Author Archives: madhukarkc25

Prithvi Shrestha

 

Dr. Prithvi Shrestha is a Senior Lecturer in English Language Teaching and a Research Convenor of the Applied Linguistics and Literacies Research Group in the School of Languages and Applied Linguistics, The Open University, UK. He holds a BEd, MA in English literature (both Tribhuvan University, Nepal), MA TESOL (University of Lancaster) and EdD (The Open University). Prior to taking up the job in The Open University in 2006, he worked at Goldsmiths, School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (all University of London). He taught as an English language teacher in secondary schools and worked as a teacher educator in Nepal over 12 years. He teaches academic literacy, EAP and ESP courses and supervises doctoral students. His research sits broadly within educational and applied linguistics, underpinned by Vygotskian sociocultural theory and systemic functional linguistics. In particular, his work has contributed to the field of academic literacy, language across the curriculum, assessment and educational technology mediated language teacher education in developing countries. He currently leads on an IELTS test impact research project (Bangladesh & Nepal) funded by the British Council and co-leads a TOEFL iBT test validity research project (Nepal and Sweden) funded by Educational Testing Services (USA). He has published books, book chapters and journal articles in the research fields mentioned. He has published articles in Journal of English for Academic Purposes, Assessing Writing, RELC Journal and Curriculum Journal. He is a founding editor of the Journal of Language and Education. He served as a Joint Coordinator of the IATEFL ESP SIG from 2013 to 2016.

Interviewer: Madhukar K. C. 

1.Thank you very much for joining us on NNEST-of-the-month blog. Could you briefly tell us about your linguistic, academic, and professional background and how you got interested in learning language and becoming an educator, especially a teacher of English?

Dr. Shrestha:Thank you very much, Madhukar, for inviting me to be interviewed for the NNEST-of-the-Month Blog. I feel honored and privileged to have this opportunity.

I was born in a remote village of Namjung, Gorkha, Nepal. Though my family comes from an ethnic community called Newars that has its own native language (Newari), I always spoke Nepali as my first language as my parents spoke this language only and was briefly exposed to the Magar language (an indigenous language spoken by Magars in Gorkha) in my early childhood. My formal language learning journey began in a state primary school, located in a remote village of Darbung, Gorkha, Nepal. I went to this Nepali medium school where I started learning English as a foreign language (EFL) at the age of 10. As you may imagine, throughout my school years, I was taught English through a grammar-translation method. Despite this, I had always been very keen to learn this language and one day become proficient in it! With this dream (let’s say intrinsic motivation), I pursued studying an English language degree at Tribhuvan University, Nepal. While studying, I began to realize that there was a shortage of EFL teachers in the country, especially in rural areas. So in this sense, I had both intrinsic and extrinsic motivations to learn English and then become an EFL teacher. More importantly, I believe that language education is crucial for social mobility and economic growth.

I began my EFL teaching career in a community secondary school in 1990. As a new EFL teacher, I was eager to apply what I had learned in theory to my classroom practices. This was, however, challenging given the large number of students (over 90) and the lack of any educational resources. Therefore, I had to find new ways of dealing with situations. This meant starting to develop a network of EFL teachers and learn from others as there was no professional EFL organization then. This was possible only at the local level. In 1993, my situation changed drastically when I was offered an EFL teacher’s post at Gandaki Boardking School which is a well-resourced English medium school in Pokhara, Nepal. This is where I had the opportunity to develop professionally and become an English language teacher educator both locally and nationally via NELTA (Nepal English Language Teachers’ Association) which had just been set up to bring all EFL teachers and teacher educators together in Nepal.

Having taught as an EFL teacher in Nepal for 12 years, I moved to the UK to study MA TESOL at the University of Lancaster on a Hornby Scholarship in 2002. Since 2003, I have been working in the British higher education which, for me, is a leap from an ‘Expanding circle’ to the ‘Inner circle’ to use Kachru’s (Kachru, 1998) classification of world Englishes. Currently, I work as Senior Lecturer in School of Languages and Applied Linguistics, The Open University, UK. Here, I lead on designing technology-mediated courses for distance learners. These courses mainly include academic literacy, English for Academic Purposes (EAP), and English for Specific Purposes (ESP). So my working context is very different from traditional higher education settings. There is an open entry policy for undergraduate degrees and increasingly we teach our courses online only. All our students are part-time and most of them are in employment.

