Wong recently visited Wintec as a Research Fellow, hosted by the Centre for
Languages and the HIVE research cluster. Originally from Boston, Massachusetts,
she grew up speaking Toisanese-Chinese as a first language as her parents were
immigrants from Guangdong Province in China. In fact, her mother counts as her
first English as a second language student! Aside from learning English as a
second language (ESL), she has also studied Mandarin-Chinese, which was her
major at Connecticut College (New London, Connecticut). In addition, she has
some fluency in Cantonese-Chinese, Japanese, German and Latin. Jean now resides
in Ewing, New Jersey, where she is Associate Professor in the Department of
Special Education, Language and Literacy at The College of New Jersey.
While studying to become an ESL teacher at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA), she was introduced to Conversation Analysis (CA) in a discourse analysis course. Almost immediately, she became attracted to CA as an academic discipline because she could see connections between the findings and insights gained from CA studies, and how teachers of ESL might improve upon their instructional techniques and methods. Just as an understanding of grammar is important for English language teachers, she thought that teachers should have knowledge and understanding of conversational organisation and the ‘hidden’ structures that underlie and underwrite how we engage in everyday conversation.
After completing a master’s degree in Teaching English as a Second Language at UCLA, her interest in CA led her to complete a doctorate in Applied Linguistics at UCLA as well, where she mentored with Drs. Emanuel Schegloff, Marianne Celce-Murcia, and Evelyn Hatch, among others. At that time, connections between CA and Applied Linguistics were only in their infancy, on the fringes of our developing awareness and understanding. Jean’s own scholarly pursuits involved examining ordinary conversation between novice and proficient speakers of English. She has published her work in international journals such as the highly prestigious Applied Linguistics and the International Review of Applied Linguistics, as well as in edited volumes. Her book co-authored with Hansun Zhang Waring, Teachers College, Columbia University, Conversation Analysis and Second Language Pedagogy: A Guide for ESL/EFL teachers (Routledge, 2010), has become a classic, thus far the first and only of one of its kind, and is a bestseller within the field.
She was invited by Mark Dawson-Smith, Jono Ryan and Jo Thomas as a keynote speaker at CLESOL 2016. From this, a relationship was built with researchers in CfL, leading to a research collaboration and the mentoring of various projects with established and emerging researchers within CfL and HIVE. Among other activities during her fellowship, Jean delivered a public workshop presentation entitled Focus on Action: Insights from Conversation Analysis for Second/Foreign Language Teachers. She also presented an academic paper entitled Our Storied Lives: ‘Doing’ and Finding Friendship.