September 8, 2014
TESOL Affiliate News

Leadership Updates


2014 TESOL International Convention and the Affiliate Leadership Council's Role

The 2014 TESOL International convention is over, everyone has gone home and is busy back in his or her own life, so I thought it would be a good idea to think back over my past year as Affiliate Leadership chair for the convention. At the end of every convention, the ALC board meets and discusses what has transpired at the convention—the pros and cons—and ideas for the next year. During these meetings, we’ve come up with ideas for the ALC Colloquium and all other ALC convention activities.


As incoming chair at the end of the TESOL International 2013 convention, I was listening to what everyone said the previous year, and, at our wrap-up meeting, discussed the idea of collaborating in our global world. Thus the topic for our 2014 Colloquium emerged. I already had good ideas for presenters, having gone to and listened to speakers and presenters at various ALC sponsored events, as Member A, and Chair-elect. While we had a few changes to make when we heard of the loss of dear ALC member Kevin Cleary, planning continued right up to the convention, with Chair-Elect Larisa Olesova gathering all the PowerPoint presentations together for the session. All in all, I think that all of our presenters did a great job, providing information about the varied aspects of collaboration.

Gabriela Kleckova, PhD, of the University of West Bohemia, Plzen, Czech Republic gave a talk titled "Challenges of Collaborative Projects: Group Work Skills," pointing out examples from various projects she had taken part in; Rebekah Johnson, New York State TESOL affiliate representative and immediate past president of the NYS TESOL organization, discussed negotiation, managing people's strengths, and coordinating a group of volunteers who work for the organization on the side of their other jobs, so we could see another aspect of collaboration. Then Larisa Olesova, PhD, chair-elect, and instructional designer, George Mason University (Yakut TESOL); Elizabeth Ostrow Smith, TexTESOLV president, ESL program director, the Hockaday School (TexTESOLV); and Jey Venkatesan, PhD, publications copy coordinator, professor, Collin College (TexTESOLV), provided information on a successful TexTESOLV and Yakut TESOL partnership: 2008–2014, a shining example of collaboration despite distance and differences in cultures.

Affiliate Colloquium Presenters

Best of Affiliates
Throughout the year, the ALC sent out requests for affiliates to submit proposals for the Best of Affiliates presentations and, as needed, advised and helped each other plan the presentations.

Editors Workshop
Larisa and I stepped in and helped Jean Frantzy Italien, Member A, with plans for the Newsletter Editor’s Workshop (“Collaboration and Communication in 2014”). Because this is always a practical approach for current newsletter editors to share and learn from each other, it was advantageous that Larisa and I had some expertise in different types of newsletters (paper vs. technological).

Affiliate Booth
Valerie Borchelt, TESOL professional relations manager, was a tremendous help with the organization of the ALC Booth, and she also was a great help to me providing information to use when organizing the ALC Assembly. Larisa took over organizing the newsletter, because she had the most current expertise with the newer format used by TESOL International on the new website. We also had our yearly election of a new Member A, and Ana Maria Rocca, MA, professor, Universidad de Buenos Aires, joined our board.

New TESOL Affiliate: BC TEAL (British Columbia Teachers of English as an Additional Language)

New TESOL Affiliate: Asociación Nicaragüense de Profesores de Inglés (ANPI).

New TESOL Affiliate: Tunisia TESOL

SPELT 25th Anniversary Recognition

The Virginia French Service Award was received by a KYTESOL member on behalf of Dr. Margo Jang

We had a great time at TESOL 2014 and are in the midst of beginning to plan for next year’s convention. I am sure it will be a great time for all and look forward to seeing everyone in Toronto.

Janet Pierce, PhD
ALC Past Chair
Three Rivers TESOL Board Member


Welcome to this edition of TESOL Affiliate News. My name is Ana María Rocca and, as Member A of the ALC, I serve as the TESOL Affiliate News editor.

I have always had the opportunity to meet wonderful people from TESOL affiliates around the world at every ALC meeting at TESOL annual conventions. In these meetings, affiliate leaders are encouraged to express themselves and share their ideas with other colleagues. As Member A, I committed myself to working on reaffirming collaborative work among TESOL affiliates, focusing on service and ability to meet objectives. TESOL Affiliate News provides a great opportunity to share and learn about affiliates’ practices from different cultural perspectives.

In this edition, you will find two articles written by two specialists, Dr. Andy Curtis, Anaheim University, California, USA, and TESOL President-Elect, whose article is titled “A Brief History of the TESOL Affiliates,” and Dr. Okon Effiong, Qatar University, whose article is called “A Friend in Your Pocket: Using Voice Recorders as Learning Tools in the L2 Classroom.”

You will also find leadership updates, affiliate updates from TESOL affiliates around the world (TESOL France, BRAZ TESOL, MEXTESOL, CA&CB TESOL REGIONAL GROUP, and ARTESOL), and information on the ALC’s events at the TESOL 2014 international convention (Best of Affiliates sessions, Affiliate Colloquium,Affiliate Workshop, and Affiliate Editors’ Workshop). These reports will be of help for affiliate leaders in the organization of professional activities.

TESOL ALC would like to share two videos with the Affiliate Leaders Community:

1. In Memory of Kevin Cleary. An article about Kevin Cleary, written by Janet Pierce, Debbie West, and Maria Trapero, can be found in the ALC newsletter, February 2014 Issue.
2. TESOL 2014 Memories. Thanks for sharing your best memories from TESOL 2014. We hope you enjoy watching the video TESOL ALC created for you!

On behalf of the ALC team, I would like to conclude this first message as the newsletter editor by expressing our sincere gratitude to Dr. Andy Curtis, TESOL President-Elect, for his support to the TESOL Affiliate News.

I hope readers will like this new edition of the TESOL Affiliate News, and I encourage them to send the newsletter to TESOL affiliate boards and members. I would also like to encourage them to send their comments or questions about this newsletter or submit an article. Please e-mail me at

Ana María Rocca, MA
ALC Member A
Argentina TESOL Vice President



It was announced at TESOL 2014 in Portland, Oregon in March this year that TESOL International Association is preparing for its 50th year and for its 50th Annual Convention and Exhibit, in Baltimore, Maryland, in March 2016. However, some members, especially those who have been active in the association for decades, have been thinking of TESOL’s “Big Five-O” and reflecting on the association’s first half-century for many years already. For example, in March 2010, at the 44th Annual Convention and Exhibit in Boston, Massachusetts, Kathi Bailey, David Nunan, and I had the honor of giving the annual Alatis Plenary, at which the James E. Alatis Award for Service to TESOL is presented. As it states on the TESOL website: “This award was established in 1987 to honor James E. Alatis for his 21 years of devoted service as TESOL’s first executive director.” The winner of the award that year was our friend and one of my coauthors, Mary Romney, making it an even more memorable event for us.

The Early Days of TESOL
Kathi, David, and I decided to make the Alatis Plenary an opportunity to look at the beginnings of the association, its history and its possible futures, of which the affiliates have been and will continue to be a very important part. Kathi was in California, while David and I were in Hong Kong, and with the help of staff at the TESOL office in Alexandria, Virginia, we spent many months and a total of more than 100 hours doing the research, planning, preparing, and rehearsing—for a presentation of less than 1 hour! That is the first, last, and only time that any of us have done that, and although we were asked to write up the talk for a Chinese-language publication in Taiwan, we never did get around to writing it up for a wider audience. Therefore, given the timing, and the importance of the affiliates in the history of the association, this seemed like a good place to share with readers some of that work and some of that history.

A part of the TESOL website which appears to be relatively rarely visited is on “The Early History of TESOL,” which explains that the coming together of five different organizations led to the founding of the association in 1966: The Center for Applied Linguistics, The Modern Language Association of America, The National Association of Foreign Student Affairs, The National Council of Teachers of English, and The Speech Association of America. In some sense, then, TESOL came into existence initially as “an association of associations.” That highlights the importance of the different membership entities that make up the association, these days, based on the affiliates and interest sections, and in the early days, based on other associations that were there already.

The Forming of Affiliates: 1966 to 2010
The five organizations above are all based in the United States, and most of the 30-plus new TESOL affiliates formed in the 1970s were in North America: Arizona, British Columbia, California, Nevada, the Carolinas, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Indiana, Intermountain (representing Utah, Idaho, and Wyoming), Kentucky, Massachusetts, Mexico, Michigan, Mid-America (representing Kansas, Iowa, Nebraska, and Missouri), Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Ontario, Oregon, Quebec, Tennessee, Washington, Wisconsin, and four affiliates in Texas. However, in the 1970s, the first European affiliates were also established in Italy, Portugal, and Spain; the first affiliate in South America, in Venezuela, and the first affiliate in Asia, in Japan, were established.

In the 1980s, more than 20 additional affiliates were formed, but in terms of the association becoming more international, in that decade only about half of the new affiliates were in the United States: Alabama and Mississippi, Alaska, Arkansas, Georgia, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Northern New England, Oklahoma, Eastern Pennsylvania, and Virginia. Some more European affiliates were created, in France, Greece, and Sweden, and in Asia, a Thailand affiliate was established. The 1980s was an especially important decade for the Caribbean and for Central and South American affiliates, which were established in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, and Ecuador, as well as in Panama, Paraguay, and Uruguay. The 1980s also saw the forming of the first affiliates in the Middle East, in Arabia (UAE), Israel, and Pakistan.

