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I confess that during the election, I didn’t read anything about the Democratic vice-presidential candidate’s spouse. However, I would have been happy if I had, because Vice President Joe Biden’s wife, Dr. Jill Biden, is an ESL teacher! She seems to be serious about her job, too: she has two master’s degrees (English and education) and a PhD in educational leadership (with a dissertation on community college student retention, 2007). In fact, this Washington Post article reports that she has just accepted an adjunct position teaching ESL and developmental English at Northern Virginia Community College. Of course, I don’t know if she has any real training in TESOL (many English teachers don’t, but teach ESL courses anyway). Still, just the fact that she’s hoping to be an advocate for community colleges is a good thing for ESL teachers, many of whom work in community colleges. While the Bidens won’t actually be living in the White House, Dr. Biden should at least be able to communicate with President Obama through Vice President Biden.
Of course, it’s not as though having Laura Bush (a librarian and former teacher) in the White House did anything for the cause of literacy or education in the United States, so there’s no guarantee of anything. Still, I’m choosing to be hopeful at this point.
If you are or could be in the San Francisco Bay Area this summer, check out the 2009 Linguistic Institute. It’s going to be hosted at UC Berkeley and sounds really amazing. Geoffrey K. Pullum will be giving a 3-week course on English grammar, and there are all kinds of fascinating courses on language contact, language acquisition, etc. I live just a BART ride away from Berkeley and I would really love to go, but I won’t be there because I can’t possibly afford to attend it. (Berkeley’s summer sessions are notoriously expensive.) However, if you’re a student or a member of the Linguistic Society of America, or if you just have a lot more money than I do, it’s worth looking into. It sounds like a wonderful set of experiences, and is probably also a great thing to do if you need to strengthen your linguistics background before applying to grad school.
Have you ever been to the Linguistic Institute? If so, I’d love to hear about it!
I’m going to go back and add this journal to the previous post about free online journals, but I thought this one merited its own update: The International Journal of Foreign Language Teaching is another free online peer-reviewed journal. I think this journal is especially interesting, because it’s open to articles about the teaching of all foreign languages, not just English. In addition, Stephen Krashen is on the editorial board. Issues are available only in PDF format, and you need to give them your e-mail address to get access.
P. S. Happy New Year! I hope 2009 is a good year for everyone.