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March Newsletter 2024

LitNet’s Director of Tutoring, Miguel, and I just returned from the TESOL (Teaching English for Speakers of Other Languages) International Convention in Tampa, Florida. This was an amazing opportunity, and we were hungry for professional development, especially in this post-pandemic time.

The conference took place over several days and was jam-packed with workshops and sessions focusing on language instruction for multilingual learners from K-12 to higher education. Participants and presenters came from literally all over the world. While teaching English in adult education programs was less represented, we came away inspired and with several new ideas, resources, and lessons that will be helpful for some of our tutors. 

Our biggest takeaway is that technology is the future. 

From digital teaching resources to AI (Artificial Intelligence) in the English learner classroom, technological resources are rapidly becoming the TESOL field’s “books.” The convention’s expo hall, which in the past would have been chock-a-block full of print-based publishing representatives, instead featured mostly digital learning platforms. Just saying AI out loud is bound to ruffle feathers or cause one to shake their head slowly while sighing despairingly. That happened this very morning when a dear LitNet tutor dropped by the office and I mentioned that AI was a big theme at the TESOL Convention this year. I get it. Nobody likes the thought of handing things over to a machine.

But here’s our take: whether we like it or not, AI is here. We can avoid it, or we can embrace it by knowing it, being aware of it, and mindfully using it to our advantage. We’re not looking to use AI to replace our volunteer tutors (which would be impossible!), but we are open to trying out resources that will be helpful tools for tutors to use in sessions or for learners to use independently to accompany their tutoring. Even small organizations like ours, fueled by dedicated volunteers and funded on a shoestring, need to evolve.

In the meantime, we still need volunteer tutors. Real people to guide others on their learning journeys.

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