By the 1990s, the rate at which new affiliates were forming was slowing down somewhat, but 15 more were created, only one of which was in the United States, when West Virginia, Ohio, and Western Pennsylvania combined to form the Three Rivers affiliate. That made the 1990s the first decade in which almost all of the new affiliates came from outside North America. Most of these new affiliates were in the Europe and Eurasia region: in Croatia, the Czech Republic, England, two affiliates in Russia, Ukraine, and in Slovakia. Also, three more affiliates were established in Central and South America: Chile, Costa Rica, and Peru; three more in Asia and Oceania: Korea, New Zealand and Taiwan; and one in Turkey.

In the first decade of the new millennium, slightly more affiliates were established than in the previous decade: Australia, Cameroon, Georgia, Hong Kong, India, Macedonia, Malaysia, New Brunswick, Philippines, Qatar, two more affiliates in Russia, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Serbia, Uzbekistan, and West Virginia. Again, we see that only one of these 17 was in the United States, and all four of TESOL’s other geographical areas were also represented: Asia and Oceania; Europe and Eurasia; Caribbean, Central and South America; and Africa and the Middle East. This made a total of approximately 90 affiliates in the first 44 years of the association, between 1966 and 2010.

The Forming of Affiliates: Present Day
In the 4 years since 2010, approximately 20 more affiliates have been established, the four most recent of which were announced in TESOL 2014 in Portland in March: Grupo de Especialistas en Lengua Inglesa (GELI), in Cuba; Burkina English Teachers Association (BETA), in West Africa; BC Teachers of English as an Additional Language, in British Columbia, Canada; and Tunisia TESOL, in North Africa.

To provide a complete update on the 20 or more new affiliates which have been created between 2010 and 2015 would require more research. But it does seem that the majority of those have been established in TESOL’s Africa and Middle East region, including Cameroon, Egypt, Ethiopia and Mali, as well as Morocco, Senegal, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, and Iran, Sudan, Tanzania, and Qatar.

The current situation is described on the TESOL website:

TESOL affiliates provide English language educators with professional information and support within their geographic regions. As of November 2013, TESOL was affiliated with 112 independent organizations with a total membership of more than 44,000 professionals. 15 organizations are located in Asia and Oceania, 19 in Europe and Eurasia, 14 in Caribbean, Central and South America, 17 in the Middle East and Africa, and 47 in North America.

The complete list of current affiliates can be found on the TESOL website and includes a number of countries with affiliates not mentioned above, including, in Asia and Oceania, Bangladesh, Mongolia, Nepal, and Indonesia, and in the Europe and Eurasia region, Albania, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Macedonia, and Serbia. (My sincere apologies to any affiliates or countries I may have accidentally missed, or included in error, as the list is frequently changing.)

The Future of TESOL and Its Affiliates
It is interesting to note that the answer to the question “How many countries are there in the world?” depends on who you ask. For example, the United Nations recognizes 193 countries, but the U.S. State Department recognizes 195, and there are other estimates out there too, but none appear to be more than 200. That means that in most of the countries in the world today there is now an affiliate of TESOL International Association. That represents a truly impressive achievement, for each and every affiliate, and for TESOL. As far as I know, there are very few professional associations of any kind, anywhere in the world, that can say that. But what comes next?

Having grown to well over 100 affiliate member countries in fewer than 50 years, we now need to step back and look at where we are now, as an “association of associations,” nearly half a century on from the first five entities out of which the association was originally formed. As I hope many readers are aware, since the fall of 2012, TESOL has been engaged in a governance review, with a report by the Government Review Task Force made available online in March 2014. Some of the findings of that report—which I urge all affiliate members, and especially affiliate leaders, to read and give feedback on—highlights some of the challenges facing the association and its membership entities, especially its interest sections and affiliates. Another equally important TESOL initiative taking place at this time is the development of a new three-year strategic plan, which I also strongly urge affiliate leaders and members to read and give feedback on.

This is a very important time for the association, when we want and need to hear the voices of the affiliates, so I look forward to hearing from you!

Dr. Andy Curtis received his MA in applied linguistics and language teaching and his PhD in international education from the University of York in England. He is a professor in the School of Graduate Education at Anaheim University, California, and he is based in Ontario, Canada, from where he works as an independent consultant for language teaching organizations worldwide. He is the current president-elect of TESOL International Association (2014–2015).


The quest to go beyond conventional borders is the driving force behind innovative classroom practices. Language teachers can either opt to remain within the safe confines of acceptable classroom practices or push into uncharted and sometimes risky territories. It is only by doing the latter that learners can be offered a new window through which they can view their own learning experience. In an effort to promote foreign language (L2) oracy, often, the confluence of teacher intention and learner expectation can result in positive learning outcomes. In effect, if learners can be provided with opportunities, not only to speak L2 in class, but also to revisit and evaluate their output later, this might help them to reflect more on their effort and impact their subsequent performances. Therefore, using digital voice recorders (DVR) to promote oracy could create an interactive, collaborative, and communicative learning environment within and beyond the classroom.

The effectiveness of technology in L2 learning is rarely in doubt, because powerful multimedia and Internet technology can provide learners with authentic language exposure and meaningful practice. For example, Ducate and Lomicka (2009) used podcasting to help learners to speak outside the class, and Lan, Sung, and Chang (2007) used a combination of video camera and voice recorder to capture learners’ reading activities. Furthermore, mobile phones have been used in the language classroom to promote vocabulary learning (Stockwell, 2010), and the students in Lu’s (1999) study report that practising pronunciation and intonation using voice recorders was more effective than listening to the teacher.

A few years ago, when asked to recommend a mandatory undergraduate course textbook, my response was that the students should spend equivalent amount of money on a DVR. Having previously used a textbook where, more often than not, students would conveniently “forget” their textbook at home, the assumption was that ownership of a DVR would increase learner motivation and participation in classroom oral tasks. The focus was not to measure specific language gains from the use of a DVR in terms of fluency, complexity, and accuracy, but to determine the DVR’s utility value and effect on learner attitude.

Research Question
How does the use of a DVR in the L2 classroom influence learners’ attitude to speaking English?

This study, which was carried out in a private university in Japan, involved 216 first-year undergraduates. This group comprised 123 male and 93 female students from six disciplines, namely: Japanese literature (38), Japanese history (30), history (30), Shinto (45), communication, (30) and education (45). To emphasise ownership of the learning process, the course assessment criterion was decided by the students. When presented with three options (end-of-semester test, regular monthly tests, and portfolio management), all chose portfolio management because it was the least anxiety-provoking. It involved recording and assessing weekly classroom speaking tasks, with the best eight counting toward individual students’ final grade. Student-nominated topics, such as high school days, friendship, love, campus life, and family life, were jointly agreed upon one week prior to discussion. In class, the chosen topic was broken down into subtopics to provide more speaking opportunities. Students got into mixed gender groups of four with their DVRs in standby mode. It is worth mentioning that nobody ever “forgot” to bring his or her DVR to class.

Although students were advised to buy inexpensive DVRs within the recommended price range (US$30), many purchased the more sophisticated brands, resulting in more than a quarter of the sample population having DVRs with a USB adaptor. There was therefore no difficulty in having at least one member in every group with a USB-enabled DVR. This facilitated copying the recording to the teacher’s laptop soon after the task. During the task phase, all DVRs were switched on, and each member of the group captures not only his or her contribution, but utterances of all the group members.

To minimise first-language (L1) usage during the task implementation phase, planning time was given which, according to Ellis (2009), has a beneficial effect on fluency. During the planning phase, minimal use of the L1 was permitted to facilitate pretask discussion. At this stage, the DVRs were on standby mode, but switched on during the task phase, and participants take it in turns to speak. Participants were aware that the assessment would be based on both quantity and quality of their L2 utterances. For this reason, they were to ensure efficient turn-taking to allow for equitable contribution from all group members. This would also dissuade one or two individuals from dominating the proceedings. Each student could speak for up to five minutes in L2. At the end of the task, the content of the USB-enabled DVR would be transferred to the teacher’s laptop. This worked seamlessly in all six classes. At the end of the semester, the students were given time to reflect on the learning experience through a survey. The responses were compared with those obtained from the survey administered at the beginning of the course.

Results and Discussion
Introducing a pedagogic initiative requires proper management, and, in this case, providing sufficient technical support would have minimised the difficulty experienced by some participants. Although the high end plug-and-play DVRs did not present many technical problems, some brands required additional software for compatibility with other media. The data on out-of-class usage shows that 73% used the DVR once a week and 75% indicated their willingness to use it more than once in the future. The demands of real-time speaking are enormous, unlike with reading, where the learner can process and reprocess the language features for better comprehension. One of the merits of the DVR was the ability to replay learner utterances after class, which likely explains why 36% of the participants want to speak more in class. This partly answers the research question.

DVR allowed for self-assessment of learner output and challenged them into taking more risks with the language.

