New Episode and some real growth

In the latest episode (which you can listen to here), I speak to a fellow podcaster about our experiences hosting and working in ELT as racialized professionals. You should listen.


At the end of this episode, we really went hard. We talked about the issues with “diversity” and “social justice” and even “white privilege” and the way they’re used as surface solutions that avoid true risk. It feels, upon listening, that I am coming into my own as a critic and an analyst, and I’m excited to see what happens going forward.


New Podcast episode and planning

First of all, there’s a new podcast episode up today. It’s hard to hear what I am saying because I was mumbling, but my guest, who is the real showcase, is crystal clear. So check it out.

I have 4 or 5 people interested in appearing on the show, and I already have a future episode (of just me) recorded and ready to go.

My hope is to record 4 or 5 more before school starts again in late January, and then use my “headstart” so I can still be posting them every other week after my child is born.

I’m debating now whether or not to take “breaks.” The app recommends having seasons with gaps, and I might do that, basically have the show run along side the school year (without a Christmas break) and end it at my birthday, then record a few over the summer and start up again at the end of August.

Or maybe I’ll just keep barreling through. We’ll see.

Keep listening. I make a grand total of 15 dollars for every 1000 listens!

New episode, and presentation approaches

There’s a new episode about “fluency” – another concept used to discriminate – that you can and should and listen to here.

My presentation on “The Altruistic Shield” is Friday. It’s my first time bringing in my whole self and my real, original ideas out into an academic space, hoping that people agree and support what I’m saying.

It’s a big deal to me, and hopefully someone new (as opposed to some of my friends and colleagues I hope will attend) comes, listens, and learns something from me. Because ultimately, that’s what I want: to teach and generate knowledge on race and racism in language education. Here’s hoping.

New podcast episode and future endeavors

First of all, there’s a new podcast episode up here. You should listen and share. It’s about how the dismissal of rap as a viable artform (as opposed to reasonable and contextualized criticism of some of its trends and habits) is almost always rooted in Dr. Kendi’s conceptualization of “cultural racism.” Just me this time, but I think the point is made well.

Next week (the 15th, to be precise), I am making a presentation of my paper on “The Altruistic Shield” at the NYS TESOL conference in White Plains. (For those who may not remember, the altruistic shield is my concept of “A psychological mechanism among English Language Teaching (ELT) professionals which allows them to exempt themselves from acknowledging their role in perpetuating systemic racism and other forms of inequity by virtue of the altruistic or self-sacrificial nature of their work.”) I hope it goes well. Meeting with my dean tomorrow to suss out how accurate my instincts have been in the way I have planned my presentation.

This will not be my first conference presentation. By my count, I’ve done four thus far, three of which were at the New School, where I’m pretty sure I was allowed in because of their desire to support their alumni (understandable), and one of which was at the international TESOL conference in Seattle in March of 2017. That was the only “big” one I’ve done thus far, and it went very well. That, however, was as a consumer of knowledge, and this presentation is my first time as a producer of my own knowledge. Thus it feels very important to me, as a scholar and as a person. I know what it felt like to complete my first marathon and know I had changed as a person, so I wonder if these 35 minutes will feel the same.

The only times a presentation hasn’t gone well has been when no one shows up, really, and I start to flop-sweat and tap dance. People who attend are usually eager. People don’t really attend presentations in which they are not interested, especially when there are several simultaneous choices. I’m not famous enough to attract an audience that wants to come and jeer me (that sounds fun, though). Thus, my goal is to assume good will and good faith, and try to build upon that to push the listeners to take action. We’ll see how it goes….

I’ll be recording the audio of the presentation and will share via the podcast a week or two later. I also have another podcast episode recorded and edited that I’ll be sharing first.

