NNEST Newsletter

NNEST News, Volume 9:2 (November 2007)

by User Not Found | 10/27/2011
In This Issue...
  • Leadership Updates
    • Editors’ Remarks
    • Letter From the Chair
  • Articles
    • Negotiating the English Language and Researcher Role: Reflections of Two Nonnative English Speakers, Yanan Fan and Xue Han
    • Reciprocal Contribution in ELT: An NNES Teacher’s Personal Narrative on Her Professional Development, Yumika Muramatsu
    • Asia TEFL conference: Report From Kuala Lumpur, Lucy Yunsil Lee
  • Announcements and Information
    • NNEST Announcements and Information
  • About This Community
    • About the Nonnative English Speakers in TESOL Caucus
    • NNEST Newsletter Call for Submissions
    • NNEST Newsletter Mission Statement

Leadership Updates Editors’ Remarks

Sandra Zappa-Hollman, University of British Columbia, sczappa@interchange.ubc.ca (Editor)

Kyung-Hee Bae, University of Houston Writing Center, kbae@uh.edu (Volunteer Editor)

Lisya Seloni, Ohio State University, seloni.1@osu.edu (Volunteer Editor)

We are pleased to introduce this issue of the NNEST Newsletter. The first two articles focus on how our multiple identities as nonnative English speakers impact our teaching and research practices. For instance, Yanan Fan and Xue Han share some of their thoughts and concerns vis-à-vis their status as NNEST researchers working with NNES participants. They insightfully reflect on the impact their status might have on their relationship with those involved in their studies as well as on their reporting of findings, and invite others to further reflect on these issues. 
In turn, Yumika Muramatsu's personal account reveals her struggle to come to terms with her professional identity as a Japanese NNES teacher teaching English to Japanese students in an English-speaking context. Her message is one of hope and satisfaction, and thus readers going through similar experiences may find her account inspirational. 
Finally, Lucy Yunsil Lee's report on this year's Asia TEFL Conference includes some of the highlights of this event as well as some of her reflections as a first-time conference attendee. 
We thank all of our contributors for sharing their insights with us and we encourage you to send us your contributions for the May 2008 issue of the newsletter. For the next issue, please send your submissions by March 15, 2008, to the newsletter editor, Sandra Zappa-Hollman, atsczappa@interchange.ubc.ca.



Letter From the Chair

Luciana C. de Oliveira, Purdue University, luciana@purdue.edu

Reflecting on our roles as NNESTs 

Dear colleagues,

As we continue to reflect on our past, I would like to address the impact that my involvement with the caucus and other NNES-related groups has had on my professional identity, a topic addressed by some articles in this newsletter issue. Even though I focus in this letter on my personal history, I hope to provide an incentive for new caucus members and novice professionals. My involvement with professional organizations started as a member of the California TESOL (CATESOL). The first time I heard the term nonnative English-speaking (NNES) teachers was when I attended a colloquium organized by Lía Kamhi-Stein at the CATESOL conference in 1998. I was a graduate student in a TESOL MA program at the time and was facing several issues that the colloquium was addressing. At first, it was a relief to know that other professionals were going through the same experiences as I was and it was as if I had found myself, my identity, in the United States. As an international student who had been in the United States for only a few months, I was questioning my "survival" as an English teacher in an English-speaking context. Then, I realized that I could not keep quiet and needed to get involved in the profession somehow. Of course I was nervous. But then, with the mentoring of an NNES teacher educator who inspired and encouraged me, I started becoming more involved in CATESOL and went through several board positions until 2006, when I ran for the NNEST chair-elect position in TESOL. After reflecting on this process, I can say that it all started as simply attending a colloquium that addressed NNEST issues but evolved into different ways of getting involved in the profession. Now, being an active NNES teacher is part of who I am. These roles in leadership positions have helped me in so many ways that it is difficult to describe their effect in just a few words. Part of my job now as a new assistant professor is to mentor my students, especially my NNES students, to become involved in professional associations.

In addition to getting involved ourselves, we can mentor novice professionals to be involved in professional associations. As the NNEST historian George Braine (2007) highlighted in his invitation to new caucus members in the previous newsletter issue, "they [new caucus members] must also grow as professionals, taking active roles and assuming leadership in professional organizations in their cities and regions, and initiating research and publications." New caucus members must also be encouraged and mentored throughout the process. As a mentor of graduate students, I encourage and support novice professionals to take active roles and participate in professional activities. I find myself saying some of the same things I heard when I was a TESOL MA graduate student: "Yes, you can do it!" This is my second year in Indiana, and I was the volunteer coordinator for Indiana TESOL (INTESOL). The INTESOL convention held on November 3rd saw a wave of NNES teachers participating as volunteers. I was elected President of INTESOL; I take office as Vice-President in 2008 and become President in 2009. Novice professionals need to start somewhere and the best place to start, in my view, is their state (or province/country, for those outside the United States) affiliate. They can start as conference volunteers and continue being involved through different means until they get more experience and feel more secure and confident about getting involved in a variety of ways.

