Research Interests

Sojourning English language teachers (ELTs)

My current research interest, in line with my research agenda, is on sojourning ELTs, who are people who travel abroad for the main purpose of teaching English for at least one year.  A sojourner differs from a tourist, who could be teaching English for less than a year, and an immigrant, who intends to live abroad for most of his or her life (Bochner, 2006).

I am personally interested in sojourning ELTs because I was one from 1998 to 2001 and from 2003 to 2007.  I would like to learn more about how members of this population perceive themselves professionally and culturally and how others, specifically other ELTs and citizens of the host country, perceive them.

I am professionally interested in sojourning ELTs because my experience and the literature shows that there are many issues, pedagogically and culturally, that can make teaching English overseas difficult and maybe unnecessary (Holliday, 1994, 2005).  Specifically, I am interested in how sojourning ELTs adjust themselves and their pedagogy to the sociocultural needs of the overseas classroom.  I am also interested in how they interpret their roles in the global spread of English.

Intercultural competence of teachers

My dissertation research project and my previous position at Kirkwood Community College have further developed my interest in the intercultural competence of teachers.  When academic performance or classroom management issues arise because of cultural differences between the teacher and the learner, I am interested in how the teacher identifies solutions to this issues.  For example, when a report came out about African-American males performing poorly in community colleges, I was interested in if, how, and why teachers feel responsible, even if partially, for these outcomes.  I am even more fascinated how this interest relates to if, how, and why English language teachers in a classroom with international students all over the world feel responsible for the low performance outcomes for a certain cultural group in their classrooms.

Personal learning networks (PLNs)

My dissertation research project and my current position at Southern Illinois University have also developed my interest in the role social media plays in the professional development of English language teachers.  My dissertation research project has shown me how some sojourning ELTs support each other personally and professionally through their blogs, microblogs (Twitter), and YouTube videos.  One of my interests is to join these online communities as a participant-observer.

On a more general level, I would like to investigate the efficacy of personal learning networks.  How do they help teachers improve their pedagogy?  What are the benefits of PLNs in the short-term and in the long-term?  How do teachers manage their online PLNs with their institutional and other face-to-face PLNs?

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