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Ester de Jong

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Ester J. de Jong is Professor in ESOL/Bilingual Education, and the Director of the School of Teaching and Learning. She teaches courses in ESOL/bilingual education and in curriculum, methods, and assessment for English speakers of other languages.  Prior to academia, she worked for the K-12 public schools in Massachusetts as the Assistant Director for Bilingual Education and ESL programs. Her research focuses on two-way bilingual education, language-in-education policy, and mainstream teacher preparation for bilingual students.  Her book “Foundations for Multilingualism in Education: From Principles to Practice” (Caslon Publishing, 2011) addresses policies and practices of responding to increasing linguistic diversities in schools. She is currently co-PI for a Center of Excellence in Elementary Teacher Preparation grant.  She was recently elected President-Elect for the TESOL International Association.

Thank you for joining us as a guest on the NNEST of the Month Blog!

  1. Could you start by telling us a little about your academic and professional background? What are your current research areas, and how did they become so?

I completed my master’s degree in Language and Literature Studies at Tilburg University in the Netherlands.  My specialization was in Language and Language Minorities and my thesis focused on teaching vocabulary through picture books.  As part of my studies I became interested in bilingual education as a means to create more equitably schooling opportunities for bilingual learners. So when I had to choose an internship as part of my studies, I wanted to do this somewhere where bilingual programs were in place. At the time, my choices were the UK, Sweden, and the US and I was fortunate that one of my professors had a colleague at the Department of Education in Massachusetts. I did my internship there and learned about two-way immersion programs and realized that this model had an amazing potential for all learners.  Since then, one strand of my research has focused on two-way immersion programs; the other strand has focused on mainstream teacher preparation for English language learners as this is the context where I am working now at the University of Florida.

  1. As an expert in bilingual education and language policy, what intersection do you see (if any) between NNEST issues and those faced by bilingual students?

I believe there are many intersections. One intersection is the power of labels and negotiating the positive and negative associations with different labels and the implications that come when we use labels.  We are bilingual users of multiple languages.  I like that term because it recognizes the bilingualism and multilingualism of the individuals involved. Another shared experience is the constant challenge of not being recognized for who you are and what assets you bring into the classroom. Many bilingual teachers and learners continue to be judged against a standard that reflects a deficit model rather than a model that recognizes linguistic and cultural diversity as a resource. Bilingual learners continue to be measured against a monolingual, native speaker norm just like many teachers who have learned English as an additional language.

  1. A major theme of the Summit on the Future of the TESOL Profession was reimagining the profession as an agent of change. How do you think individual students, teachers, and teacher educators can resist native speakerism?

I think this begins in our daily interactions: being aware of how monolingual perspectives permeate much of what we do and countering these discourses through our own actions.  Building critical language awareness that helps students and teachers identify how, for example, standard language ideologies and stereotypes as well as fragmented notions of bilingualism are enacted in many ways: through our choices of curriculum, pedagogy, and assessment; our research designs and questions; our formal, explicit policies. Examples include: Teacher educators can build better understandings of bilingual development, bilingual language use and the many benefits of bilingualism; teachers can choose children’s literature that reflect multiple experiences in multiple languages and choose to engage students in critical conversations about language, power, and language use. For others, broader engagement with local, state, and national policies may be the way to build this counter discourse.

  1. What abilities and responsibilities do you think TESOL professionals have to support mainstream teachers in working with ELLs?

In the United States, many English language learners find themselves in mainstream classrooms and if the mainstream teacher is lucky, there is an ESL specialist in the school to work with them.  The ELL teacher of today functions in many capacities: the role of coach, professional development provider, co-planner and co-teacher. In other context, co-teaching is also becoming more common. Again, in the United States in particular, the English language teaching specialist is absolutely central to ensuring that ELLs’ needs are met in the context of a mainstream classroom. One of our tasks is to be able to clearly articulate the expertise we bring to the table and work with administrators to support the valuing of this expertise. 

  1. In your article, “Preparing Mainstream Teachers for Multilingual Classrooms”, you advocate for a multilingual orientation in English language education to counterbalance monolingual stances. In your opinion, what are some of the pedagogical practices that the so-called monolingual teachers can engage in to adopt this multilingual orientation? 

