Professor Roger Charles Nunn. Head of the Department of Writing Studies, American University of Sharjah, UAE
ESBB is all about sharing alternative and stimulating voices for me. We can easily get bored after years in academic life (40 years of non-stop teaching and researching in my case). ESBB is there to challenge routine and to stimulate us into creativity. Each member has a story to tell which is different and which can inspire others to create. To mention just two ESBB members, my former colleague Sivakumar Sivasubramaniam helped me understand that voice and agency go far beyond systemic grammar, holistic as this approach to language may be. He presents these as educational and human values and he lives by them without compromise inside and outside the classroom. I don’t think I can match our co-member John Unger’s gift for the expression of a lived philosophy of academia – and of our authorship of our lives, as he puts it on his profile page. John’s life is rather like a novel to me, and we can all draw energy and inspiration from it and try to express ourselves academically with a more natural voice – there is no writing that is stranger than academic writing. Recently John Foncha, Sivakumar Sivasubramaniam, John Adamson and I collaborated on a book project that started with John Foncha’s doctoral research – Investigating the Role of Language in the Identity Construction of Scholars Coming to Terms with Intercultural Communicative Competence.. We believe this collaboration across 3 continents on this particular theme which is close to our hearts reflects the essence of what ESBB is about.
I think I have been incredibly lucky in my career, as it has allowed me to travel all over Asia, including recent academic visits from the UAE to India, the Philippines, Taiwan, Oman, Turkey, Thailand and China.
I have contacts with academics all over the world and have acted as an MA and PhD examiner or as a consultant for a number of universities in Asia and Africa.
My first academic interest was French literature. I started my full-time teaching career in England in 1976 as a teacher of French and have worked non-stop since then, although I haven’t taught French since 1979. I recently downloaded the complete works of Balzac onto my kindle book reader and have apparently only read 1% so far. I had originally intended to be an itinerant guitarist, singer – songwriter in the late 1960s, singing and composing songs mainly in English but in the French style, instead I got into teaching during my year in France and gradually became an itinerant academic.
English was what employers wanted but I have never lost my love of French literature, cinema and song.
I first spent around 14 years in schools in five different countries and have spent the last 26 years in universities. I worked in France as an English Assistant from 1973-74, graduated and taught French for 3 years in England. Since 1979, I have taught in Germany, Ethiopia, Qatar, Japan and the UAE. Before coming to the Petroleum Institute in Abu Dhabi in 2006, I was a Professor in the Department of International Studies at the University of Kochi in Southern Japan for 11 years. As someone who believes in holism as a philosophy of lifelong education, I have taught a very wide range of language- and communication-related subjects. I am incapable of repeating the same lesson twice and I don’t think it matters if my students are graduate or undergraduate, potential English teachers, specialists in literature or future petroleum engineers – adapting to new situations is what makes life interesting and that is what holism means for me.
Holistic Teaching Philosophy
Holism is a way of thinking that goes beyond education. Teachers need to have a life beyond a narrow educational setting. I don’t believe in narrow disciplinary constraints or define myself exclusively as an academic. In education, holism involves engaging the ‘whole person’ beyond narrow disciplinary constraints. Engineers work for a society at large and help shape our future. They need creativity and a broad educational background to help solve some of the problems previous generations have created for them.
As a lifelong expatriate, intercultural adaptation and embracing an international identity apply to life at work and beyond work –expatriates can’t easily separate the two. This means adapting to, but not being totally absorbed by the local context, in order to make an original contribution. Interaction and interdisciplinary communication are important values closely linked to holism.
In 2013 I finally made more effort to get some of my arguments for holism together in writing – they have been developing for around 20 years – in two editorial opinion pieces (March and June Issues of the Asian EFL Journal, 2013 http://asian-efl-journal.com/quarterly-editions/). To summarize, definitions of ‘holism’ in applied language studies need to remain broad enough to allow for true epistemological diversity and reject prematurely coherent impermeable systems that do not reflect the present state of knowledge in our narrow academic fields. In the first piece, I focus on definitional issues arguing that the atomistic parts of any whole are related within a complex, but fluid, organic system and are more easily understood in relationship to other parts of that system. After considering the relationship between holistic and atomistic phenomena, I argue that ecological studies (Van Lier, 2002), while providing ground-breaking new insights into the holistic nature of applied language study, appear to exclude context-independence as a legitimate perspective. My definition is therefore more closely associated with Pappamihiel and Walser’s (2009) characterization of complexity theory. Epistemological diversity and complexity lead us to accept dynamism, unpredictability and instability as natural conditions of our field which cannot be ignored. (This kind of unpredictability and instability is certainly an aspect of expatriate life.)
