SIT Graduate Institute Hosts Annual Student-led TESOL Conference

Each year, students in SIT’s MA in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) program organize a professional conference known as “Sandanona.” The Sandanona Conference is the culmination of the on-campus phase of the TESOL program. During the conference, students prepare and conduct a professional presentation that explores in depth a chosen area in the field of second-language teaching and learning. Sandanona-Pic

All events associated with the conference are free and open to the public, and will take place on SIT’s Vermont campus May 20-22, 2013.

The conference will feature two plenary speakers:

  • Scott Thornbury, an internationally recognized academic and teacher trainer in the field of English language teaching
  • Sedia Dennis, professor of English for Academic Purposes (EAP) at Marlboro College in Vermont and Tacoma Community College in Washington State

During the conference, SIT will be renaming one of its existing buildings. Known for the past thirty-plus years as the Undergraduate Building, the building will be given the new name of Sandanona Graduate Center. The dedication ceremony will be hosted by Alvino Fantini, Professor Emeritus at SIT Graduate Institute.

In the Abenaki language, Sandanona is interpreted to mean “great white light,” and the term was the original name for SIT’s Vermont campus.

For more information and to attend any of the conference’s events, please contact Joslin Roderick at

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Dr. Susan Barduhn, SIT Professor, To Speak at IATEFL Conference in Liverpool, UK

Dr. Susan Barduhn will be one of five plenary speakers at the 47th Annual International Association of Teachers of English as a Foreign Language (IATEFL) Conference and Exhibition from April 8 to 13, 2013 at the Arena and Convention Centre (ACC) in Liverpool, UK. SIT Graduate Institute will also exhibit at the event.

With over 4,000 members IATEFL is one of the most thriving communities of ELT teachers in the world, whose mission is to “link, develop and support English Language Teaching professionals” worldwide.

Dr. Susan Barduhn

Dr. Susan Barduhn

Dr. Barduhn is Chair of SIT’s Low Residency MA in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) program, and she joined SIT Graduate Institute in 2003. Her experience includes English and Spanish language teaching, teacher training, supervision, management, program assessment, and consulting. She has worked for extended periods in Kenya, Britain, Switzerland, Colombia, Spain, and Portugal and speaks Spanish, French, Portuguese, German, and Swahili.

Dr. Barduhn is a past president of the International Association of Teachers of English as a Foreign Language (IATEFL); former director of The Language Center in Nairobi, Kenya; and was deputy director of International House in London. Her professional areas of interest and research are intercultural communication, teacher thinking, and teacher trainer development. She co-authored the book Integrating Language and Content (TESOL, 2010), which provides practical examples of integrating language and content into areas such as conflict resolution, social justice, philosophy, and cultural identity. The book was shortlisted for the prestigious Elton award.

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SIT TESOL Alumnus Publishes Teaching Books

SIT alumnus Dean Fusto recently published a new book, Which Way Home: A Teachers’ Guide, designed to accompany the Emmy and UNICEF award-winning documentary Which Way Home. Fusto graduated from SIT in 1991 (MAT 22).

Which Way Home is a film that traces the journeys of several unaccompanied child migrants trying to reach the US after leaving their home countries in Central America. In 2010, the film was nominated for an Academy Award for best documentary feature.

Which Way Home: A Teachers’ Guide includes a twenty-first century skill framework in designing activities for teachers to use in grades 6 through adult classrooms. The first chapter provides a frame-by-frame analysis of the film, generating more than 150 questions for students. There are also lesson plans focusing on each of the children featured in the film and lesson plans on immigrants, immigration, and social service agencies.

Earlier this year, Fusto’s book The Next Best Thing to Being There was released in a second edition. The Next Best Thing is based on Fusto’s experiences founding two orphanages in the Dominican Republic. Fusto notes that the book was heavily influenced by his years as a student at SIT. As he describes it, “it is designed for teachers that seek experiential approaches to teaching culture in the classroom. It also devotes a chapter to the design of a successful international service-learning/educational program.”

Fusto is currently working on a third book, an article for a national publication, and a webinar entitled “Designing and Implementing an Effective Information Literacy Program.”

