Next up on the Multilingual Matters conference schedule come the American Association for Applied Linguistics (AAAL) and TESOL conferences and our editorial team will be heading to those gatherings which are due to take place on the west coast in Portland and Seattle later in March. We very much enjoyed our last trip to Portland for AAAL in 2014 and are looking forward to a bustling few days at the conferences. A particular highlight of the AAAL calendar will be the celebration that we’re hosting during the Monday afternoon coffee break at AAAL, to which all delegates are invited.
On return to the UK, Anna will be attending the iMean conference which is hosted right on our doorstep at the University of West of England, in Bristol. Jo Angouri is one of the organisers of the conference and also one of the series editors of our new Language at Work series. We are looking forward to introducing the delegates to the first book in the series, Medical Discourse in Professional, Academic and Popular Settings edited by Pilar Ordóñez-López and Nuria Edo-Marzá, which was published last year.
Recently we published English Teaching and Evangelical Mission by Bill Johnston. In this post, Bill talks us through what inspired him to investigate the place of mission work in English Language Teaching and the message his book aims to communicate.
This book is the culmination of my many years of interest in the intersection of language teaching and teachers’ religious beliefs, particularly those of evangelical Christians who use language teaching as a platform for mission work. In recent years many non-evangelical TESOL professionals, myself included, expressed concern over this practice. Such concerns seemed potentially valid, yet they were not informed by any in-depth empirical research. To cut a long story short, I decided to go “into the field” and take a close look at a language school in Poland that explicitly offered “Bible-based curriculum” in its classes. What I found very much surprised me – a school with a warm and open atmosphere in which evangelicals and Catholics learned English side by side. That’s not to say there were not more questionable aspects of the school’s work. These, though, were by and large subtler, and it took painstaking ethnographic work to tease them out.
I don’t regard this book as the last word on the topic – quite the contrary, I see it very much as an exploratory study that, I hope, will encourage other researchers, especially those who are not evangelicals, to gather extensive data in other settings. My biggest hope is that the book will encourage a respectful and open exchange between evangelicals and non-evangelicals working in TESOL. We live in times in which political, cultural, and religious divisions seem to be becoming more and more sharply delineated, often to the consternation of those who find themselves on one side or the other of a supposed demarcation line. My experience collecting data for this book taught me that there is a lot less dogmatism than one is led to imagine. During the data collection period the evangelical teachers and missionaries I spoke with expressed an often vivid curiosity about my beliefs and motivations, and presented their own with conviction but also with humility. Our positions remained profoundly different; yet connection and even friendship was possible.
If my book has one overall message, it is that listening carefully and respectfully to those whose views are radically different than your own is a much preferable alternative to the strident, doctrinaire shouting down of one’s “opponents” that is increasingly evident in the media – on all sides of the political landscape, I might add. This is certainly true today in Poland, in my adopted country of the United States, and in many places in Europe, the continent I come from. I would wish my book to offer a small, quiet voice arguing for calm and for dialogue.
For more information about this book, please see our website.
For the Multilingual Matters/Channel View team, April has been a busy month and there have been just 2 days when we’ve all been in the office together. Those blog readers who also follow our Facebook page will have seen photos from Sarah and Elinor’s trip to the London Book Fair and a selection from our US conference travels, an annual highlight on our travel calendar.
This year’s arrangements involved a lot of juggling and complicated logistics due to the clash of the annual AAAL and AERA conferences but thankfully both we and all our books and display materials made it to all intended destinations! Mine and Tommi’s first destination was Baltimore, where the TESOL convention was being held.
Meanwhile, I was at AERA in Washington, where Kathy A. Mills conducted a book signing at our stand for the book, which was by far the most popular title there. It was great to see readers meeting the author and having the opportunity to talk about the work with the author in person.
After the conference I enjoyed a morning exploring Washington and found that there is a Longworth House Office there. A rather surprised worker in the building kindly took a photo of me to mark the discovery!
Tommi then returned to Washington, where he and I had some meetings. A highlight was the visit to the CAL offices where we met with Terry Wiley and his colleagues to discuss the new book series we are working on together with CAL. The series is due to launch later this year when we expect to be publishing the first book, written by Sarah Shin. Watch this space for more information… While there we also enjoyed many conversations with members of the CAL community and finding out more about the work they do.
