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NNEST News, Volume 7:2 (October 2005)

by User Not Found | 10/27/2011
In This Issue...
  • Leadership Updates
    • Editors’ Remarks
    • Letter From the Chair
  • Articles and Information
    • Race and (Non)Nativeness in English Language Teaching: A Brief Report
    • An Analysis of the Editing Process of NNESs’ Articles
    • Second Language Competence: Native Speaker Competence or User Competence?
    • On NNES Teacher Trainees’ Narratives in the Classroom Discourse of a TESOL Program
    • Teaching English in China: NNESTs Need Not Apply?
  • Announcements
    • TESOL Awards and Grants
    • TESOL’s Awards and Grants Program: The Experience of Two Award Winners

Leadership Updates Editors’ Remarks

Silvia Pessoa, Carnegie Mellon University, and 
Fabiana Sacchi, University of Texas at Austin,

We are pleased to present to you the October 2005 issue of the NNEST Newsletter. We have received a great deal of submissions, and we are glad to share them with you in this issue and upcoming newsletters. Some Caucus members have followed our advice and have turned their TESOL presentations into informative articles that should spark some critical thinking and discussion and hopefully inspire you to submit a manuscript for the newsletter.
In her first Letter From the Chair, Lucie Moussu introduces the current Caucus leaders and discusses the importance of doing research in the area of native and nonnative English-speaking ESL and EFL teachers. Lucie emphasizes the need for NNES professionals to do both large-scale and small-scale research and the importance of sharing the findings with the profession.

In "Race and (Non)Nativeness in English Language Teaching: A Brief Report," Ryuko Kubota, Khadar Bashir-Ali, Suresh Canagarajah, Lia Kamhi-Stein, Ena Lee, and Hyunjung Shin provide a summary of their colloquium on race at TESOL 2005. On the basis of their own personal experiences and that of others, the panelists argue that the factors influencing the experiences of TESOL professionals go beyond language issues, emphasizing the importance of race and other social categories.

In "An Analysis of the Editing Process of NNESs' Articles," Norbella Miranda and Karen Englander Beck report on their analyses of the changes that NNES professionals have to make to their articles to be able to publish them. They compare original manuscripts with final versions of articles written by NNESs and explain some of the changes that reviewers commonly ask NNES professionals to make.
In "Second Language Competence: Native Speaker Competence or User Competence?" John Liang argues for a definition of second language competence that embraces the notion of user rather than native speaker competence. By focusing on user competence as the criterion for determining language achievement, Liang suggests that language learners will be able to attain realistic language proficiency goals.

In "On NNES Teacher Trainees' Narratives in the Classroom Discourse of a TESOL Program," Lisya Seloni and Yesim Bektas-Cetinkaya discuss the importance of analyzing the narratives of NNES teacher trainees in TESOL programs. The authors argue that studying the participation patterns and speech events in TESOL courses will foster an understanding the nature of NNES teacher trainees' participation patterns as well as the positioning of both NNESs and NESs and the construction of their professional identities. 
In her personal account entitled "Teaching English in China: NNESTs Need Not Apply?" Tiffany Shao describes the various disappointments she experienced as an aspiring NNEST in China despite her qualifications and bilingual/bicultural background as a Chinese raised in the United States. As a result of these experiences, Tiffany is determined to become a very qualified NNEST and to continue to advocate for the effectiveness of NNESTs.

In the Announcements section, there is information about TESOL's Awards and Grants Program that you may find useful if you are planning to apply for an award. The deadline is November 1, 2005, so you still have time to apply. In this section you can also read about the experiences of two award recipients from Brazil who had the opportunity to go to the TESOL convention in San Antonio.

We hope you enjoy reading these articles and we look forward to receiving more interesting submissions for the May issue of the newsletter. The deadline for submission is March 10, 2006, just before TESOL 2006 in Tampa, FL, where we look forward to seeing as many caucus members as possible. The May issue will be the last newsletter edited by us, so we would like to encourage Caucus members to start thinking about becoming the new editor(s). This is a great opportunity for members to become more involved in our Caucus and to make a contribution to not only the Caucus but the TESOL community in general. Becoming a Caucus leader is a great opportunity to continue to advocate for NNESTs.        

Letter From the Chair

Lucie Moussu, Purdue University,

As has been mentioned several times by Ahmar Mahboob, our Caucus's past chair, and several other past and current leaders, there is an increasing need for research in the area of native and nonnative English-speaking ESL and EFL teachers. If we want our caucus to grow and become a key resource for English teachers around the world, and if we want nonnative speakers of English to receive an excellent teacher preparation and to gain increased respect as professionals, we need to have research that backs up our beliefs. But before I talk to you about research, let me introduce you to this year's Caucus leaders who have been working with me since I was elected chair of the Caucus at the 2005 TESOL Conference.

It is my great pleasure to introduce you to our new chair-elect, Karen Newman, who is currently finishing her doctorate at Indiana University at Bloomington and soon will be working at The Ohio State University. Karen is the first native speaker of English to be elected chair-elect of our caucus and promises to use her experience as language learner and teacher to advance the causes of our Caucus. As the number of members of this caucus increases (1173 members as of January 2005), I find it particularly important to bring together not only nonnative speakers of English from all countries but also native speakers of English, who can both share their experiences with nonnative speakers and learn from them. I am confident that Karen will help create a new understanding between us all.

Silvia Pessoa and Fabiana Sacchi are still our faithful editors and are doing a wonderful job. Ana Wu is our new assistant web manager, Rosie Maum and Aiden Yeh are our electronic mailing list managers, and Fu-An Lin will moderate our new NNEST Caucus Forum ( I feel very lucky to be working with such great people. I was also particularly glad to see many people volunteering to help with the caucus at our last TESOL conference and through e-list e-mail exchanges. Please continue to do so!

Let me now talk about research. What I mean by "RESEARCH or research?" is that both large-scale studies and small-scale studies are needed and valuable in our field. When I started learning about the research process and different types of research tools, I felt that the only way to make a significant research study was to have the largest possible number of participants and to use complex statistics in the studies. Above all, I believed that only articles published in TESOL Quarterly would make a difference.

However, as I started reading more about different studies and doing my own research projects, I realized both quantitative and qualitative projects were essential to a better understanding of what we are doing, and that case studies and other small-scale projects were as important as large-scale projects. I understood that what is important is not the scale of the project, but rather, that it is done. There are too many contexts in which few or no studies about native and nonnative speakers of English have been completed: elementary, primary, and secondary schools, EFL contexts (especially in Latin America, Eastern Europe, and Southeast Asia), integrated classes, universities and community colleges, large international language schools (such as the Wall Street Institute or Berlitz), and many more. As with any kind of research, these projects will require an inquisitive mind, a plan, and participants, but doing small-scale projects such as action research may be more feasible and less time consuming.

