Tuula Lindholm and Johanne Mednick Myles are the authors of a new book Navigating the Intercultural Classroom. Read how they combined their skills and expertise to co-author the book as well their advice for finding time to write while teaching.
1. Thank you for taking time out of your busy day for this interview. Can you tell us where you teach and how long have you been teaching?
Johanne: I teach at Queen’s University, in Ontario, Canada and have been teaching for over 35 years at the college and university level.
Tuula: I teach communication skills courses in two community colleges and coach individual students. I have been in the ESOL field for 20 years and was an adult educator and business trainer before.
2. You took on the tremendous task of writing a book. Can you talk a bit about it?
J: I was interested in exploring educational research in the area of second language acquisition and intercultural communication. The sole idea was to merge the two fields so that practitioners become acquainted with both theory and practice – a gap that needed to be filled in adult education focusing on ESL development and the acculturation of newcomers to their new linguistic and cultural surroundings. Writing the book presented the opportunity for both authors to share their knowledge and expertise in the field after years of teaching experience in Canada and abroad.
T: Intercultural communication has always interested me as an adult educator and ESOL teacher. More recently. I spent a few years working as a senior manager of Business Communications in a global professional services firm, based in India. While there, I also received formal training in intercultural competency development and was required to facilitate intercultural training for expats and Indian nationals working in the firm. This experience sparked my interest to explore the connections between language teaching and intercultural communication as culture often tends to be an elephant in the ESOL classroom. As Johanne said, writing the book offered both of us a great opportunity to explore these issues in our respective work areas and share the knowledge and experiences.
3. How can we purchase your book?
The book is listed in the New Releases section at tesol.org/bookstore or bookstore.tesol.org. To receive a 15% discount, use the promo code Navigating15 (We encourage people to order the e-book version to avoid shipping rates).
4. Who is your target population for the book?
ESL teachers in training, ESOL teachers, administrators, intercultural communication consultants, and other professionals working with new immigrants in adult education contexts.
5. How do you expect your book to be used?
J: As an academic/classroom resource.
T: I’d also like to think by other than ESOL teachers and international educators because the development of these competencies applies to other training and adult education contexts.
6. What makes your book unique?
J: The book can be used as an excellent resource for professionals working in both ESL and intercultural communication contexts. The case studies and anecdotes are not contrived; they are based on real experiences the authors have had based on years of teaching.
T: Yes, the book straddles various disciplines; one reader has already commented to me that she finds the book refreshing because it is written for ESOL teachers, the practitioners in the classroom.
7. Do you have any plans for a second book or other resources?
A companion website with practical ideas and research updates will be provided by TESOL Press in due course.
8. How do you promote or market your book?
On the TESOL website, at conference presentations, and networking with colleagues.
9. Where can people find you on social media?
Tuula’s LinkedIn account https://www.linkedin.com/in/tuula-lindholm/
10. What skills did you gain from classroom teaching that have allowed you to excel as a teacherpreneur?
J: The ability to articulate information clearly, utilize concrete, relatable examples and illustrations of concepts, provide activities for practice, and confirm understanding through reflective practice.
T: What has informed me the most is the ongoing practice over the years to understand better the gaps in the knowledge of ESOL students and which of their needs were not met by the curricula and teaching. Developing the ability to transfer complex information from second language acquisition principles and theories to practices in the classroom is an ongoing process of experimentation. Writing is a great way to help clarify and specify thinking and explore what others are doing or have done.
11. What were the most fulfilling aspects of the writing process?
J: Finding and synthesizing current research and classroom practices in the fields of intercultural communication, applied linguistics, second language acquisition and workplace communication. Also, working with an excellent editor at TESOL publications. T: ditto
12. What were the most challenging aspects of writing a book together?
J: Sometimes the collaboration process: coordinating tasks, agreeing on content and format and checking for repetition of ideas.
T: Adding to what Johanne said, I think we also have teaching experiences from different contexts and with different types of students, so our approaches to writing were not identical.
13. How did you manage a teaching workload and writing a book at the same time? Do you have a productivity tip?
T: It was not easy, and I admit that I did not have much of a personal life for a couple of years as writing takes time. I could only take the time from teaching to write in the weekends and evenings. Writing a manuscript also requires research and reading, not to mention doing ongoing revisions. My productivity tip would be to use the time when you have the most energy; my best time was early mornings, so I got up at 6 a.m. to do writing before teaching or early on Saturdays and Sundays.
14. What advice would you give to a teacher who would like to write a book?
T: Do research to find out what others have written on the topic/subject matter. Publishers accept manuscripts that they can sell. Explore what is "missing" in the field as teacher/student resources and focus on what would fill that gap and/or respond best to a need you've identified. For example, computer-mediated learning is providing opportunities to explore how technologies can help ESOL teaching/learning.
All the best to you both. Patrice
Interested in learning more about transitioning from a teacher to teacherpreneur but don’t know how to get started? Here are some ways:
1. Read more than 75 inspiring teacherpreneur interviews at www.teacherpreneur.ca/blog
2. Download The Essential Teacher to Teacherpreneur Toolkit - 50 pages packed with information to get you started as a teacherpreneur at http://www.teacherpreneur.ca
3. Download 10 Tips to Transition from Teacher to Teacherpreneur https://www.teacherpreneur.ca/p/10-tips-to-transition-from-teacher-to-teachepreneur
4. Download The Social Media Make-over Checklist for Teacherpreneurs at www.teacherpreneur.ca
5. Connect with other teacherpreneurs by joining my LinkedIn group https://www.linkedin.com/groups/7060976
6. Set up a private coaching call with me https://www.teacherpreneur.ca/pages/book-a-coaching-session-with-me
Connect with me on social media. Teacherpreneurs must be on social media.
My name is Patrice Palmer, M.Ed., M.A., CPP. I have more than 20 years’ experience as an ESL Teacher, TESL Trainer, and Writer. I spent seven amazing years teaching in Hong Kong and have taught students from 8 to 80 years in a variety of programs. I now work as a teacherpreneur doing the things that I love such as writing books, courses and teaching materials; coaching teacherpreneurs, travelling at any time of the year and applying the science of positive psychology to all my work (www.patricepalmer.ca). Contact me at [email protected]
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