Volume V - 2000

Introduction
by Clyde Coreil, Editor

        There is a certain fullness and balance that editors sometimes sense about a collection as it comes together. Although certain articles can be held or rejected and others sought, the final shape of the whole is largely a matter of chance--or in our case here, good fortune. I have no idea if this will come across to you, the reader, but I have had that distinct feeling about this issue. I suppose that the key moment of precipitating confidence was when I opened a packet from Hong Kong to find "The Great Debate." In essence, this is a collection of writings by five of the most talented and productive minds in language teaching, all focusing on one issue: Is TESOL best conceived as science or as art? We are pleased to present this piece for the first time in print as a series of lead articles.

         My interest had been piqued in 1996 when I first read about the Debate, due to take place at the annual TESOL convention in Baltimore later that year. I attended the Debate, found it to be a truly memorable defining moment, and expressed to David Nunan my interest in publishing it. He said he was pleased but had to check several things out. By the time the transcript arrived, I had just about given up on it. I read it immediately, discussed it with the staff, and e-mailed acceptance a few days later. I would like to express my deep appreciation to David, to Elana Shohamy, Henry Widdowson, Diane Larsen-Freeman and Richard Tucker for their cooperation in subsequent correspondence. I have always maintained that the most accomplished folks are the most gracious. With these debaters, my home-made proverb does indeed hold true.

Eminence Grise

         All this is certainly not to say that our lesser known writers have been eclipsed. The compelling narrative about Shazana, a withdrawn first-grader who responded to George Dempsie's puppets, is among my all-time favorite articles. The pieces by Susan Schwartz on using junk mail in the classroom, and by Lionel Kaufman on students writing their own quizzes had been ready for last year's Journal. However, book designer Ronald Bogusz said that we had too much copy and that these two articles were the perfect length to be cut. The argument was strong, and our designer has been called the "Eminence Grise"--I believe that an accurate translation would be "The Gray and Powerful Presence." Wise editors respect designers like wise gamblers respect bookies. So, rather than attempt surgery on other articles, I agreed to hold Schwartz and Kaufman until this issue.

         A delightful piece on "Magical Boxes" was written by Lora Friedman and Linda Simone who encourage teachers to allow children the freedom to realize their imaginations. Kim Wilhelm and Dafne Gonzalez have short but infectious articles on, respectively, adult ESL learners who tell stories in elementary schools, and on teachers being taught to use story grammars. Gabriel Yardley maintains that transition words should be internalized for speaking in order to improve writing about art. Cesar Valmana Iribarren describes the use of his own creative writing with his students, and Olga Kulchytska cites the advantages of students developing their own contemporary textbooks. Connie Mitchell and Christine Mueller outline a functioning "Drop-In Center" that is run by the undergraduate ESL Program in cooperation with the graduate program for teachers of ESL. As far as we know, such cooperation is unfortunately rare in the USA. Judy Hartt advocates the trading of breadth and scope for depth and richness in the particular approach she describes. I close with "Thirty Notes on Writing for this Journal," which I hope will get you to write and submit that article you have been thinking about for so long.

International Representation

         Part of the variety in contents comes from a deliberate attempt to publish articles from different parts of the world. Represented in this issue are Cuba, Ukraine, Venezuela, Japan and China, as well as the South, Midwest and Northeast USA. At the other end of the process, we make an equally determined attempt to send at least two complimentary copies of the Journal to schools and professionals in every country in the world. Nothing makes us happier than to hear from you in cards and letters. It all constitutes a Grand Dialogue, and we sincerely appreciate it.

A New Member of the Staff

         Dr. Donna Farina has joined our staff as assistant editor. One of the first projects for which she volunteered (in addition, of course, to a generous load of editing) was the construction of a web page for the Center for the Imagination in Language Learning, which houses the Journal and several other activities. Thanks to her, it's up and running and can be accessed at www.njcu.edu/cill.htm. Our name has been changed from Jersey City State College to New Jersey City University, but the campus remains as charming and welcoming as ever. We invite you to test the waters at the Tenth Annual Conference on the Role of the Imagination in Language Learning on Friday, April 16, 1999. There will be a keynote speaker, approximately 18 workshops, lots of publishers, coffee and donuts--all for a virtually nominal fee of $15. We're across the river from New York City, where everyone has friends. So come on down and let us meet you.

back to content page