Mainstream teachers can do a number of things: include literature from around the world and in different languages; use bilingual books as part of their teaching; allow for students’ use of the native language when working on specific tasks (even though the product may be in English); explore multilingual websites; invite multilingual guest speakers; create spaces (e.g., morning meeting) where everybody learns new key phrases in other languages; promote the value of bilingualism and make a visible effort to learn the language and about the language.

  1. As President-Elect of TESOL International, what opportunities do you see for TESOL as a professional organization to increase equity in the field?

A commitment to diversity and equity is an important value and TESOL works very hard to educate the public, other organizations about English language learning and teaching and the implications for schools, the workplace, and other settings. We have published a number of briefs (http://www.tesol.org/read-and-publish/newsletters-other-publications/tesol-professional-papers-and-briefs) and position statements  (http://www.tesol.org/advance-the-field/position-statements) that are resources for our members to use to advocate for equity in resources, in ensuring quality practices, and anti-discriminatory policies.

  1. To build on the previous question – in the NNEST Electronic Village Online session, one question was how we as scholars and advocates can affect change in the private sector. What thoughts do you have on this question?

The private sector often operates on other principles than the public sector and are under a different set of obligations and responsibilities. This can make it difficult to have a direct impact. I think we continue to educate and position ourselves as the go-to resource.  As TESOL and ELT experts we are in a unique position to provide different stakeholders with the information that they can use to inform decision-making. Here is a challenge for our researchers as well as practitioners: what are the policy issues we need to be able to respond to and what kind of research (data) do we need to be able to contribute to identifying solutions for our English language teachers and students?

  1. Many of our readers are young scholars and professionals interested in becoming leaders in professional organizations. What are a few concrete steps they would take to reach this goal?

TESOL has many pathways for member involvement and engagement. Our new MyTESOL Community is one of several wonderful mechanisms to become part of multiple communities. I would encourage young scholars to connect at TESOL to a smaller group, such as the interest sections (http://www.tesol.org/connect/interest-sections), where there are often many mentoring and leadership opportunities. At the convention, attend their business meeting and meet others who share your passions. TESOL also has a call for volunteers for members on professional councils, proposal reviewers, and the like – become a member of these entities to understand what these groups do and be an active contributor. Partake in one of the leadership certificate programs (http://www.tesol.org/attend-and-learn/certificate-leadership-programs). Personally, I started out locally first – I became a member of our state affiliate, Sunshine State TESOL, and had an opportunity to become part of their Board and built many of my initial leadership skills there (http://www.tesol.org/connect/affiliates-regional-organizations). This gave me the confidence to step up to become a member at large in the Bilingual Education Interest Section and then chair of BEIS.  After BEIS leadership, I became member of the Nominating Committee, followed by three years on the Board of Directors. And now, of course, I have the honor of being the President-Elect for TESOL. There’s many ways to become involved and become a leader in TESOL!

Lakshmi Kala Prakash

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The goal of the NNEST of the Month Blog is to showcase the many faces of educators from different countries who promote professional equity in the teaching community.

This month, our guest is Lakshmi Kala Prakash. Lakshmi is completing a Ph.D. in English for Professional Development at Mae Fah Luang University in Chiang Rai, Thailand.

We met Lakshmi on the NNEST Facebook page, when she told us that she spoke out against the discriminatory job advertisements posted by a company called VIPKID, which advertises “The North American Elementary School experience to Chinese children” and only hires “Native English Speakers from North America.”

Edit (3/2/2017): Rosa Aronson, Executive Director of TESOL International, has informed us that VIPKID now advertises “an international learning experience” and “passionate, qualified teachers.” We have edited some parts of this post, originally published on 2/22/2017, to reflect their change in practices, while still commending Lakshmi on her efforts in NNEST advocacy.

Thank you for joining us as a guest on the NNEST of the Month Blog!

1)      Could you start by telling us a little about your academic and professional background?

