Stories of Dreamers: Linguistic Privilege and Marginalisation

28 September 2017

This month we published Narratives of East Asian Women Teachers of English by Gloria Park. In this post the author explains how her book has provided a platform for six East Asian women to share their experiences of living in the midst of linguistic privilege and marginalisation.

Writing Narratives of East Asian Women Teachers of English: Where Privilege Meets Marginalization has been an amazing journey. Amazing in a sense that I was able to revisit the stories of the five fabulous women who have opened their lives to me, but also, being able to reflect on my life – the very stories that have shaped me into who I am today. While this book is about Han Nah, Liu, Xia, Yu Ri, Shu-Ming, and Gloria, the stories that unfold in each chapter can touch the lived experiences of many other women teachers of English around the world.

The stories in this book are symbolic of how issues of privilege and marginalization continue to (re)surface in our lives – how issues of race, gender, and class intersect with the English language and traverse the territories of the US and our mother lands. In our times of political turmoil where difference is negated, placed on chopping blocks, and silenced, our stories and other stories of transnational and mobile individuals become critical. Critical because these are shared stories of experiences of the Dreamers – those of us who seek out opportunities, both directly and indirectly, to live and interact humanely in this world. The stories of the six women depicted in this book may be privileged narratives, but I can’t negate the ways in which even the most privileged are somehow marginalized – the stories of privilege intersecting the linguistic and racialized discourses that continue to haunt these women and others in similar minority positions in the United States. Yes, indeed, this book has been my platform to shout out the lives we all know exist for those who are perceived to be (il)legitimate speakers and users of the English language.

Yet, these platforms are not always accessible to everyone. Those who are perceived to be powerless or special victims will never have the opportunity nor a platform to fight their battles for voice, for democracy, for visibility, for a better life, and most of all, for a chance to live out their DREAMS as the DREAMERS. While those who think that they can MAKE AMERICA GREAT have no clue about the legacy of America and those who have stepped up to build America in more ways than one. There is no singular truth in our complex world – there is no supremacy in the United States – it is a land of opportunity that should and MUST continue to champion those who need to live out their DREAMS. Each person’s dream is unique, as depicted by the stories of these six women, in that it changes with time given both local and global contexts. Narratives of East Asian Women Teachers of English is one step toward finding our voice, our agency, our democracy, our opportunity, and most of all, our DREAM to live and interact safely in this world now and in the years to come.

For more information about this book please see our website. If you found this interesting, you might also like Desiring TESOL and International Education by Raqib Chowdhury and Phan Le Ha.


The Three As: Defining Engagement in Higher Education

21 June 2017

This month we published International Student Engagement in Higher Education by Margaret Kettle. In this post, the author introduces her “three As” model for defining the concept of engagement and explains what inspired her to write the book.

Engagement is everywhere. When I go to meetings and presentations, and read policy documents, the word is pervasive. We have student engagement, community engagement, the importance of engaging with industry partners, and so on.  It is clear to me that the word has become a catch-all and that the concept is in danger of being washed out, and then possibly thrown out. My book International Student Engagement in Higher Education is an attempt to identify the components of what is a complex and elusive concept. To this end, I foreground international students’ experiences and utilise social practice to explain the multiple, interrelated dimensions of engagement. My model comprises three ‘A’s: antecedents to engagement, actions of engaging, and achievements and accomplishments flowing from engagement.

Antecedents to engagement include dominant forms of academic English as well as facilitative teaching and assessment practices. Actions refer to students’ strategic acts in the moment of engaging. Finally, accomplishments draw attention to the benefits students derive from engagement such as academic achievement and personal change. The power of my model is that it disentangles the various dimensions of engagement while retaining their interrelationship.

By understanding the complexity of engagement, I believe that university leaders, managers and academics are better equipped to make decisions about policy and teaching approaches as well as academic support. Clearer conceptualisation of engagement will benefit international students and domestic/home students. Indeed, the model could also be used in other educational settings such as schools.

My interest in international student engagement began with my own experiences as an international student in Germany. It continued with work at an Australian university and being privy to international students’ strategic campaigns to assert themselves in their postgraduate courses. The opportunity to research engagement arose through my study with a university academic who had a reputation among colleagues and students for being an excellent teacher. The research involved a case study of the academic’s course over a semester – a rich and transformative experience for all, including myself as researcher.

