January 2013 Bulletin: Item 2

‘Inside ReNLA’

a. Committee members

During 2012 the committee has been expanded with a view to increasing involvement by members in the running of the Research Network and enhancing sustainability of ReNLA activities into the future. There are fifteen members on the new committee, and they come from or are based in Austria, Brazil, Cameroon, China (including Hong Kong), India, Ireland, Japan, New Zealand, Poland, Turkey and the UK. See https://ailarenla.org/committee/  for a full list of roles. Here we present profiles of the individual committee members in alphabetical order of surname:

Naoko Aoki teaches Japanese as a second language pedagogy at Osaka University, Japan, and has written mostly but not exclusively about teacher autonomy, which has led her to explore narrative mode of research. She’s been a convenor of the ReNLA since 2011 and is in charge of the research agenda and the beginner resources projects.

Vasumathi Badrinathan heads the Department of French of Ramnarain Ruia College, Mumbai, India and is also professor and teacher trainer at the Alliance Française de Bombay. She holds a doctorate in didactics of foreign language teaching from the University of Charles de Gaulle, Lille 3, France. Her research interests revolve around learner and teacher autonomy, the non native/native teacher question in foreign language teaching, intercultural approach and use of technology in the teaching-learning process. She is a member-at-large on the ReNLA committee.

Mehmet Boyno joined and organised several autonomy related events after being introduced to learner autonomy during his PhD studies in 2006. He is determined to raise awareness concerning learner autonomy in Turkey through many more events and training programmes for teachers and students. He is also responsible for ‘Events’ on the ReNLA committee.

Lorna Carson is Assistant Professor in Applied Linguistics at Trinity College Dublin, where much of her teaching and research focus on autonomy in language curricula and assessment. On the ReNLA committee, she looks after the area described as ‘members’ publications’, which involves both collecting bibliographic details of recent work and engaging with authors to help disseminate and cast light on the research process. If you would like to participate in an interview about a forthcoming article or book, please contact her.

Alice Chik is currently working as an Assistant Professor at the Department of English, City University of Hong Kong. Alice’s main research areas include narrative research, new media and popular culture in second language education.  She is a Joint Convenor of the ReNLA and is also in charge of membership, one of the research agenda topics, and web interactivity.

Lucy Cooker is a Lecturer in Education at the University of Nottingham, where she coordinates the South East Asia cohorts of the PGCE (International). Her research interests include language learner autonomy, self-access language learning, alternative assessment, materials development, teaching methodologies, language learner identities, and the use of Q methodology. Her PhD thesis was on the formative assessment of language learner autonomy. Lucy has been an active member of the AILA Research Network on Learner Autonomy for the past ten years. She is currently co-editor of Learner Autonomy in Language Learning (https://ailarenla.org/lall/) with Richard Smith and Mirosław Pawlak, and has also taken on administration of the AUTO-L discussion list.

Kerstin Dofs is the Manager of the Language Self Access Centre (LSAC) at Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology (CPIT) in Christchurch, New Zealand. She has a Masters of Arts in Language Learning and Technology through the University of Hull, UK. Her research interest lies in Autonomous Language Learning (ALL), especially around learner and teacher support for ALL. In the ReAILA committee She is working together with Naoko Aoko and Sarah Mercer on mapping out and suggesting resources for new and beginner researchers in the field of Autonomous Learning.

Harry Kuchah Kuchah is currently Teaching Fellow in Applied Linguistics in the School of English, University of Sheffield. Previously he worked as teacher trainer and pedagogic inspector in Cameroon and also as senior teaching fellow at the University of Warwick, UK. He serves on the ReNLA  committee as Bulletin co-editor with Richard Smith.

Sarah Mercer works at the University of Graz in Austria, where she has been teaching since 1998. At present she is Head of the Doctoral Programme for ‘Language Teaching Methodology and Second Language Learning’. She also works as Deputy Head of the Centre for Teaching and Learning in the Humanities. Her research interests involve all aspects of language learner psychology, in particular self beliefs and learner agency. She has recently joined the ReNLA committee and is helping Naoko and Kerstin compile a list of resources for early stage researchers interested in the field.

Jo Mynard is an Associate Professor at Kanda University of International Studies in Japan. She is the Director of the Self-Access learning Centre and Assistant Director of the English Language Institute. She became interested in learner autonomy in 1996 while studying at Trinity College, Dublin. She worked part time in the self-access centre when studying for her M.Phil in Applied Linguistics there. She has worked in Spain, the UAE, Ireland, the UK and Japan and has a Doctorate in Education (TEFL) from the University of Exeter (UK). She has been a member of the RenLA committee since 2008 and manages the website.

