Dear fellow Asia TEFL members, I would like to wish all of you a Caring, Sharing, Accepting, and Forgiving New Year. I also would like to extend my deep appreciation to all of you for being part of the Asia TEFL family. Already our family has grown to approximately 3,300 members from 47 different countries and regions.
As you well know, Asia TEFL has already organized two very impressive and successful conferences and published two issues of the Journal with its two broad goals: 1) to make a great contribution to English language teaching and learning in the Asian context through the exchange of information on English education, and 2) to greatly contribute to peace and prosperity on this continent through cross-cultural understanding. This would not have been possible without your strong support, active cooperation, and high interest in Asia TEFL.
Asia TEFL is fundamentally different from organizations such as TESOL, Inc. and IATEFL in that they operate on revenue from membership dues and registration fees. Presently, those wishing to become members of Asia TEFL need not pay any annual membership dues. There are also no conference registration fees for Asia TEFL members. Asia TEFL is a non-profit international organization that is run mainly by donations from its members, institutions, publishers, business corporations, and even governments. This is how our 2003 and 2004 Conferences were financed. In principle, Asia TEFL is an association to which ordinary professors and teachers can have easy access. As you well know, the Asian countries and territories vary widely from region to region in their economic situations. If we were to set annual membership dues and conference registration fees at rates similar to those of TESOL or IATEFL, Asia TEFL would quickly become an association for a very limited number of members and could quickly become ineffectual.
I would like for Asia TEFL to be an organization that is quite different from other existing associations in this aspect. This is my goal and the philosophy underlying the foundation of Asia TEFL. But at the same time, this requires your full understanding and commitment to the organization, which is based on the spirit of sharing and volunteering. More financial support from the organization should go to those who would otherwise not be able to be part of our professional world. This should be a fundamental element to be considered when you are wondering about no membership dues for Asia TEFL and no registration fees for Asia TEFL conferences.
For the coming year, I would like to place strong emphasis on the following:
First, we should concentrate our efforts on the publication of our Journal to make it an internationally recognized one. I would like to ask those who plan to contribute articles to the Journal to be rigorous in paper preparation. I would also like to ask editorial committee members to examine every submitted article exhaustively. To globalize our Journal, good quality articles in terms of content and written expression are extremely important. We are establishing a Best Research Paper of the Year Award to promote scholarship.
Second, I will try my best to make the 2005 Asia TEFL International Conference more attractive to both our members and nonmembers. (The 2005 Asia TEFL Conference will be held in Beijing, China, on November 4-6). In order to achieve this, we will need to improve the quality and variety of presentations and invite more widely recognized scholars from inside and outside the Asian continent. We will also try to increase the number of travel grant awardees and also to increase the quality of presentations. We plan to have around 400 presenters and 50 travel grant awardees.
Third, Asia TEFL will try to provide its members with a variety of information and high quality service. We will do these things through our newsletter and journal, both based on the Asia TEFL website, and through our conferences. We plan to upgrade our website design.
Finally, we will try to increase the number of Asia TEFL members. To do this, each of our Regional Representatives should try to disseminate Asia TEFL information to EFL professionals in their region.
I really hope that all of you will furnish me with your insights as well as hands-on strategies to make all this possible. Some awards will be given to those who greatly contribute to increasing membership.
Your constant interest, active cooperation, and undying devotion are crucial to Asia TEFL's continued success.
I wish the best of health, wealth, and wisdom to all of you.
Hyo Woong Lee, Ph.D