Furthermore, mentoring NNES teachers has been a topic of current research in the field. We addressed this topic in the TESOL convention in Seattle through our caucus colloquium, and immediate past caucus chair Karen Newman and I are still working on an ongoing project regarding the content of TESOL programs and mentoring. We invite you to participate in our survey to share your experiences with TESOL programs and mentoring; our survey is accessible at http://www.surveyshare.com/survey/take/?sid=49275. In addition, building on what Karen and I learned over the past several months, I again applied and received a TESOL special projects grant to support a small research study that will investigate the perspectives of faculty and mentor teachers working with NNES teachers in teacher education programs. You will hear more about this study later on.

I have some important news to share with you. You all know that TESOL was considering a re-structuring of all of the Caucuses. At the October 2007 TESOL Board of Directors meeting, the following resolution was passed: 

"That the current TESOL caucus structure be phased out and replaced by independent, informal forums; that the forum objectives and activities must be compatible with TESOL's mission and values; that procedures for the creation of forums and timeline for a July 31, 2008 completion be followed as described in the attached document."

Past caucus leaders have been discussing what we should do as a Caucus now that the caucus structure will cease to exist. We feel (and I hope you all agree) that we should apply for IS status, as discussed in previous messages in our e-list. According to a document we received from TESOL, we have until September 2008 to finalize the paperwork to apply for IS status. I will start the process this year and our new Chair will continue it next year.

I would also like to share some exciting news. We just elected our new chair-elect, Katya Nemtchinova. The NNEST elections were online and we had a pretty nice turnout. Thanks to everyone who voted! I am looking forward to working with Katya in the coming months getting ready for our convention in New York. Also, I wanted to personally congratulate our awesome newsletter editor, Sandra Zappa-Hollman, on her PhD defense. In her own words, "The defense went absolutely great. I had the most rewarding experience, and I'm so happy and relieved now!" Congratulations, Sandra!

We have been busy preparing for the upcoming convention in New York. Our caucus colloquium title is "10 Years Later: The NNEST Movement and Its Impact" and will feature past caucus leaders Lia Kamhi-Stein, Jun Liu, Ahmar Mahboob, Aya Matsuda, and Lucie Moussu. This colloquium will address the implications of the NNEST movement for TESOL; its impact on NNES teachers, research, and other subdisciplines; and the need to continue to meet the professional needs of NNES teachers while contributing to NNEST scholarship and advocacy. The colloquium will be a wonderful opportunity for us to continue to reflect on our roles as NNES teachers and our future. As mentioned above, according to the discussion about our future within TESOL on our electronic discussion list, the consensus within this community is that we transition into an interest section. Therefore, I'm working with our leaders to find out what we need to do to accomplish that. We will start the process soon and I'll keep you updated on our progress through our e-list. If you would like to express your opinions about this transition, please do not hesitate to contact me or send a message to our e-list.

All the best,

Braine, G. (2007). An invitation to new members of the caucus. NNEST Newsletter, 9(1).



Articles Negotiating the English Language and Researcher Role: Reflections of Two Nonnative English Speakers, Yanan Fan and Xue Han

Yanan Fan, San Francisco State University, yanan@sfsu.edu

Xue Han, University of New Mexico, xhan@unm.edu


Both of us are native Chinese and were trained in the United States as educational researchers. We often encounter questions about our experiences as NNES researchers. Using the English language as a major thinking and writing tool, we constantly reflect on how the fact that English is our second language impacts our research process. With this in mind, in this article, we draw on our experiences to explore how we negotiated our role as NNES researchers using English to conduct and report on our dissertation studies, and how that affected our studies.

Yanan conducted her ethnographic case study in the United States and Xue worked on her dissertation project in China. For Yanan, the main methodological dilemma was how to negotiate and write about her relationship with her NNES participants. Xue was faced with coming to an understanding of how difficult it was to represent her participants' perspectives through her researcher observations, descriptions, and interpretations in a second language. Therefore, in this article we would like to initiate a discussion about how the role of NNES researchers might play out in ethnographic research. We hope other NNES researchers will join us to reflect on this issue so all of us can expand our understanding of doing ethnographic research as we travel across languages and cultures.