As a lifelong learner, my journey in academics began in India, the country of my birth, where I received a Bachelor of Science. Interested in the field of Medicine, I pursued an Associates in Respiratory Therapy at Wichita State University in the US. Several years later and following a change in career to teaching English to Foreign Language students in Iran, I decided to procure my Masters in TESOL. This desire brought me to Thailand in 2012, where I received an MA in TESOL in 2013 from Payap University, Chiang Mai, Thailand. The passion for knowledge and eagerness to share with my colleagues, students, and the public at large guided me into enrolling for a Ph.D. in English for Professional Development at Mae Fah Luang University in Chiang Rai, Thailand. I have recently submitted my dissertation manuscript to my Faculty of Advisors for their comments. On the professional side, my career has taken me through several disciplines from applying my skills as a Registered Respiratory Therapist, successfully running and establishing a business in clothing and jewelry, to the present and the most rewarding, teaching English. My present career began in 2002 in Tehran, Iran.

2)      You mentioned previously that you got involved in an online discussion with one of VIPKID’s teachers, who seemed to support their discrimination against NNESTs. Speaking out can be intimidating. Could you tell us a bit more about the situation, what you found problematic, and what you did about it?

Finding ways to engage with those who unwittingly appear to support discrimination can be a challenge to anyone. As an educator, I am a strong proponent against discriminatory practices in general and against NNESTs in particular. However, when such instances are blatantly advertised and made to appear as acceptable by everyone, perhaps, the responsibility to speak up against such practices falls on the shoulders of those who hold the minds of the future in our hands. Recently, a posting for an online teaching position on the Facebook page called Chiang Rai Everything, catering to classifieds on any issue, sparked my decision to get more involved and confront the wordings in the posting.

The person who had shared the VIPKID advertisement might have, from his point of view, felt that he was doing a good thing for other Americans currently living in Chiang Rai, Thailand. However, when interacting with him it became clear to me that he was not ready to accept the fact that the wordings in the advertisement were generally discriminatory. The exchange with him was a heated one and I tried to instill some sort of awareness regarding the effects of his involvement with such discriminating organizations. Although I tried to keep the discussion on point, the man involved and in support of him a few other American men, decided to take it personally. My initial steps to try and raise awareness on this issue was apparently turning nasty. I decided that I had to step out of it as it was clear that the person had made up his mind that he was not doing anything that was hurtful or wrong. Yet, I am hopeful that my words would have made an impression on his future actions and thoughts on the topic.

Since the intervention of NNEST and TESOL, the VIPKID posting has been expertly reworded to protect their interests. However, here is a link to an online interaction between a teacher from the online platform VIPKID and English teachers looking for online opportunities from several parts of the World before the changes were made by VIPKID, which support the original advertisement that quirked my interest to face up to the challenge, https://teacheslonlineanywhere.com/join-vipkid/.

3)      How do you think advertisements like this affect TESOL as a scholarly and professional field?

When I was teaching a group of English Major students at a University in Chiang Mai, Thailand, I asked them about their future career goals. I was shocked to learn that none of them selected Teaching English. When I probed the reasons for this, they replied, “Teacher have you seen the job advertisements on websites like Ajarn.com, TeachEnglish.com and even the websites of Thai schools or Universities?” They continued, “We have no chance in getting a job in teaching, or earning well teaching English in Thailand.” Furthermore, discussion with people who have no awareness of the negative effects of their actions leads me to believe that discriminatory advertisements, media jokes on the pronunciation skills of Non-native teachers, and little attempt at bridging the widening gap do have a profound effect on the community and their hiring practices in the field of TESOL.

4)      TESOL International entered into a strategic partnership with VIPKID in November 2016. Rosa Aronson, the Executive Director of TESOL International told several leaders in the NNEST community that she’d had extensive conversations with VIPKID prior to entering a partnership, asserting that discrimination against NNESTs was a violation of TESOL International’s core values and dedication to increasing professionalism and equity in the field. She was under the impression that they had changed their ways and was appalled to learn that they had not done so. Now, nearly three months after the original announcement, VIPKID seems to have removed some discriminatory language from their website, but still advertises the North American elementary experience to Chinese children. What action, if any, do you think TESOL should take at this time? Where do we as NNEST advocates go from here?

This is a challenge for any organization and a community of practice in general. Initiating this dialogue with TESOL as the NNEST Interest Section has done was merely the very first step. Following these discussions and bringing to light the advertising practices (not only those by VIPKID), which also reflect, up to a point, the mindset of the people behind it, during seminars, conferences, or TESOL meetings can be further steps that all members of the TESOL community can partake in.

