Teacher Qualification Frameworks and Equity in Hiring

Lots of university language centres in Canada get a big influx of EAP students in the Fall semester, and that often means hiring on more instructors. Although that’s not the case with our centre this year, it’s got me thinking about hiring.

In Canada, language schools or institutes might operate within a couple of different accreditation or certification frameworks in terms of the qualifications of academic staff hired: TESL Canada Professional Certification, a provincial certification process, or if it’s a Languages Canada-accredited language training institution, their Classification of TESOL Qualifications.

TESL Canada and Languages Canada are great organizations, and their existence and advocacy has contributed immensely to the professionalization and raising standards of English language teaching in Canada, especially with regards to teachers on government-sponsored immigrant language programs (Burnaby 2003; Sivell 2005; Chafe and Wang, 2008), and with regards to private language schools.

At the same time, the teaching of English for Academic Purposes in the higher education context seems to be a bit of a different beast in terms of the qualifications, background and experience of value in a potential instructor. For example, advanced degrees, research experience, familiarity with academic discourse(s) in different disciplines and published academic work is all of great value in an EAP instructor. BALEAP’s TEAP Competency Framework reflects this in a way that general ELT certification frameworks don’t (and can’t).

I also think that some aspects of the general ELT certification and accreditation frameworks work against diversity and equity in hiring, especially in a context like Canada. For example, for TESL Canada certification a teacher’s training has to have been carried out at an institution on their list of accredited training programs. This list is, in my opinion, very short, and every institution on it is located in Canada. If your training is from another institution, you have to apply for an onerous and expensive prior learning assessment and recognition (PLAR) process. In an industry as globally-mobile as TESOL, and in a country with as much immigration as Canada, this is quite out of touch with the reality on the ground, where a great number of us (myself included) have training, qualifications and experience from outside the country.

Similarly, TESL Canada has a very narrow definition of acceptable English(es). They require any applicants for certification who have not completed an undergraduate degree at an English-speaking university in one of the countries on this list to show proof of language proficiency. Lists of this type are common in university admissions, etc., but this particular list has a couple of notable omissions, such as Pakistan and India. In these two countries, English-medium higher education is very common, and there are also a significant number of Canadians who have received their education there. Why are they not on that list?

Finally, both TESL Canada and Languages Canada TESOL Qualification criteria prescribe training programs with a very specific minimum of observation and practicum hours. While recent certificate, diploma and degree-programs in the Anglo world might be likely to include these elements that is not the case in many contexts around the world. Folks who have received their TESOL training in the context of a bachelor’s or master’s degree in many different countries would not have had observations or practicum placements, as it’s simply not the norm.

Why flexibility and ability to exercise judgement in hiring are extremely important, as they allow me to hire who I consider to be qualified and a good fit for a given position, be they born, raised and trained in Canada, a recent newcomer to Canada, a Canadian with diverse worldwide experience, or a speaker of one of a variety of World Englishes. If someone has a degree in TESL from another country with no practicum, but a ton of teaching experience, then I can hire them. If they speak Indian English, I don’t have to subject them to an IELTS test. If they have a master’s in biology on top of their other qualifications, I can value that and put them on a science writing course. Languages Canada provides some flexibility by stipulating, for example, that “there will be a valid rationale provided for the employment of any teachers or academic leader without the ELT/TESOL qualifications specified.” This is extremely important not just to allow hiring to reflect the difference between EAP and general ELT, but to ensure I can hire a complement of qualified, experienced and engaged teachers that reflects the diversity of the Canadian population. Our educational program is the richer for it.

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ELT and International Higher Ed

I’ve been neglecting my blog, I’m afraid. It’s ready to blame it solely on my doctoral thesis, which nearing completion, but it’s not just that. My professional role has expanded to include the realm of international higher education, which has meant a bunch of missions abroad representing the university, our English language unit, and Canadian higher ed in general over the past year and a half or so. Mostly to Latin America, and usually with a consortium or co-op such as the CALDO Consortium, Languages Canada or EduNova, these missions have been not only extremely interesting, but have given me some new insight into the the role of language in the internationalization of higher education.

