The NNEST Caucus Member of the Month
Luciana de Oliveira
– Could you please tell us a bit about yourself and your background (e.g. linguistic, academic, professional, …)?
I was born and raised in Brazil. At age 22, after receiving a bachelor’s degree and teaching credential in Languages (English/Portuguese) from Sao Paulo State University, I decided to move to the U.S. to study English. I then started an MA TESOL program and went on to complete my Ph.D. in Education at the University of California, Davis. I have also continued to work with teacher educators in Brazil. I am writing my dissertation now and will be done in June! I have been in the U.S. for 9 years. I have studied English, German, Latin, Spanish, and Italian. I speak three languages at home in the U.S., English, Portuguese, and Spanish. I don’t see myself doing anything else but teach. I grew up among teachers. My mom, two aunts, and an uncle were teachers and my sister is a high school math teacher. My niece is studying to be a math teacher as well. We’re a family of teachers! I love what I do and I really enjoy working with people.
– What are your areas of interest?
I have been interested in issues related to academic literacy development in content areas. My dissertation research focuses on the teaching and learning of writing in history classes and history teachers’ expectations for student writing. Another area of interest is NNES professionals, including issues related to the knowledge base of NNESTs, professional self-esteem, and professional development.
– And your extracurricular hobbies and interests?
I love beading. I bead as much as possible whenever I can. I think it’s great to come up with patterns and put together different things. I also love dancing and going to the movies (and having popcorn!)
– What are your most vivid memories (positive/negative) of being an NNEST in your academic and/or professional practices?
My most vivid memory I have to say was when I attended a presentation put together by Lia Kamhi-Stein for the CATESOL (California TESOL) conference in 1998 (about 6 months after I started my MA program). In the presentation, several NNES student teachers presented different perspectives and issues related to non-native speakers as ESL teachers. I felt “at home” in this presentation because I had not thought other students were going through the same situations and conflicts as I was. When they were presenting, I was in the audience saying to myself “that’s what I feel too,” “I’ve been through that.” “wow, so it’s not only me?!” That was when I decided (with the guidance and mentoring of other NNESTs) that I would become involved in the Non-native Language Educators’ Issues interest group of CATESOL and now within our Caucus and continue to work towards a non-discriminatory environment for NNESTs. My work with other NNESTs has contributed to an increase in my confidence and I find that many NNESTs out there are wonderful role models and are doing excellent work in diverse areas.
– Do you have contacts with NNESTs in your present job?
Currently I’m just writing my dissertation, but I will be joining the faculty at Purdue University in fall 2006 as Assistant Professor in Language and Literacy Education. One of the things that attracted me about Purdue was that this year it ranked second in international student enrollment among all public United States colleges and universities. Therefore, I will definitely be working with non-native speakers in my classes and I’m looking forward to having that experience soon.
– How would you describe the most important contributions of non-native speaker professionals the L2 learning/teaching, and applied linguistics?
The creation of the NNEST Caucus has contributed significantly to the establishment of excellent scholarship in NNEST issues, with many publications in recent years. We always say that we know what it’s like to learn a language, from experience, and as teachers we bring that perspective to the language classroom. We also have to recognize that NNES teachers do not have absolute characteristics and individual differences do make a difference in terms of professional preparation. We have a lot to contribute and we need more people to volunteer for leadership positions so that the work done so far by NNESTs will continue to flourish.
– How did you get to know about NNEST Caucus? What are the things (if any) you would like to see the Caucus and its members initiate/do?
I got to know about the Caucus through my affiliate, CATESOL. As soon as I joined TESOL, I joined the NNEST Caucus and have become involved ever since. I have volunteered at the Caucus booth for the past 3 years and last year I helped update the reference list. I think our caucus should continue the work of our past and present leaders. I would like to see more people from outside the U.S. present and participate in Caucus activities to bring an international perspective to the organization and the Caucus. One area of interest would be examples of effective language teacher education programs around the world.
Thank you Luciana!