When I was a child, I suffered from asthma. My parents and grandparents always worried about me getting sick. As a result, most of the “fun stuff” they let me do was not physical. My free time was spent drawing, reading, doing embroidery, making lanyards, painting, and stringing daisies or beads on wires. Many of these activities resulted in little gifts: a handkerchief for my grandmother, a keychain for my dad, a daisy necklace for my sister.
As I look back, I see the pastimes that gave me pleasure all involved details, small actions, and tangible products. I interpret that pattern to mean that I liked to control things and see results. That pattern holds true today. I still enjoy working on detailed projects that yield visible results. One of the ways I do that is by developing TIRF’s reference lists.
In fact, although this may seem strange, one of my favorite weekend activities is to update TIRF reference lists or help produce new ones. I have a big Word document—my “macro” file—that is about 300 pages long. It’s just a hodge-podge collection of citations from many sources about language teaching and applied linguistics. For example, when I get a new edited book on a particular topic, I’ll photocopy the table of contents to use in updating the reference lists. And when I get a new issue of a professional journal, I do the same thing. Then the citations are added to my macro file for future placement into individual lists where they belong.
When TIRF’s Doctoral Dissertation Grant (DDG) recipients file their final reports, I “mine” their bibliographies to add to TIRF’s reference list collection. My students contribute reference lists from their course projects and my colleagues share the reference lists from their publications with me. My amazing graduate assistants help too, often checking the APA formatting and seeking out missing information.
Doing this sort of detailed bibliographic work may seem like a scholarly chore or even drudgery to some. But I find it relaxing and rewarding. In fact, working on the reference lists gives me the satisfaction I used to experience in arts and crafts projects when I was a child. The outcome is a useful artifact that Ryan Damerow (our Webmaster and Chief Operating Officer) posts on TIRF’s website as a Word document. Anyone can download any reference list for free.
In addition, anyone who would like to contribute to the reference list collection is welcome to email me directly (email@example.com) and send a Word document with citations in APA format. Please be advised that we do not include conference presentations or unpublished masters theses or doctoral dissertations in TIRF’s reference lists.
There are now over 220 reference lists available on the website. We regularly update the existing lists and add new ones whenever we have the material. As you can see, this month we are delighted to share four new topics with you. These areas are social justice in language education and multimodality, as well as reference lists about Japanese leaners of English and Chinese-speaking learners of English. My thanks to Netta Avineri, Jeanne Bufalino, Xinxin Liu, and Deniz Ortactepe, and all the authors in TIRF’s newest book (Chinese-Speaking Learners of English: Research, Theory, and Practice) for sharing their resources to help build TIRF’s reference list collection.
Often when I meet new people at professional conferences, they tell me that they’ve read my work or hired one of my graduates. Such connections are often a great way to start a conversation. One of the most delightful introductory comments I ever heard came from Harry Kucha Kucha, a recent President of IATFL. When Harry and I were introduced, he grinned and shook my hand and exclaimed, “Oh! I live in the TIRF reference lists!” Of course, this comment made me smile: It was a lovely little gift.
Normally, at the end of the monthly Chair’s Report, I ask our newsletter readers to give to TIRF (and you will see that this newsletter features an article about the Foundation’s year-end appeal). This time, I am happy to share these little gifts with you. Returning to my theme of arts and crafts, every citation is like a single tiny mosaic piece (called a tessera). But taken together, the citations we share in TIRF’s reference lists make up an entire, beautiful design.