For example, the growth of international education has gone hand-in-hand with the rise of English language as a medium for teaching, learning and research. As a result, English-medium instruction, language training for students and academics, and language capacity-building play an important role in many international partnerships. As well, policies and practices such as language proficiency requirements for admission, and standardized language testing continue to be points of discussion. However, the potentially important role language in international education is often underestimated. How innovative approaches to language can contribute to sustainable and successful initiatives is not adequately discussed.

I see this lack of attention paid to the role and potential of language in international higher ed as especially glaring  when it is done by Anglo-Canadian institutions. Going into meetings with institutions from places where English is not the dominant language, language proficiency, training, assessment and EMI are often prominent concerns, brought up right from the start in discussion of student and faculty mobility and joint research collaboration, etc. A monolingual mindset is prevalent at many Anglo-Canadian universities (more on that in my thesis!). This means that sometimes Canadian institutions don’t seem to think that these are important concerns and don’t address them as they build programs. Sometimes institutions don’t see language teaching, learning and research as “proper” scholarship, and miss opportunities for things like short-term language courses to be a first step in collaboration between two institutions while more complicated agreements get worked out for things like joint doctoral degrees or other more involved sorts of collaboration.

Language Awareness for All

Forever35 Podcast: Two friends that like to talk about serums

Yes, so I love podcasts! (And have talked about them on this blog here and here.)I was listening to the Forever35 podcast the other day, (getting some advice on serums and the like, as one does), and there was a relative controversy that erupted over micellar water/eau micellaire–not over the cosmetic product itself, but over the pronunciation.

The show hosts had commented on a previous episode about not knowing how to pronounce the name of this product, so various people called in suggesting pronunciations: someone from Switzerland giving /mi.sɪ.’lɛ
ʁ / , and someone from the US suggesting /maɪ.’sɛ.lər/. The hosts kept making a big deal out of how different these pronunciations were, and that they still didn’t know which one was the “right” pronunciation.

What struck me about this whole podcast was the lack of language awareness. These weren’t two differing pronunciations of the same word, but the pronunciations of two separate words in two completely different languages. It wasn’t that one was right and the other wrong; one is correct in English and the other correct in French. It’s not really a debate. Now if it had been a debate on the wheres, whens and hows of, for example, using French loanwords for cosmetics or other products in English, it would have been interesting. But it was two people not really noticing the difference between two completely different languages. (Don’t worry, it was cleared up on the following episode, after a bunch of listeners who were probably thinking the same thing as me called in to clear up the (non-)debate!

To me it seemed like such an example of the monolingual mindset (Clyne, 2005), a denial of societal de facto multi/plurilingualism in the context of monolingualism in the dominant majority language (in this American case, English) as the default standard. Amongst all various other phenomena associated with the monolingual mindset is a lack of interest in, or value put on learning /speaking of other languages, as it is seen as something difficult outside the realm of ordinary people. The hosts of the podcast were so thoroughly immersed in a monolingual mindset that it didn’t occur to them that the two pronunciations of micellar/micellaire might actually be in two languages; they could only comprehend them as being variants on the English word, one of which had to be wrong.

I don’t bring this up to try to brag about the fact that I happen to know English and French and so this stood out to me. Rather, it was a reminder to me that there are lots of people who live in different contexts where a monolingual mindset is the status quo, and sometimes those same people end up moving to Canada to study and joining our language classes.

In an EAP context I like to do a lot of (critical) language and linguistic awareness-raising of everything: socio-cultural contexts of language use, language and power, phonological awareness, awareness of the history of English, social variability of language use, etc.. I like to make comparisons between English and other languages, as well, as especially where relevant to talk about vocabulary loanwords, or to compare syntactic phenomena.