Yanan's Story
I was interested in immigrant adolescents' English literacy development. In my case study of a Vietnamese ELL student in the midwestern United States, I examined what it means for the student to learn academic English in regular classrooms and how the student grapples with language opportunities in school settings. In my reflective memos throughout the course of the three-semester-long project, I recorded my developing relationships with the focal student (Thao) who was a recent high school immigrant from Vietnam and with a key informant (Mrs. Mai) who initially came to the United States in her 40s without much English and was Thao's Vietnamese tutor during my project. As nonnative English speakers, the three of us shared similar language shocks, social isolation, and prolonged adjustment to new environments in the United States. As Mrs. Mai often said, "They [native English speakers] never understand our [nonnative speakers'] difficulties." In a way, she might have meant to say it was the English language that tied us together and helped build collaboration among us in the project. For example, Mrs. Mai offered me her strong support as if I were one of her ELL students. To help me conduct my dissertation project successfully, Mrs. Mai encouraged me to observe her tutoring sessions with Thao, shared information about the school's ESL program, and even volunteered to find me more participants.  Thao accepted me as her shadow friend who, like her, was also learning the English language. In classrooms, she often asked me to stop jotting down notes and help her instead with her English writing assignment. Mediated through English, my relationship with my participants developed throughout the project and became an inseparable part of the study.

Yet, I faced a challenging task during the writing of my research findings. That is, I needed to consider how much I could share with readers as an NNES researcher working with NNES participants to explore topics in learning English. The researcher is considered the key instrument (Bogden & Biklen, 2003; Weis & Fine, 2000) in qualitative research. Who I am affects the kinds of research questions I asked, the kinds of people I selected, and my data interpretation. Because I wrote about how I juggled my roles as a researcher, a nonnative English speaker, and a friend, my study may be subject to questions, doubts, and criticism. Readers may challenge the purpose and relevance of including my personal reflection on the researcher-participant relationship as part of the findings. They may ask whether the strategy strengthened my research findings. They may even see the researcher's use of personal account as being self-indulgent. To be exact, the self-disclosure of my NNES status and of my rapport with my NNES informants could be regarded as an implicit way to convey my authority over the interpretive findings. Yet would I be more trustworthy just because I shared with my participants a common NNES status? There seems to be no measuring tool for the right amount of self-disclosure a researcher can add to clarify complicated ethical issues. I am still seeking an answer.

Xue's Story
In my case, I faced the challenge of presenting my participants' world in an ethnographic study that explored what and how Chinese teachers learned to improve mathematics instruction in their communities. The intermingled identities of an insider who came home to conduct research and an outsider who lived abroad for years projected onto the study. On the one hand, my insider insights as a former schoolteacher in China led to noncomprehensive descriptions and explanations of my participants' world. As a former teacher in the city where I conducted the fieldwork, I had the knowledge of the educational system and teaching culture of my participants. In that sense, I was an "insider" who shared many similarities with the participant teachers and took many things I observed for granted. What I observed and how I interpreted what I observed was filtered through my former teaching experience and knowledge. One of my dissertation readers questioned me about how my participant teachers could have their own life when they dedicated themselves so much to teaching. I never thought that my descriptions of the participants' world would lead to that interpretation. When I intensely focused on making sense of my participants' work, which included teaching mathematics, I left out of my narration a significant part of my participants' world: that of their family life. I took it for granted that my participants enjoyed their lives although they worked very hard. But, obviously, the reader might not see the picture I witnessed. 

On the other hand, I faced challenges in answering questions posed by the U.S. academic community in the field of education, where I presented the research, as well as other people (my participant teachers), in English, seeing as I had communicated with my participants in Chinese. Abu-Lughod (1991) used the term halfie to describe researchers "whose national or cultural identity is mixed by virtue of migration, overseas education, and parentage" (p. 137). Many researchers (Narayan, 1993; Subedi, 2006) originally coming from non-Western countries reflected on the political, ethnic, gender, and language issues related to halfie researchers. As a Chinese researcher receiving academic training for years in the United States, I was a "halfie." For my co-national participant teachers, I was not a total "native Chinese" because I knew English well, had knowledge of another culture, lived abroad for years, and behaved differently from them on some occasions. For example, when I told my participants that I wanted to study how they learned to improve their teaching practice and instruction within their communities, they asked why Americans would want to learn from them, because they thought American education was more advanced than Chinese education. They wanted me to teach them how American education works so well. I did not share the same view. The halfie experience taught me that education, culture, and language are not comparable in terms of which is better or worse. Education is embedded in a certain culture. However, as a researcher, I did not want to teach my participants that there is a "correct" view. We lived with our different points of view.

