Essential Reading


(Analytic-Instructor) Language Spoken At Home In Greater Portland. How many potential English Language Learners are there in the Portland Metro Area? From the American Communities Survey.

(Analytic-Instructor) Stephen Krashen’s Theory of Second Language Acquisition. This webpage does a really nice job of summarizing some of the most well-known and useful principles in language teaching, often referred to as “The Natural Approach”. Although many have critiqued Krashen’s work on theoretical grounds – as a pedagogical approach, it does a lot of heavy lifting by helping academically trained teachers move away from the default explanatory style to a more contextualized style.

(Analytic-Instructor) Hardest Languages To Learn. This useful article addresses some key concepts in language learning relativity. Expressed from the viewpoint of a native English speaker, it is inherently ethnocentric, but still useful.

(Action-Instructor) Pathways to Wellness: Refugee and Immigrant Resource Directory. A fantastic compendium of resources for immigrants and refugees, produced in October 2013 by Lutheran Community Services with many amazing local partners. Every language & cultural skills development specialist in Portland should be very familiar with the resources in this booklet. For more: Lutheran Community Services website.

(Inspirational-Instructor) The Rules. This is a beautiful and inspirational document about the proper attitude for teachers and students in the Immaculate Heart Convent Art Department, developed for a class by Sister Corita Kent in the late 60s. If these rules are deeply followed, any apprentice will get the most out of their time with us, and perhaps their time on planet earth. For more: 10 Rules for Students, Teachers, and Life by John Cage and Sister Corita Kent.

(Narrative-Instructor) White Privilege: Unpacking The Invisible Knapsack – Peggy McIntosh. “I was taught to see racism only in individual acts of meanness, not in invisible systems conferring dominance on my group”. People-Places-Things came into existence as a way to help good-hearted people from mainstream backgrounds open more doors for immigrants and refugees. A clear understanding of power and privilege, who has it, what it looks like, and how to use it responsibly, is essential to being a responsible language skills facilitator working with people from marginalized communities.

(Analytic-Instructor) Situational Leadership. Everything we do is about personal and organizational development. This is one of many models we draw on that is useful for analyzing leadership approaches. We share this as an essential resource because the Voz Alta Approach draws on highly directive activities to help build confidence. Situational Leadership allows us to recognize that directive leadership is appropriate for some specific situations, while acknowledging that it’s one step along the way to increasing autonomy. There is a need to create a cross cultural overview of leadership styles.

(Analytic-Practitioner) Making it Real: Teaching Pre-Literate Adult Refugee Students. This is a critical resource in working with immigrant and refugee families to develop their language & culture skills. Some of the most dedicated advocates and educators for immigrants and refugees worked to produce this document out of Tacoma, Washington. Tons of activities, and solid reinforcement for People-Places-Things Voz Alta Approach. For more: Tacoma Community House website.

(Analytic-Practitioner) How Long Does It Take? – Sarah Elaine Eaton, Ph.D. Discussions of language proficiency development rarely ask this seemingly obvious question: How many hours of practice does it take to learn a language? Our ideas of language learning tend to focus around a more or less linear process of level gain/structural acquisition. But particularly when talking about fluency development, linear models fall short. This paper uses the 10,000 hour model to explore the length of time it takes to achieve expertise in a language. This is also true for learning how to facilitate language skills development (teach or tutor).

(Action-Practitioner) I Can Fix It – damali ayo. Incredibly insightful 5 step “guide”, differentiating the work that white people and people of color can do to eliminate racism in our time. Drawn from curated suggestions from her extended community while she was living in Portland, OR, this short document is incredibly deep and can provide insight and guidance throughout one’s interculturalist journey. Connect with damali ayo’s current work at:

(Analytic-Practitioner) Teaching Grammar – Diane Larsen-Freeman. Dr. Larsen-Freeman is a giant in the world of TESOL, and her work forms our primary pedagogical foundation.  “By thinking of grammar as a skill to be mastered, rather than a set of rules to be memorized, we will be helping ESL/EFL students go a long way toward the goal of being able to accurately convey meaning in the manner they deem appropriate.” There is no way we could say it better.

(Analytic-Facilitator) Community ESL Teachers in a Difficult Spot – Dawn Allen.  This Portland State University MA graduate wrote a paper on the difficulties that teachers face who want to work with immigrants and refugees, where there is very little pay, support, or resources. It not only provides a very good overview of the institutional gap for civic integration for non-native English speakers, but the difficult choices that teachers have to make if they want to do this work.

(Analytic-Facilitator) Launching a Community Based ESL Program – Nancy Dytynyshyn.  This 2008 paper describes a Canadian community-based ESL class. All of the initial questions that she asks are direct to the point, and the outcomes that she observes are typical of any similar program. This helps our apprentices and partners know that the outcomes she observes are very common. The Voz Alta Approach is designed to address many of the challenges Dr. Dytynyshyn describes.

(Analytic-Facilitator) Developing Intercultural Competence – Janet Bennett Ph.D. Useful resource for exploring the scope and definition of intercultural competence and the characteristics of an interculturalist. Dr Bennett is the Executive Director of the Intercultural Communication Institute, located in Portland, OR

(Analytic-Facilitator) The Longitudinal Study of Adult Literacy: Challenging Assumptions – Stephen Reder, Ph.D. This research brief by a Portland State University professor has some important implications which influence and reflect the design of P-P-T’s Voz Alta Approach. The study suggests that literacy and adult education programs should not think of program participation as the primary outcome, but the development of certain adaptive learning skills which are cultivated over longer periods of time. Learning support systems are indicated as interlocking programs, incentives, resources, and tools that keep learners practicing.

(Analytic-Facilitator) Connect: Create a Culture of Appreciation in your Organization. This activity booklet was created by Stephanie Pollack of Creative Facilitations, who sometimes bases herself in Portland, OR. It articulates, models, and reinforces the idea of building connection as the foundation for learning, creativity, and productivity – and most of all, organizational health. As experiential learning experts, we are energized by the activity ideas. These are the beginnings of an entire approach to strengthen relationship in any kind of a social setting.