The Holistic Education Network of Australia http://www.hent.org/ sums up some principles I share:
Holism actively engages students in the teaching/learning process and encourages personal and collective responsibility.
Its aim is to nurture a “sense of wholeness” in enquiring people who can learn whatever they need to know in any new context.
It encourages the transfer of learning across separate academic disciplines.
It explores the relationship between diversity and unity, not rejecting the group, but equally valuing diversity, variety and uniqueness.
It is ‘negotiated, not preordained’, ‘and created not found’.
It promotes learning and understanding through dialogue.
The global and holistic nature of competence has important consequences for education. I have tried to write about this in detail since 2005. The best place to access these pieces is in the EIL Journal, a sister journal of the Asian EFL Journal http://www.eilj.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=100&Itemid=145
I argue that no one culture and no individual within a culture can demonstrate more than a partial knowledge of competence. This means that all users will need to use their strengths to compensate for inevitable limitations. This has important consequences for learners, teachers and assessors. Compensation for the problems created by partial knowledge is an important skill that all even competent students need to develop. Assessment needs to take this need for compensation into account by providing space for students to display their competence on their own terms. We are there to support their development, not to limit it through a narrow testing mentality.
Five Characteristics of ICC
Holistic, interlocking, inclusive.
No individuals or local communities can possess holistic competence totally.
Strengths compensate for weaknesses.
Adaptive and transferable to other contexts
Competence depends on adaptive ability. Strategic skills of adaptation are not optional. A locally owned variety of English must always be adapted for international use. Non-academic notions such as empathy, tolerance, open-mindedness, broad-mindedness are all related to a notion of competence that is based on adaptive ability, not origin. Perhaps that is why academics including myself (and specialists in intercultural communication) are not necessarily the best intercultural communicators. It is not just a ‘rational’ activity.
Second language users have the right and need to use English creatively.
A holistic philosophy does not lend itself to maintaining a narrow focus or specialization. I try to maintain a broad range of interests include Holistic Learning, Academic Competence, EIL, Classroom Methodology and Evaluation, Task-Based and Project-based Learning, Curriculum Development, Intercultural Communication, Discourse Analysis/Pragmatics, Classroom Interaction, Holistic Assessment, Materials Design, Critical Reasoning/Argumentation in Academic Writing, the Language of International Media and the Novels of Jane Austen. Perhaps this just makes me a ‘jack-of-all trades’ and master of none, but it is what stimulates me and has worked well for me over the years. My most sustained project since my PhD was my recently completed 6-year PI-funded research project into academic competence. I am currently researching in the PI on the relationship between critical reasoning/argumentation and academic competence. I do a lot of single-authored papers and solo presentations, but recently my research and my editing work have involved teams. I often research with students as we are teaching research skills.
It is no accident that I spent 8 years as Chief Editor of the Asian EFL Journal as this is a journal that promotes alternative voices. ESBB member, John Adamson has taken over that role and I have become Chief Editor of the Asian ESP Journal. Our aim is to promote agency of authors and avoid a deterministic view of academic genre in journal article writing. I am also a Senior Advisor of the EIL Journal, the Asian Linguistics Journal and several other international journals. I am interested in journals that promote the expression of alternative and original international voices in the increasingly diverse field of ESP, EFL and applied linguistics. I dislike formulaic approaches to academic writing although my editorial experience has led me to the (sad!) conclusion that conformity does appear to help authors get through review more easily. The problem is we don’t learn much from conformist voices. In my own writing I aim more and more to find my own voice among all those other voices that we read and cite. In my teaching I focus on helping students to develop their own voice through project-based learning and am still learning to use a constructivist approach to interacting with students.