The reports of these small projects may not be published in TESOL Quarterly, but they can be published in the many journals that people read and learn from around the world such as TESL-EJ, Canadian Journal of Linguistics, Journal of Language and Politics, Essential Teacher, Language Learning, Australian Journal of Linguistics, World Englishes, English for Specific Purposes, Indian Journal of Applied Linguistics, Journal of Language, Identity, and Education, Journal of Second Language Writing, publications by TESOL caucuses and affiliates ( (such as INTESOL Journal), and many more journals, magazines, and newsletters all over the world that are waiting for your articles! 

So what kind of research can you do? What questions can you ask? What research project can be useful to other teachers, scholars, students, and native and nonnative speakers of English? The response is "Anything!" You could write about something your TESOL program or Intensive English Program is doing, bias you may have faced or are facing and how you acted in such a situation, the difficulties of one of your students and how you helped him or her, a class project with your ESL/EFL students to increase their "world Englishes" awareness, experiences you have had while looking for a job, the research you are doing for your thesis or dissertation, and an infinite number of other subjects! It is important to remember that we all know something other people don't know, and we all do something other people could be interested in learning about.

Let me give you an example of a project I did with my own students. When I started teaching ESL college composition a few years ago, I asked myself these questions: Why would my students respect me as their teacher given that I am a nonnative speaker of English, too? What if I make grammar mistakes in front of my students? What if I don't know how to answer their questions? What if they tell me they want a real composition teacher? In order to understand better my strengths and weaknesses, I looked for literature about nonnative English-speaking teachers and found several encouraging resources such as Braine's (1999) book and other collections of studies and reflections by ESL/EFL nonnative professionals (see Canagarajah, 2005; Kamhi-Stein, 2004; and Llurda, 2004). However, I could not find an article that discussed the interaction between a nonnative English-speaking composition teacher and ESL university students. I consequently decided to do my own research project with my 14 students. I set up a blog (online journal) and gave 15 minutes every week to my students to write anonymous entries about our class during an entire semester. They were free to write about everything (life, school, questions, problems, activities, what they liked or disliked, things they would like to do, etc.), and I sometimes made suggestions to those who didn't know what to write about. Then, I read their comments and sometimes discussed them in class a few days later, especially if they asked questions about projects or other urgent matters.

At the end of the semester, I looked at the 103 entries that had been written and categorized them by themes: comments about class organization, homework, activities, complaints, questions, and suggestions, and, of course, the teacher (me) and nonnative English-speaking teachers in general. Looking at my students' comments made me realize that it is easy to believe that something is happening, and difficult to know what is happening in reality. While I was more worried about the mistakes I made while speaking English, my international students were more concerned about the amount of homework I gave them and the fact that I really understood and cared about the culture shock they were experiencing in their first semester in a North American university. This ongoing online evaluation system allowed students to comment and complain about our class and about me anonymously and continuously throughout the semester. It also allowed me to address problems and concerns immediately, and promoted humor and communication between the students and me. Many positive, interesting, and touching comments were written, and the few negative ones led me to reorganize my syllabus for the following semester and to try to become a better teacher. Finally, although it was sometimes scary to be constantly and so publicly evaluated, reading these comments gave me more confidence in my teaching abilities and made me want to know even more about what my students were thinking about their class and their teacher. I was then able to present this project at a local conference and to submit an article to the INTESOL Journal.

I strongly encourage everyone not to be afraid to start such research studies, be they formal or informal, and to encourage student teachers in TESOL programs and teachers in Intensive English Programs and other contexts to do action research and not be afraid to try to publish it. We need to hear your voice in the profession, if we want to be taken seriously and make a difference for nonnative English-speaking ESL and EFL students and teachers around the world.


Braine, G. (1999). Nonnative educators in English language teaching. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.
Canagarajah, A. S. (Ed.). (2005). Reclaiming the local in language policy and practice. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.
Kamhi-Stein, L. (Ed.). (2004). Learning and teaching from experience: Perspectives on nonnative English-speaking professionals. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.
Llurda, E. (Ed.). (2005). Non-native language teachers. Perceptions, challenges, and contributions to the profession. New York: Springer.


Lucie Moussu, originally from Switzerland, received a master's degree in TESOL from Brigham Young University, Utah, where she taught French and ESL for 7 years. She is now a PhD candidate in ESL and higher education administration at Purdue University, Indiana. She is also the chair of the TESOL NNEST Caucus. Her research interests include the advantages of native and nonnative English-speaking ESL teachers, discrimination against foreign students and scholars in the United States, and the administration of Intensive English Programs.

Articles and Information Race and (Non)Nativeness in English Language Teaching: A Brief Report

Ryuko Kubota, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill,

Khadar Bashir-Ali, Ohio State University,

Suresh Canagarajah, Baruch College, CUNY, 

Lia Kamhi-Stein, California State University at Los Angeles, 

Ena Lee, University of British Columbia,

Hyunjung Shin. Ontario Institute for Studies in Education/University of Toronto,

At the 2005 TESOL Convention in San Antonio, we presented a colloquium entitled "Race and (Non)Nativeness in English Language Teaching" as a spotlight session. The colloquium addressed issues of race and language as manifested in the experiences of TESOL professionals in higher education. In this brief report, we summarize our individual presentations.

"Introduction," by Ryuko Kubota
Instructional and employment challenges faced by nonnative English-speaking teachers (NNESTs) have increasingly been discussed. However, the discussions tend to highlight the linguistic category of nonnative versus native without paying explicit attention to the interplay between language and race as well as other social categories such as gender, class, age, nationality, and sexual identity. Drawing on Bourdieu (1991) and Luke (1996), I can make two arguments: First, the possession of linguistic capital alone is not sufficient for gaining economic and social power; one's race and other traits influence how one can convert the cultural capital into social, economic, and symbolic capital. Second, social practices, including hiring decisions and students' engagement with NNESTs, vary depending on the social space, which contains competing interests and a specific power hierarchy-in other words, the nature of these practices is not universal but contingent on the specific field. We need to explore how these constructs shape the experiences of NNESTs as well as native English teachers.

"Race and Nonnativeness," by Suresh Canagarajah
Rather than treating race as a static and overdetermined category, I consider how subjects may negotiate race. However, even when people negotiate race, their identity can spell differences in the trajectories of their progression. I consider this question in relation to passing-passing as a native speaker according to the dominant Anglo-American identity. I compare the literacy autobiographies of two accomplished nonnative scholars, Ulla Connor, who is White, and Xiaoming Li, who is Chinese (see Connor, 1999, and Li, 1999). Though both face common challenges in acquiring the native speaker voice, Connor succeeds in achieving this identity. Li doesn't. She revises her trajectory of progression and chooses to develop a hybrid voice, positioned between Chinese and American. I posit that whereas both are nonnative English speakers, Connor's Finnish identity provides her with possibilities of passing, while Li's Chinese identity encounters more difficulties.

