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Post-Holiday Link Roundup

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I wasn’t able to post here during the holidays, but I was somewhat active on Twitter. Here are a few links that I shared that may be of interest to you, rewritten a bit for context and easier clicking.

Journals Galore

This is just a brief note to call your attention–in case you’re not on Twitter or you missed it–to the new permanent page I’ve added here. The List of Free Journals collects a range of open-access scholarly journals on topics related to ELT/TESOL/TEFL/TESL/applied linguistics. I’ve actually added one two since I posted it to Twitter, so the list now stands at 27 28. (I’ll keep updating the page, though not this post.) Most are peer-reviewed; some are more practical (ITESLJ, in particular) but even the very academic ones may have useful ideas. Please check out the page, and comment here or contact me somehow if you have corrections or additions to the list. Thanks!

I plan to make a similar page for magazine-like sites, eventually, so if you have favorites, I’d be happy to know about them.

Multicultural Experiences and Creativity

On Twitter, I followed a link to a blog post provocatively titled Are Expats More Creative? This post mentioned some research suggesting that people with deep experience abroad came back as more creative people–in a way measurable on tests of creativity–but it didn’t cite or link to the actual research. I was able to find a couple of papers by the researcher mentioned in the article, as well as a Youtube interview with him. It’s very interesting stuff, and while the studies are somewhat artificial, they’re very thought-provoking. It may be a good argument for teaching abroad and studying abroad, but the research team found that you can’t just travel abroad or live in an expat enclave/not get out into the culture or learn the language. You really need to have that integrative motivation to benefit.

To my surprise, a recent paper was downloadable for free, although it looked as though it would be behind a journal’s paywall. I don’t know if it’ll work outside of the US, but check the righthand column to see if you can download it.

“When in Rome . . . Learn Why the Romans Do What They Do: How Multicultural Learning Experiences Facilitate Creativity” (Maddux, Adam, and Galinsky)

Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin 36(6) 731–741 © 2010 by the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, Inc
Reprints and permission: DOI: 10.1177/0146167210367786
Research suggests that living in and adapting to foreign cultures facilitates creativity. The current research investigated whether one aspect of the adaptation process—multicultural learning—is a critical component of increased creativity. Experiments 1-3 found that recalling a multicultural learning experience: (a) facilitates idea flexibility (e.g., the ability to solve problems in multiple ways), (b) increases awareness of underlying connections and associations, and (c) helps overcome functional fixedness. Importantly, Experiments 2 and 3 specifically demonstrated that functional learning in a multicultural context (i.e., learning about the underlying meaning or function of behaviors in that context) is particularly important for facilitating creativity. Results showed that creativity was enhanced only when participants recalled a functional multicultural learning experience and only when participants had previously lived abroad. Overall, multicultural learning appears to be an important mechanism by which foreign living experiences lead to creative enhancement.

If you can’t access it, there is an earlier article hosted at Northwestern University (PDF): Multicultural Experience Enhances Creativity: The When and How” (Leung, Maddux, Galinsky, and Chiu).

My big question is whether I should (because I already know that I want to), and whether it is worth being away from my partner for a year or more.

What do you think? If you’ve taught or lived overseas, did it make you more creative in small or large ways? Did you “think differently” when you came back?

Important Reading on “NNESTs”

It is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in the US, so it occurred to me it might be timely to post on this topic, which has surprising intersections with issues of racism and classism. (Language-based discrimination often does.)

