Building Bridges: Journey to a Better Future for TESOL

Dr. Sun will deliver the Presidential Keynote address, titled “Building Bridges: Journey to a Better Future for TESOL,” at the TESOL 2015 International Convention & English Language Expo, 8 am, Friday, 27 March 2015. 

The last 50 years have marked significant transformation in the field of TESOL.

  • What will happen in the next 50 years?
  • What will TESOL International Association look like in 50 years?
  • What will the TESOL field look like in 50 years?
  • What should TESOLers like you and me do to build bridges for a better future for TESOL?
  • What are the trends and strategies that ELT professionals should be aware of on our journey to build a better future for TESOL?

These are the questions I will address at my keynote address on Friday, 27 March, based on studies I have conducted.

A Personal Journey

The theme for this year’s convention is “Crossing Borders, Building Bridges,” which has a very special meaning to me on several levels. First, on the personal level, exactly 30 years ago in 1985, as a young EFL educator full of dreams, I crossed the ocean from China to Toronto, Canada to pursue a graduate degree in TESOL and applied linguistics at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE)/University of Toronto. In Toronto, I lived and worked with many immigrants and experienced firsthand the challenges and struggles that many immigrant English learners face. It was in Toronto that I studied and worked with many well-known ELT scholars whose work I read and respected, and it was in Toronto that I became the first graduate student from mainland China to receive a PhD from OISE/University of Toronto, one of the most prestigious universities in the world. My life and work experience in Toronto marked the beginning of my professional journey as a TESOLer who is committed to building bridges and crossing borders for a better future for TESOL.

A Better Future for the Association

Second, at the association level, this is the first time since 2000 that the TESOL International Convention has been held outside the United States, crossing the national borders between the United States and Canada. This move is significant. By crossing borders, we can examine differences and challenges in the ELT field while exploring new opportunities for development and constructive transformations. Change is made possible through not only crossing borders but also building bridges. As the TESOL convention program states, “Bridges are passage ways that connect the old and new, multiple experiences, and shifting perspectives.” The development of the TESOL field and the TESOL association has reflected the importance of building bridges. By crossing borders and building bridges, TESOL has grown from a solely U.S.-based organization with 104 members 49 years ago to where we are now, with more than 13,000 members and 117 affiliates representing 162 countries worldwide, and nearly 50 years of history behind us.

A Better Future for the Field

Last but not least, the TESOL professional field has witnessed drastic changes over the last 50 years, especially during the last 20 years. In teaching approaches, the field has evolved from traditional grammar translation methods to communicative language teaching approaches (where the focus of language teaching is on meaningful language use in a broad context) to where we are now, the Post methods Era (where the focus of teaching is on eclecticism and cross-disciplinary collaborations, and the integration of technology and information and media literacy). Such changes also reflect in our research approaches.

Nowadays, more and more research and discussions have focused on the issues of “World Englishes,” English as a lingua franca (ELF), critical discourse, and cross-disciplinary examinations of second language acquisition and language teaching.

Please mark your calendar and come to my keynote session at the TESOL 2015 convention. I’ll be highlighting strategies for building bridges for a better future for TESOL and for ourselves as TESOL professionals. I look forward to seeing you at the convention!

About Yilin Sun

Yilin Sun
Yilin Sun has served as president of TESOL International Association, as chair of the TESOL Affiliate Leadership Council, and president of Washington Association for the Education of Speakers of Other Languages (WAESOL). In 2011-2012, Dr. Sun was a Fulbright Senior Scholar in Taiwan at the National Taiwan Normal University. Dr. Sun received her doctorate in applied linguistics/curriculum and instruction from the University of Toronto, Canada. She has more than 28 years of experience in the field of TESOL as a teacher educator, a researcher, a classroom teacher, and a program leader with various institutions of higher education in China, Canada, and the United States. She is the author and co-author of books, book chapters, and research papers in refereed professional journals. Her research interests include curriculum development, program assessment and evaluation, L2 reading, vocabulary learning, classroom-based action research, teacher education, adult education, teaching English to young learners, World Englishes, ESP and nonnative English speaking teachers (NNEST) in the ELT field.
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2 Responses to Building Bridges: Journey to a Better Future for TESOL

  1. Yilin Sun Yilin Sun says:

    Thank you Sean and yes, I’ve found TESOL to be a perfect professional home for me and we still have a lot to do… I hope to see you in Toronto at the 2015 TESOL Convention.

    Warm regards,
    Yilin

  2. Sean Simons says:

    This is a fantastic look at how far TESOL has come. I appreciate your personal connection to to the program. I also think it is interesting that this is the first time in so long that the conference has been outside the United States. In the language integrated world we live in today it is great to have programs like TESOL.

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