Paul Kei Matsuda

An Article on Asia TEFL 2007

Here is an article on Asia TEFL 2007, published in The Star, a newspaper in Malaysia.

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2008 Symposium

The 2008 Symposium on Second Language Writing was a great success. As always, it was good to see many familiar faces as well as new ones. This year, we focused on foreign language writing--English as a foreign language as well as foreign languages other than English.

This year's Symposium would not have been possible without the contributions of the two Associate Chairs. Melinda Reichelt was the driving force behind this year's program--she was instrumental in assembling the list of speakers who represent a wide variety of languages and contexts. Tony Cimasko worked hard in taking care of local details; everything went smoothly thanks to him.

The Graduate Student Conference, organized by Jihyun Im and Beril Tezeller Arik, was also stimulating. The discussion at the end, where participants reported on issues they found interesting, gave me a lot of ideas for next year's Symposium.

We also benefited much from the support provided by the Symposium Assistants from Purdue University, Arizona State University, and the University of New Hampshire. They are: Haiying Cao, Shihyu Chang, Lixia Cheng, Yin Ling Cheung, Cristyn Elder, Fatima Esseili, Brian Guthrie, John Hitz, Mike Hubert, Jaisree Jayaraman, Beth Kramer, Elena Lawrick, Xianqiang Li, cristine McMartin-Miller, Wongjan Poolpoem, Laurel Reinking, Tanita Saenkhum, and Steven Simpson.

The next Symposium will be held on November 5-7, 2009, at Arizona State University. The theme will be the future of second language writing.

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Memorable Encounters

I just came back from AAAL in Washington, D.C., and CCCC in New Orleans. Both conferences were productive and stimulating in many ways.

At AAAL, Miyuki Sasaki, Aya Matsuda and I presented our interview-based phenomenological research on multi-competent academic writers. The collaborative process was interesting because we all brought different methodological and theoretical perspectives. But things came together nicely, and many people gave us positive comments. AAAL also featured a “graduate student night,” where experienced members of the field shared insights into the academic job search process. It was really well attended, and I enjoyed working with a group of graduate students who asked great questions about various issues in academic job search.

At CCCC, I attended the Executive Committee meeting and other related meetings. In addition, I gave two presentations. One of them was a discussion session on second language writing, organized by Jonathan Hall. Other presenters included Christina Ortmeier-Hooper, Jay Jordan, and Deirdre Pettipiece. The other presentation was part of a panel on the internationalization of composition that I organized. It included Chris Anson, Min-Zhan Lu, Joan Mullin, Xiaoye You, and Deb Holdstein. Both of the sessions were well attended, and I (and other presenters) received a lot of positive feedback.

One of the most stimulating aspects of the conference experience is the opportunity to interact with graduate students from various institutions. Each year, I talk with many graduate students who are interested in my research or who are interested in working with me in the Ph.D. program. Others are seeking insights that might help in their development as a teacher, researcher, and a member of the profession. During this conference season, too, I spoke with many graduate students about various issues in the field as well as issues related to their professionalization.

I don’t have the time to go into details of all of the interactions, but I’d like to share some thoughts about what makes some of those encounters particularly memorable. Although it’s impossible to remember everyone, I do try. I recognize many of the people I meet at conferences the next time I see them (which seems to surprise some of them). And there are specific things people do that make them particularly memorable.

First, I tend to remember people I encounter frequently (duh!). They attend many of the same sessions and meetings that I go to. They come to business meetings, award ceremonies, receptions. They introduce themselves and say “hi” when I see them again in the hallway. Or they at least make eye contacts and smile.

When they introduce themselves, they say their names and institutions clearly. Some of them even hold up the nametag as they say their names. They always wear nametags (even during dinners and receptions), which is helpful when I’m not sure if I remember their names. Some of them also give me business cards or handouts from their presentations. They also have websites where I can learn more about them and see their photos.

They talk about specific pieces of my work, how they encountered those pieces, what they thought of them, and how they are using them in their own work. They mention their advisors who know me, and in some cases, their advisors talk to me about those students.

They also talk about their own work. If they are presenting or have presented, they can describe the session in a sentence or two and, when asked, provide a succinct summary in ways that are relevant to the context of the conversation. I often can’t attend their sessions because of various meetings, but I do try.

They ask questions. They ask about my work and about own professional development experience and strategies. They may have specific questions about their own teaching, research or professional development situations. They usually provide enough contexts about their own experience and their current situation so I can understand their questions and provide most appropriate and relevant answers. Some questions are personal, but I don’t mind as long as they can explain the relevance of the question to their own professional development.