Peter Jing HUANG is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Education Studies at Hong Kong Baptist University. His research interests include autonomy in language education, teacher education and development, and second language learner identity. On the ReNLA Committee he has been working with Richard Smith and Nana Long to introduce recently completed doctoral work on autonomy to the research community.

Nana Long is currently a committee member of AILA ReNLA working on seeking and organizing doctoral theses together with Peter Jing Huang and Richard Smith. She writes: “It’s a good opportunity for me to know so much great research on different topics of learner autonomy. I am happy to share these precious recourses with all researchers and practitioners interested in learner autonomy. Besides, I am now doing my own PhD study on EFL teachers’ autonomy in the Chinese tertiary context.”

Mirosław Pawlak, who is co-editing Learner Autonomy in Language Learning (https://ailarenla.org/lall/) with Lucy Cooker and Richard Smith, is Professor of English in the Department of English Studies at the Faculty of Pedagogy and Fine Arts of Adam Mickiewicz University in Kalisz, Poland and the Institute of Modern Languages of State School of Higher Professional Education, Konin, Poland. His main areas of interest are SLA theory and research, form-focused instruction, corrective feedback, classroom discourse, learner autonomy, communication and learning strategies, individual learner differences and pronunciation teaching.

Liliane Sade (no photograph available) is a member-at-large on the ReNLA committee. She received her PhD from the Federal University of Minas Gerais, Brazil. She is Associate Professor of English and Applied Linguistics in the Department of Languages, Arts and Culture at the Federal University of São João del-Rei, Brazil, where she is also the Dean of International Relations. Her research interests centre on the interface between complexity theory, identity issues and second language learning, as well as discourse analysis and narrative research.

Richard Smith is an Associate Professor in the Centre for Applied Linguistics, University of Warwick. He is in his second term as a convenor of the Research Network, having served from 2008-11 and been re-elected for 2011-14. He is also LALL and e-bulletin co-editor, and has been contributing to the doctoral theses project. He is interested in support for autonomy-oriented pedagogy, teacher-learner autonomy and research engagement by teachers.

b. Longevity of ReNs, and future of ReNLA

In our last but one Bulletin (July 2011), a campaign was announced to persuade AILA to drop the restriction in its bylaws that ‘The life of a ReN is not expected to be longer than six years’ (see https://ailarenla.org/bulletins/july2011item3/) . This was important as the Research Network on Learner Autonomy was at that point coming up to the end of its sixth year of existence (though it had existed for many years before that as a Scientific Commission). In our last Bulletin (February 2012), we were pleased to inform members that:

Just prior to the [August 2011] AILA Congress, the ‘governing body’ of AILA had an hour-long discussion of issues pertaining to Research Networks such as ours, and decided that there should no longer be a limit of six years on their lifetime. We can therefore continue to apply to AILA every three years for renewal.

(https://ailarenla.org/bulletins/february-2012-bulletin-item-6/)

This was reported in good faith, on the basis of an email message (dated 25 August 2011) from the then-President of AILA, part of which read as follows:

The meeting decided (and worth remembering that EBIC meetings have a binding decision-making role, unlike EB meetings) that the relevant clauses should be amended to enable all ReNs to renew their status every three years, without time limit, provided they meet the necessary criteria for renewal.

In the meantime, we had applied for renewal for 2011-14 following procedures laid down in the AILA bylaws (http://www.aila.info/about/statutes-and-bylaws/bylaws.html#art7) and our application had been accepted (we will need to apply for renewal again in 2014, 2017 etc.)

However, despite repeated requests from us during late 2011 and 2012  for the bylaw as stated on the AILA website to be actually changed to reflect the decision of AILA’s governing body to remove the restriction on lifetime of Research Networks, this has still not occurred. All that has happened is that  ‘The life of a ReN is not expected to be longer than six years’ has been changed to ‘The life of a ReN is not generally expected to be longer than six years’ (i.e. insertion of ‘generally’).

We are now seeking opinions of members as to what our next steps should be. Please contact the convenors directly or express your thoughts / ask questions on AUTO-L.

(Richard Smith)

c. Publication of AILA 2011 papers

Papers given at the AILA 2011 ReNLA Symposium, along with some given at the Canterbury ‘Cutting Edges’ conference supported by ReNLA, also in 2011, are currently being edited by Garold Murray and Richard Smith for publication in a Palgrave Macmillan book, Social Dimensions of Learner Autonomy, due to appear at the end of 2013.

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