Edit (3/2/2017): Rosa Aronson, Executive Director of TESOL International, has informed us that VIPKID now advertises “an international learning experience” and “passionate, qualified teachers.” The discriminatory language has been removed since the original posting of this blog. 

5) Sometimes students are wary of teachers they perceive as nonnative speakers and question their professional expertise. How can we as TESOL professionals shed light on and change these ideologies?

I believe education is the key to bringing about equal practices or changing present ideologies between the native and nonnative speakers in the mindset of all stakeholders in general. However, organizations such as TESOL, or NNEST, should formally approach the Ministries of Education of countries, where such practices are rampant and request to implement further regulations in the hiring and advertising practices of qualified English language teachers regardless of their nativeness.

6) What other advice would you give to other TESOL professionals and activists in increasing equity in TESOL as a professional and scholarly field?

Professional Development that aligns with increasing informed and positive dialogues on this topic among all stakeholders could help minimize a persisting gap between Native and Nonnative teacher perceptions of each other’s role in the overall production of a truly successful user of English.

Edit (3/3/2017) Since VIPKID has since changed the language on their website, we followed up with Lakshmi to ask one last question. 

7) Since the original publication of this post, VIPKID has revised their website and recruitment materials to advertise “an international learning experience” and “passionate, qualified teachers.” As someone who was on the front lines, what are your thoughts on these changes? What will their impact be, and how can we continue to increase equity in the field?” 

Let me first begin with how we can continue to increase equity in the field by sharing with all of you the opinions and suggestions of a colleague. Mrs. Jena Lynch, a native English speaker. After reading my responses on the NNEST blog of the month, she had this to add to the discussion:

“I can study English grammar and use a corpus to back up my intuitions, but I’ll never have the credibility of someone who learned English as an additional language. What I think hiring managers and ministries need to be looking at is: (1) A desire to coach students in the learning process; (2) Teaching methodology and approach in the classroom; (3) Proficiency.

Having the knowledge and skill in English to teach students to be intelligible is obviously important, but there’s no need to be a native speaker (a.k.a. non-learner) to do that. What I’m getting at is I guess the conversation between NNEST and NEST needs to include a more balanced picture. Teachers should be asking each other: (1) How do you teach ______?; (2) Why do you teach it that way?; (3) Have you ever thought of _______?; (4) I understand _____ this way. How do you see it?”

In other words the focus of all those involved in ELT, including of course the administrative stakeholders, need to shift from practices that exclude abilities based on inconsequential features, which marginalize, otherwise, capable practitioners and realign our practices to drawing on the positive traits in each one of us that could ultimately sustain successful English language teaching and learning.

As to my thoughts on the changes made by VIPKID, of course I am quite satisfied with their physical display of words. Everyone deserves a chance to rectify an oversight. Only with time and continued efforts can this negative wave of discrimination be overturned. I would like to leave you all with the famous words by Martin Luther King Jr. as retrieved from searchquotes.com:

“If you lose hope, somehow you lose the vitality that keeps life moving, you lose that courage to be, that quality that helps you go on in spite of it all. And so today, I still have a dream.” 

 

Andy Gao

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Dr. Andy Gao is an associate professor in the Division of English Language Education at the University of Hong Kong. His research includes Teacher Development, Higher Education, Sociolinguistics and Learner Autonomy. He was recently awarded the Outstanding Young Research Award from the University of Hong Kong. 

Interview by: Ju Seong Lee (John) and Cristina Sánchez-Martín  Continue reading

Willy A. Renandya

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

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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.

 

DitaPhillips

 

DPhillips

Dita Phillips

  1. Thank you for joining me in this conversation. To start, could you tell us about your linguistic and professional background?

Dita Phillips: Thank you for inviting me, Ana. I first started learning English when I was 6 years old. I have been an English teacher for 15 years and a teacher trainer for 7. My mother tongue is Czech.

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Dr. Nathanael Rudolph

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NNEST OF THE MONTH: DR. NATHANAEL RUDOLPH

Nathanael Rudolph is an Assistant Professor in the Department of English at Mukogawa Women’s University in Nishinomiya, Japan. His research interests include postmodern and poststructural approaches to language, culture and identity, equity in the field of English language teaching, and the contextualization and teaching of English as an international language. He is the current co-editor of the TESOL NNEST Interest Section Newsletter.

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