TESOL Journal Editor
Margo DelliCarpini is the first editor of the electronic TESOL Journal (TJ), published quarterly in March, June, September, and December, with the first issue published in March 2010. As the first editor, she has a significant impact on the focus and direction of the publication. Margo has worked in the TESOL field for the past 10 years, and is currently an assistant professor of TESOL at Lehman College, CUNY, where she teaches courses leading to ESOL certification in the Department of Middle & High School Education. Her research interests include second language literacy development and teacher collaboration. She is also a column editor and author for the "Success with ELLs" column in the English Journal and has published extensively. In anticipation of the upcoming publication, TJ Managing Editor Tomiko Breland asked Margo a few questions about the field of TESOL and her visions for the journal.
Which topics do you intend to explore during your tenure as TESOL Journal editor?
As a referred journal, TJ will be guided by the readers and authors in terms of the topics explored. Because the mission of TJ is to provide a forum for second and foreign language educators at all levels to engage with the ways that research and theorizing can inform, shape, and ground teaching practices and perspectives, I hope to, through submissions and special topics issues, address topics that are important to practitioners in a variety of settings and that may have been underrepresented in the past. In addition to feature articles, I have proposed a number of interesting and relevant departments. For example, many ESL teachers around the world are working to address the needs of Students with Interrupted Formal Education (SIFE) and research and best practices in terms of working with these students is not prevalent. Another area of exploration will be 21st Century Language Skills, which will explore the ways in which English is changing, and how ESL and EFL teachers are responding to and incorporating these changes into their teaching. My goals for TJ are to provide a forum for diverse voices, classroom- based, theory grounded research in all settings, and from areas where English is taught but may not be adequately represented in the extant literature.
TESOL Journal will be published electronically. How do you envision this format changing or enhancing the way that the content is received by readers?
As we continue to move into an increasingly ‘wired’ world, electronic media is no longer a unique option, but the norm. Having TJ as an electronic publication offers great opportunities for authors to include hyperlinks, graphics, photographs, video streaming, and other technology formats to make TJ an interesting and interactive format for readers. Imagine an article on teaching pronunciation with a link to an audio file so the reader can hear the progress learners have made. TJ can, in an electronic format, combine the benefits of a print publication with the technologies that are part of our world. TJ has the potential to be a place where readers can read, see, hear, and examine some of the issues that authors are writing about. In addition, I am interested in planting the seeds for the development of a discussion blog or online comment format so readers can interact and discuss articles in real time.
How do you anticipate TESOL Journal separating itself from the numerous other journals in the field? What will be different about it?
TESOL Journal will complement the TESOL serial publications currently being produced. I believe the main distinction for TJ in the TESOL world will be the focus on theory-based practice and a dialogue among and between stakeholders. I am seeking to establish a place where authors are able to report on practice at all levels and in all contexts that is grounded in theory and has immediate relevancy to practitioners. In addition, I hope that the electronic format allows for a highly interactive journal. Another distinction that I am very excited about (which is, to the best of my knowledge, unique to TJ) is a Student Voices section that will encourage submissions from ESL/EFL students around the world. This category will offer a forum for ESL/EFL students to share perspectives on their own learning, issues, challenges, successes, and stories that will provide valuable information to practitioners in terms of developing multiple perspectives on language instruction. In addition, this section can address the range of issues that students learning English as a second, foreign, or additional language experience. I think this is special for two reasons. First, the voice of our students is rarely heard in scholarly publications. Second, and very exciting, is how this feature can form the basis for classroom writing activities. Such an opportunity offers authentic contexts for ESL/EFL students to engage in the writing and editorial process and will motivate both the authors and their world-wide classmates with whom teachers share these articles.
What subject areas do you think TESOL publishers have neglected? Why have these areas languished?
What we hope to do right in TJ is to provide a voice for ESL/EFL teachers to share research-based practices and perspectives on TESOL that encompass a wide range of ideas, locations, and approaches. I believe that in any field there are trends and areas of focus, and whenever that occurs, something may not get a great deal of attention. As an ESL teacher at the PreK–12 and adult levels, working with students who had interrupted formal education and struggled with learning to read in English, I know that it would frustrate me when I wanted to find resources and research that dealt with my particular population of students. Issues of teaching reading to adults and adolescents who did not acquire literacy skills in their first language is one area that has been under focused. For example, in an annotated bibliography on adult L2 reading research (Adams & Burt, 2002) between the years 1980 and 2002 there were only five studies identified investigating beginning reading in adult ESL learners. In spite of this, I know that teachers are effectively working with students who fit this profile, and while they may not have the resources for a large-scale, multivariate study, they can share what works for them, based on the current research in the field.
In general, I think the reason for the under-focus of some topics in any field is that there may be emphasis placed on larger, quantitative studies and smaller, practitioner-based research may go under reported in the larger publications. TJ can provide a place for such research to be reported. In addition, as with many disciplines, what you see depends on where you stand. I believe that to some extent the world of TESOL, in terms of what ultimately finds its way into print, is smaller than it is in reality. Issues of TESOL in less well known contexts can fall through the publishing cracks. I want TJ to be able to publish from a range of diverse settings and hear voices that may have gone unheard in the past.
Academic serial publications are often rooted solidly in either theory or practice. To which will TESOL Journal adhere?
TJ will be a perfect combination of both. Sound theory informs practice, and TJ will offer a place for authors to make those connections. I remember working one semester with graduate TESOL teacher candidates who were taking coursework in SLA which was highly theoretical in nature. They were having a hard time seeing the connection between the theory they were learning and its relevancy to their practice. TJ will be a place where that connection is made and will do so by publishing articles that report on theory-based practices as well as practice-oriented theorizing and research. TJ will also provide a forum for types of research that may have gone unpublished in the past.
How do you plan on incorporating the myriad voices from the TESOL field into TESOL Journal?
This is a great question because much of what I have spoken about before has to do with under-representation in one way or another. A way to accomplish this is through the editorial board. I hope to have a wide range of viewpoints, teaching and learning contexts, geographic locations, and beliefs represented in the editorial board. Part of the mission for the board will be to find local talent; attend local conferences and symposia; and talk to authors about their work, make them aware of TJ, and encourage submission. In addition, following the lead of TESOL Quarterly, TJ will work with authors to develop submissions in a constructive way. As the editor, I will also be available to discuss ideas and help develop a topic with the author and editorial board for some of the submission categories.
What do you envision for the future of TESOL?
Wow…this is a big question. I know TESOL to be a vibrant field that covers a huge range of issues. As the world continues to become a more connected and global community, and as increasing numbers of people begin learning English for a number of different reasons, I can see TESOL growing in ways we currently can’t imagine. Emerging technologies, industries, and contexts, as well as changing needs of language learners will drive the future of the field. In addition, as the ESL and EFL population grows, we will have to continue to find innovative ways to educate those who teach them. In my own research and work as a TESOL teacher educator, I have become interested in collaboration. TESOL educators do not operate in a vacuum, and the success of their students often depends on others as well. Creating communities of practice can not only apply to teachers, but to the field. Developing interdisciplinary partnerships and sharing information with other disciplines can have positive effects on all involved. I see the field continuing to be very dynamic and responding to needs that we haven’t even anticipated through research, education, advocacy, and partnerships. Of course, TJ will play a role in that future!
Adams, R., & Burt, M. (2002). Research on Reading Development of Adult English Language Learners: An Annotated Bibliography. Center for Applied Linguistics.
To contact Margo DelliCarpini about TESOL Journal, e-mail her at Margo.DelliCarpini@lehman.cuny.edu.