Reflections From TESOL’s First Egyptian President: 10 Accomplishments and Lessons Learned

The TESOL President’s Blog

Time has flown—it seems like it was only yesterday when I was installed as TESOL president in Dallas in March 2013. It has been an amazing year! I was extremely busy; I learned a lot, did a lot, and loved it all. I reviewed what I wrote in the summer of 2011 on my election ballot and here are the three things I promised to do back then:

  • support the development and implementation of powerful professional learning opportunities for all TESOL members in a variety of contexts
  • develop relationships and improve communication with all possible partners and organizations in support of TESOL’s efforts
  • bridge research and practice to encourage research in TESOL to focus on the kinds of professional knowledge that teachers need

I really feel proud that I have kept my promise to you all and that I covered all the three points above. I will list eight accomplishments I completed with the help and support of the wonderful TESOL board members and the amazing TESOL Executive Director and her team:

  1. I struck a task force for developing TESOL’s Research Agenda. TESOL’s last research agenda was set in 2004 and has not been updated since then. This time around, the task force, chaired by Christine Coombe and Dudley Evans, will focus on bridging research and practice. They are also charged with setting a plan for putting the research agenda into practice.
  2. I supported the establishment of two new TESOL affiliates: TESOL Kuwait and TESOL Tunisia.
  3. I started a monthly TESOL Presidential Blog. I have blogged on a range of topics and my three most popular blogs were “9 Features of an Effective Teacher Evaluation System,” “8 Current Trends in Teaching and Learning EFL/ESL,” and “Native English-Speaking Teachers and Trainers Still Idealized.”
  4. I commissioned a TESOL President’s Video, which is posted on our website and on YouTube.
  5. I selected the British Council as the recipient of the 2014 TESOL Presidents’ Award.
  6. I am leading a joint TESOL/IATEFL event planned for 2016 that would have a significant impact on English language teaching and learning. We are discussing holding a global summit on the future of the field.
  7. I conducted presentations for TESOL in Cameroon (CAMELTA), Brazil (BrazTESOL), Mexico (MEXTESOL), and Guangzhou, China.
  8. I supported the Cairo TESOL International Symposium which was held in January 2014. This was the first time ever that TESOL International organized a symposium in Egypt and for me it was a dream come true.Here are the lessons I learned from my presidential year:
  9. I have to confess democracy is really very hard work. Sometimes I felt that it would be so much easier to mandate courses of action—especially when it is obviously the right thing to do. It really takes time to obtain the buy in and the members’ support for a decision to change how we operate, for example. So for me the lesson learned, to quote the president of my university, is that “democracy is really a trial—sometimes—but it is worth it in the long run.”
  10. Another lesson I learned is about myself: about my identity and culture. I discovered I am more comfortable speaking a mix of English and Arabic back home than speaking pure English all the time when I am overseas. Throughout all my interactions with TESOL and board colleagues I discovered that I can use both languages equally effectively to express my identity and culture. I am the same person in the two languages, and English has not affected my sense of belonging to my community and country.

About Deena Boraie

Deena Boraie
Deena Boraie is the dean of the School of Continuing Education at the American University in Cairo, Egypt, and president of TESOL International Association. She is a language testing expert and teaches research methods in the MA/PhD Applied Linguistics Program at Cairo University.
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