Paul Kei Matsuda

Jinglin Chen

Jinglin Chen, one of my MTESOL advisees, successfully defended her Applied Project, "Reexamining Chinese Students' Perceptions of Collaborative Group Work." Her AP exam took place from 4 to 5 p.m. on Monday, May 4, 2009.

The committee members, Professors Mark A. James and Ruby Macsoud, agreed that her AP paper is substantive and well written in an appropriate academic style. Her presentation also raised an intriguing question--the paradox between the supposed "collectivist" orientation and the challenges Chinese students face in group work--and brought out a range of issues and possible explanations through a critical review of literature.

She also handled committee members' questions well with thoughtful responses.

Congratulations, Chen! Well done!

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15th Annual Graduate Linguistics/TESOL Symposium

15th Annual Graduate Linguistics/TESOL Symposium
March 6th 2009

Featuring Keynote Speaker Carol A. Chapelle

Carol Chapelle is Professor of TESL/Applied Linguistics and Chair of the Cross-disciplinary Linguistics Program at Iowa State University. She has served as President of the American Association for Applied Linguistics (AAAL), Editor of TESOL Quarterly, and Chair of the TOEFL Committee of Examiners. She is current Co-Editor of the Cambridge Applied Linguistics Series of Cambridge University Press. She is widely recognized as the pre-eminent scholar in the field of CALL. See Carol Chapelle’s webpage:

Twin Palms Hotel
225 E. Apache Blvd
Tempe, AZ 85281
For venue information and directions:

This symposium is brought to you by:
Interdisciplinary Committee on Linguistics, Department of English, and
Graduate Scholars of English Association

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Recurring Questions about Professionalization

This is the time of the year when people are thinking about applying to graduate programs, adjusting to graduate school, and applying for academic jobs. I have been mentioning a few of my blog entries that have to do with professionalization, so I thought it might be useful to highlight some of them here.

Finding a suitable graduate program

Writing a statement of purpose for graduate program application

Applying to the Master's Program in TESOL at ASU

Requesting letters of recommendation

Advice for new graduate students

Read everything

Read everything again

Read widely

Academic job search

Requesting someone to be a reference for a job application

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Extended Cognition and Second Language Learning

A presentation by Dr. Dwight Atkinson, Purdue University

Monday, November 3, 2008
Language and Literature 316

Presentation: 2:00 – 3:00 p.m.
Reception: 3:00 – 4:00 p.m.

Based on the assumption that second language acquisition (SLA) is an internal cognitive process, SLA studies is increasingly viewed as a branch of cognitive science. But cognitive science is a vast enterprise featuring diverse perspectives on cognition. In this presentation, I examine how one such perspective, the extended mind hypothesis (e.g., Clark & Chalmers, 1998), might be brought to bear in understanding second language acquisition.

The extended mind hypothesis holds that human cognition subserves real-world ends: adaptive behavior promoting organismic survival. More specifically, cognition is viewed as part of a functionally integrated system comprising brain, body, tools, ecological affordances, interactants (including other human beings), and situated activity systems. In this sense, cognition extends beyond the head and into the ecosocial world. Such extension allows human beings to align with our ever-changing environments in ways that promote our well-being and survival.

If SLA is a cognitive process, but cognition extends into the world, then what does this mean for second language learning? I discuss three possibilities, both negative and positive: 1) the cognitive-social/head-world dichotomy is largely meaningless; 2) SLA can be viewed as an ecologically adaptive process; and 3) the fine details of individuals’ alignment with their ecosocial environments matter fundamentally in SLA. I illustrate this last point using videotaped interactions of a Japanese EFL learner with her tutor, textbook, and sociocognitively constructed world.

Dr. Dwight Atkinson is an applied linguist and second language educator who specializes in writing (first and second language), qualitative research approaches, and second language acquisition. Current projects include an attempt to establish a view of second language acquisition on “sociocognitive” principles and research in India on the experiences of vernacular language-schooled students in English-language universities. Past work has covered a wide variety of topics, from the history of medical and scientific research writing in English, to critiques of commonly used concepts in university writing instruction such as critical thinking and voice, to explorations of the concept of culture, to writings on qualitative research methods. Atkinson teaches courses in qualitative research, postmodernism, and second language acquisition at Purdue University, where he is an associate professor of English.

Sponsored by Interdisciplinary Committee on Linguistics and the Department of English

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Advice for Master’s in TESOL Applicants

Here is my advice to people who are thinking about applying to the Master’s Program in TESOL at ASU. The information provided here is my personal opinion and does not necessarily reflect the views of other MTESOL faculty members, the Department or ASU.

Statement of Purpose. To me, this is the most important document. Here are some of the questions that I ask as I read through these documents:

  • Why do you wish to pursue a master’s degree in TESOL? To begin your career as an English language teacher? To become a more effective teacher in your current teaching context? To expose yourself to the most up-to-date ideas about the English language, language learning, and language teaching? To gain the credential to teach in intensive language programs or college-level ESL courses? To prepare yourself for a research career in TESOL (by continuing onto a Ph.D. program)?
  • What experience have you had in the field of TESOL? Have you taken a course? Have you taught English? Have you reflected on your own language learning experience? It’s OK not to have any experience at all—everyone has to start somewhere, and Master’s Program in TESOL provides an excellent starting point.
  • What do you hope to learn through your studies? Although Master’s Program in TESOL is a general preparation for professionals in TESOL, it helps to have a sense of what you hope to learn in the program, which helps you determine the best plan of study and identify appropriate faculty mentors.
  • Why are you interested in this particular program? It is the wide variety of courses that are offered by the program? Is it the opportunity to gain teaching experience through the internship program? Is it the reputation of the faculty members or graduates of the program? Did a graduate of this program recommend it to you? If so, what did they say that made you want to apply to this program?
  • Do you have a faculty member whose work you are interested? If so, you can mention the person as one of the reasons for applying to this particular program—it shows that you’ve done your homework. But don’t just drop names—listing everyone is not as effective as mentioning one or two people and explaining how their work has inspired you and relates to your professional development and career objectives.
  • What do you plan to do when you complete the program? Do you plan to teach in the United States or abroad? Do you plan to continue onto a Ph.D. program in TESOL or a related field? Are you thinking about starting a language school of your own? A graduate degree is always a means to an end. Have a clear idea about where you are headed. It’s OK to change your mind after you enter the program—you will be introduced to the whole world of TESOL during your studies, and you may discover new possibilities you’ve never considered.
Recommendation Letters. Ask someone who is in the field of TESOL and who knows you and your work very well. Although a letter from a well-known person in the field could help, a weak, dashed-off letter from the same person could actually hurt the case. It is more important to have strong letters that detail your academic strengths, personality traits, your relationships with mentors and classmates, and your interest in and commitment to the profession. (See Recommendation Letters.)

TOEFL or IELTS Score. Advanced proficiency in spoken and written English is essential for your success as a student and future English teacher. If you are an international student, the current requirement is a TOEFL score of 600 PBT, 250 CBT or 100 iBT, or an IELTS score of 6.5. If you don’t have the scores, ASU offers an excellent, multi-level English language program in the American English and Culture Program (AECP), where you can work on your English proficiency while preparing your application.

Official Transcripts. Be sure that your overall GPA is 3.0 on a 4 point scale (i.e., B average) or above. It would help if you have taken courses related to applied linguistics, linguistics or language teaching, but it’s neither required nor necessary.

Department of English Application. Fill it out completely and neatly. Type the form—hand-written applications can be a turn-off.

Graduate Application (online). Be sure to complete both Department of English and Graduate Application.

Best of luck with your application process!

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Last update: January 6, 2008