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Grants and Awards

The TESOL Teacher of the Year Award

Presented by National Geographic Learning


To recognize and honor exceptional English language teachers at all levels. This award is presented by TESOL and National Geographic.

Application Deadline

Applications open in July annually.

How to Apply

Any English language teacher who has been a classroom teacher for a minimum of three consecutive years. Applicants are not required to be members of TESOL International Association. 

The winner will receive:

  • U.S.$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. 
  • A profile and a published article in TESOL Connections.
  • U.S.$250 voucher for the TESOL Bookstore.

Applicants will be evaluated based on the ability to demonstrate excellence in different areas of English language teaching and development, including leadership, service, instruction, assessment, professional development, and use of DEIA. Applications should demonstrate candidates’ commitment to high quality and innovation in instruction and assessment practices in their particular educational context, in addition to the ability to lead, serve, inspire, and positively impact students as well as colleagues and the professional community. The Teacher of the Year Award also recognizes teachers with a deep commitment to ongoing professional development and learning and issues of equity, diversity, inclusion and access in language education. For more details, please see the Evaluation Rubric.   

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

  1. Describe your educational background and your reasons for becoming a teacher (300 words, maximum).
  2. Outline your role within your institution/organization and its community. Please include roles in which you provide useful and active service to students and the community, and any other services provided outside the classroom. Describe any collaborative partnerships or relationships that you have begun or participated (300 words, maximum). 
  3. Describe a specific lesson plan or project you have taught in the past year. Please focus on the innovative qualities of the lesson plan, specific strategies, and student assessment practices. Provide evidence/explanation why it is innovative in your particular context. Explain how the lesson motivated and encouraged students’ engagement, and how the lesson plan is exemplary of your overall mode of teaching rather than a singular occurrence (300 words, maximum).
  4. Provide an account of professional development. Please focus on 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 (300 words maximum).
  5. Explain your views on excellence in teaching, including how you address issues of equity, diversity, inclusion, and access in your classroom and beyond. The explanation should be in the context of your particular teaching situation and students (300 words, maximum).
  6. Other accomplishments. Please list any relevant accomplishments, awards, or recognitions not mentioned elsewhere (200 words, maximum). 

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

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 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). 

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 & 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.

2023 Recipient

Drew Fagan is associate clinical professor of applied linguistics and language education and cocoordinator of the TESOL Program at the University of Maryland, College Park. He is the 2022–2023 Maryland TESOL Association president. His work prepares non-ESOL K–12 educators to address English learners’ academic, cross-cultural, and linguistic needs across curricula. 

Past Award Recipients

View a list of past recipients.


Please contact TESOL Awards.

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