TESOL Research Colloquium and Other Adventures in Sydney

Hello, ESPers worldwide!

In the first week of September 2015, I had the opportunity to go to Sydney, Australia! At the University of Sydney, I participated in workshops (presented by Patsy Duff and Aek Phakiti) and a TESOL research colloquium. Two days later, I visited Macquarie University, where I attended a presentation (by Patsy Duff) and discussed my future research. (Note: I obtained my PhD in linguistics from Macquarie University under the supervision of Emeritus Professor Christopher Candlin, who passed away this year, and Dr. Alan Jones.) In this TESOL Blog post, I share some of my adventures down under.

I arrived in Sydney on a Thursday. On Friday morning at around 7:45 am, I got on a bus bound for the University of Sydney. Thanks to the kind assistance of a local resident, I got off the bus at the correct bus stop. After purchasing a cup of coffee and a cinnamon crepe at a coffee shop on campus, I was ready to start the day! (I quickly learned to order “flat white“!)


As I walked across campus from the coffee shop to the Faculty of Education building (in the photo above), I tried unsuccessfully to recognize the sounds of the birds in the area. The experience reminded me of being back home in California at the San Diego Zoo. I later took a photo of an Australian white ibis on campus. (I also saw these birds in the central business district of Sydney. In addition, one Macquarie University doctoral student shared that she had asked a professor if the numerous birds on the M.U. campus are raised by the school. “We are not a farm,” was the reply.)

The two precolloquium workshops I attended are described on the colloquium website. They were both excellent!

Workshop 1
“Doing and reviewing ethnographic research in second-language and literacy education”
Professor Patricia Duff, Department of Language & Literacy Education, The University of British Columbia
Workshop 2
“Developing a questionnaire for TESOL research”
Dr Aek Phakiti,Faculty of Education and Social Work, University of Sydney

Kevin Knight, Patsy Duff, and Brian Paltridge at University of Sydney

The next day was the research colloquium. (See the colloquium website.)

This popular annual colloquium provides a forum for discussing and sharing research in the area of teaching English to speakers of other languages (TESOL), as well as exploring possible future research collaborations.The event is a place for networking, for both established and new TESOL researchers, and includes presentation sessions on a wide range of TESOL and TESOL-related research – both in progress and completed – as well as opportunities for informal discussions among people working in the area of TESOL research.

Brian Paltridge opened the event, and Patsy Duff followed as the first keynote speaker. As in any good conference, there were outstanding presentations, wonderful networking opportunities, and impressive book promotions, not to mention the free food and drink! The colloquium (and the workshops above) were also free!

At the colloquium, I was introduced to English Australia. Check it out! Anne Burns opened the English Australia session.

In addition, at the colloquium, I met face-to-face for the first time many people with whom I had only communicated online. There was not enough time for me to meet everyone.

On the Monday that followed the Saturday colloquium, I took a train to Macquarie University railway station. From the station, I walked the short distance to Macquarie University (see photos below), where Patsy Duff gave a presentation in an impressive, high-tech room. At Macquarie, I could see many well-known scholars including Stephen Moore, Phil Benson, Phil Chappell, Peter Roger, and Mehdi Riazi, in whose office I was able to talk with Patsy Duff.

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So what did I learn as an ESPer from my experiences in Sydney? Firstly, I was reminded that there are many outstanding TESOL scholars doing impressive work inside and outside of Australia! Further, there is much that we can learn from each other, so such conferences are very important. I also think that linguistic ethnography and professional communication research are especially important!

On a personal note, I was pleased to see the conceptualization of leadership being promoted at the University of Sydney—”Leadership for good”! As I was walking to the building where I would be giving a presentation on the discourses of leadership as the basis and means for training L2 learners in Japan,  I saw posters on the windows of another building on campus. (See the photo below.)

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The contents of the posters above appear on a University of Sydney website promoting the success stories of the school’s alumni. Accordingly, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to end my presentation with a comment on this conceptualization of leadership!

Do you ever wonder why leaders are successful in achieving visions in collaboration with others? An article titled “Do You Have Grit?”, written by Dr. Travis Bradberry, addresses this question. In the ESP project leader profile of Jaclyn Gishbaugher,  Jackie also mentions “grit”:

How would you define leadership?

Leaders are those people who draw in people to their cause/belief/field through their sincerity, passion, and grit. Then they give those individuals just the right mix of confidence and opportunity to push the boundaries that much further.

Do you see discourses of “grit” and “leadership for good” when you read the ESP project leader profiles in my TESOL Blog posts?

Finally, visit Sydney if you have the chance! It will do you good as you realize together with Dorothy that you are not in Kansas anymore! You are in the land of….so have a flat white!

All the best,



Bradberry, T. (2015). Do you have grit? Pulse. Linkedin.

Coming Soon – Routledge Introductions to English for Specific Purposes (Series Editors: Brian Paltridge, University of Sydney, and Sue Starfield, University of New South Wales)  https://www.routledge.com/series/Riesp

About Kevin Knight

Kevin Knight
Kevin Knight (PhD in Linguistics, MBA, MPIA) is an associate professor in the Department of International Communication (International Business Career major) and has also been working in the Career Education Center of Kanda University of International Studies in Chiba, Japan. In the TESOL ESP Interest Section (ESPIS), he has served as chair and English in occupational settings (EOS) representative, and he is currently the ESPIS community manager. He was also a member of the Governance Review Task Force (GRTF) appointed by the board of directors. In addition, he has been a TESOL blogger in the area of English for Specific Purposes (ESP). He has more than 30 years of professional experience working for private, public, and academic sector institutions including Sony and the Japan Patent Office. His doctoral research on leadership communication (i.e., discourse) as a basis for leadership development was under the supervision of Emeritus Professor Christopher Candlin and Dr. Alan Jones.
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2 Responses to TESOL Research Colloquium and Other Adventures in Sydney

  1. Janet Brady says:

    It’s always so interesting seeing one’s country through a visitor’s eyes. Australia is known for its birds. Both Sydney and Macquarie University campuses have lots of trees so they attract lots of birds. They are all wild. Our birds are also rather raucous. You may have heard cockatoos, kookaburras, currawongs or native miner birds. Exchange students (high-school age) are usually billeted in the suburbs and often say that our birds wake them up at dawn. One of my favourites is the Butcher Bird. Here’s a video of two singing a duet:

    I also hadn’t thought of Australia as the Lnd of the Flat White! Most visitors who have the time to get out of the cities tend to be struck by the wide open spaces. I once drove a Japanese visitor to the Blue Mountains and she was amazed at the amount of space and trees. If you look at a map of Australia, you can see there is another 3,000 km of open land to the Indian Ocean in the west!

    Turning to your comments on the Discourses of Leadership, you returned to Japan before Australia’s recent change in Prime Ministers. Commentaries on this leadership change provide insights as to is considered effective and ineffective leadership.
    Lessons from past leaders
    Turnbull needs moderation and compromise

    It’s also interesting to note what members of the public (voters and ‘followers’) think of the latest change.
    What voters think

    Hope to see you back in Australia soon!

    • Kevin Knight Kevin Knight says:

      Thanks, Janet, for these valuable insights! Much appreciated. I also look forward to seeing you again in Australia or at a professional communication conference in another part of the world.


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