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Highlights From TESOL 14 in Portland

April 2, 2014

The Red River Press team had a fantastic trip to Portland, Oregon, for the annual TESOL convention. In fact, on our flight home, in the middle of a game of Jotto, CEO Ben Buckwold revealed that it was our most successful TESOL trip to date! In addition to our two product presentations, we had valuable chats with teachers, subscribers, and other exhibitors. The positive feedback we received from those who toured ESL Library and Sprout English helped confirm that our little team is certainly on the right track. We returned home to Vancouver, Winnipeg, and Toronto inspired to make big things happen. Here are some highlights from our trip! (Scroll down for video.)

What we loved about Portland

  • The mild weather: Despite the rain, it was much warmer than Winnipeg and Toronto! Everything was green instead of white.

  • The food: We enjoyed Peruvian, Indian, Thai, and Japanese cuisine, as well as a home-cooked meal from one of our TESOL exhibit pals. Thanks, Nancy! If you're ever in Portland, check out Andina, Pok Pok, and Saucebox. (And no, we never made it to Voodoo Doughnuts. Shame on us!)

  • The weirdness: Statues of gourds on every corner! So many bridges...

  • The vibe: Portland felt a lot like Vancouver. Nobody was rushing around in business suits. The cherry blossoms were out!

  • The hospitality: Servers, cab drivers, and hotel staff were pleasant and helpful.

  • Powell's Books: One hour before closing is not the best time for a couple of language nerds to enter a city of books. We'll be back!

What we loved about TESOL

  • The teachers: We met so many interesting people from around the world, including people we have known for a long time through Twitter, but have never met in person.

  • The complimentary transportation passes: We used the train and the bus, and saved our feet from too much walking after hours at the booth.

  • The Oregon Convention Center: The session rooms were easy to find for once! The food was decent, too.

  • The free wifi: We didn't have to search around for hot spots! We were connected at all times inside the convention center. Coming from Canada, this was very handy for our team.

  • The sessions: Even though we were at the booth most of the time, we caught a few excellent presentations by brave teachers and authors. More on these soon...

  • Our booth neighbors: Whether we were sharing snacks, or choosing raffle winners for each other, it was great to have Brain Pop nearby!

What teachers loved about ESL Library

  • The business hours. Our site is available 24/7.

  • The accessibility. You can access our sites worldwide, including in many countries where teaching resources are very limited.

  • The nice price for conference attendees. (They deserve it for taking time out for PD! Many spend their own money to go.)

  • The convenience. Many teachers came by just to tell us how many hours we save them.

  • The subject matter. We cover topics that many textbooks don't.

  • The customer service. Our office replies to every inquiry. We take requests and fill them, too!

  • Our kid sister site for teachers of young learners. It was Sprout English's big debut!

  • Our free podcasts. Teachers loved that students don't need a log in code to listen.

  • Our giveaways. This year we gave away four iPod shuffles!

What teachers want to see on ESL Library

  • Academic English materials

  • Materials for absolute-beginner adults

  • More digital materials/apps that students can use in a computer lab or on tablets. (This is coming very soon. We showed a sneak preview to a few subscribers, and they told us that this was exactly what they needed!)

  • An easy way to search for materials based on level (A new version of our site should be ready by summer. It has fantastic search functionality. You're going to love it! We do.)

  • More stories for English learners.

  • The option to sign up for both Sprout English and ESL Library with one log in. (We're thinking about it.)

Next week we'll be blogging about our trip to New York City for the Shorty Awards! Wish us luck.  

PS - In case you were wondering, I won that game of Jotto! Bring on the word games. Stay tuned for a review about an awesome session I attended at TESOL 14.

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Comments (3)

Wendy S.(Teacher)

Those days were great, weren't they. I wonder if we will ever be able to get the buzz and recommitment stemming from a conference together ever again. Thanks for all your helpful material.

Reply to Comment

Lei Kayanuma(Author)

Thanks, Wendy! We also wonder that as well but we're hopeful that we will be able to see all of our great teachers at an in-person conference sometime in the future!

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