As an EAP and ESP leader, I have also served as a Joint Coordinator of the IATEFL ESP SIG (2013 – 2016). It was in recognition of my work in the field and was honored to be the first(?) South Asian to take this role.

2.You have led or co-led a number of research projects. You have worked as an editor for reputed peer-reviewed journals, published your research works, and presented at conferences. Could you highlight your main areas of interest for research, publishing, and presentation at conferences? In what ways do you think your academic publishing and your presentations at conferences contribute to the literature of NNEST issues, World Englishes, and EIL?

Dr. Shrestha: My research sits broadly within educational and applied linguistics, underpinned by Vygotskian sociocultural theory and Systemic Functional Linguistics. In particular, my work has contributed to the field of academic literacy(ies), language across the curriculum, assessment and educational technology mediated language teacher education in developing countries. In academic literacy and language across the curriculum, my key contributions have been understanding how dynamic assessment (a form of learning-oriented assessment) can support distance learners’ academic literacy development (see Shrestha, 2017; Shrestha & Coffin, 2012), how academic literacy contributes to learners’ progression in a discipline (e.g., science and early childhood studies) and how academic literacy embedded assessment can be designed to support distance learners effectively. These aspects are ongoing issues in higher education. Another key focus of my research has been investigating the impact of commercial language tests such as IELTS and TOEFL on different stakeholders in low economy countries (Bangladesh and Nepal). This work contributes to designing English language tests that are context-sensitive. Finally, my research in technology mediated language teacher education in developing countries has been within large donor-funded international development projects (e.g., English in Action in Bangladesh and Teacher Education through School-based Support India (TESS-India) in India). My key contribution is in the area of English language teacher professional development through mobile technologies in low-resourced contexts by developing research-led locally sensitive teacher professional development resources in Bangladesh.

In terms of contributing to the literature of NNEST issues, my research in language testing and assessment, and language teacher education in developing countries are of importance. In language testing and assessment, I am currently investigating the impact of two well-known commercial English language tests, IELTS and TOEFL iBT, on different stakeholders in NNES contexts (Bangladesh, Nepal and Sweden) from a critical perspective. This work has begun to provide insights into how context-sensitive these tests are and what their consequences are for NNES. This advances the debate on the validity of these tests in non-English speaking countries. And through my doctoral supervision, I continue to encourage my NNES students to investigate pertinent issues in their contexts. For example, one of my students has been examining the role of English as a language for business communication among businesses in Greece and its social and economic effects in the society.

My research within language teacher education in developing countries, especially two large-scale projects mentioned above, has addressed issues that NNES teachers face every day. In particular, I have argued that any large donor-funded language teacher education project should be sensitive to local cultural and linguistic diversity of the host country (e.g., see Shrestha, 2012, 2013).

I have been editing peer-reviewed journals for about 10 years. In this work, I have often mentored NNES authors which enabled them to publish in the journal successfully. I find this really rewarding.

3. Could you share with us your memories of some of the challenges you encountered as a consequence of your international identity, more specifically of having an NNES identity as an international graduate student as well as an ESL/EFL professional while pursuing your MA TESOL and doctoral studies in the UK?

Dr. Shrestha: My journey, both as a student and professional, has been full of challenges. Specifically thinking about my study experiences in the UK, it was a huge cultural shift for me to be conversant in UK academic cultures. For example, how I used to write assignments did not meet my needs for the MA TESOL degree at Lancaster. I had to learn certain new conventions which were essential for academic writing in the UK. This continues to be a challenge as I like to maintain my NNES identity and meet the requirements of academic publishing in the West.

As an NNES professional, finding the first job that suited my experience and qualifications was the hardest thing in the UK. However, with perseverance and my ambition to work in a UK university enabled me to find a part-time EAP lecturer post at Goldsmiths University of London (2003) which helped me to have a foothold. Soon after this, I was able to secure a pre-sessional EAP tutor post at the School of Oriental and African Studies (University of London) in 2004. This is where I encountered the first experience of subtle discrimination against myself as an NNEST. I was looked down upon by some EAP tutor colleagues because I was from ‘Nepal’. This experience was extremely upsetting and almost damaging to my career. I turned this experience to fueling my ambition further which paid off as I was able to secure another part-time EAP job at London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (University of London). This experience has taught me to be resilient which I continue to develop. This is something perhaps all NNESTs who moved to English speaking countries might have experienced.

