Vicky : First of all, I’d like to welcome you, Katalin. It is a joy to interview you and to have worked with you! For the people who might not know you, this is a great opportunity to introduce them to the new Editor-in-Chief of Professional and Academic English, the journal of the IATEFL ESPSIG. Can you share some insights about the journal?
Katalin: The journal was established 27 years ago as the newsletter of the ESPSIG, with the first issue published in January 1994. Over the years, the newsletter began to incorporate articles and book reviews and took on a more journal-like character. For a period, it was sponsored by Garnet Education, but that partnership ended in 2016, and then the journal was edited by Andy Gillett and the late Mark Krzanowski. When I joined in March 2020, I worked with Mark and Andy on the June 2020 issue as an ‘apprentice’. Following the publication of this issue, I fully assumed the role of Editor-in-Chief. The December 2020 issue was a collaboration with ELTA, the English Language Teachers’ Association Serbia and had two wonderful, dedicated guest editors: Milena Tanasijević, my colleague on the ESPSIG committee, and you, Vicky. It was a pleasure to work with both of you.
Earlier this year we started exploring a possible collaboration with Express Publishing, which we are very excited about.
We have also recruited an editorial board to bring the submission reviewing process closer to industry standards.
Vicky: Τhank you for your kind words, Katalin! How does it feel to be at the wheel of such an iconic journal and to be a non-native speaker?
Katalin: I think we are all aware of the issues surrounding the native-non-native debate and the discriminatory practices many non-native English speakers are subjected to not only in English language teaching, but also in other sectors in many parts of the world. We are also aware that there are other factors such as the colour of one’s skin that give rise to discrimination, a complex issue to be addressed here sufficiently. My co-author and co-presenter, Patricia Lorena Bustos Gonzalez and I are giving a talk for the ESPSIG later this year on some of these issues in ELT from a decolonial perspective, which we hope will throw light on where we stand in this debate. Here it suffices to say that although it has not been an easy path to follow, I have never allowed myself to be defined by what I am not. I may be a non-native speaker of English, but that does not say anything about my qualifications, knowledge, experience and qualities as a professional. I have nearly four decades of experience in English language teaching and the broader field of applied linguistics, with substantial experience at scholarly journals as peer reviewer, editor and senior editor. That is what I bring to the ESPSIG journal, not my non-nativeness. I do not feel inadequate in any way. In fact, I believe that being multilingual and having a multicultural personal and professional background gives me an advantage when working with an international editorial board.
Vicky: I cannot agree more. What are the challenges and possible obstacles to overcome in this new role?
Katalin: I think the biggest challenge is to manage the changes that I have envisioned for the journal. For a considerable time, the journal was managed in a particular way, and I am departing from that way. I have great support from the IATEFL Head Office as well as from colleagues on the ESPSIG committee, so I am in a good position to overcome the obstacles.
Vicky: As a new Editor-in-Chief, what is more important to you: improving readability or pursuing specific authors for this publication?
Katalin: I would like the journal to be attractive to both established scholars and unpublished authors. This inevitably means that the quality of the published articles has to be high. The role of the newly established editorial board is to ensure this high quality. Experienced authors may need little or no assistance, while authors who submit their articles for the first time are likely to benefit from guidance. The intention is to provide developmental editing for new authors to help them hone their authorial skills. In addition to nurturing talent, I would like to be able to bring at least some of the ‘big names’ to our readers, too.
Vicky: Are there any research areas which you would like to publish more articles on?
Katalin: My impression is that many of the articles published in the journal tend to be on EAP or on ESP in tertiary education. I would like to encourage colleagues working in professional, occupational and vocational language contexts to consider sharing their practice, knowledge and experience with the ESP in Professional and Academic English.
Vicky: Can you share with us your beliefs on applying new technology in your editing job? Is it one of your priorities or not? And, if so, in what ways?
Katalin: Peer reviewing and copy editing can be done with simple tools such as Word, which we are using now. I would like to keep it that way for different reasons. First, it is easy to use. Second, to facilitate layout editing, it is better to have as little formatting in the original as possible. Finally, mastering the industry standard Adobe InDesign desktop publishing software points beyond what one would take on as a volunteer – we are volunteers. The December 2020 journal issue was edited in Word. However, we hope that our partnership with Express Publishing will see layout editing done professionally by the publisher.
Vicky: Tell us about your plans for the Journal. What is your highest aspiration regarding its future?
Katalin: In my application for the role of Editor-in-Chief of Professional and Academic English, I said that I would seek to have the journal indexed in order to increase its reach and the impact of the scholarship it publishes. That is my highest aspiration for the journal.
About Katalin Egri Ku-Mesu
With nearly four decades’ experience, Katalin is a specialist in English language teaching, teacher training and education, and language teaching management, with additional research interests in World Englishes, intercultural communication, cross-cultural pragmatics, sociolinguistics and cultural text-analysis. She holds an MA in English Language and Literature with Teaching Qualification, an MA in Russian Language and Literature with Teaching Qualification, an MSc in Applied Linguistics, a PhD in Applied Linguistics and a Doctor Philosophiae in American Literature, together with the RSA Diploma in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages, the International Diploma in Language Teaching Management, and a Postgraduate Degree in International Marketing. She is Associate Tutor at the University of Leicester and External Examiner in EAP at the University of St Andrews and Xi’an Jiaotong Liverpool University.
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