Editor’s note: TIRF Trustee and Executive Committee Member, David Nunan, authored the following story.
After two years of planning and a preparatory online conversation starting on December 1, 2016, the face-to-face component of the Summit on the Future of the TESOL Profession took place in Athens, Greece from February 9th to 10th. The Summit was a unique event. Rather than following a conventional conference format, it involved relatively brief 15-minute presentations by 12 eminent invited speakers. The short talks were designed to frame critical issues and act as conversation starters for delegates to debate.
The Summit dealt with four themes: Futurology, English in Multilingualism, Reimagining English Competence, and the Profession as a Change Agent. Speakers addressed these themes from three guiding principles: Inquiry, Equity, and Professionalism. Inquiry was framed by the value statement that TESOL practice and policy should be inquiry-based, with practice informing research as well as research informing practice and policy. The concept of Equity involved the idea that English is an additional language and should not supplant the home language(s), bearing in mind that TESOL occurs in different contexts with varying practices, cultures, and access to resources. Professionalism was framed with the belief that professional development should promote sustainable, continuous, collaborative, and coherent activities and that the focus should be on change and innovation as opposed to academic outputs.
Thanks to the generosity, technical expertise, and support of the British Council as well as the TESOL technical team, the entire event was live streamed and interactive, with viewers from around the world able to participate, in real time, in the question-and-answer sessions with the speakers. All sessions were archived and can be viewed by going to the event’s landing page – click here.
If you are interested in becoming a part of the continuing conversation, please join the online workgroup – click here. You’ll need a TESOL International Association login account to do so. If you do not have one, please complete the short profile – click here. Obtaining a TESOL International Associations account is free.
TIRF was well-represented at the Summit. Trustee Joe Lo Bianco was one of the featured speakers, Trustee David Nunan served as a member of the Summit Steering Committee, and Trustees Richard Boyum and John Knagg were delegates to the event. The work of the Summit is ongoing and updates will be posted from time to time in TIRF Today.