Guest Post: Ranty Thoughts on Something that no longer Matters (KOTESOL Int Conference 2014)

As you will see, this post has been brewing for a while. Post conference chatter caused me (Mike G) to say something like, “That sounds like a great blog post, perhaps you’d consider writing it on my blog” and “If you write a blog post about this someday I will get you a beverage of your choice right now.”  It is my great pleasure and honor to share this guest post from my friend, colleague, and companion for nerdy talk while drinking coffee, Michael Chesnut. Michael is interested in teacher development, teacher identity, linguistic landscape studies and more. His latest paper on teaching with linguistic landscapes is available at English Teaching: Practice and Critique.  I appreciate him taking the time to write this post and all the conversations and thoughts that have come out of it for me, personally. I hope it will be thought provoking for readers as well. Both Michaels are grateful to those who commented on earlier drafts of this. Over to you, Michael C…

chesnucian art

An artist’s conception of Michael Chesnut

Well, this rant has been brewing ever since I left the KOTESOL 2014 International Conference with a general feeling of “huh” after hearing a few workshops and some plenary speakers. Actually, I was really happy to have gone and incredibly impressed with all the hard work the volunteers put into the conference. I guess I was a little confused, or put out, or just left numb by the way Mike Long and a few other folks addressed the audience, and the way they presented their arguments. So, I’ll be ranting about rhetoric in TESOL here, rather than talk about any of these folks’ actual arguments or things really related to teaching. And yea this is a rant, which in my mind means I’m kinda playing with what I experienced, and trying to get a grip on what bothered me in these talks.

Mike Long’s talk was what really got me thinking along this path in the first place. I learned about task based language teaching at some point earlier in my life, but actually haven’t thought about it or related issues in ages. So, it was a refresher for sure, but the way he was talking, and presenting task based language teaching, to me, was kind of unreal. Now, I can’t remember exactly what Mike Long said, but the imaginary Mike Long of my memory said phrases like “I wish those who doubt task based language teaching would produce even one empirical study supporting their position,” “task based language teaching is the most studied form of language teaching with over 200 studies done,” “there has never been…,” “every study has supported….,” and “EXTERMINATE EXTERMINATE EXTERMINATE.” OK, well the last one I’m pretty sure comes from the Doctor Who marathon I’ve been watching, but to me this rhetoric was pretty extreme. There was no hedging or acknowledgement that others have legitimately argued for opposing positions. The rhetoric in this presentation seemed to suggest that all debate, or legitimate debate anyway, had been concluded, task based language teaching had been found to be the best form of language teaching, and all that remains to be done is finalizing the best ways of doing task based language teaching; no other studies of teaching are really necessary. In fact, if anyone in the audience believed everything Mike Long was saying the only questions they should be asking themselves are: Why have all these fools around the world failed to implement task based language teaching? Why would anyone bother considering anything but task based language teaching? What is the quickest way we can embrace task based language teaching and produce articulate well-spoken speakers of whatever languages we wish?

To me Mike Long’s rhetoric was the most surprising, but I felt touches of discomfort elsewhere. Ahmar Mahboob also spoke at KOTESOL and opened his plenary by asking for a definition of language, remarking about how strange it is that many teachers cannot really give a good definition of language, the object of their teaching (or something somewhat similar, again I can’t really recall) and he discussed how in TESOL generally there is a lack of professional knowledge. His talk on teaching writing was peppered with remarks about how this approach he was introducing “just works.” Again, I’m curious if this is an effective way to get TESOL folks thinking about issues of professionalization in TESOL, and teaching writing. In this case I really like this approach to teaching writing and hope it is further picked up by many teachers, but I’m not sure the rhetoric used in this talk is going to help others examine and adopt some of the ideas discussed in this talk. Is saying something like “Lawyers all know how to define the law, how come we don’t know how to define language?” an effective way to raise issues of professional knowledge in TESOL? Possibly, but it didn’t really work for me and just made me think how unlike other fields TESOL is. To be fair Ahmar Mahboob is very active through other media sharing his ideas about professionalizing TESOL and employs different rhetorical strategies there, but just his opening rhetorical move in his speech got me thinking more about the rhetoric of TESOL, even at the micro-level of opening a talk. It also got me thinking about how we persuade others in this field, and how knowledge is generally disseminated.

