How Can Foreign Language Teachers Draw on Learners’ Existing Linguistic Resources to Promote Multilingualism?

This month we published Theoretical and Applied Perspectives on Teaching Foreign Languages in Multilingual Settings edited by Anna Krulatz, Georgios Neokleous and Anne Dahl. In this post the editors explain how the book came about.

We are absolutely thrilled to announce the publication of our edited volume titled, Theoretical and Applied Perspectives on Teaching Foreign Languages in Multilingual Settings. When we first embarked on this journey, it was late summer 2018 and the three of us (Anna, Georgios, and Anne) were sitting at a coffee shop in Lisbon where we were attending the International Conference on Multilingualism, enjoying pastel de nata and our morning coffee and reading through a large pile of chapter proposals that were sent to us from many corners of the world. We didn’t realize then that working on this book would be so rich in rewarding challenges and opportunities for growth, span four continents, and connect scholars and teacher educators working in diverse contexts, to finally reach the printing press after a worldwide pandemic and four years of commitment from so many people who have been involved in this work.

Our interest in editing this volume originated from the arduous challenges and new realities that students and teachers encounter in increasingly linguistically diverse settings around the world. With the intention of meeting the needs of these stakeholders and of providing them with the best possible resources and practical applications, the main objective of this volume is to advance a discussion of how to best connect the acquisition of subsequent foreign languages (FLs) with previous language knowledge to create culturally and linguistically inclusive FL classrooms, and to strengthen the connection between research on multilingualism and FL teaching practice. Contributors were invited to present new approaches to FL instruction in multilingual settings forged in collaboration between FL teachers and researchers of multilingualism.

Originally, we wanted to limit the chapters to contributions from Western contexts, but it soon became clear that the scope would be much wider. We received excellent proposals from scholars working in multilingual settings in places such as Indonesia, Japan, Australia, USA, along with various European countries, and Multilingual Matters and anonymous book proposal reviewers encouraged us to include chapters from parts of the world outside of Europe and North America. We are grateful for their support and advice, and we hope the readers will appreciate the transcontinental scope of the volume.

This book is a result of our (the editors’) and the contributing authors’ commitment to support what we believe to be a universal human right – namely, to be multilingual and freely choose which language(s) to use for communication in any given context, and to draw on whatever available linguistic resources one has to develop a competence in additional languages. As so many other researchers, teachers, and teacher educators working within language education, we recognize that despite an increasing body of research on multilingualism and multilingual learning, FL classroom practices often continue to be monolingual and characterized by strict separation of languages. Such learning environments do not foster language learners’ engagement with their existing linguistic repertoires as a potential resource for FL learning.

An additional challenge is that there seems to be a gap between the advances that have been made through research and FL classrooms where teaching practitioners continue to report a lack of preparedness to work with students who are multilingual. To address this issue, the chapters in this volume aim to promote linguistically responsive language teaching practices in multilingual contexts through forging a dialog between school-based and university-based actors. We hope to advance a discussion of how to best connect the acquisition of subsequent FLs with previous language knowledge to create culturally and linguistically inclusive FL classrooms, and to strengthen the connection between research on multilingualism and FL teaching practice.

We are grateful to all the chapter authors, who have contributed papers reporting on fascinating, novel, and important research that meets this objective. For instance, some of the contributions present proposals for how language education can be reconceptualized if linguistically responsive teaching and learning are applied across disciplines, language barriers, and educational models, while others outline analytical and instructional frameworks for working with multilingual learners. In addition, some of the authors discuss specific classroom examples of cross-linguistic influence, code-switching, and translanguaging to illustrate the role of learners’ linguistic repertoires in FL learning. Our contributors also present new approaches to FL instruction in multilingual settings where the perspectives of FL teachers are in focus, delving deeper into the skills and knowledge that should be addressed in preparing teachers for work in multilingual settings and providing some tentative recommendations for what to incorporate into a teacher training programs in multilingual contexts. We also hope the readers will enjoy the concise, yet extremely insightful and structured Afterword written by our colleague Kristen Lindahl of the University of Texas, San Antonio.

Overall, we believe that the volume contributes to the current debate on how FL teachers can draw on learners’ existing linguistic resources to promote multilingualism and to forge a dialog and bridge the divide between university- and school-based actors. We are truly grateful to the Multilingual Matters staff who supported us along all the stages of this amazing journey. We are absolutely thrilled and humbled that the volume bears their trademark.