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SIT Announces New Low Residency MA in TESOL program

All of us at SIT Graduate Institute are excited to announce SIT’s new low-residency MA in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) beginning summer 2013.

Designed to advance the career goals of working teachers worldwide, this distance-learning program offers SIT’s innovative TESOL graduate education with coursework, a supervised practicum, and an Independent Professional Project, through a remote format.

Students will complete the degree in about two years, finishing most coursework online while staying in their current jobs and enjoying two short (3-week) summer sessions on campus in Vermont.

The admissions office is currently accepting applications. The deadline for the summer term is on April 5, 2013. For more information, email the Admissions Office or call 1 800 336-1616 (toll-free inside the US) or 1 802 258-3510 (outside the US).

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SIT Alumna Describes 20th Reunion of MA in TESOL Class

by Bea Fantini, SIT “MAT 6″ alumna, SIT emeritus associate professor, and Director, Language and Culture department

“How lucky are we to have had such a great experience 20 years ago and then to get together 20 years later and continue right where we left off—as if we had never left each other—just a great time—full of love, acceptance, hysterical laughter, and great conversations that could go on and on if we had the time, and thinking about all those who couldn’t make it and wish[ing] you were there too.”
—SIT “MAT 24” alumna Pamela Bergins, on the MAT 24 class’s 20th reunion

Seventeen alumni from the “MAT 24” class of SIT’s MA in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) program gathered in Vermont on July 7, 2012, to celebrate their twentieth year since graduation. They came from California, Philadelphia, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Connecticut, and New York. They came with spouses and children who were visiting the SIT campus for the first time. Three faculty members from those years were also present: adjunct professors Diane Larsen-Freeman and Ray Clark and emeritus associate professor Bea Fantini.

Seventeen alumni from the “MAT 24” class of SIT’s MA in TESOL attended a reunion on campus this summer.

The reunion was the idea of George Chambers, a member of the MAT 24 class from Australia. When communicating with his former classmates via Facebook wasn’t enough anymore, he thought, “Why not a reunion in Vermont?” After that, everything fell into place. Karen Stern made the reunion arrangements, and Lise Minovitz, who had started the MAT 24 Facebook group, emceed. There was a performance by the Modal Yodels (a singing group made up of MAT 24 alumni), as well as other musicians in the MAT 24 class.

It was easy for the alumni to remember the way things had been when they were students. Some alumni felt that time hadn’t passed at all; the one thing that showed that it had was their children. They visited the places where as students they used to hang out—McNeill’s, the Indian restaurant, Mocha Joe’s. Some brought picture albums and every picture produced yet another memory.

Although they graduated as teachers of English and/or Spanish, some went in different directions. Melissa Torriero is working in filmmaking. Liz Smith, after helping to create an art cooperative in Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts, is now working with an elder law attorney. Lauren Parker Bock is getting a degree in psychology. However, they all said that in each of their jobs they were able to put the skills they gained at SIT into practice. “It is incredible how well what I learned in SIT’s MA in TESOL prepared me for my job. You would not necessarily connect filmmaking and ESL … but, I use a lot of things I learned here [at SIT],” affirmed Melissa Torriero.

Faculty also shared stories. Diane Larsen-Freeman said that some of the challenges presented to her by students made her really think about the kind of place we are, and the kind of people who come here, she remembered the day when she announced there was going to be a mid-term test, and a student asked “Why?” to which she did not have an immediate answer. Students would challenge you, she said, and you had to be ready for anything.

They all left with the promise to reunite again, here or elsewhere, and to keep their memories alive.

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SIT Hosts 30th Sandanona Conference on the Teaching and Learning of Languages

SIT Graduate Institute’s 30th Sandanona Conference was held on SIT’s Brattleboro, Vermont, campus on August 5–7, 2012. The conference was the culmination of SIT’s current summer MA in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) program designed for working teachers. Each student in the program gave a professional presentation on a topic in the field of second-language teaching and learning; several students gave presentations on using technology in the classroom.