4. You are currently Senior Lecturer in English Language Teaching in the School of Languages and Applied Linguistics at The Open University, UK. What are the courses you teach there? As an NNES professional, what opportunities and challenges have you experienced working at your university so far?

Dr. Shrestha: As I explained earlier, my main bulk of teaching involves leading the design and writing of technology-mediated academic literacy, EAP and ESP courses for open and distance students who are mainly UK home students and study part-time. I also collaborate with subject faculties (academics) to embed academic literacy in undergraduate courses (e.g., Science and Early Childhood Studies). I recently led on a university-wide initiative to develop an academic language and literacy practices framework which is now a part of the university curriculum. I currently chair the production of an ESP course for business and management students.

I supervise doctoral students. Currently I have five doctoral students in different stages of their research trajectory. Their research topics range from English for Vocational Purposes, language test impacts, home literacy to Mobile Assisted Language Learning.

In the recent past, I worked as an English language specialist contributing to the academic directions of the large-scale international projects mentioned earlier. These projects were opportunities for me to pay back to South Asia where I spent all of my formative years in my NNEST career.

Working at the Open University (OU) has come with both challenges and opportunities. In terms of challenges, it was the sheer experience of having to work in a distance education context, which was often painful in the early days, as I was so used to face-to-face teaching till I started my job at the OU. This meant constantly finding innovative ways of teaching and learning and adapting available technological resources and tools to serve student needs in the best possible way. When faced by these challenges, the solution was not often easy but it was a matter of constant research and development and taking risks. I was able to turn these challenges into my opportunities. I have developed my expertise in designing technology-mediated EAP and ESP materials which I couldn’t have done without the OU experience. Likewise, I find the environment conducive to conducting my research as a result of which I have been able to fulfil my research ambitions leading to where I am now. The road ahead is certainly full of challenges due to what is going on in the UK (including Brexit) and globally as the macro environment always affects our working contexts. This has implications for me as an NNEST to grow further.

5. Our May 2016 guest, Prem Phyak argues, “the impacts of ‘native and ‘non-native’ dichotomy are real; this dichotomy still exists through various mechanisms, discourse and governmentalities. It is deeply rooted in our mind, behavior, and practice”. How do you think this assertion of NS-NNS dichotomy that perpetuates bias and discrimination be tackled, and/or resisted?

Dr. Shrestha:I couldn’t agree more with Prem Phyak. In my view, this dichotomy continues to be real and creates barriers to NNESTs both in English dominant countries like the UK and countries where it is used as a lingua franca or a medium of instruction. In countries like the UK, language (education) policies, and teacher recruitment policies are obviously designed to suit the workforce within the country. This means there will always be subtle bias towards NS teachers as my own personal experience shows. However, the most worrying thing is how EFL teachers are recruited in non-English speaking countries. For example, recently in a BALEAP mailing list, there was a heated debate about the use of the term ‘native speakers’ in an EAP job advertisement in Hungary. This shows that policy makers in such countries should be aware of what actually they are looking for so that they don’t inadvertently promote any discrimination against NNESTs despite their rich multilingual experience and EFL expertise which are much needed in this globalized world where translanguaging is increasingly seen as an asset in language education and elsewhere.

In order to minimize the bias towards NNESTs, individuals have their own ways of handling it. More importantly, it is the professional organizations like TESOL and government agencies that need to make employers aware of the potential consequences of this kind of bias.

6. We often come across discriminatory job advertisements on social media, websites of various ELT/TEFL/TESL industry (i.e., universities, colleges, private language and training schools) that tend to perpetuate the ideology of native speakerism. It is evident that discriminatory hiring policies and practices against NNES are still into effect to date despite continuous advocacy efforts from professional association like TESOL International Association, NNEST-IS leaders, NNEST blog team, and TEFL Equity Advocates campaign? How do you think ELT/TESOL educators should address this prevalent issue of bias and discrimination to bring social justice and professional equity?

Dr. Shrestha: As I have just mentioned, professional organizations like TESOL and IATEFL, and government agencies can bring about some positive changes to address the prevalent issue of bias. That can, nevertheless, only help to change recruitment policies at best. It is in fact individuals like ourselves and our NS colleagues who can make a difference. For example, the ‘behind the scene’ work of shortlisting candidates for the EFL job is where the real first step of bias begins. If that can be changed, the bias can be further minimized. Likewise, behaviors of department heads and other NS colleagues towards NNS colleagues may need to change to create an environment which promotes equality and diversity. It is also about changing perceptions of EFL students who often tend to think that they are best taught by NS EFL teachers despite NNSETs being highly experienced and well-qualified. So it is important that we raise awareness of such issues among our students. And it is equally important to use learning materials that are not focused on English speaking countries only but others too that promote linguistic and cultural diversity.