And I am going to responding to a very exciting “call for papers” that is specifically about anti-racist pedagogy (there’s more to it than that, but still). There is no guarantee I’ll be accepted, of course, and it’s asking for 6,000-8,000 words, but whatever I write, I’m going to make sure it gets seen and read and shared by as many as possible. My only question is, do I make my smaller, calmer argument, or do I take a big swing? Both would be primarily opinion pieces as I won’t have my own data until a year from now. I am leaning towards taking a big swing.

The smaller argument is one that seeks to normalize the phrase “Teaching Standardized English” as opposed to the current titles for our field, which serve to marginalize and minoritize. There’s a fairly straightforward argument to be made there, that including the “ize” requires us to confront the dominance and opppression inherent in the field. There are good articles to be written on this.

The big swing, however, is one I am more interested in. And I realize, if it doesn’t get accepted, there is no reason I can’t look for a smaller journal, or hold it back until I have data to back it up. My concern with the smaller argument is that, even if a few people adopt a new title for their work, it doesn’t much provide a framework for their teaching and their management of their programs. You can switch your title and teach exactly the same oppressive lessons and pat yourself on the back. So if I take the big swing, and I succeed, it would be with a complex but comprehensible pedagogy that professionals could apply to their work, be it in classroom teaching or management. So I think I’m going to try. Worst comes to worst, I write something that I need to hold onto.

I am going to try to write the big swing piece in December (the deadline is Dec 31st) and the smaller swing piece in January for some other publication, so that I can have my biggest, boldest work out in the world (or at least under review) before my child is born.

I’m not hesitating any longer.

Podcast Episode 5: “What can we actually do about native speakerism?”

The episode, which you can find here, will be notable because the audio is bad. It’s bad for two reasons. One just the simple use of the internet to call the other side of earth. And two, because my phone was dropped this summer, and the screen is cracked, and it randomly opens apps for no reason sometimes, which cuts off the recording of audio while the random apps are open. This all happened because my dog got overexcited on a walk. It’s actually the very first time I’ve ever had a cracked screen. End of an era. Oh well, turn the volume up!

I think this episode is important, because we have been talking about “native speakerism” since sometime in the 80s, and here we are having the same conversation in 2019. I wanted to hear from Dr. Mehran because she’s experiencing the impact of said discrimination in a different environment than the West. Her experience is sort of the opposite of mine, where I had no experience, applied for a job online, had a phone interview (with a white person) and got the job. She, as you will hear if you listen, has a doctorate but still has to get her jobs through word of mouth.

It’s an interesting and complex issue and I’m glad, even if the audio isn’t great, that I am able to share it with some folks. Please do listen and share.

Podcast Update

Last week’s episode of my podcast has been well-received. About 40 people seem to have listened so far (I say “about” because two of them were me), and people seem excited for more episodes.

The entire goal is to (use whatever verb suits you) analyze/discuss/problematize words or phrases that have anodyne or neutral official meanings yet are used to categorize people according to racial groups. We discussed “expats” last week, and in that episode, we quickly came to the conclusion that although “expat” and “immigrant” both technically mean people who have moved to a new country, the former is, depending on the location, usually used for white and/or western nationals. We discussed a point at which an expat can “become” an immigrant, and talked about how, with a permanent legal status, this can occur, as it signals the residence is no longer temporary.

However, what I’ve been thinking about since then is the fact that, for some people, they never have a chance to be considered an expat at all. Depending on your racialization, you can be considered an immigrant from day one and this status will never change. You can never experience the lack of suspicion (and the relative deference) that comes from being an expat. So, to me, we should think about what we mean if we choose to call ourselves “expats,” as it means more than we think it does.

Going forward, the next episode will focus on acronyms. TESOL, ELT, ESL, ELL, EFL, all that good stuff. Which ones are valuable, which ones should be discarded, are there, perhaps, new ones we should be using?

Should be available in a week or so. After that, words I will be discussing include, “urban,” “professional,” “cultural fit,” and, that lovely couplet, “diversity and inclusion.”

Stay tuned!