They often send me a follow-up email message about the encounter—it helps especially if they briefly mention in the email how we met and what we talked about. Some of them send me pictures we took together (which I really appreciate). Some even send me their pictures to help me remember what they look like. They may also have a link to their own professional website, where I can see their faces and learn more about their background and current projects.

Some of them also ask me to be their Facebook or Mixi friends.

And they come to the same conference regularly and present something whenever they can so I can attend their sessions and learn more about them and their work.

I look forward to seeing many of you at next year’s CCCC, AAAL and TESOL--and at the Symposium on Second Language Writing!

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University of Denver Visit

I came to Denver yesterday to give a talk at the University of Denver at the invitation of Doug Hesse, who directs the newly-developed University Writing Program.

After a nice sandwich from Udi's, I met with a group of enthusiastic and well-informed writing instructors for an informal discussion of various topics related to language differences in the classroom, the role of grammar in writing instruction and assessment, my current projects, etc.

I then gave a talk for a wider university community. After an overview of the presence, characteristics and needs of multilingual writers in U.S. higher education in general and at DU in particular, I discussed some of the strategies as well as questions to consider in designing and teaching a course that includes multilingual students.

We had a nice dinner at Tamayo, an upscale Mexican restaurant in downtown Denver. I had pozole; it was quite different from what I had in Coyoacan, which was more like ramen, but it was still great--in a fancy-restaurant sort of way.

I'll be heading home this morning so I can get home by this afternoon--in time for the parent-teacher conference.

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2007 Symposium on Second Language Writing

This year's Symposium on Second Language Writing was a huge success. About 340 people from 26 countries participated in the three-day event that took place at Nagoya Gakuin University, home of Miyuki Sasaki, one of the leading L2 writing researchers.

Many people told me that they were impressed by the quality of presentations (as was I) and that they enjoyed meeting people from variuos parts of the Pacific Rim and beyond.

More photos are available here.

The Symposium has now become an annual event, and the next Symposium will take place on June 5-7, 2008, at Purdue University. Tony and his staff will be organizing the 2008 Symposium (including the website), and I'll be working on the 2009 Symposium.

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GSID Summer Intensive Seminar

Last week, I taught a three-day summer intensive seminar for students in the Graduate School of International Development at Nagoya University. At the request of my host, Professor Toru Kinosita, The seminar focused on qualitative research on second language with a postmodern twist.

Planning for this seminar was an interesting experience because I didn't know much about the students until a few days before the seminar started. The only thing I knew for sure was that few of them had any prior experience or exposure to qualitative research or second language writing, much less postmodernism. I hope I succeded in showing them that the assumptions of quantitative and qualitative studies are not necessarily mutually exclusive and that both of them are but ways of establishing strong support for a larger claim--which is in the realm of informal reasoning or, to use Perelman's term, the realm of rhetoric.

The seminar was useful to me because it helped me renew my understanding that graduate programs need to provide their students with more than just the knowledge of either qualitative or quantitative methods--or even both. In order to successfuly present their research findings and to turn them into viable knowledge in the field, researchers need a broad-based knowledge of various methodological approaches as well as various philosophical assumptions underlying what it is that we do as researchers.

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JACET Summer Seminar in Kusatsu

I just came back from Kusatsu Onsen, a famous spa resort in Gunma Prefecture. There, I attended Japan Association of College English Teachers (JACET) Summer Seminar as one of the invited speakers along with Alister Cumming and Razika Sanaoui.

I had a great time at the four-day event. It was great to see some familiar faces--people who have been involved in the field of L2 writing for quite a while--and some people I had not previously met. Many of them said they were also coming to the Symposium on Second Language Writing in September. I was really excited to see that L2 writing has become a viable topic in Japan.

At the end of each day, we enjoyed various activities, including a concert, barbecue, outdoor foot baths and, of course, onsen. Some of us also stayed up late, enjoying ourselves in the lobby until 3 a.m.

More pictures are available at:

All in all, it was a great event--well organized and executed. I highly recommend it!


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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Gesa Kirsch Visit

Today, Gesa Kirsch came to UNH to give a talk on the importance of location, personal connections, chance encounters, representation and other important issues in archival research. Her talk captured many of the issues that our doctoral students are interested in, and she tied them all together nicely in an engaging presentation.

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The Other Durham

Just came back from a visit to Duke University in the other Durham. The campus was absolutely stunning! I would love to teach at a university with such a beautiful campus. The on-campus hotel--Washington Duke Inn--was one of the best university-affiliated hotels I have stayed in.



