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Report from TESOL 2014: 1.5 Billion English Learners Worldwide
Written by: John Bentley
Last Updated: July 19, 2021
For those holding any doubt about the depth or the extent of demand for English language instruction, one only need to wander through the halls of the TESOL 2014 International Convention & English Language Expo at the Oregon Convention Center in Portland during the week of March 26 - 29, 2014 to experience firsthand how extensive the reach of English language education is around the world. This past week, staff members from International TEFL Academy joined more than 8,000 English language instructors and educational professionals from more than 70 countries at TESOL 2014, the world's largest and most prominent gathering of TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) and TESOL (Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages) professionals. According to conference organizers the TESOL International Convention & English Language Expo featured more than 900 lecture/discussion sessions given by more than 1500 speakers representing more than 50 different countries.
From curriculum development and new technology to global teacher recruitment, leading TEFL and TESOL professionals from International TEFL Academy and around the world gathered to discuss and educate each other regarding important developments in the field of English language education and to promote the advancement of English language education around the globe.
"This conference provides a great opportunity for those of us who work in the field of English language education to connect with our colleagues and friends from across the globe," said Ian Davis, International TEFL Academy's Director of Admissions. "You can read statistics regarding the extent of the global market for English language instruction and the demand for teachers, but until you attend a gathering like this where you meet people from Peru, Taiwan, the Middle East and Thailand really, it's can hard to grasp how large and extensive the global demand for English language teachers really is."
International TEFL Academy Director of Admissions, Ian Davis, poses with representatives of TutorGroup, a Taiwan-based educational company that employs more than 2,000 English language instructors to provide online English lessons to students in 50 nations worldwide.
1.5 Billion English Learners Worldwide
One of the primary themes of TESOL 2014 is that the number of people seeking to learn English to continues to grow.
"The number of English language learners worldwide is up to 1.5 billion," according to John Knagg, who attended TESOL 2014 as a lead representative of the British Council, one of the largest providers of English language instruction in the world with more than 3,000 full-time English teachers worldwide.
This has generated an almost insatiable demand for qualified English language instructors across the globe, particularly for native speakers. In fact, according to David Gradol, a leading expert in English language education policy worldwide who delivered a keynote address to the conference, "The lack of qualified English language instructors presents one of the largest challenges to educators and citizens across the globe."
The demand for qualified instructors, including TEFL certified English teachers was clear to anybody who took time to stroll through the TESOL 2014 Expo & Job Fair where hundreds of schools and language programs from around the globe were interviewing job candidates for English teaching positions in dozens of nations. From the U.S. State Department's English Language Programs to the universities in Turkey and multinational corporations like Northrop Grumman and ARAMCO (Saudi Arabia's national oil company), a wide variety of entities came to TESOL 2014 in search of English language instructors.
"English is more than a commodity. It has the power to transform nations."
A highlight of the TESOL 2014 Convention that really drove home the importance of English as the international language of commerce and culture was the keynote address delivered by Dr. Surin Pitsuwan, Thai politician and former Secretary-General of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the preeminent political and economic organization for 10 countries in Southeast Asia, whose combined population tops more than 600 million people. Dr. Pitsuwan, who first learned English as teenage exchange student in Minnesota, and later earned a PhD from Harvard, stressed that English has played an instrumental role in the massive economic growth achieved in recent decades by countries like Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia, and increased English language education is required to improve the lives of billions of people, not only in Asia, but across the globe.
"We communicate in English, we negotiate in English, and we sing karaoke in English," Dr. Pitsuwan said, stressing that citizens of the world strive to learn English, not only to conduct business, education and diplomacy, but enjoy to culture and entertainment. Indeed, he said, English has become an integral part of life for billions of people around the globe.
Teaching English as a Foreign Language: Making a Difference & Empowering Others
To those of who work to promote English language education, the messages of TESOL 2014 were inspiring and clear:
The demand for English teachers worldwide is astronomical and continues to grow.
Teaching English to non-native speakers not only provides a means to live, work and travel abroad; it provides innumerable opportunities empower others from all walks of life across the globe.
Posted In: Teach English Abroad
John Bentley is Co-Founder & Senior Writer for International TEFL Academy (ITA), the world leader in TEFL certification for teaching English abroad. A graduate of Harvard University and the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern, John is a recognized expert in the field of TEFL. His articles have appeared across the field's top websites, including GoAbroad.com, StudyAbroad.com, InterExchange, GoOverseas.com, Adventure Teaching, & many others. He has also spoken as an expert on Teaching English Abroad & TEFL certification at major conferences like MeetPlanGo and Lessons from Abroad (LFA) in Portland & San Diego.
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