A Chronicle of VUS TESOL Conferences

In this 21st-century globalized world, English has been established as a “lingua franca”, a common language for people from diverse backgrounds and ethnicities to communicate effectively in multiple areas of activity such as business, academics, science, computing, education, transportation, politics and entertainment. Worldwide, as mastery of English gives access to scientific, technological and academic resources, English has become an indispensable tool for individual learning and research, and for economic development and global integration. Throughout the world, millions of people are taking English courses, and English classes are constantly open to meet such a surge in the need for English language instruction. Therefore, ELT teachers need to improve their English teaching quality to better serve their students, and TESOL conferences have been held to provide teachers with forums of discussion and to update them on the latest developments in English language education.

Fully aware of ELT teachers’ need to improve themselves professionally and learners’ increasing demand for quality English language instruction, Vietnam-USA Society English Centers (VUS) has hosted, since 2006, 11 consecutive annual TESOL conferences where registration is free for everyone in the ELT community in Vietnam and the neighboring countries. VUS TESOL conferences have created exciting opportunities for researchers, teachers, and school administrators to get connected, share ideas and practices in their profession, and keep their minds refreshed with up-to-date ELT trends. Featuring highly informative, enlightening lectures by renowned ELT authorities, educators, and book authors such as Alan Maley, David Nunan, Andy Curtis, Richard Day, Craig Wright, etc., annual VUS TESOL conferences have become one of the most awaited professional rendezvous for thousands of teachers in and outside Vietnam.

VUS TESOL conferences not only get ELT teachers to examine theoretical ideas related to English language instruction but also stimulate their creativity and thoughts on practical classroom issues so that they will be able to skillfully apply these theories in the specific contexts of their classrooms.  The TESOL conference themes have reflected a variety of ELT issues and perspectives, and dealt with the most important aspects of the ELT profession such as the exploration of teaching options “Alternatives in Teaching English”, the connection between tests and language communication “Moving ELT Forward: From Examination to Communication”, the new viewpoints on ELT “New Perspectives on ELT for the New Decade and Beyond” and “ELT Practices and Standardization: Options and Perspectives”, and the revolutionary use of information technology in language classrooms Incorporating Technology in ELT – Why and How?”. Recently, the themes have shifted to the discussion and analysis of very specific teaching issues in Vietnam and Asia, and the application of the global trends into the local context: “ELT in Vietnam: Changes and Challenges”, “Global Trends and Local Practice in ELT: Options and Opportunities”, “Facilitating English Language Learning in Asian Classroom Contexts” and “Celebrating Diversity in English Language Teaching in Asia”.

Consistent in its pursuit of keeping ELT teachers abreast of the evolution in language education, the 11th TESOL conference explored the theme “Eclecticism in ELT: Teaching in the Post-Methods Era”. In a similar vein, this 12th conference’s theme “Redefining English language teaching and learning in the context of the 21st century” will awaken teachers to the changes and innovations in English language teaching and learning so that they will be able to successfully cope with this fast-changing 21st-century world, where learners grow up surrounded by developing technology, internet access, and a myriad of digital devices infiltrating into all aspects of their daily life.