Meanwhile, because of my identity as a former Chinese schoolteacher, I needed to address the U.S. readership's interests by showing through my "insider's" views how Chinese math teachers improved their instruction. Given the persistent interest among policymakers and educators in the United States regarding understanding mathematics education in many Asian countries, I made efforts to demonstrate what U.S. teachers and researchers can learn from Chinese teachers to improve their instruction and why the study is significant. However, the question was difficult to answer as it was hard to illustrate the complicated world of my Chinese participants. My participants' learning and practice was embedded in a different culture; therefore, translating what they did would not be easy. I was well aware of the disadvantages and breakdowns of the professional development system and of mathematics education in China. When reporting the findings of my study, I was concerned that my study might not provide strong answers to that big "so-what" question. What does the U.S. academic community expect from ethnographic studies conducted by halfie researchers in non-Western contexts they were affiliated with? How will their studies be valued and considered in terms of their "usefulness" for Western society? I hope that more researchers will join me to discuss these critical issues that have not been widely voiced and addressed. 


In summary, both of our research experiences have enriched our knowledge about the social phenomena under investigation (i.e., second language literacy in Yanan's case, and teachers' professional collaboration in Xue's), as well as about ourselves as NNEST researchers. Through using English, we were able to negotiate language and cultural borders and contribute to researchers and educators worldwide our unique interpretations of what was happening. However, we also realize that using English as a second language to conduct and report qualitative research could complicate the issue of entering and presenting our participants' worlds, which in turn reflects our multiple identities. There are no simple answers to the many questions we have discussed in this brief reflection. And these questions can be extended to future in-depth inquiries into how researchers negotiate beliefs, collective identities, and cultural histories through a reflexive research process.

Abu-Lughod, L. (1991). Writing against culture. In R. Fox (Ed.), Recapturing anthropology: Working in the present (pp. 137-162). Santa Fe, NM: School of American Research Press. 

Bogden, R. C., & Biklen, S. K. (2003). Qualitative research for education: An introduction to theories and methods (4th ed.). Boston: Allyn & Bacon.

Narayan, K. (1993). How native is a 'native anthropologist'? American Anthropologist, 95, 671-685.

Subedi, B. (2006). Theorizing a 'halfie' researcher's identity in transnational fieldwork. International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, 19, 573-593.

Weis, L., & Fine, M. (2000). Speed bumps: A student-friendly guide to qualitative research. New York: Teachers College.

Yanan Fan graduated from Michigan State University in 2006 with a PhD in teacher education and second language literacy. A former English teacher at Capital Normal University (Beijing, China), she is currently an assistant professor in the Department of Secondary Education, College of Education, San Francisco State University.

Xue Han finished her doctoral studies at Michigan State University in 2007. Her research interests include teachers' professional education and elementary mathematics instruction. Currently, she holds an appointment at the University of New Mexico as an assistant professor in the Department of Teacher Education, College of Education.


Reciprocal Contribution in ELT: An NNES Teacher’s Personal Narrative on Her Professional Development, Yumika Muramatsu

Yumika Muramatsu, University of Arizona, yumika@email.arizona.edu

Ever since I came to the United States for my graduate study, I have always taught Japanese as a native-speaker teacher. Although I had no formal training specifically for teachers of Japanese, my qualification has never been an issue—not even once. Native-speaker status automatically granted me credit as a Japanese teacher, and my students have never questioned my credentials even when my explanations of grammatical rules were unclear, or my kanji stroke orders were different from those shown in the textbook. I took advantage of my "native-speaker intuition" whenever necessary, especially when unexpected questions were asked and I could not find good answers.

In addition to teaching Japanese as a native-speaker teacher, I started teaching ESL as an NNES teacher. Teaching two different languages at the same time led me to think more seriously about my professional identity. I was able to see various NNEST issues from both native- and nonnative-speaker teacher perspectives in my everyday teaching practice, which allowed for invaluable self-reflection opportunities. I constantly asked myself questions—questions that were formed in two different ways, either as "an NNES teacher" or as "a native-speaker Japanese teacher." By doing so, I was making comparisons within myself, realizing my dual identity as a language instructor. More specifically, I was trying to be more aware of different elements that make me a confident language teacher in two different teaching contexts. The questions I asked myself were simple: What do students expect of me as an NNES teacher/native-speaker Japanese teacher? What contribution can I make to students' learning as an NNES teacher/native-speaker Japanese teacher? Why am I confident as an NNES teacher/native-speaker Japanese teacher? Interestingly, these questions usually arose when I contemplated my role as an NNES teacher.

