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Member's Profile: Kristen Sullivan

Writer(s): 
Kristen Sullivan

 
From this issue I will be taking over the editorial reins of the Member’s Profile & Showcase column from Jason Peppard and thought I would use this opportunity to introduce myself. I’d like to do so by sharing some of the great opportunities for personal and professional development that participating in JALT has offered me and hopefully encourage more of our membership to get involved in JALT.
JALT National Conferences: Amazing encounters
The 2006 National JALT Conference was the first JALT conference at which I presented. After my presentation on a student-authored podcasting project, which I had conducted in one of my classes, a gentleman came up and asked me some questions about my views on the use of authentic listening and podcasts in the language classroom. He asked for my business card and said he would be in touch. After he left the room the next presenter said, “Hey, that’s Michael Rost, you know.” While the name rang a bell, it wasn’t until I returned to work that I realized that he was the series editor of two of the textbooks I was using in my classes. That in itself was a great experience; but about a month later I actually did receive an email from Mike, and after a series of emails back and forth discussing views on oral communication teaching and learning, he invited me to become involved in a new textbook project he was planning. In about one year, Michael Rost as series editor, Allison Gray as project editor, Todd Beuckens (creator of the excellent online listening site <www.elllo.org>) and myself as co-writers, and a great team of artistic, design, and audio staff created Impact Conversation 1 and 2.
Considering the prominence of textbooks and teaching/learning materials in many English courses, and the influence they can have on teaching, learning, and assessment, I consider being involved in the creation of a textbook a huge responsibility. At the time of the writing of this textbook, and indeed still now, I was very passionate about the incorporation of international Englishes, connected speech, colloquial language, and genre-based approaches in teaching/learning materials for oral communication classes. Being given the chance to put many of these ideas into a tangible form that would hopefully have a positive influence on the English language teaching/learning community at large was a challenging, yet thoroughly rewarding, experience.
Presenting & publishing through JALT: Keeping your research on track
Without goals to work toward, research can sometimes feel like an endless endeavor. Moreover, it is in the process of working toward these goals that we often find interesting discoveries and make important conclusions. I’m a big believer in making the most of the opportunities made available through JALT and JALT SIGs to help structure one’s research schedule, to push oneself to present and publish, and hopefully, as a result of these efforts, to discover insights which can be of interest to the research community at large. Over the last four years, my colleague at Shimonoseki City University, Paul Collett, and I have included in our yearly research plans goals to present and publish our co-researched work through JALT. By doing so we have not only been able to advance our research agenda, but our work on the use of can-do statements and portfolio-based activities for the development of learners’ self-regulated learning abilities has also been recently recognized through the awarding of a Kaken research grant.
JALT: Getting involved
I’m extremely fortunate to have a number of colleagues who are heavily involved in JALT and who have encouraged me to also get involved. In 2007 I was asked by a colleague to serve as our local chapter’s recording secretary, and two years later I took on the position of publicity officer. After talking for the last couple of years about wanting to get further involved in JALT, a colleague informed me that TLT was looking for a new editor for this column, and I decided to register my interest. Participating in this way through JALT has given me a better understanding of JALT’s activities, has allowed me to meet new people, and has given me the chance to work as part of a team as well as take on related responsibilities.
We don’t know what opportunities and encounters we will experience in our lives, but getting out there, meeting people, sharing your ideas, and listening to others can really lead to life-changing experiences. There is definitely much to be gained from becoming more involved with JALT.
Kristen Sullivan is a lecturer at Shimonoseki City University and co-author of Impact Conversation (Pearson Longman Asia ELT). 

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