For more information about this book please see our website.

If you found this interesting, you might also like Migration, Multilingualism and Education edited by Latisha Mary, Ann-Birte Krüger and Andrea S. Young.

An Asset-based Understanding of International Students in Higher Education

This month we are publishing International Students’ Multilingual Literacy Practices edited by Peter I. De Costa, Wendy Li and Jongbong Lee. In this post the editors introduce the book’s main themes.

In the second language (L2) community, international students are often viewed as “English language learners” whose limited linguistic and cultural repertories need to be remediated by the “experts” (i.e. instructors, supervisors, and native English-speaking students). Our edited volume promotes an asset-based understanding of international students in US higher education and calls for a similar stance to be adopted in comparable educational contexts. Funded by a university grant to promote inclusiveness and enhance academic quality, we invited graduate students in Second Language Studies, TESOL, and the Writing, Rhetoric and American Culture (WRAC) programs as well as instructors in the first-year writing program to jointly investigate how international undergraduate students acquire the English language and develop their academic discourse in first-year writing classrooms.

Data were collected during the 2017-2018 academic year, when the number of international students at the university exceeded 6,500. Over the course of that year, the contributors to this book – most of them international students or scholars themselves – traced the learning pathways of individual international students both within and outside first-year writing classrooms. Our team of researchers documented fascinating stories of how international students with diverse linguistic and cultural backgrounds drew on their cultural and linguistic assets, social and academic networks, and university resources to navigate the turbulent academic waters and (re)construct identities as capable multilingual writers and speakers.

In Part 1 of this book, the chapter authors describe the participants’ multilingual literacy practices in diverse spaces, including the writing classroom and writing center, and show how these practices shaped and, in turn, were shaped by the students’ own identity development.

Part 2 reports how the international students marshaled their communicative resources to make sense of the auxiliary services offered by the university and other sources, such as the university’s writing center and the active Chinese student community network on a social media platform.

Part 3 introduces readers to theoretical and pedagogical orientations worth considering in the teaching and researching of international students. Central to our investigative enterprise is the students’ use of multiple languages and semiotics to construct meaning in their social and academic encounters.

A unique feature of this book is that it showcases the result of a collaborative, interdisciplinary research project while at the same time providing a glimpse into the collaborative process at all stages of the project. Readers are thus afforded the opportunity to see how a data set can be analyzed from multiple theoretical perspectives and through diverse analytical frameworks. Additionally, the book’s readers – in particular graduate students who are interested in collaborative work – will benefit from our behind-the-scenes accounts that highlight matters that deserve greater attention and care when researching collaboratively.

For more information about this book please see our website.

If you found this interesting, you might also like Languaging Myths and Realities by Qianqian Zhang-Wu.

Decoloniality, Language, Race and Southern Epistemologies

This month we are publishing Decolonial Voices, Language and Race edited by Sinfree Makoni, Magda Madany-Saá, Bassey E. Antia and Rafael Lomeu Gomes. In this post the editors explain how the book came together and introduce the new series that it’s part of, Global Forum on Southern Epistemologies.

Decolonial Voices, Language and Race

This book is based on a series of individual interviews with some of the most original thinkers and scholars who have researched the areas of decoloniality, language, race, and Southern Epistemologies. It gives insight into how the seasoned authors have written about these topics and documents their interaction with the editors of the book and the participants of the Global Virtual Forum. Apart from the five conversational chapters, the book contains a Foreword (by Prof. Alastair Pennycook), an Introduction in which the co-editors present personal vignettes and methodological reflections about the production of the volume, and an Epilogue authored by co-editor Prof. Bassey E. Antia. This book is part of the Global Virtual Forum, which is an open and politically engaged virtual space.

Global Virtual Forum: ‘Shifting the Geography of Reason’

The Global Virtual Forum — led by Prof. Sinfree Makoni and co-organised by Prof. Bassey E. Antia, Kim Hansen, Rafael Lomeu Gomes, Magda Madany-Saá, Chanel van der Merwe, Višnja Milojičić, and Phoebe Quaynor — is a convivial space of robust engagement with knowledge-making and knowledges about/on/in/from/with the Global South(s). It fosters collegiality and dialogue, using the technologies essential to productivity during the pandemic that have served our collective benefit. As such, it has engaged a truly global and multicultural audience, united not by discipline but by a search for complementary and alternative perspectives to the prevailing epistemological orthodoxies. Video recordings of sessions of the Forum can be found on the Pennsylvania State University African Studies Program YouTube channel.

