As I write these Notes, I see all the signs that summer is upon us: the rape fields are at the end of their blossoming season, the light green leaves on trees darken with every passing day, and in our gardens lush vegetation suggests a place teeming with living things. In the middle of all this beauty and nature, I am struck by the persistence of life, reminding me of Charles Darwin’s famous metaphor:
“It is interesting to contemplate a tangled bank, clothed with many plants of many kinds, with birds singing on the bushes, with various insects flitting about, and with worms crawling through the damp earth, and to reflect that these elaborately constructed forms, so different from each other, and dependent upon each other in so complex a manner, have all been produced by laws acting around us. … There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved” (http://darwin-online.org.uk/Variorum/1872/1872-429-c-1869.html).
Life’s persistence connects us across time and space. Such connections – place, community, language – find resonances in ETAS Journal’s own journey from its humble beginnings as a cut-and-paste newsletter 35 years ago into the outstanding peer-reviewed publication with an international readership that it is today. It seems fitting then that at this milestone we should be reflecting on the theme of journeys and connections, where these have taken us and where they will be leading us in the future.
And how better to inspire these reflections than with a uniquely evocative visual rendering of this experience by Richard Pike’s Penzance lugger ‘Pioneer’, passing The Inner Farne Light, off the coast of Northumberland, affording us a vicarious sense of journeying through a landscape, or more precisely, of crossing the Staple Sound separating the The Inner Farnes from The Outer Farnes. Pike’s small sailing boat Pioneer marks a point of connection between its place of origin and its destination, with the sea dividing the two communities (or perhaps continents!) but also linking them, with the capacity to be a point of meeting and exchange. In this painting, Pike not only gives us a sense of moving from one port to another, but by situating his sailing boat and the light house in the center of the canvas he also captures the history of the island and provides a snapshot of its exchange systems, maritime trade, and socio-economy, including its teeming marine and bird life.
But on another level, Pike’s painting also encapsulates the boat’s place in human imagination and its multi-layered symbolisms as ‘cult ships’ in ancient worships, as vessels of death and rebirth, as vehicles for exploration and adventure, or as metaphor for man’s journey through life, whether it be faith, education, desire, curiosity, or any other such motivation. Water being considered as embodying the source of all life or the embodiment of spirituality, sailing thus becomes a symbol of spiritual voyage, suggesting a new beginning and deeper levels of consciousness.
Both the physical and metaphorical symbolisms of boats suggested by this painting find resonance in ETAS’s own history as an association. A thousand thanks to Richard Pike for providing the visual objective correlative for ETAS Journal’s own journey and especially for articulating the philosophical underpinnings of this edition’s Special Supplements.
These Special Supplements bear mentioning here because – as in the last seven years — they are no longer simply the small, inserted side-affairs meant to fill up space. Instead, we have embraced them as central to ETAS Journal’s aim of fostering cross-border connections, building bridges, and breakings walls both physical and ‘walls of the mind’. At the same time, they serve an effective function as avenues for continuing professional development, affirming ETAS’s own mission to provide its members with life-long learning opportunities.
So it is a singular pleasure to welcome to this issue a truly international group of contributors – our greatest debt of gratitude to them for enabling us a glimpse of English language teaching through their eyes. Their willingness to share their expertise and insights reaffirms the humanist philosophy that values the cultivation of a knowledge-sharing culture and the free circulation of knowledge and ideas.
Speaking of research literacy, I am delighted – I am proud – to announce that very soon we will be publishing the first ETAS Journal e-book project, an Open Access initiative funded solely from the personal donations of the members of the Publications Team as a gift to the ELT community. My enormous debt of gratitude to these enlightened colleagues for supporting this worthwhile project. As Open Access, it will be available online for free, so watch out for our next announcements regarding launch date.
Since Special Supplements don’t come to life on their own, our editors – Gemma Lunn, Amy D. Jost, and Daniel Xerri – deserve many thanks and appreciation. For bringing us their respective outstanding collections, and for all the work they have put into making this issue possible, it is a joy to acknowledge that debt in these pages.
And since journal production is very much a collaborative endeavour, I wish to thank everyone who helped to bring out the best in this edition for generously sharing their time and brilliant ideas. Thank you for the opportunity to work together. And to our readers, thank you for your support.
It is not a cliché to stress a few more times how ETAS Journal has become as varied, innovative, critical, and attractive as it is right now. Just as we have increasingly challenged and expanded the boundaries of what we publish with articles reflecting the diversity of our themes, we have also geographically broadened the sources of our contributions while highlighting the varied intellectual backgrounds and expertise of our authors. And as it is becoming more international in scope and in perspective, it continues to take evocative as well as provocative crossings and journeys connecting us with the ELT community worldwide.
Yet, however far it has gone from its modest beginnings, ETAS Journal has remained true to its aim of fostering contributions to the scholarly and cultural activities not just in the ELT community in our immediate surroundings but even in varied learning environments beyond our borders. Our efforts are ongoing, and the challenges are considerable, but we persist and learn as we go, and go on we will. As we reflect on 35 years of excellent publication, let us remember why we started this journey.