7. Could you tell us briefly about your current writing projects and publications? As a busy ELT/TESOL professional, researcher, and writer, how do you balance your professional and personal lives?

Dr. Shrestha: For the next few years, I plan to focus on writing research articles and publish them in order to meet the demands of next research evaluation exercise in the UK (2021). This puts an extreme pressure on all research active UK university academics and this is even more so for an NNEST like myself. Currently, I am working on a paper that examines micro-genetic academic writing development in formative assessment in relation to tutor feedback for which I employ Systemic Functional Linguistics as an analytical tool. It builds on my previous work on dynamic assessment (a learning oriented assessment approach, see (Shrestha & Coffin, 2012)). I am writing a project report for the IELTS impact study project that examined the IELTS test impact on different test users in Bangladesh and Nepal. And I have three other research projects that will keep me busy for the next few years!

Balancing professional and personal lives (in the way I see them) has always been challenging to me. This is so because, as an NNEST working in an English-speaking country, I strongly feel the need to go ‘an extra mile’ to survive, if not to prosper. This often means a limited time for your personal, social and family life. Despite this, I tend to block some time regularly for family and friends whose support is essential to carry on working in the current environment. And, of course, prioritizing what needs to be done always helps to achieve this balance and keep me going!

References:

Kachru, B. B. (1998). English as an Asian Language. Links & Letters, 5, 89-108.

Shrestha, P. N. (2012). Teacher professional development using mobile technologies in a large-scale project: lessons learned from Bangladesh. International Journal of Computer-Assisted Language Learning and Teaching, 2(4), 34–49.

Shrestha, P. N. (2013). English language classroom practices: Bangladeshi primary school children’s perceptions. RELC Journal, 44(2), 147 – 162.

Shrestha, P. N. (2017). Investigating the learning transfer of genre features and conceptual knowledge from an academic literacy course to business studies: Exploring the potential of dynamic assessment. Journal of English for Academic Purposes, 25, 1-17. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jeap.2016.10.002

Shrestha, P. N., & Coffin, C. (2012). Dynamic assessment, tutor mediation and academic writing development. Assessing Writing, 17(1), 55-70. doi:10.1016/j.asw.2011.11.003

Thank you, Dr. Prithvi Shrestha for taking the time to share your very interesting and insightful experiences, and critical ideas with our readers within the TESOL community and beyond.

 

Willy A. Renandya

NNEST-of-the-Month Blog Interview, September, 2016

Willy profile photo 2015

Dr. Willy A. Renandya is a language teacher educator with extensive teaching experience in Asia. He currently teaches applied linguistics courses at the National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. He has given numerous plenary presentations at regional and international conferences, and published extensively in the area of second language education. His latest publications include Motivation in the language classroom (2014, TESOL International), Simple, powerful strategies for Student Centered Learning with George Jacobs and Michael Power (2016, Springer International), and English language teaching today: Linking theory and practice with Handoyo P Widodo (2016, Springer International). He maintains an active language teacher professional development forum called Teacher Voices: https://www.facebook.com/groups/teachervoices/. He can be contacted at willy.renandya@nie.edu.sg .

Interviewer: Madhukar K.C.

1.Thank you so much for agreeing to be our guest for the NNEST-of-the-month blog. Could you briefly tell us about your linguistic, academic, and professional background? What inspired you to become an educator, especially a teacher of English?

Dr. Renandya: Thank you very much. It’s an honor for me to be interviewed for the NNEST of the month blog.

I am a language teacher educator currently teaching at the National Institute of Education (NIE), Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Singapore. Prior to teaching at NIE, I worked at SEAMEO Regional Language Centre (RELC), where I had numerous opportunities to work with English teachers and lecturers from many countries in Asia. For the past 20 years, my work has revolved around working with pre-service as well as in-service English teaching professionals in the Asian region, including Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam.

When I was training to become an English teacher, I met a lot of wonderful English teachers. They were dedicated and committed people, and very passionate about teaching and helping their students become successful learners of English. I guess these people played an important role in helping me make a decision to become an English language teacher. I’m glad I have chosen this profession and have never regretted my decision to become a TESOL educator.