My recent publications reflect my holistic philosophy and my aim to publish in a broad variety of journals across Asia. Many of my publications are available to download free at:http://pi.academia.edu/RogerNunn/
Foncha, J., Sivasubramanian, S., Adamson, J. and Nunn. R. (2016). Investigating the Role of Language in the Identity Construction of Scholars Coming to Terms with Inter- Cultural Communicative Competence. Cambridge Scholars.
Adamson, J. and R. Nunn. (2012) Editorial and authorial voices in EFL academic journal publishing. Asian EFL Journal Press: Academic Scholars Publishing House, Australia.
Nunn, R. and Sivasubramaniam, S. From Defining EIL Competence to Designing EIL Learning. Asian EFL Journal Press, Korea (2011).
Nunn, R. and J. Adamson. Accepting Alternative Voices in EFL Journal Articles. Asian EFL Journal Press: Korea (2009)
Hassan, A., Nunn, R., Al-Hasani, H., Al Enezi, H. (2017). Learners Deconstruct Classroom Experiences through Critical Thinking. In T. Stewart (Ed.), TESOL voices: Insider accounts of classroom life—Higher Education. Alexandria, VA: TESOL Press, (pp. 37-46).
Nunn, R. & J. Langille. (2016) Operationalizing a Global and Holistic Characterization of Competence in a Local Context in Current trends in language testing in the Pacific Rim and the Middle East: Policies, analysis, and diagnosis. A. Aryadoust & J. Fox (Eds.) Cambridge Scholars, UK (pp. 300-314). ISBN 978-1-4438-8261-3.
Nunn, R. and A. Hassan. (2015). Investigating the teaching of critical reasoning using ‘method-in-use’ protocols: A trial lesson analysis. In Language Teaching Matters, V. Reddy and S. Marathe (Eds.) Hyderabad, EMESCO Books (pp.85-102).
Nunn, R., Deveci, T., Mansoor, E. & Babu, P. (2015) Revisiting the BICS and CALP Distinction in Global Communities of Practice: Developing local ability in critical argumentation (Plenary Presentation) at the International Conference on Globalization and the Teaching of English. Jain Vishva Bharati University, Ladnun, Rajasthan, India (19-20 October, 2013) in press..
Deveci, T & R. (Nunn (2015).Qualitative Analysis of Self-regulation and Other Orientation in Masters Theses in a Local Context: The Case of the Petroleum Institute (Abu Dhabi) (in press)
Nunn, R. (2013) The Art of Reading: Evidence, Relevance and Detection, in Agendas for 21st Century Engineers, C. Brandt and D. Prescott, (Eds.), Cambridge Scholars Publishing, pp. 16- 27.
Nunn, R. Y. Guefrachi & E. Mansoor. (2012) In Search of Voice and Identity: A Comparison of Six Papers (Part 2) in Adamson, J. and R. Nunn. (2012) Editorial and authorial voices in EFL academic journal publishing. Asian EFL Journal Press: Academic Scholars Publishing House, Australia, pp. 58-82
Nunn, R. Y. Guefrachi & E. Mansoor. (2012) In Search of Voice and Identity: An Analysis of a Competent Applied Chemistry Paper (Part 1), in Adamson, J. and R. Nunn. (2012) Editorial and authorial voices in EFL academic journal publishing. Asian EFL Journal Press: Academic Scholars Publishing House, Australia, pp. 44-57.
Nunn, R. (2012) In Search of a Personal Voice – a Tale of Two Papers in Adamson, J. and R. Nunn. (2012) Editorial and authorial voices in EFL academic journal publishing. Asian EFL Journal Press: Academic Scholars Publishing House, Australia, pp. 33-43.
Nunn, R. (2010). Rubrics, relevance and task-based oral performances. In A. Jendli and C. Coombe (Eds.), Developing oral skills in English: Theory, research and pedagogy (pp. 263-289). Dubai: TESOL Arabia Publications.
Refereed Journal Articles
Adamson, J, & Nunn, R. (2017). Exploring Open (Non-blind) Review: Insights from ESBB Review Practice. English Scholarship Beyond Borders, Volume 3, no.1, pp. 50-90.
