1972 – A group of professors, administrators and instructors from the University of Wisconsin, the Wisconsin Technical College, and the Milwaukee, Madison, and Waukesha Public Schools systems formed the Wisconsin Bilingual and TESOL Association (WBTESOL) and published the first newsletter in December. The purpose of the organization was to improve the quality of programs providing English as a second language, dialect, and bilingual/bicultural education and to assist in formulating education in Wisconsin.

WITESOL logo 1981 – The first official annual conference was held.

1983 – WBTESOL changed its name to WITESOL, clarifying its purpose and distinguishing itself from other organizations emerging in the state, such as the Wisconsin Association of Bilingual Education (WIABE).

1983 – WITESOL began promoting the use of computers in language instruction.

– WITESOL began offering travel awards for conferences and workshops.

– WITESOL held its first student writing contest. The theme was “What it Means to Be [student’s nationality or ethnicity]”

– WITESOL has 112 members.


2014 WITESOL Board

WITESOL strives to serve ESL and bilingual students by reaching all educators in our state.

  • To serve members in all parts of the state, we rotate the annual conference to different regions of the state. We also present workshops in partnership with universities and educational organizations in various areas of the state.
  • To reach mainstream educators and administrators and keep professional development affordable for our members, we often co-sponsor conferences with the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. Our conference directly follows the DPI workshop so that participants can attend both on the same weekend.
  • To raise mainstream educators’ awareness of ESL/bilingual issues, we offer a steeply discounted group membership rate for five or more teachers from the same school.
  • To prepare future teachers, we offer discounted student membership and conference registration rates. We encourage future teachers to build their networking and leadership skills by participating in conferences as presenters or by helping with the logistics of conferences held at or near their schools.
  • To support the ongoing professional development of our members, we offer travel awards to offset transportation costs to WITESOL conferences and TESOL conventions. In exchange, awardees write an article about their conference experience for our quarterly newsletter.
  • To celebrate our students, we hold an annual writing and art contest for all levels of ESL/bilingual students throughout the state. The full-color book of winning and honorable mention works validates the students and encourages their schools to see the giftedness in their ELL student population.