As March arrives, many colleagues in our profession are preparing for a busy conference season. At TIRF, we’re planning for our activities at the 2024 TESOL International Convention & Expo in Tampa, Florida, USA. In this piece, we share news about our upcoming Board meeting, invite you to our colleague session, and provide additional updates about our activities in the Sunshine State.

TIRF will host its spring Board meeting on Wednesday, March 20th. While the majority of Trustees are able to attend in person, we make the meeting available for attendance remotely, as well. Aside from the usual follow up reports from TIRF officers, chairs, and committees, Board colleagues will focus their efforts on strategic planning. This initiative is already underway. It will continue during the meeting and culminate this year in September. We will provide our supporters with outcomes in due course.

This year marks the 25th anniversary of TIRF and we will be hosting an event to commemorate the milestone. A number of loyal supporters will join TIRF Trustees and staff for an evening of celebrations. The event will take place on Thursday, March 21st in the evening. We look forward to sharing a recap and photos of the event in next month’s newsletter.

Finally, we would like to invite you to our “colleague session” – an opportunity extended to TIRF from TESOL International Association to present at the Convention. Our session, entitled “Generative AI and Language Education: An Exciting and Disruptive Era,” will take place on Thursday, March 21st from 10:00 to 11:30am in Room 125 of the Tampa Convention Center. The abstract for the session follows here: The widespread availability and social acceptance of generative AI tools are delivering a watershed moment in society, with radical implications for education. TIRF and its partners explore the promise and peril of genAI in L2 education. Attendees will engage with panelists on the exciting and disruptive era of genAI.

The presenters of the TIRF session include: Dr. Cindy Berger (Duolingo), Dr. Evelina Galaczi (Cambridge University Press & Assessment), Dr. Joyce Kling (Lund University & TESOL International Association), Dr. Jun Liu (TIRF), Dr. Kara McBride (World Learning), Dr. Spiros Papageorgiou (Educational Testing Service), and Ms. Mina Patel (British Council). The presenters’ bios are found at the end of this story along with a full description of the session. We hope you will join us for what will surely be an engaging and lively presentation!

We look forward to seeing you in Tampa!

TIRF Colleague Session: Description & Presenter Bios


Have you been exploring the latest genAI software? Perhaps writing AI poetry with ChatGPT? Or using Bard for help with your lesson plans?

The widespread availability and social acceptance of genAI tools have brought us to a watershed moment in society, with radical implications for education. The influential McKinsey company ranks the education sector as one of the five most impacted sectors by genAI. Our aim is to help TESOL educators and stakeholders feel ‘AI ready’, inspired with practical ideas and empowered with a better understanding of the power and risk of genAI.

In our session, we will consider opportunities around AI-generated classroom materials, the role of an AI teaching collaborator or study buddy, and the prospects for developing new skills that transform what we teach, learn, and assess. We will also look at the perils of genAI, such as the generation of inaccurate and inappropriate content, the risk to exam integrity through cheating, the complex considerations around ethical use of genAI, and the deep importance of not losing sight of the social and emotional aspects of education.

These fascinating and multifaceted areas will be explored through brief ‘lightning talks’ from experts in L2 learning, teaching, and assessment who will provide diverse perspectives and insights into genAI use. We will also delve into issues and considerations through panel discussions in several ‘fireside chats’ which will centre around the complexities, dilemmas, and possibilities which teachers, publishers, and assessment organisations face in the exciting and disruptive era of generative AI.


Dr. Cindy Berger is a Lead Learning Designer and Senior Manager at education app Duolingo, where she currently leads teams developing longform content and creating immersive experiences that give language learners the opportunity to transfer concepts to the real world. Previously at Duolingo, Cindy worked on Roleplay, an LLM-powered interactive Duolingo feature that enables learners to practice real-world conversation skills. For several years she also led the team developing Stories, a narrative-driven feature showcasing Duolingo’s iconic characters. Cindy has a PhD in Applied Linguistics and an MFA in Creative Writing. Many, many years ago, as a PhD student, she co-authored TESOL: A Guide with Dr. Jun Liu. Prior to beginning her career in applied linguistics, Cindy taught English to adult immigrants and refugees in Nashville, Tennessee. 

Dr. Evelina Galaczi is Director of Research—English at Cambridge University Press and Assessment. She has worked in English language education for over 30 years as a teacher, teacher trainer, materials writer, researcher, and assessment specialist. Evelina leads a team of experts in language learning, teaching, and assessment in the delivery of high-quality research supporting the Cambridge tests, learning materials and world-leading expertise in language education. Evelina’s expertise lies in second language assessment and learning, and her current work focuses on the challenges – and exciting opportunities – of using AI in language assessment and learning. She has explored issues in assessment and learning through her academic publications ‪and international presentations. Evelina holds a masters and a doctoral degree in Applied Linguistics from Teachers College, Columbia University, USA. She is a member of TIRF’s Board of Trustees.

