Featured Speakers


Invited Speakers

 View the live streams of the keynote sessions!

Keynote Speakers

Opening Keynote
Tuesday, 5 April, 5:30 pm
Revolutionizing Education: Building Peace in a Divided World

Aziz Abu Sarah shares how education played a major role in his transformation from a radical to a peacebuilder, and how his educational work in Syria, Afghanistan, Israel, Palestine, and the United States has helped bridge the gap between hostile communities. Abu Sarah explores how education has the power to heal conflicts, from the geopolitical stage to the classroom. 

Aziz Abu Sarah
is a National Geographic Explorer and Cultural Educator, and TED Fellow. Previously, he was the executive director at the Center for World Religions, Diplomacy, and Conflict Resolution. In 2009, he cofounded MEJDI Tours to use as a bridge between conflict resolution and business. Aziz is a lecturer and has spoken and facilitated meetings for countless international organizations and universities on the subjects of peace, reconciliation, and interfaith dialogue. Aziz is an expert on Middle East politics, and conflict resolution strategies. He has published articles in The New York Times, Haaretz, the Jerusalem Post, Alarabiya, and others, and regularly provides analysis for television news programs such as Al Jazeera, CNN, and Fox. He has been honored to receive numerous awards including the Goldberg Prize for Peace in the Middle East, the Silver Rose Award, the Eisenhower Medallion, and the Eliav-Sartawi Award for Middle Eastern Journalism. He was named one of the 500 Most Influential Muslims by the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Centre for 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014.
Sponsored by:
 National Geographic Learning
Presidential Keynote
Wednesday, 6 April, 8:00 am
Reflecting Forward, Reflecting Back: Looking in the Mirror at 50

The idea of teachers as reflective practitioners has been part of English language teacher training and development for a long time. Central to the metaphor of reflection is the mirror. Who do we see when we look in the mirror, how did we get here, and where are we going?

Dr. Andy Curtis is the 50th president of TESOL International Association. He received his MA in applied linguistics and English language teaching, and his PhD in international education, from the University of York in England. From 2007 to 2011, he was the director of the English Language Teaching Unit at the Chinese University of Hong Kong and a professor in the Faculty of Education there. Prior to 2007, he was the executive director of the School of English at Queen’s University in Ontario, Canada, and a professor at the School for International Training in Vermont, USA. Andy has published numerous articles, book chapters, and books, and been invited to work with teachers in Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Middle East, as well as North, South, and Central America. He is based in Ontario, Canada, from where he works as an independent consultant for language teaching organizations worldwide.
James E. Alatis Plenary
Thursday, 7 April, 8:00 am
Beyond Linguistic Borders: Language Learning Cradled in Cognition

The key to fluency in a second language lies in knowing basic contextual and motivational features that must be present in order to facilitate language learning. This plenary reviews evidence-based research nestled in a cognitive approach promoting effective language learning and theories used to derive those approaches for classroom use.

Dr. Jeanette Altarriba is professor in the Department of Psychology at the University at Albany, State University of New York. Dr. Altarriba directs a research program in the areas of bilingual language processing; second language acquisition; and emotion, attention, memory, and cognition. Her research has appeared in numerous scientific journals, she has edited five books, and she has authored multiple book chapters. Dr. Altarriba’s commitment to teaching, mentoring, and student support has been recognized both within her university and internationally through numerous awards including the Dalmas A. Taylor Distinguished Contributions Award and the University and Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching and Excellence in Academic Service. As vice provost and dean for undergraduate education, Dr. Altarriba oversees the Office of Undergraduate Education, the Honors College, the Student Engagement Initiative, the Advisement Services Center, the General Education Program, the Center for Achievement, Retention, and Student Success (CARSS), and the Writing and Critical Inquiry Program.
Friday Keynote
Friday, 8 April, 8:00 am
Survey Says…: Determining What English Usage Is and Isn’t Acceptable

Is it acceptable to use “impact” as a verb? “They” as a singular generic pronoun? How should ESL/EFL instructors or students decide? Curzan offers a lively historical perspective on well-known grammar/style rules and an insider’s look at completing the annual ballot for the American Heritage Dictionary usage panel.

Dr. Anne Curzan is Arthur F. Thurnau Professor of English at the University of Michigan. She also holds faculty appointments in the Department of Linguistics and the School of Education; she previously taught ESL at a university in Wuhan, China for 2 years. Her research focuses on the history of the English language, attitudes about language change, language and gender, lexicography, and pedagogy. Professor Curzan received the University's Henry Russel Award for outstanding research and teaching in 2007, the Faculty Recognition Award in 2009, and the 2012 John Dewey Award for undergraduate teaching. She has published multiple books and dozens of articles, and she has created audio/video courses for The Great Courses. Her most recent book, Fixing English: Prescriptivism and Language History, was published by Cambridge University Press in 2014. Professor Curzan can be found talking about language on the blog Lingua Franca for The Chronicle of Higher Education and on the segment "That's What They Say" on local NPR station Michigan Radio.