Building Bridges Without Crossing Borders
Every March, the ESL Library team attends the annual TESOL convention. In recent years, the convention has taken us to many American cities, including Boston, Philadelphia, Dallas, and Portland. This year the convention was in Toronto, Canada. This was convenient for our little publishing team. We didn't have to cross any borders (funny, since 'Crossing Borders, Building Bridges' was the TESOL theme this year), and we were able to meet local subscribers and publishers to learn more about what Canadian teachers want and need. TESOL 15 was also an opportunity for us to welcome new and old publishing and teaching friends to our home and native land. As always it was a fun, educational, and productive week at TESOL. Here are a few highlights from this year's trip.
What we loved about Toronto
Our team came from as close as Waterloo and as far as away as Vancouver. It was much easier to find our way around this year, and we had no trouble using our cell phones.
- The food. There was no shortage of delicious food this year. Our favorite restaurant was a Thai place called Khao San Road.
- The convenience. It was a cold week in Toronto, and the indoor PATH came in very handy. We didn't even need coats!
- The view. We stayed next to The Metro Toronto Convention Centre. The view from the 39th floor at the Delta was spectacular.
What we loved about the TESOL 15 Convention
- The sessions. We attended useful sessions on teaching vocabulary, learning the Canadian Benchmarks system, keeping young learners moving, and more. We also gave our own presentations about ESL Library and Sprout English.
- The TESOL app. We didn't open the heavy book we received at the registration desk this year. Maybe it's time to go paperless?
- Free ice cream.
What teachers loved about ESL Library
- Our booth. We matched our booth to our website design this year, and our creative efforts paid off. Even the TESOL organizers came by to offer compliments.
- The T-shirts. We wore colorful ESL Library tees to promote the cheerful and approachable nature of our team. This was a big hit!
- Our new site. The feedback was very positive, and it was a pleasure to showcase the redesigned lessons and features.
- The convenience. A number of enthusiastic teachers came by to tell us that ESL Library had saved their lives. Nicoya from the Applied Language Institute in KC, pictured below with our designer Robyn, told us she used ESL Library exclusively when her textbooks didn't arrive for six weeks.
- Our new filter system.
- The Grammar Practice Worksheets. Teachers love the new format and wide variety.
- The Writing Section. 'Yes, we have Academic English materials!'
- The new Flashcard Library. It was so easy to demo this section this year.
- The price. Teachers and administrators love that ESL Library is only $55 per year. 'And that's for everything?'
What teachers want to see on ESL Library
One of the most important reasons to attend the TESOL convention is to talk with teachers face-to-face. Here are some of the requests and suggestions we received this year.
- Canadian Benchmark materials
- Materials on punctuation
- More beginner-level materials like our new Barack Obama (beginner)
- Academic Word List lessons
- The option to print with Canadian/American spelling
- Better options for using ESL Library with online students
- More Living in English lessons (update older ones)
- Interactive lessons with student access
- The ability to comment on our blog as a signed-in ESL Library member
I looked back at last year's post and was happy to see that we made many things happen after TESOL 2014! In fact, 2014 was probably our most productive year. Share your own requests in the comments below, and help us build the site that teachers need. Our team from left to right: writer Tara Benwell, designer Robyn Shesterniak, editor Tanya Trusler, and CEO Ben Buckwold See you next year in Baltimore!