"We feel more comfortable with each other: Identity Construction of Asian Nonnative English Teachers in a U.S. Graduate Program," by Hyunjung Shin
Race in TESOL is a complicated issue: It is important to understand race as a social construct (rather than a biological trait) and yet the very notion of race as a discursive construct makes it extremely difficult to identify race/racism, because it easily disguises itself as something else, such as linguistic proficiency or cultural competency (cf. Stoler, 1997). And this is exactly how racism remains powerful in TESOL. In my presentation, I explore how race and language interact in complex ways with respect to the issue of who gets constructed as an NS and/or NNS in TESOL. More specifically, drawing from interview data with Asian nonnative English teachers in a U.S. graduate program, I illustrate how the invisible and normative nature of Whiteness is associated with the notion of NS and consequently how the NNS construct is combined with "coloredness" or "Asianness."

"Mi Viaje: A Journey of Invisibility and Nonnativeness in English," by Lia Kamhi-Stein
In this paper, I deconstruct the notion of the invisible minority in relation to accentedness and other people's perceptions of nonnative English-speaking professionals. To this end, I use my own experiences: I am perceived as an outsider in both the United States and Argentina (my home country), though for different reasons. In the United States, I fit in, though I am an invisible minority-a fair-skinned Latina-but I don't sound right-my accent in English makes me an outsider. In Argentina, I am perceived as not fitting in either. I look right but I am perceived as having lost an Argentine identity. I argue that though the position as an outsider in both one's L1/C1 and L2/C2 could be perceived to be problematic, it is in fact an advantage because one can negotiate one's identities from a third space-a hybrid in-between location that denies homogenized or fixed L1/C1 and L2/C2 (Bhabha, 1990, quoted in Pavlenko & Blackledge, 2004, p. 17).

"(De)Constructing Racial Identities in the ESL Classroom," by Ena Lee
In this paper, I present data excerpts taken from my thesis research that highlight the struggles of a native English-speaking teacher of Asian background as she attempted to negotiate her racial identity with students, staff, and administrators in a Canadian postsecondary ESL program. Through my analysis, I argue that normative discourses of race in TESOL are closely bound to the social categories of gender and class and that these discourses served to reproduce this teacher's inequitable positioning within the program. More broadly, however, I ask, "How do these intersecting discourses dictate which identities minority teachers and students feel they can claim both inside and outside of the classroom?" To conclude, I reflect on the implications of these struggles on how we may begin to reconstruct racialized identities in the TESOL classroom.

"Scrutinizing Othering," by Khadar Bashir-Ali
As a Black nonnative female TESOL professional, I scrutinize the notion of "othering" and the consequent power structure embedded in the filtering of essentialist views of race and gender with the nonnative community at TESOL. The research approach came from a multiple-perspective framework in which all tacit yet existent racial power hierarchies in the nonnative discourse are troubled and questioned.

The session was well attended and we received a number of positive comments from the audience, which speaks to the importance of this issue in TESOL and shows the great interest in such matters among TESOL professionals. We should continue our dialogues on race and (non)nativeness in order to further develop insights into our professional experiences.

Bourdieu, P. (1991). Language and symbolic power (G. Raymond and M. Adamson, Trans.). Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Connor, U. (1999). Learning to write academic prose in a second language: A literacy autobiography. In G. Braine (Ed.), Non-native educators in English language teaching (pp. 29-42). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.
Li, X. (1999). Writing from the vantage point of an outsider/insider. In G. Braine (Ed.), Non-native educators in English language teaching (pp. 43-56). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.
Luke, A. (1996). Genre of power? Literacy education and the production of capital. In R. Hasan & G. Williams (Eds.), Literacy in society (pp. 308-338). New York: Addison Wesley Longman. 
Pavlenko, A., & Blackledge, A. (2004). Introduction: New theoretical approaches to the study of negotiation of identities in multilingual contexts. In A. Pavlenko & A. Blackledge (Eds.), Negotiation of identities in multilingual contexts (pp. 1-33). Clevedon, England: Multilingual Matters.
Stoler, A. (1997). Racial histories and their regimes of truth. Political Power and Social Theory, 11, 183-206.


Ryuko Kubota is an associate professor in the School of Education and the Department of Asian Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She has taught in Japan, Canada, and the United States.

Khadar Bashir-Ali is a visiting assistant professor in foreign and second language education at the Ohio State University. She has taught foreign and second languages in a K-12 urban context for 20 years. Her research interests include equity, access, and diversity in education.

Suresh Canagarajah taught in Sri Lanka for more than a decade before joining the faculty of the City University of New York (Baruch College).

Lía Kamhi-Stein is associate professor in the TESOL MA Program at California State University, Los Angeles (CSULA). She is a past president of CATESOL. Presently, she is serving on the TESOL board of directors as director-at-large (2004-2007). Recently, she received the CSULA Outstanding Professor Award for 2003-2004.

Ena Lee is a PhD candidate in the Department of Language and Literacy Education at the University of British Columbia. Her current research interests include identity and language learning and antiracist education.

Hyunjung Shin is a PhD student in second language education at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education of the University of Toronto.


An Analysis of the Editing Process of NNESs’ Articles

Norbella Miranda, Universidad de San Buenaventura, Cali, Colombia,, and 
Karen Englander Beck, Universidad Autonoma de Baja California, México,

When writers produce a text, if they want it to be as effective as possible, they go through extensive editing before they finally submit it for publication. This may be especially true for nonnative English speakers (NNESs), who tend to revise their manuscripts thoroughly to discover possible shortcomings in style, cohesion, coherence, syntax, or any other language area.

Burrough-Boenisch (2003) described a model of the revision process that NNES scientists experience when trying to have a paper published in a refereed journal. She introduced the term shapers to refer to readers who directly or indirectly modify manuscripts as they influence both content and language of NNES scientists' articles. These shapers are usually the author him- or herself, colleagues, the author's editor, the journal editor, the journal reviewer, and the copyeditors. All of them look at different aspects of texts: content, language use, scientific soundness, text organization, punctuation, genre conventions, grammar, discourse, and rhetoric. When a text is considered suitable and of scientific value for a journal but it contains problematic English, the reviewers or journal editor-or both-"may recommend that the text be revised by an NS."

But what are some of the problems that journal editors find in NNESs' articles? In an ethnographic study made by Flowerdew (2001) with journal editors, he found that the most common problems that NNES scholars seem to have are surface language errors, parochialism, and inappropriateness of the introduction and discussion sections of the paper. In an earlier study, Flowerdew (1999) found that a less rich lexicon was also an impediment for academics when reporting their research in English. Each of these issues is discussed below. 

