Up The Summit


Lesson Plan

Aim: To Deconstruct the TESOL Summit Conference

Type: General English

Level: B


  1. Video of  Futurology: Guiding Principles Session at TESOL Summit Conference, February 2017.
  2. TESOL Summit website
  3. Play Doh


A. Warm Up:  Show this photo  


Ask students these questions:

1. How would you describe the scene?

2. What do you think is happening?

3. How long do you think you could stare at that carpet before you passed out?

Get Feedback. Then explain that it’s Session One of the TESOL Summit conference.

B. Watch The Video Explain that they’re going to watch parts of the Opening session on Futurology.

According to the Conference Programme, Futurology offers “a broad, holistic perspective that is essential for understanding the English language profession both today and in the future”. The presenters are asked to address the question:

What are the mega-trends (political, economic, social, intercultural, legal, and digital) and how do they impact English and English language education?

You might like to explore what “Futurology” is; what “a broad holistic perspective” might entail; or what the question means. Point out that this is a good example of “Summit Talk”, and that a more honest, clearer question is “What’s your guess about what lies ahead?” You can then ask students what they would expect to hear in talks about the future of TESOL.


Sue Garton’s presentation on The Future of Inquiry in TESOL

Play Minute 2 to Minute 15 of the Guiding Principles Session.

Comprehension Questions:

1. Ms. Garton talked about the mega-trends for 7 seconds. What did she say?

2. In Minute 9 Ms Garton says

In the UK now all research projects have to show that they have impact. And by impact that means they will reach the people who will benefit from them. So that’s quite a good sign.  

How do you think all research projects in the UK comply with this new requirement? What government department do you think checks compliance? Is this an example of the further dilution of the impact and vibrancy of the word “impact”?


3. In Ms. Garton’s slide we can see (clockwise from top left): A researcher; Policy Makers; Students; A teacher. In the middle is a Head Teacher.  These are the main stakeholders in English language education. Well, actually they aren’t because, as Ms. Garton explained, she didn’t have room in the slide to include them all. Which stakeholders did she leave out?  What do you think all the arrows mean?  What does this have to do with how mega-trends will impact English language education?

4. How does Ms. Garton suggest that TESOL should “broaden the notion of inquiry”? (Answer: To involve everybody.)

5. What should “Inquiry” mean? (Answer:  The act of asking questions in order to gather or collect information.)

6 What should TESOL concentrate on? (Answer: gathering and disseminating practical professional knowledge.)

7.  Ms. Garton asks: “How do we spread these inquiries across the profession?” How does she answer the question? (Answer: Ms. Garton didn’t answer it. The question was her final contribution to the session.


Asmaa Abu Mezied’s presentation on The Future of Equity in TESOL 

Before asking students to watch this clip, give them a bit of light relief.  Tell students that Ms. Abu Mezied presents herself as “a global shaper”. Give out the play doh and ask them “How would you shape the globe if you had the chance?”

Play Minute 34 to Minute 46 of the Guiding Principles Session.

Comprehension Questions

1. How does conflict affect children?  (Answer: 124 million can’t attend school regularly.)

2. Are there a lot of people in the world who don’t get the chance to go to university? (Answer: Yes)

3. How can we solve these problems? How can we bring English to those who live in areas of conflict? How can we provide greater access to higher education?  (Answer: improve digital identity for displaced persons and follow the example of the Jesuit Worldwide Learning partnership which organises university courses in refugee camps.)

D. The TESOL Summit Website

Go to the website and then ask students to search it for any (further) information that addresses the question:

What are the mega-trends (political, economic, social, intercultural, legal, and digital) and how do they impact English and English language education?

Don’t take too long on this, because there isn’t any. Extraordinary, but true: there is absolutely nothing of substance there. Point out to the students that the website doesn’t give a full summary, and that if they can sustain their interest until March 2018, they can read the summary and commentary of conference proceedings which the organisers have promised to publish.

E. Footnote For Teachers: The Other Issues Covered at the Summit Conference


Reimaging English Competence

A rare moment of clarity came when David Nunan made a short contribution at the end of the Summary Session. The rest is just a confused re-hash of stuff much better expressed elsewhere.

 The Profession as a Change Agent

The conference set out to find ways “to empower each member of the TESOL profession to foster positive change within a risk-tolerant culture”. The presentations provide a rich source of material for teachers interested in exploring pseudo-academic baloney, business jargon and generally empty posturing.

English in Multiculturalism

How can the multilingualism of students of English and TESOL professionals (particularly nonnative-English-speaking teachers) be recognized as an asset in advocacy, innovation, policy, and practice?  How can linguistic diversity be leveraged while teaching English, and what best practices allow teachers to incorporate the languages of their students into their daily professional practices? Pretentious questions, to which answers came there none. Teach the modern idiomatic injunction “Don’t go there!” and don’t go there.

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