Truthfully, I don’t have a problem with the rhetoric of Mike Long in the context of an academic debate. If for instance Steven Krashen, another TESOL figure who also embraces this type of rhetoric, and Ahmar Mahboob wanted to discuss language teaching, this rhetoric could be well suited to their argument and we the audience could learn much by seeing these two knowledgeable experts challenge each other’s’ positions. However, in the case of this plenary which simply had Mike Long speaking about a topic undoubtedly near and dear to his heart this rhetoric really alienated me and left me wondering and maybe even concerned about the how everyone else took this speech.

I suppose though, Mike Long should use this rhetoric as it reflects his honest opinion, shaped by his decades of foundational work with task based language teaching. Certainly he should be saying what he thinks during a plenary in the way he wants to, but that brings home the main point of this ranty blog post. I don’t know how TESOL as a field really communicates and creates paths for ideas to circulate. And I don’t know if the way these speakers actually speak limits how these ideas are taken up in the larger field. And I don’t know if there’s better ways of engaging with rhetoric in TESOL to more productively help teachers take up and use ideas. I do know that none of the major speakers really spoke to me in a way that helped me get a grip on their ideas or even made me feel welcome within the grand global TESOL ecosystem. And finally I do know that in most cases if I wanted to know what these speakers were really taking about I’d be better off reading one of their publications rather than listening to anything at a conference.

So, what should be done? Nothing is fine. KOTESOL 2014 was great and the unpaid volunteers did a wonderful job for no money and actually I’m really glad Mike Long and Ahmar Mahboob came to Korea and had a chance to network with folks, so yea we’re good. And this is a ranty blog so I don’t necessarily have to write something critical or give out suggestions, but I think I will discuss what I’d like to see or experience.

I’d really like to see Mike Long and Ahmar Mahboob have a discussion about their ideas in front of an audience, with both of them aware of the audience and prepared step back from speaking to each other and explain background concepts to everyone listening. I’d love to see someone like Scott Thornbury or a local knowledgeable speaker act as an honest broker and stand in for some of those scholars who really challenge the ideas of Mike Long, Ahmar Mahboob, Stephen Krashen and all the major figures who come and speak, and have him just ask genuine insightful questions so we can better understand the ideas floating around TESOL. I’d like to see followers of task based language teaching who have taken up Mike Long’s ideas ask him questions based on their experiences using task based language teaching in their contexts and I’d like to hear Mike Long’s answers. I hope those people at least had a chance to sit down with him and talk privately this go around. I’d love to see something online, like a Facebook thread, where folks like Stephen Krashen, Ahmar Mahboob, Mike Long, and Scott Thornbury could discuss their ideas and positions, ask tough and thoughtful questions, and carefully lay out their positions with us all getting to read along. I don’t see why KOTESOL or another conference couldn’t host something like that online a week or two before a conference, giving conference attendees a chance to get a sense of the discussions circulating around different speakers’ chosen topics. Actually, I have no idea if any of this would just result in greater confusion, would be convoluted and awkward to make happen, or actually would result in more people in the audience learning something from the talks, reading more about these ideas, and trying out new practices, but that’s fine. The key point here, if there is one, is that I have questions about the rhetoric we use in TESOL and I don’t have the answers, and that’s fine, especially, in my opinion, here on a ranty blog.

