The TESOL Teacher of the Year Award

Presented by National Geographic Learning

 2016 TESOL Teacher of the Year: Shannon Tanghe

Shannon Tanghe, assistant professor and department head at Dankook University’s Graduate School of TESOL in Korea, holds doctorate in composition and TESOL from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Originally from Minnesota, Shannon has been teaching in Korea for 16 years. Interests include teacher collaboration, teacher development and education, and World Englishes.

Shannon Tanghe 

Who's Eligible

Any English language teacher who
  • has been a classroom teacher for a minimum of three years
  • is not a previous recipient of this award or the TESOL Excellence in Teaching Award

Note: Applicants are not required to be members of TESOL International Association.


TESOL recognizes the hard work and dedication required to be an outstanding teacher. The TESOL Teacher of the Year Award, presented by National Geographic Learning, was created by TESOL and National Geographic Learning to recognize and honor exceptional English language teachers at all levels.


The winner will receive
  • US$1,000
  • Free 1-year TESOL membership
  • Free registration for the TESOL International Convention & English Language Expo the year of the award, plus 3 nights hotel and round-trip airfare
  • A session as an invited speaker at the annual convention 
  • An invitation to the President’s Reception and the Leadership Luncheon at the annual convention
  • A profile and a published article in TESOL Connections
  • US$250 voucher for the TESOL Bookstore


A complete application consists of six short essays, CV submission, and two letters of recommendation (see the "To Apply Online" section below for more details).
Applicants are evaluated on their ability to
  • inspire students of all backgrounds and abilities to learn. 
  • have a positive impact on students and colleagues.
  • participate in continuing professional development.
  • create a supportive and encouraging learning environment by providing quality language instruction based on well-articulated theory, philosophy, educational research and best practice.
  • play an active and useful role in the community as well as in the school demonstrated through collaborative partnerships and relationships.
  • demonstrate involvement in the field 
  • demonstrate evidence of positive teacher effect on student learning through formal and/or informal documentation. 
  • incorporate innovative and effective lesson strategies and evaluation techniques by utilizing new scholarship from TESOL or related fields.
  • demonstrate a commitment to English language teaching.

To Apply Online

To complete the online application process, you will need the following information. 

Short Essays

  1. Please describe your educational background and your reasons for becoming a teacher. (300 words maximum). 
  2. Provide an account of professional development. (Focus on teaching experience, association membership and participation, workshops conducted, current involvement in and/or plans for further education and other creative endeavors or activities that could enhance teaching (200 words maximum).
  3. Outline your role within your school and its community. (Include roles in which you provide useful and active service to students and the community, and any personal and social service to students outside the classroom. Describe any collaborative partnerships or relationships that you have begun or participated (200 words maximum).
  4. Describe a specific lesson plan or project you have taught in the past year. (Focus on the innovative qualities of the lesson plan, specific strategies, and evaluation techniques. Explain how the lesson motivated and encouraged students, and how the lesson plan is exemplary of your overall mode of teaching rather than a singular occurrence (300 words, maximum).
  5. Other accomplishments. (List any relevant accomplishments, awards, or recognitions not mentioned elsewhere (100 words, maximum).
  6. Explain your views on excellence in teaching. (Explanation should be in the context of your particular teaching situation and students (200 words, maximum).

Curriculum Vitae

Applicants are required to submit a CV (5 pages maximum).

Letters of Recommendation

A letter from the applicant's current supervisor and a letter from a colleague or former supervisor is required. 

You will be asked to provide contact email addresses for the people writing letters of recommendation for you. They will receive a message from at the address that you provide inviting them to upload their letter of recommendation directly to the application system. The application system will not send the messages until you have completed your application and clicked on Save and Finalize.

Please ask your letter writers to watch for a message from To ensure that they receive the message, please ask them to add to their contacts or their spam whitelist.

Additional Materials

Additional materials that support the applicant’s competencies, such as teaching materials, letters from students, colleagues, or parents; and performance reviews are optional. Up to three additional materials may be uploaded to support the application (all additional materials are limited to two pages).

Convention Session Proposal Round

After the initial evaluation of application materials, the judges select the top candidates. This second round of candidates will be prompted to submit a convention session proposal for the annual TESOL International Convention and English Language Expo. Candidates will be asked to prepare a 10-word title, a 50-word abstract, and a 300-word session description. While they can prepare a presentation on any topic of their choice, it is important that the proposal be connected to the purpose of the Teacher of the Year Award and the convention theme.  Upon review of the convention session proposals, the winner will be selected.

Click here to begin the application process.

Application Deadline

Applications must be submitted by 19 July at 11:59 PM EST.

Past Award Recipients

View a list of past recipients. For information on recipients for years not listed, please contact