All in all, April was a very hectic month for us all and we’re still very busy catching up and of course publishing more books – 12 more to come over the next two months! Keep your eye on our blog, Facebook page and Twitter account for further details. Next stop for us on the conference trail will be the Sociolinguistics Symposium in Murcia. We hope to see you there!
May is now upon us and as I sit here in the spring sunshine it’s easy to wonder where March and April went. My colleagues will be quick to point out that as well as the months travelling by, I have also been doing some travelling, together with Tommi and Kim.
The first appointment of our trip was with the University of Toronto Press Distribution (UTP), our North American distributor. We have had a long relationship with them and it was lovely to catch up with people we email almost daily but haven’t seen in person for a number of years. Smita and Dolores are our first points of contact at UTP and they oversee the processing of any orders to customers based in Canada and the US, be they purchases, review copies, desk copies or anything else. As well as discussing work, they and Bessie were able share their insider knowledge on Ontario, and recommended a trip to Niagara on our mid-trip afternoon off.
The next highlight of our trip was the annual AAAL conference, which this year took place in Toronto together with its Canadian equivalent ACLA. Kim flew out to join Tommi and me and the three of us manned the stand and went to sessions. The AAAL conference is always a lively and well-attended event and we are always proud to display a full selection of our recent publications to the field. It’s one of the rare occasions where we see all of our publications side-by-side and reflect on all the work that has been put in by our authors. Our SLA series had a bumper year, with 4 books in the series making our top 10 list of sellers and Motivational Dynamics in Language Learning edited by Zoltán Dörnyei, Peter D. MacIntyre and Alastair Henry topped the chart. Of our 2015 titles, Power and Meaning Making in an EAP Classroom by Christian Chun was very popular, as was the 2nd edition of Merrill Swain, Linda Steinman and Penny Kinnear’s work Sociocultural Theory in Second Language Education.
We celebrated the publication of this new 2nd edition one evening together with the authors and some of their colleagues. Merrill Swain chose a superb French restaurant for the occasion and that was one of many evenings during our stay in Toronto when we were impressed with the cuisine that the city had to offer. We seemed to eat our way round the world as we enjoyed not only local Canadian cuisine but also that with influences from Japan, Iran, Italy and in one restaurant, Yorkshire, Kim’s home county in the UK. The chef was a little intimidated when he heard that a true Yorkshire lass was to taste his take on Yorkshire puddings!
As soon as AAAL was over it was nearly time for TESOL, but not before we had waved Kim farewell (she headed back to the UK for the iMean conference) and Tommi and I had managed to squeeze in a quick trip to Niagara Falls. The Falls were every bit as stunning as I had imagined and even noisier! TESOL was its usual busy self and the keynotes given by our authors Michael Byram and Jim Cummins pulled enormous crowds.
The final conference of my trip was the American Educational Research Association (AERA) annual meeting in Chicago. It was the first time that I had attended AERA and it was a surprise to me to be at a conference with delegates with backgrounds other than language. However, even those who were there for sessions in another field of study were sometimes drawn to our books and A Parents’ and Teachers’ Guide to Bilingualism by Colin Baker was often picked up for personal rather than research reasons. The most popular title of the conference was another of our books on bilingualism, the collection The Bilingual Advantage edited by Rebecca M. Callahan and Patricia C. Gándara.
This week we published Kate Mastruserio Reynolds’ book Approaches to Inclusive English Classrooms which attempts to bridge the gap between theory and practice to prepare teachers for the needs of English language learners (ELL). In this post, she gives us some background to the book.
“Greetings all, I am the ESL Department chair at NAME High School in CITY, TX, which is located in the largest refugee neighborhood in the city. Our current enrollment is 61% ELL, but we expect to be more than 70% ELL next year, so we are looking to expand our team. We have a diverse mix of students from all over South Asia, Africa, and Latin America, many with limited or interrupted schooling. We are looking specifically for TESOL or CELTA certified teachers with experience teaching teens or adults, and ideally with experience teaching English for Academic Purposes or for Specific Purposes, as most of our ESL classes are content support classes (English for Science, English for Math, etc.).”
