June 2017
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Ester de Jong, President, TESOL International Association, Alexandria, Virginia, USA

Dear Secondary Schools Interest Section Leaders and Members,

I would like to extend a warm welcome as the 2017–2018 president of TESOL International Association. Thank you, Sarah Elia, for inviting me to contribute to this newsletter. As a former K–12 educator and someone who is currently a K–12 teacher educator and researcher, I appreciate the challenges and rewards of teaching English to secondary students.

Attendees in discussion at the TESOL convention

I hope you enjoyed TESOL in Seattle! I have included three pictures from the convention that reflect (1) the rich discussions among TESOLers no matter where you were, (2) the long tradition of leadership in our association, and, of course, (3) my taking on the formal role as president for this coming year.

Group photo of TESOL presidents honoring Executive Director Dr. Rosa Aronson (center)

On the program, I counted 19 SSIS-sponsored presentations. The sessions on language in the content areas and working with mainstream teachers particularly stood out for me. One of my areas of research has focused on why teaching English language learners is more than “just good teaching.” As secondary English language professionals, you are often finding yourself at the crux of this issue: of simultaneously identifying our language expertise and knowing how to effectively communicate that expertise to different stakeholders, whether they be colleagues, administrators, parents, or policymakers.

President de Jong giving her first speech as TESOL president

Another area I am passionate about is that of finding ways to support our English learners’ bilingual abilities as they learn English as an additional language. Perhaps this links back to my own growing up in the Netherlands where becoming multilingual was expected, and I took three foreign languages in secondary school! I have firsthand seen the difference when we affirm our students’ linguistic and cultural identities, especially for adolescent newcomers who bring such diverse experiential and educational backgrounds to our classroom. I hope SSIS will contribute to our knowledge and expertise base regarding how we can accomplish this goal while attending to standards and meeting curricular expectations.

Thank you for all you do for your students and also for your leadership and engagement in TESOL International Association. I look forward to following your discussions and planned activities throughout this year and hope to see you in Chicago for TESOL 2018!

With warm regards,

Ester de Jong

President, TESOL International Association (2017–2018)

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