The National Conference for Teachers of English (NCTE) is a joint initiative of the US Embassy Cultural Affairs Office, the Ministry of Public Education and the Centro Cultural Costarricense Norteamericano (CCCN). For over thirty seven years, these organizations have been committed to providing English teachers with training on the latest resources and trends in ELT. NCTE provides presenters with valuable opportunities to showcase the latest research and sound practices in the field. 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 face to face version of 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 – 2022
NCTE was first launched on February 20, 1984 and all subsequent events were have been at CCCN’s venue in San Pedro, San José.
Being the first event of its kind in the history of Costa Rica, 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”, NCTE has been a forum to assess the effectiveness of ELT in the country, determining challenges and setting goals. On its 25th anniversary, 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, 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.
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).
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). NCTE has been honored to have Dr. Neil J. Anderson, former TESOL President, as a special guest five times (1997, 2001, 2003, 2020, and 2021), 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, 2021), 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 in areas that require creativity, initiative and leadership.
In 2016, NCTE launched a public speaker series focused on language teacher professional development called PD Talks with the goal of serving the local ELT community during the interim period between conferences. Although initially held every two months in the Mark Twain Library, the talks are now hosted monthly in a virtual format. This change in format has allowed the series to grow enormously with the 2021 series impacting a global audience of nearly 1,500 teachers.
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 allowing for the participation of more than 1,000 teachers from over a dozen countries as well as distant regions across Costa Rica. The 2021 conference was again held remotely with distinguished speaker Dr. Stephen Krashen delivering the two most popular workshops.
The global disruption of recent years has led to unpredictable conditions for teachers and students in which change has been the only constant. In these dynamic times a growth mindset, an eye for innovation, and a spirit of empathy and resilience are what will carry us through to the yet to be established paradigm of post-COVID English language teaching. The NCTE Online 2022 conference, with its theme “Reimagining ELT: The Innovation Journey to Empower Teachers and Learners in Times of Constant Change” will focus on the lessons we have learned during this great shift and the event will serve as a forum to propose ideas for a more reflexive approach to language pedagogy, one that promotes flexibility, adaptability, autonomy, innovation, and empowerment for teachers and learners.
This year’s conference will follow a hybrid format consisting of a mix of online workshops and live in-person plenary talk streamed online from our Eugene O’Neill Theater. It is our sincere hope that we can return to our face to face format in 2023 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.
Thank you for joining us!