Dear TIRF Today Readers,

Like many readers of this newsletter, I spend a fair amount of time writing. On a regular basis I write letters of recommendation, articles, forewords and prefaces, book chapters, research reports, reviews of manuscripts, and countless emails. It is interesting that the most difficult writing I do on a regular basis is the Chair’s Report for the monthly issues of TIRF Today.

Writing the Chair’s Report is vexing because it must be short, informative, and entertaining. It must appeal to a wide audience.  And, in general, it should encourage readers to donate to TIRF. All these factors contribute to the challenge of generating a good draft for Ryan Damerow, the Foundation’s Chief Operating Officer, to edit. My main stumbling block seems to be a lack of fresh ideas.

This month, I’m taking this lack of fresh ideas as my theme, and I’m choosing – no matter how irrational it may seem – to blame my lack of creativity on the weather. California is now in its fourth year of drought and my mind has also gone dry. No creative storm has appeared on the horizon of my imagination.DogDays

Perhaps I can also blame the “Dog Days of Summer” – a period usually considered to run from early July to mid-August – for my feeling so listless. describes the Dog Days as “a period marked by lethargy, inactivity, or indolence.” I used to think that the origin of this term stemmed from the facts that during such hot, sultry weather, dogs would lie around in the shade and wouldn’t want to play or go for walks.

In fact, the term dog days comes to us from the ancient Greeks. It refers to Sirius, the Dog Star in the constellation, Canis Major. During the hot summer days, Sirius rises in the east at about the same time as the sun. The Greeks thought that the heat from the star added to the heat of the sun and generated the hotter days of this part of the summer.  Fans of the Harry Potter books and films will note the author’s creativity in naming Harry’s magical godfather Sirius, since he could change into a large black dog at will.

Now how am I going to connect the Dog Days of Summer to TIRF? Well, as Ryan suggested, there are no Dog Days for the Foundation.  We are busy compiling the results of the 2016 Doctoral Dissertation Grant reviews. We are finishing the editing of the fourth volume in the TIRF-Routledge series. We recently received the draft of the second report about online language teacher education. We have launched the second Alatis Prize competition, and – as always – we are focused on fundraising.

In fact, we have begun our mid-year campaign to raise money to keep the Foundation going. I know I’m stretching the analogy here, but let me take a tip from the ancient Greeks. Perhaps we can imagine that the sun represents TIRF’s major donors. Could we also assume that individual donors are like Sirius, rising with the sun and contributing to its summer warmth?

If you’ll accept my somewhat strained simile, you’ll see that the point I am making is that TIRF greatly needs its individual donors. We rely on language teaching and assessment professionals to support the Doctoral Dissertation Grants, the Alatis Prize, our website resources, and the day-to-day operations of the Foundation.

Won’t you please help? To support TIRF with a donation this summer, please click here to make a donation by check, credit card, or debit card.

Best wishes,