Keynote, Plenary, and Featured Speakers

Summary Listing of Speakers (links to Abstract/Bio)

Keynote Speaker


Plenary Speakers

Christine Coombe, Dubai Men’s College, HCT, UAE

Christine Coombe

What It Means to Be a TESOL Professional

Being a teaching professional is not simply about having the right teaching credentials and being in good academic standing, it involves a commitment to being innovative and transformative in the classroom and helping both students and colleagues achieve their goals.  A dictionary definition of professionalism reads as follows: professionalism is the conduct, aims, or qualities that characterize or mark a profession or a professional person; and it defines a profession as a calling requiring specialized knowledge and often long and intensive academic preparation (Merriam-Webster, 2013).  However, according to Bowman (2013), professionalism is less a matter of what professionals actually do and more a matter of who they are as human beings.  Both of these views imply that professionalism encompasses a number of different attributes, and, together, these attributes identify and define a professional.

In this plenary, we explore the literature on professionalism from a variety of different stakeholder perspectives.    Other content to be covered include the myths associated with professionalism and the challenges ELT educators face when being professional.  General and field-specific strategies both from the literature and from anecdotal perspectives for improving one’s professionalism will also be shared.


Christine Coombe has a PhD in Foreign/Second Language Education from The Ohio State University.  She is currently an Associate Professor of General Studies at Dubai Men’s College.  Christine is co-editor and co-author of numerous volumes on F/SL assessment, leadership, research methods, teacher effectiveness and TBLT. Her most recent publications include The Cambridge Guide to Research in Language Teaching and Learning (Cambridge University Press, 2015), Volume 8 of the TESOL Encyclopedia of ELT (Wiley Blackwell, 2018),  and The Role of Language Teacher Associations in Professional Development (2018, Springer) and Innovation in Language Learning and Teaching:  The Case of the Middle East and North Africa (2019, Palgrave Macmillan).  Christine’s forthcoming books are on research questions in TESOL and Applied Linguistics and professionalism in TESOL.

Christine has lived and worked in the Gulf for the past 28 years.  In this capacity, she has served as the President and Conference Chair of one of the largest TESOL affiliates in the world and is the founder and co-chair of its Testing Special Interest Group.  She served as TESOL President (2011-2012) and was a member of the TESOL Board of Directors (2005-2007; 2010-2013).  Christine received the British Council’s International Assessment Award for 2013.  Her most recent honors were being named to TESOL’s 50@50 which “recognizes professionals who have made significant contributions to the TESOL profession within the past 50 years.” Dr Coombe is the 2018 recipient of the James E. Alatis Award which recognizes exemplary service to TESOL. 

Paul Kei Matsuda, Arizona State University, USA

Paul Kei Matsuda

Presence of the Teacher 2020

Even in today’s ELT world with a high level of professionalism, assessment is not something every teacher feels comfortable with. This is especially true when it comes to writing assessment. And the limited discussion of assessment in graduate coursework and professional development workshops tend to focus on large scale, standardized assessment of writing rather than on the principles and practices of effective classroom assessment. In this presentation, the speaker will discuss the importance of classroom writing assessment literacy for all language teachers. Specifically, he will argue that classroom writing assessment needs to shift the emphasis from evaluation to facilitation, and offer specific strategies for developing effective assessment practices.


Paul Kei Matsuda is Professor of English and Director of Second Language Writing at Arizona State University, where he works closely with doctoral students specializing in second language writing. He has published widely in both writing studies and language studies, and has given numerous lectures and workshops at various universities throughout Asia and around the world. Paul is Founding Chair of the Symposium on Second Language Writing, Editor of the Parlor Press Series on Second Language Writing, and Former President of the American Association for Applied Linguistics.  