Critical Reception of the Forum

The Global Forum has been to me a much-needed breath of fresh intellectual air. No ego performance, just the pleasure of thinking together in the most constructive and collaborative manner. This is how I have always envisioned academic work but never experienced it until now.

Cécile Vigouroux
Simon Fraser University
Editor, Language, Culture and Society

“‘Every generation has its mission to fulfil or betray’, wrote the great Frantz Fanon. The Forum is playing a crucial role in fulfilling the mission of bringing truth to an age marked by tendencies to leap into the arms of pleasing falsehoods instead of embracing displeasing truths.”

Lewis Gordon
Professor and Head of Philosophy at UCONN-Storrs; Honorary President, Global Center for Advanced Studies; Honorary Professor, Unit for the Humanities at Rhodes University (UHURU), South Africa; Visiting Professor, University of Johannesburg, South Africa; and Chairperson of the Awards Committee, Caribbean Philosophical Association

“I appreciate very much the fact that the Penn State Global Forum has made so evident the need to decolonize knowledge construction and has engaged the participants with so many different and complementary perspectives on a wide range of topics. The post-presentations discussions have been so productive!”

Salikoko S. Mufwene
University of Chicago: The Edward Carson Waller Distinguished Service Professor of Linguistics and the College Professor, Committee on Evolutionary Biology; Professor, Committee on the Conceptual & Historical Studies of Science; Professor, Committee on African Studies

Global Forum on Southern Epistemologies: Book Series

Decolonial Voices, Language and Race is the first volume of the newly established Global Forum on Southern Epistemologies book series. This series consists of remarkably accessible volumes of ‘conversational chapters’ involving presentations by established and emerging global thinkers, activists and creative writers who seldom appear in the same collection. In the series, we have been particularly interested in the ‘geopolitics of knowledge’ as it pertains to language studies and many of the volumes will illustrate how scholarship in the Global North is partially indebted to diverse traditions of scholarship in the Global South(s). Ultimately, our concern is not only epistemological; it is also political, educational and social. We experiment with the format of the book, challenging the colonial concept of a single monologic authorial voice by integrating multiple voices, consistent with decoloniality and the politically engaged nature of our scholarship.

Members of the Series’ International Advisory Board: Jane Gordon, Alastair Pennycook, Oyeronke Oyewumi, John Joseph, Sibusiwe Makoni, Jason Litzenberg.

For more information about this book please see our website.

If you found this interesting, you might also like Decolonising Multilingualism by Alison Phipps.

Millennials, Generation Z and the Future of Tourism

This month we are publishing Millennials, Generation Z and the Future of Tourism by Fabio Corbisiero, Salvatore Monaco and Elisabetta Ruspini. In this post the authors explain how studying the attitudes, motivations and behaviours of younger tourists can help to identify future trends in tourism.

The famous quote “Savoir pour prévoir et prévoir pour pouvoir” (To know in order to predict, and thus to act) formulated by Auguste Comte during one of his university lectures, fully describes the future-oriented character of sociology, which, since its origins, has been conceived as a discipline aimed at both the study of society and social change. Sharing the idea that foresight is a useful analytical tool to anticipate the society of the future, the book Millennials, Generation Z and the Future of Tourism focuses on the study of tourism and its possible developments as a social phenomenon in the short to medium-long term.

In the book, the exploration of possible and probable futures uses a particular lens: the generational one. In order to forecast the future of tourism demand and facilitate its meeting with supply, the chapters in the book start from the characteristics and needs of the new generations (Millennials, Generation Z and Generation Alpha). Young people are the main actors of social change: they are perfect trendsetters because they link both past, present and future and outline social trends. Thus, studying attitudes, motivations and behaviours of younger tourists is a useful starting point in understanding new travel processes and practices, unprecedented trends in tourism preferences and consumption, new dynamics and meanings attributed to travel.

Beyond the territorial and cultural specificities, some common values and choices that can help the identification of future tourism trends emerge from the analysis.