OK, I suddenly have to add one more point about rhetoric in TESOL. I saw on a post floating around that Claire Kramsch is coming to Korea for the 2015 KATE conference and she is a stunning presenter. All I want to do is see her lecture about whatever she feels like lecturing about. I saw her speak in person for the first time in 2010 and until that moment I didn’t understand that giving a lecture can be as artistic as theatre, jazz, and any live performance and that a lecture, simply an expert on a topic talking, can profoundly help me understand a topic, and understand it in a joyful fun way. She made use of a rhetoric that spoke to me in a way that is difficult to describe. It was everything I wanted to hear as who I was at that time. That rhetoric evoked or drew upon my image of who I believed Claire Kramsch to be as part of a persuasive performance that was informative and to some degree transformative. It was a performance in every possible interpretation of that word. But I want to make clear that the rhetoric she used should be put under just as much scrutiny as Mike Long’s or that of other speakers, perhaps even more so for all the effect it had on me. I’m looking forward to seeing her speak again, but I’ll try to pay attention a little more to the rhetoric this time. I’ll try to apply a little more analysis to how she’s connecting with me and the audience, and think a little deeper about how she’s conveying her message.

For all the work scholars put into studying TESOL and applied linguistics I wonder how much effort is put into understanding how information flows in TESOL, and how different parties can effectively make use of rhetoric in person and beyond. I think there’s a lot to be explored there and I’m hopeful someone will make the effort to do so soon.


  1. idc74

    A very coherent rant! In response to your call for a discussion in front of an audience, or an online debate, there is a panel discussion planned for one of the IATEFL Signature Events in Manchester, UK (April), that will definitely be filmed, and I guess may even be live streamed. It will feature, amongst others, Scott Thornbury. More information coming soon.

    • Michael

      Thanks for the friendly comment and I’m glad to hear more of these types of events being posted online. I’m really interesting in seeing something written online, like the type of thread Ahmar posted a link to below. I’m definitely not sure but I’m curious if something online and written, spaced out over a week or so, would give presenters a chance to have more of a relaxed and well-thought out discussion, but barring that, seeing more presentations or just info up online in different formats is great. I’ll check it out for sure!

  2. isabelavb

    This is a great post with lots of food for thought. What I found the most interesting was the fact that one scholar defended his approach by claiming that it has been proven effective by research while the other claimed his approach worked just because it did. Either way, here we are again faced with “one-size-fits-all” prescriptions and the “we know better because we are TESOL scholars” rhetoric.

    • Michael

      Hi! Thanks for the response and kind words.

      I’m glad you found the post interesting, but I’m a little worried I gave the impression that Mike Long and Ahmar Mahboob used completely different strategies in supporting their claims. Again, my memory is hazy, but I’m sure both discussed papers where people could find more research and evidence about their ideas, and both to varying degrees talked about how their approach would be effective for teachers. I just wanted to mention that.

      Yea, I was thinking about writing about the positions of different researchers at these conferences, but just ended up tying myself in knots. I think these kinds of talks, folks flown in from large universities to give headlining speeches, almost demand speakers present a grand one-size-fits-all-or-at-least-this-audience’s-classes argument, but is that going to be an effective argument? I kinda doubt it, or at least I’d like to explore a better way to share some of the ideas that get presented that way, ideally in a way that allows for something less one-size-fits-all.

      Yea, and I guess for me you’re talking about a huge unexplored issue there, which is the role of research and researchers in TESOL, and the flows of information that circulate between teachers, teacher trainers, researchers, publishers and more. Yea, for me that’s a huge issue!

      • isabelavb

        Thanks for clarifying your point. You did give the impression that Ahmar had not supported his claim with research as Michael Long did, or maybe that’s how I interpreted it. It surprised me because I read a lot of Ahmar’s stuff and it’s not like him. Michael Long is one of the applied linguists I most admire and respect and I am, too, a huge fan of TBL. I just don’t like the rhetoric you described.

  3. Scott Thornbury

    I was there. A little thought kept going round and round in my head as I watched Mike Long (who I hadn’t seen speak since the early eighties). It was this: You’ve been making the same case for TBL, fairly uncompromisingly, since the early eighties. It’s a very convincing argument. But, if TBL is so good, how do you explain its relative lack of uptake? And does this not humble you? (As a footnote, I should add that I am a big fan of TBL, but I’ve long since given up any hope of it replacing the current orthodoxy).

    • Russ

      I’m a little curious what you mean when you ask ‘does this not humble you’? I could understand it frustrating him, or depressing him, but I’m not really sure why it would humble him?