An issue that is close to my heart is the status of English teachers who learned English as a second or additional language themselves (often called NNESTs–non-native English-speaking teachers). Throughout the world, most ESL and EFL teachers are in this category. However, that’s not reflected in the textbook industry, the leadership of many ELT organizations, the popular image of English teachers, and so on. Sometimes, they experience subtle or direct discrimination and bias in hiring, promotion, salaries, and assignments, and they may be treated differently from their native English-speaking counterparts by their colleagues and students. This is despite the fact that many of these teachers are among the best suited to teach English. They have generally mastered English themselves, are often fully bi- or multilingual, may have a lot in common with their students, may have far more awareness of English grammar and any potential problems, may be better at explaining features of English explicitly, and so on. Many studies back up NNESTs’ skills in these areas, which often outstrip their native-speaker counterparts, and while students are sometimes initially skeptical, course-end evaluations usually indicate that students picked up on these strengths and appreciated them. Meanwhile, many of their native-speaking colleagues are teaching a second language or are doing teacher training–teaching second language acquisition–without having ever experienced the full acquisition of a second language. I don’t know, it’s like teaching mechanics without ever having repaired anything yourself, or something like that. (Obviously not all or any of these conditions are true all of the time, but this is frequently the situation. I’m one of the latter teachers myself; I am not yet fluent in a second language, and although I’m trying, I don’t know if I ever will be.)

EDIT: This is not even mentioning the common EFL condition in which “native speaker teachers” or “foreign teachers” have no genuine language-teaching training at all and are not professional teachers by career, in which case a well-educated, English-fluent professional local teacher would be far preferable. However, so many students have swallowed the myth of the native speaker’s perfection that few would make the right choice (and few are aware of the many studies backing up the usefulness of the well-educated NNEST even as opposed to an equally-qualified NEST). In an ideal world, I think real team teaching with a pair of true professionals from both the L1 and L2 backgrounds would be the perfect EFL learning condition, but many nations are short on both the former and the latter–native speakers are often hired willy-nilly with little regard for competency, and local teachers are not often given the chance to study international teaching methods, etc.

At any rate, I learned so much from the many international graduate students and bilingual-bicultural Americans in my certificate and MATESOL programs at CSU East Bay, and I also really enjoyed getting to know them. They’re great people, and it’s not right that the happenstance of my birthplace and schooling and accent mean that some schools will value me more than them. I think it is essential for all English-language teachers to pay attention to “NNEST issues,” whether you are a non-native speaker of English yourself or are a native speaker of English who may accidentally benefit from a system that is often unfair and ignorant of context.

Anyway, the WATESOL (a Washington, D. C. Area TESOL group) NNEST Caucus has published their Annual Review. It includes multiple papers that you can read online using Google Docs or download. Titles include “All Teachers are Equal, but Some Teachers are More Equal than Others: Trend Analysis of Job Advertisements in English Language Teaching” by Ali Fuad Selvi, “Students’ Appraisal of Their Native and Non-native English-speaking Teachers” by Caroline Lipovsky & Ahmar Mahboob, “Teaching as a Native (Chinese) Speaker and a Non-native (English) Speaker: Different Identities, Similar Needs” by Huijin Yan, “‘She Immediately Understood What I Was Trying to Say’: Student Perceptions of NNESTs as Writing Tutors” by Sunyoung Park & Sarah Shin, and more–there’s even a piece on accents by George Braine, one of the most famous writers on the topic of NNESTs.*

The papers are freely available, well written, and interesting. I recommend reading them whether you are a native speaker of English or another language (or English and another language or two). I think doing so can help us improve how we treat each other, how we respect the importance of each other’s languages, and and how we teach.

*I don’t really like the “NNEST” terminology, and I’m resisting putting in a NNEST tag, because it seems weird to me to create an “other” category–particularly when teachers who are not native speakers of English are the default and not the exception. Yet virtually no one seems to actually use the counterpart term “NEST.” If I revisit the topic, which I expect to, I’ll probably have to resolve this to make the posts easier to find. (Never mind that “native speaker” itself is actually rather hard to define and more than a bit problematic.)