The DVR served as a feedback mechanism because participants could identify their errors during playback and self-corrected accordingly. Half of the participants claimed that they can improve their speaking ability by listening to their or their peers’ utterances. This is a further attestation to the capability of DVR as a language learning tool, because these learners benefit from the scaffolding that peer interaction provides. By listening and relistening to their speech, learners can fathom out meanings, develop conversation and negotiation skills, and become aware of other interactional features that might have seemed ambiguous in class. DVR has the potential to help the learners to discover their learning styles and preferences. Eighty-five percent admitted to enjoying this particular learning style while 15% said no, 82% stated they would be able to speak more English if they continued to learn this way, 18% stated no. Finally, 63% commented that, given the opportunity, they would use DVR in future English classes. Notably in the pre-task questionnaire, when asked “do you want to speak more in class because you can listen to your voice later?,36% said yes, 15% indicated no, 39% suggested they would like to stay the same, and 10% were indifferent. At the beginning of the semester, 38% said they were happy with their voice recorder, 34% claimed they were difficult to use, 16% were indifferent and 11% said they were not happy. This changing attitude resulting from the use of DVR adds more credence to its utility value. In sum, reflecting on the responses obtained, one can claim that the research question has been answered in the affirmative.


The findings show that all participants listened to their L2 utterances at home and are willing to utilise the DVR more. The students also showed interest in adopting the tool in future encounters with the L2, thus suggesting the motivational propensity of DVR. It was also found to be an effective error-correction tool capable of facilitating L2 learning. A great majority expressed satisfaction and felt motivated with this teaching approach. Japan is a high-tech EFL context, but it has learners with low L2 oral skills. Importantly, the Japanese students’ affinity for gadgets helped to secure their interest in this experiment. I was very fortunate to have curricular freedom, because replication might be difficult in institutions where teachers have to follow structured syllabi. Notwithstanding, the use of DVR as a teaching tool would benefit low-tech EFL contexts which lack computer technology and Internet connectivity.


Ducate, L. & Lomicka, L. (2009). Podcasting: An effective tool for honing language students’ pronunciation. Language Learning & Technology, 13(3), 66–86.

Ellis, R. (2009). The differential effects of three types of task planning on the fluency, complexity, and accuracy in L2 oral production. Applied Linguistics, 30(4), 474–509.

Lan, Y., Sung, Y., & Chang, K. (2007). A mobile-device-supported peer-assisted learning system from collaborative early reading. Language Learning & Technology, 11(3), 130–151.

Lu, D. (1999). Peer evaluation of voice recordings. TESOL Journal, 8(1), 35.

Stockwell, G. (2010). Using mobile phones for vocabulary activities: Examining the effect of the platform. Language Learning & Technology, 14(2), 95–110.

Okon has a PhD in applied linguistics. He is the president of Qatar TESOL, the chair of TESOL International Association’s Standing Committee on Diversity & Inclusion, and the coeditor of the EFL-IS newsletter. Okon has taught in Nigeria, the United Kingdom, and Japan, and is a lecturer in the Foundation Programme English Department, Qatar University.



(Click to Enlarge)

I always like to attend conferences and talks, not only because of what they have to offer me as an educator but also as a person. This year, I was lucky to be even more involved in such an event as part of the organizing team for the TESOL France Spring Day: “Spotlighting, Encouraging, Inspiring English Learning and Teaching among Young Learners and Teens.” This event was a first in two respects: It was the first time that TESOL France decided to focus on this age group, and it was the first time for me to be part of an event of that scale with the association in such depth. It was an occasion for me to see and help build this conference step by step, seeing all that it entails. It left me in awe of how many details you have to decide, pay attention to, and take care of, as well how much pressure conference planning can generate before and on the day itself. But the day of the conference was all the more rewarding.

Even if I don’t teach the age group targeted by Spring Day, it brought me a lot. I had the chance to talk to many new people who discovered TESOL France, thanks to that focus on young learners and teens, and to share with them our enthusiasm for teaching and always learning new and challenging ways to do it. The many coffee breaks, especially, offered invaluable networking opportunities. This day wouldn’t have been as amazing without all the highly dynamic and eager speakers willing share their expertise on young learners.

I had the chance to go to a few sessions myself, such as the one by Nicky Francis, who showed how to use authentic storybooks in class in combination with art, yoga, or sport; or the one by Marie-Hélène Fasquel, who presented ways to use Internet tools to foster creativity and collaboration in the classroom, giving students a real goal in their studies; or the one by Nayr Ibrahim and Sophie Handy on how to put into practice a formative assessment during learning. I cannot conclude without talking about the amazing plenary speakers we had the chance to listen to: Annamaria Pinter and her 10 lessons to be more inspirational in the classroom, or the wonderful and energetic presentation of Stéven Huitorel and his “cup-song” success. He even got a whole amphitheater of teachers to do it!

This day made me see the bigger picture and helped me to better understand the TESOL France organization as a whole, and it helped me to be grateful for being surrounded by such a remarkable bunch of dedicated people. In the future, I hope to be instrumental in the organization’s growth and in keeping it active; it definitely feels good to be a part of it!

Aline Grasser is French and received her master’s degree in English at the University of Strasbourg. She has been teaching English in France since 2010. She teaches general and medical English group classes and also provides one-to-one training. She joined TESOL France in 2012.


Anywhere you look these days, you’ll find a new genre of text in which things, ideas, people, and events are listed in a quantifiable way. In print, on TV, or on the web, you’ll find “The top 10...”, “The 20 worst...”, “The 100 most...”. Not to miss out on the new tradition, I’ve decided to give you “The top 10 list” of things that contributed to making the 14th BRAZ-TESOL International Conference last May, in João Pessoa, Brazil, a success.

#1: The right balance of plenary speakers from different teaching backgrounds and nationalities made participants focus on new input from diverse perspectives. As a result, high-quality input pushed learning and generated exciting new ideas.

#2: Participants had the opportunity to choose from a great variety of workshops that made theory and practice come together. That gave all involved the opportunity to participate actively and explore new practical possibilities to develop better options for classroom work and ELT management.

#3: Teachers had the opportunity to network with colleagues from different contexts and walks of life. The healthy exchange of views and professional experiences created an enriching atmosphere that nourished learning and promoted professional development.

#4: The venue where the conference took place, the School Cidade Viva, was spacious and comfortable with a friendly staff that welcomed participants and organizers. The Wi-Fi was topnotch, there was a good Internet connection, and the rooms had screens or TV equipment for the presentations. One more thing that is worth mentioning: The food from their canteen was delicious and, most important, healthy!

#5: The exhibition space, which shared the same area of a vast two-tiered auditorium, was highly accessible and made it easy for participants to interact with sponsors and publishers expanding their knowledge of what is new in ELT practice and teaching materials.

#6: It was clear as daylight that participants were all extremely motivated and willing to take active part in all events that happened during our 4-day conference. We had a full house for the Pre Conference Institutes (PCIs), Signature Events, and the Open Space Events.

#7: The city where the conference took place, João Pessoa, in northeast Brazil, had the perfect weather for the time of the year: not too hot during the day and a nice breeze in the evening, blue skies and beautiful beaches. Besides, hospitality from locals could be felt wherever you went.

#8: Immediately after the conference, participants sent us very positive feedback. I hope this will give you an idea of how happy they were to be there:

“Fun - Friendship... More than a feeling: learning and sharing ideas.” Priscila Mateini

“Something very special took place in João Pessoa & great to have a chance to talk & I'll remember this BRAZ-TESOL with affection for the warmth.Jeremy Harmer

“Great event, great people and great energy!!!” Anna Marta Ozerch

“Great conference, wonderful people!” Scott Thornbury

#9: The theme of the conference—“ Emerging Identities in ELT”—made presenters and participants exercise critical thinking. As a result, a positive reflection of what cultural and linguistic identity represent to language teaching could be felt throughout the conference.

#10: Last but not least, the enthusiasm of those involved in the organization of the event should not be overlooked. The Academic Committee did their very best in choosing presentations that were amazingly diverse and up to date. The people, who managed the administration of the conference, invested all the time and effort needed to achieve a well-organized event without many significant bumps. Throughout the event, organizers were working hand-in-hand showing passion and determination, which certainly made a huge contribution to the success of the event.

Going to conferences instills passion toward continuous professional improvement. We know that there is no chance of change in teaching unless we question ourselves and agree to transform new discoveries into classroom reality. In BRAZ-TESOL, we are proud to say that our 14th International Conference made a contribution to allow that to happen.

Virginia Garcia has ample experience in ELT teaching, management, and publishing. She is currently BRAZ-TESOL second vice president and editor of the association’s newsletter.


There are ambitious plans in 2014 for the start of MEXTESOL’s fifth decade. As usual, we will be holding our annual convention in October, this time in the colonial city and state of Puebla, Puebla, the fifth largest city in Mexico, about a 2-hours’ drive east of Mexico City. The 3-day, academically-packed event (from noon Thursday, 16 October to noon Sunday, 19 October) will take place at the new Centro Expositor Puebla convention center on the slopes of the famous Cerro de Guadalupe, site of the famous Cinco de Mayo battle where Mexicans defeated the invading French in 1862. Besides the two Fort Museums, there are wonderful views of the city of Puebla from this hill.

MEXTESOL received more than 250 proposals for 100 academic session slots, a record which will make proposal selection particularly difficult this year but will also give convention-goers the “best of the best” as well as a balanced program. The academically intense event promises to attract and satisfy all of the diverse English language teacher needs in Mexico and beyond. For more information on the convention check the MEXTESOL webpage.

MEXTESOL sent a representative to the Bilateral Forum on Higher Education, Innovation and Research (FOBESII) in Mexico City in May 2014. This was one of a series of working sessions of American and Mexican educational organizations designed to make recommendations toward the implementation of U.S. President Barack Obama’s “100,000 Strong in the Americas” educational exchange program, as well as Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto’s “Proyecta 100,000” program.

During 2014, MEXTESOL will also participate in the Central American and Caribbean Basin (CA&CB) Regional Group’s 12th Conference in Panama City in September.