      • Scott Thornbury

        What I mean, Russ, is that, if an ostensibly good idea fails to take off, the fault may not lie with those who reject it, but with the idea itself, e.g. that it is unworkable. A little humility may be required in order to take this on board. It is a quality that seems to be conspicuously lacking in many SLA theorists, I’ve noticed.

      • Russ

        ah I see what you mean.

        I was recently reading a paper by Waters (of ‘Hutchinson &’ fame) called something like ‘ideology in applied linguistics’. He suggests, and i think others have as well, that perhaps what drives EFL is not necessarily well-reasoned principles or research but some kind of external ideology. ‘Learner centred’ may not be favoured because it is the best way to teach but because it fits with a western democratic ideal. i don’t know if that’s true or not but I found it quite interesting.

        I sadly don’t know enough about Long and the research body he refers to, to know whether he has a point or not. But I do think, if you believe you know ‘the truth’ and no one seems interested in listening, it must be pretty frustrating. I’m reminded of doctors who have been warning Americans to have their kids vaccinated, piling up all the research and yet, as the current outbreaks (disney etc) show, have been losing the ideological battle.

        i don’t know much about SL theorists and their humility either but I do find ‘the gap’ fascinating. It’s a real shame there isn’t better communication between the two ‘camps’.

      • Michael

        Hi Russ of Evidence Based EFL *^^*

        Yea, I’m kinda interested in the ongoing discussion of how research and knowledge don’t impact certain fields as much as they should, at least according to those doing the research. The examples of vaccines and perhaps man-made global warming are good, but the examples that help me think through some issues are those in which research still fails to influence professionals, something like how medical professionals still overprescribe antibiotics even though research has come out warning against this activity. Yea, I don’t like comparing teachers to doctors, but at least this example helps me think through the complicated process of research influencing a highly trained, and to some degree regimented, professional body, and the limits of this influence.

        Russ, for me your work has a lot to say about rhetoric and flows of information in ELT. I think it’s fair to say your blog and presentations have certainly disseminated information far more widely than before. Likewise, Mike G’s blog here has helped build a network sharing information, and something like The A-to-Z of ELT certainly helped improve access to some big issues in TESOL. Yea, is the rhetoric of these blogs different or more effective than what is seen in big plenaries? Is it that the genre conventions of big plenaries limit their impact or influence? Do online spaces create access and rhetorical conventions that let ideas in ELT circulate more easily? Does TBLT need an online educator or TBLT communicator or online ELT version of Neil deGrasse Tyson who can share TBLT research more broadly and in a form that is more easily accessible? The Neil Degrass Tyson comparison is flawed in so any ways, but again it’s been going around my head recently so, yea I thought I’d put it out there *^^* Anywho, just some thoughts here…

    • Clarissa Menezes Jordao

      What would you say is the “current orthodoxy” in TESOL? English being taught in so many countries, with so many different teaching-learning cultures, it seems a bit challenging to think of any orthodoxy in the area.

    • Michael

      Hi and thanks for further shedding light on how others, well one other, saw Mike Long’s presentation.

      Your comment got me wondering about research and task based language teaching. If I were someone really interested in task based language teaching, I’d be less interested in another examination of task complexity, and more interested in why teachers or schools haven’t used task based language as much as I think they should. I think this type of work would be of critical importance to folks interested in task based language teaching.

      Scott, I have to admit I was thinking about your workshop as well when writing this post. I was thinking about your role in facilitating the spread of your own ideas, but also the spread of ideas that you find intriguing but are not so associated with you personally, which I think is kind of rare. I wonder if there is a place in TESOL for folks mostly interested in developing flows of communication and the spread of different ideas. I’m not really sure, but I’m doubtful there is much support for that kind of work. Also, to be fair, I have no idea if folks have already studied the adoption of task based language teaching or not, so perhaps those types of studies are already circulating among some folks.