Twelve Days of Christmas: The Internet TESL Journal

On the fourth day of Christmas, I’ll be introducing to you something I’ve mentioned a couple of times, but have never fully introduced. I hope that you won’t mind if I count this as a full entry, because if you don’t already know about it, or if you’ve forgotten about it, it’s worth discovering. If your binders full of lesson plans are letting you down–or if you haven’t yet built up binders full of lesson plans–and you’re interested in free activities and lesson plans, keep reading!

nicubunu_Box_with_folders from

The Internet TESL Journal (ITESLJ) is a free online journal that is different from other online journals because of its focus on short, practical, useful articles. I mentioned its existence very briefly when I posted a roundup of free online journals last year, and also when I noticed that you can download computer-generated mp3s of their articles. I never said why it was great, though, and the reason is that ITESLJ offers lesson ideas, games, and activities, as well as teaching techniques and reports on teachers’ own research projects, in an easy-to-access format that’s free to everyone.

As you know if you’ve tried to use a search engine to find lesson plans, the internet is cluttered with ESL and EFL sites that are only partially free, sites for which you need to register–only to find out they have almost no resources, sites for which you have to register–only to find out they’ve copied all of their materials from another site, and sites with low-quality materials that are unsuitable for your students.

ITESLJ has a good range of materials and ideas, and no registration is required. Many of the suggestions are aimed at EFL learning situations, although they can be adapted to various classrooms. If you don’t see something you like right away, just keep searching back: they’ve been around since 1995. There are specific lesson plans for every possible language skill, lessons focused on specific films, unusual lesson plans involving the use of cell phones, craft-based lesson plans, games with songs and physical movement, and lessons focusing on specific L1s. Here are some examples:

There are lots more, including ideas for working with children.

By the way, if the above is old hat to you, then may I encourage you to write something short and submit it to them? It looks like they need more submissions. Even a single activity that you’ve had work well would be an excellent thing to submit so your fellow teachers can benefit, and although I don’t think they qualify as a “peer-reviewed journal,” it’ll still look great on your CV.

Next? Well, I have no idea! Anybody out there? Let me know, especially if you like something!

Temporary Free Journal Access

I received this message on the AAAL mailing list, and as it says “free free to forward to colleagues,” I believe it should be okay to post it here. (If not, I’ll be happy to take it down.)

Here’s the message:

“Get acquainted with SAGE’s journals in Languages and Linguistics now during our free online access period. We are currently offering free full-text access to the following 14 journals until 30th September 2009.
Child Language Teaching and Therapy
Discourse & Communication
Discourse & Society
Discourse Studies
First Language
International Journal of Bilingualism
Language and Literature
Language and Speech
Language Testing
Language Teaching Research
Journal of Commonwealth Literature
Journal of English Linguistics
RELC Journal
Second Language Research

Register here.”

This is a rare opportunity to gain access to these peer-reviewed journals, so I suggest that you check it out. Institutions and libraries who don’t currently subscribe should also go take a good look, too–in this economy it’s important to make sure that your limited subscription money is going to the most useful places possible.

Not Just Another Peer-Reviewed Journal

In terms of free, high-quality online language acquisition research, we have an embarrassment of riches (now there’s an idiom for you!). There’s a wonderful new addition to the hoard: L2 Journal, and it comes with an excellent pedigree. L2 is a “fully-refereed, interdisciplinary journal” that’s being offered online at no cost via the University of California’s eScholarship Digital Information Repository, supported by the UC Consortium for Language Learning and Teaching and the Berkeley Language Center Website. The editorial board and executive committee contains familiar names like Claire Kramsch and Rick Kern. The journal will be addressing a broad range of second-language acquisition topics, including “pedagogy, bilingualism and multilingualism, language and technology, curriculum development and teacher training, testing and evaluation,” etc.

Photo of dictionary open to 'education,' notebook, pencil by cohdra at

No excuse for not keeping up with the research!

With that kind of backing, this is likely to become one of the most reputable free online journals. Although you need to sign up for a free membership to access the articles (and they’re all PDF), it should be worth it to get access. This is the kind of thing for which you usually need access to JSTOR, etc., and is usually difficult or impossible to get to as an individual, a public school teacher, an overseas volunteer teacher, or (often) an EFL teacher at all. As far as I can tell, there are no restrictions on who can make an account–I left “institutional affiliation” blank, since I work for myself, and was able to register with no problems.