MEXTESOL is planning on holding its own MEXTESOL National Spelling Bee in partnership with Merriam-Webster in 2015. This is a result of the 4-year long Franklin SpellEvent initiative which unfortunately ended in 2012, but which MEXTESOL would like to restart as an affiliate-organized event.

The MEXTESOL Journal will be celebrating its 40th anniversary soon. The Journal accepts submissions in Spanish or English, and although it principally caters to Latin America, articles relevant to English language teaching in general are also welcome.

The coming decade will surely be an exciting time for MEXTESOL and its members as MEXTESOL is planning to revamp, update, and expand its services to members and to the ELT community in Mexico.

Ulrich (Uli) Schrader is the MEXTESOL-TESOL liaison.


CA&CB Meeting Portland, Oregon, 2014

The Central American and Caribbean Basin (CA&CB) TESOL Regional Group will hold its 12th Conference in Panama City, Panama from 19–21 September 2014.This conference, every 2 years, brings together representatives and teachers of the participating TESOL affiliates and other interested teacher associations and individuals in the region.

This year, we are welcoming two new TESOL affiliates: Nicaragua TESOL (NicaTESOL) and Cuba TESOL (GELI). The other participating national affiliates are Colombia (ASOCOPI), Costa Rica TESOL (ACPI-TESOL), Haiti (MATE-TESOL), Panama TESOL, Puerto Rico TESOL, Mexico TESOL, and Venezuela TESOL. In addition, representatives from Belize, the Dominican Republic, and Honduras will also be present.

The CA&CB group held its first conference in San Juan, Puerto Rico in 1990 and the second conference in Acapulco, Mexico in 1992. The group formalized its relationship with TESOL in Baltimore, Maryland in 1994. And the biannual conference has been held ever since. The most recent conferences took place in Caracas, Venezuela in 2008; in Cancun, Mexico in 2010; and in San Juan, Puerto Rico in 2012.

The objectives of the group are to foster cooperation and an exchange of information and best practices regarding common challenges and opportunities, and problems and solutions among the participating affiliates. The common geographical denominator for the group is the Caribbean Sea (exception: El Salvador) and the national language of most of the countries so far is Spanish (exception: Belize).

The theme of this year’s conference in Panama is "Renewing and Exploring New Practical Trends in ELT"and the conference will be held at the Universidad Latina de Panama in Panama City. There will be workshops, demonstrations, publishers’ presentations, panel discussions, and poster sessions. Representatives from the different countries will give individual presentations as well as participate in panels which will address regional issues. There will also be an exhibit booth at which participating affiliates and associations can promote their organizations as well as their countries in order to foster a better understanding of member affiliates’ national cultures.

For information regarding the conference and registration please visit Panama TESOL’s website.

In addition to the CA&CB business meeting at the conference itself, there is an annual meeting of CA&CB representatives and teachers from the region at the TESOL annual convention. The next meeting will be held in Toronto, Canada. At that meeting, plans will be made for the 2016 CA&CB conference as well as other collaborative work projects during the coming 2 years.

If you are from the CA&CB region and you would like to learn more about the group and its activities, please contact Joel Alvarez, president of Panama TESOL or Ulrich (Uli) Schrader, MEXTESOL.

Ulrich Schrader is the Senior Advisor to the CA&CB group and the MEXTESOL-TESOL Liaison.


Garciela Martín 

Mabel Gallo

ARTESOL Annual Convention 2014, “Searching for your True North in ELT,” was held at Colegio Che-Il, in San Salvador de Jujuy, a city in the north of Argentina, on 9–10 May 2014. Because this conference was of much importance in this province, not only because local English teachers do not have easy access to ELT development but because it was the first time ARTESOL would hold the event there, it was endorsed by the Ministerio de Educación de la Provincia de Jujuy, Universidad Nacional de Jujuy,Universidad FASTA Sede Mar del Plata,Universidad de Buenos Aires, andAsociación Jujeña de Profesores de Inglés.

There were two plenary sessions, conducted by Mark Naylor, Deputy Cultural Affairs Officer from the U.S. Embassy in Argentina. His presentations dealt with American culture and English language resources offered by the Department of State, both for teachers and learners of English. Mathilde Verillaud, the English Language Fellow currently posted in Rosario, also made a plenary presentation on the use of “selfies” in the English language classroom.

Mark Naylor's presentation on American Culture 

Three semi-plenary sessions, conducted by Rita Aldorino, María Fernanda Rodríguez, and Susana Tuero, prestigious teachers and researchers from Argentina, dealt with cutting-edge issues in the TESOL profession, such as classroom management, students’ needs, EFL reading comprehension practices, and EFL writing. Their presentations were focused on practices in primary school, high school, and university.

Classroom practitioners and classroom-centered researchers specialized in all ELT levels conducted a total of 44 concurrent presentations of four different categories: papers, demonstrations, workshops, and poster sessions, sharing their expertise for 2 days with more than 200 EFL professionals from all over Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Japan, Mexico, the United States, and Uruguay.

The Pre Convention Institute (PCI) ARTESOL 2014, “Using American Young Adult Literature in the EFL Classroom,” was organized by the U.S. Embassy in Argentina and ARTESOL. The PCI was delivered by alumni from the Young Adult Literature and ESL Methods Program developed by the English Language Center at Michigan State University, which focuses on training teachers on ways to best make use of young-adult literature in the ESL classroom.

Attendees could also enjoy the cultural highlights of the conference. On Friday evening, Joe Troop, a bluegrass musician sponsored by the U.S. Embassy in Argentina, performed a concert. Then, as part of the closing ceremony, Ballet America’s presentation filled attendees’ souls with the joy of their “Jujeño” dance.

Ballet America closes the conference

(See more pictures)

Graciela Martin, ARTESOL president, is a graduate EFL teacher from the Instituto Nacional Superior de Profesorado “Joaquin V. González,” and holds a BA in education from Universidad Nacional de Quilmes. She has worked at ICANA for 25 years. She is the academic coordinator at ICANA Belgrano, the online courses project leader, and a materials developer.

Mabel Gallo, ARTESOL founder and past president, is a graduate EFL teacher from the Instituto Nacional Superior de Profesorado “Joaquin V. González,” and holds an MA in TESOL from California State University at Los Angeles. Most of her professional experiences were gathered at ICANA, the Buenos Aires Binational Center. She served on the TESOL Board of Directors 2003–2006.



Shirley DeMichele presented her workshop, “ESL Conversation Activities: These Are a Few of Our Favorite Themes,” on Saturday, 29 March at TESOL in Portland. This workshop looked at various ways to accommodate different learning styles within the classroom. Shirley explored the topic of food and showed a video that she created with subtitles on how to order food at Subway, a sandwich restaurant. Lesson plan ideas on how this video could be used as life skills teaching within the class were shared and given as a packet to those attending. Audience participants were then involved in a small-group exchange where they brainstormed their favorite conversation activities that best illustrated how they accommodated diverse learning styles within their classes. Ideas were enthusiastically shared as a whole group, and participants left with many new ideas to bring to their classes.

Shirley DeMichele is originally from Ireland, but has been living in the Chicagoland area since 1989. She first became interested in the field of TESOL when she taught EFL to Italian students visiting Dublin. She has since taught ESL for Chicago Public Schools and currently teaches at College of Lake County and at Harper College in IL.


The participants from Dr. Teresa Ferguson’s “G.A.M.E.S. for the Common Core” presentation were engaged in interactive, hands-on games that they could use in their classrooms to improve their students’ language and social acquisition. Directions were presented prior to playing each game, and Dr. Ferguson explained how these activities were versatile and easy to duplicate, so teachers could utilize them across the curriculum and alter them to differentiate instruction in order to meet each individual student’s needs. Various discussions streamed across the tables about having ready-to-use educational resources to motivate and to empower their ELs to become independent learners and confident members of any mainstream classroom. That is he overarching purpose of these games—to have fun while learning.

Dr. Ferguson has been an ESOL lead teacher in Cobb County, Georgia for more than 11 years, and was awarded Teacher of the Year in 2004–05. She has presented her games at various professional development trainings and conferences through GATESOL. Previously, she taught art in Bartow County, Georgia for 5 years. She has a website, and is the author of G.A.M.E.S.


Laura Hook

Gilda Martinez-Alba

Taking digital stories to the next level to make documentaries takes a few steps. To make documentaries, more structure is involved, and the content is as important as the product or the film itself. Topics should include multiple viewpoints, while making the audience care about the person or idea in the story. Once a topic is selected, a storyboard outline should be created to organize the sequence, the scenes, the props, and so on. Lighting and sound should also be carefully considered to help make the film look and sound as professional as possible. Other elements to consider are the camera, the editing software, and, of course, the audience. An article entitled “Taking Digital Stories to the Next Level: Making Documentaries” will be coming out soon in TESOL Journal with many more details.

Gilda Martinez-Alba is the Reading Clinic director at Towson University, where she teaches graduate reading courses, including ESOL courses, to teachers becoming reading specialists specializing in ESOL.

