News from Sibling Organizations
June 2023 AAALetter
ACTFL Launches a New Philanthropic Endeavor: The Language Connects Foundation|Erin Whelchel & Kit Hall
What’s New at TESOL International Association?|Shelley Taylor
Kit Hall, LCF Director, and Erin Whelchel, LCF Deputy Director
American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL)
As an individual membership organization of more than 11,000 language educators and administrators from elementary through graduate education as well as government and industry, ACTFL has proudly provided vision, leadership, and support for the quality teaching and learning of languages since its founding in 1967. To meet and address the critical challenges currently facing educators in the language field, ACTFL launched a new public education and charitable affiliate at its 2022 Convention: the Language Connects Foundation (LCF).
LCF is a standalone non-profit organization with a bold mission: to elevate the language education profession and promote the transformative power of language learning. With a keen eye to some of the most urgent obstacles contributing to the national language educator shortage and insufficient support for language educators at all levels, the Foundation’s ultimate goal is to help ensure a diverse, well prepared, and highly skilled language educator workforce today and for generations to come.
LCF seeks funds from foundation, corporate, and individual sources to support our work across four priority areas—both expanding upon existing ACTFL resources and developing new programs and resources as identified.
The Foundation will bolster efforts to recruit and retain more talented language educators in the profession—empowering teachers at all stages of their careers to seek growth opportunities and feel adequately supported to pursue a long and thriving career path. Goals include expanding the ACTFL mentoring program to better support the development needs of an even larger pool of educators.
Awards and scholarships
LCF aims to increase opportunities to celebrate excellence in the field—from the ACTFL professional awards and new LCF awards to scholarships for future teachers—with new categories, larger monetary stipends, and a special focus on diverse and underserved educator communities. This spring, we opened a new co-sponsored award recognizing both K–20 educators and postsecondary language students: the LCF/Klett World Languages Award for Sustainable Development Education in the World Language Classroom.
Our goal is to secure funding to support new studies about language learning processes, practices, and outcomes to promote language education that is grounded in evidence-based research. Furthermore, we will make current research findings more accessible to relevant partners and stakeholders outside of the language profession as well as bolster the efforts of language advocates at the national, state, and local levels.
Building on the efforts of ACTFL’s former Lead with Languages public awareness campaign (2017–2023), the Foundation will provide the general public with resources on the value of language learning and engage with a wider group of stakeholders, beyond the language profession, to include business and thought leaders as well as those who influence policy. By elevating and amplifying grassroots efforts—leveraging a growing pool of blog testimonials featuring students and professionals alike—LCF is here to help you support and promote the benefits and opportunities of multilingualism.
We encourage you to visit our award-winning website and explore ways that you can get involved with our efforts. Please consider subscribing to the LCF newsletter, following us @LangConnectsFdn across social media, and sharing this information broadly with your network. Should you have feedback about our plans and priorities, we’d love to hear from you.
Save the date
We invite you to join the LCF team in Chicago, November 17–19 for the 2023 ACTFL Annual Convention and World Languages Expo for world-class professional development in more than 600 educational sessions, two inspiring keynote addresses, and the opportunity to network in person with 7,000 educator colleagues and 200 exhibitors representing the latest in publications, technology, and services.
Shelley K. Taylor, The University of Western Ontario, Canada
President, Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) International Association, 2023–2024
As many of you know, TESOL International Association (TESOL) and AAAL have collaborated for decades, with many educators and researchers participating in both. For those less familiar with TESOL, we focus on research, professional learning, standards, and advocacy to advance the expertise of English language professionals worldwide. I am pleased to share some updates with you.
TESOL held its in-person 2023 convention in Portland, Oregon in March, as did AAAL. Over 3,000 participants attended our in-person event, and nearly 8,000 participants from 100+ countries participated in our online event in April. We are disappointed that TESOL and AAAL will not co-locate in 2024 and 2025 and hope to do so again in the near future, as members from both associations have lamented not being able to attend both conferences when they are held in different cities. Please save the date for the in-person TESOL 2024 event in Tampa, Florida, March 21–23 and for the virtual event, April 11–12.
Also, like AAAL, TESOL is navigating controversial times that involve legislative debates and legal actions that impact educators, students, and families across the United States. We are not strangers to policies that disadvantage or marginalize multilingual learners and our profession, and we remain resolute in our commitment to advance our mission and values. Our decision to hold TESOL 2024 in Tampa weighed heavily on our board members, but after deep reflection and some difficult conversations, we decided to not only “talk the talk” but also “walk the walk” by staying in Florida to support educators facing ever more cuts to their academic freedom and constraints on their ability to speak up for culturally/linguistically relevant teaching for multilingual learners. By holding the convention in Florida, we support such educators—including members of our host affiliate (Sunshine State TESOL). If you are able to attend two conferences, please join us in our advocacy efforts next year in Tampa. Staying in Florida is also fiscally responsible, as it allows us to honor our contractual obligations, which is the path most associations are currently taking.
Another important advocacy effort involves the Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Access (DEIA) Initiative that TESOL launched in 2021. It ranks high in our new strategic direction, and we are proud of what we have accomplished thus far (DEIA training for diverse groups; recruiting diverse writers, editors, and instructors for publications and
programs; and developing a diverse leadership pipeline) while acknowledging that there is still much left to do.
Of particular interest for AAAL members, we updated our research priorities this year, as you can see in our Research Priorities Survey Report. Key research priorities identified in the survey included the following:
Research into teaching methods (i.e., relating to multilingual/multicultural classrooms and culturally/linguistically responsive teaching);
Teacher development (for pre- and in-service teachers); and
Educational technology (online and blended).
The survey also identified educational and geographic contexts to prioritize (e.g., educational contexts, such as post-secondary institutions, primary schools, and online environments, and geographic contexts, such as the global south/majority world and locations where English is not the majority language). Additional research priorities included learners with exceptionalities and with refugee experiences as well as multilingual learners.
TESOL’s Research Professional Council is currently establishing a new research agenda for the field of TESOL (2023–2027) to delve into these priorities and contexts, and it would welcome your comments on the report. The Council also invites you to express your interest in participating in a Research Priorities Focus Group.
There are also noteworthy updates involving TESOL’s two journals: TESOL Journal (TJ) and TESOL Quarterly (TQ). Beginning with the former, TJ has new reviewer rubrics as well as an AI statement for authors and will publish a special issue, Storytelling as an Outlet for Restoration and Peace: TESOL Responding to Global Crises, this year. For the latter, TQ now includes a ChatGPT statement for authors and will publish a Fall 2023 issue entitled Teaching English in a Time of Resurgent Nationalism. You can visit the following page to learn more about TESOL publications and submission guidelines; similarly, you can learn more about our Applied Linguistics Interest Section (ALIS) and our other communities of practice. ALIS focuses on addressing real-world, language-based issues pertinent to English language learning and teaching.
Lastly, we have been working hard on updating our existing technology to improve member satisfaction. We conducted a comprehensive review, created a three-year roadmap, and so far, have overhauled our online learning platform, the TESOL website, and our new community engagement platform. We encourage you to check them out!
Finally, on behalf of TESOL’s Board of Directors, I would like to express my gratitude to the current and former leaders of AAAL for our long history of collaboration. We look forward to continued collaboration for years to come. In the meantime, if you have any questions about getting involved with TESOL, please do not hesitate to reach out to me or a TESOL staff member as we work toward a shared cause during these turbulent times.