Keeping Current in Your Field
One of the most effective ways to keep current with best teaching practices and new research in the field of bilingual education, ESL, and EFL is to become an active member of a professional organization in the field. This article contains some of the top national organizations for bilingual and ESL educators and provides a snapshot of what they offer their members.
TESOL International Association
Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages, the principal professional organization for bilingual, ESL, and EFL educators, has a global membership. Anyone who is involved or interested in education and helping ELLs can join. There are different levels of membership depending upon your career status and income level, with rates starting under $50 per year. TESOL’s mission is to connect professionals in the field, aid them in employing best teaching practices, and support them in shaping visionary educational policy. Benefits of membership include access to professional development resources such as virtual seminars, symposiums, online classes, conferences, intensive TESOL Academies, a career center with job listings, and information about scholarships, grants, and awards for TESOL professionals. All members receive the online TESOL Journal and the weekly digital English Language Bulletin. TESOL’s highly organized online community includes a forum of 21 Interest Sections. Every section features an email discussion list, an area for posting questions and new topics, and a library of resources. For an added fee of less than $100, members receive an annual subscription to the organization’s newsletter, TESOL Quarterly. TESOL also sponsors state, regional, national, and international conferences for educators around the world.
National Association for Bilingual Education (NABE)
Bilingual students, their parents, and bilingual professional educators (including teachers, administrators education publishers, and professors) comprise the membership of NABE. Yearly memberships vary depending on professional status and start under $50. Alternatively, you can pay $1,000 (as of 2013) for a lifetime membership. The organization is dedicated to promoting bilingual education and programs; defending the rights of minority language students and families; supporting affiliated bilingual organizations in different states; improving the recruitment of quality bilingual educators; and refining teacher preparation programs and professional development to represent the needs of bilingual students. The benefits of joining NABE include networking opportunities; information about organizational conferences and events; information about policies impacting bilingual education; access to Perspectives magazine; and discount subscriptions to its two journals, The Bilingual Research Journal and The NABE Journal of Research and Practice.
National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE)
Teachers, administrators, and other professionals working the K-12 population can join this organization at the Individual Membership level for under $100. Students who work less than half time in the field can join for half price. Literacy, language arts, and English education are the areas of focus for this organization. Members have access to the group’s online forums, volunteer opportunities in professional development, and the opportunity to write journal articles, book proposals, or lesson plans for the organization.
Conference on College Composition and Communication (CCCC)
Members of NCTE can join this affiliate organization, focused on research, as well as on teaching composition. You must already be a member of NCTE to join CCCC. Benefits of joining include discounted conference fees, online access to sections of the website, a membership price for the journal College Composition and Communication, and information about professional grants, scholarships, and awards.
American Association for Applied Linguistics (AAAL)
Individuals in any area of the field, including students and retired professionals, can join the AAAL. Fees are nominal but vary, depending on years of membership, location, and professional status. The organization’s aim is to further the field of applied linguistics by supporting scholarship, publishing information, advocating on language issues, and organizing and participating in conferences and related events. Members of AAAL receive the AAALetter, the Annual Review of Applied Linguistics, the AILA Review, and access to discount subscriptions for scholarly journals in the field.
American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL)
The American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) is dedicated to the improvement and expansion of the teaching and learning of all languages at all levels of instruction. ACTFL is an individual membership organization of more than 12,000 language educators and administrators from elementary through graduate education, as well as government and industry. Since its founding (1967), ACTFL has become synonymous with innovation, quality, and reliability in meeting the changing needs of foreign language educators and their students. From the development of Proficiency Guidelines, to its leadership role in the creation of national standards, ACTFL focuses on issues that are critical to the growth of both the profession and the individual teacher. Member benefits include: free subscriptions to The Language Educator and Foreign Language Annals; discount admission to the ACTFL Annual Convention & World Languages Expo; discounted access to professional development opportunities such as webinars and Oral Proficiency Interview (OPI) Assessment Workshops; a subscription to the ACTFL Connection e-newsletter; and the opportunity to network through the group’s extensive special interest groups (SIGs) and online forums. Membership Categories & Fees: Regular: $79, New Teacher $54, Adjunct/Part-time $54, Student $29, Retired $29 (* retired requires seven consecutive years of membership).
Specialty Organizations for Educators
The following groups are not as directly related to the field of ESL and bilingual education, but appeal to professionals who specialize in areas such as educational testing, literacy, and language research.
International Language Testing Association (ILTA)
This organization highlights research developments concerning language testing around the world. ILTA focuses on research in language testing around the globe and organizes a yearly event, the Language Testing Research Colloquium (LTRC).
International Reading Association (IRA)
Educators concerned with literacy instruction comprise the membership of this organization, which publishes peer-reviewed journals highlighting evidenced-based teaching techniques. The IRA also hosts an annual conference and has a wealth of professional development resources for reading teachers.
International Association of World Englishes (IAWE)
Language, literature, and pedagogy are the global issues of concern to this international scholarly association. IAWE hosts conferences around the world and publishes World Englishes — The Journal of English as an International and Intranational Language
Local and Regional Resources
The ESL professional organizations listed above are all national or international in scope. However, professionals in the field can also benefit from more local opportunities that represent their unique populations and educational programs. Individual states that have significant bilingual populations also have state bilingual associations and their own divisions of TESOL. In addition, your state teachers’ union or school district may have information about local groups that advocate on behalf of bilingual and ESL education.