February 2014
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CONFERENCE PREVIEW - LOTS OF ESP NUGGETS IN THE PROGRAM, BUT YOU HAVE TO LOOK!
Robert Connor, PhD, Tulane University, New Orleans, Louisiana, USA

Looking through the Precis Abstract Management System is a useful way to plan your TESOL itinerary. Even though I personally love to page through the hard copy the first night at the hotel, I still use the Precis system to find relevant sessions and special topics that I would miss in my old-fashioned browsing. In this article, I share my perusal of the ESP sections, with what I consider to be some highlights in the program that might go undiscovered otherwise.

I would like to start with the Poster Sessions. These are a great way to have one-on-one conversations that Workshops and Presentations often lack, and I would like to highlight two specialized posters with wider implications. Peggy Garza explores “Writing for Government Purposes,” which I find an intriguing construct especially due to her work with NATO in Europe. Mahmoud Debabeche, Abdallah Farhi, and Tayeb Bouhitem explore how mastering hydraulics can be improved through mastering English. Though specialized on the surface, both of these presentations make me think about how I categorize types of English and how extensively English reaches into other disciplines.

This idea of English pervading disciplines makes me think of Mark Andrew James’s research presentation on how and when learning transfers in various settings, especially EAP. Now, you have to stay until 4 pm Saturday to view it, but his presentation is sure to make you rethink progression through language levels. His session is followed at 5 pm by Jonathon Green’s look at learning transfer in Thailand.

That leaves the bread-and-butter teaching-oriented Workshops and practice-oriented Presentations. Rita Czipczer-DiFiore, Lynn D’Angelo-Bello, and Mary Newbegin help bridge the gap between academics and the workplace Friday at 10:30 am, while Rachel Wood and Jenny Dodson start us off right on Thursday by remembering that formative assessment are one of the foundations of our discipline.

Well, this is just one person’s journey through the maze of TESOL 2014. I wish I could have highlighted more. But remember, it is not the number of presentations that counts; it is the quality of the connections that you make with your colleagues.


Robert Connor is the director of ESL at Tulane University, where he works with the English for Lawyers, English for Business, English for Health Studies, EAP, and ITAP programs. He has been active in making MOOC-style courses that are open to busy students.

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When attending the TESOL Conference, I am more interested in:
attending Academic and Intersection Sessions
listening to keynote addresses
attending workshops, demonstrations, research presentations and other smaller sessions
networking with colleagues
going out at night and enjoying the local flavor of the hosting city
equal interest in all of the above

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