Sessions included:

• Tamara Grobschmidt, “Using Web 2.0 Tools to Increase Learner Autonomy”
• Teresa Hernandez, “Empowering the First Person Narrative Through Cultural Awareness”
• Shawn McRae, “Interactive Reading Model: Utilizing the Learner as Materials Generator”
• Hasnaa Hafez, “L1 in the EFL Classroom: A Taboo or Privilege?”

The conference featured plenary speakers Diane Larsen-Freeman and Kathleen Graves, professors at the University of Michigan’s School of Education.

The Sandanona Conference is a mandatory part of SIT’s TESOL graduate degree program. It is currently held at the end of students’ second summer in the current summer MA program, and at the end of students’ second semester in the full-time TESOL MA program. The conference is patterned after major language conferences and gives students the opportunity to present original research and discuss it with their peers. For more information about the Sandanona Conference or SIT’s TESOL graduate degree program, contact

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New Video about SIT Student Life Published

SIT Graduate Institute recently published a new video about student life, including student organizations and activities on campus, by Marcus Van, an alumnus of SIT’s MA in TESOL program. In the video, Marcus interviews current students about their SIT experience. Watch and share it with others!

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SIT’s 43rd Sandanona Conference on the Teaching and Learning of Languages

The 43rd Sandanona Conference of SIT’s MA in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) program will take place on campus May 21-23, 2012.

The Sandanona Conference is the culmination of the on-campus phase of SIT’s MA in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) program. Patterned after major language conferences, it occurs in the final week of the program. Students plan and present a professional presentation that explores in depth a chosen area in the field of second-language teaching/learning. Here are a few highlighted sessions:

Alvino Fantini, “Teaching language as intercultural competence”
Hafsa Nassar, “English language ownership in a multilingual setting”
Elsa Auerbach: “Going global: Where in the world is participatory ESOL?”

You can access each day’s program at Sandanona program. For more information and to attend contact

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Smithsonian Names Brattleboro, Vermont 11th “Best Small Town in America” recently named Brattleboro, Vermont 11th out of 20 “Best Small Towns in America.”

Brattleboro's Common

To create the list, the online magazine asked the geographic information systems company Esri to search its data bases for high concentrations of museums, historic sites, botanic gardens, resident orchestras, art galleries and other cultural assets common to big cities. But they focused on towns with populations less than 25,000, so travelers could experience what might be called enlightened good times in an unhurried, charming setting. We also tried to select towns ranging across the lower 48. Read more online here.

The magazine describes Brattleboro as follows: “Nestled in southern Vermont, the riverside town of Brattleboro is a common rest stop for travelers driving up Interstate 91 from Massachusetts. Once you’ve strolled through the downtown historic district, lined with galleries, antiques shops, theaters and dance studios, it might be hard to get back in the car. Brattleboro takes pride in its reputation as a hidden artistic haven. On the first Friday of every month, local artists, galleries and museums exhibit new work and put on performances as part of the traditional Gallery Walk. Even if you don’t plan it, your visit will likely coincide with at least one of the many annual festivals in town: there’s the Womens’ Film Festival in March, the summer Brattleboro Literary Festival, and the Brattleboro Music Center’s Northern Roots Festival in January, which celebrates Northern music. In the unlikely event of boredom, take a day trip to nearby Naulakha, the estate of Rudyard Kipling, who once wrote of “a desire to be back on Main Street, Brattleboro, Vermont, U.S.A., and hear the sody water fizzing in the drugstore…and get a bottle of lager in the basement of Brooks House and hear the doctor tell fish yarns.”

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SIT’s New International Language Institute (ILI) of Massachusetts Partnership

SIT and the International Language Institute (ILI) of Massachusetts are partnering to provide more international students opportunities to pursue master’s degrees in the United States. Through this partnership, qualified students who have finished the Intensive English Program at ILI can earn conditional acceptance to SIT.

ILI, which is based in Northampton, MA, already offers an SIT Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) certificate program. It also administers an Intensive English Program, free English classes to area immigrants and refugees, and foreign language classes in French, Chinese, German, Italian, Japanese, Spanish, and Portuguese.

SIT will accept completion of level 8 of ILI’s intensive English (ESOL) program as meeting SIT’s English proficiency requirement, meaning those applicants will be exempt from taking the TOEFL exam for admission to SIT’s degree programs.

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