Guide to Professional Development in TESOL

TESOL professionals enhance their careers by

Administering Programs

Developing Materials

Share. Share your ideas with your colleagues, and look for opportunities to learn from your colleagues' ideas. Share lesson plans; write materials for your institution; give talks to other teachers on campus; and write articles or give interviews for professional and scholarly journals, school-based publications, and local, regional, or national media.

Becoming Active in Professional Organizations

Become a TESOL member and enjoy all the benefits. 

Join your local affiliate. TESOL affiliates are autonomous, regionally based professional organizations that complement the work and services of TESOL. Membership in an affiliate is separate from membership in TESOL, and TESOL recommends joining both to maximize opportunities for learning and networking.

Participate in a TESOL standing committee. Choose from a variety of committees and member communities, and put your expertise to work.

Learn to become a leader in TESOL. TESOL offers the Leadership Development Certificate Program (LDCP) to meet the specific needs of TESOL members who have asked for opportunities to learn more about the association and to develop their skills as leaders of the association and its affiliates. Courses and workshops are held on-site during the TESOL International Convention & English Language Expo and online afterward.

Participate in decision-making processes. Serve as a volunteer, officer of an interest section or affiliate, or officer of TESOL International and help facilitate change in the association.

Become involved in advocacy efforts. TESOL underwrites programs and undertakes a variety of projects to increase respect for the profession, for its practitioners, and for its student constituency. Subscribe to TESOL's advocacy lists to stay informed about the issues that matter to you and the profession.

Conducting language research

Apply for a grant, fellowship, or award. TESOL offers several awards and grants and publishes a guide to other funding sources in the field of English language teaching. Receiving an award, grant, or fellowship makes your professional development more financially feasible while giving you added recognition in the profession.

Presenting at conferences and seminars

Present a paper, poster, workshop, or demonstration. Present at TESOL International Convention & English Language Expo or affiliate conferences. This activity has a dual purpose: helping you become more involved with TESOL and its affiliates and helping you gain recognition in the field as a whole.

Writing for professional publications

Write an article for a TESOL publication. Submit articles to TESOL's serial publications, interest section newsletters, or affiliate newsletters. This activity, along with presenting at a conference, helps you become a resource for others' professional development. These are the first steps in giving back to those from whom you have learned so much.

Pursuing postgraduate degrees

Becoming lifelong learners 

Attend a TESOL International Convention & English Language Expo. TESOL Convention participants have access to more than 1,000 presentations, plenary addresses by leaders in the field, an exhibit hall full of publications and products, pre- and postconvention institutes, and the Job MarketPlace job fair.

Attend affiliate conventions. Use TESOL's worldwide calendar of events to find your local affiliate's next conference, workshop, or professional development event. Participation in affiliate events helps you learn more about local news, issues, developments, and concerns in the profession in your part of the world

Participate in TESOL's education programs
. Update skills, learn new skills, focus on topics of special interest, and possibly earn continuing education credits by participating in TESOL academies, symposia, and online events or courses.

Network
. Learn from your colleagues via the TESOL Community.

Read TESOL publications
. Receive TESOL Connections monthly and the English Language Bulletin weekly, read TESOL Journal, subscribe to TESOL Quarterly, browse the Online Bookstore.

Focusing on YOU 

Invest personal time and money as needed. Spend time outside of class helping students with problems or developing ideas and materials. Consider spending your own money on professional development activities if your institution is too underfunded to help. Spending personal time and money on your profession is an investment in yourself.

Focus on your responsibility to your institution.
 Always attend required meetings. Focus on the task at hand and make suggestions; don't just offer criticism. Prepare required materials and turn them in on time or early. Remember, a deadline isn't the due date; it is the end of the period during which something is expected and accepted. Help your program be the best it can be by mentoring new teachers, leading teacher and student organizations, and developing new organizations where needed.

Focus on your responsibility to your students.
 Remember that your students do not take time away from your writing and research; they are the reason for it! Make a commitment to miss class as infrequently as possible, always arrive on time, never leave early, and always be prepared. Put in the time and demonstrate the timeliness that you ask of your students. Part of the role of the professional in the classroom is to model the dedication you wish to see in your students.

Focus on your responsibility to yourself.
 Be honest with yourself and realistic about your time. You cannot grow as a professional or fulfill your obligations to your students, your institution, or the profession as a whole if you are overextended. Set priorities and stick to them. Focus on your priorities. You are more obligated to fulfill a responsibility that you have already taken on than to take on an additional responsibility.

Enjoy what you do.
 If you enjoy your profession, your chosen subfield, and the institution and location in which you work, professional development won't seem like a chore.