card/word study and the SEE rule/chart, can help students improve their vocabulary, have more control the language and organize their ideas easily not only in the classroom but also in their everyday activities.


Carrell, P. (1985). Facilitating ESL reading by teaching text structure. TESOL Quarterly,19, 727-752.

Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English Online -

Leah Carmona is an ALP/ESL Program Assistant Professor at Bergen Community College in Paramus, NJ (BCC). She teaches Grammar, Reading, Writing, and advanced ESL Courses such as TOEFl and Paired Courses, Reading & Sociology. She is the Faculty Liaison for the English Language Resource Center (ELRC) at BCC.



Requesting help in choosing reading texts for English language teaching (ELT) is a commonly-asked question in online forums. The recently updated Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR) descriptors include three elements that are relevant to literature learning: "Expressing a personal response to creative texts (including literature)", "Analysis and criticism of creative texts (including literature)" and "Reading as a leisure activity" (CEFR, 2018). Expressing personal responses, analysis, and criticism rely on interactive and productive uses of language in response to texts. A valuable resource for just such activity is the new edition of "Literature for Young Adults: Books (and more) for contemporary readers (2nd ed.)" (Knickerbocker & Rycik, 2020). Although both authors are U.S.-based, the book could be used by teachers and curriculum planners in different contexts. This book suggests texts for critical exploration of diversity, gender, race, or issues of disability. While not specifically designed for ELT, many of the suggested texts may be suitable in intensive reading, or creative writing classes.

Chapter One defines contemporary literature and examines the emergence of young adult literature as a sub-genre since World War 2. Chapter Two brings together book choices, teaching ideas, and classroom practices such as read-alouds and guided reading. Chapter Three deals with the language of literary conversations, including genre, reader-based approaches, and narrative perspectives, while Chapter Four looks at realistic fiction with themes such as school life, diversity, and culture.

Chapter Five focuses on historical fiction, which offers a chronological and contextualized view of fiction. Many of the examples in this chapter are U.S.-centered, although some focus on wartime experiences with international contexts. Chapter Six also looks back in time, focusing on traditional literature such as classic tales in the oral tradition (including Greek myths), fairy tales, and legends. The popularity of recent retellings of myths in popular culture and film shows that using old stories in new ways appeals to contemporary readers. Chapter Seven introduces science fiction, fantasy, and speculative (including dystopian) fiction. From Tolkien and Le Guin to Pullman and Gaiman, the chapter covers a considerable range of topics. If deciding on course texts or excerpts for close reading, this chapter offers many exciting ideas for young adult readers.

Chapters Eight-Ten discuss three further directions for engaging literary texts. Chapter Eight introduces, diaries, essays, personal narratives, literary journalism, and autobiographies. Nonfiction may also have literary and aesthetic features that require careful attention while reading. The difference between what Rosenblatt (1994) calls efferent reading (reading for information) and aesthetic reading (pleasure or leisure reading) may be understood on a cline instead of being a clear-cut distinction.) Biographies of famous people such as samurai Minamoto Yoshitsune or founding father Alexander Hamilton have international appeal. Contemporary readers may be particularly interested in the strength of the author's voice and a sense of being close to events described. Chapter Nine addresses creative nonfiction such as visual genres including graphic novels. Perhaps unusual for a book on literature, the genres poetry, short stories, and drama are not featured prominently in this book. The section on short stories includes classics and more contemporary stories. The section on drama within this chapter is relatively short, regrettably, as reading aloud and adapting drama are two versatile ways of bringing drama to modern readers. Chapter Ten investigates in some detail the use of films in literature classes.

For second language learners, unabridged texts need to be carefully selected and adapted with consideration of learners' language proficiency. As teachers explore a wider variety of texts for use in language teaching contexts, including those for personal response and analysis, this volume is an accessible resource for teachers and curriculum planners across various regions and contexts.


Council of Europe. (2018). Common European framework of reference for languages: Learning, teaching, assessment. Companion Volume with New Descriptors. Council of Europe.

Knickerbocker, J.L. & Rycik, J. A. (2020). Literature for Young Adults: Books (and more) for Contemporary Readers (2nd ed.). Routledge.

Reader, the Text, the Poem: The Transactional Theory of the Literary Work. Southern Illinois Press.

Tara McIlroy is an associate professor at Rikkyo University in Tokyo, Japan. She is currently working on a project investigating curriculum development combining literature learning and language learning. She is interested in applying contemporary theories of reading and writing to the second language classroom.



“The Reading and Vocabulary Interest Section (RV-IS) informs teachers, materials writers, curriculum designers, test developers as well as those who set educational policy for language programs about recent advances in our understanding of the process of learning to read, acquiring vocabulary and the process of reading itself. RV-IS aims to promote research in these areas as well as action plans for promoting better reading and vocabulary practices among stakeholders. The Interest Section is not just a forum where TESOL members can share their expertise and insights internally; it also strives to reach beyond the current TESOL membership, forming liaisons with other associations and governmental agencies concerned with the promotion of reading, vocabulary and literacy. We aim to leverage our shared expertise to provide professional development opportunities, to advocate for sound guidelines, and to promote excellence in reading, vocabulary and literacy education worldwide.”


Read-Voc Newslette
r is soliciting articles on reading and/or vocabulary theory, research, and pedagogy in all ESL/EFL settings, and across age/grade levels, including underrepresented contexts, such as two-year programs, community programs, refugees, and remote learning, etc. Submissions with hyperlinks are encouraged.

Pedagogical tips and/or resource suggestions based on intersection hangouts and discussion board postings are also encouraged. Current topics of discussion include

  • Engaging multi level readers with electronic resources
  • Promoting reading skills/strategies in K-12 settings
  • Addressing issues of integrity in online teaching
  • Addressing Reading and Vocabulary from an EFL perspective

How to Submit

If you would like to submit to the Read-Voc Newsletter please read the submission guidelines.

Please send your submissions and questions to the Read-Voc Newsletter Editors: Doreen Ewert and Christy Williams


3rd Edition of newsletter deadline: December 21, 2021
Pre-Convention Issue
Mid-Year Issue