The National Conference for Teachers of English (NCTE) is a joint initiative of the USA Embassy Cultural Affairs Office, the Ministry of Public Education and the Centro Cultural Costarricense Norteamericano (CCCN). For over thirty-five years, these organizations have been committed to providing English teachers with training on the latest resources and trends in ELT. The NCTE provides presenters with valuable opportunities to showcase the latest research and sound practices in the field. The NCTE also constitutes a valuable opportunity for educational publishers and suppliers to exhibit their teaching materials and promote their services among English teaching professionals.
The conference attracts an average of 500 participants per year, from different locations of the country and the region. Instructors from both public and private institutions – teaching levels ranging from pre-school to higher education- attend hands-on workshops, lectures, talks and plenary sessions by renowned national and international experts. The conference works as an association, receiving funds from different organizations, sponsors, donations, and friends.
The NCTE has evolved with the changing demands of a globalized world where English is the international language, acknowledging technical and methodological advances. Generations of English teachers have been positively impacted by this event, both at the national and regional levels.
“Promote the dialogue among all TEFL stakeholders to share innovative strategies to enhance English acquisition in Costa Rica and the region to acknowledge 21st century global social trends”.
“Provide public and private sector professionals and stakeholders with a cutting-edge forum hosting the latest trends to foster best practices in the ELT classrooms.”
The National Conference for Teachers of English 1984 – 2020
The NCTE was first launched on February 20, 1984, all subsequent events were hosted at CCCN’s venue in San Pedro.
Being the first event of its kind in the history of Costa Rica, the NCTE became a milestone in the history of English teaching in the country. Under the theme “Learning Language Through Culture: TEFL for the 80’s”, NCTE first showcased Communicative Language Teaching, a methodology that has influenced the way thousands of Costa Ricans have acquired English.
Throughout several editions, such as its 10th anniversary theme, “Keeping in Tune with EFL”, the NCTE has been a forum to assess the effectiveness of ELT in the country, determining challenges and setting goals. On its 25th anniversary, the NCTE joined international trends in ELT by adopting the theme “Learning: Enlightening Our Inner Self” and setting reflection at the core of teacher professional development. In 2013, the NCTE celebrated “Three Decades of Pioneering in Educational Opportunities”, and the organizing committee acknowledged Dr. Leonardo Garnier (former Ministry of Education) for his efforts to improve the quality of English teaching in the country.
The NCTE has provided local and regional instructors with the opportunity to receive training from international gurus and authors in the field of ELT. For instance, H. Douglas Brown joined us in 2002 (“Teachers for Social Responsibility”) and 2005 (“Beyond political correctness in language assessment”) as a plenary speaker. Spencer Kagan, another internationally renowned author, has also been a plenary speaker (“The Instructional Revolution”, 2009).
Training from experts such as Ana Uhl Chamot, Bryan Lynch, Alvino Fantini, Tony Wright, Fredricka Stoller, Dr. William Grabe, Rebeca Oxford, Dr. Lying Cheng, Lawrence Bouton, Kate Cory-Wright, Dehorah Healey, Philip Haines, Dorothy Zemac, among many others, is one of the major strengths of NCTE plenaries, sessions and workshops.
Teacher development has been a staple of our plenary sessions, with renown guest plenary experts on the topic, such as Dr. Donald Freeman (2002 and 2018), Diane Larsen-Freeman (1993 and 2006), Kathleen Bailey (2003), Victoria Kimbrough (2003), Mary Ann Christison (1997) and Kathleen Graves (2000, 2005 and 2018).
The NCTE has witnessed pendulum shifts in pedagogy, such as Marianne Celce-Murcia’s talk on Discourse Analysis and ELT (1998), or the emergence of Task Based Instruction in the region (portrayed by David Nunan’s plenary talk “New Millenium” in 1993). Changing trends in the world of TESOL for the 21st Century have also been addressed in our plenaries through speakers like Andy Curtis (2003- 2004) and Joan Kang Shing (2013). The NCTE has been honored to have Doctor Neil Anderson, former TESOL President, as a special guest three times (1997, 2001 and 2003), to discuss topics such as assessment, metacognition, and reading.
Experts who have been key to the development of ELT in the region have also provided valuable training to our NCTE participants. Leonor Cabrera (1987 and 1996), Laura Demediuk (2010), Augusto de Dier (2008), Mary Scholl (2009, 2010), Luz Adriana Lopera (2012), Jonathan Acuña (2013), Dr. Allen Quesada (2002), Dr. Leyla Hasbun (1997), and Dr. Clotilde Fonseca (1999) are some of the local experts who have shared their expertise at NCTE plenaries and workshops.
The Rossina Bolaños Award was established in 2001 in memory of Rossina Bolaños. Mrs. Bolaños – Assistant Academic Director at CCCN, Coordinator of the Foreign Language Programs (MEP) and member at large of NCTE’s Organizing Committee – was well-known for her efforts to improve the quality of English teaching in Costa Rica and the region. This award acknowledges the work of a distinguished ELT professional in Costa Rica, and encourages efforts on areas that require creativity, initiative and leadership.
Over the decades, the conference has evolved to better meet the needs and realities of our participants. In 2020, the unprecedented conditions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic led us to hold our event in a virtual format for the first time ever. The result was a complete success with the participation of more than 1,000 teachers from over a dozen countries as well as distant regions across Costa Rica.
This year we will hold our conference virtually again for the safety of everyone involved. It is our sincere hope that we can return to our face to face format in 2022 with the possibility of alternating between in-person and virtual events each year going forward. This innovation will allow the conference to continue to grow and make an even larger impact on the English teaching community of Costa Rica and beyond.
The NCTE Online 2021 conference, with its theme “Building a Community of Practice to Enhance and Transcend English Language Teaching and Learning”, aims to take us back to our roots by focusing on the cultivation of relationships among teaching professionals in order to stimulate a dialogue and shared sense of collaboration and passion for teaching that will extend well beyond the limits of the event itself.
Thank you for joining us!