The emergence of NNEST issues as a research field and its development over the past decade give me confidence as an NNES teacher, as does the notion that NNES teachers contribute to students' learning in various ways that native-speaker teachers cannot emulate (Medgyes, 1992). Another factor in my confidence as an NNES teacher was my education (i.e., my earned MA in TESOL), based on my belief that teaching performance, not native-speaker status, is what matters (Astor, 2000). On the other hand, my native-speaker status is a large part of what makes me a confident Japanese teacher. Though I was well aware that NNES teachers have multiple identities that can change with experiences (Liu, 1999), realizing the different dimensions that make me a confident teacher depending on the language being taught gave me mixed feelings about my NNEST identity. Knowing that my confidence stems from my native-speaker status in teaching Japanese has only reminded me of my nonnativeness in teaching English. Daily incidents and resulting self-reflection would easily drag me into an unstable state of mind, although I called repeatedly on my belief about NNES teachers' unique contribution to ELT to encourage and support myself as an NNES teacher. Another concern was how my identity as a teacher could affect my students' learning. One day I ran into a former student of my Japanese class on campus and asked her how her current Japanese class was. Her one-sentence response, in Japanese of course, was "My teacher is not Japanese." I wondered if my ESL students would say, "My teacher is not American" when asked how their English class is.

Why would students want someone from their own country to teach them English when they paid a lot of money and flew thousands of miles to study in the United States? This question persisted in my mind. Moreover, in my previous individual research exploring Japanese college students' attitudes toward their English teachers, there was an honest student comment expressing reluctance to use English with native Japanese NNES teachers: "Why would I want to speak English to someone with whom I can communicate in Japanese anyway?" This student asserted that it had to be a "foreigner" who had no proficiency in Japanese for her to want to speak English to him or her. These comments were enough to make me nervous about having Japanese students in my ESL classes. I was concerned that witnessing my students' disappointment could potentially influence my confidence, and that they would not be motivated to speak English with me because of our shared Japanese cultural and linguistic backgrounds.

It was not too long after that I had one student from Japan in my ESL class—a class that focused on speaking skills. Despite my anxiety, the student did not seem too disappointed. Rather, he was one of the students who frequently asked questions and readily participated in class. Observing this student's excitement and improvement was rewarding. My NNEST identity did not demotivate him to speak English. In fact, when he initiated conversations with me, he always did so in English, even outside the classroom, without the presence of non-Japanese-speaking classmates. When he went back to Japan, we had not exchanged even one word in Japanese. Although this student's strong motivation to practice English could be the main reason for this, it was encouraging to see that my identity as an NNES teacher was not a negative influence on his learning.

One day, my supervisor told me that I would have a group of Japanese students in my class. She said, "You are going to be their role model," clearly pointing out another NNEST advantage I had (Cook, 2005; Medgyes, 1992). Although I was nervous again, fearful of being judged and of my students being reluctant to speak English, I knew that my identity would not be a problem and that my initial anxiety would simply be an indication of my insecurity as it had before. All I could do, and I did, was to teach English as an NNES teacher as best I could. After all, that is my passion, and I am not only fortunate but also proud of being able to do what I am most enthusiastic about. I went back and forth within my own fluctuating states of mind, feeling both confidence and anxiety.

Again, it turned out to be an unnecessary concern. Also, this group of Japanese ESL students explicitly told me how much they appreciated that I understood their cultural and academic background, especially in relation to their classroom participation and expectations. For example, I knew that they needed to be called upon to speak, because I was aware that they were unlikely to contribute spontaneously to our class discussions. They liked it that I talked to them individually in and outside of class about things that were not necessarily related to the target structure being taught in the class, even if it was a simple question such as, "What did you eat today?" Throughout the academic term, these Japanese students initiated no interaction with me in Japanese; in fact, they were all excited to talk to me in English. Even when they had my permission to speak to me in Japanese when needed outside the classroom, as the literature (Macaro, 2005; Medgyes, 1992) tends to recommend, they still spoke to me only in English. In my presence, they would talk to each other in Japanese and then talk to me in English. Interestingly, they would soon switch codes and start talking to each other in English. I take this as another example of how my identity as a Japanese NNES teacher teaching ESL to Japanese students did not negatively affect the students' learning.