Problematic Areas of NNESs' Articles

Surface linguistic errors such as S-V agreement or article usage are the most common ones in NNESs' texts, but they do not matter much when journal editors decide whether or not to publish a paper (Flowerdew, 2001; Gosden, 1992). However, changes in sentence structure, particularly from the conventions of one language to another, can add awkwardness of a research article.

What contrastive analysis tells us about what NNESs are asked to edit at the sentence and paragraph level is that sentences and paragraphs need to be reconstructed. One of the most distinctive features of English paragraphs is that they tend to be longer and contain more sentences than Spanish ones, for example (Simpson, 2000). This fact is reflected in Englander's and Miranda's studies. In a study she undertook, Englander (2003) found that for a Mexican scientist's manuscript to be accepted for publication in a leading journal, it had to undergo several changes including an increase in the number of sentences per paragraph (+9%) and the total number of sentences (+39%). Similarly, Miranda's reflection of her own editing process of an article published in a newsletter (Miranda, 2003) shows an increase of 7 percent in the number of sentences per paragraph. Another interesting trait of the English language in academic texts is that sentences are also shorter (Simpson, 2000). Miranda's published article had 24 percent fewer words per sentence than did her initial manuscript.

Swales and Feak (1994) stated that one of the most salient features of academic writing is vocabulary shift as writers need to use a more formal style when addressing an academic audience. Words with Latinate origins, if possible, or a single verb instead of two-word ones, are preferred in academic style. This vocabulary shift is another significant change present in both Englander's and Miranda's analyses. Both published texts contain a richer lexicon, one that is more typical of the academic sphere, as authors use formal and discipline-specific words.

Journal editors often put the greatest value on how the work contributes to the field and whether the claims of the research are appropriate. And although the problem of parochialism is not limited to NNESs, it is found to be one of the most common reasons for NNESs' manuscripts rejection. Parochialism is defined by Flowerdew (2001) as the "failure to show relevance of the study to the international community" and could be considered more serious than linguistic problems. The concept of parochialism is linked to the writer's need to contribute appropriately to the field. Appropriateness is lost when the text does not show that it provides a possible answer to a problem that the discourse community is currently discussing or does not raise a new relevant problematic question. In part, this problem can be due to the difficulty some NNES scientists have in accessing the latest literature when they do not live in developed countries, which makes their participation in the scientific community difficult (Canagarajah, 1996).

Another problem of appropriateness occurs when researchers do not position their contribution well. This problem can be seen when NNESs's research papers fail to "create a research space" (Swales & Feak, 1994). They do not fully comply with the three "moves" in the introductions: establishing a research territory, establishing a niche, and occupying the niche. Englander (2003) found that although the three-move framework for introductions was present in the Mexican scientist's manuscripts she studied, the published version is more aligned with the expected order and there are sentences that clearly mark each of the three moves.

How is this linguistic and stylistic analysis of help to NNESTs?

Analyzing the editing process of manuscripts can be beneficial to nonnative English speakers in TESOL (NNESTs) willing to publish in newsletters, magazines, and journals as part of their professional growth. An awareness of the importance of knowing the characteristics of the genre; having an open attitude toward changes suggested or made by the different shapers, whether native speakers of the language or not; borrowing phrases and smart expressions from already published articles; and being acquainted with the conversations of the field might help NNEST writers to make the editing process smoother and feel less frustrated when they are asked to revise their work (Flowerdew, 1999; Gosden, 1992).

However, no matter the number of shapers' interventions, it is important that the writer's voice be maintained so that it can be heard. As Qian (1995) wisely suggested, the amount of interventions should not shade the author's contribution or change his or her own voice but polish it, as a text should represent mainly the conceptual and literary efforts of the writer and only modestly those of shapers.


Burrough-Boenisch, J. (2003). Shapers of published NNS Research Articles. Journal of Second Language Writing, 12, 223-243.

Canagarajah, A. S. (1996). "Nondiscursive" requirements in academic publishing, material resources of periphery scholars, and the politics of knowledge production." Written Communication, 13(4), 435-472.

Englander, K. (2003, October). Becoming less provocative or how a scientist gets published. Academic paper presented at the national convention of MEXTESOL, Oaxtepec, Mexico.

Flowerdew, J. (1999). Problems in writing for scholarly publication in English: The case of Hong Kong. Journal of Second Language Writing 8(3), 243-264.

Flowerdew, J. (2001). Attitudes of journal editors to nonnative speaker contributions. TESOL Quarterly 35(1). 121-150.

Gosden, H. (1992). Research writing and NNSs: From the editors. Journal of Second Language Writing, 1(2). 123-139.

Miranda, N. (2003). Non-native English teachers' professional development: A double challenge. NNEST Newsletter, (5)1.

Qian, S. (1995). Authorship, ghost writing, ghost translation, and copy-editing? European Science Editing, 54, 9-11.

Simpson, J. M. (2000). Topical structure analysis of academic paragraphs in English and Spanish. Journal of Second Language Writing, 9(3), 2000.

Swales, J., & Feak, C. (1994). Academic Writing for Graduate Students. Essential Tasks and Skills A Course for Nonnative Speakers of English. Ann Arbor, MI: The University of Michigan Press.

Note. This article is based on a Discussion Group Session held during TESOL's 38th Annual Convention in Long Beach, CA.

Norbella Miranda is an associate professor in the Foreign Languages Department of Universidad de San Buenaventura-Cali (Colombia). Her academic interests include foreign language acquisition, critical thinking, and technology-enhanced language learning.

Karen Englander Beck is a professor at Universidad Autonoma de Baja California (Mexico). Her research interests include academic writing.


Second Language Competence: Native Speaker Competence or User Competence?

John Liang, Biola University,

In assessing a non-native-speaking (NNS) teacher's pedagogical expertise, many teachers, including nonnative English-speaking teachers (NNESTs) themselves, often see linguistic competence as a very important criterion, if not the most important one. However, for many NNESTs, the mention of linguistic competence often elicits frustration, a sense of insecurity, and perhaps even a loss of hope. For example, in her survey of local English teachers' perception of their language proficiency in comparison to that of their native speaker counterparts, Tang (1997) discovered that a fairly high percentage of the NNS teachers believed that native speaker teachers were superior in all language skills areas: speaking (100%), pronunciation (92%), listening (87%), vocabulary (79%), and reading (72%). Similarly, Canagarajah (1999) indicated that many NNS teachers, obsessed with their lack of native-like pronunciation, feel compelled to spend undue time repairing their pronunciation, hoping to lose their foreign accent and make it more native-like, while neglecting the fact that instructional skills as well as their rapport with students are equally important. But why are many NNS teachers so anxious about their linguistic competence? The two studies cited above have revealed the answer. Many NNS teachers, voluntarily or involuntarily, perceive something that is unattainable as the criterion for evaluating their language ability: the native speaker's competence.

