June 2011
Dilin Liu, Professor, Applied Linguistics and TESOL Program Coordinator, University of Alabama, dliu@as.ua.edu

Greetings! It is unbelievable that it has been more than a month since the 2011 TESOL Convention in New Orleans. For those who attended the convention, I hope you enjoyed it and found it rewarding. For those who did not have the opportunity to attend the convention, I hope you have now had the opportunity to take a look at the information, including copies of some of the presentation handouts posted online at the TESOL webpage.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of the approximately 25 ALIS members who attended our interest section’s open (business) meeting in New Orleans. At the meeting, outgoing chair Howard Williams gave a brief report about the major activities that the leadership of the interest section did or organized in the past year, including, among others, the reviewing of the proposals for the 2011 convention, the organization of the InterSection sessions, and the election of the new chair-elect (Kara Hunter of California State Polytechnic University at Pomona). Howard was also honored and presented a “certificate of appreciation” by TESOL’s Central Office.

Our interest section had a good showing in New Orleans with 30 individual presentations, one InterSection Session, and one Academic Session. Both the InterSection Session and the Academic Session were a great success. Howard Williams, the organizer of the InterSection Session, is covering the session in his contribution in this newsletter, so I will focus on the Academic Session.

The title of the Academic Session was “New Theories and Effective Practices in Teaching Vocabulary and Grammar.” The speakers included Diane Larsen-Freeman of the University of Michigan, Andrea Tyler of Georgetown University, Eli Hinkel of Seattle University, and me. Professor Larsen-Freeman started the session by discussing how complexity theory and other contemporary grammar theories such as emergent grammar may inform language teaching by helping us understand and treat grammar and vocabulary as a dynamic system. Then Professor Tyler gave an overview of cognitive linguistics and, on the basis of findings from an empirical study on the teaching of the V+N+N transfer of object construction (e.g., Mary gave Tom a book/Mike cooked Jean a dinner), demonstrated how cognitive linguistic theories could be applied in classroom teaching to make grammar instruction more effective. Professor Hinkel illustrated with numerous examples how a constructional approach to grammar and vocabulary could make language teaching more efficient and effective. Then, I concluded the session presentations by discussing, with specific examples, how corpus linguistics could be combined with cognitive linguistics to make the teaching of grammar and vocabulary more engaging, interesting, and effective. Following the presentations, the speakers answered questions from the audience. The Academic Session drew a very large crowd. In fact, the session room (with a capacity of 150) was packed and many attendees had to be turned away. As a result of the strong positive feedback, the organizing committee of next year’s TESOL convention have asked Professor Hinkel and me to be “invited speakers” on the topic of grammar and vocabulary teaching at TESOL 2012 in Philadelphia.

Another important piece of information I need to share with you is that TESOL has created a new community webpage called “The TESOL Community” at http://community.tesol.org.

This page is designed to facilitate communication (i.e., to make communication easier and faster) among TESOLers, especially among TESOLers with shared interests, such as the members of an interest section group or the leaders of the interest sections. On this page, you can find various kinds of information you need as a TESOLer, including contact information of members, interest section leaders, and the staff of the TESOL Central Office. I would like to encourage you all to check out the page. It is TESOL’s hope that, through this page, we can make TESOL a close professional community where members can exchange ideas and collaborate on teaching and research projects of common interests anytime they want. To access this page and participate in the various community activities, simply go to the webpage at http://community.tesol.org. (Note: Currently the page cannot be access via the TESOL webpage.) Log in using the same user name and password you use for your TESOL webpage login. After you log in, you will be prompted to provide your bio information and to upload your photo.

Finally, I wish you all a restful but also productive summer!

Dilin Liu