Laura Hook
is the ESOL supervisor for the Maryland State Department of Education, where she provides professional development to teachers and administrators, and helps coordinate ESOL teachers' initiatives



We were thrilled to represent Minnesota TESOL at the national TESOL conference. As "Best of the Affiliates" presenters, we shared our work with our home-grown assessment tool, CBM3D (Curriculum Based Measures, Three Domains.) CBM3D is composed of a set of leveled texts and a simple protocol to engage students in reading a short passage and then talking and writing about what they read. This allows teachers to gather current data about growth in reading, writing, and speaking. Together with colleagues, we have developed tools for administering the assessment, analyzing the results, and working with students to set growth goals. Approximately 40 educators attended, learning how to use CBM3D to monitor ELD growth. Informal feedback was very positive, and we look forward to hearing from teachers who try CBM3D. If you were unable to attend, feel free to download the presentation and materials from our Wiki site. We welcome questions and feedback.

Rita Platt is a National Board Certified teacher. Her experience includes teaching learners of all levels from kindergarten to graduate levels. She currently is a library media specialist for the St. Croix Falls SD in Wisconsin, teaches graduate courses for the Professional Development Institute, and consults with local school districts.

John Wolfe is a teacher on special assignment for the Multilingual Department at the Minneapolis Public School District. He has worked with students at all levels as well as provided professional development to fellow teachers. His areas of expertise include English language learners, literacy, and integrated technology.


“With a Little Help From an Online Site: Reading Exams” presented the characteristics and aims of a new resource designed by three teacher-researchers at the National Autonomous University of Mexico in order to help undergraduate students prepare for a required reading comprehension exam. Besides practicing with sample tests, at this site, students can also reflect on different strategies used in reading comprehension and on the skills needed to answer exams successfully (how to manage time, use a dictionary, and solve different types of exercises such as cloze, multiple choice, and true or false).The site has a playful touch, since it was designed as if it were a trip on which students can choose from four different routes (vocabulary, linguistic knowledge, strategies, and types of exams) to get to their final destination: passing the exam. Some interesting information on the design process, the piloting phase, and its results was shared in the presentation.

María Teresa Mallén holds a BA in literature and a master´s degree in applied linguistics. She has worked as an English teacher and researcher at the Foreign Language Center at-UNAM, México, since 1987. She has been involved in several research projects on evaluation, distance learning, and culture and language teaching.


In a nutshell, didactic transposition refers to the transformations that operate between knowledge constructed through different social practices and the contents that learners engage with in formal education. Based on action research and the implementation of Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL) at a secondary school in Esquel, southern Argentina, I examined how didactic transposition may be democratized. Democratic didactic transposition was achieved by giving a group of teachers of English and their teenage learners the opportunity to agree on curricular contents, sources of input, and activities. Drawing on these choices, the teachers developed their own teaching materials. Our explorations showed that didactic transposition may become a democratic act when teachers and learners negotiate topics and materials, and when they discuss their motivations, needs, and interests.

Darío Luis Banegas is a teacher educator and curriculum designer for the Ministry of Education of Chubut Argentina, and anassociate fellow with the University of Warwick (UK). He coordinates a number of research projects and preservice TESOL programmes in Esquel, Argentina.


At the TESOL 2014 Convention in Portland, we presented a talk on the literature program that is part of the high school English syllabus in Israel. Using a piece of literature, Human Family by Maya Angelou, we explored the various higher order thinking skills that can help students understand and enjoy the stories, poems, and plays which are now part of the Israeli high school curriculum. Participants joined us in defining and exercising skills such as inferring, generating possibilities, recognizing different perspectives, cause and effect, and comparing and contrasting.

Too often, students (and their teachers) make do with the "who-what-where-when" level of text comprehension (lower order thinking skills), thus limiting their involvement with both language and literature. We decided to show how rising above this level and using higher order thinking skills will advance students' learning processes—not only in the English classroom, but also in the wider world.

Participants were encouraged to share their own ideas and experiences with literature in the English language learning environment. The audience of about 65 conference participants was very responsive to what we had to say with many offering their own experiences of teaching literature and higher order thinking skills. It was also very interesting to hear people's responses to what is actually happening in the learning environment in Israel without getting involved in politics and relying on preconceived ideas about the Middle East.

Susan Bedein is a high school teacher and the English coordinator at Himmelfarb High school in Jerusalem. This school is a boys' religious academic high school that attracts a large number of students from academic and professional families.

Eleanor Satlow teaches in the junior high school of the Academy of Music and Dance in Jerusalem. The students at this school are required to study the regular school curriculum alongside many hours of specialized tuition focusing on the performing arts.



As language teaching professionals, we encounter collaboration in two basic contexts. One applies to our students. We design and implement group activities that allow students to actively engage with each other and build knowledge and skills. Although sometimes we may have some reservations about such an approach, we see its benefits and encourage students to work collaboratively. The other type of context applies to our teamwork with fellow professionals. There we build, exchange, and share our professional expertise and cooperate on projects of various kinds. Although yet again we understand the value of cooperation, we may not always feel so supportive of it as we are in our classes. Being active members rather than observers in this context, we are much more aware of the challenges associated with collaborative projects. Among our many positive experiences of teamwork, we also have the experiences of feeling annoyed, misunderstood, hurt, unsatisfied, disconnected, disliked, frustrated, and discouraged.

In both instances of collaboration and, in fact, on any occasion when people work together on a shared goal, common challenges occur. Consequently, if these are not prevented or handled well, collaboration becomes counterproductive and its beauty gets overshadowed by difficulties faced by members of the group. To prevent these failures, we need to plan the collaboration through. Effective group work in a language class or collaboration simply needs to be well planned/designed and structured.

I have taken part in multiple types of local or international collaborative projects. Those more successful and enjoyable projects have shared common characteristics as have less successful and frustrating ones. The following is a brief overview of what I have identified as basic areas that defined the quality of a collaborative project.

Make a Commitment
People taking a part in a collaborative project need to be committed to the project. They need to understand the goals of the project and how these goals align with and feed into other activities they are involved in. They need to find the work meaningful to them and believe in it as well as feel a certain level of ownership of it. If the commitment is present, the foundation of effective collaboration is laid as Zoglio (2002) writes: “Commitment is the foundation for synergy in groups.”

Identify Strengths
It is also important to identify and recognize the strengths and potential of each group member in the project and be sure that everyone can take an active part in the group processes with confidence to contribute. Unbalanced competences in relation to the project needs result in overload for some and frustration for other project partners. Both feelings then lead to demotivation and troublesome collaboration.

Define Roles
Clearly defined and understood roles and responsibilities of members of a group are another foundation of effective group practices. Everybody involved needs to know what is expected of them and what their role in the collaboration encompasses. Consequently, knowing how and what to do increases people’s motivation and results in better collaboration outcomes. The time invested into the description of the roles and responsibilities pays back through people’s better engagement in the processes.

Choose an Effective Leader
For the tasks or projects to be completed successfully, effective leadership is required. There needs to be a team leader who understands his or her role and responsibilities and manifests relevant leadership skills and behaviors. It is important to understand that leadership styles vary and each context may require a slightly different one.

Last, like in any other social relationship, communication is imperative to the success of collaboration. A work environment that allows participants to inform, share, and clarify ideas; say what one thinks; express feelings and opinions; and ask questions needs to be present from the very beginning of any project. Processes and strategies of communication need to be established and promoted among group members. In cases of intercultural collaborations, the role of culture in communication needs to be recognized and possible miscommunications addressed.

We bring different expectations, experiences, commitments, personal and professional skills, strengths, contexts, cultures, technology skills, and so forth to any project. They can hinder or enhance the group efforts to accomplish a task. If we embrace the principles of effective team work and implement them effectively in collaborative projects we get involved in (or involve our students in), we may find group work effective, motivating, or, simply said, running like clockwork.

You can learn more about the topic in the resources provided below.


Zoglio, S. W. (2002). 7 keys to building great workteams. Retrieved from


Beebe, S. A., & Masterson, J. T. (2000). Communicating in small groups: Principles and practices (6th ed.). New York, NY: Addison Wesley Longman.

Christison, M. A., & Murray, D. E. (2009). Building effective teams. In M. A. Christison & D. E. Murray (Eds.), Leadership in language education: Theoretical foundations and practical skills for changing times (pp. 200–218). New York, NY: Routledge.

Coombe, C., McCloskey, M. L., Stephenson, L., & Anderson, N. J. (2008). Leadership in English language teaching and learning. Ann Arbor, MI: The University of Michigan.

Gabriela Kleckova, a language teacher, university lecturer, teacher trainer, researcher, consultant, and materials developer, is based in the English Department, Faculty of Education, at the University of Western Bohemia, in Plzen, the Czech Republic. She received her PhD in English with a concentration in applied linguistics from the University of Memphis, Tennessee, in the United States. Her main research interests include the effectiveness and utility of the visual design of ELT materials. She is also interested in content and language integrated learning, materials development, English as an international language, and teacher education. She currently serves on the TESOL Board of Directors.


Larisa Olesova

Elizabeth Smith

Jayme Lynch

Jey Venkatesan

Donald Weasenforth and Larisa Olesova signed Partnership Agreement

In July 2008 two affiliates TexTESOLV and Yakut TESOL signed a partnership agreement in the city of Yakutsk in the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia). The Past President of TexTESOLV Donald Weasenforth and Past President of Yakut TESOL Larisa Olesova initiated the partnership relationship between the two affiliates to promote teacher professional development and student exchanges between the two countries.

Since 2008, the two affiliates have completed projects including:

  • Teacher professional development in Yakutsk, 2008 and 2010
  • Online classroom collaborations, 2008 and 2009
  • English Summer Camps, 2009, 2010, and 2011
  • Book donation, 2009
  • Student exchange, 2010
  • Teacher exchange, 2011
  • English summer courses, 2011 and 2014

The two affiliates presented their collaboration at theTESOL 2014 Affiliates Colloquium. Below, we present the projects completed in 200 and 2011.