This job announcement posted today on a jobs list might sound like gibberish for many pre-service educators or teachers just entering the job market. The knowledge of English as a second language (ESL) that inform this advert start with the acronyms, ESL, ELL, TESOL, CELTA and advance to ‘English for Academic Purposes and for Specific Purposes’ and ‘ESL classes are content support classes (English for Science, English for Math, etc.)’ Although this position is for an ESL specialist, increasingly content area educators (i.e. teachers of Math, Sciences, Social Studies/History, Literature and Language Arts) are called upon to work with learners whose first language is not English.
By 2050, US national statistics indicate that English language learners (ELLs) will be the majority of learners in the US K-12 public schools. Not only are many educators not adequately prepared for this change in the demographics of our school system, neither is our teacher preparation system. Pre-service teachers, those in the process of gaining teacher licensures at universities, rarely are provided any information or training on the ELLs they will encounter in their professional work. Many in-service teachers are confronted by this lack of preparation and need to gain more professional preparation in the field of ESL in order to sufficiently meet the unique linguistic needs of the second language learners.
It is not an easy fix. There is a lot to ‘sufficiently meet the unique linguistic needs’ of second language learners. Teachers cannot simply make one change to their instruction, like using cooperative learning, in order to scaffold instruction for ELLs. First, teachers need to be aware of how they communicate with students. They need to become culturally knowledgeable about the learners’ cultures and strive to make their own speech comprehensible to the language learners. Second, they need to be able to teach the skills of language—speaking, listening, reading and writing—as well as grammar and vocabulary. I’m not talking about the traditional grammar translation method here either. Teachers need to be savvy in their use of time to situate grammar into the content material they are teaching. For example, they need to teach how to write using regular past tense (–ed form) when describing the accomplishments of ancient China in Social Studies class.
Several models and methodologies to approaching the instruction of ELLs have emerged in the field of ESL/EFL, called content-based instruction (CBI). All these models (CALLA, SIOP, RtI, etc.) focus on various ways to engage ELLs and teach them content and language simultaneously. No one method is a cure all. All of them have their advantages and drawbacks. Some of them were developed for specific contexts and populations, such as the ExC-ELL model that emphasizes academic literacy for a non-native speaking population who have strong oral proficiency skills in English. Knowing which methods to employ and when with which population is one way that I would like to empower K-12 educators.
We were pleased to be able to support Professor Bob Kaplan in attending the Applied Linguistics Interest Section (ALIS) at TESOL this year in Portland. Here, Eli Hinkel, Chair of ALIS 2013-2014, tells us a bit about the background to ALIS.
ALIS turned 40 this year, and it is the oldest interest section (IS) in TESOL. This was a major benchmark that was celebrated during the TESOL Convention in Portland, Oregon, USA. In its current form and as an Interest Section of TESOL, ALIS dates back to 1974, and its original early members included Robert B. Kaplan and Bernard Spolsky. At the time, ALIS served as the only applied linguistics venue for pedagogical and research activities in the United States. During the ALIS Open Meeting in Portland, around 50 IS members and guests took part in a bit of a reception to mark this important event and partake in cookies and soft drinks, provided by TESOL. We clanked our plastic drink containers and celebrated in earnest.
To mark the occasion, Robert B. Kaplan graciously accepted our invitation to join us. Professor Kaplan received a commemorative plaque to celebrate his four decade-long service to the profession and the association. Marianne Celce-Murcia’s well-crafted and carefully presented remarks to highlight Professor Kaplan’s numerous professional achievements and contributions were warmly received.
Later, Professor Kaplan made a presentation titled “What Teachers Need to Know: ‘I’ve Never Metaphor I Didn’t Like’.” The point of the talk was to emphasize that when teaching a language to students from another culture, it is essential for instructors to be aware of the ways in which the target language has been shaped by its speakers. Furthermore, speakers of some other languages, equally, have been shaped by their first languages. In this light, if the learners are unfamiliar with the shape of metaphors in the target language and if the teachers are unaware of the gap thus created, teaching becomes an unnecessarily difficult undertaking. Success in language teaching, however, is more likely when metaphors and other linguistic devices are addressed in teacher-preparation courses, which can be revised to include the work with metaphors that are needed for both teaching and learning.
Our thanks also goes to Tommi Grover and Multilingual Matters for helping us organize our reunion with Robert B. Kaplan on this momentous occasion. Thank you.
We look forward to ALIS’s next 40 years in the business.
Our 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.
Again it’s the time of year when we start to think about conferences and leaving our office in Bristol for different cities, countries and climates. 2014 is set to be a bumper year of travel as it seems to be the year when biannual and triennial conferences occur, and some one-off conferences also join our usual schedule.
