This is a list of professional articles I’ve encountered during my graduate work that have helped shape me as a TESOL professional. Each entry links to a PDF that contains a summary of the article along with my personal response. A brief explanation for each entry is provided.
Stan Lee, the creator of Spider Man, once said “with great power, comes great responsibility”; and teachers are given a lot of power. In the classroom, what we say and do is always influencing the students around us. Brown points out that this power of influence teachers have over their class obligates them to influence their students with political, economic, and social equality. In EFL scenarios this is even more poignant as many EFL teachers find themselves teaching in countries where topics under this umbrella can be taboo. I found Brown’s treatment of this subject to be inspiring, however he skirts over what I see as a necessary plea for caution; as some governments don’t see a difference between an open minded English teacher and a revolutionary.
Hamilton pluralized pedagogy and literacy for me. He also opened me up to informal education and changed my view of what pedagogy was in the first place. I had a dilemma gnawing at me during my early graduate work, I believed some students who were not academically literate were destined to flounder in traditional western pedagogy; and that a legitimization of trade schools was necessary for these students to be validated by a society who feels these apprenticeships to be ‘alternatives’, and to lack the prestige of a four year degree. With Hamilton’s multiple literacies, I found that western pedagogy was itself limited and set on the path to broaden pedagogical literacies beyond just the academic.
Jenkins advocates for a pronunciation syllabus that would provide some homogeneity for English speakers who use the language internationally. She brings up many good points but ultimately I don’t agree with her ideas. I was very influenced, however, by many aspects of this article and it also began my interest in interlanguage, on which I have since done much research. Anyone looking to educate themselves on the future of English language education and how learners exercise ownership of English should start with this article.
Language is one of the most significant contributors to how we negotiate our identities. As language teachers, we are helping students to sculpt and understand who they are, using their relationship with English. Norton’s article illustrates how language is intertwined with culture, voice, and ethnicity. Therefore, so long as English remains the global lingua franca, English language teachers will play key roles in facilitating the understanding of human connection.
Pomerantz, A. (1984). Agreeing and disagreeing with assessments: some features of preferred and dispreferred turn shapes. In J.M. Atkinson. & J. Heritage, (Eds.), Structures of social action (pp. 57-101). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Conversation analysis has been a key interest of mine since I was introduced to it in 2009. It showed me that the tiniest details that occur when people talk can have huge effects on communication and understanding. Pomerantz’ work is seminal and I’ve studied it closely because I find it an invaluable resource for almost any research project.
Wannaruk’s article didn’t make huge waves in the field of TESOL. It didn’t instigate a reform of education, nor was it required reading for students of conversation analysis. It was a small study on the very specific topic of pragmatic transfer in Thai EFL refusals. However, I found this article to be very influential. Wannaruk’s work was a model for me as I was doing my own work in pragmatics. She also brought to light for me the concept that pragmatic errors are more detrimental to communication than linguistic ones. From this I realized the importance of pragmatic awareness in the classroom to help eliminate those errors and the resulting infelicities.