First, digital technologies have profoundly influenced the travel behaviour of younger tourists: Millennials and members of Gen Z are using new technologies not only to organize and communicate their travel experiences but also to disengage from a mass use of tourist activities and promote sustainable tourism practices. Second, the tourist gaze of future travellers appears to be increasingly attentive to sustainability, authenticity, respect for territories’ material and intangible resource. A third aspect concerns the openness of the new generations to changing gender identities and sexual orientations: they show stronger support for gender egalitarianism and are much more likely to be allies of LGBTQ+ communities than generations before them. The book also focuses on forms of social exclusion in the tourism sector (gender inequalities and discriminations linked to sexual orientation) and tries to understand how the new generations are facing these challenges.

The book brings a new theoretical paradigm to the study of tourism and its future development, emphasising the contribution of the younger generation to the renewal of tourism and its revival after the pandemic. As extensively discussed, tourism has shown itself to be changeable and resilient, even in the face of crises and downtime periods. The post-Covid recovery of tourism flows is a clear example of how tourism never stops, but always finds new and original ways to meet the social need to travel. The same has happened in the past, for example in response to natural disasters or in the face of the scourge of terrorism. Tourism has always renewed itself over time, experimenting with new and novel ways of moving and travelling, and the younger generations play a crucial role in this process of change.

For more information about this book, please see our website.

If you found this interesting, you might also like Gamification for Tourism edited by Feifei Xu and Dimitrios Buhalis.

Creative Minds At Work

This month we published The Creative Writer’s Mind by Nigel Krauth. In this post the author discusses the ways in which writers do their thinking and uses science to help us understand how they do it.

The news in early April told us that two of Charles Darwin’s notebooks, stolen 22 years ago, had been returned to the Cambridge University Library in an anonymous gift bag. A photograph showed a page from one of the notebooks. On it was a sketch depicting Darwin’s early thinking about the evolutionary Tree of Life – an array of straight lines comprising a central stem with twiggy branches leading off – done in ink.

The diagrammatic Tree of Life captured everyone’s attention in this news item. But for me, the focus of the notebook page lay in two words Darwin wrote above the diagram to introduce it:

‘I think’.

With these words Darwin revealed how his mind worked. He thought in pictorial, conceptual terms. He made images in his thinking, and he transferred them to the page. His great discovery was done with both visualisation and verbalisation as key aspects of the process.

Darwin’s Theory of Evolution is recognised now as a creative masterpiece. And in Darwin’s notebooks we can see ways in which scientists and creative writers come together. They meet at the point where minds operate creatively – where neural pathways are forged in innovative ways, and original ideas take shape.

I used creative writing notebooks to map out plans for my novels. Often my mind produced tree-structured diagrams to assist in understanding where I thought my plot would go, how a character might develop, and how the narrative structure would reflect the ultimate concerns of the fiction.

None of my notebook pages led to anything near as stellar as Darwin’s final product. But I take consolation from knowing that the workings of Darwin’s mind were just like those of ordinary people. His rough sketch shows how mortally marvellous the man was. And in the face of immense cultural opposition, he humbly asserted: ‘I think’.

In my new book The Creative Writer’s Mind, I delve into the ways writers do their thinking, and I use science to help understand how they do it. I engage with cognitive psychology, neuroscience, literary studies and creative writing research, to map what goes on in writers’ heads when they write.

Like any creative writer, I have used my mind extensively in producing the novels, short stories, plays, memoir pieces and poems that make up the body of my work. My mind provides me with the basic equipment for creative writing production: an internal screen on which I preview settings and action; an inner sound stage where I hear character voices; an internal whiteboard where I configure plot and character arcs; and a personal mixing board where I try out routines of word choice, rhythm, figurative language, dramatic effects, and the particular array of sensibilities that typify my work. Additionally, there is an archive workspace called memory where I access re-runs of settings, action, conversations, and the plethora of sensory events I have experienced previously in my life.

I do not claim that exploring my own mind in The Creative Writer’s Mind is something new for a creative writer to do. Many through the ages have produced acclaimed poetry, fiction, drama, and exegetical writing by conscious investigation of their thinking and imagination. But I do claim, in the academic context of the book’s research, that my adventure sets out to do something new in a sustained way: to study not only the products generated in this personal production studio of the mind, but also the studio itself.

For more information about this book please see our website.

If you found this interesting, you might also like Discovering Creative Writing by Graeme Harper.

Language Transfer: History, Translation and Metalinguistic Awareness

This month we are publishing Explorations of Language Transfer by Terence Odlin. In this post the author discusses the book’s main themes.