These are such interests of mine, and I’ve been studying/talking about them for so long, if I get too excited I might get carried away: my teacher talk getting too jargon-y, and I might dive too fast and too deep into some of the topics I’ve mentioned above. But if someone is coming from a context where the monolingual mindset it present, their language awareness might be at a very low level. In that case, the language awareness pieces would have to be very carefully scaffolded to make sure everyone in the class was on the same page, and that learning outcomes were being achieved by all members of the class.

The HE IELTS Blame Game

This article is a real head-shaker: More than 400 students in India told to retake language tests after Niagara College flags concerns. As the subtitle to this article puts it, “an Ontario college has raised questions over the validity of the scores of a popular international standardized language test submitted by students applying from India after a probe found “inconsistencies” in language proficiency”.

I’m shaking my head over so many aspects of this situation. There are so many leaps of logic. And it seems like they didn’t really take the time to consult people that understand the IELTS exam and its shortcomings and/or the interplay of English fluency and teaching/learning in higher education. 

  • So, the faculty of this college flagged 300 students for being “at risk academically” (How? Using what tool/metric/method? Did unconscious bias/systemic racism play a role in who gets flagged as it has and does in lots of other Canadian higher ed contexts? ).
  • This was more than the 150 students flagged last year. (Did the demographics of the students admitted to the college also change in this time?)
  • The student flagged were made to take an in-house language test. (Was this test? Who designed it? Was it valid/reliable? Who corrected it? Does it test what the IELTS tested? Does it test content knowledge?) 
  • The college found 200 out of the group that did the in-house test were failing in their academic programs because their English was not “at the required level”. (Wait, what? How did we jump from students’ language proficiency to failing their academic programs/being “at-risk”? Don’t they realize that you can fail a course for many reasons?) 
  • The majority of the students who failed the in-house test were from India and had done the IELTS at IDP centres in India (How many more Indian students did the college admit this year over last year? How many cities and centres are we talking about?). So the college freaks out about the discrepancy between the IELTS score and the score on the in-house test, alerts IDP and IRCC (!) about these ‘inconsistencies’, making it sound like there’s testing fraud at IDP centres. (Do they not know how common it is for there to be a discrepancy between IELTS scores and real-life language ability? That you can get a 6.0 IELTS (the score required for admission to Niagara College) and not be able to meet the academic demands of higher education, which are much more complex and broad than what is tested on the IELTS?)
  • The college is paying for 400 Indian applicants to be re-tested (Where? With what test?) before they can be admitted for January. 

It seems to me like this college opened the floodgates and admitted a very large number of students who use English as a second/additional language from India, all at once, without considering or making any arrangements for (1) students’ development of academic language and literacies appropriate for the Canadian college context or (2) developing their faculty’s skill and ability to teach a culturally and linguistically-diverse student clientele (3) adapting curriculum to a very culturally and linguistically-diverse student body whose academic language and literacies are varying and will need support and development.

This college does not seem to understand that the IELTS exam only tests what it tests, and that is only a tiny sliver of the broad spectrum of linguistic and academic skills needed to succeed in English-medium higher education. So someone can get a 6.0 (or higher!) on the IELTS and still be unable to succeed at university. Think of the IELTS as testing running speed, and studying in higher education as soccer. I may be a very fast runner, and running is an important part of soccer, and I have to be able to run a certain speed to get onto the soccer team. But just because I can run fast doesn’t mean I’ll be able to play soccer well or be a star player. I need some training in some of the other skills involved in soccer, like dribbling, passing and shooting. 

As well, this college doesn’t seem to grasp the fact that many people can train specifically for the IELTS exam, and without any fraud or nefarious tricks, get a score much higher than what their real-life language ability would suggest.  You could go to any university or college in Canada and test first-semester students on an in-house language test and you’d find lots of students with a discrepancy between that test score and their IELTS score. It’s simplty the nature of the beast. Far be it from me to defend IELTS or IDP, but it seems like in this case they’ve become scapegoats for an inadequate institutional response to very rapid changes in admissions demographics for this college. 

