CATESOL Accepts Presentation on Informational Interviews

How can English teachers help adult, college, and university students expand their network of professional contacts while improving their interview skills? What practical speaking exercise includes both off-campus interviews and classroom presentations? How can ESL teachers add informational interviews to their oral skills curriculum? What are informational interviews, anyway? What makes them vital to adult English language learners in 2010?

Thanks to the selection committee of CATESOL 2010 State Conference, I will have a chance to share my answers with fellow California educators in late April. “Informational Interviews: A Practical, Illuminating Speaking Assignment” will demonstrate the importance and relevance of this unusual assignment for a wide range of ESL students. Although officially listed for college/university instructors, the long assignment can be adapted for high school, IEP, vocational, and Business English classes. CATESOL includes California teachers of English to speakers of other languages from all levels of education and many public and private institutions.

Naturally, I look forward to sharing the good news about information interviews, a common practice in the United States where individuals interview working professionals about potential occupations. My presentation will cover the several building block assignments that are used to prepare students to find a professional to interview, conduct a successful interview, and give a compelling trip report in class. Each step covers vital vocational and speaking skills.

Hopefully, this small professional presentation will encourage more ESL teachers to assign informational interviews and help their ESL students find satisfying jobs. Given the relatively grim outlook for jobs in California, the definition of “satisfying” might be more flexible than in the past. Informational interviews, therefore, allow job seekers to meet working professionals in their field, collect detailed information on working conditions and professional practices, and expand their network of valuable industry contacts. Sometimes informational interviews also lead to job leads, internships, and even jobs. Practical and popular, this assignment consistently engages students and provides surprising insights.

More later on informational interviews.

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