Ph.D. Spotlight: Caroline Payant

Caroline Payant

What have you been up to since you graduated?
I have been working as an Assistant Professor at the University of Idaho for four years already and have been appointed Director of the MA in Teaching English as a Second Language in 2015. At the University of Idaho, I have been involved in a number of research projects and administrative tasks. My main research has focused on the acquisition of additional languages and I have collected data from learners of Spanish, French, and English. Because I work with pre-service teachers, my research has also examined ways to encourage professional development. For instance, I have looked at the genre of conference proposal abstracts and also the genre of teaching philosophies since I believe that these critical documents are new and daunting for many pre-service teachers. In terms of administrative tasks, I have collaborated on the restructuring of the M.A. in Teaching English as a Second Language here at the University of Idaho. I want graduate students to understand and to engage with experts in the field of applied linguistics. To meet that goal, I have created clear paths for my students to attend professional conferences, deliver papers, and publish their work. For instance, I inaugurated the Palouse Language and Culture Symposium, now in its fourth year, with the director of the Intensive English Program. We bring approximately 100 graduate students/researchers/teachers to this remote area each year to share ideas about research and teaching. In addition to keeping active at work, I have also taken some time to enjoy my new home, Moscow Idaho. While not familiar with this area until now, I will admit that Idaho is a very beautiful state!

How did GSU prepare you for this position?
The faculty from the Applied Linguistics and ESL program at GSU played an instrumental role in preparing me for my position as Assistant Professor and Director at the University of Idaho. Throughout the program, I worked very closely with my advisor Dr. Kim and with my professor Dr. Nelson on numerous research projects. Specifically, with Dr. Kim, we focused on language acquisition research and task-based language teaching research with learners from various linguistic/cultural backgrounds measuring working memory, priming effects, and learner-learner interaction on L2 development. With Dr. Nelson, I collaborated on a large-scale project with pre-service teachers from Mexico that involved the creation an on-line curriculum. My time at GSU culminated with my dissertation research, supervised by Dr. Kim and Dr. Belcher. As my co-chairs, they provided constructive comments on the ideas and writing process, making me a stronger writer and researcher. Overall, having first-hand experiences conducting research, writing papers, and sharing findings at conferences allowed me to better understand the world of research and publishing. Today, I use this knowledge to think outside the box and research a variety of topics that align with my current interests. It follows that my advisors and professors also modeled effective mentoring strategies which I have adapted to meet my students’ needs. Much of my success I owe to the faculty from GSU.

What are your long term goals?
I often find myself thinking about what I hope to achieve as a researcher and professor. Currently, I am a faculty/mentor, director of the graduate program, member of the faculty senate at the University of Idaho, president-elect for the local TESOL affiliate, and team leader for TESOL 2017. I take on these tasks because I do envision myself taking on important leadership roles in the future in my local community and community-at-large. I find the field of applied linguistics and TESOL so important and diverse that I can see myself involved in new and exciting projects that will bring new opportunities for pre-service and in-service teachers. I will have to report back in a few years to share with you where my career has taken me!