Institutions can make a fuss about IELTS scores, but it won’t be enough to ensure an equitable teaching and learning environment for students from all linguistic backgrounds. Regardless of what a certain IELTS score for admission may be, institutions have to change their curricula, integrating time and space for the development of academic language and literacies into their courses and programs. If you want a very diverse group of students to possess certain skills, you have to teach them!

LPP Conference 2018

CaptureI’m thrilled to present at the Multidisciplinary Approaches to Language Policy and Planning conference this week at OISE in Toronto.

My session is based on my on-going doctoral research is entitled A Discursive Exploration of English Language Policy at Linguistically-Diverse Canadian Universities. As can happen, I submitted that title and abstract months ago, and as I’ve progressed in my research in the meantime, a more accurate title would now be “Language-as-problem” at Linguistically-Diverse Canadian Universities. To find out why, you’ll just have to attend the talk! 😉

At conference where sessions are limited to 20-30 minutes (as this one is) I always find just as some good conversations get going, things get cut off. So I’ve directed attendees to this blog post to continue the discussion and Q &A about the topic and findings I raise in my session. If that’s how you got here, welcome!

I’d love to hear your reflections on the themes raised in my talk in light of your own context. Here are some questions you might consider:

  • Do you see any of the phenomena I discussed in my talk in your particular context?
  • What recommendations for language, literacy and internationalization stakeholders in a Canadian HE context would you give in light of today’s discussion?
  • How do we go about changing discourses?

 

Why is English so Weird?

2012-02-20_042110_language_iconI really love working with advanced learners because we can delve into the history of English. In fact,  for many of the questions that arise, especially surrounding English vocab, I find I usually have no choice but to explain  things in light of history; otherwise, lots of aspects of modern standard English would seem quite random.

A while back I developed a two-hour workshops for advanced learners of EAP on the history of English (and I asked for your help doing it!). I wanted to create a workshop that explained aspects of modern-day English that could seem really strange to learners in light of the history of the language, to show that they didn’t just appear out of nowhere. The “OMG English makes no sense!” discourse is quite rampant (here and here are some examples..there are lots more!), even among English language teachers. I wanted us, as teachers, to go beyond the “That’s just the way it is!” response to students’ questions to be able to give them a more informed answer.

The first time I did it it was titled simply “The History of English”. Sounds dry, I know. 🙂 As it was part of a drop-in series of language workshops, the title really has an influence on the attendance, and well, let’s say that there were only a few people who came to the workshop the first time. I changed the title to “Why is English so Weird?”, which is essentially the question that guided the creation of the workshop. More people showed up each time it was offered with that title.

Here are my slides from that presentation. (As with many presentations, the slides may seem a bit sparse without the commentary and accompanying activities, but anyway… 🙂 We talk about and do some activities on language change and old, middle and modern English, Anglo-Saxon vs. Latinate vocabulary after the Norman conquest, spelling and spelling reformers such as Noah Webster, loanwords from other languages into English, the Great Vowel Shift and sound to spelling correlations in modern English. I end the session talking about singular ‘they’ as an example of the evolution of language that is taking place right now.

What inspired me to write this blog post is that I recently came across this Wikipedia page on English word with dual Anglo-Saxon and French/Norman variants. This particular aspect of English vocabulary is so important for EAP, as that Latinate/French-origin vocabulary makes up so much of English’s general academic vocabulary as well as much disciplinary vocab. Learners of English whose first language non-European often don’t have a sense of  which words have a Latinate origin and which don’t, so awareness raising around this issue can help them develop a better sense of register and informal/formal vocabulary.

‘Radio Ambulante’, podcasts and ELT

CaptureI’ve been reflecting a lot lately on my own language learning experiences and how they affect my teaching. It has come up lately with regards to using podcasts in the classroom.

