The National Advisory Council on Teaching of English as a Foreign Language (NACTEFL) had been concerned with the question of available ESOL personnel for some time. A non-governmental body comprised of leading authorities in the field of teaching English as a foreign language, NACTEFL represented the American academic community and other related interest groups to the national effort in teaching of English to speakers of other languages. The Council gathered reports from government agencies engaged in the teaching of ESOL, helped coordinate activities and made recommendations to those agencies.
Some of the distinguished members of the 1964 Council included: Harold B. Allen, University of Minnesota; J. Milton Cowan, Cornell University; John H. Fisher, Modern Language Association; Robert Lado, Georgetown University; and Alvert H. Marckwardt, Princeton University. Consultants and guest participants included: James R. Basche, Jr., The Asia Foundation; O. L. Chavarria-Aguilar, The University of Michigan; Gordon H. Fairbanks, Cornell University: Melvin J. Fox, The Ford Foundation; David P. Harris, Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL); Sirarpi Ohannessian, Center for Applied Linguistics; and Henry G. Russell, Education and World Affairs. Representatives from the U. S. government agencies were: Harry Freeman and Myron H. Vent, Agency for International Development; Richard Beym, Defense Language Institute; Sydney Sako, Lackland AFB; James E. Alatis, James M. Spillane and William Shamblin, U.S. Office of Education; R. Ethelyn Miller, Bureau of Indian Affairs, Department of Interior; Marie Gadsen, Peace Corps; Jane Alden and Howard Backus, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, Department of State; and Richard M. Kay, U.S. Information Agency.
The possibility of establishing a register of ESOL specialist from which to draw for programs in teaching, teacher training, and administration had been suggested at the May 1964 meeting of the Council. In October 1964 the feeling was that without an association the maintenance of a register was not feasible. The Council felt that only through an association with a permanent office and a membership list could information about personnel be kept accurate. In view of this and the long-range needs of the profession, the Council recommended that steps be taken towards the formation of an independent association of teachers of English to speakers of other languages.