Reflecting Back, Moving Forward: BC TEAL Turns 50



[Article reprinted from the Winter 2017 BC TEAL Newsletter]

BC TEAL is Canada’s oldest English as an additional language (EAL) professional association, and 2017 is an important year—BC TEAL turns 50! Over the past five decades, BC TEAL has served countless EAL teaching professionals at conferences, professional development workshops and sessions, and many other events. 50 years is a significant milestone and is a good time to reflect back.

What started as a small group of dedicated professionals who came together and founded the association has grown in ways they may scarcely have imagined. As I think about that group of founders, I feel indebted to the commitment and energy they had in creating BC TEAL.

I imagine that the folks who started BC TEAL 50 years ago, such as Patricia Wakefield, BC TEAL’s first president, would be ecstatic and proud to see such a vibrant and involved professional community. Much like those who founded the association, the heart of BC TEAL remains the same—it has been built by a community of like-minded individuals who volunteer their time, ideas and energy.

2016 ended on a particularly high note for BC TEAL with several projects, initiatives and opportunities of note. In the fall, BC TEAL formally took over the assets—financial, physical, and intellectual—from LISTN (Language Instruction Support and Training Network), had a wildly successful (and fun!) interior regional conference held in Kamloops, and held many events facilitated by regional groups throughout the province as part of BC TEAL’s EAL week celebrations. These events were on top of many other successes in 2016, such as the BC TEAL Refugee Project.

Wanting to continue building on the work of countless board members and volunteers over the past five decades, the BC TEAL board of directors held a visioning and strategic planning retreat in October. Using survey feedback from members and volunteers and building on the past work of the association, what emanated from the retreat was a diverse and impressive set of priorities and plans for BC TEAL going forward. Watch out in 2017—there are some exciting plans for the year!

In particular you don’t want to miss the BC TEAL Annual Conference which will be at Vancouver Community College May 4-6 with three amazing keynote speakers: Andy Curtis, Penny Ur, and Jill Hadfield. Our 50th anniversary conference will be an amazing celebration.

As always the newsletter includes many engaging and meaningful articles including ones on employment conditions, teaching Syrian refugees, IELTS, and education through ethnography. That is just a sample of some of the wonderful articles in this issue. I also thank the many contributors to this newsletter and BC TEAL’s Publication Chair Scott Douglas who not only edits the BC TEAL newsletter, but who also serves as the editor of the BC TEAL Journal.

Importantly, thanks go to the many BC TEAL volunteers— past and present—over the past five decades. They have made BC TEAL what it is.


Joe Dobson President, BC TEAL


Joe Dobson is the president of BC TEAL. He is a senior lecturer at Thompson Rivers University. His research interests include educational technology, teacher education, and intercultural communication.

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