Native Speaker Competence: Irrelevant to Classroom Learning
The narrow definition of pedagogical expertise in line with native speaker competence comes as no surprise as SLA theories have traditionally emphasized native speaker competence as the necessary point of reference for second language proficiency (Stern, 1983). This definition in turn fosters the native speaker fallacy in language teaching that an ideal teacher is a native speaker teacher (Cook, 1999). In recent years, the native speaker fallacy has been subject to tremendous scholarly criticism in the ELT field. Most of the arguments, however, appear to be situated in the sociolinguistic domain. For instance, Tay (1982) argued that the use of biological origin is inappropriate because aside from native intuition, continued use is also a necessary condition for a high level of fluency. Rampton (1990) contended that it is difficult to arrive at a clear definition of the term native speaker as one can be affiliated with more than one social group and can therefore acquire one or more languages in early childhood. 
Though these arguments discredit the native speaker fallacy and promote the social status of the NNS teacher, a question remains: How do we language teachers address the native speaker fallacy in the language classroom? If the native speaker should not prescribe second language competence, then what criteria should we subscribe to? If native speaker competence is not relevant to classroom learning, then what criteria should be developed to present reasonable goals for second language learners?

Second Language Competence Redefined: User Competence in Attainable Goals
Given the difficulty with and the unreasonableness of the definition of native speaker competence, Cook (1999) suggests that second language competence should not be defined with reference to the native speaker's competence; rather, it should be defined on its own terms, that is, "the ultimate attainment of L2 learning should be defined in term of knowledge of the L2" (p. 191).

Language knowledge versus use: Implication for language learning 
But what constitutes knowledge of a second language? Two concepts warrant consideration: knowledge and use. Knowledge and use are of two different domains. A strong theoretical and analytical knowledge of structure does not warrant an automatic, authentic use of language. For many English language learners, language is often seen as knowledge instead of skill, and to learn English is to be accurate like a native speaker. However, if an automatic, authentic use of language is the goal that language learners should target, then imitating the native speaker becomes irrelevant. Rather, being able to function in a given social situation becomes the ultimate goal. In other words, one learns to use language rather than to be like a native speaker.

In terms of language use, one cannot help mentioning two familiar concepts regarding social and academic language acquisition: Basic Interpersonal Communication Skills (BICS) and Cognitive Academic Language Proficiency (CALP). Although these two concepts have been under much criticism, they offer a good reference point for the discussion of language competence. In ELT, the discrepancy between English language learners' BICS and CALP has been much discussed. For example, although many NNSs have developed an adequate mastery of oral proficiency for daily conversation, their academic reading and writing skills remain underdeveloped. Unaware of various academic genres and rhetoric requirements, especially those that are specific to their field of studies, many advanced English language learners remain ill at ease with academic writing. This unease also happens among many NNS teacher trainees. For them, academic writing anxiety is everpresent.

Attainable characteristics of user competence
The concepts of knowledge and use as well as BICS and CALP have offered a basic framework for understanding the complexity of second language competence. However, it is desirable to identify a set of attainable goals, so that a new definition of second language competence can be relevant to classroom learning. In their attempts to detail the characteristics that native speakers share, Davies (1995), Johnson and Johnson (1998), and Stern (1983) came up with the following list:

(a) a subconscious knowledge of language rules; 
(b) an intuitive grasp of meanings; 
(c) the ability to communicate within various social contexts; 
(d) a range of language skills; 
(e) creativity of language use; 
(f) identification with a language community; 
(g) the ability to produce fluent discourse; and 
(h) the knowledge of differences between their own speech and that of the "standard" form of the language.

Whereas these characteristics were originally identified to supplement the definition of native speaker, they do represent attainable goals for language learners-because these characteristics are not exclusively shared by native speakers but are also shared by skilled nonnative speakers to various degrees. As such, these goals are not merely learner goals but also user goals; they do not merely address the linguistic aspect of language learning but also the social and motivational aspect of language learning (Cook, 1999).

For classroom practices, further research is definitely needed to develop a more systematic definition of attainable characteristics of second language competence. No matter what model is developed, second language competence should be focused on at least two areas: authenticity and systematicity. Not only should second language learners and NNS teachers continue to develop a systematic understanding of grammar structure, but they should also direct their attention to developing other kinds of language competences, such as appropriateness of language use and discourse competence-at both the conversational and academic level. Furthermore, second language competence should be extended beyond the linguistic domain into other cognitive, social, and motivational domains. This extension is particularly important for NNS language teachers because as skilled second language users, their authenticity and systematicity in language knowledge and use present to their students a good language and language learning model to follow.


Cook, V. (1999). Going beyond the native speaker in language teaching. TESOL Quarterly, 33(2), 185-210.
Canagarajah, S. (1999). Interrogating the "native speaker fallacy": Non-linguistic roots, non-pedagogical results. In G. Braine (Ed.), Non-native educators in English language teaching (pp. 77-92). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.
Davies, A. (1995). Proficiency or the native speaker: What are we trying to achieve in ELT? In G. Cook & B. Seidlhofer (Eds.), Principle and practice in applied linguistics (pp. 145-157). Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.
Johnson, K., & Johnson, H. (Eds.). (1998). Encyclopedic dictionary of applied linguistics. Oxford, England; Malden, MA: Blackwell.
Rampton, M. B. H. (1990). Displacing the "native speaker": Expertise, affiliation, and inheritance. ELT Journal, 44(2), 97-101.
Stern, H. H. (1983). Fundamental concepts of language teaching. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.
Tang, C. (1997). On the power and status of nonnative ESL teachers. TESOL Quarterly, 31(3), 557-583.
Tay, M. W. J. (1982) The users, uses, and features of English in Singapore. In J. B. Pride (Ed.), New Englishes (pp. 51-72). Rowley, MA: Newbury House.

John Liang is an associate professor of TESOL at Biola University, La Mirada, California. His research interests are in second language reading/writing, technology-enhanced language learning, and English pedagogical grammar.


On NNES Teacher Trainees’ Narratives in the Classroom Discourse of a TESOL Program

Lisya Seloni, The Ohio State University,, and Yesim Bektas-Cetinkaya, The Ohio State University, 

The purpose of this article is to call for more attention to be paid to the importance of the narratives of nonnative English speakers (NNESs) in the TESOL classroom discourse and on the positioning of NNESs in this discourse. Language used in any discourse is neither a transparent communication vehicle nor simply a mirror of reality; instead, language involves complex social, cultural, political, cognitive, and linguistic processes (Fairclough, 1993). Often, these complex processes are packed into personal narratives, which not only describe a sequence of events but also consciously or unconsciously carry some moral judgments and ideologies and contribute to the construction of NNES professionals' identities.

