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Engagement with Research as Professional Development

Last Thursday, I was reviewing literature for a research project that is just underway, and I came across a couple tables that resonated with me so much that I had to share it on Twitter. The tables come from Simon Borg's 2010 article "Language Teacher Research Engagement."


These tables would have come in handy if I had found them prior to my research project with teachers at an intensive English program (IEP) in the United States. They would have supported my professional learning and curriculum development philosophies as an administrator because I believe these two areas, professional learning and curriculum development, should have strongly overlapping goals as an English language teacher. Furthermore, I believe that it is in the best interest of an institution to support this in order to improve the curriculum. This belief is based on the assumption that curriculum is not static because is based on the needs of the learners, which are dynamic, as well as the resear…
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Is Wikipedia Too Difficult to Read?

Image from https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Afghan_man_reading_Wikipedia_article_in_Kandahar.jpg
The short answer via statistical analysis is yes.  For more information, read Lucassen, T., Dijkstra, R., & Schraagen, J. M. (2012). Readability of Wikipedia. First Mondayathttp://firstmonday.org/ojs/index.php/fm/article/view/3916/3297
Wikipedians are aware that the open online encyclopedia may be too difficult, and there is a discussion of its reading level at https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Reading_level. Much of this discussion took place over a decade ago, but the gist is that many contributors write at or for the college level. What appeals to me most is at the end of the page, where Wikipedians are discussing accessibility and what it means to be open to all. Here's my screenshot (in case it gets edited later).


What does this mean for English language teachers? I was interested in seeing how selected Wikipedia articles range according to the CEFR scales. I looked throu…

Revisiting Multiliteracies & Moving On

I have been interested in a multiliteracies approach to English language learning and teaching for almost a decade now. I've been blogging about it since 2010 and I gave a presentation on this for two conferences in Iowa. I decided to put this interest aside so I could complete my dissertation on another topic and search for jobs. Now that a few years have passed, I'd like to share how my interest has changed.

The foundation of my interest is best represented by the Prezi I made (below) for my 2010 MIDTESOL Conference presentation:



My primary reference was Stuart Selber's 2004 book Multiliteracies for a Digital Age, published by Southern Illinois University Press. While working for the Kirkwood Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching (KCELT), I found some similarities between my highlighted concepts from Selber's book and the Framework for 21st Century Learning, which you can view at http://www.p21.org/our-work/p21-framework. The third category (Information, Med…

When You Can't Teach, Administrate

There's a somewhat famous expression that most teachers find insulting - "He who can does. He who cannot teaches." It implies that teachers cannot function or "produce results" in the "real world" but they know enough to tell or direct others how. And this implies that education is mainly about skill building (for jobs) and not about knowledge or character. I could go on and on about this, but I wanted to discuss HL Mencken's addition to George Bernard Shaw's quote:
Those who can't teach - administrate. Those who can't administrate - go into politics.
I heard this quote way back in late elementary school or junior high school and it struck a chord. It especially rings loudly in my mind as I have spent the last few years of my life in administration rather than teaching in higher education. And sadly I have to confirm that many administrators can't or won't teach. Yes, it makes me sad because I am an educator and I believe that …

My First Job: Was I Good Teacher?

To go along with my new blog theme of praxis, I thought it would be fun to evaluate myself when I was a new teacher nearly 20 years ago in Japan. More specifically, I explore what made me a bad teacher, a mediocre teacher, and a good teacher. But first a little context: I started my English language teaching career shortly after graduating from college in 1998. I took a full-time teaching position for the most famous eikaiwa in Japan at the time, Nova. Back then, there was no social media: no Facebook, no Twitter, no YouTube, and not even blogs. When I wanted to learn about teaching English in Japan, I used my Netscape browser to do a search using Yahoo! because Google didn't exist yet. I wasn't even aware of Dave's ESL Cafe yet if it existed back then. I had no idea was I was getting into, but I was fortunate enough to have a generally good experience even though I wasn't the best teacher.


What Made Me a Bad Teacher? That's an easy question to answer: lack of teac…

The Tao of Praxis

Last week, I started reading The Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff to my daughter as part of her bedtime regimen. I bought this book years ago after a colleague recommended it to me when he learned I was interested in Taoism. Since then I have embraced much of its philosophy, but I stop short of calling myself a Taoist. I didn't realize until now that Taoism has deeply affected my attitudes and beliefs towards English language teaching and scholarship, especially concerning the concept of praxis. Below are some examples.


The passage above comes from Chapter 3: Spelling Tuesday, page 26. It's not a subtle attack on academics, specifically those whose goals are to get published to be accepted among an elite circle of scholars. This is particularly striking to me because, at this point in my life, I would like to gain acceptance among this elite circle, which I perhaps naively equate to tenured professors. However, I strive to make my life's work beneficial to English language te…

The Future of Professional Learning in TESOL

Earlier this month, the TESOL International Association held a summit in Athens, Greece on the future of our profession. This summit was recorded and can be viewed here: http://www.tesol.org/summit-2017/themes/futurology-recorded-sessions

There were many takeaways from this summit, and I've been following reactions both internally, through the myTESOL online portal, and externally, through the Twitter hashtag #TESOLsummit. Below are some screenshots of tweets that got my attention.



These struck a chord in me because I believe CPD (collaborative professional development) is not the future of TESOL. It is the present! It's what I'm doing right now on this blog and what I have been doing by engaging TESOL teachers and researchers online.

However, online PD is not an option for many teachers, either because of accessibility or personal feelings towards social media and e-learning. On the flip side, accessibility and personal feelings towards massive international conferences k…