I’ve just paid my registration fee for the 2011 TESOL convention in New Orleans (yes, egalitarian as the TESOL membership is, even officers and board members have to pay. I like the tradition—it’s a matter of putting your money where your mouth is). Have you registered yet?
The dates of the convention are Wednesday through Saturday, March 16–19. Our opening plenary address is on Wednesday evening at 5:30 pm featuring Thelma Meléndez, Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education of the U.S. Department of Education. Her topic is “Finding a World Class Education for English Learners.” Immediately after the plenary, as part of our new, expanded hours, the Exhibit Hall will be open so you can get your first peek at what publications and products the exhibitors have brought with them this year.
This year also offers a new and expanded K–12 Dream Day on Wednesday the 16th. The primary focus of this event is supporting mainstream K–12 teachers who have English language learners in their classrooms. There is a morning keynote address by Carolyn Graham of “Jazz Chants” fame, which will get you up and going that morning, I guarantee, and a lunchtime plenary by Pedro Noguera on “The Politics of Language.” Then, throughout the day you’ll have concurrent sessions on five themes: instructional and evaluative differentiation, academic language and literacy, exceptional content classroom practices, leadership and advocacy, and hot topics, presented by authorities like Margaret Calderon, Jodi Crandall, Johnette Downing, and William Acton.
In addition to this new emphasis on English teaching in K–12, we also have an enhanced international theme. Alastair Pennycook will be delivering the James E. Alatis plenary on “Teaching English as Something Other Than Language," and Jennifer Jenkins will be sure to spark lively debates when she speaks on “English as a Lingua Franca”; Shondel Nero will bring her expertise to Classroom Encounters with Caribbean Creole English. Some of our Invited Speaker Sessions include “English Reloaded: A European Perspective,” “Culture(s) in Global and Local Englishes,” and “Standards of English: How Equal is the 'E' in World Englishes?” I am also proud to announce that I have given over my Presidential Plenary to Tracey Derwing, Helen Fraser, Okim Kang, and Ron Thomson as they discuss a matter of deep personal concern to me: accent discrimination.
Of course, our theme for the New Orleans convention is “Examining the ‘E’ in TESOL,” which implies a special focus on research about “E”nglish. This theme is highlighted by our special Research Forum on Wednesday and such plenary and invited addresses such as: James Martin and Christian Matthiessen on "Modeling and Mentoring: Teaching and Learning from Home Through School,” Walt Wolfram on “Exposing Sociolinguistic Variation,” and Janet Zadina on “Brain Research to Orchestrate Learning.”
And I have my pet projects: I’m very proud to announce what we intend to become an annual offering: “TEDS 101: Teaching English to Deaf Students in Diverse Settings” will be offered for the first time this year. This session is intended as a primer so that when English language teachers start a class and find deaf students enrolled they will be able to structure activities to accommodate the deaf students, learn how to help interpreters do their best jobs, and learn something about deaf culture and its challenges. Also, we have arranged panel sessions during the convention to spotlight research from Africa and Southeast Asia. Finally, as TESOL celebrates its 45th anniversary this year, presenters from the agency will be doing a session celebrating Peace Corps' 50th anniversary.
The convention will offer a variable banquet for the head and, of course, the venue, New Orleans, will feed your heart and soul. Stroll the Latin Quarter to see and hear what you will
find nowhere else, hear some of the latest jazz artists in Faubourg Marigny, visit the Arts District, or just hop on the St. Charles Streetcar and take in the neighborhoods. Mid-March in New Orleans precedes the humidity, so with any luck at all the weather will be great.
I'd like to close by complimenting our convention team: Chair, Ahmar Mahboob; his Associate Chairs, Leslie Barratt and Khadar Bashir-Ali; as well as our Convention Services Director, Lisa Dyson, for doing a wonderful job of creating a convention with both heft and flair. I'd also like to give a special thanks to Diane Carter for the leadership she has provided for the K–12 Dream Day.
Venez nombreux (come one and all). It’s going to be a great convention and it would be great to have you join us.