      • Scott Thornbury

        ” I wonder if there is a place in TESOL for folks mostly interested in developing flows of communication and the spread of different ideas.” I would hope so. It would be kind of sad if there weren’t. Unfortunately, the privileged flows of communication (such as TESOL Quarterly, Applied Linguistics etc) are written in such a way as to (deliberately?) exclude your typical classroom practitioner, a condition described as long ago as 1994 by Mark A. Clarke (in TESOL Quarterly, as it happens) as ‘a dysfunctional theory/practice discourse’ where ‘the voices of teachers are subordinated to the voices of others who are less centrally involved in language teaching’. Clarke exhorts teachers ‘to keep their own counsel regarding what works and what does not work’. I think Mike Long (and everyone else pushing a theory-driven agenda) should heed them.

  4. geoffjordan

    Good rant!

    I ‘d like to make 4 points:

    1. It’s not surprising that in his big conference appearances Mike Long seems to be convinced that TBLT is the best current option for classroom-based ELT, because he is! Add to this that he’s famous for not suffering fools gladly and for being one of the best scholars in applied linguistics, and I think we can see why many people get the feeling Michael describes when listening to Mike Long give a plenary. But, as a friend of Mike Long’s, and as someone who’s attended lots of courses, workshops and seminars given by him over the years, I can say that when he gets the chance to take part in a discussion with people about TBLT, he’s a very good listener and quite prepared to accept that there’s no blueprint for the best way to teach English as a foreign / second language.

    2. I suggest that conference organisers insist that plenary speakers spend at least 33% of the time discussing their topic with the audience. They should also give more slots to workshops and open discussions with the “big names”.

    3. I’d rather listen to Mike Long’s over-assertive rhetoric than to the more friendly drivel churned out by so many of those who strut around the conference circuit.

    4. While I take Scott’s point, let’s remember that Mike Long’s case for TBLT has changed a bit since 1983, and also that he’s made a lot of other contributions to ELT, particularly his work in SLA research.

    • Scott Thornbury

      Yes, to temper my own critique, I was fortunate enough to be seated next to Mike during the opening ceremony of the conference, and took great pleasure in HIS pleasure at being reminded of something he’d forgotten he’d said 30 years earlier, to the effect that ‘SLA is like the measles – the younger you get it, the better’. His sub-vocalised commentaries on the ceremony were a treat too.

  5. Rob Dickey

    As I started to read the pre-identified rant, all the defensive schemes were in place, fully activated (me being a KOTESOL long-time manager-type). The more I read, the more I appreciated that it was not about KOTESOL at all, that was merely the forum where the ideas were collected, and instead this was a wonderful pre-study of argumentation in conference presentations. If analysis of conference abstracts is considered legitimate, how much more so this? It would be really really cool if someone well-versed in this could collect ‘texts’ (scripts) of major presentations and do a full-on study… (ps – as a worker-bee at KOTESOL2014 I missed ALL the major presentations but one, and all of the concurrents!)

    • Michael

      Thanks for the kind response and the insight into the thought process of pre-reading and then reading this ranty blog!

      Yea, I think there is great research waiting to be done on rhetoric used here, specifically on the way ELT ideas are presented, and maybe most importantly on how ideas circulate in places like these conferences, and eventually shape practices.

      I think Mike G and I were part of a few discussions about the research that could be done during something like the KOTESOL International Conference. It won’t be done by me anytime soon, but it seems to me there are lots of possibilities for stuff here ranging from some pretty grand studies to something much smaller that could be part of some MA TESOL coursework. But as always time, energy, space, and resources are limited so people have to prioritize what they want to do with teaching, research, KOTESOL and all the rest.

  6. Ahmar Mahboob

    Good rant Mike and lots to reflect on. I guess part of the issue lies in the nature of the genre. It’s one that we learn to do through experience and feedback, so I appreciate your thoughts.

    In relation to creating forums for discussions, Krashen and I did have an interesting discussion on Facebook (of all the places!) a year or so ago. I think it’s still available here: The conversation started off a bit oddly, but I think it then led to a pretty engaged discussion. It raised a number of issues that need more consideration and work. Here’s my final post from this discussion, which includes references that support the underlying pedagogical principles that I alluded to during my KOTESOL presentation (although, given the nature and the focus of that session, I was unable to fully discuss all these points (and references)). Krashen did not reply to this post, although I was really hoping to read his response. Perhaps it’s a discussion that will be continued at another place another time 🙂

    Ahmar Mahboob Stephen, hope you had a good weekend.