I came to realize that Japanese students, especially those whom I met in the ESL context, have a lot to do with my professional development. Being a part of these students' learning experience is undoubtedly meaningful. These students stimulate my passion for teaching and make me want to give it my all in order to participate in their learning. Phillipson (1992) posited that the experience of learning English as a second/foreign language is a valuable quality that only NNES teachers have. I can see myself in any student from any language background, but more strongly in Japanese students. When these Japanese students tell me that they have been inspired and more motivated to learn English since they met me, I know that I have made a difference in their learning, and I feel the desire to grow and move forward as a professional in this field. I know that I am seeing the NNEST strength in myself. Thus, native-Japanese-speaking students play an important role in my professional identity construction. I firmly believe that teachers' motivation is unquestionably as important as that of the students' for successful learning to take place. Out-of-class interaction with students, those with a Japanese background in this case, positively changed my initial fear into a motivating factor. It is likely that that feeling of anxiety will haunt me again in the future, but I know that if it does, I can always reflect on the personal experience in which anxiety turned into a vital factor for my professional development.

One of these Japanese students who had a part-time position teaching English grammar in Japan told me that it was an eye-opening experience for her to have a Japanese teacher for her grammar class. Her knowledge of grammar seemed to be greater than that of other students, which had made me wonder whether or not she was enjoying having me as her instructor. On the last day of the session, she made a comment that once again reminded me that we NNES teachers do make a unique contribution to teaching: "I already knew everything we did in class. But it was okay, because I learned English (not grammar) in your class. And I learned how to teach English. One day I hope to be able to teach English to Japanese students in English, like you do." I was grateful to be made aware of this unique contribution that I made to this student's learning.

All teachers have strengths and weaknesses, regardless of their L1. We have read, heard, and experienced our strengths and weaknesses as NNES teachers. Some apply to most of us in general, while others are more context-specific. Many instances in our everyday lives can open our eyes to seeing perceived weaknesses (of course, strengths as well) from a different perspective, as in the examples I shared in this article. Therefore, I would like to suggest that we NNES teachers proactively seek self-reflection opportunities because these can contribute to our professional development. Any challenge or any cause of anxiety can be potentially turned into an experience that boosts our confidence as NNES teachers.

Astor, A. (2000). A qualified nonnative English-speaking teacher is second to none in the field. TESOL Matters, 10(2), 19.

Cook, V. (2005). Basing teaching on the L2 user. In E. Llurda (Ed.), Non-native language teachers: Perceptions, challenges and contributions to the profession(pp. 47-61). New York: Springer. 

Liu, J. (1999). Nonnative-English-speaking professionals in TESOL. TESOL Quarterly, 22, 85-102.

Macaro, E. (2005). Codeswitching in the L2 classroom: A communication and learning strategy. In E. Llurda (Ed.), Non-native language teachers: Perceptions, challenges and contributions to the profession (pp. 63-84). New York: Springer.

Medgyes, P. (1992). Native or non-native: Who's worth more? ELT Journal, 46(4), 340-349.

Phillipson, R. (1992). ELT: The native speaker's burden? ELT Journal, 46(1), 12-18.

Yumika Muramatsu is a PhD candidate in second language acquisition and teaching at the University of Arizona. Her research interests include teacher training, student beliefs and attitudes in second and foreign language classrooms, cross-cultural pragmatics, and issues related to NNEST.

Asia TEFL conference: Report From Kuala Lumpur, Lucy Yunsil Lee

Lucy Yunsil Lee, Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, dikkylucy@hotmail.com

The 5th Asia TEFL International Conference was held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, from June 8 to 10, 2007, at the Putra World Trade Centre. Under the theme of "Empowering Asia: New Paradigms in English Language Education," ELT professionals from Asia and beyond congregated in this tropical city that boasts rich and multiethnic characteristics. With almost 9,000 members from 37 Asian and 21 non-Asian countries, Asia TEFL has grown into a major player in the ELT scene since its inception only five years ago. The aim of this report is to summarize some of the topics covered in the conference and my personal experience as an NNES teacher and first-time attendee of the Asia TEFL conference.

Seven plenary speakers and ten featured speakers delivered messages related to how the ELT field in the Asian context can empower Asian students. Majani Zainal Abidin, the conference keynote speaker, focused on the topic of English as the lingua franca of Asia, emphasizing the fact that many varieties of Asian English exist. Jun Liu's out-of-the-box approach to the concept of communicative competence—namely, "communicative incompetence," "competence of incompetence," and "incompetence of competence of incompetence"—stimulated the audience's intellectual curiosity. He emphasized how these concepts are closely related to the respect for the Asian students' culture and social identity and how English teachers need to provide students with additional knowledge and more culturally appropriate skills that go beyond the existing communicative competence paradigm.