Nunn, R, Brandt. C. & Deveci, T. (2016). Project-Based Learning as a Holistic Learning Framework: Integrating 10 Principles of Critical Reasoning and Argumentation. Asian ESP Journal (Special Issue: Sun Ya and Haiying Feng Eds), pp. 9-53.
Deveci, T, & Nunn, R. (2016). Development in Freshman Engineering Students’ Emotional Intelligence in Project-based Courses. Asian ESP Journal (Special Issue: Sun Ya and Haiying Feng (Eds) Sept. 2016), pp. 54-92.
Nunn, R. &. Brandt. C. (2016). A Phenomenological Approach to Teaching Reflective Writing: English Scholarship Beyond Borders. Vol. 2, no. 1. pp. 130-151.
Nunn, R., Deveci, T. & Salih, H. (2015). Phenomenological Views of the Development of Critical Argumentation in Learners’ Discourse. Asian EFL Journal, Teaching Articles, vol. 85, pp. 90-116.
|Nunn. R. ESBB as an international community of practice: Developing an approach to publishing and republishing a developing theoretical construct. English Scholarship Beyond Borders, vol. 1. No. 1, pp. 52-73.
Nunn. R. Holistic Learning, First-Person Voice and Developing Academic Competence. Asian EFL Journal, Professional Teaching Articles, Volume 74 pp.19-32. (2014)
Nunn, R. Teaching English Grammar in a Local Variety of English. Yashashri International Journal of Language and Literature (Special Issue on the Grammar of Grammar Teaching) Vol. VI Issue 2, pp. 31-36. (2013).
Nunn, R. Challenges of Teaching Academic Referencing to Apprentice Writers. ELTIF (English Language Teachers’ Interactive forum), Decennial Special Issue, Vol. 4, issue 2, pp. 3-8. (2013).
Nunn, R. An Argument for Holism – Part 2 (Editorial Opinion Piece) Asian EFL Journal Vol. 15, issue 2, pp. 9-23. (2013)
Nunn, R. An Argument for Holism – Part 1 (Editorial Opinion Piece) Asian EFL Journal Vol. 15, issue 1, pp. 10-23. (2013)
Nunn, R. Reflecting on Method-in-Use within a Local Context (2012) Contemporary Issues in Language and Humanities Vol. 2, issue 1, pp. 1-18. (2012)
Nunn, R. From Defining to Developing Competence in EIL and Intercultural Communication. The Journal of English as an International Language. Vol. 6, issue 1, pp. 21-46 (2011).
Nunn, R. Improving Method-in-Use through Classroom Observation. The International Review of Applied Linguistics (IRAL) 49 pp. 55-70 Mouton de Gruyter, 2011.
Nunn, R. and J. Thurman. The Benefits and Challenges of Holistic In-house Task-based Language Learning and Assessment. The Asian EFL Journal, Vol. 12, issue 4, Special Conference Issue, the Asian EFL Conference, Providence University, Taiwan, pp. 11 – 32 (2010)
Nunn, R. Aspects of a Model for Analyzing Competent Academic Texts in ESP. The Asian ESP Journal, Special Edition, the First Asian EFL Conference, Chonquing University, October 2009, pp. 20-42 (May, Issue, 2010)
Nunn, R. Comparing Teachers’ Method-in-Use across Local Contexts. The Journal of English as an International Language. Vol.5, pp. 55-73 (2010)
Nunn, R. “Addressing Academic Inequality: a Response in Support of Wen and Gao.” TESOL Quarterly, (USA), Vol. 43, No.4, pp. 694-696 (2009).
Nunn, R. A Holistic Learning Approach to Transitivity, Voice and Agency: Designing Learning Activities that Empower Students (2013) 9th International Congress on English Grammar, Invited Papers, pp. i-ii VIT University, Vellore, India. (Jan 5, 2013)
Nunn, R., Sivasubramaniam, S., Guefrachi, Y., Tariq, A., Al Shami, H. (2012) Establishing Voice and Agency in Students’ Writing. In Sharda, R.S. (Ed.) Hans Raj Mahila Maha vidyalaya, Mahatma Hans Raj Marg, Jalandhar, India: Proceedings of International Conference on English Language & Literary Studies (March 9-10, 2012.