Elizabeth Smith, Director of Global Education and English to Speakers of Other Languages, the Hockaday School (Dallas, Texas, USA)

Teacher Professional Development in Yakutsk
My work with Yakut TESOL began with a web-based collaborative project designed to increase the English language proficiency of my class and the class in Yakutsk, deepen the sociocultural knowledge of all the students, and strengthen the collaborative skills among the students and among the Yakutian teachers and me.

English Summer Camps
At the end of the project, Yakut TESOL invited me to teach English at a summer camp in Yakutsk to which I traveled with my husband and two daughters (ages 10 and 12 at the time). I learned that online collaborative work presents many opportunities for creative and communicative growth: from designing ground-breaking curriculum to understanding technological aspects such as band-width. Additionally, I learned about the history, culture, and language of a remote part of the world where I developed meaningful relationships with many new colleagues.

The benefits of my collaborative work with Yakut TESOL were life-changing; I became a stronger teacher, colleague, and citizen of the world. Upon my return from Yakutsk, I was so inspired that I wanted everyone on the TexTESOL V board to share my experience, and I am thrilled that several of my colleagues have now worked with Yakut TESOL, either with online collaborative projects or by travel to Yakutsk to teach and learn. I believe in the value of global collaborative projects, and I continue to work with colleagues from both Yakut TESOL and TexTESOL V to present at TESOL conferences about our work and experiences.

                                 Elizabeth Smith in Yakutsk, 2009

Luda Grigoryeva, the Hockaday School (Dallas, Texas, USA) (reprinted from Yakut TESOL Newsletter 2011 with permission)

Student Exchange: Yakutsk to Texas
In the summer of 2009, an ESOL teacher from the Hockaday School came to my hometown, Yakutsk, with her family to teach some English classes. One year later we got her invitation to enroll in the Hockaday summer camp program. That was an amazing opportunity for me and 8 other girls who went with me. We surely had so much fun in Texas! There, I met Mrs. Smith again, and she told me I could try to get into Hockaday. I went on the Hockaday website and filled out all the application forms. Later, I took two required exams: TOEFL and ISEE. I’ve never got my scores, but one day I opened my email and I got a letter from Hockaday Admissions: I was accepted! On August 11th I was on my way to America. Currently, I’m a freshman (9th grader) at the Hockaday School. Studying here is fun but requires hard work and patience. My experience in this school has been really good so far. I’m taking freshman classes like English I, World History, Physics, and ESL (for international students), and an advanced math class, Algebra II. Classes here are a little bit different: 9th graders don’t have to take biology or chemistry until 10th grade, and geometry counts as 1-year course (in Russia geometry is a 5-year course). Teachers have more expectations, and you have to work hard to get good grades. Academics are great! Also, we use laptops to do homework and school stuff. Hockaday also offers great Fine Arts: Studio Art, Ceramics, Drama Theater, Photography, Vibrato Magazine, Journalism and Mass Technology, etc. I’m taking a drama class. There are also good sports and awesome varsity teams! I was on the varsity swimming team during the winter sports season. Hockaday is amazing! Just study and get accepted!

              Luda is in Dallas

Jayme Lynch, ESL teacher, Plano ISD (Dallas, Texas, USA)

Teacher Exchange: Texas to Yakutsk
My name is Jayme Lynch, and I had the opportunity to visit Maya Village in Yakutsk, Russia a few years ago. I was with a group of energetic, eager-to-learn students who had the biggest hearts I’ve ever seen. I learned as much from them as I hope they learned from me. Our classes throughout each day practiced using the English language through experience. Here are a few things I brought over to get the students speaking: play-doh, visa-vis markers and writing/drawing pockets, peanut butter & jelly (how to make sandwiches), magazines with pop culture articles, music, and a few games (like Jenga).

The students loved exploring and were growing in their English with the practice. They weren’t perfect, but I never expected them to be; I just wanted them to begin speaking and using the language. They enjoyed putting on plays for which they made all the props and costumes. They also were thrilled to show me their culture and try and teach me their language, which I was not great at, but they got plenty of laughs listening to my pronunciation. I miss my time with my students and will never forget my experiences with them.

                         Jayme Lynch is in Maya (Yakutsk), 2010

Jey Venkatesan, Collin College (Dallas, Texas, USA)

Teacher Exchange: Texas to Yakutsk
As part of the TexTESOL V-Yakut partnership, I was invited to Yakutsk, Russia, in May 2011 to help enhance the English conversational ability of university students and local professionals, a total of 14 students. I was given a schedule and specific topics, including American holidays, work, leisure, education, films, health. Through discussion, comparison/contrast, and playing games, the students were given opportunities to converse in English. The speaking/listening classes led naturally to exploring American idioms and their usage. The students’ indomitable eagerness also propelled me to teach basic paragraph writing, which steered toward a project of designing a book consisting of stories on topics including their dreams, travels, favorite traditional stories, hobbies, recipes, and so on. I have proudly displayed their books at TexTESOL V conferences.

The 2-week program finished with a bang when students cooked their favorite dishes and shared them with classmates; they also shared the recipes and the process of making the dishes. It was an ultimate test of their speaking ability, and they came out successfully. During my free time, I was given the opportunity to visit all sorts of museums and interesting places. My most memorable trip was to the Permafrost Museum, the abode of ice sculptures! Over all, my trip to Yakutsk gave me the most adventurous, memorable experience a language teacher could ever ask for.

                              Jey Venkatesan is in Yakutsk, 2011

Evgeniya Yadrikhinskaya, North-Eastern Federal University (Yakutsk, Russia) (reprinted from Yakut TESOL Newsletter 2011 with permission):

Teacher Exchange: Yakutsk to Texas
In 2011 I had a great chance to visit the USA! It was possible due to the agreement of Partnership signed between Yakut TESOL and Tex TESOLV. To begin with, it was my first visit to the USA and any English-speaking country! So, I had to know the country, the people and the language as much as possible. I had a very busy agenda. Every day I visited ESL/ EFL classes at Collin County College, Richland College and the Hockaday School. I observed Mary Peacock’s Reading class, Nancy Megarity’s Writing class, Shirley Terrell and Jey Venkatesan’s Grammar classes.

Another thing I had never done before was teaching Russian as a second language. I worked with Dulce DeCastro, the Russian instructor at Collin College. Dulce and I recorded audio and videos in Russian. I will always remember the Russian class about Eastern Russia. I gave a presentation about our republic and I played the khomus. I wish you could see the students’ faces! I also had a great opportunity to take part in the Second Annual Study Skills Conference at Collin College and the Tex TESOL V Fall Conference “Staying Ahead of the Curve” which was on October 1, 2011 at North Lake College, Irving, Texas. Don Weasenforth, Jey Venkatesan, Elizabeth Smith, Jayme Lynch and I presented a report on the TexTESOL V-Yakut TESOL Partnership. As for cultural experience, my Tex-friends did not let me feel bored. We visited the 6th Floor Museum, the Cowtown Opry and, of course, a rodeo! I want to express the feeling of gratitude for those who made my dream came true: to all the members of the Yakut TESOL Board and our Tex TESOL V partners: Donald Weasenforth and Jey Venkatesan.

  Evgeniya Yadrikhinskaya is in Dallas, TX, 2011 with Elizabeth Smith

The two affiliates plan to continue on-site and online collaborations to promote teacher professional development and student exchanges between the two countries in the future.

Larisa Olesova is an instructional designer at George Mason University. Currently, she serves as the TESOL International Affiliate Leadership Council chair and as a moderator of “ICT4ELT,” one of the Electronic Village Online sessions at the TESOL annual convention. She is the past president of Yakut TESOL.

Elizabeth Ostrow Smith
is the director of Global Education and English to Speakers of Other Languages at The Hockaday School. She previously taught ESOL at Richland College and SMU, and she taught English in Yakutsk, Russia in 2009. She currently serves as the president of TexTESOL V.

Jayme Lynch is past president of TexTESOL V. A few relevant facts about Jayme are that she is an elementary ESL specialist for Plano ISD. She has been teaching for 11 years, 10 of which have been in Plano. She has a master's degree in curriculum and instruction from the University of North Texas, where she specialized in ESL.

Jey Venkatesan is an ESL professor, currently teaching at Collin College, Plano, Texas. She has been serving on TexTESOL V Board as a copy coordinator for many years and is also one of the reviewers and editors for TexELT Online Journal.



Good leadership is largely managing personalities and using everyone’s strengths (maneuvering around weaknesses) and negotiating with people to get things done, work delegated, and compromises made.

The diversity and various backgrounds that our membership and our elected leaders bring to the organization is beneficial but also makes it challenging to organize everyone’s efforts. Some differences among volunteers with New York State TESOL include: various levels of commitment, focus on different educational settings (K–12 vs. higher ed vs. adult ed vs. administration), and various amounts of experience in organizational leadership each person brings to the table.

Working With Volunteers

Most people we work with as officers on the executive board are volunteers. Other than staff positions, all board members and SIG <Copyeditor note: Please spell out> and regions leaders are volunteers for our organization, and this presents some challenges:

  • They are busy professionals
  • Some are over-extended
  • They have different levels of commitment
  • They have different passions (e.g., some are focused on the Common Core Standards and others on higher education—people may be lobbying for various uses of state funding)
  • There can be personality clashes

To successfully lead the organization, we need to be aware of what areas of work our volunteer leaders are interested in, who can work best with whom, and who is available to do larger projects.