I’ve been an avid podcast listener for many years, and like many, one of the first podcasts I started listening to was NPR’s OG podcast, This American Life.

I’m just going to assume everyone knows This American Life (so if you don’t, just go and listen to their recommended episodes to start). Lots of people have written on how to incorporate podcasts featuring the narratives of ‘everyday people’ such as This American Life, Serial and others, into English language teaching and learning: here, here, and here, for example. I’ve recently gotten into an NPR podcast that I would probably describe as a Spanish-language equivalent of This American Life, Radio Ambulante. As an additional-language user of Spanish, listening to this podcast has given me a lot of first-hand insight into what an additional-language user of English might experience listening to This American Life or other similar podcasts, either in the classroom or on their own time.

First, and most places you see podcasts like  This American Life recommended for learners of English do only recommend it for advanced learners, it’s pretty challenging to listen to podcasts that features real-life stories and narratives from everyday people. Many of the episodes feature long-form stories with many intertwining characters. It’s the next step up from podcasts in simplified language such as Voice of America, or even podcasts in controlled, standard language such as lots of stuff on BBC or CBC. To help mitigate this, both Radio Ambulante and This American Life  feature transcripts of their podcasts, which are an invaluable learning tool, and Radio Ambulante even features English translations of their episodes.

Something that contributes to the difficulty of these pdocasts is the following: you’re hit over the head with sociolinguistic variation when you listen to Radio Ambulante. The podcast focuses on Latin America, so in a given episode you’ll hear the regional variety of Spanish used in the country that episode focuses on, but then you’ll also hear the variety used by the host(s). You also get exposed to a lot of social varieties of Spanish, be they those associated with different social classes, or different racio-ethnic varieties, or maybe even code-switching/translanguaging. It can be tough for me to wrap my ear around some varieties, especially non-standard varieties or those from regions I’m less used to.  The hosts/narrators of Radio Ambulante do a great job of  paraphrasing very localized words or terms for their pan-Latin American audience. This American Life and other NPR podcasts are very similar, featuring stories from everyday people from all regions of the US and elsewhere, in all their sociolinguistic glory. The podcast S-Town, for example, unfolds in Alabama English, and I can imagine it would be very challenging for a learner to follow. At the same time, using these types of podcasts in class would force you to bring up the subject of sociolinguistic variation and raise your students’ critical language awareness, something I’m very much in favour of.

 

 

Language Practice into Teaching Practice

A colleague and I were recently discussing the issue of which aspects of our professional practice as language instructors are informed by our formal training, which by our classroom teaching experience and which by our own personal experience as learners and users of additional languages. The topic came up in regards to the issue of the acquisition of metaphorical competence. For both of us, our own experiences of the process of becoming aware of the metaphorical schemata we hold in our L1, and then overcoming those to fully acquire metaphorical competence in other languages greatly informs how we approach teaching from the most basic structures to collocations, phrasal verbs, and idioms.

Anyway, I’ve been doing a lot of travel and work in one of my additional languages lately, doing a lot of meetings and presentations in Spanish across Latin America. This has also made me reflect on how much of my teaching is informed by my own experiences in learning and using additional languages. Very practical strategies for learning and communication are another area that I draw on, sharing my own strategies with my students. There are the things we always advise our students to do—we all have our old chestnuts—but it’s good to have a reminder every so often of some of the real-life challenges that may come up and some practical advice on how to cope.

Here is what has stood out for me lately:

Predict and Prepare

One mantra I always emphasize when working with advanced users of academic English preparing for academic presentations, conferences or their thesis defence is predict and prepare. In advance of any particular event or context where they will have to talk about their research or discuss ideas in their field, they should think hard to predict what they have to talk about, and questions they may be asked or the responses they may have to give. Then, I advise them to actually sit down and prepare a list of the key words, concepts, terminology, expressions they will need to draw on in doing all of the above. They should not just make a simple list, but include common synonyms or collocations and related word forms, as well as pronunciation. Most people are used to the concept of rehearsing presentations, but I encourage students to also practice smaller-scale or more informal sections of these communicative events, such as Q and A responses, answers to certain predicted interview questions, and rebuttals to criticisms of one’s research.

