Research interests:
bilingualism, bilingual education, heritage language learning, identity, motivation

Job searched and found

Posted: August 14th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: academia, Ph.D. journey, Uncategorized | No Comments »

One of my first posts to this blog was about my job search:

“Anticipating the completion of my Ph.D. this academic year, I have been responding to job postings for Assistant Professor (Tenure Track) positions. This has involved the creation of a teaching and researching portfolio of quite some length. Online resources such as youtube videos from university HR departments and sample Statements of Research Experience and Statements of Teaching Philosophy have been insightful as to ways others have found of expressing what they do and why, as well as what employers look for and why. None of this replaces in-person mentorship for which I am extremely grateful to several professors who have been willing to read over my writing and provide me with constructive feedback. The job market for professorial positions is competitive and despite preparations for success, one must somehow also prepare for rejection. I am grateful to those university personnel who take the time to update applicants on the status of one’s application.  Wish me luck!” January 16, 2012

Looking back at this post two things stand out:

1. Oh boy, if I had only known how long it would take!

2. Why didn’t I add hyperlinks to make the post more useful to the reader?

In January 2012, I had just begun to write up my PhD research results into a dissertation. I kept myself to a tight timeline and encourage (nagged) my readers to do the same. As a result, I defended in August of that year and crossed the stage in November. With a PhD in the pipeline, I began that fall as a sessional instructor at the University of Calgary. From December 2011 – December 2014, I sent out job applications for any Assistant Professor and Instructor positions within Canada that I felt qualified for, some in German departments, but mostly in Education faculties. I even sent out two Post-Doc applications. The job applications resulted in three interviews. The first was July 2013, 18 months after I had started applying for positions. Receiving this interview taught me that there was no point in applying for general education positions or any that I was only remotely qualified for. It was a position that closely fit my qualifications that netted me attention. The second interview was for my dream job (on paper, didn’t get to find out for real). The experience was also valuable because I was able to visit a university I only knew by reputation, affording me the thrill of meeting some of my heroes, while also casting the institution in a more realistic light. The third interview was the charm. I was offered the position I now hold: Instructor in an education faculty with an administrative position that draws upon my international research experience and ties in nicely with my work in teacher education. Looking back, three years as a sessional instructor seems like a long time, but as I knew even back in 2012, there aren’t enough positions for all of the wonderful people out there who are qualified, interested and worthy. Still, on one hand, while I wish I had spared myself applying for those positions that weren’t a perfect match, on the other hand, I know that each application and interview was a step toward that one that proved successful and the one in which I believe I will be happiest in.

So, to make up for the lack of hyperlinks in the original post, here are some resources and tips based on what I found helpful in my job search as well as my experience on a hiring committee:

1. The cover letter is the most important item in your package. Taylor it to the job advertisement specifically addressing how you fit what they are asking for. All of the other items may just be glanced at, but if you point out one item in your package that is specifically relevant to the job, it will get more attention if you highlight it in your cover letter. For tips on this and all matters academic job related, visit http://theprofessorisin.com/. You can find out why your cover letter sucks and how to stop acting like a grad student.

2. If you are asked to provide a portfolio, put together one document with samples of your best work, rather than a collection of separate documents. I modeled the one I used to land the prestigious university interview after one I found online where someone was applying for tenure. I introduced each section with a brief explanation of what it showed about my skills, relating it back to the job advertisement.

3. Read up (or watch) all you can about academic interviews and take advantage of one of those how to eat properly dinners your university might offer. Going from the free food diet of grad school to the fine dining of (some) academic interviews can quite a challenge. Don’t forget to practice answering those typical academic interview questions out loud! You will be glad you did.

There are a great many tips out there, some useful and some not. Take these for what they are worth and good luck!


Successful defense!

Posted: August 17th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Ph.D. journey | No Comments »

I was ecstatic to have defended my dissertation “Simultaneous and Sequential Bilinguals in a German Bilingual Program”. The committee’s questions were challenging to be sure, but that was to be expected, especially in light of the many disciplines that were represented around the table. There were certainly times during this whole process when I felt that I may have bitten off more than I could chew. Having chosen such an in-depth project required equally detailed writing. The end product, including those edits that I had to make afterward, is the result is as much about learning to writing as it is about the content. I wish I knew then what I know now and I certainly aspire to apply what I have learned to future writing.

I was especially delighted to have four guests at my open defense, who shared in the excitement and also gave me some excellent feedback.

Looking back, I wish I had gone to some doctoral defenses before my own. I felt confident about the process, having witnessed a few Master’s defenses. In hindsight, I realize that doctoral defenses are that much more difficult and it would have helped to attend one.

Looking forward, I have plans for articles stemming from this dissertation and a few courses lined up to teach in the fall semester. The job search continues as well.

 

 


Writing my dissertation

Posted: July 11th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Ph.D. journey | No Comments »

I thought I had posted more recently, but the work of writing my dissertation consumed most of the last few months. There is the feeling that it will never be done, never be perfect, and some days, even the feeling that it is all wrong! Then there comes a point when it comes together and one can be satisfied, maybe even content. The near final edits occur (of course, there is more editing after the defense) and the document is printed and distributed. I submitted my dissertation to my committee on June 25 and now I am preparing for the defense.