But it wasn't a job interview--I went there to give two talks on second language writing--one for writing center tutors at Duke and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and the other for instructors of the award-winning writing 20 program directed by Joe Harris.

I got to spend a lot of time with my host Vicki Russell, who directs the Writing Studio at Duke. I was quite impressed by the program and the enthusiasm of the staff members.

I also had the opportunity to spend some time with Joe Harris and Maria Parker (who directs the English for International Graduate Students Program at Duke) as well as Kim Abels, Gigi Taylor and Ryuko Kubota from UNC.

I also got to enjoy the warm wheather and the foliage, which I didn't get to enjoy in this Durham because I was out of town during its peak.

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Gesa Kirsch Talk, November 2, 2006

For my research methods class this semester, I've invited Professor Gesa Kirsch from Bentley College. We are using two of the books she co-edited, and the feminist perspective she brings to the discussion of research methodology and ethics is particularly important for my students.

On Thursday, November 2, she will give a talk entitled, "'Like an August Mushroom Hunt': Serendipity, Creativity, and a Sense of Place in Archival Research." More information about the talk is availiable at

Her visit is part of the Department of English Lecture Series; it is also partially supported by Summer Literacy Institute.

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Symposium Site Visit

While I was in Nagoya, I got together with Miyuki Sasaki and Masumi Narita, Local Co-Chairs, for a site visit for the 2007 Symposium. We went to Kanayama Station to check out all the hotels in the area. We also went to Nagoya Gakuin University's new Shirotori Campus, where the Symposium will be held in September 2007.

Having been there, I now have a better sense of what it's going to be like to have the Symposium in Nagoya. On the way home from Nagoya, I got inspired and developed directions and wrote a brief guide to Kanayama and Nagoya, and posted them on the Symposium web site.

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Back from IAWE

I'm back from the International Association for World Englishes conference in Nagoya, Japan. Overall, I had a great conference experience. It was really well organized--people at Chukyo University did a great job. I was particularly impressed by Chukyo students who worked really hard to make sure everything was in order and no one was lost in transition.

I was invited to give a plenary talk, and (after consulting my in-house expert) I decided to talk about the implications of world Englishes for the teaching of writing. The title was "World Englishes and Writing Instruction: Conflicts and Possibilities. I explored the theoretical and practical difficulties in incorporating insights from the field of world Englishes into the teaching of writing, and discussed how writing pedagogy might be transformed in increasingly multilingual, multicultural and multinational contexts. I also suggested the importance of interdisciplinary collaboration in raising the awareness of linguistic diversity and changes not only among students but among writing teachers, language teachers, faculty across the curriculum, editors and publishers, and the larger public. It was well attended and well received.

The best part, though, was that I had the honor of being introduced by Professor Nobuyuki Hino. He gave a very generous and kind introduction that also reflected his great sense of humor. I responded by sharing a story of how his book influenced me when I was learning English as a high school student.

Aya and I also gave a paper on "The Internationalization of Technical Communication Textbooks." We reported the results of our analysis of four technical communication textbooks for their inclusion of international communication issues that are becoming increasingly important in today's global economy. We discussed how the textbooks represented the relationship between technical communicators and international audience, and how issues of language and cultures are incorporated. We pointed out the need for world Englishes specialists to be involved in the development of technical communication textbooks in order to facilitate the integration of international and global issues into the teaching of spoken and written communication.

One of the reasons I like attending conferences is the chance to meet new people and to spend time with friends. I got to spend some time with some of the people whose work I admire. I also met a few new people as well. I even had the chance to go out with some of my friends from college. That was fun!

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Ellie, Steve, Christina, Joleen and MattLast night, Aya and I hosted a potluck dinner with Ellie Kutz and many of our doctoral students.

Ellie teaches at UMass Boston, and she has a summer house in Northern Massachusetts, not too far from Durham. I have known her work for many years, and got to know her really well when Peter Elbow invited about ten people (including Ellie and me) to have a two-week summer symposium on the use of mother tongue in the writing classroom (which resulted in a Composition Studies article).

Two of my mentees--Steve and Matt--had been discussing ways to integrate her work into their composition classes, so I thought it might be nice to have a chance for them and other grad students to meet Ellie. And she graciously agreed to join us.

Since its middle of the summer, I didn't expect a huge turn out, but 10 of the graduate students showed up, and we had a great time. As Christina put it, "Great company, great food, and great conversation--what more can a person ask for!"

