CELT Long Beach 2004

Christians in English Language Teaching Conference (Note below photo about this first CELT conference) 

First Congregational Church, Long Beach, California, U.S.A.

Tuesday, 20 April, 2004

8:00 AM - 6:00 PM

Plenary Speaker: Tom Scovel

Featured Speakers: Don Snow and Irene Koshik

Conference Chair: Kitty Purgason

Conference Program: CELT program 2004.doc

The first Christians in English Language Teaching conference was held on March 30, 2004 in Long Beach. From the first session starting at 8:30 am to the final fellowship at a Cambodian dinner, people relished the chance to learn and connect. Total attendance was about 180; while some came for TESOL too, others, especially local teachers and volunteers, attended only CELT.


The three-hour morning session offered a choice of four topics. In one room, four presenters from both Protestant and Catholic schools dealt with the challenges of teaching ESL in seminaries. In another the theme was teaching in international contexts. The audience was given insights from experienced teachers in China, a Muslim nation, Vietnam, and Bosnia. A third strand dealt with materials. The panelists were authors and editors of materials for both secular and Christian publishers. In a fourth room, there were three sessions, including a panel of teachers who spoke on “Divine appointments: integrating faith in the U.S. public school setting” and a panel of non-native speakers who spoke on their unique gifts and opportunities.


The plenary speaker was Tom Scovel, professor at San Francisco State University. Filling the sanctuary of the downtown church where the conference was held, the audience listened as he spoke from his heart on “What is a Christian English Teacher?” His comments on “what we say, what we do, and what we are” were “inspiring, encouraging, thoughtful, and substantive,” in the words of several attendees. The plenary ended with the singing (in fabulous harmony) of “Praise God from whom all blessings flow.”


During the 12:30 to 2:00 lunch hour, many attendees clustered in groups interested in the same kind of teaching and walked to nearby restaurants for lunch. Others visited the exhibits where organizations displayed opportunities and Christian ESL materials were available for purchase. The exhibit hall also had some poster sessions with practical ideas for classroom activities that integrate faith and ESL.


The afternoon began with a choice of two featured speakers. Don Snow spoke on Christian English teachers and reconciliation. His audience was pleased to hear the author of English Teaching as Christian Mission give his insights on such a pertinent topic. Faculty member of the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, Irene Koshik’s talk was titled ‘Cross-Cultural (Mis)communication: A Biblical Perspective.” Her insights from Scripture and various academic disciplines, illustrated with video clips, were appreciated.


For the rest of the afternoon, there was another set of choices in four rooms. Church-based ESL was a popular topic, and the four speakers had much to offer from their experience in successful programs in Ohio, California, and Vancouver. The strand on “Culture and Christianity” was packed with content as five speakers dealt with both using and avoiding culture. Other choices included a three-speaker panel on English camps, a workshop on creating customized curricula for overseas English programs, a presentation on non-Christian students in a Christian IEP, and a panel on standards that agencies which do ESL/EFL use (or don’t use) to ensure quality teaching. Finally, there was a lively panel presentation and discussion on recent articles by Pennycook and by Edge.


One attendee wrote, "I believe this will be the highlight of the entire week for me." Another wrote, “I realized after attending TESOL that CELT is so needed. Although we are professionals in TESOL, if we are not continuing to grow as Christians in the field, then we are missing a very core need of our continued development.”


Thanks to Kitty Purgason of Biola University for coordinating the conference; all the speakers who shared their experience, ideas, and time; all the volunteers who helped make it run smoothly; and all the Christian teachers who attended and gave feedback on how another CELT might be done in the future.


Speakers were requested to send their handouts or papers to the Christian Educators in TESOL caucus webmaster for posting on the caucus website.

© Christian English Language Educators Association (CELEA)
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