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Coloring English in Timor Leste: An interview with Richard Silberg

Karen Taylor de Caballero

Coloring English in Timor Leste: An interview with Richard Silberg

When I heard that Richard had recently returned from another trip to Timor Leste, I knew I had to interview him as soon as possible, while his sensations and experiences were still fresh. There's nothing like international travel. It opens a window in the brain that invites a sensation of newness and connectedness. I wanted a piece of that, and if I couldn't be the one traveling, I could at least talk to the traveler.

I first met Richard in 2018 at the international TESOL convention in Chicago. He had recently served as an English Language Fellow in Cambodia, and he was full of that traveler's energy then, too. I recall him liking the Color Vowel Chart the moment he saw it. We talked several times during that conference. Within a couple of years, Richard launched his parallel journey into the Color Vowel Approach. 

Richard is now an English Language Specialist for the U.S. Department of State. With over 40 years of experience, much of it as an ESL teacher in Berkeley Public Schools (California), Richard specializes in curriculum development and teaching spoken English through drama and story telling.

Upon retiring from his public school gig in 2019, Richard turned his attention to training teachers and supporting learners worldwide in Albania, Cambodia, China, Uzbekistan and, more recently, Timor Leste (also known as East Timor). There, Richard has been developing a 7th grade EFL curriculum and textbook, a work in progress that takes him back to Timor Leste regularly. In an effort to bring this new EFL textbook to life, Richard, decided to integrate Color Vowels into the textbook. This is where our story begins.


Learn more about how you can include Color Vowel® in a textbook or other publication.