Vol. 1. No. 3 — March 1995
Speaking of Languages: An International Guide to Language Service Organizations
Paula Conru, Vickie Lewelling, and Whitney Stewart (1992)
McHenry, IL: Center for Applied Linguistics and Delta Systems, Inc.
Pp. viii + 191
ISBN 0-93-7354-80-5 (paper)
Speaking of Languages is an updated version of Directory of Foreign Language Service Organizations, originally published in 1978 and subsequently revised in 1981 and 1985. It offers brief, informative descriptions of a wide variety of language service organizations.
The book is divided into six sections, the first of which describes 128 organizations with a number of different foci. Each entry in this section includes the name, address, telephone and fax number of the organization, as well as the name of a contact person and information such as membership, languages, purpose, subject areas addressed, services offered and publications produced by the organization. Organizational foci range from exchange programs, cultural programs and fellowships to career and job placement, from specific languages to general information on language-related interests. Thirty-three of the organizations are based outside the United States. While the selection of organizations is quite comprehensive, the inclusion of more groups based outside the U.S. would increase its usefulness.
The entries are arranged in alphabetical order, with an index that allows the reader to locate services related to her or her particular interests. Arranging organizations alphabetically rather than by purpose seems appropriate, since many groups have multiple foci, but this choice leaves the reader dependent on a somewhat flawed index. For example, there is no index entry for bilingual education, although several organizational descriptions indicate interests in that area. On the other hand, one of the page numbers listed after “computer” in the index refers to a description that does not mention computers.
Each of the remaining five sections in Speaking of Languages has a more specific focus. Section two lists applied linguistics organizations in thirty-four nations that are affiliated with the Association Internationale de Linguistique Appliquee (AILA). Each entry includes the name of the organization, the name of a contact person and an address.
The third section briefly discusses and lists employment opportunities abroad for teaching English as a Foreign Language. It consists of five sub-sections: considerations in teaching EFL outside the United States; qualifications and salaries in various parts of the world; general information sources on teaching English [-1-] abroad; teaching in international schools; and additional sources of overseas teaching information. The first two sub-sections are apparently addressed primarily to those who are new to both EFL and ESL. Three out of the five bulleted points under the sub-heading “considerations in teaching EFL outside the United States” suggest in various ways that EFL teachers need some kind of background or training in English teaching, that simply being a native speaker of English doesn’t suffice. A fourth bulleted point describes the TESOL Summer Institute’s short training courses. The fifth one mentions tutoring opportunities abroad. This section, then, heavily stresses the need for training but fails to mention other possible considerations in EFL, such as cultural and/or pedagogical adjustments. Such a strong emphasis on the need for training also points to a deficiency in the section and in the book in general: the lack of references to organizations and programs for teacher training, apart from the TESOL Institutes. While it is true that most of these programs are university-based and thus, perhaps, not strictly “organizations,” it still would be helpful to have both training schools and university programs listed.
This third section then goes on to briefly generalize about salaries in various parts of the world, and finishes with three categories of information sources. It includes addresses and phone numbers for sources of general information, sources for teaching at the elementary and secondary level, and a few sources for teacher exchanges, international corporation programs and religious organizations. Many of these sources are employers as well; more entries on language schools, particularly those based overseas, could have been included.
The fourth section of Speaking of Language provides a one-page explanation of Multifunctional Resource Centers (established by the U.S. Department of Education for collecting information on particular aspects of bilingual education), and then gives the focus of and particulars on each of the sixteen centers in the U.S. The fifth section briefly explains the National Resource Centers for foreign language and area studies and then lists them alphabetically according to geographical area. Addresses and phone numbers for publishers of printed instructional material, audio-visual materials and foreign language books comprise the sixth section. Some entries finish with a one-line description of what the publisher offers. Some major publishers appear and others do not.
Overall, Speaking of Languages is a helpful resource. Choices to feature some organizations and exclude others seem arbitrary at times. However, the authors explain in the preface that their attempts to be as comprehensive as possible were limited by the fact that some organizations did not respond to their inquiries or declined to be included. Despite the occasional gaps, anyone in search of a particular kind of language service organization can probably find at least a few examples of it here. In addition, the [-2-] book forms a convenient collection of addresses and phone numbers for organizations with which the reader is already familiar.
University of Washington
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