English as a global language was the key message of speakers David Graddol, Joseph Lo Bianco, and Gunter Kress, while Paul Kei Matsuda and Ronald Carter discussed more specific areas of EFL writing and grammar, respectively. In turn, Ibrahim Ahmad Bajunid stated that empowering learners cannot be done without first enabling them to express themselves and communicate, reminding the audience of their responsibility as teachers.

In addition to the presentations, this conference also included workshops and demonstrations that provided the participating teachers with hands-on classroom activities, while colloquia offered valuable information on the ELT situations in Asian countries. Some 500 presentations covered various content areas, such as methodology, language acquisition, intercultural awareness, and teacher development. For instance, the colloquium entitled "English and the National Languages As the Languages of Instruction" provided an eye-opening overview of current educational situations and trends in Sri Lanka, India, Malaysia, Singapore, and the Philippines. In all these countries, there is an increasing pressure to teach English in primary school, and in some cases even to replace the home or national language. According to Phyllis Chew, professor at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, more and more first graders in Singapore say that their home language is English. In addition to this, the educational, economic, and political factors behind each national situation were described and discussed.

Another colloquium entitled "English Teachers' Employment System and Qualifications in East Asia" focused on how English teachers are selected in the region. The problems and reforms in countries such as Japan, China, and Korea were presented first, and an open discussion ensued regarding the creation of a common framework of Asian English teachers' employment and qualification. The main focus in this colloquium was on the selection processes of English teachers among the nationals of each country. For instance, the audience was informed about how Korea's teacher employment exam is conducted and used for the employment process.

During the conference, great emphasis was put on networking. Personally, conversing with ELT professionals around the world was extremely informative and exciting. Commentaries from our Malaysian hosts were also very enlightening as they explained how their language policies and the education system surmounted various difficulties that occurred in their multicultural society. On a personal note, I found this event to be much more fulfilling than I originally anticipated. At lunch on the second day of the conference, I happened to sit with five teachers from five different countries in Asia. We had a wonderful conversation interspersed with laughter as we shared what we thought. The conversation allowed us, five NNES teachers, to realize how we truly "owned" English. During our discussion, we agreed that EFL teaching methods should, first and foremost, cater to the students' needs, and that inner-circle-oriented "native speakerism" (Holliday, 2005) should be reconsidered. Indeed, exposure to Asian varieties of English was another positive aspect of this event. Overall, the talks and discussions that I attended or in which I participated helped me realize that both my students and I very much need to have the receptive knowledge of these varieties if we want to function successfully in intra-Asian communities of all sorts, particularly in professional communities.

Holliday, A. R. (2005). The struggle to teach English as an international language. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.

*A slightly different version of this report authored by Lucy Yunsil Lee was published in volume 11, issue 2, of The English Connection, a Korea TESOL publication.

Lucy Yunsil Lee (MA TESL) is a PhD candidate in the TESOL Department at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies. Her areas of interest and research are English as an international language, advanced learners, bilingualism, NNEST issues, qualitative research methods in TESOL, and pronunciation teaching. A freelance interpreter-translator, she is currently teaching freshman English at Hannam University.

Announcements and Information NNEST Announcements and Information

TESOL Annual Convention & Graduate Student Forum
The 42nd Annual TESOL Convention and Exhibit (TESOL 2008) will take place at the New York Hilton & Sheraton New York, New York, USA, April 2-5, 2008. Save these dates! 

For more details visit http://www.tesol.org/s_tesol/seccss.asp?CID=1518&DID=8281.

Position Statement Against Discrimination of Nonnative Speakers of English in the Field of TESOL (March 2006)
All educators should be evaluated within the same criteria. NNES educators should not be singled out because of their native language. TESOL strongly opposes discrimination against nonnative English speakers in the field of English language teaching.

To read the full text of this document or to download printable copies, go to http://www.tesol.org/s_tesol/seccss.asp?CID=32&DID=37.

NNEST Resources
Are you looking for interesting resources for NNES teachers? If so, visit the "Resources" section of our NNEST Caucus Web site:http://nnest.moussu.net/resources.html

Don't forget to check out the bibliography on NNES teachers! http://nnest.moussu.net/bibliography.html

Also, if you know about other relevant resources (e.g., Web sites, publications, press releases, tips) that could be posted in this section, we encourage you to share this information with us by contacting the web manager, Ana Wu, at awu@ccsf.edu. Help us keep this list very useful with current and comprehensive information! 


About This Community About the Nonnative English Speakers in TESOL Caucus

The Nonnative English Speakers in TESOL (NNEST) Caucus was established in October 1998 to strengthen effective teaching and learning of English around the world while respecting individuals' language rights.