The year has kick-started with CAUTHE and NABE, both of which took place as usual in February. Sarah and Laura headed off in different directions around the globe – Sarah to Brisbane for CAUTHE and Laura to San Diego for NABE. Keep your eyes on the blog to read about Sarah’s trip soon. NABE was slightly blighted by the snow storms on the East Coast which meant that several delegates had to cancel their plans, but those of us who did make it enjoyed the Californian sunshine, when we weren’t at the conference of course!
In March, Tommi, Laura and Kim will be at AAAL as usual. This year’s conference in Portland has a publishing focus, so Tommi will be running a session titled “Publishing your first book: From proposal to published product” in which he’ll outline the process of getting an academic book published, from early preparation and planning, through choosing the right publisher, submitting a book proposal and all the editorial stages to final production, publication, sales and marketing. If you are at the conference and at all interested in this subject please come along to the talk at 12:35 on Saturday.
TESOL in Portland and AERA in Philadelphia are the other conferences in the US which we’ll be exhibiting at this spring. We will have a whole host of new titles with us at these conferences so do feel free to come over and browse the books and say hi. We always offer a special conference price on our books to delegates, and this year we’re able to extend that to our ebooks, so there’s all the more reason to come over and say hi!
We are both teachers at heart, so in many ways this is the book we’ve always wanted to write as it combines a meaningful review of theory and practical applications for teachers. As university professors, we feel fortunate to have jobs (and the inner passion) that inspire us to combine teaching and research, to play with ideas for a living; it really is a match made in heaven. We have found that most teachers, at every level of the education system, are at their creative best when they play with ideas, apply theory to specific cases, look for new approaches to age old questions, and have enough background information to get their creative juices flowing. This process fires their enthusiasm, which ultimately engages learners even more!
This book offers a chance for teachers and learners to play, apply, discover and let their imaginations flow. We don’t get into esoteric theoretical debates or outline the historical positions within this or that school of thought. Our book is made for teachers who are curious about what makes their students tick. Parker Palmer, in his book The Courage to Teach, says that: “Good teaching cannot be reduced to technique; good teaching comes from the identity and integrity of the teacher.” After all, it is teachers who know their students best, and good teachers bring with them training in a background of theory and methodology to really apply and test concepts. We firmly believe that teachers who seek to actualize the potential of their students benefit from suggestions for activities to try, the reasons why they should work, and then the courage to go for it in real life, to succeed or fail with integrity. Master teachers are born to teach and their passion for reaching their learners at their deepest, emotional and individual levels emanates from their souls. Given the experimentation that goes on in every good classroom, we believe that all teachers are active researchers, open to new ideas and constantly asking “what if?”
Peter’s Journey: The writing process was more fun than most readers of the blog can imagine. When Tammy first asked me to join her in writing this book, I had said that I did not have the time – too many other items pressing for attention. But I was intrigued and wanted to help. So, initially I was a consultant of sorts, a sounding board for ideas. As we went along, usually talking at length over Skype or in exchanging documents, I came to see the awesome potential of the project more and more. Tammy’s approach to teaching and learning is very similar to mine – we both see students as individuals, with hopes and fears, dreams of the future and a collection of unique past experiences. The idea of the perfect teaching method, a ‘one size fits all’ solution in the classroom, is quite foreign to both of us. So as we went along sharing research and theory for this and other projects, and tossing around ideas about how to teach, how to find what students are capable of doing, it became very clear to me that at some point, I had already joined the project. I was hooked! So before too long the informal became formal and my wife Anne and I found ourselves near a lake in Northern Iowa, with Tammy and her husband, Mario, ready to sign a contract with Multilingual Matters. Signing the contract was easy – the book was already written!
Tammy’s Journey: Carl Jung once wrote, “One looks back with appreciation to the brilliant teachers, but with gratitude to those who touched our human feelings. The curriculum is so much necessary raw material but warmth is the vital element for the growing plant and for the soul of the child.” Through our book, we may have provided a bit of what Jung called the “necessary raw material” but it will be up to you, our fellow teachers, to touch your learners’ human feelings and provide the warmth to grow their souls. Working (…well, more like “playing”) with Peter in the sandbox called Skype was a real hoot! Our collaboration never really felt like “work” to me. We often felt like we were in each other’s heads (a much more dangerous place for Peter than me!), tossing around ideas and laughing a lot. Not only do I think that the wedding of theory with practice was a match made in heaven, but so too was Peter’s psychological bent with my applied linguistics leanings.