I’ve certainly had to practice what I preach in this respect with regards to my recent work in Spanish. When presenting in English, I don’t tend to script things too closely; I’ll prepare notes or points on a Powerpoint and then speak off of them rather extemporaneously. But in Spanish I’ve been speaking about an area with a lot of specialized terminology, which I’ve really had to research and prepare for. Thankfully, a lot of the questions I receive are easily predictable, so that has helped me focus my preparation.

Regional variation and register

I’ve done work in 5 different Latin America countries in the last two months, each with its own patterns of second person pronoun use (tu, usted, vos, etc.) and variation in register. I’ll try to read up on the use of pronouns in each country before I get there, but there’s only so much an article can tell you. I try to be very sensitive and observant around patterns of use and how they vary in service encounters, meetings and when speaking to and advising  youth and prospective students, where the age factor comes into play. But it’s tricky! I try to err on the side of formality if in doubt.

This has inspired me to put more emphasis on register in my classes. Sometimes there can be a tendency to view English as simple in this respect, as there is only one second person singular pronoun. But I am feeling inspired about spending more time on examining the other ways register, hierarchy, respect, distance, etc. are expressed in English in interpersonal encounters, and encouraging learners to be observant and sensitive to these phenomena. I used to spend a lot of time approaching register in this way when I taught a lot of business English, but in an EAP context I find the focus tends to be on informal vs. academic writing and speech. I think the regional variation in register in Anglophone countries is also important, but as is usual in many ELT materials, the discussion tends to stop at British vs. American differences. Those trying to figure out register in Canada are left to figure it out for themselves! Observation of patterns and sensitivity become all the more important.

Informal Recasts

Awareness of the fact that even recasts in formal classroom settings go ignored most of the time has left me determined to try to listen for them and incorporate them to improve my accuracy, especially of vocabulary. For example, in a conversation with a student, I had used the term biología marítima to refer to marine biology, but he replied using the term biología marina. “Whoops!”, I said to myself, and took note to correct that term in my internal dictionary.

Does awareness of the research around recasts and the fact that they often lead to very little uptake make learners more likely to listen for them, take them in, and therefore make them more likely to be effective? I think it does, and always bring this up in class, especially in speaking and pronunciation classes.

Paraphrasing

Finally, not that there as any doubt, but these experiences have driven home the importance of fluency and confidence (over accuracy) in asserting yourself and being accepted as a user of a particular language. Many people, whether subconsciously or consciously, hold the idea that fluency (interplaying with pronunciation here) in a language reflects your cognitive state. So in real-life professional communicative situations it’s best to just employ any strategies necessary to get on with things, rather than getting hung up on grammatical mistakes or blanking on a particular piece of vocab. Finding time in class not just to discuss these strategies, but to practice them via role plays or other activities is very important.

 

Canadian Linguistic Diversity Not Reflected by Telefilm

CaptureCBC has run a story called Language barrier: Why some of Canada’s diverse filmmakers are shut out of funding, which details how Canada’s main film funding agency, Telefilm, only funds films that are made in English, French or an indigenous language. This means that every year, a variety of films are made by Canadian filmmakers that are ineligible for funding because they happen to be in languages other than English, French or an indigenous language. The article gives several examples of critically-acclaimed, award-winning films directed by Canadians of diverse linguistic backgrounds (including one who was awarded one of Telefilm’s own achievement awards) but that had been denied funding because of the film’s language. Some filmmakers have even used workarounds, such as going to the trouble of filming an alternate English-language version of their film that will never be released, simply because it means they will then qualify for funding. An interview with a Telefilm representative defends the policy on the grounds of scarcity of resources, and describes how films in indigenous languages weren’t even eligible until a few years ago.

