Dear NNEST members,
I would like to thank you all for giving me the support over the past year in my previous role as Chair-Elect of the NNEST Interest Section (2011-2012). In anticipation of what our Interest Session can achieve in the coming year, as Chair, I would like to see a continuity in implementing what Icy Lee, our Past Chair, has put in place so that our Interest Section will continue to grow both professionally and academically.
The NNEST Interest Section started years ago as a Caucus by TESOL veteran George Braine together with like-minded NNEST colleagues Jun Liu (later becoming the first TESOL President of a NNEST background) and Lia Kamhi-Stein, and was supported by colleagues in our profession, including Brock Brady, a Past President of TESOL and Leslie Barratt, both of whom are English-speaking academics in the USA. We are proud of the historical legacy created by our seniors, which needs to be carried forward with new inputs for further development of NNEST as a research group as well as a meeting place that unites us as a professional entity. For obvious reasons, colleagues in our profession have invigorated our academic and professional activity with new theoretical perspectives in recent years, including but not limited to, race theory, identity theories, and other sociocultural approaches, to investigate and analyze race and skin color-based discrimination and other challenges facing many of the NNESTs seeking employment in both English-dominant and EFL contexts. By this I mean not only in North America but also in other parts of the world.
Increasingly, in sociolinguistic circles and educational linguistics in general, scholars have found that discrimination based on accent (whether the person sounds native or nonnative) is an issue of little relevance. As a university teacher working in Singapore then and in New Zealand now, personally, I feel profoundly how insignificant it is if a judgment on English-speakers is made based on the criterion of “nativeness”. The “native vs. nonnative” divide is in most cases based on fallacy. In fact, the dynamics of world Englishes has made it a norm for people to use English the way they wish in many professional encounters. This is because the use of English is closely tied to the user’s professional and ethnic identity. As a community, I welcome colleagues’ continuing contributions to extending the dialogs between and among researchers and practitioners in our profession, embracing diversity in outlooks, reaching out to those who have limited understandings about language learning and teaching. Educating friends and colleagues around us through our own actions and embodiment of what it entails to be proficient language teaching professionals and advocating equity in our profession in various contexts around the world will remain a long-term goal for all of us. Let us work together for the common good of humanity.
In the wake of such musing and pondering, I am happy to see that we can move further beyond the boundary that has been mentally set by those who show their lack of confidence in NNESTs. We can do so through collective wisdom in our Interest Section. By virtue of the presence of a large number of NNESTs in the field of TESOL and these colleagues’ aspirations for better research-informed practice in the classroom and beyond, I would like to conclude with a confident statement. The new NNEST IS team will be able to address the concerns and worries arising from NNEST IS members’ professional experience. But we can only do so by openly talking about issues that bother us and exploring avenues for progression in our profession. I am proud to present my team members for the term 2012-2013, and they are:
Chair-elect: Ali Faud Selvi, Past chair: Icy Lee, Newsletter editor: Naashia Mohamed
Editorial assistants: Sunyung Song, Terry Doyle and Grazzia Mendoza, Listserv manager: Elena Andrei, Web manager: Ogie Udambor Bumandalai , Members-at-large: Enric Llurda and Luciana de Oliveria, and our Historian: George Braine. I am grateful to them all for their willingness to serve our Interest Section.
By way of introducing the newly elected team for the NNEST Interest Section, I call for your attention to the forthcoming TESOL convention, The 47th Annual International TESOL Convention, which will be held in Dallas, TX, USA, 20 – 23 March 2013. That will be a good platform for us to openly discuss issues pertaining to NNEST Interest Section and its members. I strongly recommend that all members submit proposals so that we will have more presentations with NNEST foci.
Looking forward to seeing many of you at our next Open Meeting to be held during the TESOL Convention 2013 in Dallas, TX, USA!
Chair, NNEST Interest Section (2012-2013)
TESOL International Association, USA
Lawrence Jun Zhang, PhD
School of Curriculum & Pedagogy
The Faculty of Education
The University of Auckland