Readers of Explorations of Language Transfer will notice several recurring themes, themes that have long seemed to me important for the study of transfer. I’d like to offer some remarks on three of those topics here: history, translation, and metalinguistic awareness.


Chapter 2 of the book examines parts of the challenging trail left by nineteenth century thinkers including Wilhelm von Humboldt, Hugo Schuchardt and Aaron Marshall Elliott. Space did not allow a discussion of certain other thinkers from that time who also wrote about bilingualism, such as the Italian historical linguist G.I. Ascoli. If I ever have the chance, I would like to read more about his analysis of how transfer might be manifest in linguistic variation across space and time. Furthermore, I suspect that interesting discussions of transfer go back before the nineteenth century, but if so, the trail may prove a little harder to explore.


Chapter 7 focuses on translation and transfer. The ongoing refinements in machine translation, one of the topics in this chapter, should be taken seriously by teachers and researchers even while professionals will do well in advising their students to distrust uncritical reliance on translation software. Yet machine translation is not the only area of interest. In the same chapter, I also consider the efforts of a Victorian translator named Mary Howitt who, despite her keen interest in Scandinavian literature, did not always succeed in accurately interpreting the work she undertook. Her translation errors often suggest negative transfer in her reading comprehension. Howitt is probably far from alone in the history of less-than-satisfactory translation, but there does not seem to be much detailed research investigating such cases. This domain, then, may well deserve more exploring.

Metalinguistic awareness

Our awareness of language, often called metalinguistic awareness, proves important in learning a new language, and it interacts with transfer in diverse ways. Without such awareness we could not compare anything in one language with anything in another, nor could we ask for definitions, let alone translate individual words or entire sentences. Even so, individuals vary considerably in how they use such awareness and in how they develop it further. Chapter 8 considers, among other things, successful attempts to foster such awareness. For example, raising consciousness about crosslinguistic similarities and differences has proven effective for helping learners recognize words that are real yet not obvious cognates. The attempts discussed did not involve French, but I think back to my own experiences with high school French and imagine how helpful it could have been if we beginners had gotten a little guidance in recognizing consistent formal relations in pairs such as côte/coast, fête/feast, and pâté/paste. Pairs of this sort also make a good case for why language teachers should have some knowledge of historical linguistics including sound changes.

I naturally hope that readers of Explorations of Language Transfer will find the themes outlined here worth reading about in greater detail, and I also hope that the book will inspire readers to engage in their own explorations of the similarities and differences between languages that can intrigue as well as challenge any learner.

For more information about this book please see our website.

If you found this interesting, you might also like Crosslinguistic Influence and Distinctive Patterns of Language Learning edited by Anne Golden, Scott Jarvis and Kari Tenfjord.

A Tribute to Michael Byram’s Work on Intercultural Learning in Language Education

We recently published Intercultural Learning in Language Education and Beyond edited by Troy McConachy, Irina Golubeva and Manuela Wagner. In this post the editors explain the motivation behind the book.

There are scholars in every field who stand out not only because they have contributed to significant advances in thinking but also because they have devoted so much of themselves to the development of educational practices and the advancement of scholarly networks. This book is dedicated to one such scholar – Michael Byram – whose work on Intercultural Communicative Competence (ICC) and Intercultural Citizenship (ICit) has helped educators working within and beyond the field of language education to promote intercultural learning in their classrooms.

This is a book which aims to capture the far-reaching influence of Michael Byram’s work and the various ways it has helped shape the work of individual language educators, professional organisations, and other communities of practice. Simply put, what really motivated this book was a collective sense of wanting to create an opportunity for a range of international scholars to critically engage with Mike’s work based on a sense of gratitude and respect. We felt that this was important given the extent of Mike’s contribution to the field and his generous support for others.

In Part 1 of the book, contributors have looked at the theoretical and pedagogical significance of key concepts that have emanated from Mike’s work or have important connections with it, such as ICC, language awareness, intercultural mediation, ICit, intercultural dialogue and intercultural responsibility. Authors have aimed to consider how understandings of these concepts have evolved over time, given changing contexts and additional knowledge gained in related fields.

Meanwhile, in Part 2, chapters look at perspectives and practices associated with intercultural learning in a variety of contexts, including student mobility, service learning, teacher education and assessment, professional organisations, communities of practice, just to name a few. These chapters capture some of the many ways in which Mike’s work has inspired educators to enact intercultural learning, taking into account the need for locally appropriate pedagogical practices.