I think this policy is out of touch with Canadian society. While I fully applaud the inclusion of indigenous languages in Telefilm’s eligibility criteria–this is of utmost importance–why have they stopped there? Why not have this eligibility criteria reflect the linguistic diversity of the Canadian population? This appears to me like the perfect example of the Eve Haque’s Multiculturalism within a Bilingual Framework (2012), the structures and related attitudes toward which continues to be present in a lot of our governmental and arms-length organizations and programs.

Multiculturalism within a Bilingual Framework means that a disconnect between language and culture and a linguistic hierarchy are built into governmental policy. Canada’s federal multiculturalism policies (section 27 of the Canadian constitution and the 1988 Canadian Multiculturalism Act) have been criticized for giving the superficial appearance of diversity, while at the same time, divorcing culture from language, as Canada also has a framework of official English-French bilingualism (enshrined in the Official Languages Act of 1969). This has meant that

by de-emphasizing the languages of other cultural groups, [official bilingualism policy] helped to create a cultural and linguistic hierarchy in Canada. While multicultural policy suggested that newcomers were free to preserve their traditional cultures, bilingualism implied the assimilation of immigrants into the cultures of the two “founding races” (Guo, 2013, p. 26-27).

This divorcing of language from culture with regards to immigrants to Canada and the idea of immigrants preserving their cultures while assimilating linguistically to one of the official languages—preserving a cultural mosaic but not a linguistic one—is very pervasive ideology within the society at large:  “the imaginary of Canada as an English-speaking white-settler nation persists, despite dramatic changes resulting from increased immigration from non-European countries over the past 50 years” (Ricento, 2013, p. 480).

Hopefully CBC bringing this issue to light will influence Telefilm to change their eligibility criteria.

References:

Guo, Y. (2013). Language Policies and Programs for Adult Immigrants in Canada: A Critical Analysis. Canadian Ethnic Studies, 45(1), 23–41. https://doi.org/10.1353/ces.2013.0022
Haque, E. (2012). Multiculturalism within a bilingual framework: Language, race, and belonging in Canada. University of Toronto Press.
Ricento, T. (2013). The consequences of official bilingualism on the status and perception of non-official languages in Canada. Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development, 34(5), 475–489. https://doi.org/10.1080/01434632.2013.783034

New Year’s Revelations

Sitting around on January 1st having a bleary-eyed coffee with friends, talk turned to resolutions for the new year, and one friend misheard the phrase as “New Year’s Revelations”. We laughed and talked about what this would mean: would something important or life-changing get revealed to you in 2018? Or would we swap out conversations about intentions to go to the gym more or take up knitting in the new year for a go around the circle where everyone shared a deep, dark secret with the group?

In any case, as I see friends and colleagues share their professional goals for 2018, I thought I’d put mine down on (digital) paper as well, as my goal for this year is a bit of an odd one, for me at least.

My resolution for 2018 is to do…nothing! (Well, nothing other than finish my doctoral dissertation.) This is actually a really hard resolution for me, because I am a conference addict. I love writing proposals, coming up with sessions, attending and presenting at conferences, and even getting on conference organizing committees. Most years I’ll easily do a half-dozen presentations or talks at different events, and attend or be involved in organizing a few more events on top of that. And I love it!

But it takes up a lot of time. And time is a precious commodity when you’re trying to work full time and simultaneously complete a doctorate. So my resolution is to devote all my spare time possible to my dissertation this year and cut WAAAAYYY down on conferences. So if you don’t see me around at events in 2018, know that I’m probably holed up in a library somewhere (or with my laptop at my kitchen table), hard at work writing. Hopefully my “revelations” in 2018 will come in the form of amazing things emerging from my data. 🙂

Happy New Year, everyone!