Azirah Hashim, University of Malaya, Malaysia

Azirah Hashim

English as Working, Second and Foreign Language in ASEAN and Prospects for ELT

English in ASEAN is embedded in a wide range of languages habitats and is used for multiple functions. English is a working, second, foreign or even first language and is accepted as the lingua franca for regional and global purposes. In countries which were Anglophone colonies, varieties of English have developed with their own linguistic norms. In the other countries, English has also become the first foreign language which is learnt as increasing importance is placed on it through its various uses and functions within and beyond ASEAN. Although ASEAN countries are at different stages of nation-building, they all aspire to become more integrated and to be regional and global players. English is thus promoted as a vehicle of empowerment and participation leading to a tussle between English and other languages. This presentation discusses language policies in ASEAN against the backdrop of national, regional and international language ecologies, and the challenges in making language choices and implementation. This includes English and language education policies as well as emerging trends and relevant approaches which have been adopted. As policies in the region are affected by the politics of nationalism, regionalism and globalisation, this presentation also examines how language policies aim to meet the need to accommodate English and consideration given to other languages. Patterns in the region and recommendations for the way forward, including addressing issues of norms in English language teaching, teacher training and teaching materials, are also discussed.


Azirah Hashim is a Professor in the English Language Department, Faculty of Languages and Linguistics and Executive Director of the Asia-Europe Institute, University of Malaya. Her research interests include Language Contact in Southeast Asia, English as a Lingua Franca in ASEAN, Language and Law, Higher Education in ASEAN, and Academic and Professional Discourse.  Some of her publications include Communicating with Asia: the Future of English as a Global Language, Cambridge University Press edited with Leitner, G. and Wolf, HG. (2016), International Arbitration Discourse and Practices in Asia, Routledge edited with Bhatia, V. et. al (2018), and articles in journals such as English Today, World Englishes, Discourse Studies and Multilingua. In 2017, she was appointed Vice-President of the International Association of Applied Linguistics (AILA) and is Founding President of the Malaysian Association of Applied Linguistics, an affiliate of AILA. In addition, she sits on the executive committee of the Asia Pacific Languages for Specific Purposes and Professional Communication Association and is a former executive committee member of the International Association of Forensic Linguists. Azirah has been actively involved in projects on capacity building in higher education in CLMV countries focusing particularly on Cambodia and Laos. She currently leads an Erasmus+ Capacity Building in Higher Education project, ‘Building research capacity in Laos and Malaysia’ and the Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence on ‘ASEAN and EU in Dialogue’. In 2009, she was awarded the Georg Forster Research Fellowship for Experienced Researchers, Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, Germany and is a Fellow of the Foundation.  Azirah is on the editorial board of English Today, Journal of Sociolinguistic Studies, Asian Journal of Applied Linguistics, Journal of Intercultural Communication (Nordic Network), Asia-Europe Institute (AEI) Insights, Journal of Language Studies-GEMA as well as the Asian Journal of English Language Studies.

Tae-Young Kim, Chung-Ang University, Korea

Tae-Young Kim

L2 Learning and Teaching (De)motivation in South Korea: State of the Art

For decades, L2 learning motivation had been the most researched academic discipline in factors of individual difference in SLA and TESOL (Dörnyei & Ushioda, 2011). After Gardner’s seminal works based on Canadian bilingual contexts (e.g., Gardner, 1985), SLA researchers have investigated L2 learning motivation in various socio-educational contexts around the globe. However, instead of merely reporting previous findings in L2 ‘learning motivation’, this presentation centers on the most recent advances in this area and focuses on three critical issues: 1) L2 learning demotivation, 2) L2 teaching (de)motivation, and 3) Method of effective motivational intervention. First, demotivation in L2, particularly EFL in Korea, will be elaborated with close reference to students’ L2 learning experiences. Second, L2 teaching motivation will be explicated. Teacher education research increasingly highlights this issue on the assumption that there exists a direct relationship between L2 teachers’ teaching motivation and their students’ L2 learning motivation (Kubanyioba, 2012). Teachers’ emotional labor and burnout will also be discussed as major L2 teaching demotivators. A third theme is a motivational intervention as the form of motivational languaging. Swain’s (2006) cognitive concept of languaging was applied and expanded to the field of L2 learning motivation, and motivational languaging activities proved effective in enhancing students’ motivational intensity (Kim, 2019). These key themes will be presented with various empirical studies conducted in Korea by the presenter.


