March 1, 2018
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Susan Spezzini, Regional Southeast TESOL Conference (SETESOL), Alabama, USA
Professionals from 23 states attended the 2017 Regional Southeast (SETESOL) TESOL Conference hosted in Birmingham by the Alabama-Mississippi TESOL (AMTESOL) affiliate. Over 900 attendees participated in this four-day program on Transforming Lives through Languages and Cultures. Sessions spanned a range of English language teaching and learning, from pre-school to graduate school and from community programs to academic English, reports Susan Spezzini, Conference Chair.
The SETESOL Conference is the longest-running regional conference within TESOL. This annual conference, which began in the mid-1980s, is overseen by a regional council composed of representatives from each of the nine TESOL affiliates in the southeastern United States: AMTESOL, Arkansas TESOL, Carolina TESOL, Georgia TESOL, Kentucky TESOL, Louisiana TESOL, Sunshine TESOL (Florida), Tennessee TESOL, and Virginia TESOL. This regional council meets twice a year: in the fall at the SETESOL conference and in the spring at the International TESOL Convention. SETESOL’s annual regional conference rotates each year to a different state as determined by a pre-established calendar: 

The theme for SETESOL’s 2017 conference highlighted the transformational nature of the work of TESOL professionals who support the learning of language and culture across the country and world. Whether teaching pre-schoolers or international teaching assistants, refugees or heritage learners, non-English speakers or prospective ESL teachers, TESOL professionals transform the lives not only of English learners and their families but also of the communities where these learners live, work, and study.

AMTESOL organizers designed the 2017 SETESOL program to create a time and place for all ESL educators. This SETESOL program started on Wednesday, October 4th with 230 attendees who selected either the PK-12 Dream Day (20 concurrent sessions in 5 strands) or the Adult Learner Institute (6 half-day workshops). From Thursday to Saturday, the program offered eight keynote addresses, 13 posters, 16 exhibits, 184 concurrent presentations, and two receptions. Keynoters and featured speakers included Stephen Krashen, Ester de Jong, Rebecca Oxford, Ofelia Garcia, Catherine Davies, Amy Hewett-Olatunde, Tery Medina, April Muchmore-Vokoun, Paulette Dilworth, Christel Broady, Ayanna Cooper, and Diane Carter.

“After a successful conference like this one, we feel reenergized about our teaching practices and our professional organization,” says Spezzini. “We look forward to seeing everyone at the next SETESOL conference as we continue to transform lives through languages and cultures.”

Dr. Susan Spezzini is Associate Professor of English Learner Education and Program Director of ESL and Secondary Education at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. She teaches linguistics and applied phonology. She also directs grants for training P-12 teachers in the effective instruction of English learners.
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