Much research has been done on the self-perceptions of NNES professionals, especially on their language proficiency and other features that are connected to their nonnative status (Brutt-Griffler & Samimy, 1999; Kamhi-Stein, 2000; Liu, 1999). These studies mostly focused on the self-perceptions of NNES graduate students and on how to empower them through different graduate classes adapted to their needs. Research on issues that pertain to NNES professionals is relatively new, and little has been said on what is happening inside TESOL classrooms, a place for academic enhancement and professional identity construction.

In this article, we discuss how NNES teacher trainees at an American university position their professional identity in TESOL classrooms through spoken discourse, and how this positioning influences the construction of Self as Other. In light of the fact that social knowledge is revealed in the performance of speech events, it is important to examine the speech events of NNESs within macro discourse, which involves the social, cultural, and historical contexts surrounding the micro discourse of the classroom. We believe that focusing on NNES teacher trainees' narratives and the classroom interactions of linguistically and culturally hybrid TESOL students can provide invaluable insights into the ways to accommodate NNES teacher trainees' needs. It also contributes to our understanding about how to create a classroom interaction in which both NESs and NNESs can work collaboratively, and in which NNESs can make attempts to enhance their self-esteem.

An Insider Observation

On the basis of our observations as NNES teacher trainees in a TESOL program, classroom research, and discourse analysis of classroom interactions, we argue that many NNES teacher trainees in the observed TESOL program are inclined to position themselves as passive agents rather than active agents of the TESOL program community. For instance, NNES teacher trainees are generally not willing to take initiatives in classroom discussions, they are hesitant to share their ideas, they occasionally take the floor in class discussions, or they simply remain silent during the whole class time. We think that this type of participation might lead to a low-profile social identity, which contributes to marginalization or silencing in the classroom, eventually affecting NNES teacher trainees on more macro levels in the academic arenas of TESOL.

Unlike what NESs say in class, many of the stories that NNES teacher trainees tell in class involve narrative statements based on their personal experiences rather than evaluative or commentary statements. For instance, usually teachers encourage NNES students to tell their personal stories as language learners or EFL teachers. Although this kind of sharing helps NNES teacher trainees participate in classroom interactions, it is important to unpack these NNES personal narratives in order to see whether they could lead to self-marginalization. In these personal narratives, it appears that NNES teacher trainees have a tendency to overemphasize their failures rather than tell their success stories. For instance, in some observed classes, when the discussion topic was English proficiency or teaching English, some NNES teacher trainees made comments such as "our English is never good enough," "we fail in spoken tests more than three times," or "I can never speak as good as a native speaker." In most of these narratives the endpoint was negative-a failure or a loss. These student teachers' narratives were full of sad endings, which generated a disempowering discourse. One of the most common themes of the narratives was that NNES teacher trainees study hard to do their best to be legitimate participants of the TESOL community but constantly fail.

NNES teacher trainees' negative perception of their identity is not surprising considering their general positioning in macro discourse. There is a common misconception that White monolingual English speakers who use English own the language (Norton, 1997). The social construction of native speaker and nonnative speaker identity seems to exclude bilinguals, who have native English speaker proficiency, from being authentic native speakers because they know another language (Brutt-Griffler & Samimy, 2001). Moreover, NNES professionals are discriminated against on the basis of race regardless of their language proficiency or pedagogical experience (Amin, 1999), and NES professionals are generally believed to be better English teachers. Furthermore, by defining communicative competence in relation to this idealized native speaker, NNESs become necessarily dependent on the authority of mythical monolingual NESs (Alptekin, 2002).

NNES teacher trainees positioning themselves as passive agents and their negative narratives may be explained with the construction of NNES teacher trainees as the Other. As Kubota (2001) argued, the American school system appears to essentialize the culture of NNESs and perceives it as fundamentally different from the idealized perception of Self culture by creating the dichotomy of Self and Other. The process of Othering (i.e., defining other groups in opposition to self) closely relates to issues of power. Power is exercised to create and maintain certain knowledge of Self and Other as truth. When applied to the case of NNES teacher trainees, NES teacher trainees are perceived as the legitimate owners of the English language, but NNES teacher trainees are perceived as speakers of Other languages who are essentially different from the idealized NESs.

Whereas NESs are expected to participate in classroom interactions by stating their opinions and questioning authority (Kubota, 2001) in order to indicate their critical thinking and authority, NNESs are not expected to be autonomous or critical but instead are commonly believed to be passive and reluctant to question authority. As a result of this dichotomy, the expectations and the practices of instructors and NES teacher trainees lead NNES teacher trainees to take certain roles and act in certain expected ways. Instructors who expect different things from NNES and NES teacher trainees in terms of their participation patterns may disable NNES teacher trainees by forcing them to take a passive role.


As NNES teacher trainees, we acknowledge the struggles that an NNES teacher trainee experiences in many domains of the English teaching profession. We work hard to improve our language proficiency as well as our content knowledge, and, most important, we adjust our behaviors to be accepted as legitimate participants of the TESOL community. However, we believe that in our narratives, we need to reconstruct our identities as active agents by underlining our success stories in which we face many struggles but finally succeed. It is in these stories that we include our worldviews, judgments, and experiences. So NNES teacher trainees need to focus more on their success and create a positive discourse.

We think it is time to believe in ourselves and emphasize our resourcefulness rather than continue to see ourselves as inferior or incompetent. As Canagarajah (1999a) mentioned, most of us get the feeling that a "gloomy profession" is waiting for us with all its obstacles and problems, but whatever profession one enters, the possibilities of discrimination and obstacles exist, regardless of one's first language. We believe that focusing only on the gloomy part of our profession will not do any good for our language and teaching development.
As mentioned earlier, the NES/NNES dichotomy (Self and Other) creates a discriminatory practice. Following the resistance theories' definition of power (Canagarajah, 1999b), we believe that power does not always come in a top-down manner. Power is not necessarily tied to specific groups or identities; we can negotiate our roles and identities through language in different contexts and situations. As NNES professionals, we have to negotiate our roles and must not readily accept the identities that are given to us. We need to be aware of how "we" represent ourselves in relation to how we are perceived by others and negotiate our place in this power flow chart in the TESOL field.

Last, as members of the NNES community, we need to be actively involved in both local and international organizations, and we need to keep telling our success stories to show how much we contribute to the field. It is time for us to be active agents, using our differences as resources rather than perceiving ourselves as victims of the mainstream. The change may come slowly, but it will never come at all unless we open ourselves to collaboration and more dialogic learning in TESOL classrooms.


Alptekin, C. (2002). Towards intercultural communicative competence in ELT. ELT Journal, 56(1), 57-64.

