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Affiliate News: February 2010

Affiliate News (February 2009) Conference Reports & Articles: A joint report from Southeast Regional TESOL

by User Not Found | 11/11/2011

A joint report from Southeast Regional TESOL

2008 Southeast Regional TESOL Draws Attendees From 25 States

Professionals from 25 states attended the annual Southeast Regional TESOL (SETESOL) Conference hosted this year in Birmingham by the Alabama-Mississippi TESOL affiliate. More than 970 attendees came together for 4 days to participate in a variety of programs spanning the full spectrum of English language learning—state to state, preschool to university, and community programs to formal education—said Julia S. Austin, conference chair: “This was a conference of ‘firsts’ in several aspects; chief among them was the addition of Virginia to SETESOL in 2008.”

The SETESOL Conference, composed of nine TESOL affiliates serving 11 states in the Southeast, is the longest-running annual regional conference, she added. When the conference originated in the early 1980s, organizers and attendees primarily taught ESL at the postsecondary level; hence most of the sessions focused on teaching adult English language learners in academic settings. During the 1990s, in response to the new wave of English language learners entering public schools, K-12 educators began attending SETESOL conferences, and the focus shifted to K-12 issues. “The diminishing presence of post-secondary issues resulted in fewer higher education ESL educators attending the SETESOL conferences, a change that wasn’t healthy for our association.”

As a result, AMTESOL organizers designed this year’s program to create a time and place for all ESL educators, explained Susan Spezzini, Associate Conference Chair. This year’s SETESOL program started on Wednesday, September 23, with seven preconference workshops attended by 230 participants. From Thursday to Saturday, the program offered six keynote addresses, three poster sessions with 30-plus posters, and over 200 concurrent presentations. Keynoters and invited presenters included David and Yvonne Freeman, Ann Ebe, Catherine Collier, Carlos Cortes, Jim and Lydia Stack, Tery Medina, Gretchen Bitterlin, Donna Price, Jayme Adelson-Goldstein, Charles Hall, and Deborah Strevy.

The conference also introduced several new initiatives: the Higher Education Roundtable, daily poster sessions, and also daily focus strands targeting K-12, postsecondary (including adult ESL), and National Professional Development (NPD). On each of the three conference days, these strands featured a different theme: K-12 (content-area teachers, special education, and storytelling), adult (intensive English programs, Higher Education Roundtable, and adult ESL programs), and NPD (PD for mainstream teachers, grant writing and implementation, and successful NPD programs). “AMTESOL was especially proud of the conference’s joint programming initiatives,” said Spezzini. “The Higher Education Roundtable was organized jointly by the University of Alabama at Birmingham and Emory University. The NPD strand was in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of English Language Acquisition (OELA). These innovative features attracted TESOLers from across the nation.”

In addition, internationally known writers, such as Alabama native Rick Bragg and Cottage Living Editor Kim Sunée, and popular singer/songwriter Brent Burns entertained attendees after hours during events planned to capture the best of Birmingham’s downtown historic district, which has undergone a renaissance. “After a successful conference like this one, we feel reenergized about our teaching practices and our professional organization,” said Spezzini. “We look forward to seeing everyone—and continuing to build on these powerful connections and commonalities—at next year’s SETESOL conference in Atlanta, Georgia.”