October 28, 2006

Terry Doyle

The NNEST Caucus 
Member of the Month
November 2006

Terry Doyle
Question: Could you please tell us a bit about your linguistic, academic and professional background?
Terry: I have been an ESL teacher since the 1970s. Since 1980 I have been an ESL instructor at City College of San Francisco, and I also taught credit classes at Lincoln University in San Francisco in the 1980s and 1990s. At City College of San Francisco I have taught mostly non-credit classes for new immigrants, and every semester I have taught at least one beginning (level one) class.

My undergraduate major was English literature, and I also enjoyed studying Japanese during my undergraduate years. But while studying literature at UC Berkeley, I became very interested in linguistics during the late 1960s when Noam Chomsky's theories were very popular. But at UC Berkeley George and Robin Lakoff, Charles Fillmore and others were more interested in semantics and pragmatics and how the outside world affects language and language theories, so this influenced me to consider how these outside influences affect not only language use but also language teaching. Since I was really more interested in becoming a classroom ESL teacher than a linguistic scholar (and also I needed a job), I became interested in language teaching while at UC Berkeley. Therefore, I started to study applied linguistics with Jesse Sawyer, another UC professor. But the field of applied linguistics and second language acquisition was very young at that time, so it was hard to find courses to take.

In the 1980s I spent all of my time teaching, and unfortunately never finished my doctorate in linguistics at UC Berkeley. But I enjoyed teaching ESL at two schools during that decade. But in the early 1990s I again felt a desire to study and not just teach. By a fortunate chance I found out about the doctorate in International and Multicultural Education at the University of San Francisco, so I entered this program. This was a wonderful educational experience, and with professors like Alma Flor Ada, Rosita Galang, Dorothy Messerschmitt, and Denis Collins, I became interested in critical pedagogy and critical linguistics. I wrote my doctoral dissertation for this program on Chinese language maintenance among Chinese families in San Francisco.

Two books that changed my life while I was in this program are Robert Phillpson's Linguistics Imperialism and Alastair Pennycook's The Cultural Politics of English as a Second Language because these books make clear the importance of issues of power and hegemonic tendencies in our field. It was with this kind of background that I was later able to understand and empathize with non-native instructors who meet with discrimination in our field.

Question: Do you have contacts with NNESTs (students or professonals) in your present job? Are there many NNEST students in your institution?
Terry: When I hear my colleagues say insensitive and indeed naïve statements like "Our students prefer native speakers, "I feel that maybe if I had not had this educational experience at USF and reading books like those of Philipson, Pennycook, and other critical linguists, I might be like these insensitive and naïve (but unfortunately they have power) colleagues.

At USF a number of my classmates were people of color and also bilingual and non-native language teachers. Hearing their points of view and discussing issues related to linguistic imperialism and issues of power in language and language teaching, I began not only to understand that there is a big problem of discrimination against non-native teachers in our field, but also to know how to be a better teacher because I came to realize that there are advantages to being a non-native teacher. That is, I came to the important realization that being non-native teacher carries some advantages (which are well-known to readers of this website) which are inherent to their backgrounds.

Question: What are the things you would like to see the Caucus and its members initiate/do?
Terry: As a member of the NNEST Caucus and as the coordinator-elect of CATESOL's NNLEI interest group, I hope I can encourage some of my colleagues to read the literature on non-native teacher issues, power in language teaching, and critical linguistics. As a teacher who often has the wonderful opportunity to work as a "mentor" with student teachers, who are often non-native instructors, I would also like to persuade these young teachers to read this literature and to have confidence in their abilities.


Anonymous Rosemary Schmid said...

While I am, like Terry, a native speaker of AmEng, I applaud the existance of this caucus within the TESOL membership community. In that light, I post this comment which I have posted to other e-lists of which I am a member.

(An apology for cross-posting.)

I have been looking with some alarm and wonder at this questioning of the value of caucuses. I am a paid up member of nearly all the caucuses because I believe so strongly in the concept. (I read my director's TESOL Quarterly so I can afford multiple caucus memberships.)
When I took the survey, I did what others have suggested, writing in comments that covered ideas I didn't see addressed in the survey.
At one point, given that we as teachers are generally a trusting and optimistic lot, in spite of so many reasons not to be, I had this thought: maybe we're being asked BECAUSE the askers need ammunition to support their contention that caucuses are indeed valuable to the future of TESOL.
As TESOL grew bigger and bigger over the years, I began to feel lost in the crowd at conventions. In the early years, I could recognize some of the same faces, pick up where we had left off sitting next to each other last year, but that passed. (I have never been good at names, but faces I'm better at, and the stories that go with them.) Then came caucuses. (And I don't know when that was for TESOL, just for when I discovered their existance.) Ahhhhh. Better. Now I could find like-minded people.
Caucuses are for the humans who are members of TESOL; Interest Sections are for the professionals who are members of TESOL.
When this survey came up, I googled and yahooed to see what others meant when they were using the term caucus or the phrase special interest section. I found the following perspectives:
"Special interest groups are interim, caucuses have a longer, stronger status within the organization" in this case, the Association of Physician Assistants.
This exerpt is from the American Association of University Women program
Identity caucuses are open only to AAUW members who identify themselves as members of a specific identity group, including women of color, younger members, lesbians, and members with disabilities. The caucuses strive to create a safe environment for members of underrepresented groups (as specified in AAUW’s diversity statement) to talk about their experiences and how to effect change. The caucuses support and enhance the mission of AAUW by providing an independent platform for discussion of shared concerns. Those interested in the issues raised in the closed caucus sessions may attend open caucus discussion groups that follow the closed sessions.
And some of the clarification from a UN document: The subgroup on the Human Rights Council brings together NGOs willing to promote the rights of the child at the United Nations Human Rights Council . . . By advocating for the inclusion of its concerns into the Commission's resolutions, the NGO community can further ensure better support and coherence between international politics and local realities affecting the realisation of children's rights.
I won't bother with the blurring of the concepts of caucus and special interest group which occurs in various reference books.
I won't "quit TESOL" if there is no official support of any caucus, but I will think of such a change as a serious disease, worthy of immediate attention on many fronts.
#1 Official or not, caucuses exist in any organization of such size. Recognition of subgroups within an organization can and should lead to strengthening the organization; surely we're smart enough collectively to know that.
#2 I don't walk away from something worth my support. (I couldn't write "fighting for" because the future of this planet's inhabitants doesn't depend on fighting but on making peace and strengthening ourselves through our diversity.)

PLEASE take the time to do the survey. Since Survey Monkey allows the creators to collect and compile the responses you write in the boxes - speak up!

Rosemary Schmid
ELTI at UNC-Charlotte
Central Piedmont Community College

You've probably seen this notice before; I'm just including it to round the circle.
“Open Meeting to Discuss Caucuses
Wednesday, March 21, 5:00 – 6:00 pm
Washington State Convention Center, Rooms 2A/2B
“Please click the link below and take the 10 or 15 minutes needed to complete the survey.
“http://www.surveymonkey.com/s.asp?u=446073100599 “
If you know of TESOL members who have not received this email, please inform them to copy and paste the above URL into their browser to take the survey. Thank you for your understanding and assistance. Chuck Amorosino, Executive Director

January 20, 2007 6:45 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home