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Diversity & Inclusion: English Faculty Elected Chair of ALIS

Dr. Rashad Ahmed, Assistant Professor in the Department of English, was elected to serve as chair of the Applied Linguistics Interest Section (ALIS) of TESOL International. Ahmed describes the TESOL Association as the top organization in his field, with over 11,000 members and 115 affiliates representing 169 countries. There are several interest sections within TESOL, one of which is the ALIS. The ALIS has the largest membership among the TESOL interest sections, with more than 2,000 members from more than 150 countries. It works to advance research in all areas of language use, focusing mainly on studies that enhance the understanding of language learning and teaching. One of the goals of this Interest Section is to spread the knowledge gained from such research to its members, the wider TESOL community, and the general public. ALIS draws on linguistics and related disciplines such as psychology, sociology, education, and others to tackle practical language-related challenges in the field of English language teaching. Last year, they organized several events and webinars, such as Aviation English. They also worked with the TESOL Quarterly journal and had several authors give talks on various issues related to second language teaching and learning.

For the upcoming 2023 TESOL Convention in Portland, Oregon, Ahmed will be presenting a paper on digital reading and its impact on comprehension. Additionally, he will be heading the ALIS meeting and officially taking the role of Chair for the 2023-2024 term. “I am very excited to share that I have put together a session discussing a timely topic under the title ‘Re-Envisioning ELT in the Metaverse Era,’” Ahmed said.

In addition to his role as chair-elect and community manager, Ahmed is serving as a proposal reviewer for the TESOL Convention and a judge for two of the most competitive awards: the TESOL teacher of the year award and the TESOL leadership mentoring program award.

Ahmed has made significant contributions to the research of this field including two co-authored articles titled “Bilingual Teachers’ Translanguaging Practices and Ideologies in Online Classrooms” and “An Exploration of Voice in the Writing of Arab Learners of English as a Second Language.” The first article, on bilingual teachers, examines how teachers of English as a second and/or foreign language (ESL/EFL) perceive and practice translanguaging in virtual settings. The study looks at how, when, and where teachers find translanguaging to be beneficial. The findings indicate that ESL/EFL teachers have positive views of translanguaging. They reported that translanguaging can help students understand complex concepts, and it can help promote communication both inside and outside of the classroom. The data show that bilingual teachers of Arabic and English prefer using translanguaging, and they seem to rely less on the traditional monolingual teaching methods in multilingual contexts. In addition, the study highlights the advantages of translanguaging over the unilingual approach. These advantages include creating a positive learning environment and improving students’ understanding of the course content.

According to Ahmed, “Developing a writer’s voice is a challenging task for second-language writers who are new to the culture and the values associated with the target language.” His article on writing addresses this issue by investigating how classroom instruction and learning activities can foster voice development and empower students to express themselves. The study discusses the question: Do L2 learners who learn to write in their first and second language have an individual, collective, or depersonalized voice? Through analyzing written samples, the study found that a writer’s voice is constructed and informed by the learners’ cultural background, individual experiences, and the linguistic repertoire of their first language. This analysis helps in understanding the factors that affect the development of ESL/EFL learners’ voices, and it can also inform the teaching and assessment of writing for multilingual students. 

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