Paul Kei Matsuda

dissoi logoi: Migrating

I've migrated to a new Blogger site so I can take advantage of the new features. Hope this won't create any major problems. I will keep the original blog site available for a while. I may decide to archive the postings elsewhere, but I'll try to make them accessible from this site. Stay tuned.

Please use this URL to access this blog--in case I decide to move to another server again:


Recommended: A Guide to Professional Development (2006)

Here is a book that I recommend to everyone who is pursuing or is thinking about pursuing graduate studies in English:

Moore, Cindy, and Hildy Miller. A Guide to Professional Development for Graduate Students in English. Urbana, IL: National Council of Teachers of English, 2006. (ISBN: 978-0-8141-1923-5)

This brief and highly readable book is remarkably succinct and thorough, providing helpful advice on many different aspects of professional developments for both masters' and doctoral students in various disciplines within English studies, including composition and rhetoric, creative writing, linguistics and literature (in alphabetical order). I actually read the whole thing in one sitting.

It's worth noting that the authors have included the discussion of ESL/TESOL as an important consideration for composition and rhetoric specialists. Yet, there are other issues that I wished the authors paid more attention to. For example, major professional conferences such as American Association for Applied Linguistics and Linguistic Society of America are not mentioned. Nor does it mention CCCC very much partly because it's now considered a conference within the umbrella of NCTE (although it still maintains a separate membership list).

I was also disappointed not to see any mention of issues related to nonnative English speakers in the profession or foreign nationals, but I guess a majority of mentors in English studies are yet to become familiar with this growing area of research and professional development.

Of course a short book like this can't include everything or fully prepare anyone for all aspects of professional development, but it does provide a good roadmap. Readers would then have to take the trip to see for themselves--accompanied by their travel companions (spouses, friends, peers and mentors)--what it's like to be there to enjoy the long journey into the practices of their chosen disciplines.

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The Pipeline to Publication

Here is a useful suggestion published in the Chronicle of Higher Education:

Chronicle Careers: 12/5/2006: The Pipeline to Publication

I have been doing fewer and fewer "proposed" conference presentations because I'm too busy with other kinds of presentations and committee work, but I still do one or two proposed presentations each year.

The call for papers and conference proposal serve as one of the motivating forces to develop new projects and to refine my research ideas.

If it's an empirical research, I often present the whole study in one presentation, although it's possible to develop multiple presentations focusing on different aspects of the study, especially for bigger projects. I might also develop separate presentations focusing on the theory part of the study or the exploration of the critical issues that led up to the study.

In the presentation, I try to focus on two or three major findings and implications. Other than that, I try to limit my presentation to the most essential information--why the project is important to the field (which include a mention of a few key sources), essential features of the method, main findings and a few supporting evidence from the study, and a quick discussion of implications. Anything I didn't discuss can be dealt with during the discussion at the end.

When I present my theoretical and historical work, I try not to present everything because of the time limitation. I might do an overall sketch of the main argument with a focus on the implications, or I would take a segment of the project and discuss its implications. For this reason, the resulting theoretical/historical articles are usually syntheses of bits and pieces of arguments that I present in different presentations.

In any case, I try to make my presentation argument-driven, using data to provide examples to support or illustrate my claims.

And I don't necessarily develop all the arguments at once. I develop different parts of a project here and there depending on the most pertinent issues in the field and the audience. Some of the ideas that I am using for a book chapter I am writing came from two separate presentations I did this year, but one of the main arguments--my primary agenda for the project--evolved from a discussion I had after my TESOL session in the late 1990s and a conversation I had with a colleague at a recent conference.

It's helpful to get feedback from the audience, but it's the conversation I have with people afterwards--during the questions as well as conversations I have with people in the hallway, coffee shops, book exhibits, etc., that really helps me see what the issues are, how I might conceive of my audience, and what I want to communicate to them in a public forum.

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A Trip to Taiwan

I just came back from a trip to Taiwan, where I visited Tamkang University in Tamsui and Tunghai University in Taichun.

The primary purpose of the trip was to attend the Tamkang International Conference on Second Language Writing. I was invited as one of the plenary speakers along with John Flowerdew and Alister Cumming.

My talk was about the application of sociocultural theory to L2 writing instruction. It seemed to resonate with some of the concerns that people in Taiwan were facing. A lot of people told me that they appreciated the balance between theoretical and pedagogical discussion. I'm planning to present a sequel to it at Asia TEFL next June in Malaysia--with more detailed guidelines for curriculum development.

It was a really well organized conference. Everyone--from undergraduate students to faculty--worked really hard to give all the participants a first-class treatment. Yueh-kuey Huang, the Department Chair and Director of Ph.D. and M.A. Programs in English, really had everything under control. The main conference room on the 10th floor of the building was absolutely gorgeous. The view of the Tamsui River from the window was also great.

My favorite part was the food--appetizers during coffee breaks, lunch boxes and the banquet--yummy! I was also quite impressed by the quality of presentations--both form and content. I hope they will contine to have a conference on L2 writing at Tamkang!

Graduate students at Tamkang and other universities in Taiwan were doing really exciting work. As I said at the closing panel discussion, the number of L2 writing researchers in Taiwan seems to be reaching a critical mass--I felt that L2 writing in Taiwan has come of age. I really look forward to learning more about L2 writing in Taiwan.

Two of the graduate students--Karen Ye and Viola Hsueh--volunteered to escort me throughout the conference. They took really good care of me all day. They even took me to Taipei 101 (the tallest building in the world) and Shiling Night Market. I got to know them quite well and had a lot of fun with them. Thanks, Karen and Viola! I hope we'll have a chance to hang out together again!

On Sunday, Theresa Tseng, Alister, Razika Sonoui, and I went to Tunghai Unviersity, where Alister and I each gave a talk. It was quite serendipitous--we got invited separately by two different people, but it was really nice to spend some time with them. Alister talked about the features of TOEFL ibt test, and I talked about an insider's perspective on writing for scholarly publication. I also met Anthony Kunnan, who happened to be there as a Fulbright Scholar this year. I got to spend a lot of time with Theresa and Kailin Wu, a former Ph.D. student of Bonnie Sunstein and Carol Severino's at the University of Iowa. It was also good to meet Jon Benda--we had been corresponding with each other since the late 1990s, but we never actually had had the chance to meet in person.

I also got to see some familiar faces--Masumi Narita, who is working with me to organize the Symposium on Second Language Writing in Japan next September was there, and we had a productive meeting over lunch; Ho-Ping Feng, who teaches at National Taiwan Normal University; and Billy (Shin-Fan Kao), whom I met at Indiana TESOL when I was still at Purdue.

I thoroughly enjoyed my stay in Taiwan--great people, great food, and great conversations. I would definitely like to visit Taiwan again--and again, and again.

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Last update: January 6, 2008