    The difference between ‘language acquisition’ and ‘language development’ appears to be a crucial one in terms of our positions and needs to be unpacked a bit. I apologise for the lengthiness of this post, but these are important things to consider and need some space to develop and discuss.

    If I understand it correctly, the notion of language acquisition presupposes that one is acquiring particular formal/structures features of a language. In much mainstream SLA research, these features are defined and understood in terms of native-speaker based formal/structural descriptions of the target language. Because I work quite extensively on World Englishes and language variation studies, I find this a problematic notion. In most parts of the world (including English-dominant countries), the models of language that people are exposed to are local varieties/dialects of the language (see Wolfram, Kohn & Callahan-Price 2011 as a revealing example of this in terms of how ESOL students are influenced by dialectal variations in the US). However, since many of the ‘non-standard’ dialects and varieties have not been codified (in reference and pedagogical grammar books), SLA researchers tend not to consider them as models of ‘acquisition’. This leads to, as I see it, a deficit approach: where a non-native speaker (regardless of their proficiency) is always judged in relation to (abstract) native speaker models of language and consequently found lacking. In describing such non-native speaker language, SLA researchers often use terms such as ‘interlanguage’ or ‘fossilisization’. I find these terms to be quite problematic as they don’t recognise or reflect an appreciation of language variation (see…/Beyond_the_native_speaker_in… for a more detailed critique of the terms ‘interlanguage’ and ‘fossilization’). The problem here lies with what models are seen as models of ‘acquisition’ and how language is defined and described. It is partly because of these issues with the notion of ‘acquisition’ that I have moved away from working on what is considered ‘mainstream SLA’ (even though I was trained in this tradition at Indiana University by scholars such as Kathleen Bardovi-Harlig).

    The notion of language development, on the other hand, is responsive to studying how people develop their language in a first/additional language. Language development here is defined as “the learning of a personalized meaning potential” (Matthiesson, 2009, p. 206) that happens throughout one’s lifetime, “from birth, through infancy and childhood, and on through adolescence into adult life” (Halliday, 1993, p. 93). This model considers second/other language development as adding to a set of semiotic resources that individuals bring with them. It is not a separate set of rules that one acquires; but rather another way of construing and realising meaning. Studies that take on this perspective look at how individuals develop their semiotic resources over time and this understanding can help in developing appropriate pedagogical interventions. Matthiessen (2009), an advocate of understanding language as a complex dynamic system, writes “Language has evolved as a learnable system: Its adaptiveness and inherent variability make it easier to learn because we do not have to learn it in one fell swoop; we learn it in a cumulative way, building up the complexity gradually from texts instantiating different registers” (p. 214). The focus here is on the development of linguistic resources that allow users to construe and represent meanings that are relevant within particular context(s) over time.

    These differences between ‘acquisition’ and ‘development’ also lead us to take quite different positions vis-e-vis their application in language teaching. For you, language acquisition appears to be like osmosis: learners implicitly acquire features of a language by being exposed to them and therefore teachers have little role in students’ language learning. For me, language learning is a gradual process in which individuals develop a complex set of linguistic resources that are used construe and realise meaning in particular contexts – this process can be aided by appropriate scaffolding and teaching. From your perspective, teachers are ‘facilitators’ of ‘acquisition’; from my perspective, teachers play an important role in modelling and joint-constructing ways of meaning that are appropriate for various contexts. Reading, I would say, is important for both of these approaches. But, while you seem to suggest that reading alone is sufficient for ‘acquisition’; I would posit that teachers can teach how to read effectively and use this for writing instruction. Without explicit teaching, some students (essentially those coming from educated middle class backgrounds) will succeed, while others will fail to ‘acquire’ these skills (see e.g. Bernstein 1996; Martin & Rose 2008).
    June 17, 2013 at 3:36pm

    • Michael

      Thanks for the interesting comment and the link to the great thread. I think that thread is a fantastic example of what might be possible in the run up to some international conferences. In fact, reading and following along that kind of thread and discussion, I believe, can be a very productive way of helping people understand different positions, ideas, and concepts and could even be brought into teacher training and TESOL classes. I think it would be great if some organizations tried to somehow merge these forms of online communication into conferences. How, of course, is another question.