One unique feature of this book is that it includes a number of tribute chapters from those who have collaborated with Mike in different capacities. These chapters help further illustrate elements of Mike’s personhood and reveal his selfless support for scholars and colleagues worldwide.

As a whole, we feel that this book not only offers important research insights but also embodies the sense that being able to read, appreciate, and critique scholarship is an important privilege. We invite readers to engage with the research of scholars in the field and the memoirs shared by those who have had the privilege to work closely with Mike on a variety of projects. We hope that this book can serve as a model for a genre that brings together critical engagement and appreciation for the contributions of those who influence research and practice in such important ways.

For more information about this book please see our website.

If you found this interesting, you might also like Teaching and Assessing Intercultural Communicative Competence by Michael Byram.

Equity and Justice in Language Education

We recently published Transforming World Language Teaching and Teacher Education for Equity and Justice edited by Beth Wassell and Cassandra Glynn. In this post the editors explain the inspiration behind the book.

Although the work on this book began in 2019, the story behind it begins in the late 1990s. It starts with two White, middle-class, teachers – one in the Midwest and one in the Northeast – who loved languages, loved learning about different cultures, and had a passion, and enough money, to travel. The two young women, Beth and Cassandra, started teaching world languages in middle and high school. They cared about their students and wanted to be just like the teachers who inspired them. But they made a lot of missteps, mostly due to their lack of awareness of their own privilege, their own identities, and their students’ identities.

Fast forward to the early 2010s, when the two met in Denver while at a conference. At this point, each had continued their academic journey and pursued doctoral degrees in education. Each had begun working in university-based teacher education, hoping to inspire a new generation of language teachers. But graduate school, mixed with some powerful experiences in urban P-12 settings, transformed them.

They couldn’t look at those “foreign language” classrooms without noticing issues of access and equity: the students who were told they shouldn’t take a language, or schools where students had to wait until adolescence to be exposed to new languages and cultures. They became increasingly aware of the racial and socioeconomic divides in US schools – the privileged had greater access to robust programming, qualified teachers, and programs that spanned multiple years. Meanwhile, in communities ripe with multilingualism, opportunities and resources for high quality language learning were limited.

They also noticed that the curriculum hadn’t changed much since their days as students – those old lessons on Oktoberfest and mariachi, on how to shop in a department store or order in a restaurant, were still ubiquitous. Lessons that encouraged students to analyze and critique issues of resilience, equity, or justice, that real people experienced daily, were rare.

There were some scholars writing about or enacting critical and culturally sustaining pedagogies in world language spaces – those who saw potential for transformation. This group was growing, and the two women started connecting with colleagues at conferences who were advocating for rethinking the system. They met other scholars and teachers who were theorizing and beginning to disseminate their work on critical approaches. They learned from and started to collaborate with colleagues who propelled their thinking. Like their colleagues, they recognized that this growing body of literature needed to be nurtured before it would take a more significant hold in language teaching and teacher education.

This led those two women – Beth and Cassandra – to a collaborative effort of a text, one that boldly highlights the ways that scholars in the US, and beyond, are not just thinking about, but doing equity and justice work in language education contexts. The result was an edited book that demonstrates how scholars and educators are pushing boundaries to reconstruct a field that has been mired in colonialism and elitism since its inception. The chapters in this book demonstrate what dismantling curriculum, instruction, and teacher preparation looks like. It provides transformative insights on critical language teacher education, intercultural citizenship, disrupting master narratives, teacher identity, decolonizing heritage language pedagogy, and community-centered approaches to teaching and teacher education, written by foremost scholars in language education.

For more information about this book please see our website.

If you found this interesting, you might also like Peacebuilding in Language Education edited by Rebecca L. Oxford, María Matilde Olivero, Melinda Harrison and Tammy Gregersen.

Meet the Newest Member of our Team – Stanzi!

Stanzi is our newest member of staff and has been working with Sarah as a Production Assistant since November, so we thought it was time our readers got to know her better with a little Q&A!

What were you doing before you joined us?

I was managing the Amazon seller and vendor accounts for a company that sells tools and workwear – very different field!

What made you apply for the job?