Tae-Young Kim (Ph.D. OISE/University of Toronto) is a professor in the Department of English Education at Chung-Ang University, Seoul, South Korea. His research interests center around L2 learning and teaching (de)motivation, and the contribution of sociocultural theory and activity theory to L2 motivation. He co-edited Second Language Teacher Motivation, Autonomy and Development in the Far East (Springer, 2021). He authored or co-authored over 130 papers and book chapters, and his recent papers have been published in international journals such as System, Language and Intercultural Communication, The Canadian Modern Language Review, Educational Gerontology, Educational Studies, The Asia-Pacific Education Researcher, and the Journal of Asia TEFL.

John M. Norris, Educational Testing Service, USA

Task-Based Language Teaching and the Practice of Meaningful Language Education

Task-Based Language Teaching (TBLT) is an educational framework for the teaching of second and foreign languages. It draws on ideas from philosophy of education, theories of second language acquisition, empirical findings on effective instructional techniques, and the demands of language learning in contemporary society. Fundamentally, TBLT starts from the assumption that learners learn a language best by using it to engage in and accomplish relevant communication tasks. But what does task-based teaching look like in practice, and how does it lead to effective language educational experiences for diverse learners, especially those in Asian contexts? In this presentation, I will highlight the critical components of a task-based lesson design, emphasizing how each component contributes to a maximally meaningful learning experience. In order to illustrate the lesson, I will refer to recently developed task-based pedagogic materials currently in use in Asia. These materials demonstrate how TBLT principles informed: (a) the orientation of the lesson to a guiding real-world task, (b) the sequencing of learning activities (pedagogic tasks) to build up learners’ task-related abilities, (c) the embedding of a focus on language form (grammar, vocabulary, etc.) within these pedagogic tasks, and (d) the assessment of learning outcomes through performance tasks. I will also show how teacher competencies can be developed to work effectively with these kinds of lessons and materials, drawing examples from a task-based teacher training course recently launched in Asia. I will conclude by suggesting that TBLT offers a critical opportunity to enhance the meaningfulness of our language teaching practices, and that now is a particularly good time to do so.  


John Norris is Senior Research Director of the Center for English Language Learning and Assessment at Educational Testing Service, where he manages research on English language teaching, learning, and assessment. Prior to joining ETS, he was associate professor at Georgetown University, where he was founding director of the Assessment and Evaluation Language Resource Center. He also worked as associate professor at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, and as assessment specialist at Northern Arizona University. He began his career as an English teacher in Texas, Brazil, and Hawaii, and he completed his Ph.D. in Second Language Acquisition at the University of Hawai‘i. John’s teaching and research focus on language education (task-based language teaching, in particular), assessment, program evaluation, and research methods. He has published widely on these topics, including recent books on “Second language educational experiences for adult learners”, “Improving and extending quantitative reasoning in second language research”, “Innovation and accountability in foreign language program evaluation”, and “Student learning outcomes assessment in college foreign language programs”. John speaks and conducts research on German, Portuguese, and Spanish, and he is currently acquiring Japanese.

Nick Saville, Cambridge English, UK

Nick Saville

Shaping the Future of Teaching and Learning with AI 

Abstract: TBA


Nick Saville is Director of Research & Thought Leadership in Cambridge English (University of Cambridge) and Secretary-General of ALTE.  He has a PhD in Language Assessment, an MA in TEFL and a BA in Linguistics. Before joining Cambridge he taught at the University of Cagliari (Italy) and worked in Japan. He is currently joint editor of the Studies in Language Testing (SiLT, CUP), previously with the late Prof Cyril Weir, and editor of the English Profile Studies series (EPS, CUP). He co-authored a volume on Learning Oriented Assessment (LOA) with Dr Neil Jones (SiLT 45) and recently co-authored a chapter on the Chinese Standards of English (Chinese-Speaking Learners of English, Routledge). He is a visiting professor for the ICT-Assisted Interpreter Training Project at Xiamen University, China.

