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Featured Speakers

Keynote Speakers

TESOL will be live streaming all four keynote sessions from Toronto. Watch here.

Opening Keynote
Sonia Nieto
Wednesday, 25 March 2015
5:30 pm–7 pm

Teachers’ Roles in Crossing Borders and Building Bridges
This keynote address describes how teachers work to build bridges with students and communities of diverse backgrounds. Using research documented in her two most recent books, Nieto discusses how teachers enact critical multicultural practices to overcome obstacles of difference, bureaucracy, and the current sociopolitical context of education.

Sonia Nieto is professor emerita of language, literacy, and culture at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. She has taught students from elementary school through doctoral studies, and her research focuses on multicultural education, teacher education, and the education of Latinos, immigrants, and other students of culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. She has written dozens of journal articles and book chapters as well as several books on these topics. She has received many awards for her scholarship, teaching, and advocacy, including four honorary doctorates. Selected as a Fellow of the American Educational Research Association and as a Laureate for Kappa Delta Pi in 2011, in 2012 she also served as the Wits-Claude Distinguished Scholar at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa. In May 2014, she received the Medal for Distinguished Service, the highest honor given by Teachers College at Columbia University.

      James E. Alatis Plenary Session
Jun Liu, Lourdes Ortega, Michael Byram
Thursday, 26 March 2015
8 am–9 am

Redefining Communicative Competence and Redesigning ELT in the 21st Century
The early model of communicative competence as an instrumental approach to ELT no longer captures the breadth and depth of ELT in the 21st century. Focusing on research and observation of failures in ELT based on this model, the panelists challenge both its conceptual framework and pedagogical implication with examples from different angles.

Jun Liu is professor of applied linguistics and associate provost at Georgia State University. He taught English in China and the United States and obtained his PhD in foreign and second language education at The Ohio State University. A past president of TESOL and a member of the TIRF Board of Trustees, he has done extensive research in intercultural communication, teacher education, and sociopolitical and sociocultural aspects of language teaching and learning. His publications include "Asian Students’ Classroom Communication Patterns in U.S. Universities" (2001), "English Language Teaching in China" (2007), and "TESOL: A Guide" (coauthored with Cynthia M. Berger, 2015).

Lourdes Ortega is professor at Georgetown University. She taught Spanish in Greece and English in the United States, and completed a doctorate in second language acquisition at the University of Hawaii. Working with language teachers and doctoral students since 2000 in Hawaii, Georgia, Arizona, and Washington DC, she is committed to developing knowledge about what it means to become a bilingual or multilingual language user later in life in ways that can encourage connections between research and teaching. Her publications include "Understanding Second Language Acquisition" (2015) and "Technology-Mediated Task-based Language Teaching" (coedited with Marta González-Lloret, 2014).

Michael Byram is professor emeritus at Durham University, United Kingdom, and guest professor at Luxembourg University. He “read” Languages at King’s College, Cambridge, United Kingdom, completed a doctorate in Danish literature, and taught French and German in secondary education. At Durham since 1980, he has been engaged in teacher training and research on languages and education. His monographs include "From Foreign Language Education to Education for Intercultural Citizenship," and he has edited the Routledge Encyclopedia of Language Teaching and Learning. He has been adviser to the Council of Europe Language Policy Division and is now working on guidelines for intercultural education.

  Presidential Keynote
Yilin Sun
Friday, 27 March 2015
8 am–9 am

Building Bridges: Journey to a Better Future for TESOL
Based on her cross-cultural teaching, learning, and research experience in China, Canada, and the United States, Sun will share her journey as a TESOLer and address major trends in English language teaching. She will also discuss the roles and responsibilities of TESOL professionals in our changing global society.

Yilin Sun, has a doctorate in applied linguistics/curriculum and instruction from OISE/University of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, and  she is president of TESOL International Association (2015–2015). She has been chair of the TESOL Affiliate Leadership Council (2007), president of WAESOL (2003, 2007), and a Fulbright Senior Scholar (2011–12). English language specialist for the U.S. Department of State since 2009, Yilin currently teaches at South Seattle College in Seattle, and has more than 28 years of experience in the field of TESOL as an MA-TESL teacher trainer, researcher, classroom teacher, and program leader with a variety of higher educational institutions in China, Canada and the United States. Yilin is the author and coauthor of books, book chapters, and research papers in refereed professional journals. She has presented frequently at national and international conferences.

  Saturday Keynote
Jim Cummins
Saturday, 28 March 2015
8 am–9 am

Evidence-Based TESOL: Teaching Through a Multilingual Lens
The presentation synthesizes the instructional implications of research for K–12 and adult students with respect to the centrality of language and literacy engagement, the relevance of identity investment, and the role of L1 in learning English for communicative and academic purposes.

Jim Cummins is a professor emeritus in the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto. His research focuses on literacy development in educational contexts characterized by linguistic diversity. He is the author (with Margaret Early) of "Identity Texts: The Collaborative Creation of Power in Multilingual Schools" (2011) and "Big Ideas for Expanding Minds: Teaching English Language Learners across the Curriculum" (2015).