1. Caucus Major Goals

  • to create a nondiscriminatory professional environment for all TESOL members regardless of native language and place of birth
  • to encourage the formal and informal gatherings of nonnative speakers at TESOL and affiliate conferences
  • to encourage research and publications on the role of nonnative speaker teachers in ESL and EFL contexts
  • to promote the role of nonnative speaker members in TESOL and affiliate leadership positions

Membership is open to all interested TESOL members, both native and nonnative speakers of English alike.

2. Web Site: http://nnest.moussu.net

3. Discussion E-List:

Visit http://www.tesol.org/getconnectedto join NNEST-L, the open discussion list for NNEST caucus members, or visit http://lists.tesol.org/read/?forum=nnest-lif you are already an e-list subscriber.

4. NNEST Caucus Community Leaders and Volunteers 2006-07

Chair: Luciana C. de Oliveira (luciana@purdue.edu)
Chair-Elect: Katya Nemtchinova (katya@spu.edu)
Newsletter Editor: Sandra Zappa-Hollman (sczappa@interchange.ubc.ca)
Editorial Volunteers: Kyung-Hee Bae (kbae@uh.edu) & Lisya Seloni (seloni.1@osu.edu)
Web Manager: Ana Wu (awu@ccsf.edu)
E-List Manager: Rosie Maum (rosiefiume@aol.com)
Assistant E-List Manager: Aiden Yeh (aidenyeh@hotmail.com)
Historian: George Braine (georgebraine@cuhk.edu.hk)

NNEST Newsletter Call for Submissions

Do you have any thoughts on the status of the NNEST Caucus? Do you have personal stories to share that are related to NNEST issues? Do you have any helpful tips that you would like to share with other NNES teachers/researchers? If you do, please consider submitting an article to the NNEST Newsletter. The deadline for submissions for the May 2008 issue is March 15, 2008.
Submission Guidelines
Any of the following types of submissions are welcome:

Feature Articles (1200-1500 words) related to teacher education, research, professional development, program administration, and sociocultural issues

Brief Reports (600-900 words), such as book reviews and reports on conference presentations and papers

Personal Accounts (500-700 words) related to NNEST issues

Announcements (50-75 words) of forthcoming events and publications on issues related to NNES teachers

Readers' thoughts (500 words). This section gives you the opportunity to share your reactions to and thoughts about articles published in our newsletter.

All documents need to be formatted in Microsoft Word (.doc). The editors reserve the right to edit any materials submitted for publication in order to enhance clarity or style.

Please send all manuscripts as an e-mail attachment to the NNEST editor, Sandra Zappa-Hollman (sczappa@interchange.ubc.ca).

NNEST Newsletter Mission Statement

The NNEST Newsletter is the official newsletter of the Nonnative English Speakers in TESOL (NNEST) Caucus. The purpose of the NNEST Newsletter is three-fold: to inform, to inspire, and to invite. First, the newsletter informs NNEST Caucus members about issues, developments, and activities that are related to the professional status of nonnative English speakers in TESOL and related professions. Second, the newsletter inspires current and prospective NNEST Caucus members by providing stories of successes and struggles of NNEST professionals as well as of students, colleagues, and administrators who may be native or nonnative speakers of English. Third, the newsletter invites NNEST Caucus members to share information, insights, and experiences related to NNEST issues.

The primary audience of the NNEST Newsletter is the members of the NNEST Caucus. The caucus members are native and nonnative speakers of English from various geographic and institutional contexts. They are teachers, researchers, and administrators as well as graduate students at various stages of professional development. All of them are interested in and concerned about issues surrounding the professional status of nonnative English speakers in TESOL. The audience also includes potential members of the NNEST Caucus who wish to gain insights into the NNEST Caucus and its activities.

The NNEST Newsletter contributes significantly to TESOL by addressing issues that affect a significant portion of TESOL members: nonnative English speakers. To native English speakers in TESOL, the newsletter offers resources for understanding and addressing NNEST issues in ethical, effective, and informed ways. In order to enhance its appeal to NES members and to facilitate mutual understanding between native English speakers and nonnative English speakers, the newsletter seeks to increase submissions from native English speakers in the profession. It also seeks to further raise the awareness of the issue of diversity by encouraging submissions that address how NNEST issues interact with issues faced by other caucuses and interest sections.

Because NNEST issues affect all members of TESOL directly or indirectly, the NNEST Newsletter will continue to contribute to the overall mission of TESOL by

  • promoting a better understanding of the status of nonnative English speakers in TESOL,
  • prompting the discussion of NNEST issues among all TESOL members, and
  • providing resources to NNEST Caucus members as well as TESOL members in general.