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AAAL this year was a joint conference with Canadian Association of Applied Linguistics/Association Canadienne de Linguistique Appliquée. The attendance was lower, and I didn't see many people that I would usually see at AAAL--probably because it was in June, when many people are traveling or want to focus on their research projects. But it was still a great conference--for one thing, I got to attend many sessions, which I don't get to do at CCCC or TESOL.

The highlight of this year's conference, as always, was the time I spent with colleagues and friends. I had many meals and drinks with Chris Tardy, my collaborator in the voice project, and her friends from her Turkey days. I also got to know Dwight's students from Temple University Japan, who are doing meticulous work--perhaps reflecting Dwight's tendencies.

Dwight also introduced me to Rena Helms-Parks, who collaborated with Paul Stapleton on an article critiquing the importance of voice in academic writing. Meeting Rena was interesting not only because Chris and I were responding in part to their work but also because Rena or her description of Paul Stapleton didn't match what Chris and I had imagined from their writing.

Aya, Kana and I got together with Yasuhiro Imai, a good friend of ours from TESOL Link, and Kyoko Baba, a rising star from OISE who is working with Alister Cumming. I had heard about her from Masumi Narita, whom I had met in Japan this summer. I went to Kyoko's presentation on the last day, and was deeply impressed by the quality of her research and her thorough yet concise presentation.

I also enjoyed a presentation by Mark James, another OISE graduate who had worked with Alister. I had met him at his home institution, Arizona State, when I went to give a talk at their conference. His work on learning transfer provides an important perspective that have often been taken for granted.

Joleen Hanson, one of my doctoral students, presented her research on It was a good descriptive project with many important theoretical implications. I was really pleased with the quality of her presentation--she has definitely become a confident and competent presenter. She also used PowerPoint really effectively to present both verbal and visual information--an important skill especially given her interest in technology and writing.

My own presentation with Chris on voice in academic writing went really well. It was well attended. We ran out of handouts, but managed to put together additional PowerPoint slides with all the relevant data in the last minute. Among the audience were John Swales, Ken Hyland, Brian Paltridge, Doug Flahive, and Dwight Atkinson, just to name a few. Aya and Kana also managed to stay through my part of the presentation. The questions were all predictable, and we are now thinking about pursuing other related projects.

Another highlight of the conference was the food. Everything we ate was great--even at the food court. Très bien!

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2006 Symposium Photo Archive

I've made the photos from the Symposium available. They are not in any particular order, though. I guess people can construct their own narratives out of these images.

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Symposium on Second Language Writing 2006, Part II

The Symposium was a great success. It was great to see many of my friends in the field. I refer to them as friends because I treasure my relationships with colleagues in the field. It's not that we don't disagree with each other--in fact, we argue over many issues, but to me, that's part of what friendship is about.

What I enjoy about conferences in general is the opportunity to engage in sustained conversations about issues that we care deeply about. And we try to create opportunities for those conversations by organizing this Symposium. A lot of great conversations took place during the sessions, in the hall way, at restaurants, and even in hotel rooms.

I also met a lot of new people who attended the Symposium for the first time. I got to know some of them really well. I hope to get to know the others at the next Symposium ;-)

The "theory" theme was a challenging one to talk about even for experienced researchers, but the speakers did a great job of addressing various and sometimes conflicting definitions of theory as well as a wide range of issues related to practicing theory in the field of L2 writing. I can't wait to see the manuscripts based on these talks for the next Symposium volume.

I came back from the Symposium yesterday. Dwight was kind enough to pick up Steve, Matt and me at 4:45 a.m. to take us to the Indy airport. I know he did a huge favor because both Dwight and I are night owls (4:45 is about our bedtime). Thanks, D! I'll buy you a drink at AAAL in Montreal this weekend.

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Symposium on Second Language Writing 2006

The first of the three-day event went really well. It was the Graduate Student Conference. I thoroughly enjoyed listening to the presentations and talking with the presenters afterwards.

I was pleased with the overall quality of graduate student presentations. Chris Casanave told me she was glad to see that most of the presenters made the effort to "speak to" the audience rather than "read" papers. Most of them were well-informed by the relevant literature, and there were signs of serious attempts to contribute new knowledge to the field. I also felt that the questions and answers afterwards were becoming more sophisticated and well-informed while remaining colleagial. I take it as an indication that second language writing is maturing as a field.

I was also happy to see that many of the invited Symposium speakers as well as other established researchers in the field attended the Graduate Student Conference and interacted with the presenters and participants. Many grad students told me that they appreciated the opportunity to get to know the "authors" whose work they have been reading. I can't wait to see these budding scholars return to future Symposia as the "authors."

