The TESOL President’s Blog
Immediately following the first TESOL International Association Symposium held in Mexico, on 4 November 2015, in Canún, Quintana Roo, the 42nd MEXTESOL International Convention took place, in the same place, over the following 4 days, on 5–8 November. Building on the theme of the Symposium, which was “Innovations and Breakthroughs in ELT,” the theme for the convention was “Building the Future Today: ELT and Learning Breakthroughs.”
All six of the TESOL Symposium speakers—TESOL Past Presidents Mark Algren and Deena Boraie, Mario Herrera and Higinio Ordoñez from Mexico, as well as Mira Malupa-Kim, based in San Diego, California USA and Luke Meddings, from London, England—were also plenary and/or keynote speakers at the MEXTESOL convention, which constituted substantial support provided by TESOL International Association to the MEXTESOL affiliate, and to this year’s MEXTESOL convention.
MEXTESOL is one of the largest and most active TESOL affiliates, with around 2,000 members, in 11 regional chapters across the country, making the scale and scope of the MEXTESOL annual conventions especially large and diverse. For example, this year’s convention was attended by around 2,200 English language teaching professionals, from all over Mexico, from Latin America, the United Kingdom, the United States and elsewhere, with more than 250 academic speakers and more than 200 academic presentations, which included seven plenaries and 15 keynote talks. In addition, there were many nonacademic presentations by publishers and other sponsors.
The 2,200 participants presented and attended talks and workshops on a very wide range of topics. From a workshop on “The Walking Dead: A Teenage Apocalypse,” presented by Brad Bawtinheimer, and “God, Guns and Gays: Controversial Culture in the Classroom,” by Stuart John Porter, to “Fruits and Vegetables for Your Teaching,” by Rosaliá Valero, and “English in My Pizza,” by Rafael Diazgonzalez, to Debbie West’s (President, TESOL France) keynote on “Using Storytelling to Enhance Speaking Skills,” there really was something for everyone.
I was honored to be invited to give the MEXTESOL 2015 Opening Plenary, titled “TESOL: Where We Have Been, Where We Are Going.” Using the metaphor of The Journey, I talked about some of the aspects of the TESOL field, the TESOL association, and the MEXTESOL Association that have changed—and what has not changed—over the last 40 to 50 years. An example of something the audience felt has not changed is the need for solid language teacher education, which was expressed in 1977, in Volume One of the MEXTESOL Journal, when Langworthy concluded her article titled “English Teaching in Mexico: An Overview” by stating that “Many educators feel that the most urgent need in Mexico in the field of English teaching is adequate preparation of teachers” (p. 41). Most things have changed in Mexico in the 38 years since 1977, but that pressing need remains.
I met many participants who were first-time attendees at a MEXTESOL annual international convention, including, at one end of the continuum, many student-teachers (teachers-in-training), who will be graduating soon, to the other end, with some teachers who had more than 25 years of classroom experience, but who had never been to a MEXTESOL convention before. Anther two groups that it was great to see so well-represented were the number of elementary school teachers of English in Mexico, and the number of teachers working at private, for-profit language schools, some of whose owners can now see the benefits of funding some of their teachers to come to such events. And on the socialcultural side, because of the myths and legends of pirates in that part of Mexico, there was a MEXTESOL pirate party on the second night of the convention, with many attendees dressing up for the party.
The closing plenary was given by Andres Ruzo, who is Nicaraguan, Peruvian, and a U.S. citizen, and who is a National Geographic Young Explorer and TED Talk speaker. He describes himself as “an earth scientist, with active research projects on volcanoes, the Andes, and the Amazon Rainforest, who ‘dreams of a widespread “Cultura de Investigación” throughout Latin America” (program book). I commented, both at the opening ceremony and at the closing ceremony, that it takes more than a year—with many people, mostly volunteers, working long and hard—to create a successful, large-scale, international conference of this kind, so I wanted to conclude by thanking the organizers of the 42nd MEXTESOL International Convention, and to congratulate them on another great success!
Langworthy, B. (1977). English teaching in Mexico: An overview. MEXTESOL Journal, 1(1), 36–42.