Retire in TESOL Style!

For this president’s blog, I’ve asked Liz England to write about retirement for TESOLers.
—Christine Coombe

TESOL 2011, New Orleans, was a fabulous convention for me.   With some others, I had become somewhat frustrated for many years about TESOL’s ability to support member needs.  I found that the TESOL 2011 Convention in New Orleans was a refreshing change from conventions of the recent past.   The sessions were useful; the information convention goers needed was available; the space was well-organized and the city of New Orleans offered a welcome that left me with a happy heart, a full stomach and lots of things to think about as I returned to my native Virginia at the end of the convention!

One event that I would like to describe was the Retirement Redefined Forum (or RRF). I established that forum in 2007.  With too few resources for addressing retirement needs and with the extraordinary events that have led to crashes in economies worldwide, a growing number of TESOLers – young and old – are concerned about retirement issues.  
So, it seemed timely to provide a mechanism for TESOL Convention goers to find ways to use their TESOL education and experiences to plan ahead and move forward toward retirement, prepared for “Retiring in TESOL Style!” (as we named our session two years ago).

Some of the questions that we heard as we began thinking about the Retirement Redefined Forum came to us from old friends, new friends and even some students.  Here are a few of the questions and concerns that were raised.  Please notice the diversity of interests and backgrounds reflected in our small sample group of TESOLers concerned about retirement (there are many, many more of these!):

Questions and interests of Retirement Redefined Forum members, participants and friends:

  • I’m young but I need to think ahead so that I have enough money to retire someday.  How do I prepare for retirement as a young TESOL professional?
  • I’m reaching middle age and am considering opportunities to work on short-term assignments overseas.  How can I find a way to do that?
  • I don’t want to work!  I want to go to the beach and maybe volunteer once a week.  Where’s a good place for me to retire?
  • I have worked in a university job my whole career.  I am going to retire in five more years and I am seeking ways of working part-time in a foreign country.  I was thinking of Costa Rica or maybe India.   Which is a better choice?
  • I live in Thailand and I have aging parents.  I want to teach part time, maybe on line.  How can I gain the skills and knowledge I need to do that?

In 2008, in New York, more than 60 people joined us for two different sessions (both scheduled at 6 AM!) to address issues of retirement.  We knew it was time to set up a Yahoo Group, to plan for the next year’s convention and to re-group for meeting the needs of our increasingly large following of TESOLers who want to think about retirement.  And so, we did.  Please visit our Yahoo Group (or even join us) at; then type in retire_in_TESOL_style.

In 2009, in Denver, I organized and led a panel discussion including more than 100 participants at our RRF designed to provide perspectives on retirement by TESOL leaders worldwide.  We had nine presenters from five continents.  And all of them gave great information for our assembled group!  Among presenters were two past Presidents of TESOL:  Sandy Briggs and Doug Brown.

Boston was the city that hosted TESOL 2010.  Our speaker, Mr. William Brisk, Esq., an attorney who specializes in elder care in the Boston area, provided excellent (free!) legal advice for attendees at our forum presentation.

This past year, 2011, in New Orleans, we set up five “round-table discussions,” to address topics identified in the past two years as “hot topics” for TESOL Convention attendees (and TESOLer’s in general).  Each round table discussion group contained 8-10 participants who engaged in highly interactive conversation with a leader who offered background information, tips and planning options for their groups.  These five extraordinary TESOL leaders are listed here with the topics they addressed:  Neil Anderson (Finances and financial planning), John Schmidt (Volunteer opportunities); Richard Boyum (Consultancies); Suchada Nimmannit (Health and recreation) and Sandy Briggs (Professional development).

Retirement issues are (or will be very soon!) on every TESOL member’s mind.  Mine included!  If you are interested in learning more about the Retirement Redefined Forum in TESOL, it would be great to hear from you!  And please join our Yahoo Group (see address above). Let’s all retire in TESOL Style!  I am anxious to hear your thoughts on this topic on this blog.

Liz England
Founder and Chair
TESOL Retirement Redefined Forum


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12 Responses to Retire in TESOL Style!