Peter reminisced in his journey about the way that we – together with our spouses – got together in Iowa as a culminating event where we jointly signed our contract. I also have fond memories of the initiation of our first collaborative efforts when Mario and I traveled to Cape Breton. I will never forget lounging in the Governor’s Pub in Sydney, Nova Scotia with Peter and Anne, the evening we first discussed the idea of this book. “Busy Betty” was sitting at the next table intently (and yes, somewhat impolitely) listening, scrutinizing what Mario and Peter were talking about, bent over and scribbling equations on a piece of paper as they excitedly discussed the dynamic complexity and physics of emotion in language learning. To Betty’s L1 English ear, my husband’s accented English (he’s Chilean) sounded deeply suspect, so she strutted over wanting to know exactly what they were designing with all that math! Did they have sinister intentions? Were we all in danger? After a good laugh, she ended up joining our little party and gave us some great advice on what to put into our book! So here’s a big shout out to Betty and her insight!
This book has been one of the most tangible outcomes of our collaboration. Readers of the blog might also want to check out our virtual seminar for TESOL on December 4, 2013 called “Talking in order to learn.” We will be discussing some of the theory and activities found in the book. We hope you can join us live from wherever you happen to be. If you miss it, the webinar will be archived on the TESOL International site shortly after it is complete.
Finally, we must mention that we are so pleased and honoured that colleagues we deeply respect, Zoltan Dornyei and Andrew Cohen, agreed to help us by writing for the cover. Rebecca Oxford and Elaine Horwitz wrote a preface that told us we had found a sweet spot with the book. All of these people have earned their reputations as teachers and researchers; we thank them for their kind words and for taking the time to write them.
You can find further information about the book on our website.
For us, the month of March is almost synonymous with conference season and our annual trip to the US to exhibit at the AAAL and TESOL conferences. This year was no different, so after our trip to Toronto (which you can read all about here), Tommi and I headed south to Dallas.
In true Texan style, everything seemed big, including our space in the exhibit hall which made our tables and books seem miniature, and it was hard to work out how best to organise our stand. Fortunately, Tommi had great visions and so we set up our stand in a triangular shape, which Tommi dubbed as “the cutting edge”! As usual, we had brought all our new titles and some of our more recent and popular books from our long backlist. The bestsellers at AAAL this year were Language and Mobility by Alastair Pennycook, Kimie Takahashi’s Language Learning, Gender and Desire and Native-Speakerism in Japan edited by Stephanie Houghton and Damian J. Rivers.
The back-to-back scheduling of AAAL and TESOL is very convenient for us as it involves less travel and we find it easy to transfer materials between the two venues. This year we were lucky to have a morning off between the end of AAAL and set up for TESOL so Tommi and I spent the free time visiting the JFK museum which we thought was very well done and really interesting. Then it was straight on to the bustle of TESOL! The TESOL audience can be a bit wider and different to the AAAL one, so we alter our books on display accordingly. Popular titles there included Integrating Multilingual Students into College Classrooms by Johnnie Johnson Hafernik and Fredel M. Wiant and Roger Barnard and Anne Burn’s edited volume Researching Language Teacher Cognition and Practice.
Our evenings in Texas were spent enjoying steaks and Tex Mex, as well as the good company of colleagues we rarely see. We met with Suzanne and John Edwards, who have known Multilingual Matters since our early days, John being the series editor of our original book series; Aneta Pavlenko, who is keen to work closely with publishers at next year’s AAAL, which she is presiding over; and Terry Wiley and Susan Gilson from CAL, who we are working with on an exciting new series of books. We were also able to join the contributors to Zoltán Dörnyei, Peter MacIntyre and Alastair Henry’s forthcoming book for a drink and catch up with many more delegates at the AAAL opening reception.
What with all those arrangements, it’s a wonder that Tommi and I also found time to go to the Cowtown Coliseum rodeo show in Fort Worth and join the other publishers to see the Dallas Stars take on the Calgary Flames in an ice hockey match. If you’re ever in Dallas, we highly recommend both of those trips for a good evening of entertainment!