As English is being taught in an EFL context in most of the countries in Asia, an international organization for the Asian region has been sought by ELT professionals in Asia. The purpose of Asia TEFL is to fill this need. The organization is expected to have the ability to cover the field of English education in the whole of Asia and reach beyond national boundaries for individuals and groups to work together toward commonly held goals of developing TEFL in Asia. In the summer of 2002, Dr. Hyo Woong Lee, immediate past-president of the Korea Association of Teachers of English (KATE), took the initiative in the founding of Asia TEFL as a way of realizing this 30-year career goal he has held as an ELT practitioner and researcher. Supported by many other organizational leaders in many other Asian countries who share this same vision, the founding committee of Asia TEFL has been launched under the chairmanship of Dr. Lee with the of making Asia TEFL a truly international organization.
The Foundation Committee was formally formed on December 6, 2002, with more than two dozen Korea-based ELT professionals meeting in Seoul to discuss the form and direction the Association should take. A Constitution Committee was formed and charged with the framing of a constitution.
The first Regional Representatives meeting, attended by representatives of Japan, China, Thailand, Taiwan, Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Vietnam, and Korea, was held in Seoul on March 15, 2003. (Representatives from Israel, Iran, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, and the Philippines were unable to attend.) At that meeting, the drafts of the Asia TEFL Constitution and the Organizational Guidelines were finalized, and Dr. Hyo Woong Lee was nominated and approved by the Representatives as the Founding President.