  1. Brandy says:

    Hello there,

    I am interested to learn more about what you do. My husband and I are TESOLers and are already planning our early retirement. We have a blog that talks about our journey to a debt free life and what do do after your are debt free in order to reach financial independence / early retirement.

    I looked at the yahoo group and it seems to not have had much activity lately. Is it still going?

    Kind regards,

  2. Sandy Harris says:

    There is an article on retiring abroad, mainly by me, that some may find helpful:

    The same site has an introduction to TESOL for travellers:

    It is a wiki; anyone can edit, though there may currently be problems because it is in transition between hosts. I would encourage anyone who can to contribute; both articles could be improved.

  3. Dorothy Forbin says:

    Delighted to receive more material on this topic and will surely look up your website. Good job.

  4. Deborah Hensel says:

    I have a couple of questions I am sure you can steer me in the right direction. I have been in education for over twenty years and will be applying for early retirement from public education on Thursday. I have a M.S. in Education and a B.A. in English and have been both a teacher for At-Risk and Sheltered (what it was called in my district before ELL) students and a school administrator for a Title 1 school. Education has always been my passion and I would love to continue working with students, young and old. Now for the question. As I have advanced degrees is there a way that I can obtain my TESOL certification by examination? My husband and I have traveled extensively and would embrace the opportunity of living abroad.

    Deb H.

  5. Liz England Liz England says:

    Thanks to Julian Edge, who wrote to me with the link to this site! Delighted to welcome Julian and all who wish to discuss retirement issues here! Also, please note that University of Michigan Press will publish a new book (hopefully before TESOL 2012 in Philadelphia) on “Reigniting, Retooling and Retiring for Language Educators.” Co-edited by TESOL President, Christine Coombe, John Schmidt and me, this book will be a great addition to your library – whether you are soon to retire or are planning ahead for the future!


  6. Lucia Holliday says:

    I went to yahoo groups, typed in retire_in_style_tesol and got this message: Sorry, no matches were found for retire_in_style_tesol.

    • Liz England Liz England says:


      Thanks for your note. The correct link is retire_in_TESOL_Style

      Sorry for the error in the blog posting. I can’t figure out how to fix it. So, I hope others will read this message!

      Thanks, again!


  7. Linda Owen says:

    My husband and I are both retired from the US Navy, have travelled a LOT, and I’m almost done with my M.Ed in TESOL/Adult Ed. Can you direct us to a website or resources where we can find placement as an “over 55” couple? 🙂 Thanks!

    • Liz England Liz England says:

      Hi, Linda,

      Not sure where to send you for a “couples assignment.” But with your new Master’s degree, there may be some leads on the TESOL Employment Bulletin. I’ll try to see what may be available for couples and welcome other readers to provide any leads for Linda, too!


    • Julian Edge says:

      Hi Linda,

      My growing interest in retirement issues led me to follow up your hyperlink. Your opening move scared me rigid:

      “Do you think God won’t help you find your keys because it’s not a big enough concern? There are more important things to Him, such as feeding the poor, defeating the Taliban, hovering over cancer wards, or preparing the world for Jesus’ return, right?”

      A much more real concern to me is that the Taliban are equally convinced that God is fighting on their side, and the last thing that we need is for this type of supernaturally-inspired and endlessly lethal conflict to be imported into TESOL anymore than it already is.

      Best wishes,


  8. Liz England Liz England says:

    Thanks for your kind words, Steve! You’ve traveled and lived in many countries worldwide – always retooling your knowledge/skills in TESOL in an effort to continue along in a career that is a great example of “retirement redefined!” Sure can never imagine you in a rocking chair all day! How do you define ‘retirement’? What are some of the issues/challenges you have faced/addressed as you anticipate “retiring in TESOL style”? What skills and/or knowledge to add in the future, as you move toward “retirement redefined”! Tell us how it’s done! Thanks! Liz

  9. Stephen Hanchey says:

    Thanks for all you’ve done to keep the subject buzzing at TESOL, Liz. Recent posts to the Yahoo Group from a university in South America that actively welcomes potential retiree applicants is an example of one of the concrete outcomes of your efforts. I volunteer to help answer any questions that comeup. Good work!