Report on Academic
Specialist Visit to Turkey: February 8-21, 1999
Brown, University of Hawaii at Manoa
About the Specialist
James Dean ("JD") Brown was educated
at California State University Los Angeles (BA French), University
of California Santa Barbara (BA English Literature), and University
of California Los Angeles (MA TESL and PhD in Applied Linguistics).
For two years, he was senior scholar in the UCLA/China Exchange Program
at Zhongshan University in the People's Republic of China. For three
years, he was an assistant professor at Florida State University and
Academic Coordinator for the FSU/ARAMCO MA Program which was delivered
on site in Saudi Arabia. Currently Professor on the graduate faculty
of the Department of ESL at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. In
1992, he was a Fulbright scholar at Pontificia Universidade Catolica
do Rio de Janeiro. He has been invited to conduct workshops and teach
courses in places as divers as Brazil, Cuba, Egypt, France, Indonesia,
Japan, Mexico, Morocco, New Zealand, Thailand, Turkey, Venezuela,
and the former Yugoslavia. He has served on the editorial boards of
the TESOL Quarterly and JALT Journal, as well as on the TOEFL Research
Committee, the TESOL Advisory Committee on Research, and the Executive
Board of TESOL. In addition to numerous book chapters and articles
in TESOL Quarterly, TESOL Newsletter, Language Learning, Language
Testing, Modern Language Journal, System, JALT Journal, The Language
Teacher, and RELC Journal, he has published he has published nine
books, among them: Understanding Research in Second Language Learning:
A teacher's guide to statistics and research design (Cambridge,
1988); The Elements of Language Curriculum: A systematic approach
to program development (Heinle & Heinle, 1995); Testing in
Language Programs (Prentice-Hall, 1995); Language Testing in
Japan (with Yamashita, JALT, 1995); and New Ways of Classroom
Assessment (edited for TESOL, 1998).
Areas of Specialization
J.D. Brown's areas of specialization
include language testing, curriculum design, program evaluation, and
In brief, I did workshops of various
lengths ranging from 2 to 8 hours on the relationship of language
testing and curriculum design issues in Istanbul (at Istanbul Technical
University and Marmara University), in Kaiseri (at Erciyes University),
and in Ankara (at the BUSEL Program of Bilkent University and the
ELT MA Program of the same university). I also did a plenary speech,
a workshop, and a panel discussion on similar topics at the Fourth
International ELT Conference at Bilkent University in Ankara.
This was my second trip to Turkey for
the USIS, and as such, it was very constructive in a special way.
During my previous trip (in November 1996), I had provided guidelines
for curriculum development including descriptions of how to start
and maintain six basic curriculum elements: needs analysis, objectives,
testing, materials development, teaching, and program evaluation.
This trip, what I found at most of the places I visited was a great
deal of energy and enthusiasm for ongoing curriculum development projects.
As a result, the workshops on this trip tended to be more consultative
than last trip. We often spent time looking at what they had been
doing and discussing ways to improve what they were doing as well
as further steps that might be taken in developing their curriculum.
One common theme was that all stages and components of curriculum
development are loaded with political elements--elements that must
be taken into account if curriculum development is to succeed. It
was in this area that the discussion was most fruitful and productive
from my point of view. It is also in this area that I learned the
most from my hosts about the particular political problems and solutions
used in Turkish language teaching institutions. In short, I would
say that the workshops, discussions, and even shared meals were all
very productive learning experiences for me and my hosts at the various
The one institution that was not already
involved in curriculum development projects was Erciyes University
in Kaiseri, where the audience was drawn from the university, as well
as a wide variety of high schools and other language teaching institutions
in the area. Here, I found some enthusiasm for the ideas of curriculum
development that I presented, but also considerable resistance to
those ideas from a small group of teachers who seemed to feel that
organized curriculum development was hopeless because of lack of money,
lack of time, and prescribed textbooks. Though I addressed their objections
as constraints that must be dealt with, I dont think I did much to
change the views of that small minority. However, the discussion was
lively and made me think about new sets of problems that I have never
previously considered. It is hard for me to assess the impact of my
presentations in Kaiseri. Seeds may have been planted with some of
the less vocal teachers (especially teachers at the university) that
will blossom into curriculum projects similar to those I found in
Istanbul and Ankara. I hope so.
Several of the key administrators, especially
at Bilkent university, specifically said that they wanted to try a
number of the new ideas that I left behind and then wanted me to come
back to evaluate what they had done and suggest yet further directions
they might head. They did not give specifics about how that might
be accomplished. However, I do intend to keep in touch with them by
e-mail and look forward to the possibility of doing anything I can
to help my Turkish language teaching colleagues in their curriculum
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