2. You have been a teacher educator and a researcher at NIE-NTU, Singapore. How much of your work involves teaching and research at your university? How do you connect teaching with research?

Dr. Renandya: All faculty members in my institution are expected to teach and do research. The latter has become more important in recent years because the NTU has now become a research-intensive university. If you are on the research track, you have to do more research and are expected to publish in top journals. Those on the teaching track are also required to do research and publish their work although their teaching hours are quite high.

As for me, I would say that I’ve been fortunate to be able to juggle nicely between teaching and research. It’s roughly 50% teaching and 50% research. Also, my teaching and research interests are quite closely connected. I teach reading and listening courses and my research is also in this area so it’s been quite straightforward for me to connect the two. My research on extensive reading and listening, for example, has given me a lot of theoretical and practical insights that I share with my students in my teaching.

3. As an NNEST ELT/TESOL teacher educator, could you share with us some success stories and challenges you have experienced? How have you been encouraging your students, particularly NNESTs, over the years in your teaching career at SEAMEO RELC and NIE-NTU?

Dr. Renandya: When I first started working at SEAMEO RELC as a TESOL teacher educator, my learning curve was quite steep. I knew the theory and principles that I had learned from my graduate courses, but teaching these concepts to English teachers and lecturers with different socio-cultural and language backgrounds and diverse ELT contexts was very challenging. I had difficulty pitching my lesson at the right level. It was either too complex or too simple. Fortunately, I could always turn to my more experienced colleagues who were ever so willing to offer advice and teaching tips. I am now quite comfortable working with teachers from the Asian region and have developed sufficient knowledge, skills and expertise of relating to them in meaningful ways.

One piece of advice I often give my L2 student teachers is that they should focus more on the affective aspect of learning. Learning is about kindling that little flame in students’ hearts, not about pouring knowledge into their heads. When students are motivated, they become more engaged in their learning. We know from research that students learn best when they are fully engaged in the learning process. The same thing applies to L2 learning. I often say to them that learning English is not that hard, but it takes quite a bit of effort to acquire the language. When students are motivated, they will willingly and happily put in much effort in their learning.

4. Could you tell our readers about a vibrant virtual community of professionals, “Teacher Voices: Professional Development”? What are its goals and activities? How do you think such a forum helps in the professional development of ELT/TESOL professionals?

Dr. Renandya: “Teacher Voices: Professional Development” membership consists of English teaching professionals from some 40 different countries. They are a very diverse group of people; some teach in schools while others teach in college; some just started their teaching career while others have had years of teaching experience. But, they all feel the need to be connected and to be part of a larger TESOL community where they can exchange teaching ideas, share the joy of teaching English with each other and where they can learn from each other.

They also feel that professional development can take many different forms — via face-to-face informal interactions with colleagues and friends, via formal participation in seminars and workshops and also via a virtual forum like Teacher Voices. As a moderator, I am very happy to see that the group has grown rapidly in the past few years and members are becoming more active and forthcoming in sharing resources (e.g., online language learning resources), academic information (e.g., call for papers in conferences) and even job vacancies.

I am also impressed by the quality of members’ posts and commentaries which I find both sincere and thought-provoking. It is a real joy reading and responding to their posts.

I must mention my co-moderator, Ms Flora D Floris, of Petra Christian University who has helped keep the forum alive by posting useful L2 learning resources and encouraging members to contribute to the discussions.

5. You have extensively published in peer-reviewed international journals, more specifically on “Extensive Reading” and “Motivation in Second Language Education”. How did you get interested in these issues? In what ways do you think your academic publishing has contributed to the literature of NNEST issues, World Englishes, and EIL?

Dr. Renandya: Extensive reading and motivation sort of go nicely together. Students won’t read very much if they are not motivated; they will read more if they are motivated. So the relationship is reciprocal (i.e., motivation is needed for students to get started and once they start reading, their motivation increases). And when students do read extensively, they reap miraculous language learning benefits. Their vocabulary improves, their grammar becomes more sophisticated, and their speaking, listening and writing skills also improve. Their attitude towards learning becomes more positive and they become more motivated to learn English.

Unfortunately, extensive reading and motivation are two areas that are often neglected in the TESOL classroom. While many believe that extensive reading and motivation are important, they don’t really translate their belief into their classroom practices. This is the reason why I become interested in researching extensive reading and motivation. I am happy to note that a growing number of TESOL scholars are joining the extensive reading movement.