Addressing Performance Issues
What if the volunteers in the organization are not performing the duties of their elected roles or not fulfilling agreed upon commitments for the board?

First, some good guidelines to follow to avoid performance issues are as follows:

  • Clear job descriptions:First, the responsibilities that each position must fulfill need to be clear and written out in detail.
  • Checking in: Leaders must “check in” with other volunteers to see if they have any questions, need any help with their tasks and responsibilities, or are having any problems.
  • Accountability: It is important to hold people accountable and note when deadlines are missed, tasks are not completed, or there is confusion about who is responsible for particular tasks.

We have reached out via multiple phone calls to people who have had attendance issues at meetings, have stopped answering e-mails, or have not fulfilled important duties. We first ask them how things are going, to address the person and their work-life balance, and we find out if they need a little more time to do things, need help from others, or otherwise need some support but want to continue in the role. It can be difficult to determine when to encourage someone to continue in their role with support or when they should step down for the good of the organization and for themselves.

If there are ongoing issues in performance for a particular volunteer leader, here are some steps we have taken in the past to address the problem and, if necessary, replace the person who is unable to fulfill his or her role:

1. Call the person.
The first step is to call the person who is not fulfilling his or her role and check in. Urge him or her to voluntarily step down from the position if he or she is no longer able to fulfill the role, or discuss support you can provide if he or she would like to (and is able to) fulfill the role from now on.

2. E-mail or send an official letter.
It is important to have a written record that you suggested that the person step down if he or she is unable to fulfill the role. This gives the person an “out” and allows him or her to end work with the organization of his or her own volition.

3. Vote him or her off the board.
An extreme measure if the person does not respond or continues to neglect his or her role (and misses many board meetings, etc.) is for the board to vote the person off. This needs to be done in accordance with the bylaws of the organization. In our case, NYS TESOL has a bylaw that states that if someone has not attended three board meetings in a row, that person can be removed from the board.

Using Technology
Technology can help you to manage documents, meetings, voting, and more. To effectively use the technology available, all organizational members must be trained to use the systems and must have ongoing technological support available.

Some examples of technology that have been useful to our board:

  • PBWorks – a shared Wiki and document storage center.
  • Google Drive – a shared document storage system.
  • GoToMeeting – an online meeting service where people can all view the same documents, and can use video or audio or can call in on a phone line to join an online meeting. 
  •  E-mail voting – our board has a bylaw that states that votes can take place online—but only with 100% participation.

We have increasingly held meetings of various subgroups (Finance Committee, Publication Committee, or ad hoc groups to accomplish certain tasks) online using GoToMeeting (but Skype, Google Hangout, or other systems could also be used for this). We have also found that calling for votes for certain budget approvals or other pressing issues (particularly when people are not able to meet in person over the summer) has allowed us to get more accomplished than does holding all action items until the following board meeting.

Having some of our board meetings online rather than in person has allowed people who live upstate or farther from our usual meeting place to participate more easily, and it has also saved the board money, as we cover the costs of travel to and from board meetings for members.

Managing Strengths
Everyone has strengths and weaknesses, and it is best to get to know your fellow organizational leaders well so that you can delegate tasks that fit people’s strengths and avoid their weaknesses.

One way to learn what strengths and weaknesses people have is to do a training activity that explores personality types when new board members join. Members who are detail-oriented and like to get things done are great at managing finances, helping the group follow Robert’s Rules of Order (Robert, Honemann, & Balch, 2011), and keeping track of event proposals, but these go-getters may have some trouble with e-mail etiquette (being more of the “get it done” mindset than carefully massaging egos or couching complaints or requests within pleasantries). Board members who are not as detail-oriented may be “global thinkers” and can see the big picture, help the group strategize long-term goals, or outline the vision of the leadership, but may not be adept at taking the minutes (a detail-oriented activity). Someone who is good at nurturing should mentor new leaders or perhaps do the checking in on people who are missing meetings or not fulfilling roles. Each person brings valuable experience and particular qualities to the organization, so we should tap into these abilities in each volunteer.

What if the leader does not have the skill of managing personalities? She or he should work with other leaders on how to approach various members and get help when needed—recognizing her or his own strengths and weaknesses.

Sometimes working with the various strengths people have and managing various personalities takes a lot of interaction. To have successful meetings or come to difficult decisions, it may first take many phone calls to individuals to find out what each person thinks and then conference calls to small groups to continue the conversation.

Ultimately, volunteer leaders need to be motivated. The membership also needs to be motivated to attend events and become involved in initiatives our organization wants to promote, so it is important to motivate all involved.

Some ways we can motivate our leadership (and the membership at large):

There should be a sense of fun and enjoyment to the leadership gatherings and board meetings, while still focusing on work to get done.

A Sense of Purpose
Everyone should know why they are at the board meeting/organizational event/rally. What is the organizing principal or the vision of the organization? Is there a clear and simple (memorable) mantra or mission? Why are we working hard to help teachers and students?

Leaders and members should feel that they benefit from meeting colleagues, connecting with fellow educators, and hearing what others are involved with outside of the work done at the meeting itself. Jobs, friendships, and new ideas are gained from good opportunities to network, so be sure to build in time for chatting, meeting new people, or catching up with others at your meetings and events.

Show Appreciation
The most important and effective way to motivate people to work hard, and continue to help the organization in various ways, is to show appreciation. Do you tell people you appreciate their efforts? Do you recognize the hard work people have done behind the scenes at organizational events? Do you personally thank people with letters, phone calls, certificates, or other ways of recognition? What can you do to recognize the time people have given to your organization?

Challenges and Rewards
It may be that while you try hard to recognize and appreciate others in your organization, no one does the same for you. That’s okay—a successful event or a well-led organization seems to run smoothly because of the extensive behind-the-scenes work by you and others that no one knows about!

Remember that effective leadership is managing tasks and people but not doing everything yourself. If you try to do everything, you can get burned out and not be of use to your organization. Leadership is about delegating tasks, letting go of some things, trusting that your colleagues will do their best (and supporting them if they have trouble), managing expectations, and, to some extent, massaging egos.

There is no one way to lead, and the best leaders go with the flow, know their colleagues well and work with their best abilities, and adapt to challenges and changes. Like teaching or parenting, being a leader can make you question yourself and your ability, but you can always “fake it till you make it”—showing confidence even when you don’t feel you are completely in control helps others have confidence in you and then leads to positive results that can give you more control, and then more confidence in what you are doing.


Robert, H. M., III, Honemann, D. H., & Balch, T. J. (2011). Robert’s rules of order newly revised (11th ed.). Philadelphia, PA: Perseus Books.

Rebekah Johnson, EdD,is New York State TESOL affiliate representative 2014 and immediate past president of the NYS TESOL organization 2014, and an assistant professor at LaGuardia Community College.

2014 Affiliate Workshop


CEO Holly Duckworth

At the pace of life today, do you feel your association is spinning out of control? Do you ever wish rebooting your organization was as simple as hitting Ctrl+Alt+Delete?

In this session, attendees learned simple strategies to build the future of their organizations.

Session Description

Ctrl: Tips to learn how to let go of your, your board’s, and your membership’s need to control every project and every outcome. 

Alt: Look for alternate solutions to common problems such as lack of leadership, funding, and resources. Explore creative solutions that will encourage your board to look at innovating.

Delete: Delete all you thought about how your organization works and create a new future. You will walk away with tips to see your organization in a new way. If you are overwhelmed as a volunteer or staff member, take an hour to slow down and gain simple strategies that will reboot and redirect your organization to meet its vision and mission now.

2014 AFFILIATE WORKSHOP – Morning Session

2014 AFFILIATE WORKSHOP – Morning Session

2014 AFFILIATE WORKSHOP – Morning Session


Best Practices: Leadership Responsibilities, Roles and Relationships


  • Invite speakers that appeal to a wide audience.
  • Involve students in conferences and meetings to seek active participation in event organization.
  • Provide consistency in conference location by contracting with a reputable convention center location.
  • Book your convention site location for 2–3 years in a row, so that your affiliate has time to dedicate to other initiates.
  • Seek a venue such as a university that could provide a cost-free location for events.
  • At the conference, provide a rich academic program, a balanced exhibit area, and a social/cultural event.
  • Provide “clock hours” for professional development for K–12 instructors.
  • For your conference planning group members, provide a handbook with specific roles and responsibilities.
  • Skype conferences.
  • Seek sponsors who can provide financial support to pay for the costs of conference fees such as lunches, dinners, etc.
  • Provide a large annual conference that would move to different locations throughout your state or country.
  • Provide one miniconference (December) and one annual conference (May).
  • At your annual conference, hold a “special event” to increase new membership.
  • Have a raffle for a “free conference registration and hotel package deal.”
  • Offer a free cultural event.
  • Offer a discount for members.


