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MATESOL students present at HITESOL conference

    By Chrysa Staiano. April 2, 2014 - 1:35 pm


It was the love of language and teaching, not extra credit that brought seven HPU Master of Arts in Teaching English as a Second Language (MATESOL) students to present at the recent Hawaii Teaching English as a Second Language (HITESOL) Conference.

The event was held at the Education First (EF) International Language School in Honolulu on Friday, Feb. 14 and Leeward Community College in Pearl City on Saturday, Feb. 15. The theme of this year’s event was “Weaving Language and Culture.”

Graduate students Helen Arcos Rivera, Megan Hanlon, Leola Solis, Chrysa Staiano and Ericka Swanson presented as part of a panel organized by HPU professor Hanh Nguyen, Ph.D. Their panel, entitled From Conversation Analysis to the Teaching of Second Language and Culture involved five short presentations based on research completed for HPU’s Discourse Analysis course during the spring of 2013.

Each panel member showed recorded data (audio and video tapes) of how participants use language in natural contexts, such as to plan a birthday party and discuss school assignments. Implications for language teaching and reviews of related scholarly research were also discussed.

Graduate students Yuhei Yamamoto and Leola Solis (also a panel presenter) participated in the conference’s individual poster sessions. Solis, a native of the Kingdom of Tonga, showcased a writing activity called Triads, while Yamamoto’s poster showed how teachers can implement extensive reading for students in an English as Foreign Language (EFL) environment.

Yamamoto, originally from Tokyo, Japan, stressed the importance of extensive reading for EFL students because “reading has to be fun no matter what language they use. So I wanted to develop materials to make students have fun and help them become fluent readers in English.”


Aaron Faidley is an MATESOL student and also the president of HITESOL. In addition to overseeing the conference from start to finish, he, along with his group members, presented their project called Service Learning: The Thread to a Meaningful Language Experience. This presentation reviewed different service learning projects between students at the EF International Language School and the New Intensive Courses in English (NICE) Program at the University of Hawaii. Some specific projects included constructing a traditional Hale at He’eia Fishpond, raising funds for Big Brothers Big Sisters and cleaning the streets of Chinatown.

Several recent HPU MATESOL alumni were also hand on for the event. Vanessa Balagtas designed the conference program and currently serves as the secretary of HITESOL. Tyson Umberger, also an EF instructor, volunteered and Erik Wagner, Guri Sagvolden and Jaysievel Pacpaco, current student David Cupchak and professor Ken Cook, Ph.D. attended as audience members.

This is the second year for a high participation rate for HPU MATESOL students at the HITESOL conference. In 2013, the panel of Kri Howland, Rahma Kadir, Tyson Umberger, Yukiko Oki and Vanessa Balagtas (organized by former professor Candis Lee, Ed.D.), was awarded “Best Presentation” at the conference, held at the University of Hawaii-Hilo. Faidley said he appreciated HPU’s involvement at the annual conference, and noted that “The professors and students help make the annual conference great every year. Their contributions are highly appreciated by the audience and colleagues in the TESOL community.”

Since 1975, HITESOL has been an organization dedicated to building a community of language teaching professionals in Hawaii. Besides hosting the annual HITESOL conference, the organization provides professional development and networking opportunities for its members, as well as increases public and government recognition of the English as a Second Language field.

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3 Responses to MATESOL students present at HITESOL conference

  1. Andrew Staiano

    April 4, 2014 at 9:45 am

    I’m so proud of all the TESOL students, faculty and community for putting together such a fantastic program. I thought the article was exceptionally well written and painted an excellent picture. Thanks much to the author!!

  2. Patricia Stevens Gumbs

    April 4, 2014 at 1:49 pm

    The depth of student involvement,subject complexity and community support are impressive. The author does a great job of integrating all aspects of the conference.

  3. Linda Stetler

    April 10, 2014 at 3:48 am

    Kudos to the MATESOL students for their participation in this conference. The article was informative.