Nunn, R. Final Plenary Presentation, A Holistic Learning Approach to Transitivity, Voice and Agency: Designing Learning Activities that Empower Students, 9th International Congress on English Grammar (ICEG 3-5 January, 2013) at VIT University, Vellore, India. (Jan 5, 2013)
Nunn, R. Keynote Opening Presentation, Holistic Competence for Lifelong Learning in Local and Global Contexts, Pattaya, Thailand, Internationalization of higher Education: A Global Scenario, organized by the “International Interdisciplinary Forum” (Nov 1, 2012)
Nunn, R., Establishing Voice and Agency in Students’ Writing. Keynote Address Hans Raj Mahila Maha vidyalaya, Mahatma Hans Raj Marg, Jalandhar, India: International Conference on English Language & Literary Studies (March 9, 2012.)
Nunn, R. Establishing Voice and Agency in Students’ Writing. (plenary) The Agricultural Development Trust of India International EFL Conference co-hosted by the Asian EFL Journal Group at Shardabai Pawar College for Girls, Baramati, Pune, Maharashtra, India. (2.12.2011)
Nunn, R. From Defining to Developing Competence in EIL and Intercultural Communication. The Agricultural Development Trust of India International EFL Conference co-hosted by the Asian EFL Journal Group at Shardabai Pawar College for Girls, Baramati, Pune, Maharashtra, India. (04.12.2011)
Nunn, R. Sivasubramaniam, S. (with 3 undergraduate students Yasmine Guefrachi, Hadeel Al Shami & Ayesha Tariq) Researching Competent Writing with Competent Students Student Empowerment (as students, tutors & researchers) MENAWCA International Conference: Situating, Sustaining, and Serving, the American University of Sharjah 18.02.2011.
Nunn, R. Method in Use and Holism. Plenary Presentation Asian EFL Journal – International EFL Conference: Cebu Convention Centre & Cebu Doctors University, Philippines 14.08.2010
Nunn, R. Holism and Applied Language Study (Opening Plenary Address) Asian EFL Journal – International EFL Conference: Cebu Convention Centre & Cebu Doctors University, Philippines 13.08.2010
Nunn, R. Examining Your Own Classroom Method in Use. Keynote workshop Asian EFL Journal – International EFL Conference: Cebu Convention Centre & Cebu Doctors University, Philippines 12.08.2010
Nunn, R. Writing Journal Articles. (Keynote invited workshop) Asian EFL Annual International conference, Providence University, Taiwan, 25.04.2010
Nunn, R. The Benefits and Challenges of Holistic Language Learning and Assessment. (Keynote address) Asian EFL Annual International conference, Providence University, Taiwan, 23.04.2010
Nunn, R. Key Aspects of a Modal for Analyzing Competent Academic Texts Across Scientific Genres. (Keynote Address) Asian ESP Conference Chongqing University, China, 31.10.09
Nunn, R. “Comparing Teachers’ Method-in-use across Cultures.” (Keynote Address) English as an International Language Conference hosted by the English as an International Language Journal and Dokuz Eylül University, Izmir, Turkey: (October 2009)
Nunn, R. “Designing Holistic Tasks Units for Teaching and Assessment” The 3rd Biennial TBLT (Task-based Learning and Teaching) Association International Conference, Lancaster University, UK (September 2009)
Nunn, R. Keynote Address: “Is the Method Concept Obsolete? Redefining Method as a Teacher-Friendly Concept.” Presented at the Asian EFL Conference, Pusan, South Korea (10 April 2009)
Adamson, J. and R. Nunn. “Alternative Voice: Towards a New Protocol.” Presented at the Asian EFL Conference, Pusan, South Korea (10 April, 2009)
Ph.D. University of Reading, UK. Centre for Applied Language Studies.
‘Describing Classroom Interaction in Intercultural Curricular Research and Development’
MA in Teaching English as a Foreign Language. Awarded with Distinction.
University of Reading, UK. Centre for Applied Language Studies.
BA (Honours) French with subsid. English. University College, Cardiff, Wales, UK.
Professional Teaching Qualifications:
Diploma in TEFL (LTCL – Licentiate Trinity College, London, UK.)
PGCE (Post Graduate Certificate in Education ) One year full-time course in Modern Language Teaching for secondary education King Alfred’s College, Winchester, UK.