The TESOL President’s Blog
In the previous TESOL President’s Blog post, I wrote about leading and managing change and innovation, which was one of the main themes of TESOL International Association’s first symposium in Vietnam last month, which followed the association’s first academy in India, in April. These first-time TESOL International events are clear indicators and concrete examples of how the association is continuing to grow and develop, and to become even more international, in response to the changing needs, wants, and demographics of its members.
The symposium in Vietnam (sometimes written as Viet Nam) took place on 28 and 29 July and was held in Danang (or Da Nang), which is a coastal city in central Vietnam, with an estimated population of around 750,000, making it the country’s third largest city (by population).
I’m sometimes asked about how the locations are chosen for the association’s academies and symposia, and a great many factors and features are carefully considered before a location is finally agreed upon. One of those factors relates to following a different path, and not necessarily going to the largest cities, which generally have more educational resources than smaller ones. So, in the same way that the association’s first academy in India was not held in the capital, Mumbai, nor Delhi, with populations of approximately 13 million and 11 million, respectively, but held in Chandigarh (population around 1 million), the association’s first symposium in Vietnam was not held in the capital, Ho Chi Minh City (population around 3.5 million), nor Hanoi (population around 1.4 million), but in Danang (population around 750,000).
The title of the symposium was “English Language Innovation, Implementation, and Sustainability,” which was organized with two national partners, the National Foreign Language 2020 Project and the University of Foreign Language Studies, the University of Danang. Another set of key considerations is the speakers, and the association is always careful to blend local, national, and international knowledge, skills, and expertise. This complementary blending can be seen in four of the eight speakers being from some of the top universities in Vietnam, with one speaker from Australia, one from Hong Kong, and two American professors, one of whom is working in England at this time. And in terms of international representation, in addition to most of the participants being from all over Vietnam, there were also attendees from Cambodia and Thailand as well.
Yet another essential aspect of creating such successful events, especially when they are happening there for the first time, is our sponsors, who, for the Vietnam event, were National Geographic Learning/Cengage Learning, one of the association’s Strategic Partners, as well as the British Council and Education First, two of our Event Partners. And in terms of what constitutes a “successful event,” the association has been gathering more feedback on the participants’ perspectives on the event, which is one of the most important measures of success, as show by some of the comments written on the end-of-symposium feedback forms completed in Danang:
“The symposium inspires me to change my way of thought about teaching English and I will apply what I’ve learnt to improve my teaching later on.”
“I am going to do reflective journals and action research to maximize the lessons I acquired from the handouts delivered by [the] symposium.”
“I am inspired by the lectures of the speakers. I will try to create my classroom as it should be and design my course more attractive with the help of IT.”
Another way that we’ve been gathering feedback recently is through short video clips, in which attendees at the event share their thoughts about the event, while it’s happening, there and then. Here you can see a 1-minute clip of Sa Chau Vu, one of the attendees, talking about the event. And more photos from the event can be seen on TESOL’s Facebook page. As well as written and spoken feedback, another important indicator of an event’s success is attendance. There were more than 300 attendees at the symposium in Danang—up to 200 of whom lined up, in the pouring rain, to register on-site for the event—on the morning of the first day. That showed a commitment and determination to attend that is rare, and wonderful to see.
As I noted in my blog post “TESOL Goes to India“:
Realizing that many of the ELT professionals in the world cannot attend annual conventions and conferences in person, the association has committed to an international scope. Therefore, through its face-to-face, on-site academies, symposia, and regional conferences all over the world, as well as its online courses and programs, the association is taking TESOL to the world.
Let us know how we can bring TESOL to your world. We look forward to hearing from you.