      And yes, I think the genre of plenaries produces a lot of the issues I wrote about above, but I tried to write from my perspective as an audience member so it’s great to hear from you as a speaker. I think there’s a lot more to think about here for sure.
      Thanks again for engaging with this post!

  7. Michael

    CORRECTIONS! (And some additional info…)

    Whups, sorry everyone! I wrote KATE when I should’ve written ALAK. Claire Kramsch will be appearing at the Applied Linguistics Association of Korea International Conference. Details below. Further, I misspelled Neil deGrasse Tyson’s name, right after I spelled it right! Whups!

    Also, The TESL Canada Journal seems to have a few interesting articles discussing TBLT and perceptions of TBLT. Haven’t checked it out yet, but it looks interesting. Oh, and it’s open access as well!

    Theme: Sustainability in Applied Linguistics
    Date: September 19, 2015
    Venue: Chung-Ang University, Seoul, Korea
    Proposal Submission Deadline: February 28, 2015
    Invited Speakers:
    Claire Kramsch (University of California, Berkeley, USA)
    Farzad Sharifian (Monash University, Australia)
    Kilryoung Lee (Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, Korea)
    & more speakers from JACET(Japan), Thai TESOL(Thailand), and TEFLIN(Indonesia)
    Applied Linguistics Association of Korea (ALAK) now invites you to submit presentation proposals for concurrent or poster sessions.
    1) Concurrent Sessions
    The ALAK calls for paper presentations (20-minute presentation and 10-minute discussion) in all areas of applied linguistics. Please use the attached form A (for paper presentation) and submit it to Prof. Woo-hyun Jung at
    2) Poster Session
    We especially encourage the participation of graduate students in this session. Please use the attached form B (for poster presentation) and submit it to Prof. Young Yun at
    Acceptance will be notified by March 15, 2015.
    For further information, check out our website at or inquire at

  8. gotanda

    For all this was a ranty post, the thought in the post and discussion afterwards makes me a little more excited to attend KOTESOL 2015 this year. And, thanks for putting into words what sometimes has left me a bit frustrated with speakers at conferences. The well moderated discussion in place of individual plenaries would be a welcome change at many conferences, just takes a bit (a lot?) more negotiation with speakers and sponsors and some careful planning. But, it would be worth it.

  9. Michael

    Heya~Thanks for the friendly comment and glad to hear this post got you more interested in the KOTESOL International Conference. I really enjoyed it and found it useful, and yea I’d love to see KOTESOL try and experiment more with the way these speeches work, debates, different ways of engaging us as the audience, but of course time, resources, and energy is limited so I’m also trying to keep in mind.

    I also thought I’d mention one more thing that I ended up skipping over in the original post. The best and most productive part of the whole 2014 conference, for me anyway, was seeing two Japanese professors present about literacy autobiographies, something I’m interested in, and then stopping to talk with them both after their presentation, exchanging contact info, and emailing afterwards. They were just regular presenters and their presentation was nice, but it didn’t have any great rhetorical flourishes that made it special. However, it was a chance to connect with some people knowledgeable about a topic I’m interested in, and even more important it was a chance to have a great conversation that opened up things I want to explore more. Now I’m wondering how conferences could create more open, dialogue-like presentations or discussions for these smaller presentations that really bring together people interested in similar topics. I guess I should mention there were maybe only eight people in the room, including the two presenters, so it was quite friendly and open. I just wanted to mention this because for all the talk/writing here about big presenters and plenaries, the best part of the conference for me was something much smaller and unseen by almost everyone at the conference, and so I don’t want to overemphasize the big names at the cost of the smaller, more discussion-like presentations.

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