Amin, N. (1999) Minority women teachers of ESL: Negotiating white English. In G. Braine (Ed), Non-Native Educators in English Language Teaching (93-105). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.

Amin, N. (1997). Race and the identity of the nonnative ESL teacher. TESOL Quarterly, 31(3), 580-583.

Brutt-Briffler, J., & Samimy, K. K. (1999). Revisiting the colonial in the postcolonial: Critical praxis for nonnative English-speaking teachers in a TESOL program. TESOL Quarterly, 33, 13-32.

Brutt-Griffler, J., & Samimy, K. K. (2001). Transcending the nativeness paradigm. World Englishes, 20, 99-106.

Canagarajah, A. S. (1999a). Interrogating the "Native speaking fallacy": Non-linguistic roots, non-pedagogical results. In G. Braine (Ed.), Nonnative educators in English language teaching (pp.77-92). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.

Canagarajah, A. S. (1999b). Resisting linguistic imperialism in teaching English. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Fairclough, N. (1993). Discourse and social change. Cambridge, England: Polity Press.

Kamhi-Stein, L. D. (2000). Adapting US-based TESOL teacher education to meet the needs of nonnative English speakers. TESOL Journal, 9(3), 10-14.

Kubota, R. (2001). Discursive construction of the images of U.S. classrooms. TESOL Quarterly, 35(1), 9-38.

Liu, J. (1999). Nonnative-English speaking professionals. TESOL Quarterly, 33(1), 38-102.

Norton, B. (1997). Language, identity, and the ownership of English. TESOL Quarterly, 31, 409-429. 
Lisya Seloni is a third year PhD student in the foreign and second language education program at The Ohio State University. Her research interests include (critical) discourse analysis, sociolinguistics, language and power issues, and issues related to nonnative English speakers. She has taught English and Turkish to learners of different ages.

Yesim B. Cetinkaya is a PhD candidate in the foreign and second language education program at The Ohio State University. Her research interests include issues related to nonnative English speakers, intercultural communication, and teaching English as an international language. She has worked as an English teacher in her native country, Turkey, and has presented several papers locally and internationally.

Teaching English in China: NNESTs Need Not Apply?

Tiffany Shao, American University,

China is suffering from yingwen re, which translates to "English Fever." This fervor to learn English has been "elevated to epidemic proportions" by China's acceptance into the World Trade Organization, and the opportunity to host the Olympics in 2008 (Power, 2005). Consequently, demand for English teachers in China has been on the rise. Such great demand, however, has neither promoted nor reflected the professionalism evident and demanded in the field of TESOL. For example, many schools would want to hire foreigners who have a "college degree and native fluency in English" (Walfish, 2000). This situation makes it very difficult for Chinese American nonnative English-speaking teachers (NNESTs) with professional training in TESOL to teach in China because they cannot compete in the job market with a native speaker, even one without any professional training in TESOL or teaching experience.

I am a Chinese American NNEST in the field of TESOL. This paper recounts my disappointing experience seeking English as a foreign language (EFL) teaching positions in universities in China. In retrospect, my disappointment may have been heightened because the results and responses I have received thus far undermine my initial enthusiasm and optimism: I had assumed, on the basis of my short private tutoring experiences in Taiwan, that my ability to speak Mandarin Chinese and my near-native fluency in English would make me a highly sought-after English teacher in China, as I was in Taiwan. I hope to achieve two goals with this paper: (1) to reveal the hidden discrimination in hiring English teachers in China as a first small step to bring about change, and (2) to make native speakers aware of such discrimination so that they are more sensitive and empathetic to NNESTs.

Following the Chinese tradition of establishing guanxi (connections), I knew that I needed contacts in China to find a job there. If I built my guanxi early and purposefully, I might even be able to find a good job through word of mouth while I was still in the United States. The following valuable information, advice, and personal experiences on teaching EFL in China were all given to me by my guanxi:

(1) A former Chinese classmate: Fan returned to China after obtaining her MA in TESOL from American University. She now works part-time as a teacher trainer and recruiter for a private language school/recruiting agency in Beijing. This fellow Chinese TESOLer dampened my enthusiasm right from the start by being straightforward with me: "If you want me to tell you the truth, I would suggest you not come to teach in China. Discrimination on [sic] colored people is quite strong in China. Most colleges, universities, and language institutions prefer WHITE only." She also confirmed that I, an American citizen, could be treated by school administrators as a Chinese and therefore be paid less than foreign native speakers because I am ethnically Chinese (personal communication, March 2, 2005). Later I found postings on Dave's ESL Café that confirmed Fan's reality check: a Chinese Canadian who taught in China received comments such as "I don't want my child to be taught by a foreign teacher who doesn't look like a foreigner" and "[I]t's just not that interesting to be speaking English with a foreigner who is of Chinese heritage" (Anonymous, 2004). Also, Laurence (2004) states that students in a famous university in Beijing cannot understand the English spoken by their "White English teacher who is French; their previous English teacher was Spanish. It seems that China is the dream come true for all unqualified White teachers."

(2) A teacher recruiter based in the States: Mrs. S. has taught in China, and she gave me a possible logical reason behind why my ability to speak Mandarin Chinese could be a disadvantage in being hired: "I've actually had complaints from some of the school administrators about bilingual teachers. The students won't speak English if they know you will speak Chinese. So best keep [your ability to speak Mandarin] a secret from your students" (personal communication, March 16, 2005). The Chinese seem to hold a double standard regarding being bilingual: foreigners who have learned to speak a few words of Chinese can find "new worlds of communication and possible friendships" (Weiner, Murphy, & Li, 1997), whereas Chinese Americans are expected to be able to speak their mother tongue, but if they do, they are not considered qualified to teach English.

(3) A former Peace Corps volunteer: Ms. W., who taught in China, is the only one who was encouraging about my qualifications for teaching English in China: "You would be a great asset to the Peace Corps China Program. They really need volunteers of all types, especially those with a master's and who can also speak Chinese and/or read and write Chinese characters" (personal communication, February, 28, 2005). It is interesting to note that my qualifications are seen as positive and desired by Peace Corps-a foreign government-sponsored agency sending teachers to China. In other words, being affiliated with a foreign-sponsored agency possibly guarantees better treatment and respect by the Chinese.

(4) A 17-year-old high school student from China: SW, whom I tutor on weekdays, has been in the United States for about a year. Although the tutoring was arranged by his ESL teacher rather than by his parents, SW said his parents would hire me as a private English tutor if we were in China because I am bilingual and bicultural. However, he did also acknowledge that most parents in China would choose native speakers over Chinese-born private English tutors. SW also said that Chinese parents perceive native speakers as better teachers for speaking and conversation but Chinese-born English tutors as better teachers for grammar (personal communication, March 7-9, 2005). I suspect that SW's parents are more open to hiring a bilingual Chinese American as a private tutor because his family is relatively wealthy, educated, and well-traveled. In fact, all of the students I tutored in Taiwan were from such families. It is possible that as China transforms itself to a more market-driven society with increasing exposure to the West, people's attitudes toward "ownership of English" might become more inclusive of NNESTs.

