TESOL 2014: ELT for the Next Generation

Returning to West Coast of the United States for the first time since 2007, the TESOL International Convention & English Language Expo brought together approximately 6,900 professionals from more than 100 countries in Portland, Oregon this past March. Under the banner "Explore, Sustain, Renew: ELT for the Next Generation," the 2014 convention featured more than 1,000 educational sessions and opportunities for participants to learn the latest developments in English language teaching, discover new research, improve their practice, and network with peers from across the globe. In addition, the English Language Expo featured one of the largest exhibitions of its kind in the world, with more than 130 exhibitors offering the leading products and services for English language educators and their classrooms.

Educational and Professional Development

To highlight the theme of the convention, an international array of keynote speakers was brought together to help TESOL educators explore, sustain, and renew their practice for the next generation. The speakers, presenting on topics that will lead TESOL into its 50th anniversary year in 2016, included Dr. Surin Pitsuwan, noted scholar and political leader from Thailand, speaking on “English as a Powerful Instrument of Community Building in East Asia”; David Graddol, Director of The English Company (UK) Ltd, whose topic is “Five Megatrends Shaping the Future of TESOL”; Dr. Deena Boraie, President of TESOL and dean of the School of Continuing Education at the American University in Cairo, Egypt, addressing the convention on “Next Generation ELT: Voices of TESOLers”; and Dr. Diane Larsen-Freeman, Professor Emerita of Education, Professor Emerita of Linguistics, and Research Scientist Emerita at the English Language Institute at the University of Michigan, USA, speaking on “Complexity Theory: Renewing Our Understanding of Language, Learning, and Teaching.” All of these presentations are available for viewing on the TESOL website.

In addition to these keynote speakers, the 2014 TESOL International Convention featured nearly two dozen invited speakers addressing a variety of topics including communication, intercultural awareness, technology, learner motivation, and ELT contexts in Latin America, Southeast Asia, and other settings. In addition, a featured highlight of this year’s convention was a spotlight on the Common Core State Standards initiative in the United States. Several sessions throughout both K–12 Dream Day and the convention focused on developments with the Common Core State Standards and their impact upon ELs and ESL.

New Features

The 2014 TESOL International Convention saw the launch of several new features and programming. One of the most popular was the debut of the TESOL Classroom of the Future, a dedicated space in the English Language Expo that focused on technology, design, and pedagogy of the ELT classroom in the next 5 to 20 years. The Classroom included technology demonstrations, sample classroom furniture, and presentations highlighting the future for English learners.

Technology continued to play an important role in other aspects of the convention experience. For the first time, members and others who were not able to attend the convention in person were able to not only watch but also ask questions during the opening keynote session live over the Internet. (A recording is available for those who may have missed it.) This new interactive feature was also available to those who were in the audience. Making further use of technology, attendees this year were also able to evaluate convention sessions via the TESOL 2014 mobile app or using a special web link, providing real-time, valuable feedback to help TESOL improve future conventions.

Another new feature was the “Deep Dive” session, featuring Thursday morning keynote speaker, David Graddol, which provided attendees an opportunity to explore the “five megatrends” in further detail. Designed to be more interactive and allow for deeper discussion, the Deep Dive session was longer than a typical convention session. Attendees who took advantage of this session found it to be a rich experience, and appreciated the opportunity to learn more about the topic addressed by David. More Deep Dive sessions are planned for TESOL 2015.

Awards for Excellence

Continuing the tradition of highlighting excellence, the 2014 TESOL International Convention saw the recognition of several leaders in the field, as well as those outside the field who have helped advance opportunities for English learners and their educators. Read about the honorees at this year’s convention.

Looking to the Years Ahead

In addition to professional development and the chance to reconnect with peers, the annual TESOL International Convention provides an opportunity for leaders in the association to discuss important issues and plan for the future. With that in mind, leaders were engaged through various meetings on two important items on the association’s agenda: the governance review and the next strategic plan. At various governance meetings, the Governance Review Task Force shared the results of their work, and provided leaders an opportunity to respond to key questions about next steps. In addition, leaders were given the opportunity to provide recommendations on the next strategic plan for the association.

Details on the governance review and the work of the task force are available online. The recommendations from the task force have been released, and the TESOL Board of Directors is seeking feedback from members and leaders. In addition, there will be opportunities to provide suggestions on the next strategic plan. For further details, please visit the TESOL blog.

The first draft TESOL Research Agenda 2014 was also revealed at convention this year. The draft is available online, and the 2014 Research Agenda Task Force is seeking comments about both the content of the draft agenda and ways in which TESOL International Association can make use of the agenda to advance professional expertise in English language teaching and learning for speakers of other languages worldwide. Read the draft agenda and provide feedback here.

Convention Highlights Online

If you weren’t able to attend the 2014 TESOL International Convention in person, you can catch up on the event with recordings of more than 60 sessions. In addition, the four keynote sessions are available to members in the TESOL Resource Center (TRC). TESOL convention presenters are encouraged to submit their papers or presentations to the TRC. If you would like to submit a resource, please visit

“Crossing Borders, Building Bridges” in Toronto, Canada in 2015!

It’s not too early to start planning for the 2015 TESOL International Convention & English Language Expo! Returning to Canada for the first time since 2000, the convention will be held 25–28 March 2015 in Toronto, Ontario. The theme for the convention is “Crossing Borders, Building Bridges.” The deadline for all proposal submissions is 2 June 2014. The call for proposals is available now.

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TESOL 2014: ELT for the Next Generation
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TESOL 2014 Award Winners
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