I have a keen interest in EIL (English as an International Language) too, not so much on its sociolinguistic aspects but more on its implications for second language pedagogy. Since EIL reflects the reality of the use and users of English nowadays, teachers should be mindful of what it means to be teaching English in today’s world. Together with several colleagues, I put together an edited volume entitled Principles and Practices for Teaching English as an International Language (Routledge, 2012). Readers will find this a wonderful resource for applying EIL ideas in our teaching.

6. The dominance of NES is evident in most of the international ELT/TESOL conferences/workshops as the plenary/keynote speakers. But you have been a frequent speaker (featured/plenary/keynote) at various international language conferences/workshops, especially in Asia. What areas do you mainly focus on in your presentations? How do you see your ‘self’ in the context where NES dominance is still prevalent?

Dr. Renandya: Yes, you are right that conference organizers often invite speakers from native-English speaking countries but things are changing, although not as fast as we hope for. Some conference organizers in Asia have now made it a point to include speakers from the region. For example, the line-up of invited presenters for the 2017 RELC International Conference is quite balanced with speakers from Hong Kong (Icy Lee), Singapore (Willy Renandya) Vietnam (Le Van Canh), and the rest from the traditional inner circle countries such as Brian Tomlinson and Alan Maley. I must hasten to add that Brian and Alan have had years of experience teaching in inner, outer and expanding circle countries. So I would group them as speakers that represent the international TESOL community, not as scholars from an inner circle country (both are originally from the UK but have spent more time working in many other countries in the world).

When I give invited presentations in the region, I make it a point to encourage people to be more critical and discerning about new ideas developed in contexts different from the ones they are working in. Some are applicable with some minor tweaks, but others may require major tweaks before seemingly innovative ideas can be productively applied in their teaching contexts.

After years of working closely with ELT teachers from the Asian region, I have now developed a deeper understanding about their beliefs and preferred pedagogical practices. This knowledge has helped me interpret contemporary L2 research findings from different sources in ways that make sense to these teachers. This is perhaps one of the reasons I have received frequent invitations to speak at pedagogical conferences in this part of the world.

7. NNEST scholars argue that Standard English and monolingual ideologies still dominate broader SLA/TESOL research and scholarship. Furthermore, our May 2016 guest, PremPhyak echoes this sentiment, arguing, “Racial ideologies, attitudes, and stereotypes embedded in ‘non-native’ and ‘native’ speaker distinction is so pervasive in TESOL/TEFL/ELT, and Applied Linguistics.” How do you think ELT/TEFL/TESOL educators should address this prevalent issue of bias and discrimination?

Dr. Renandya: Many are already aware of this issue and are actively promoting the idea that Standard English is but one of the many legitimate varieties of English that are in use in the world today. In Singapore for example, Standard Singapore English is being actively promoted by the government and by people teaching in schools and universities.

In my own course, my reading list comprises published articles by established SLA scholars and also by those from inner and expanding circle countries. This is to show my students that they can learn from both groups of writers. What works in ESL contexts for example may not necessarily work equally well in EFL contexts. The communicative language teaching approach which was developed in ESL contexts may work well in that context, but may not be the most effective in places where the main purpose of learning English is just to pass school examinations.

8. Singapore is often referred to as “an Asian multicultural and multilingual melting pot.” In post-independence period, how does the current language policy and planning address the socio-linguistics/multilingual dynamics of Singapore?  How do you interpret the preference given to Standard English ideology as opposed to Singlish in education? 

Dr. Renandya: As I mentioned above, Standard Singapore English continues to be actively promoted. The Ministry of Education in particular plays a big role in promoting the use of Standard Singapore English in schools and in the broader community. But how about Singapore Colloquial English (popularly known as Singlish)? The Ministry used to take a very rigid stand, not allowing teachers to use Singlish in teaching. But they have now loosened up a bit and take on a more pragmatic stand. They believe that while teachers should use the standard variety most of the time, judicious use of Singlish can be pedagogically beneficial. Teachers can use it to connect and build rapport with the students, and to help increase their awareness of the differences between the standard and colloquial varieties.

9. Ethically speaking, all employers must treat all candidates impartially. However, TEFL/TESL industry (i.e., universities, colleges, private language and training schools) in Asian countries tend to perpetuate the ideology of native speakerism. In other words, they still follow discriminatory hiring policies and practices. How do you think ELT/TESOL educators should address this issue? Is it necessary for TESOL teachers/educators to discuss social justice and professional equity issues?

