Home > Events > Article body
TESOL Italy 48th Annual Convention
Source:BRLCN  Date:2023-09-29
导读:48th TESOL Italy Annual Convention will be taking place virtually on December 1-2, 2023.

TESOL Italy 48th Annual Convention
December 1-2, 2023
Getting to the HEART of ELT

The title of TESOL Italy’s 48th National Convention is “Getting to the HEART of ELT”. This year’s
title is a play on the common idiomatic expression “to get to the heart of” something, which means
to discover or understand the essential features of a problem or issue. For TESOL Italy members, the
word “HEART” also signifies that this process of discovery and understanding—not to mention ELT
as a whole—requires empathy and love: for our learners, for our colleagues, for our profession, for
our societies, and for our world. In our view, this sentiment is intentionally aligned with the DEI
(diversity, equity, and inclusion) Initiative of TESOL International Association, our parent
organization. We recognize that we could have just as easily used the plural form of “HEARTs” to
indicate that the core features of ELT are embedded in specific contexts and may be perceived
differently by each practitioner according to their lived experiences. Regardless of how you perceive
the HEARTs of ELT, the word “HEART” should also be read as an acronym which stands for some
of the core features of ELT which we hope speakers and participants will explore during our National

Given this year’s broad focus, the potential themes of the Convention are limitless, but some of the
HEARTs important in the Italian context, include:
Humanizing diversity
Empowering learners and teachers
Agency fostering
Raising awareness
Highlighting Democracy
Engaging learners and teachers
Advocating for learners and teachers
Reflecting on practices
Transforming perspectives

Over the past two decades, Italy, like many nations, has become a much more diverse society. This
is reflected especially in the composition of classrooms at every level of education. Diversity presents
many opportunities, in general, and in language education, in particular. But especially “new”
diversity also presents certain challenges. One of the greatest challenges currently faced in Italy is
that the diversity of student populations has not yet been reflected within the teaching profession. Put
simply, although women are well-represented among teachers in Italy, albeit less so in leadership
positions, other populations are marginalized. With this in mind, this year’s National Convention also
seeks to confront attendees with speakers who might explore the aforementioned HEARTs of ELT
from underrepresented and less-privileged perspectives. The organizing committee will as always
welcome the perspectives of persons of color, the LGBTQ community, immigrants, refugees, and
representatives of other marginalized groups who are active in TESOL in Italy and around the world.

The HEARTs of ELT in Brief

Humanizing diversity implies telling authentic stories of learners and teachers from marginalized
backgrounds and sharing the best practices educators have employed to meet diverse needs.
Humanizing marginalized learners and teachers is a first and necessary step toward realizing equity
and inclusion in education and beyond.

Empowering learners and teachers begins with giving the marginalized a voice in the planning and
delivery of curricula. Decision making in education should be driven by the actual experiences and
needs expressed in complexly dynamic classrooms.

Empowerment cannot be endowed at the discretion of those in power. Empowerment is derived from
the actions and decisions taken by the marginalized. Fostering agency must therefore remain a
primary objective of 21st-Century language education. Students must develop competencies and
strategies which permit them to take an active role in their education. Teachers must emerge as change
agents within their profession and within society.

Language teaching has always been about raising awareness. Traditionally, the focus was on raising
linguistic awareness. Gradually, it was recognized that cultural awareness is equally essential to
becoming an effective communicator with additional languages. In the 21st Century, we must also
work toward raising critical awareness, that is, the ability to recognize, question, and subvert all
practices which result in the oppression or marginalization of learners and their teachers.

Translanguaging has become a well-established concept in applied linguistics. Research has
demonstrated that languages are not stored and recalled independently of one another in the human
mind, but that they are intricately intertwined within a unitary linguistic repertoire. Yet, educational
policy and practices tend to adhere to outdated monolingual models which forbid the use of additional
languages in the classroom and during high-stakes assessments. We must challenge the “monolingual
myth” and the “native speaker bias” at every turn. This also entails a recognition of the intrinsic value
and abilities of non-native English speaker teachers (NNESTs) and the role of English as a lingua
franca (ELF).

Perhaps no educational subject is better equipped for highlighting democracy in the classroom than
ours, as it provides a safe space where different cultures and languages interact and the marginalized
are encouraged to speak up and speak out. Unfortunately, education has also become a prime target
of anti-democratic misinformation, rhetoric, and policies. In addition to teaching communication
skills, we are increasingly called on to teach toward ideals such as social justice, civic engagement,
media literacy, and inclusion.

Motivating learners is the key to their empowerment, equitable treatment, and inclusion. It could
therefore be argued that engaging learners is the core task of language teachers. However, in our focus
on learner motivation, we often neglect teacher motivation. Given the burden society places on the
shoulders of teachers in the 21st Century, we are at risk of fatigue and burnout. Teacher wellness
should become a priority and our core mission should shift to engaging learners and teachers.
Realizing DEI objectives necessitates advocating for learners and teachers. In many contexts, those
who enjoy power and privilege in educational systems and throughout society must advocate for the
marginalized, at least initially. But the marginalized must ultimately feel empowered to invoke their
agency and voice.

Reflecting on practices is fundamental in education. Given the complexity of societies and
classrooms nowadays, it is crucial to reflect not only on what works and does not work in the
classroom, but also on 21st-Centry educational objectives and our changing roles in society. Now,
more than ever, we must engage in introspection and actively participate in communities of practice.
We must engage current trends in research and take a leading role in closing the gap with practice.
The 21st-Century teacher must be a reflective practitioner and teacher researcher at once.

Each of the objectives outlined above constitute an element of transformative education, the goal of
which is transforming perspectives. If we want to construct a more equitable and inclusive world,
we must first motivate and empower individuals who take informed, evidence-based decisions and
actions. Developing plurilingual literacy and oracy skills is essential, but teachers and learners also
need to learn to empathize with others and collaborate in diverse teams to solve complex problems.
Transformation starts with educational practices, but when done right, it can quickly evolve into
educational and political reform.

The organising committee is particularly interested in submissions which explore these and related
themes in connection with current and emergent trends in TESOL, including the ways in which
technology, digital literacies, online learning, artificial intelligence, early language learning,
teacher education, professional associations, and content and language integrated learning
(CLIL) can help transform perspectives and realize DEI objectives.