From the Editor
Phyllis Wachob

 

    It is with great anticipation and joy that we present our first issue of the AUC TESOL Journal. It has been in the works for over a year and has been delayed by the usual start-up delays of busy personnel as well as a revolution in Egypt. However, we are now able to present a first issue with interesting and, we hope, useful articles for and about teachers and learners in the region.

    Our first section, on professional practice and research, contains two articles, one describing and analyzing an important concept for teachers and the other a research article. Arman Abednia, from Iran, has given us much food for thought about the differences between teacher training and teacher education. It is not merely a set of words, but a set of the mind, an approach to the profession. He has called on all of us to rethink our education of teachers to include visions of critical pedagogy as well as a focus on our learners and their needs. The second article addresses the issue of gender participation. Although the overwhelming research shows male dominance in speaking, Mariah Fairley has given our young women learners hope that they can take their linguistic space in classrooms. In her research, she describes the methods she used to invite participation by both genders, mostly by introducing controversial social topics in the form of debates and discussion with preparation. Although she was successful with some of her students, issues remain, especially with the concept of extreme silence or absenteeism. For future researchers out there, more work needs to be done.

    The next section of the journal is dedicated to classroom practices. Two articles describe activities that take place in classrooms, how they work, and what the consequences can be. The first article, by Kerima Nishat, from Cairo American College, tackles the issue of sustainability and how students can be engaged to solve social problems. This article describes a class project documenting a campaign against throw-away water bottles, a growing problem all over the world, not just in Egypt. The teenage factor of ‘cool’ meant that refillable bottles were derisively rejected by many older students, even though they themselves might be in favor of recycling. Younger students tried to overcome this attitude, and the battle still goes on. The second article, by Fairley and Fathelbab, describes six challenges in our battle to get our students to read and write communicatively.  Cooperative learning and its student- centered philosophy weigh in quite extensively in these conversations. Not forgetting the downsides or the difficulties, Fairley and Fathelbab are upbeat and positive in their suggestions.

    The third section is for book reviews. We have three, or rather three sets, of book reviews. Anthony Leone is a lawyer turned English teacher and brings his expertise in both areas by reviewing two books that teach English for lawyers. In a balanced and nuanced review, he extols the virtues and unflinchingly points out the faults of the two volumes. His conclusion: use both. Robert McMullin, a specialist in Business English, has reviewed two volumes on speaking and pronunciation. Although the books are not new, Robert emphasizes the usefulness of the content and layout of each volume.  Alexander Lewko, an MA student reviews a new book that purports to be culturally neutral and/or culturally inclusive. In the world of globalized English, favoring one variety of English over another has become increasingly problematic, and indeed, teaching the culture of the English-speaking countries is increasingly being called into question. Thus, it is important that the topic of culture - many cultures be addressed in our textbooks. Teachers can provide examples and ideas from their own culture, but may not be familiar with others and thus can rely on sources such as well-written textbooks. 


    The last section in the journal is our Forum where opinions or statements about the issues affecting our profession are presented. In October 2010, AUC’s English Language Institute hosted Bonny Norton from the University of British Columbia as a Distinguished Visiting Professor. After that visit, I invited Bonny to give us some of her thoughts on the state of English Language teaching in Egypt. She did, but when the journal finally was ready for publication, she asked that we note that she had written her essay before the January 25 Revolution. Perhaps Bonny can come back to Egypt to see what has changed and perhaps re-envision some of her ideas. Heba Fathelbab has researched the topic of bicultural teachers and now gives us some thoughts on the perennial issue of Non-Native Speaking English Teachers (NNEST) and their disempowered position vis-à-vis their Native Speaking English Teacher (NEST) colleagues. Although this has been addressed by TESOL International and other TESOL organizations, there still remains discrimination in hiring, promotion, and pay. We cannot ignore this issue and hope that it will go away, but by writing and publishing about unfair practices, we hope that the future will be different. Finally we have an essay, written by our editor, about the role of English in a new Egypt. Although the revolution is not over, the conclusion is that the world has noticed us, not only because of the bravery and endurance of the youth in Tahrir Square and elsewhere in Egypt, but because, in many cases, it was carried out in English, the global language. It is the language of the youth of the future, through the new media, and it now belongs to a new group. This group comprises not just native English speakers, but also the new speakers of English who will make and change the language to suit their purposes. May they ‘live long and prosper.’


    We wish to thank those teachers and researchers from Egypt and the region who have contributed to this issue. We hope that this space can be a place where research is presented, teaching practices are explained and described, books and materials are reviewed, and a lively forum takes root. Although hosted by the English Language Institute at the American University in Cairo and co-sponsored by NileTESOL, we welcome articles and reviews from elsewhere in the region.

    No endeavor of this magnitude can be done alone. I have received enormous help from the Section Editors: Atta Gebril, the Research Editor; Carol Clark, the Teaching Practices Editor; and Tom Farkas, the Forum and Book Review Editor.  Also, thanks go to Tom Farkas who acted as the copy editor, and the web master, Rachel Ramey. Reviewers for this issue gave much time and energy to reviewing articles, but also reviewing newly created rubrics. The authors, as well, have endured innumerable emails from an inexperienced chief editor. This work has led to a steep learning curve for all of us and I sincerely hope that lessons learned will benefit the journal long into the future.

I hope you enjoy this issue and pass on the website URL to colleagues and friends. We plan to have a printable pdf of the entire issue soon. It will be found on the same page as the web-only issue link.

Phyllis Wachob

Chief Editor