Job search

Posted: January 16th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: academia, Ph.D. journey | No Comments »

Anticipating the completion of my Ph.D. this academic year, I have been responding to job postings for Assistant Professor (Tenure Track) positions. This has involved the creation of a teaching and researching portfolio of quite some length. Online resources such as youtube videos from university HR departments and sample Statements of Research Experience and Statements of Teaching Philosophy have been insightful as to ways others have found of expressing what they do and why, as well as what employers look for and why. None of this replaces in-person mentorship for which I am extremely grateful to several professors who have been willing to read over my writing and provide me with constructive feedback. The job market for professorial positions is competitive and despite preparations for success, one must somehow also prepare for rejection. I am grateful to those university personnel who take the time to update applicants on the status of one’s application.  Wish me luck!


University Teaching

Posted: August 9th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: academia, Ph.D. journey | No Comments »

I have three opportunities to teach this semester. The first is part of a LANG course through the Language Research Centre. Open to senior undergrads and graduate students, this block week course offers lectures on the theme “Global Issues in Language Teaching and Learning”.  For more information, check out http://arts.ucalgary.ca/lrc/. I will be teaching on Wednesday: “Global Schooling Solutions for Linguistic Diversity”.

The second course I am teaching is a section of GERMAN 202 Beginner German. I look forward to teaching university students interested in acquiring a second language. I hope to integrate drama, film, music and technology where suitable.

The third course is a teacher preparation course. I will provide one weekly seminar to students in their first year of an after-degree program. The course is still in development and I am part of a larger team, so I look forward to learning more about it this month.


Language Research Centre

Posted: June 19th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: academia, Ph.D. journey | No Comments »

Over the course of my M.A. and Ph.D., I have had numerous opportunities to attend lectures at the Language Research Centre (LRC) of the University of Calgary. Topics range from language acquisition to theoretical linguistics to educational or social issues within the fields language teaching and language learning. This April I attended a symposium on Adult Language Learning for International Adult Learner’s Week. I decided to write an article for teachers in the journal Notos based on that event. This article goes beyond reporting the event and involves tracking down the research behind the claims made by panel members. The article has been accepted for publication and should appear in September. Once it is, I am hoping to provide a link.


Data collection

Posted: May 11th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Ph.D. journey | No Comments »

When people ask me how my research is going, I always tell them that I am now in the most satisfying part: data collection. I just love the feeling of getting stuff done. After a long period of conceptualizing the research, it is wonderful to be able to DO research. On top of that, I love working with children and teachers and so find myself in an environment where I feel really at home. It is great to begin transcription of the interviews and tasks and hear some of the comments that support my proposed arguments. Everything is on schedule to conclude data collection at the end of this month. Then the writing begins!


Candidacy oral exam successfully completed

Posted: December 21st, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Ph.D. journey | No Comments »

I am still debriefing from my candidacy oral examination that took place yesterday. The paper provided the springboard for questions on theories behind the methodologies and application of the methodological tools to my research proposal. Some questions were truly challenging, because it was clear that the questioner had something particular in mind, but had to craft the question in such general language that it was difficult to decide which direction to take the answer. The post-examination feedback is perhaps most useful. I now know what area of reading I need to concentrate on before beginning my literature review. I also have a few points to discuss with committee members with regards to the wording of specific interview questions that generated a great deal of discussion. For example,  how does one ask parents what dialect they speak at home when the term dialect may convey connotations of judgment regarding the validity of that language variety?

The next step is to receive Ethics Approval from both the University and the School Board, but both processes are underway, so I feel confident that my data collection will begin in the new year.


Candidacy paper

Posted: December 8th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Ph.D. journey | 1 Comment »

Perhaps the least understood step of the Ph.D. process is the candidacy paper. It differs from department to department. In my program,  now called Graduate Programs in Education (formerly the Graduate Division of Educational Research), the candidacy paper is written on one of three questions designed by one’s committee. Typically the paper is 25 pages (may not exceed 40) and delves into a topic of general knowledge of one’s field, knowledge of a specific area or methodology. The question I chose was on methodology. My candidacy paper describes how linguistic landscape and nexus analyses use an ecological approach to educational linguistics to inform us about bilingualism and bilingual identity. This paper gave me the opportunity to delve deeper into the ecology of languages metaphor,  visiting its proponents and its critics. I came across interesting articles on linguistic landscape analyses of various cities in the world and how some researchers applied this methodology as a pedagogical tool. I read from Scollon and Scollon’s (2004) seminal book on nexus analysis and discovered a number of researchers who use this method for examining social practice. This paper will become a cornerstone to my literature review for the dissertation. Now submitted, I await my oral examination on the paper.


Dissertation proposal accepted!

Posted: November 3rd, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Ph.D. journey | No Comments »

I am very excited to announce that my dissertation proposal has been accepted by my committee: Simulateneous and Sequential Bilinguals in a German-English Bilingual Program. The whole process took much longer than I anticipated, but the final product is one I am quite proud of. The major changes in the proposal involved broadening the focus of the study to include both simultaneous bilinguals (those children who learn two languages from birth) and sequential bilinguals (those children who enter the Bilingual School knowing only one of the two languages). In addition, through the process of revising the proposal, I discovered myself drawn to linguistic ecology as a conceptual orientation. The next step is the writing of my candidacy paper, for which I received the questions yesterday.