Plenary Speakers for TESOL 2007 Convention

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Opening Plenary

Betty Azar
Teaching Amid Change:
Perspectives from 42 Years in ESL

Wednesday, March 21, 2007
11:30 am - 12:30 pm

We teach amid ever-changing tides in approaches and methods. What guides our choices for our own classrooms? Drawing on my 42 years of experience in English language teaching, first in the classroom and then in materials writing, I will share my perceptions of how we frontline practitioners decide on our own pedagogical practices and principles. I will note the many hats ESL/EFL teachers wear, not only in determinin the directions our field takes, but in the special roles we play in our students' lives and in fostering good will and understanding that span the globe.

Betty Azar serendipitously fell into teaching ESL in 1965 at Iowa State University, Iowa, USA. Her classroom needs over the years led her to writing ESL/EFL materials that eventually became a series of grammar-based textbooks. In the past 25 years, her materials have been used by millions of English language learners, a fact that still astonishes the author. Betty is a longtime member of TESOL. She lives and works on Whidbey Island, Washington, USA.

Mawi Asgedom
From ESL to Harvard: An Immigrant's Perspective
Thursday, March 22, 2007
11:30 am - 12:30 pm

Mawi Asgedom fled civil war in Ethiopia and survived in a Sudanese refugee camp for 3 years. After being resettled in the United States at age seven, Mawi overcame welfare, language barriers, and personal tragedy to graduate from Harvard University, Massachusetts, USA. Since 1999, Mawi has dedicated himself to uplifting America's teenagers. He has spoken to more than 300,000 students and educators across North America, and his three books and four CDs have won multiple awards, sold more than 100,000 copies, and been used by thousands of classrooms. Citing the impact of his work, the Illinois Association of Teachers of English recently named Mawi the 2005 Illinois Author of the Year.

Mawi has hosted a year-long teen series on PBS, Chicago, and many prominent media outlets have featured him, including theOprah Winfrey Show; ESSENCE, as one of 'The 40 Most Inspiring African-Americans';Ebony, as one of '30 Black Leaders Under 30', Chicago Tribune, The Boston Globe, andHarvard Magazine.


Presidential Plenary

Jun Liu
From Shanghai to Seattle: Tides of Change
Friday, March 23, 2007
11:30 am - 12:30 pm

Like hundreds of thousands of students we teach on a daily basis, Liu experienced endless struggles as an EFL learner through grammar-translation and pattern drills during the late Cultural Revolution in a rural area near Shanghai, China. Disappointed but fascinated by the possible ways that English could be taught and learned, Liu found himself in the English teaching profession in the same EFL environment for the next decade until he began his studies in the United States. Liu went on to excel in the profession as an ESL teacher, an SLA professor, an EFL leader, and now as TESOL President. In this plenary, Liu shares seven stories, each depicting a particular struggle, a challenge, a reward, a confession, and a manifestation.

Jun Liu is Associate Professor of English at the University of Arizona, Arizona, USA, and Executive Director at the English Language Center at Shantou University in China. He has published extensively in curriculum development and syllabus design, teacher education, classroom-based second language learning and teaching, and second language reading and writing, and he currently edits for several language publications. A recipient of the 1999 Newbury House Award for Excellence in Teaching, a Spencer and AERA postdoc fellow (2001-2003), and cofounder and Past Chair of Nonnative English Speakers in TESOL Caucus (NNEST), Liu served on the TESOL Board of Directors (2001-2004), and he is now the first Nonnative English Speaking President of TESOL (2006-2007).

Ron Carter
Language, Creativity and Classrooms
Friday, March 23, 2007
2:00 pm - 2:45 pm

In this plenary speech I look at recent corpus-informed studies of creativity in everyday language, recognising that creativity is not simply a property of exceptional people but an exceptional property of all people. A wide range of examples of everyday linguistic creativity is illustrated from conversations, newspaper headlines, shop fronts, and advertisements. Several of these examples are then revisited with reference to classroom contexts and questions are asked about the extent to which linguistic creativity can or should be fostered in EFL and ESL learning environments, including literature in language teaching contexts. I conclude with some definitions of creativity and ask what the implications of such definitions are for the teacher and how creativity can be more fully fostered as part of the teaching and learning process.

Ronald Carter is Professor of Modern English Language at the University of Nottingham. He has written and edited more than 50 books and 100 academic papers in the fields of literary-linguistics, language and education, applied linguistics, and the teaching of English. He has taught and lectured in more than fifty countries world wide. In the United Kingdom he has worked closely with QCA and the DfES on English in the National Curriculum and the Adult ESOL Core Curriculum and is currently a UK government advisor on basic skills, literacy, and ESOL. Professor Carter is a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, a fellow of the British Academy for Social Sciences, and is currently chair of the British Association for Applied Linguistics.

Diane Larsen-Freeman
The Dynamics of Change
Thursday, March 22, 2007
2:00 pm - 2:45 pm

When we think of "tides, as in the theme of this year's TESOL Convention, "Tides of Change," we think of a regular and recurrent dynamic pattern. While regular recurrence is true of tides in general, at a local level, tides vary from time to time and place to place. Similarly, while there are regular and recurrent dynamic patterns in language and its learning, there is also a great deal of local variability. Understanding this is key to successful teaching.

Diane Larsen-Freeman is a Professor of Education, Professor of Linguistics, and Director of the English Language Institute at the University of Michigan, Michigan, USA. She is also a Distinguished Senior Faculty Fellow at the School for International Training. She has written and spoken widely about second language acquisition, language teacher education, English grammar, and language teaching methodology.


James E. Alatis Plenary

H. Douglas Brown, Moderator
Global Changes and Perspectives on Communicative Language Teaching
Saturday, March 24, 2007
11:30 am - 12:30 pm

The closing plenary at the Seattle convention will feature a panel of experts discussing the topic "Global Changes and Perspectives on Communicative Language Teaching." The panel will be moderated by H. Doug Brown, and will include the week's previous plenary speakers Betty Azar, Ron Carter, Diane Larsen-Freeman, and Jun Liu.

H. Douglas Brown received his M.A. in linguistics and Ph.D. in educational psychology at the University of California, Los Angeles, USA. Previously, he was Professor of English as a second language and linguistics at the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, USA, where he also served as Director of the Division of ESL. Before that, he also served as Director of the Division of ESL. Before that, he was on the faculty of the Department of Linguistics and the English Language Institute (ELI) at the University of Michigan, USA; he was Acting Director of the ELI for 3 years.


Professor Brown was the 1980-81 president of TESOL. For 9 years, he served as the Editor of Language Learning. He has given lectures, seminars, and workshops across the United States and in many other countries. In 2001, Professor Brown was the recipient of TESOL's prestigious James E. Alatis Award for Distinguished Service. Professor Brown has published a large number of articles and books on second language acquisition and pedagogy.

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