Dr. Renandya: Yes, and many people in my circle of friends are already talking about it, which I think is good. We should assess people in our profession using the same standard criteria of excellence which matters in our profession, namely people should get hired because they are capable, not because of their skin color or country of origin. I have worked with excellent colleagues from many countries in the world, from both native and non-native English speaking countries. I have hired people with different backgrounds, but their country of origin has never been an issue to me.

10. As an NNES scholar, could you share with us your experience about the most challenging parts of writing/publishing, especially in peer-reviewed international journals? Have you experienced any sort of discriminatory practices in academic publishing?

Dr. Renandya: It was quite challenging when I first started. The publication process seemed like a mystery to me; I didn’t know which journals I should send my paper to, what the review process was like, what I should do when the paper got rejected etc. Fortunately I was surrounded by very helpful colleagues who were ever so willing to help. They gave me guidance, constructive comments and other useful suggestions.

Discriminatory practices? No, I don’t think so. My experience working with editors and reviewers has been largely positive. They could be rather critical when reviewing manuscripts written by NNEST scholars, but they are equally critical when reviewing papers by NEST researchers.

11. Could you provide ELT/TESL/TESOL graduate students, EFL teachers, or aspiring writers, who would like to be promising writers in their careers, with some advice to help them become better writers, especially for academic publications? 

Dr. Renandya: My advice: writing is tough but doable. The key thing is that we need to set aside time regularly, say an hour a day or every other day. We can spend this time reading, thinking about what we have read or jotting down notes from our reading, writing our first paragraph or revising it, etc. Once we’ve got into the rhythm of this daily routine, things will get easier and easier. And before you know it, our first paper is already completed.

12. Please tell us briefly about your current writing projects and publications. As a busy ELT/TESOL professional, a researcher, and a writer, how do you balance your professional and personal lives?

Dr. Renandya: I have just completed two books by Springer. Both are practical publications that address important concerns and issues that classroom teachers are most concerned with. They will find the book useful and enjoyable.

Jacobs, G. M., Renandya, W. A., & Power, M. (2016). Simple, powerful strategies for Student Centered Learning. New York, NY: Springer.

Renandya, W.A., & Widodo, H.P. (2016). (Eds.). English Language Teaching Today: Linking theory and practice. New York: Springer.

I have several book chapters which are still under review and am hoping that they will see the light of day later this year or early next year.

Writing takes quite a bit of time but I get a lot of satisfaction from doing it. So it’s not really a burden but something that I enjoy doing. Plus I am not the sort of person who draws a clear boundary between work and personal life. I find writing an important part of my personal life. It keeps me mentally occupied and it gives me reasons to read new books and re-read old ones. And more importantly, it is a source of happiness to me.

Thank you, Dr. Renandya for taking the time to share your very interesting and insightful experiences, and critical ideas with our readers within the TESOL community and beyond.

 

Prem Phyak

May, 2016 guest

Prem.Photo

Prem Phyak is a PhD candidate in Second Language Studies at the University of Hawaii, USA. He is a Lecturer at the Department of English Education, University Campus, Tribhuvan University, Nepal. His research interest includes teaching English in multilingual context, language policy and planning, language ideologies, and social justice in language education. He has published in various journals including Language Policy, Current Issues in Planning and International Journal of Multicultural Education. He has also authored book chapters on language ideological issues in English language policy in Nepal.

May Interviewer: Madhukar K.C.

Continue reading

Handoyo Puji Widodo

Handoyo

Handoyo Puji Widodo has published extensively in refereed journals and presented his works at international conferences in the areas of language teaching methodology and language materials development. He also has co-edited several volumes in these areas (e.g., Recent Issues in English Language Education: Challenges and Directions, ICT and ELT Research and Practices in South East Asia, Innovation and Creativity in ELT Methodology, Moving TESOL beyond the Comfort Zone: Exploring Criticality in TESOL, The Lincom Guide to Materials Design in ELT). He is currently preparing co-edited volumes for Routledge, Sense Publishers, and Springer. He is also a reviewer for peer-reviewed international journals (e.g., Asian ESP Journal, English Australia, Foreign Language Annals, TESL-EJ). Dr. Widodo’s areas of specialization include language curriculum and materials development as well as language teaching methodology. He can be contacted at handoyopw@yahoo.com

Continue reading