5 Tips to Make the Most of the TESOL Virtual Convention

Justin Shewell
Justin Shewell

I remember the first TESOL Convention I attended in Vancouver, BC in 2000. I was still a student and we had organized the first ever group of students from our program to attend the Convention. I was overwhelmed by the number of sessions, the networking opportunities, and the camaraderie of all the attendees. It was a wonderful experience that cemented me in my career choices and helped me become a better teacher.

Since then, I have attended 17 more TESOL Conventions, and had similar experiences at each one. That is, until this year, when the COVID-19 crisis forced the cancellation of the TESOL Convention in Denver. As a board member of TESOL, I can share with you that cancelling the convention was one of the hardest decisions the Board has ever had to make, and we are still dealing with the ramifications of cancellation. Truly, it is a difficult time for the Association and the profession.

Despite the difficulties, however, I am impressed with the spirit of our members and volunteer leaders, and the TESOL International Association staff at their desire to persevere. New opportunities for collaboration and development are springing out of these difficult times, and on 16–18 July, TESOL will hold its first ever Virtual Convention! Now, you might be saying to yourself, “Another online meeting? I don’t think I can handle spending any more time in front of my computer screen!”, and I would normally tend to agree with you. But this Virtual Convention is going to be so much more than just “another online meeting,” and I wanted to give some information and advice that will help you make the most of this historical opportunity. Continue reading

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Recap to Reengage: Preparing to Assure Linguistic Equity

Ayanna Cooper
Ayanna Cooper

This blog post concludes a yearlong series highlighting the civil rights of English learners (ELs).  The framework for the blog has centered around building educator capacity to serve ELs, professional learning, and cultivating advocates for culturally and linguistically diverse learners. The world today looks very different from when we started this conversation, but the essence of the blog remains relevant. It is my hope that this blog has served as a resource by contributing to action-based conversations that lead to improved outcomes for ELs. Continue reading

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Activities for Teaching Writing to Young Learners

Betsy Gilliland
Betsy Gilliland

When we learn a new language, writing is often the last skill we focus on. Listening and speaking take priority, and reading can be integrated into textbook exercises as we learn grammar, for example. Writing may be neglected because of persistent myths about what counts as writing (beliefs that only academic essays are writing) or fears about making errors (which are more visible than errors made while speaking). These misconceptions may derive from first-language literacy learning experiences. In many contexts, writing may be neglected because it is not included on state and standardized tests, whereas the other skills are. As I noted in last month’s post, when learners don’t feel like they’re writing for a real audience, they become less interested in continuing with writing. Writing becomes boring, and when it’s boring, we don’t want to practice it.

This post focuses on ways to make learning to write in a new language fun and engaging for young learners in particular, although most of these activities would appeal to older learners as well. By “young learners” I mean children under about age 12, who are still in primary school. Continue reading

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In the Aftermath of Crisis: Autonomous Learning

Andres Paredes
Andres Paredes

In light of the COVID-19 emergency, almost the entire planet has been forced to use remote instruction in one way or another. Ecuador was not an exception; in the second week of March, students were sent home to continue with their education with whatever resources schools could come up with—within hours.

Throughout this process, we have seen a great deal of creativity and experimentation. Teachers have produced a variety of activities, from synchronous video conferences to asynchronous home videos to explain lessons; students have started chats and forums; publishers have freed up materials; and even administrators have rolled up their sleeves to reach everyone in the school. Every actor in education has participated with their two cents. Continue reading

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Online Teacher Education Resources in ELT: Language Portraits

Christine Montecillo Leider and Johanna Tigert
Christine Montecillo Leider and Johanna Tigert

As teacher educators, we constantly redesign our syllabi to include up-to-date content, respond to the ever-changing landscape of educating multilingual learners, and provide multimodal readings and resources. The need for contemporary and online resources has been especially critical after the transition to remote instruction.

In this new blog series, we share with you a variety of ways we have moved teacher education into the virtual space. In this first post, we grapple with the question:

What do we do to replace learning experiences
that normally occur through observation
and interaction in classrooms?  
Continue reading

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30-Minute PD With Your ELT Team: Norming

Stephanie Marcotte
Stephanie Marcotte

Are you looking for professional development (PD) to do with your English language teaching (ELT) team? I’m going to share with you a flexible PD activity that can be done in 30 minutes or over the course of a half day; can be done in-person or online; and provides a way to develop community, build cohesion in how your team evaluates student work, and gives your team an opportunity to think about your teaching and learning objectives. The solution is norming!

This PD activity involves the collective review and evaluation of anonymous student writing or speaking. Collectively, you work with your respective ELT team to review the student to accomplish a goal. This goal is tailored to the specific needs of your team and program. This is great way to closely examine student assignments and assessments within your English learner (EL) program. Continue reading

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PD Opportunities for EL Teachers During Summer 2020

Judie Haynes
Judie Haynes

There is an unprecedented amount of professional development (PD) for teachers of English learners (ELs) available virtually this summer. Much of it is available free and features well-known experts in the field of TESOL. There are full semester courses, Zoom webinars, Twitter chats, Facebook interviews, and virtual conferences.

Take advantage of the many conferences, webinars, and courses, among other formats, to engage in some online professional learning. Following are a few opportunities to consider. Continue reading

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EL Families and School Communities: The Importance of Effective Communication

Ayanna Cooper
Ayanna Cooper

Now more than ever, school communities are working toward strengthening their ability to communicate with the families of the students they serve. For families of English learners (ELs), this communication is especially important and must be two-way. Regardless of the teaching and learning format (e.g., traditional, face-to-face, online/virtual), communication with EL students and their families is a civil rights issue. Continue reading

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