TESOL Association Opens Up Offerings to Nonmembers

To broaden its reach to English language teaching professionals, TESOL International Association has developed new ways for nonmembers to contribute to and learn from the association.

TESOL International Association, which serves English language teaching (ELT) professionals around the world, has opened up its online networking and professional development hub to nonmembers for the first time. It is also offering nonmembers access to more resources on a subscription basis.

The online hub is called myTESOL. In the myTESOL Lounge, ELT professionals discuss many issues related to teaching English, including accreditation, curriculum, lesson planning, research and publications, and advocacy. It was previously available only to members, and now it is open to all ELT professionals for free.

For nonmembers, the association has launched a paid annual subscription that provides access to further TESOL resources. For $15 per year, a nonmember subscriber can join one of the association’s 21 formal interest sections—professional learning communities that offer their own programming and serve as “the lifeblood of the association,” said Barry Pilson, CAE, director of marketing and membership. Subscribers also can join TESOL eGroups, which focus on certain social and cultural areas.

These changes are “an opportunity for nonmembers to get a taste of TESOL in a fairly inexpensive way. They can participate and see what it’s like, and then they might want to engage further,” Pilson said. “We’re trying to look at membership in a different way.”

Through a healthy Facebook following and other indicators, the association knows that many people beyond its membership are interested in engaging in the conversations that TESOL initiates, said John Segota, MPS, CAE, associate executive director for public policy and professional relations. By extending more opportunities for nonmembers to get involved, the association is looking to “channel their interest and cultivate what’s happening there.”

Ultimately, TESOL hopes that nonmembers who subscribe will see the value of joining the association and will become members. “We think we’ve found a new way to attract people to the association,” Pilson said.

But even if the nonmembers who use myTESOL or subscribe don’t join the association, getting more English language teachers engaged and collaborating with each other can benefit everyone. “Our goal is to improve English language teaching everywhere,” Pilson said.

“It’s a way to get more people involved,” Segota said. People using myTESOL and working in interest sections can share ideas with each other and inform the association’s work overall.

For example, TESOL held an in-person event that was limited to about 200 attendees and linked it to a virtual event that more than 800 people participated in, including many nonmembers, Segota explained. That hybrid event generated discussions that can help the association assess the future of the field and TESOL’s policy issues.

To roll out the new offerings for nonmembers, TESOL is communicating with them mostly through social media. The association is also engaging its 116 affiliates worldwide to encourage them to help bring in nonmembers.

These efforts can raise the association’s profile with the public, Segota said. Although the acronym TESOL is widely recognized, fewer people are aware of the association. “They may know about what we do but not who we are as an association,” he said.


Allison Torres Burtka

By Allison Torres Burtka

Allison Torres Burtka, a longtime association journalist, is a freelance writer and editor in West Bloomfield, Michigan. MORE

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