Featured Speakers

Tariq Elyas, King Abdulaziz University, Saudi Arabia

Exploring the Challenges and Solutions of  Web-Based  Education on the Learners’ Experiences  during  COVID-19 Pandemic: A Cognitive  Psychological  Approach

The COVID-19 has impacted education in an unpresented way. Teachers are in constant challenges of mastering virtual classrooms now more than ever.  In turn, the rise of remote pedagogy versus traditional face-to-face pedagogy has called upon immediate research and creativity in Web-based education. In this research paper, I will discuss the following topics in relation to remote pedagogy: 1)  the shift to  virtual classrooms in educational institutes in the time of COVID-19; 2)  the  challenges  and solutions  of Web-based learning space; 3) how cognitive psychology can influence most modern teaching practices in Web-based education; 4) and finally, the rise of (neo)pedagogy in the time of 21st  pandemic era offering creativity and solutions to excellence in  learners’ experiences.


Tariq Elyas is  a Full  Professor of Applied Linguistics at King Abdulaziz University (KAU). He holds an MA in English Literature and a PhD in Applied Linguistics.  Dr. Elyas was awarded the British Chevening Fellowship in International Law as well as a Post-Doctorate in Applied Linguistics from the British Commonwealth Council. Dr. Elyas’ areas of interests include Global English, Teacher Identity, Policy Reform, Media Studies, and Women Studies in the Middle East. His research papers have appeared in leading international journals such as British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies, Digest of Middle East Studies, Contemporary Review of the Middle East, Journal of Arab & Muslim Media Research, World Englishes, Asian Englishes, ELT, Sage Open , as well as a contribution to the (2018) TESOL Encyclopedia of English Language Teaching. He was awarded the Bundey Prize for English Verse in Australia, and Reviewer of Year from Emerald Publisher, UK.   In 2018, Dr. Elyas was recognized and awarded the best supervisor in the Humanities & Social Sciences Track at KAU. Currently, Dr.  Elyas has been assigned as the  associate  editor  for Wiley  Encyclopedia  of  World  Englishes- MENA region.

Hyoshin Lee, Konkuk University, Korea

Past, present, and future of the native English-speaking teacher (NESTs) system: From the historical institutional perspective

This study starts with the question, “Why are native English-speaking teachers (NESTs) still assistant teachers (ALT) in Korea?”. In order to answer this question, it analyzes how the NEST system has historically changed in the English education policy environment. It addresses the change of the NEST system when it was introduced in 1995 until 2017, focusing on NESTs as ALTs in elementary and secondary schools regardless of the hiring route.

A document analysis has been employed. Government policy documents related to English education policy, articles, publications, a variety of media reports, and web materials have been analyzed. The study has also used the historical institutional perspective to understand how the NEST system has changed over the past 22 years. The approach focuses on structural factors such as the direction of the central government, education policy, and English education policy on the one hand, and various actors such as NESTs, Korean English teachers, students, and administrators on the other.

The research is expected to help understand the Korean teacher qualification system, the process of change in English education policy, and the characteristics of policy actors, which have influenced the current NEST system in which NESTs play roles as ALTs only in cooperative classes. The study also addresses the direction of how the NEST system will be improved.


Hyoshin Lee is Dean of the Institute of International Education at Konkuk University Glocal Campus, Korea. Before moving to the university, she taught English at secondary schools for about 20 years. She received her PhD in English language teacher development from University of Manchester, UK. She has been involved in a variety of English language teacher education programmes. She works for the AsiaTEFL as a vice-president. Her main research interests are foreign language education policy, teacher development and intercultural communication

Panchanan Mohanty, GLA University, India

Please Don’t Blame English: A Rule Based Approach to English Spelling and Pronunciation

English is considered a difficult language to learn for the non-native speakers primarily because of its spelling system and the overstated mismatch between spelling and pronunciation of its vocabulary. Most highly educated people including teachers of English at various levels in India and many other countries firmly believe that spelling of English vocabulary is unpredictable and hence, bizarre. They take isolated examples to show apparent anomalies between the spelling and pronunciation the English vocabulary; and students in general detest English mainly due to this reason. Modern technology has made this situation worse. Most computer users do not remember the spelling of words because an in-built facility for automatic checking of spelling is available in every machine. Again, regular spelling is also not a priority in the language of SMSes, emails, etc. A survey conducted a few years ago in the United Kingdom has revealed that this auto-correct generation of students failed even to spell the common words like ‘necessary’, ‘definitely’, and ‘separately’. This problem can be dealt with by taking cues from the language acquisition studies. A child first listens to whatever language(s) is spoken around and utters her first word when she is almost one year old. But she becomes a reasonably competent speaker of her first language by the end of the third year. It means most of the first language grammar is acquired in the first two years. In fact, she achieves this feat by constructing, revising and updating her own grammar consistently and continuously. But teaching of English in most Indian schools begins with the alphabet, and reading and writing skills are emphasized in the classroom. Therefore, a descriptive and rule-based approach to English spelling is likely to motivate students to learn it effectively. Keeping these in mind, I will focus in this paper on the changes the English language has undergone in its course of development that give an impression that its spelling is bizarre and discuss in detail some important and commonly used rules to demonstrate that English spelling and pronunciation are highly rule-governed contrary to the common belief that they are not.


Panchanan Mohanty was President of Dravidian Linguistics Association, Chief Editor of Indian Linguistics andDeputy Editor of International Journal of Dravidian Linguistics. Now he is President of Linguistic Society of India and academic editor of The Asian ESP Journal. He has published 29 books and more than 160 papers on various aspects of Applied Linguistics and Translation Studies.

Shoko Sasayama, Educational Testing Service, USA

How Can We Use Research Evidence to Inform Second Language Task Design in Practice?

The use of second language (L2) tasks offers a number of benefits in Task-Based Language Teaching (TBLT) classrooms. It strengthens real-world relevance of instruction, increases learner engagement, and provides meaningful opportunities for input, output, and interaction. To this end, a key question for language teachers is whether the design of L2 tasks (e.g., open v. closed tasks, cognitively complex v. simple tasks) has any implications for what kinds of and how much benefit they bring about. In fact, research studies have shown that certain manipulations of task design lead to certain changes in how L2 learners perform the task, how they interact with each other in it, and what they learn from doing it. In other words, not all tasks offer equal learning opportunities, and careful task design is essential in order to maximize the effectiveness of L2 instruction.

In this presentation, I will first summarize critical research findings about task design and L2 learners’ task performance, interaction, and learning. I will then consider how such empirical evidence can be applied to the actual practice of designing L2 tasks in TBLT classrooms. In the latter half of the presentation, I will focus on practices around designing tasks strategically with different purposes or goals in mind. One question to be addressed here is: What is the best task design for maximizing learners’ L2 task performance as opposed to maximally discriminating across different proficiency levels? Yet another critical question is: Which approach to task design is most conducive to L2 learning of what kinds? I conclude with a set of evidence-based recommendations for task design features appropriate to different language teaching, learning, and assessment purposes.


Shoko Sasayama is an Associate Research Scientist in the Cognitive and Technology Sciences Center at ETS. After studying at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa as a Fulbright scholar, she completed a Ph.D. in Linguistics at Georgetown University. Prior to joining ETS, Shoko worked as a faculty development specialist and as Assistant Managing Director of an English language program at the University of Tokyo. Her research endeavors have focused on the role of cognition in communicative task design for language learning and assessment purposes, including her award-winning publication, “Is a ‘complex’ task really complex? Validating the assumption of cognitive task complexity” (Modern Language Journal, 2016). At ETS, Shoko is involved in projects related to issues of task design and cognition, language learning and assessment product innovation, and language teacher training.

Supong Tangkiengsirisin, Thammasat University, Thailand

Active Learning for ELT in Schools and Universities in Thailand: Approaches, Effectiveness, and Challenges

Active learning provides learners with ample opportunities to engage in the learning process. Learners are able to build knowledge and understanding of new material while making links with existing knowledge. Active learning also helps learners develop long-term recall and a deeper understanding so that they can connect different ideas and think more creatively. In Thailand, schools and universities have been encouraged to increase activities that would enhance knowledge and 21st Century skills among students. In EFL classrooms as well, teachers are encouraged to use various tasks and activities to enable students to learn English more ‘actively’ and communicatively. This presentation illustrates how active learning has been promoted in EFL classes by featuring four cases in schools and universities in Thailand. Each case presents how the teacher/lecturer plans and implements the active learning task/project, how effective the task/project is to language learning, and what challenges are encountered. Teacher and student interviews also provide additional information as to how language learning activities should be prepared to bring about the optimal results. 


Supong Tangkiengsirisin, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor in Applied Linguistics at the Language Institute of Thammasat University, where he currently serves as Director. He is also the President of Thailand TESOL Association and serves on review boards of several ELT-related journals. With over 30 years of teaching experience at the tertiary level, he specializes in a wide range of areas in his teaching including academic writing, written business communication, English for Specific Purposes, and career-related English skills, both in the undergraduate and graduate levels. He has also conducted teacher training in Thai contexts with a focus on English teachers’ language skills and professional development for primary and secondary education. His research interests and specializations involve Second Language Writing, Written Discourse Analysis, ESP, and ELF. He compiled textbooks on English for Health Sciences, English for Sociology and Anthropology, and Business Writing for International Communication.

Chuming Wang, Guangdong University of Foreign Studies, China

The Xu-argument and Its Application to TEFL

The Xu-argument contends that language can be efficiently and successfully learned through Xu (续), a Chinese word with a composite meaning of completion, extension and creation (CEC). During the seemingly simple Xu/CEC process, nearly all major factors facilitating language learning can be activated since Xu/CEC is firmly grounded on key mechanisms conducive to language learning like agency, adaptation, interactive alignment and creative imitation. One important characteristic feature of the Xu-argument is that Xu/CEC contributes significantly to intimately integrating language comprehension with production and enables the latter to align with the former in close proximity, giving rise a remarkable learning effect. In light of the Xu-argument, various operative continuation tasks that contain Xu/CEC can be designed to facilitate L2 learning, such as one-shot continuation, iterative continuation, and comparative continuation. The effectiveness of these tasks have been repeatedly tested and confirmed in a series of empirical studies. It is believed that the Xu-argument points to a new direction for deepening the interaction approach to language learning and teaching, and suggests useful means by which L2 can be effectively taught and learned. This presentation begins with a brief summary of the theoretical underpinnings of the Xu-argument and then focuses on the application of this argument to TEFL, particularly on the procedures of implementing continuation tasks and their beneficial effects on L2 learning.


WANG Chuming is professor at the National Center for Linguistics and Applied Linguistics, Guangdong University of Foreign Studies (GDUFS), China. His main research interest includes second language acquisition and its applications to L2 pedagogy. Over the past 30 years or so he has been endeavoring to apply SLA research findings to foreign/second language teaching. His formulation of the Compensation Hypothesis and the ensuing ‘Learn Together, Use Together’ (LTUT) principle, which highlight the role of context in foreign language learning, throw light on the L2 learning process. His recently developed Xu-argument that language is learned by Xu or CEC (completion, extension and creation) constitutes an attempt to put a new perspective on language learning. He has served as the principal investigator of a major research project supported by the China National Foundation of Social Sciences, focusing on how to enhance efficiency in L2 learning. His articles have appeared in Language Learning, Applied Linguistics and the major journals of foreign language studies in China. He is the author of the books Applied Psycholinguistics: A study on the psychology of Foreign Language Learning (Hunan Education Press, 1990), Studies on Chinese Learners’ English Self-concept (Shanghai Foreign Education Press, 2008), and How a Foreign Language Is Learned (Foreign Language Teaching and Research Press, 2010).