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Pepperdine | Graduate School of Education and Psychology

TESOL Newsletter - Issue No. 1

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By Dr. Kevin Wong | TESOL Program Chair 

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Welcome to the inaugural newsletter of Pepperdine GSEP’s TESOL Program! My name is Kevin Wong and it is my joy and privilege to serve as Chair of the TESOL program. The TESOL Newsletter is designed to provide everyone - prospective students, current students, and alumni alike - with current information on the happenings of Pepperdine TESOL! 

With each volume, you can expect to hear from current students in our “Life at Pepperdine” section, keep up-to-date with the latest TESOL research in our “Hot Off the Press” section, celebrate achievements in our community, hear from an alumni, and peruse current job openings in the TESOL field. 

As the Fall 2021 semester draws to a close, we must take a moment to say we’re thankful to be safely together in person again. We are also excited to finish this semester off well with our annual TESOL Fall Symposium entitled, “Challenges and Solutions in English Language Teaching” hosted on the beautiful Malibu campus. All are invited, including our beloved alumni who may enjoy the opportunity to reconnect with cohort-mates while overlooking the Pacific Ocean and engaging in some TESOL scholarship. RSVP here if you are able to attend. 

With that, we wish you a joyous Christmas season ahead and hope to hear from you soon!

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Life At Pepperdine

A glimpse at past and upcoming events

We love to see our TESOL students build a community outside the classroom! Some of our TESOL students gathered together on a Los Angeles rooftop to celebrate Halloween! 

Dr. Wong and his wonderful family hosted a Thanksgiving dinner for the TESOL students and their family members and created a warm and safe space for everyone to pause and reflect on what they are thankful for this year. 

As for upcoming events in the TESOL program, our Fall symposium is among us! The students will be presenting their research on linguistic challenges and solutions in TESOL. 

We encourage you to join us in Malibu on Friday, December 17th from 12:30 - 2:45 PM. The symposium will be held on the Drescher campus in room LC 155.

To register for the event, click here.

Current Student Perspectives

By Dr. Kevin Wong featuring Feidana Yalikun

We had the opportunity to check in with Feidana Yalikun, a current TESOL student at Pepperdine, about her first semester here in Malibu.

Kevin: Thank you for taking the time to share your experience as a TESOL student with us, Feidana! Could you briefly tell us about yourself? 

Feidana: Hi, my name is Feidana. I am a minority from China. The main reason for choosing TESOL is two-fold. Firstly, I am deeply interested in language learning, and I know five languages so far. Due to this passion, I wish to learn more about linguistics and understand languages from a more professional perspective. Secondly, I have a BA in Chinese Language and Literature; however, I realized that I am more intrigued by teaching English. I have taught in both institutional and public schools. As my experience has grown, my goal is to have a mature and solid theoretical foundation and a more diverse approach to teaching.

Kevin: Wow, five languages! Could you share with us the different languages and dialects/varieties that you speak?

Feidana: Sure! I speak five languages but with different levels of proficiency in each one. I have two native languages, as my parents are from two ethnic groups. They are Uzbak and Uighur. I understand and speak them at a native level, but I am not fluent in reading and writing. I have been studying Mandarin since I was very young, and I also have a BA in Chinese Language and Literature, so that Mandarin would be the most proficient language. I consider my English to be at an intermediate level because I always find deficiencies that need improvement as I continue to study. While I have not studied Korean, I can understand it without barriers since I have been watching Korean dramas and variety shows for many years.

Kevin: How has it been transitioning to graduate school? Do you have any tips or tricks that have helped you?

Feidana: It started with me feeling very flustered and exhausted since there were so many new things I needed to get acclimated to. I think my tricks were to plan well, get out of my comfort zone, embody something different, and slowly find a rhythm that worked for me. 

Kevin: I definitely hear you. Remember you can always reach out to us if you need support! Ok, my next question: Could you describe a class or your general experience so far this semester?

Feidana: First and foremost, I found each class to be meaningful and exciting, which was different from my previous experiences. I have been exposed to multiple linguistic terms and concepts during the semester, allowing me to look at language and related phenomena objectively. Many things used to be just an idea as far as I was concerned, but I can now analyze it and look at it more professionally, which is invigorating.

Kevin: What words do you have to share for prospective students who are considering Pepperdine’s TESOL program?

Feidana: I would definitely use the word supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, which is a whimsical way of saying extremely good. Although this word is not very formal, it represents my opinion. The professors have a wealth of experience and diverse backgrounds, the students are very supportive, and every moment here is enjoyable!

Thank you so much, Feidana, for taking the time to chat with us! We are so grateful our paths have crossed here at Pepperdine!

TESOL Article: Hot Off the Press

In a recent issue of TESOL Journal, Dr. Li Wei from the University College London published an important, reflective article entitled, “TESOL educators can contribute to the fight-back against racial discrimination and hatred: A personal view from Britain.” 

In his reflections, Dr. Li brings up examples of racial discrimination in TESOL with students from China, in particular, and challenges us to step back and consider how the field of TESOL is not apolitical. He argues for critical conversations with TESOL students about issues that stem from the globalization of English and how the status of "standardized" Englishes affects the way we view non-English languages and cultures. 

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The full article is available to download here.



Alumni Interview with Stephen Fischer (TESOL ‘21).

Community Shoutouts

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Ana Guzman, TESOL ‘21 graduate and Artist-Teacher Coordinator at Angels Gate Cultural Center, presented her research at the California Arts Education Association conference in Anaheim, California, in November. The title of her presentation was “Bridging Art and ELL to Support Safe Learning Spaces.”

Congratulations, Ana! We are so proud of you! 

Three ESOL faculty and one alumni at Pepperdine presented two papers at the annual California TESOL conference in October/November 2021.

Dr. Weina Chen, Visiting Instructor of Education, with Jiangfeng Li, a Ph.D. student at GSEP and TESOL alumni, Class of 2017, presented a paper called, "Cultivating the Sense of Belongingness for ESOL Students"

Dr. Jennifer Miyake-Trapp and Dr. Kevin Wong, Assistant Professors of Education, presented a paper entitled, "Critical Language Reflection Tool: Critical Reflection and Consciousness in TESOL", from their recently published book chapter in IGI Global.

If you have any successes you would like to share with the TESOL community, please do not be shy! We would love to celebrate with you! Any special updates can be sent to Mahsa Zojaji, TESOL Associate Program Director.