At a time when the focus on engagement is increasing, the best way for institutions to learn about international student engagement is by listening to the students themselves. Teachers are integral to the student experience and have a vital role to play in providing the conditions for engagement. This book explicates these relationships and will hopefully be of benefit to people interested in promoting engagement for all students undertaking higher education.

For more information about this book, please see our website. If you found this interesting, you might also like Desiring TESOL and International Education by Raqib Chowdhury and Phan Le Ha.


Desiring TESOL and International Education

22 April 2014

In February we published Raqib Chowdhury and Phan Le Ha’s latest book Desiring TESOL and International Education. Here, the authors tell us a bit more about the key themes of the book.

Desiring TESOL and International EducationOur multidimensional identities, at least as recipients of international (TESOL) education and now working as academics actively involved in international education at universities in the English-speaking West, have allowed us to engage with the main concerns raised in the book in unique ways. This has also enabled us to offer a balanced analysis and discussion of various aspects of international education and TESOL, without compromising our scholarly stance. We, in the book, do not attempt to portray international education as either good or bad. Rather we examine how vested interest groups, such as universities and governments, construct and understand the term ‘international’ and how such understanding is promoted for largely implicit commercial and hegemonic reasons.

Rather than making generalisations on the actual needs and abilities of international students, our book demythologises the established images of them generated by the sustained homogenisation of these vested interest groups. It looks at how, although individual learning needs and prospects are often dictated by apparently arbitrary choices, which we call ‘desire’, the foundation for such choices lays in ways individuals are often led into by carefully articulated incentives offered through promotional discourses. And although we acknowledge and discuss the power of resistance and appropriation, our work points to the futility of such discourses in trying to establish the so-called ‘needs’ of international students in Australia and across the English-speaking West.

If you would like further information on this title please take a look at our website.


Tommi and Laura’s visit to UCLA and stand at TESOL

4 April 2014

Either side of the AAAL conference (which you can read about in Kim’s post here), Tommi and I managed to squeeze in a trip to Los Angeles to visit colleagues and students at UCLA and from Loyola Marymount University, and of course exhibit at the annual TESOL conference as usual.

UCLA Campus

UCLA Campus

On arrival in LA we met with Patricia C. Gándara, co-editor of our forthcoming book on the economic advantages of bilingualism, who kindly gave us a tour of the beautiful UCLA campus.  The campus has been the shooting location for many films so it was fun to spot buildings which we recognised while Patricia explained what they are actually used for.

After lunch we gave a presentation to students and staff on academic publishing.  We were pleased that the audience came armed with questions and were happy to explain some of the mysteries of book publication to them.  We also met with Teresa L. McCarty, author of our book Language Planning and Policy in Native America, who has recently moved to UCLA from Arizona State University.

Tommi and Laura training for the Bristol 10k

Tommi and Laura training for the Bristol 10k

Tommi and I spent the rest of our time in California meeting with Magaly Lavadenz and Elvira Armas from CABE who took us to dinner in the beautiful Marina del Rey area of LA and training for the Bristol 10k, which we are running together with our colleague Sarah in May to raise funds for St Peter’s Hospice.  You can read about our challenge here.

TESOL Conference 2014

TESOL Conference 2014

Then it was onwards to Portland for AAAL and TESOL. After the successes of AAAL we recharged our batteries ready for TESOL which this year had the theme “ELT for the Next Generation: Explore, Sustain, Review”. As usual we enjoyed catching up with familiar faces and meeting new delegates.

TESOL delegate with Johnnie Johnson Hafernik, co-author of the book

TESOL delegate with Johnnie Johnson Hafernik, co-author of the book

We had a busy conference with Bonny Norton’s 2nd Edition of her classic text Identity and Language Learning being the runaway best-seller.  Other popular new titles were Desiring TESOL and International Education by Raqib Chowdhury and Phan Le Ha and Julia Menard-Warwick’s new book English Language Teachers on the Discursive Faultlines.  We also had a conference highlight when a customer bought a copy of Integrating Multilingual Students into College Classrooms just as one of the authors, Johnnie Johnson Hafernik, visited our stand and was able to sign the book. Definitely one of my top moments of the trip!

Next year AAAL and TESOL are in Toronto and we are already looking forward to the conferences!

Laura


%d bloggers like this: