Beginning in January 2016, Joy Egbert will take over the editorship of TESOL Journal. Joy is professor of English language learning and education technology at Washington State University, Pullman. She coordinates the three ELL programs in the Department of Teaching and Learning and runs the Video Production Lab. Her recent research interests center on student engagement in technology-enhanced language learning environments. She has published and presented widely around topics in computer-assisted language learning, teacher education, and language teaching methodologies.
1. What do you see as the main issues and themes driving learning, teaching, and assessment in TESOL at this point in its history?
This depends where you are in the world. One of the major issues in the United States is the use of technology in the classroom, and another across the world is globalization of language. In some areas of the world, content and language integrated learning (CLIL) appears to be just catching on, where in others a concern is making sure that teachers are well prepared. We’re all pretty good at understanding skills learning by now, but perhaps not so much at a more holistic view of language learning and the people and tools that support it.
2. Your doctorate in higher education teaching included a minor in ESL with an emphasis on computer-assisted language learning (CALL), and many of your past appointments and publications were CALL related. How do you see technology influencing the field of English language teaching and learning?
That’s one of the “grand” questions in the field, and one therefore that doesn’t have a simple answer. In some places, education technologies are the last thing that teachers and learners are thinking about; on the other hand, in the United States and in other countries where technology is ubiquitous, we’re looking at everything from online learning to one-to-one computing. There are many places in between, as in rural India, where simple mobile telephone technologies are creating avenues for communication that haven’t been there before. The influence of technology is first based on context, and I believe this can only continue. So far, research shows us that when technology is used well, it can influence positive motivation, engagement, and achievement in various aspects of language learning. When not used well, it can be a negative influence. I think that the greatest impact, though, is currently coming and will continue to do so through technologies like social media that are used outside of classrooms in informal and very engaging ways.
3. What do you see as the strengths of TJ? How does it serve the field?
TJ works as a complement to journals like TESOL Quarterly because it provides information in language and formats that are accessible to teachers everywhere. In addition, its focus on the link between theory/research and practice helps us all become more aware of the “why” instead of just the “how.” If more teachers understand why we teach and learn the ways that we do, I think that both teaching and learning can improve.
4. Briefly, what are your three favorite TJ articles from the past few years, and why?
Actually, I’d rather tell you one reason why I like TJ in general. When I was starting out as an ESL teacher, TJ was my go-to to find out what I was supposed to be doing in my classrooms—at that time it was still in hard copy. I remember the first issue that was focused particularly on CALL. I think that reading that issue (which I still have somewhere) got me excited about the uses of technology in language learning and cemented my interest in what has turned out to be my career path.
5. What are your plans for the journal over the next few years? Do you have special issues planned? How will you increase the journal’s impact?
My Editorial Advisory Board and I plan to help our authors make the links between theory and practice even clearer in their writing by serving as mentors to those who submit manuscripts. We also hope to publish articles that apply well to our broad readership. We have already changed or broadened a couple of the sections that didn’t receive as many submissions, and this may change again as we see the results.
Right now, because our terms don’t start until January 2016, we don’t have any special issues planned, but we certainly welcome suggestions from the readership. They can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org with ideas.
We have talked about how to increase the journal’s impact, and one way that will be instituted soon is to use a push model for TJ’s table of contents; this means that each time an issue is published, our subscribers will receive a copy of the table of contents in their email rather than having to check the website. I think that this will raise awareness of the journal. In addition, we have added a section that allows readers to respond, ask questions, and add information to any article they read. I hope that this interaction will help TESOLers become more invested in the journal and the field and help shape the future of both.