It is clear that my contacts gave me conflicting information and advice about teaching English in China as an NNEST. Officially, the State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs, which regulates hiring of foreign teachers, maintains that "If you are fluent and have excellent knowledge of English and only slight accent and have lived in the [sic] Australia, United Kingdom, Canada, New Zealand or USA for some years, you are may be well qualified to get a very good teaching job in China" (China TESOL Teachers Registry, 2004). In other words, even the Chinese central government agency does not guarantee equal employment for NNESTs. Does this mean native speakers have an advantage? If recruiters are as professional as Ms. S. is, they would practice what she does at her agency: Teachers of all ethnicities are encouraged to apply and recruited. Ms. S. regretfully admitted that she has no control over the hiring decisions made by Chinese schools; however, she does ask the schools to send rejection letters to applicants directly (personal communication, March 16, 2005). The unwritten preference of Chinese schools, students, and parents for White native speakers to teach English certainly does not help, especially in EFL environments, in promoting TESOL as a profession equal to the teaching of other subjects. Teaching English is often a business rather than education in China: Schools hire White native speakers to increase their prestige and, especially for private language schools, to attract clients, who believe only White native speakers can teach English. Fan said that she had to unwillingly "give up" the hiring of "a lot of excellent American-Korean teachers" and that she "challenged" her boss to "hire an African American" (personal communication, March 2, 2005). If there were more sympathetic native speaker recruiters such as Ms. S. and more professionally trained NNESTs such as Fan, perhaps the TESOL profession in China would better benefit both the trained teachers and the students.

Despite the conflicting information I received regarding my employability in China, I did not give up on teaching English in China. My contacts' personal experiences about teaching English in China will remain almost hearsay to me until I experience them myself during my job search. I am just now not as idealistic and naïve as before. I will now add a mission to my desire to teach in China: to be the most qualified NNEST to show students, school administrators, parents, and fellow teachers who were hired just because they are native speakers that NNESTs are indeed qualified and competent teachers.

Anonymous. (2004, January 29). Beware if you are an ABC/CBC/BBC. Message posted to
China TESOL Teachers Registry. (2004). 42 of the most frequently asked questions about teaching English in China. Retrieved April 14, 2005, from
Laurence. (2004, May 15). Qualification to teach in China…be White. Message posted to 1084611816-36880.txt
Power, C. (2005). Not the Queen's English: Non-native English-speakers now outnumber native ones 3 to 1. And it's changing the way we communicate.Newsweek International. Retrieved March 7, 2005, from
Walfish, D. (2000). Teaching English in China: Do it yourself: The steps to finding a job as a foreign teacher. Transitions Abroad. Retrieved April 14, 2005, from
Weiner, R., Murphy, M., & Li, A. (1997). Living in China: A guide to teaching and studying in China including Taiwan and Hong Kong (Rev. ed.). San Francisco, CA: China Books and Periodicals, Inc.


Tiffany Shao, a generation 1.5er from Taiwan, received her MA in TESOL from American University in May 2005. She now teaches ESL and citizenship exam preparation for Montgomery County (MD) Public Schools Adult Education Program, and Mandarin Chinese at American University.


Announcements TESOL Awards and Grants Click to view the article. [PDF]
TESOL’s Awards and Grants Program: The Experience of Two Award Winners

Valerie Borchelt, Programs Coordinator, TESOL,

Lucia Santos and Isabela Villas Boas of Brasilia, Brazil, first heard about TESOL's Awards and Grants Program through a flier they received, but dismissed the awards as being not for them because of the number of successful professionals in the EFL field. In fact, when they received the letter congratulating them on being awarded the TOEFL Board Award for International Participation at TESOL, they didn't even remember applying, because when submitting their proposal ("Action Research Changing Teachers' Attitudes Toward Corrective Feedback") online, all they had done was check the 'yes' box that asked if they were eligible for the award. Now Lucia and Isabela are actively encouraging their colleagues to apply for TESOL's awards and grants by giving a presentation on tips for writing TESOL proposals and on how to become a recipient of a TESOL grant or award. From their experience, they now assert that any teacher can frame his or her focus of expertise into an acceptable proposal and receive recognition for it.

Looking back on their experience, Lucia and Isabela feel honored to have been recognized by a respected international institution and they agreed that the pride their coworkers felt in having their colleagues receive such an award was an award in itself.  They also were proud to be able to represent their country and their language institute, Casa Thomas Jefferson, by having their research presentation accepted and presented as a discussion group. 

As for the convention experience, although both had participated in previous conventions, attending the San Antonio convention as award winners added to the experience. As award winners, Isabela and Lucia interacted heavily with other award winners and, in doing so, reaped the benefit of learning more about other awards offered by TESOL. At the same time, they were able to share teaching experiences with teachers of English from all over the world.

A favorite memory from the convention for the pair occurred while volunteering to sell raffle tickets to benefit TESOL's Awards and Grants Program. Thanks to this opportunity to interact with so many people, Isabela and Lucia learned much about the American culture and increased the depth of their English skills by learning several ways of refusing or accepting an offer.

Overall, for Lucia and Isabela, attending the convention as recipients of an award encouraged them in their teaching profession. More specifically, a plenary presentation they attended encouraged them as EFL teachers to "use the English language for communication and teach [their] students that the target norm should not be that of the native speaker of English but that of the expert user of English as a lingua franca."

Lucia Santos has been a teacher and a teacher developer at the Casa Thomas Jefferson (CTJ) in Brasilia, Brazil, for over 20 years and was CTJ deputy coordinator for 12 years. She now serves as the CTJ main branch coordinator. She holds an MA in applied linguistics from the Universidade de Brasília in Brazil and participates in the organization and publication of the magazine Desempenho. Her main field of interest is English phonetics and phonology, with a major focus on segmental features.

Isabela Villas Boas has a BA in journalism and an MA in TESL from Arizona State University in the United States. She has worked at the Casa Thomas Jefferson (CTJ), a binational center in Brasília, Brazil, for 18 years, where she has taught learners of all ages and levels. She is currently a pedagogical consultant responsible for overseeing the supervisory work of all courses. She is also responsible for CTJ's Teachers' Development Courses. She recently designed and undertook supervision of the Public School Teachers' Development Program, a program sponsored by the U.S. Embassy and Macmillan Publishers, and Special Book Services. This program aims to improve the teaching of English in public schools in Brasília. She has presented various workshops and papers at local and national conferences. Her major interests are writing, assessment, and grammar.