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Abstract This is a feature in which individuals are invited to express their personal, and sometimes controversial, views on professional issues. These views are not necessarily those of the Editor, the Editorial Panel, or the Publisher. Reaction to Comment features is welcome in the form of a Letter to the Editor or a Readers Respond article. Introduction Those who embrace socioconstructivist and humanistic perspectives in education agree that context is essential in order to provide learners with meaningful learning opportunities and help teachers develop localized practices. Despite these claims, to what extent do such views find their way to international, national, or regional events and publications to engage in multicultural dialogue with colleagues in other settings? How many times have delegates enjoyed plenary talks by African, Asian, or Latin American experts based in these continents at IATEFL, TESOL, or other international conferences? And do student-teachers in Latin America benefit from local expertise in their ELTE (English language teacher education) programmes? The aim of this Comment is to discuss the need to encourage Latin American ELT experts and colleagues, and by extension other colleagues elsewhere, to engage in ELT knowledge production with an international reach. I discuss three issues: keynote speakers at conferences, publications in international venues, and the presence of local authors in teacher education programmes reading materials in their own contexts. My reflections in this Comment are based on my knowledge, albeit limited, of and concerns about ELT in Latin America—Argentina in particular—but I hope they may resonate with other contexts. Keynote speakers at conferences Let me begin by referring to ELT conferences of national/international repute in Latin America. It seems that even when conference themes are conceived with a regional colour in mind for the typical call for papers, this colour changes when it comes to the keynote speakers. In this regard, I have noticed two issues. While it is not my intention to enter into a discussion around the so-called native/non-native L2 teacher divide (see Martínez Agudo 2017), the first issue relates to the emphasis on having ELT experts who are native speakers of English, or based at UK and US universities, usually sponsored by international publishers. While there is no inherent harm with such speakers, sometimes their selection comes to the detriment of non-native, Latin American experts. Instead, we should celebrate and materialize the value of collaboration and synergy by having both local and international keynote speakers at conferences possibly sponsored by those international publishers who market their products in the region. For example, I am aware that RICELT (Spanish: Red de Investigadores Chilenos en ELT/Chilean ELT Researchers Network) has bravely fought to have Chilean colleagues included as plenary speakers at ELT events in Chile. I am also aware that a few publishers and organizations do sponsor Latin American experts to present at conferences in, for instance, Mexico or Uruguay, thus helping to solidify intra-regional dialogue; yet more efforts could be made in this respect. Notwithstanding, there is a concomitant issue. When keynote speakers arrive in Bogotá or São Paulo, how much are they aware of the local context, practices, and research carried out in the region? To what extent do their talks establish explicit links with the audience’s lived professional experiences? And when local speakers have been given the opportunity of a plenary talk, in what ways do they acknowledge the work of their peers if the topic permits? Do they cite their colleagues’ work? Do they help render visible the research and innovative practices taking place in their own countries? These questions I cannot answer, but they are an invitation for further discussion beyond the scope of this Comment. Publications in international venues As regards books, with notable exceptions (e.g. Barahona 2016; Banegas 2017; Kamhi-Stein, Díaz Maggioli, and de Oliveira 2017), Latin American authors do not usually appear as authors or editors of books marketed internationally. They may be found, on very rare occasions, as chapter contributors in international collections. A similar trend is noted among international journals. Although the region hosts journals such as Profile (Colombia), Mextesol (Mexico), or AJAL (Argentina) that include articles from the region, it is difficult to find research articles authored by Latin American-based professionals in journals with an international reach beyond the region. Work in the region can be found in conference proceedings, FAAPI Selected Papers for instance, or outputs that do not usually undergo rigorous blind peer reviewing. Sometimes I believe that among my colleagues there is a strong tendency to talk about what is done through paper presentations or workshops rather than write about it and engage in peer reviewing. There are well-known experts in the region, and yet their publication records are scarce. Similar to my rhetorical questions in the preceding paragraph, the following spring to mind: when Latin American authors write for publication, to what extent do they refer to work carried out in the region? How easy is it to access publications such as conference proceedings or in-house reports? Local authors in their own contexts A third issue I would like to raise concerns ELTE programmes. In the case of Argentina, I have noted elsewhere (Banegas 2015) that in an analysis of syllabi from modules in ELTE programmes at seven universities which offer ELTE, only 7% of the reading material student-teachers are expected to cover is authored by Argentinian ELT professionals. This may be explained by four possible causes which perhaps mirror the issues discussed above: (1) scant written production of Argentinian ELT professionals, (2) little awareness of publication outputs, (3) disregard of locally produced knowledge, and (4) mismatch between what Argentines write about and what is taught in ELTE programmes. Concerted efforts should be made so that context-responsive pedagogies in ELT also include the voices of colleagues in the region in an attempt to render visibile, empower, and promote local expertise. I am aware that the issues outlined above deserve extensive discussion but they are triggers to think about how international ELT knowledge can reach out in the new millennium. Although my contribution is circumscribed to Latin America, colleagues in other regions of the world may themselves be grappling with similar questions or they may be working to answer them. I invite colleagues in Latin America and elsewhere to find ways of having their voices heard and their stories told in writing to help language education move forward and outward. Darío Luis Banegas is a teacher educator and curriculum developer at the Ministerio de Educación del Chubut (Argentina) and an associate fellow of the University of Warwick. He is involved in teacher associations in Argentina and promotes the publication of local experiences in regional and international outputs. His main interests are: CLIL, initial English-language teacher education, continuous professional development, and action research. References Banegas , D. L . 2015 . ‘ Innovation from/for the new millennium: where do Argentinian universities stand ?’ in L. Anglada , N. Sapag , D. L. Banegas , and M. A. Soto (eds.). EFL Classrooms in the New Millennium: Selected Papers from the 40th FAAPI Conference . Córdoba : ACPI . Banegas , D. L . (ed.). 2017 . Initial English Language Teacher Education: International Perspectives on Research, Curriculum and Practice . London/ New York : Bloomsbury . Barahona , M . 2016 . English Language Teacher Education in Chile: A Cultural Historical Activity Theory Perspective . Abingdon/ New York : Routledge . Kamhi-Stein , L. , G. Díaz Maggioli , and L. C. de Oliveira (eds.). 2017 . English Language Teaching in South America: Policy, Preparation and Practices . Bristol : Multilingual Matters . Martínez Agudo , J . (ed.). 2017 . Native and Non-Native teachers in English Language Classrooms: Professional Challenges and Teacher Education . Boston/Berlin : De Gruyter Mouton . Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS © The Author(s) 2018. Published by Oxford University Press; all rights reserved. This article is published and distributed under the terms of the Oxford University Press, Standard Journals Publication Model (https://academic.oup.com/journals/pages/about_us/legal/notices)
ELT Journal – Oxford University Press
Published: Apr 18, 2018
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