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2023 Invited Speakers



Dr. Jacinta Thomas (College of Lake County)

Bio: Dr. Jacinta Thomas recently retired from the College of Lake County, having worked there for 30 years.  During her tenure at CLC, Jacinta created and subsequently taught in the Academic English Language Instruction (ELI) program. In addition, Jacinta created and taught in  CLC’s ELL endorsement and TESOL programs.  Jacinta has served as an adjunct professor at Northeastern Illinois University, and has offered Administrator Academies in the area of teaching ESL as well as in diversity, inclusion and equity. As a consultant,  Jacinta has worked with several school districts in Lake County, offering workshops to K-12 teachers on a variety of topics.  Jacinta has also presented at local, national and international conferences.

Presentation: TESOL Matters: Looking Back and Moving Forward
The face of the TESOL profession may have evolved over time, new methods and trends may have emerged, yet the principles of advocacy and empowerment have remained at its core. This session will focus on priorities and strategies for TESOL professionals to continue to promote these enduring principles while promoting a culture of innovation responsive to new realities.


Mr. Constantine Bitsas (TEACH - Tutoring English to Advance Change)

Bio: Mr. Constantine Bitsas is Executive Director of Tutoring English to Advance Change (TEACH), a community-based and needs-driven TESOL agency. He oversees innovative programs that focus on ELL with multiple barriers.  Mr. Bitsas' has over 20 years' experience in ABE and workforce development programs for special populations and under-resourced communities.  He has a Master's in Organization and Management and is currently pursuing an EdD in Learning and Organizational Change.

Presentation: Looking Beyond English Literacy: TESOL's Potential Impact on Social Injustice and Systemic Inequities

In support of the 2023 ITBE Convention focus that, "TESOL Matters,"  Constantine Bitsas discusses the role of TESOL in addressing systemic equities in areas such as healthcare, education, employment ,and infrastructure, and in promoting social justice.  He discusses impact- versus outcome-based  goals and suggests perspectives to enhance the impact of  TESOL on students and their families.




Dr. Senyung Lee (Northeastern Illinois University)

Bio: Dr. Senyung Lee is an Assistant Professor of TESOL at Northeastern Illinois University, where she teaches courses on second language assessment, TESOL methodology, and second language acquisition. Her research areas are second language assessment and vocabulary learning. She has years of English teaching experience in South Korea and in the United States, and she has extensive experience in developing English tests. Her research has been published in journals including Language Assessment Quarterly, Language Testing, and International Review of Applied Linguistics in Language Teaching. She is the winner of the 2020 Jacqueline Ross TOEFL Dissertation Award by Educational Testing Service.

Presentation: Assessment Matters: Fundamentals of Language Assessment for Teachers

Assessments are meant to positively impact students’ learning and teachers’ teaching. Language assessments are tools to help students in their language learning process and to inform teachers. However, not acknowledging the inherent limitations of language assessment and not understanding potential ways of misusing language assessment may cause educators to distrust language assessments. In this talk, I begin by explaining the inherent limitations of language assessment that teachers should be aware of. I then show some of the ways language assessment can be used inappropriately. Finally, I discuss what language teachers can do to effectively use language assessment in their own teaching contexts.


Dr. Michael Pasquale (Cornerstone University)

Bio: Dr. Michael Pasquale (Ph.D., Michigan State University) is professor of linguistics and director of the MA TESOL program at Cornerstone University in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He also trains English teachers and teaches ESL for the Detroit Tigers Baseball Club (MLB). His specialization is on the interaction between sociolinguistics and second language acquisition. His current research area focuses on corpus linguistics and second language acquisition. He was a Fulbright Senior Specialist at the Universidad Nacional Santiago Antúnez de Mayolo (Huaraz, Peru).

Presentation: Connections Matter: Transforming the Classroom through Community-Driven Learning
Re-envisioning the classroom from a teacher-centered space to a place of Community-Driven Learning will establish mutual trust, encourage risk-taking, and grow students academically, socially, and emotionally through deeper community connection. This is not an easy process. Community-Driven Learning (CDL) fosters trust through high levels of intentional interaction and therefore increases learning. The CDL process can be long and challenging, but as community forms and grows within the classroom (in all modalities from face-to-face to virtual), true, deep, and connected learning begins to happen. Connections can be cultivated, and growth will naturally come because of the community building process. Relationships will deepen, as individuals come to know each other through their individual skill application to the community and increase a sense of belonging, so that each person is contributing their gifts for the benefit of the whole.