Because it’s coming from the UC system (and is headed by Dr. Kramsch), I expect it’ll have a number of heavily theoretical papers that may turn off some teachers. I encourage you to give those papers a try–sometimes they pay off!–but also to look at the other papers. There are three articles available so far (all PDF), and I think all of them have practical elements. The one I’m currently reading, “Corrective Feedback and Teacher Development” (Rod Ellis), is very practical as far as I’m concerned–an article need not have a lesson plan to be applicable to what I do in my lessons. So while the journal may not be light reading, I think its high standards will pay off for teachers who take the time to sit down and read it.

Interestingly, the journal is being conceived as a one-issue-per-year model, but with articles published as they are ready–so it sounds like it’s really a year-round publication. You can read about the submission guidelines and also, because they are a little more technologically advanced than most journals, receive alerts when L2 publishes a paper on a topic in which you’re interested. That’s an excellent service to offer.

I’m very excited about L2! What an excellent resource for us to have. (I’ll be adding it to the Free Online Journals post, of course.) As always, if you have another one to suggest, let me know.

Another Free Journal

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.

Free Online Journals

Ah, free journals. I love them so very much. Even if you join a professional organization, you sometimes still have to pay extra to get their peer-reviewed publications. Never fear: there are various online publications that are free, and yes, some of them are even refereed/peer-reviewed. Best of all, you don’t have to pay premium postage to get these delivered to your desk in Mongolia or wherever you happen to be teaching at the moment.

Here are a few I’ve bookmarked. Please let me know your favorites that I’ve missed. (Don’t forget–these are great places to try to get published, too!)

In addition, the American Educational Research Association’s Communication of Research Special Interest Group has created a page called “Open Access Journals in the Field of Education”, featuring a huge, multi-national list of scholarly, peer-reviewed, free journals.

Connecting With Other Researchers

One of the most exciting things about the TESOL field, to me, is that there is so much research ready and waiting to be done. Working with other like-minded people, either officially or just by having casual discussions, makes doing research a lot easier. However, if you’re not in a graduate program right now, or if you’re operating a distance from yours, etc., it can be hard to find people to talk to .

Today I got a message from the excellent Tomorrow’s Professor mailing list about a new project called Graduate Junction. Here’s what it said:

The Graduate Junction

The Graduate Junction,, is the first website to bring together Masters, Doctoral and Postdoctoral researchers from any discipline around the globe. It aims to provide an easy way to meet and communicate with others who share common research interests in a global multi-disciplinary environment. Through The Graduate Junction you can learn about current research being undertaken by other graduate researchers all over the world. The Graduate Junction also aims to become a central source of relevant information.

This new free online resource has been developed by graduate researchers at Durham and Oxford University (UK). They have designed a simple, easy to use platform which only provides relevant information and functionality. More information about The Graduate Junction’s vision, its Team and university testimonials are available online.

Launched in May 2008, early versions of The Graduate Junction, with limited publicity, attracted more than 8000 researchers from over 70 countries to register. Now with a redesigned site, an expanded Team and articles in well established press such as The Chronicle of Higher Education (US) and The Times Higher Education (UK), the community is growing rapidly.

Please help us to build an online global graduate research community. If presently you cannot find exact matches to your research interests, fill in some very basic details about your own research and as the news spreads, others will be able to find and contact you! The information listings have only just been added so it will take some time to provide comprehensive coverage. If you are organizing a conference or involved with a graduate journal and want to list it for free please contact us. If you support our vision please help us spread the news to other researchers at your institution.

I definitely support their vision and am very pleased that it’s an international effort. Please join up if you’re interested–this kind of project only succeeds when lots and lots of people join. There are plenty of TESOL-related keywords already in the system when you set up your profile (which I’m still doing), so it seems to be a TESOL-friendly place! Come on in…