Elena Shvidko will be blogging live from Portland
during the 2014 convention. Look for her posts!
A couple of months ago, when I was preparing the next issue of our graduate program newsletter at Purdue University, I asked Aya Matsuda—one of our alumni—to give some advice to our graduate students in the Second Language Studies Program. And this is what Aya said:
The most valuable experience as a graduate students at Purdue was…that I attended as many conferences as I could. Even though it meant a huge financial sacrifice, it was so worth it. I strongly believe in the importance of contextualizing our work and ourselves in our field—our work does not exist in a vacuum, and its meaningfulness depends on what it contributes to the context it is part of. The easiest way to visualize this abstract idea of “context” or “home for my work” was to attend a conference and see a group of scholars gathering, having a conversation that I wanted to be part of.
I cannot agree more with Aya. I have been attending TESOL conventions on a regular basis since 2008—my second year in a TESOL graduate certificate program. They became a sort of annual hallmark of my academic life. I truly enjoy learning from scholars and practitioners in the field and socialize with them in a variety of events generously offered at each convention.
Just like in the previous years, I am looking forward to the upcoming convention in Portland, Oregon. In fact, preparing for it makes me excited as I find myself participating in a large online community with other TESOL members all over the world. Being a member of several TESOL interest sections, it is impossible to miss the overall excitement, which keeps growing, as the conference gets closer. Interest section leaders send out invitations to special events and meetings and recruit volunteers for various tasks at the convention; interest section members exchange various kinds of information related to the convention and try to find last-minute hotel roommates. And soon we will all meet at the convention, where for the next few days we will enrich each other with our knowledge, professional experience, and pedagogical skills.
What I particularly like about the TESOL conventions is the diversity that they offer to the professionals in the field. It’s great to notice that with the ever-evolving trends in the field of English teaching and the increase of the TESOL membership each year, the TESOL conventions are growing and becoming more diversified with regard to presentation types and topics. And because of this range of interests, the conventions entice professionals engaged in divergent areas of work, such as teacher education, K-12, policymaking, and applied linguistics.
Accordingly, the program of the 2014 convention is very rich in events and a variety of educational sessions. I hope that you can find something resonating with your academic interests and professional goals. I am personally looking forward to the keynote speakers’ presentations: Surin Pitsuwan, David Graddol, Deena Boraie, and Diane Larsen-Freeman. Keynote presentations always inspire me and provide new perspectives on the current trends in the field. I am also looking forward to the sessions that relate to my academic interests—second language writing and applied linguistics. And as it became my usual “preconference” routine, I have already drafted the schedule of the sessions I would like to attend as well as organizational and business meetings I need to be part of.
I hope you can join us for the 2014 TESOL convention in Portland! But if you can’t come this year, I encourage you to stay in tune through the TESOL blog. During the entire convention, we will provide you with “live accounts.” And for those of you who are coming to the convention—see you in Portland! And have save travels!