I was eager to do a job that actually made use of my degree. And I love books so helping to get them out there really appealed. I’ve always been curious about publishing. Plus it annoys me when I see a typo in a book – and now I get to be the one who left it there!

What were your first impressions?

That the company and the people are absolutely lovely, like a work-family. And that there’s a lot – and I mean a lot – of eating and talking about food.

Do you prefer ebooks or print books? 

I fluctuate. I prefer reading printed books but at a certain point, owning so many books just isn’t practical. I can walk around with hundreds of books on my phone and access them at any second if I have a sudden craving to read, like having a library in your pocket.

What are you reading at the moment?

At the moment, I’m reading The Watchmaker of Filigree Street by Natasha Pulley and a graphic novel called Lore Olympus by Rachel Smythe.

Do you have a favourite book?

Several! I have a bookshelf of favourites. But my all time standouts are probably Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park, Syrup by Maxx Barry, Austen’s Persuasion and The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón.

What do you like to do when you’re not in the office?

I’m a big fan of going on walks. I also enjoy painting and am a bit of a film fanatic. And of course, I can’t forget the pub trips with friends.

We’re really glad that Stanzi has joined us and she already feels like part of the CVP family!

Why Do Adult ESL Learners Drop Out?

This month we published Understanding Success and Failure in Adult ESL by Taewoong Kim. In this post the author explains the inspiration behind the book.

“I need English to protect my kids. My 9 and 11 year-old daughters translated in an emergency room 18 years ago when my husband died due to cancer. It was so sad. I couldn’t speak English, couldn’t protect my kids. I wanted to tell doctors, ‘talk to me, don’t touch my kids,’ but I couldn’t. I always want to learn English, but I dropped, because teacher didn’t care for us, never prepared. We did the same thing for 3 days. It was waste of time.” (Irma, pseudonym)

Like Irma who immigrated from Mexico to the US, 28 million immigrant adults have a strong desire to learn English. Despite their busy lives, usually a life marked by struggle as they navigate living in a new country, they often persist in learning English (Comings, 2007; Darvin & Norton, 2012). However, sometimes adult ESL learners drop out without giving a reason (Comings, 2007).

When adult immigrant ESL learners drop out of their ESL classes, administrators’ comments often include: “they are busy” or “they don’t have transportation,” or even “they are not smart enough to take the class.” When adult ESL learners drop out, they “disappear” without a word. Then, those administrators’ apathetic comments and thoughts linger in the empty spots of the learners. Are those reasons – being busy, having no transportation, or being not academically ready yet – the real reasons that adult ESL learners drop out? In my five years of ESL teaching experiences, I witnessed that many adult ESL learners persist in learning in spite of their busy and hard lives. What indeed made such persistent learners drop out?

This question led me to start this research about why adult ESL learners continue or drop out of their classes. This book, Understanding Success and Failure in Adult ESL, is the result of the qualitative study that explored six immigrants’ unheard voices over their journeys of learning English and living in the US.

Superación, meaning self-improvement or self-actualization in Spanish, was reported as a thematic desire for why adult English learners want to invest in learning English. When their ESL classes did not support their Superación, the adult ELs dropped out. Other themes that support students’ staying in class include: learning something new, caring feelings, and comprehensible instructions. Each individual’s Superación has different characteristics such as being able to support and protect children by using English like Irma, pursuing job promotions, and becoming a better person.

As for dropout factors, this book adapted the Push, Pull, Fall Out framework (Doll et al., 2013). I found that the adult English learners were not passively forced to drop out of their ESL class, rather they actively made their decisions through their rigorous, systematic, and thorough evaluation of the class. When the learners see that the class does not support their Superación, the learners evaluate that the time they spent is wasted, which triggers their final decision to say “me no more come.” Among the three constructs of dropout – Push, Pull, and Fall Out – the data revealed that the students were pushed out by the less-meaningful instructions, unrelated topics, and teacher apathy.

Understanding Success and Failure in Adult ESL sheds light on the importance of the probable interplay between cognitive and affective aspects in learning English. Although both aspects work together, when students drop out, affective aspects seem to play a stronger role. Based on real-life stories, rigorous thematic data analysis, and academic discussions, the readers will not only enjoy reading unheard and authentic voices from the margin, but also gain new insights about how to make instruction more engaging.

For more information about this book please see our website.

If you found this interesting, you might also like English Learners’ Access to Postsecondary Education by Yasuko Kanno.