Professional Development and the Future of TESOL With communication technology and

With communication technology and global economics making the world an increasingly smaller place, the need for a universal language is becoming increasingly important. Is it English' As a mono-language, more people on the planet probably speak Chinese, Arabic, Hindi, and maybe Spanish, but as a second language more people are learning English than any other language. Within the very near future, there will most likely be more speakers of English as a second language than native English speakers. Science and technology, and most business industries around the world are conducted with English as a common medium, reinforcing its own momentum. More people are traveling leisurely and professionally than ever before. Without at least a minimal grasp of English, if you travel anywhere in the world, other than to a land that speaks your native language, you will encounter greater language difficulties. As business and tourism spreads and expands to nearly every social corner of the earth, learning English becomes a matter of at least a better living and perhaps a matter of survival.

Reading through some of the thousands of on-line ESL forums, I am struck by the variety of staunch opinions with eloquent arguments and expletives about the future of TESOL. Some say the bubble has burst; some say it has not yet peaked. My awareness is infant as I just now begin scratching at the surface of the complexity that creates this market; however, my intuition and minimal understanding tells me that the teaching English industry is poised for greater expansion around the globe. As an industry, however, it is apparent, from on-line forums, articles, and personal experience, that there is a need for deep professional unity and development. I think the future of TESOL is in the hands of its professionals. Without high quality training and networking, professional motivation, and a consistent global understanding of the relative monetary value of qualified teachers, the industry as a whole will stagnate, offering lower quality services to both teachers and students, and perhaps running itself dry.

The amount of on-line resources to be a better teacher and get involved is staggering. Obviously, the need is out there and obviously, it's not going to go away soon. The direction it does go, however, may be quite unpredictable. It seems to be a fluid, organic system with many changing facets. When teachers are committed to the profession, when it is not just a cool job and way to live abroad for a year or two, the industry develops as the world's needs develop. Otherwise, we have an over-saturated, poorly paid market with a poorer quality product. This professionalism doesn't just mean being a good teacher in the classroom. It means enhancing your own career by attending conferences, developing materials, conducting language research, furthering your education (especially in technology based teaching), writing articles, reading publications, networking, training employers about teacher needs, or becoming involved in advocacy and policy efforts. There are many paths to enhancing one's own career and thus upholding their profession, but it comes down to being engaged and sharing with your own institution and the larger teaching community.