Dr. Joyce Kling is an Associate Professor at Lund University in Sweden, where she teaches second language teacher education courses to pre-service and in-service teachers. Over the course of her career, she has worked as an ESL & EFL teacher, program director and administrator, teacher trainer, researcher, materials developer, author, and consultant. She received her PhD in Applied Linguistics, with a focus on English-medium instruction (EMI), from the University of Copenhagen. Her research interests include EMI, teacher cognition, the international classroom, and language testing and assessment. She has published several articles and volumes on EMI, most recently an edited volume, EMI Classroom Communication: A Corpus-Based Approach (Routledge, 2024) with Slobodanka Dimova and Branka Drljača Margić. She served as a TIRF Trustee in 2020-2021 and is currently TESOL’s Past-President 2023-24. 

Dr. Jun Liu is the President of TIRF and Rector of City University of Macau. Prior to holding these positions, he was Vice Provost for Global Affairs, Dean of International Academic Programs and Services, and Professor of Linguistics at Stony Brook University. His other previous positions include Associate Provost for International Initiatives and Professor of Applied Linguistics at Georgia State University; Professor and Head of the Department of English; and Founding Director of Confucius Institute at the University of Arizona. His research interests include intercultural communication, curriculum and standards development, teacher education, and second language writing. He has published extensively in language education. As a Past President of TESOL (2006-2007) and the current Vice President of TCSOL (Teachers of Chinese to Speakers of Other Languages), Dr. Liu has given more than 100 speeches in over 30 countries around the world.

Dr. Kara McBride serves as Senior Technical Education Specialist at World Learning, where she focuses on teacher training and curricular reform across a range of programs in several countries in the Middle East, Central Asia, and Latin America. She serves as World Learning’s English Specialist for the USAID-funded education project in Lebanon called QITABI 2 (Quality Instruction Towards Access and Basic Education 2), which includes improving reading and writing instruction for grades 1-6 and the integration of social and emotional learning into all aspects of schoolchildren’s day. Other projects that McBride has led at World Learning include designing the OPEN courses Integrating Critical Thinking into the Exploration of Culture in an EFL Setting and Content-Based Instruction. Before joining World Learning, Dr. McBride was a tenured professor in the Department of Languages, Literature, and Cultures at Saint Louis University, where she served first as director of the basic Spanish Language Program and, later, as Director of the Spanish Masters program. Dr. McBride holds a doctorate in Second Language Acquisition and Teaching from the University of Arizona. Her publications include journal articles and book chapters on online task design, service learning, listening comprehension, and the development of intercultural competence. 

Dr. Spiros Papageorgiou is a Principal Measurement Scientist in the Research Division at Educational Testing Service (ETS), in Princeton, New Jersey, USA. Spiros received his doctoral degree in linguistics, specializing in language testing from Lancaster University, UK. At ETS, Spiros conducts research on the assessment of English as a foreign language and is involved in the coordination of the TOEFL internal research program, as well as the external research program supported by the TOEFL Committee of Examiners (COE). Spiros has published over 50 journal papers, book chapters, and technical reports on topics such as standard setting and score mapping to proficiency levels, score reporting and interpretation, and listening assessment. His recent projects include the mapping of the TOEFL iBT test scores to the China Standards of English Language Ability (CSE), conducted in collaboration with the National Education Examinations Authority (NEEA), and TOEFL Steps, a research-based tool that demonstrates the learning path for the TOEFL Family of Assessments. He currently serves on the Board of Trustees for TIRF.

Ms. Mina Patel is Head of Research – Future of English at the British Council. Her background is in English language teaching and training. She has worked in the UK, Greece, Thailand, Sri Lanka, and Malaysia as a teacher, trainer, materials developer, and project manager for ELT (English Language Teaching) projects and has extensive experience working with ministries of education in East Asia. Mina has presented at numerous national and international conferences on ELT-related topics. Her academic interests lie in the areas of language assessment literacy, teacher education and development, and qualitative research methodology. She is currently a Ph.D. student at the Centre for Research in English Language Learning and Assessment (CRELLA) at the University of Bedfordshire, UK. Most recently, Mina has co-authored Future of English: Global Perspectives.She is a member of TIRF’s Board of Trustees.