Ph.D. Spotlight: Caroline Payant







 What have you been up to since you graduated?

A few months after successfully defending my dissertation, I began working as an Assistant Professor of Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL) at the University of Idaho and, in 2015, was appointed Director of the graduate program in TESL. During my five years at the U of Idaho, I conducted a number of studies on the role of pedagogical tasks with learners of Spanish, French, and English. These projects enabled me to publish in a number of peer-reviewed journals and edited volumes. As a language teacher educator, I believe that future teachers must also be involved in the sharing and dissemination of knowledge. To meet that goal, I create clear paths for my students to attend professional conferences, deliver papers, and publish their work. One of my proudest contributions at the U of Idaho includes the inauguration of the Palouse Language and Culture Symposium. Each year, we bring approximately 100 graduate students/researchers/teachers to share research and pedagogical ideas about language and culture.

During my fifth year at the U of Idaho, I pursued a new opportunity, one that brought me closer to my home country. In 2017, I accepted a tenure-track position at the Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM) in the College of Education. It was a productive and positive first year. I received funding from the Social Sciences and Humanity Research Council (SSHRC) of Canada ($52,750 CND) as primary researcher to examine the development of French and of English by monolingual and bilingual students. In collaboration with a colleague at Concordia University, I received funding from Paragon Testing Agency ($30,000 CND) to study the impact of planning time on written output within the context of high-stakes examinations. With these funding opportunities, I am well-positioned to collect exciting data to be shared internationally through conferences and publications.

At the UQAM, I work in a bilingual environment. At the undergraduate level, I teach in English and at the graduate level, I teach in French. Working in a bilingual environment is both important for language preservation and lovely! We can draw on research published in French and in English from researchers working in diverse educational contexts. I am proud to report that I have recently published my first paper in French and I will continue to write bilingually for professional and personal reasons.

How did GSU prepare you for this position?

The faculty, the lecturers, and my peers from the Applied Linguistics and ESL program at GSU played an instrumental role in preparing me for this exciting career. The faculty created countless opportunities that contributed to my growth. As a research assistant, I was very fortunate to work closely with my dissertation advisor Dr. YouJin Kim and also with Dr. Gayle Nelson, my professor, on large-scale 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.

As an alumnus, I have maintained an excellent working relationship with GSU faculty and peers. We present at conferences, we conduct research, and we engage in collaborative publications. My professors 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?

Being a tenure-track professor in the United States of America and in Canada has enabled me to contribute new knowledge, to create learning opportunities for pre-service teachers, and to join several professional communities. I am very proud of the work I have done since leaving GSU. At this stage of my career, I plan on drafting a book-long publication that brings together my two areas of interest: the acquisition of a third language by adult learners and task-based language teaching. Still in the early stages of conceptualization, this contribution will provide insights that pertain directly to bilingual individuals learning additional languages in classroom contexts. I also plan on writing more regularly in French. While I believe it important to reach a large audience through English-medium publications, I now understand the urgency of publishing in French for students who have the right to read cutting-edge research in their first language as well as in their second language!

In addition to publishing goals, I will continue to play an important role in the field of language education. Since 2012, I have volunteered with TESOL International (Team Leader in 2017 and Conferences Professional Council member in 2018), with WAESOL (president-elect in 2016 and president in 2017), and with the TESL Canada Federation (Executive Officer in 2017-2018). My involvement will surely grow both locally and internationally. I hope to positively impact the field and contribute to the growth of multilingual educators worldwide.