Ph.D. in Education Student
School of Education
March 1, 2014
Researches Language Learning and Language Teaching Practices
Christopher Stillwell is a second year Ph.D. student in the School of Education, specializing in Learning, Cognition, and Development (LCD), and Language, Literacy, and Technology (LLT). He has an M.A. in TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) from Teachers College, Columbia University and a B.A. in Psychology and Theatre Arts from the University of Pennsylvania.
Beginning with a year in Spain, Christopher has worked as an English as a Second/Foreign Language educator for over 18 years, including work in New York as the instructor of the Teachers College M.A. practicum in TESOL, mentoring for Peace Corps Fellows working in public schools, and master teaching in the Teachers College TESOL Department’s Community English Program. Prior to coming to UCI, he was most recently assistant director of a large university language program in Japan. He also has volunteered in Vientiane, Laos, as a consultant and teacher educator.
In keeping with his academic interests in language and teaching, Christopher has presented extensively, with two invited speaker presentations receiving Best of JALT (Japanese Association for Language Teaching) awards, and he is listed on the U.S. Department of State’s database of English Language Specialists. This spring Christopher has been accepted to present his first year poster from the School of Education at AERA’s (American Educational Research Association) annual meeting in Philadelphia, and he will be an invited speaker at the TESOL International Convention and English Language Expo in Portland, where he will be drawing on his previous theater experience as well as his experience incorporating authentic materials in language instruction for a session on “Making Lessons Unforgettable with Theater Techniques and Stagecraft.” In April, he will be giving the Orange County CATESOL chapter’s semiannual Professional Development Workshop at Biola University, titled “Serious Fun: Creativity in the Classroom.”
Christopher’s written contributions include dozens of publications on language teaching to edited volumes as well as to such publications as ELT Journal and The Language Teacher, and he is the editor of two books for TESOL International, Language Teaching Insights from Other Fields: Sports, Arts, Design, and More and the upcoming companion, Language Teaching Insights from Other Fields: Psychology, Business, Brain Science, and More.
As a doctoral student, Christopher researches language learning and language teaching practices, including investigation of the benefits of task transcription.
In task transcription, language learners transcribe recordings of their own in-class conversation with peers, then reflect on the language they produced and collaboratively make improvements to the transcripts before submitting both their faithful transcript and their improved version to the teacher for feedback. (See eltj.oxfordjournals.org/content/64/4/445.abstract)
Chris is also interested in mentor development, a form of professional development that is designed to organize peer observation procedures in a fashion that allows teachers to collaboratively develop their teacher education skills.
In mentor development, the typical post-observation conference between “peer mentor” and “observed teacher” is joined by a “third party” who observes the post-observation conference and facilitates further reflection on the feedback-giving process itself. In this fashion, mentor development adds to peer observation a focus on the development of the very observation and conferencing skills necessary to make peer observation worthwhile. (See http://eltj.oxfordjournals.org/content/63/4/353.abstract)
Chris looks forward to continuing to explore various facets of language teaching and learning, including language teacher education and conceptual change, collaborative professional development, and language teacher classroom practices.