The biennial social gathering at Lafayette Brewing Company (my favorite hangout while I was at Purdue) was well attended, and the participants seemed to be enjoying themselves. This is one of my favorite parts of the Symposium.

Tony Cimasko and Steve Simpson did an outstanding job in organizing the Graduate Student Conference. I was especially impressed by how well they handled the pre-conference meeting with session chairs as well as the small-group discussion at the end. Thanks for your hard work, Steve and Tony. Well done!

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One of my major agenda items over the last ten years has been to prevent CCCC and TESOL from meeting at the same time. Every year, I try to remind both organizations about this problem and get them to cooperate, but it has been difficult because they are both fairly large organizations and have many other constraints to work with.

But since many organizations are now trying to maintain--if not boost--conference attendance, they should see an added incentive for avoiding schedule conflicts with another major organization in a related field.

The creation of the CCCC Committee on Second Language Writing in 1998 helped me to maintain communication with the Executive Committee on a regular basis, but there was no formal mechanism at TESOL that I had to talk to Board of Directors and Presidents every year. Now that the Second Language Writing Interest Section is in place, I hope there will be a more systematic and sustained effort to keep this from happening in the future.

Here are the dates of future CCCC and TESOL conventions:

CCCC 2007 New York, March 21-24, 2007
TESOL 2007 Seattle, March 20-24, 2007

CCCC 2008 New Orleans, April 2-5, 2008
TESOL 2008 New York, April 2-5, 2008

CCCC 2009 San Francisco, March 11-14, 2009
TESOL 2009 Denver, March 25-28, 2009

CCCC 2010 Louisville, March 17-20, 2010
TESOL 2010 Boston, March 24-27, 2010

Future Conference Dates and Locations

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Dissertation Defense

Michelle Cox, one of my doctoral students, successfully defended her dissertation--a qualitative study of clinical writing at an on-campus speech clinic. Her work usefully complicates the binary distinction between classroom and workplace writing by examining the writing practice at a site where two activity systems--those of school and workplace--overlap.

The defense went smoothly. It was more a conversation than a defense--as it should be with a quality dissertation. Everyone on the committee--Tom Newkirk, Jess Enoch, Cindy Gannett and John Brereton--seemed to think highly of Michelle's work. She worked really hard in developing her understanding of various theories--situated learning, activity theories, rhetorical genre theories--and in synthesizing them as she prepared for her project. I hope she will continue to pursue this project.

Congratulations, Michelle. Well done!

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Back from TESOL

I just came back from TESOL.

I finished my term as a member of TESOL Quaterly Editorial Advisory Board. I really enjoyed working with Carol and Suresh, and with other board members. The Committee to Internationalize TQ, which I inherited from Dwight, seems to have served its purpose, especially with Suresh in the leadership and with a number of highly qualified board members from various parts of the world. I hope the trend will continue even after Suresh completes his term.

I'm glad to report that TESOL is getting better in some ways. Last year, I spent most of the conference (other than the board meeting and my presentations) trying to get TESOL to stop publishing discriminatory ads in the program book and to revise the policy that banned little children from the convention. This year, both problems had been solved. Chuck, the Executive Director, even stopped by to say hi to my daughter. I want to thank TESOL President Elliott Judd and others for making these important changes.

Board members also seemed to be speaking their minds more freely compared to a few years ago, when TESOL suddenly decided to discontinue TESOL Matters and TESOL Journal and replace them with Essential Teachers. (I encountered a cynical board member, but I want to believe it was the problem of this particular individual and not of the entire organization.)

The talk of the conference this year was that the Board of Directors decided to resurrect TESOL Journal. It will be an online-journal--to avoid competition with Essential Teachers, I was told--but it's still good to have the theoretically-informed pedagogical journal back in business so TQ can continue to be a first-rate research journal.

Another piece of good news is that Second Language Writing Interest Section, which was approved last year, is now up and running. Christina Ortmeier-Hooper and Jessie Moore Kapper did an excellent job in organizing the activities for the premier year. My personal high point was when Christina told me that now she understands why I handed over this huge responsibility to her. She now knows a lot of people and how TESOL works.

The bad news is that, since TESOL and CCCC are scheduled to take place at the same time for the next two years, I will have to choose one or the other. Since I'm still chairing the L2 writing committee at CCCC, I'll probably have to attend CCCC.

I'll be leaving for CCCC on Tuesday.

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Last update: January 6, 2008