Overview of TESOL 2010

Chisato Saida, Director of General English Education, Ibaraki University

As you know, Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages, Inc. (TESOL) is a global education association for English language teaching and professionals. The TESOL home page states that the TESOL annual convention provides a variety of opportunities for ESL and EFL educators to acquire professional knowledge as well as to develop professional skills. An average of 8-10,000 participants attend the annual conference each year. TESOL 2010 was held from 23-27 March at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center. Perhaps, like many other EFL educators, I was interested in TESOL but had never attended the conference. So, my colleague and I decided to participate in this well-known event this past spring. Our purpose was to get some useful tips to improve the methodology of teaching at our university and its English language program. After a 15-hour flight, we finally arrived on a rainy night at Boston Logan Airport. Boston in March was still cold and chilly. However, inside the convention hall the atmosphere was warm and stimulating.

There was an enormous variety of events: research-oriented presentations, practice-oriented presentations, poster sessions, and workshops sprinkled liberally everywhere throughout. TESOL covered almost all content areas ESL and EFL educators might have concerns about, including such topics as applied linguistics, bilingual education, computer-assisted language learning, English for specific purposes, assessment, and testing.

I chose several presentations on language testing and program evaluation in my interest area. There were many presentations on research and practices regarding the use of TOEFL, TOEIC, IELTS, new online placement tests, as well as other proficiency and achievement tests used in English language programs. I received a good overview of current testing practices and program evaluation.

TESOL 2010 certainly succeeded in involving schoolteachers. One of the advance conference programs was the K-12 dream day workshop, with the purpose of re-imagining how TESOL can meet the needs of English language learners (ELLs) in public school settings. A large number of K-12 schoolteachers—with or without ESL credentials—were in attendance at TESOL 2010.

More than 100 exhibitors greeted attendees with a huge array of ESL/EFL materials. In addition, the job market section offered job seekers and recruiters from all over the world opportunities to meet for interview purposes, and so on. It seemed to me that the TESOL Convention included almost everything an educator could desire regarding ESL and EFL. You can still see details of TESOL 2010 on its website: <www.tesol.org/s_tesol/convention2010/conventionsche.html>.

Throughout the convention, I felt various aspects of the political power of TESOL which helps spread English all over the world. I sensed it strongly when listening to the presentation, “TESOL: Past, Present, and Future,” jointly conducted by three eminent plenary speakers, Andy Curtis, Kathi Bailey, and David Nunan. They presented on where the TESOL Association has come from and where we are currently, as well as where TESOL may be heading in the future. Through their lively, creative plenary, it was possible to understand how English language use has spread all over the world and the important role TESOL has played in the expansion of English teaching and learning. It has resulted in the advantage and prosperity of English speaking countries because they have succeeded in securing a position for English as an international common language.

There were also plenty of networking opportunities throughout the conference. Among others, The President’s Reception was one such exciting opportunity to meet and talk with many participants from different countries and enjoy such Boston favorites as turkey with cherry sauce. And of course, Mark Algren, TESOL President 2009-2010,was there to welcome us all warmly.

Another interesting session was “AAAL (American Association for Applied Linguistics) at TESOL.” This session offered papers from the 2010 program of the AAAL in Atlanta, which were selected for their interest to TESOL professionals. I attended AAAL 2010, held just before TESOL, and participated in an interesting session, “TESOL at AAAL,” focusing on classroom research and the meditational effects of technology in classroom research. The two-way exchange sessions were exciting. I found that the content covered by the two professional organizations did touch on some similar areas although their approaches were different. I recognize the importance of connecting research and practice in a variety of educational settings and such links between TESOL and AAAL enrich all our research and practices.

The next TESOL annual convention will be held in New Orleans, 16-19 March 2011. Another stimulatingspring programme has already been posted at <www.tesol.org/s_tesol/convention2011/index.asp#>.

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