October 12, 2018
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David Shaffer, Korea TESOL, Gwangju, South Korea

A Spring Full of Local Events

With nine chapters throughout the country providing local ELT workshops for their members, Korea TESOL has been quite active this year. Nearly 40 workshop events have been held in the first six months of the year with the workshop sessions led by host chapter members, other KOTESOL members, and non-members from the ELT community and related fields.

Several chapters (Seoul, Gwangju, Busan, and Gangwon) have also held very successful regional conferences in their respective areas this spring. A number of our special interest groups (SIGs) have been quite active in their online discussion forums. Our Social Justice SIG has been particularly active in this respect. In addition, our Reflective Practice SIG holds regular meetings in both the northern and southern areas of the country (Seoul and Gwangju). Our biggest event of the spring, however, has been our national conference. This year it was held in Yongin, south of Seoul, and though it is “national” in name, fully 30 percent of the presenters came from outside of Korea, some from as far as the USA and UAE

Gwangju-Jeonnam Chapter member Lisa Casaus contributing to the "swapshop" (idea-sharing) session.

Inter-association Cooperation

Korea TESOL was well represented at ELT’s largest event of the year – the TESOL Convention. Our Affiliate representative this year was Robert J. Dickey, TESOL International Program Administration Interest Section (PAIS) past chair and Korea TESOL past president. He was accompanied by Dr. Kyungsook Yeum, outgoing director of TESOL International and also past president of Korea TESOL. Our Affiliate annually sponsors a representative to attend the TESOL Convention.

Korea TESOL is also actively cooperating with other international ELT associations, most notably with PAC, the six-nation Pan-Asian Consortium of Language Teaching Societies, of which Korea TESOL is a founding member. So far this year, we have sent delegates to the Thailand TESOL and the FEELTA (Far East Russia) Conferences, as well as to MELTA (Malaysia), another international partner. While at AsiaTEFL 2018, Past President Lindsay Herron and I concluded partner agreements with the presidents of ELTAM/Mongolia TESOL and MAAL (Macau Association for Applied Linguistics) and held partnership discussions with HAAL (Hong Kong Assn. for Applied Linguistics). The HAAL partnership agreement has now also been completed, so we are expecting presenter representatives from all three associations to participate in our international conference this October.

Since Korea has more than a dozen domestic ELT associations that are national in scope, Korea TESOL is in partnership with several of them promoting each other’s events and exchanging presenters at each other’s conferences. So far this year, we have sent First Vice President Michael Free to the KATE conference and are planning to send additional presenters to several autumn conferences.

Plenary speaker and "Let's Go" author Barbara Hoskins Sakamoto and her former self at the 2018 KOTESOL National Conference.

Korea TESOL Publications

Korea TESOL produces a robust suite of publications. The English Connection (TEC) is our quarterly magazine of ELT articles and KOTESOL matters. Our 32-page pre-conference issue will be coming out soon, featuring articles contributed by several of our conference invited speakers. KOTESOL Proceedings 2017, a compilation of papers originating out of presentations at our 2017 international conference is due to be published soon. With 40 papers accepted, this volume is expected to reach 450 pages, our largest to date. Our premier academic publication, the Korea TESOL Journal, is published semiannually. Volume 14, Issue 1 will be coming out at the end of August. Though these publications are member access-only for a limited time, they all become open access on our website. Our e-newsletter, KOTESOL News, reaches 2,000 subscribers monthly, and anyone is welcome to subscribe.

President David Shaffer, past presidents Lindsay Herron and Scott Berlin, and Conference chair Stewart Gray at the closing of the 2018 KOTESOL National Conference.

2018 Initiatives

The Korean government is scaling back on their recruitment of native English-speaking teachers for public school placement through their EPIK program. Therefore, since Korea TESOL membership is somewhat influenced by EPIK membership, we have initiated the Pass-It-On Challenge. Members who feel they have benefited from their Korea TESOL membership are encouraged to bring one new member into the organization this year. We have also implemented a volunteer initiative, making a list of volunteer options available on our webpage and making volunteer contacts readily available. Our Publicity Committee is presently working on producing a promotional video highlighting the benefits of membership in Korea TESOL with accompanying member testimonials.

Workshop by Barbara Hoskins Sakamoto and Michael Griffin at the 2018 KOTESOL National Conference.

The Korea TESOL International Conference 2018

Our annual international conference is our marquee event, the largest ELT conference in Korea (October 13–14 this year). Our conference committee has been working tirelessly since last summer. We are proud to announce that our plenary speakers will be Stephen Krashen and Scott Thornbury, speaking on our conference theme Focus on Fluency. Jill Hadfield heads the list of a half-dozen additional invited speakers. The conference will feature over 200 presentations, with many of the presenters coming from abroad. For the convenience of our expected 900+ conference attendees, we will be using the Whova conference app, which we piloted very satisfactorily last year. For more, check out our conference webpages.

Workshop in progress at the 2018 KOTESOL National Conference.

In the Planning Stages

A number of projects are presently “in the works” and planned to be launched soon. Beginning in August, we will be accepting nominations for the Korea TESOL Teacher of the Year Award, with the winner to be announced at next year’s international conference. At this year’s conference, however, we plan to present the Research Paper of the Year Award to the author of the best paper appearing in the last volume of the Korea TESOL Journal. Within our Social Justice SIG, two groups are planning to seek separate SIG stratus in the near future. One is a climate awareness group and the other is on LGBTQ student issues.

The Hodge-Podge Corner

There are a number of additional items Korea TESOL is involved in that may be of interest to the reader but do not fall nicely into any of the sections above. One is our classroom observation program, which has been in operation for several years, matching up members who would like to have their classes observed with veteran members willing to observe and critique them. For the past several years, we have been producing membership cards for our members, which provide proof of membership for discounts at participating businesses in and outside of Korea. Korea TESOL has branded items available for purchase at major events and via the website. These low-priced items range from mugs and tumblers to pins and business card cases. In addition to the professional events mentioned above, networking and social events prove to be quite beneficial in creating bonds among members. These are most often held at the chapter level either as stand-alone dinners, picnics, or beach outings, or as after-event dinners and coffees. This autumn, our international conference will be holding a Saturday evening wine-and-cheese event for Korea TESOL members.


David Shaffer, Korea TESOL President, has spent his teaching career in Korea at Chosun University after first serving in the country in the U.S. Peace Corps. He has a MA and a PhD in linguistics and has post-graduate certificates in TESOL. Dr. Shaffer has been a member of Korea TESOL since its beginnings in 1993, volunteering extensively in conference planning and the organization’s finances and publications. He has also served on Korea TESOL’s national council for many years.

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