Richard Stefano – PME-811 – Blog Post 8 – Finding a useful article

PME-811 Blog Post Hub

To start my historical review of ESL education, I chose an article called “History of Teaching English as a Second Language” (1996). Right away, I was a little put off by the opening sentence that stated: “The teaching of English as a Second Language can be described as a truly American educational situation.” I felt that it should be reversed: The American educational situation inherently includes the teaching of English as a Second Language.

I decided I needed to give the author the benefit of the doubt and assume that he was speaking from an American perspective, rather than describing ESL education as a specifically American pursuit. The connections between language and multi-culturalism described in the article apply to Australia, Canada, the UK, France, etc. but the focus of this article was on an overview of American ESL education history.

Unfortunately, that meant that the article was simply an overview of the development of education, and the various philosophies that lead to modern American education as it is today. It’s an interesting connection to one of the articles (Herbst, 1999) for our course which described two paths an education historian could take: the first, an overview of theory and development, or the second, an understanding of daily teaching practices and their development over time. I’m more interested in the second, and therefore this first article wasn’t really of any use to me beyond general interest. A better general search term might be “history of ESL teaching practices”, but I don’t know that articles will specify which historical approach they’re taking.


Herbst, J. (1999). The History of Education: State of the Art at the Turn of the Century in Europe and North America, Paedagogica Historica, 35:3, 737-747.

Cavanaugh, M.P. (1996). History of Teaching English as a Second Language, The English Journal, Dec., 1996, Vol. 85, No. 8 (Dec. 1996).

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