  • Survey members annually and discuss the findings at board meeting (using SurveyMonkey, etc.).
  • To increase membership, create a section on the website for “Benefits of Membership.”
  • Develop “board member benefits” such as providing funds to attend state, regional, or national conferences.
  • At your annual conference, provide a booth for your affiliate to promote and discuss member benefits.
  • Members receive monthly communication from the state affiliate communications chairperson.
  • Provide 1 free year of membership for new ESL-endorsed/licensed teachers.
  • Dedicate a specific month each year for a “new membership” drive.
  • Include “membership fee” in the conference registration, when applicable.
  • Provide an “open house” and invite nonmembers to participate for the first open meeting each year.
  • Appoint a member to be in charge of an “interest section” and set up monthly or quarterly interest section workshops or meetings.
  • Allow each member to choose one primary interest section.
  • Elicit the help of your current members to recruit one new member by word of mouth.
  • To attract new members, have a drawing for a few free affiliate memberships.
  • Host four general meetings each year that are open to all members.
  • Divide your affiliate into two separate affiliates, K–12 and university + other.
  • Establish a strong and clear line of communication with members.
  • Offer a “lifetime membership” fee.


  • Provide mini-grants. Recipients report back by writing a summary of their grant-funded project/activity for the affiliate newsletter.
  • Offer travel grants.
  • Offer one or more graduate student awards/scholarships.
  • Offer a student award that would be presented at the state conference.
  • If funding is available, increase the amount of your travel grants and scholarships.
  • Award scholarships to high school students who are current or former ESL students.
  • Provide awards, scholarships, and grants “for members only.”
  • Establish criteria on how to provide “seed money” for regional representatives to set up meetings and engage members across the state or country.

Website/Historical Data

  • Scan past information such as agendas, board minute meetings, and so on to post in an archival section on the affiliate website.
  • Use an online membership database that is connected to the affiliate website.
  • Create an area on your website for institutional history.
  • Provide quarterly “lesson plan sharing” in a newsletter or website format.
  • Purchase software to link membership and conference registration information to your affiliate website.
  • Post all conference information on your website.
  • Create a “members only” entry site with a section for online discussions, messages, an online journal, and so on.
  • Seek sponsors who can provide financial support to pay for the costs of conference fees.
  • Appoint a website manager who is responsible for keeping the website updated.
  • Create an e-newsletter.


  • Appoint a member as a lobbyist to get involved at the state level.
  • Hire a lobbyist at the state level.
  • International affiliates seek U.S. Embassy or British Council sponsorships, meet together, and update the website with any new information.
  • Reach out by sponsoring an “English by radio” program
  • Affiliates could make contributions to local groups who support Deferred Action For Childhood Arrivals (DACA), the "Dreamers", a demographic profile of immigrants who might benefit from the Obama Administration’s DACA, and so on.
  • Establish one advocacy initiative each year and elicit support from your members.
  • Affiliates could provide funding for Dreamers to attend leadership training sessions.


  • Offer monthly workshops (events) for teachers.
  • Offer at least one event/program per year for each group that is represented in your affiliate (elementary, secondary, higher education, literacy councils, etc.).
  • Get involved with other local associations with similar missions.
  • Offer credits for professional development.
  • Select a broad range of board members with various backgrounds/expertise.
  • Encourage your members to publish in a TESOL-related journal. Present their published work at the annual convention.
  • Provide speakers who travel throughout the state, region, and country and offer professional development opportunities for teachers at workshops.
  • Promote the TESOL International conventions.
  • Increase your affiliate exposure by setting up a Facebook and Twitter account.
  • Provide a newsletter or journal that is distributed to your affiliate members.
  • Request embassy grants to attend conferences.
  • Design surveys to find out the needs of your members.
  • Form a connection with your local affiliates and TESOL International.
  • Establish an investment fund for financial stability.
  • Solicit articles from conference presenters for publication in an affiliate journal.
  • Set up chapter meetings that could reach and support members who live in various locations.
  • Collaborate with the Ministry of Education.


The workshop “Case Studies: Challenges and Opportunities” at the TESOL convention focused on strategic planning for small and midsized organizations. The goal was to understand strategic planning as a strategy for assessing the organization’s performance, identifying any challenges, and seeking future opportunities. The presenter shared the process Maryland TESOL went through during the planning for the plan and forming the strategic planning committee. She then shared the support the committee received from the organization and the current board members. Finally, the presenter shared some of the findings from the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats analysis (SWOT). The participants in the workshop had the opportunity to reflect on their own affiliates’ needs during the SWOT analysis. The workshop was a great opportunity for affiliate leaders to showcase their own challenges and success stories from their affiliates.

Doaa Rashed is the 2013–2014 Maryland TESOL president. She has an MA in TESOL and is currently pursuing her doctorate degree in language, literacy, & culture. She is a teacher educator in the University of Maryland Baltimore County.


At the recent TESOL Arabia international conference, I was given the opportunity to be part of the plenary opening session where I shared the success of TESOL Arabia during 2013–2014. It is indeed rewarding to celebrate success, but what is more rewarding is knowing that a dedicated team of volunteers are behind this success, working on weekends, sometimes two weekends in a row, and on working days after long hours of teaching, marking, and doing admin work to keep this organization going.

Organizations such as TESOL Arabia thrive on its volunteer force to provide their services to educators. Yet, sometimes it can be quite challenging to find enough teachers willing to dedicate some of their time to serve the profession in this way. That is why I truly believe that belonging to a teachers’ association or organization should be part of teachers’ education. Giving back to the profession should play a major role in teachers’ career. Not only because it helps the profession develop, but also because it helps individual educators grow beyond their work environments.

                                        TESOL Arabia Volunteers

TESOL Arabia has launched many initiatives recently. These were inspired by the organization’s strategic plan, which aimed mainly at increasing membership, supporting the organization’s volunteers, and providing a wider variety of professional development (PD) opportunities. One of the new programs focuses on conducting community outreach PD events to both members and nonmembers at no cost. Our second program, which will be launched in April 2014, focuses on designing PD activities exclusively for TESOL Arabia volunteers.

It gives me pleasure to report that TESOL Arabia has been as dynamic as ever. We have had more than 40 chapter and special interest group local events this year. We have an increased interest in hands-on and practical PD activities, as opposed to research-based presentations. This could be a result of the growing membership from K–12 schools.

The online presence of the organization has grown substantially this year through social media, with more than 6,300 Facebook fans, almost 2,700 Twitter followers, and 1,500 members of the TESOL Arabia group on LinkedIn. We post all the news related to upcoming PD activities by TESOL Arabia as well as PD opportunities by other institutions on our social media pages, so like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter to hear about interesting sessions all year long. We hope to see TESOL Arabia flourish online in order to extend professional development beyond geographical boundaries and to cultivate the benefits of reaching a wider audience.

A successful 20th international conference, co-chaired by Les Kirkham and Sandra Oddy, attracted more than 1,600 attendees this year. The conference was held at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Dubai from 12–16 March 2014. Next year, the conference will be co-chaired by Melanie Gobert, TESOL Arabia incoming president, and me. The theme of the conference is “Theory, Practice, Innovation: Teaching and Learning in the Digital Age.”

One of the new benefits for TESOL Arabia members is the possibility of receiving one of the seven 1-year complimentary TESOL International Association memberships. This year, seven TESOL Arabia members who renewed or joined the organization between 15 November 2013 and 15 January 2014 qualified for a draw and won a membership worth US$95. The criteria to grant these complimentary memberships to TESOL Arabia members will vary from year to year, so we will make an announcement about this soon.

We would like to take this opportunity to thank all TESOL Arabia volunteers, who devote hundreds of hours serving the organization. Special thanks go to four TESOL Arabia Executive Council members who have relinquished their leadership positions: Les Kirkham, membership secretary; Sally McQuinn, eastern region chapter representative; Amr Al Zarkam, Sharjah Chapter representative; and James McDonald, TESOL Arabia past president. All four have supported TESOL Arabia for years, and we would like to wish them all the best.

We would like to wish you all a great conference and hope to hear more about other affiliates’ news in the coming year.

Rehab Rajab has been involved in professional development activities for teachers in the UAE through her work with TESOL Arabia since 2007. Currently, she is the president of the organization. She worked as an ESL teacher for 12 years in Egypt and the UAE before becoming instructional technology supervisor and teacher trainer at The Institute of Applied Technology in 2012, where she designs educational technology professional development courses for 600 teachers. Rehab is passionate about sharing innovative teaching ideas and developing online learning communities. She holds an MA in educational technology from Michigan State University; she’s also an Apple Distinguished Educator and an Authorized Apple Professional Development Trainer.



Janet Pierce

Larisa Olesova

This workshop was intended to help newsletter editors communicate more effectively with their members. Multimedia tools and the use of cyber cafés were discussed in one group as a means to promote this. At the same time, traditional means of communication among the affiliates was also discussed. Participants broke into groups whose topics best met their needs, and they discussed what they would do to help foster or promote communication among their members.

Each group developed a philosophy that explained the reasons behind why or how what they did worked, and created a list of their best practices to guide other affiliates who could not attend the meeting. Then both groups came back together and shared their findings with each other. From there, people broke into new groups with a mix of people discussing both types of newsletters and methods of communicating to decide ways to move forward in the 21st century with tools that accommodate both types of communicating. At the end, we gathered the findings together, got everyone’s e-mail addresses, and put together a document to e-mail back to each affiliate. Below is a summary of our work.

Participating affiliates:

TESOL France
Three Rivers TESOL





The Affiliate Leadership Council represents affiliates and works with others in TESOL to address affiliate issues and concerns. The Affiliate Leadership Council consists of the four members elected by the affiliate leaders to serve as affiliate representatives: Past Chair, Chair, Chair-Elect, and Member A, as well as one board liaison and one staff liaison who serve as nonvoting members.