A former editor and the TESOL program coordinator share the history and influence of the TESL Reporter as it ends saying it had a life well-lived
In 1967, as the new TESOL major was just getting started at the Church College of Hawaii (now BYU-Hawaii), two faculty members, Alice Pack and William Conway, came upon the idea of creating a small quarterly publication to promote the new major, the institution, and indirectly, the Church.
As a service to the profession, the publication, named the TESL Reporter, would disseminate ideas, methods, techniques, lesson plans, and book reviews that would be useful to those who taught English as a second or foreign language in schools throughout the Pacific.
The university administration was immediately supportive of the two-part mission, and the TESL Reporter found much success in a field that had only recently been organized as a profession, giving the Church College of Hawaii considerable international recognition as a center of expertise in this academic field.
During the early years, many big names in the field published their ideas in the TESL Reporter. Throughout its lifespan, the TESL Reporter was an early outlet for the ideas of young, up-and-coming professionals who would later become household names in the profession at the international level.
Over the years, the TESL Reporter outgrew its regional focus to include thousands of subscribers in more than 100 countries. Despite the growth, the journal remained true to its original mission of providing a forum where teachers and teacher educators could publish classroom-oriented ideas, essays, and research. It likewise focused on those most in need—those who taught in second and third-world contexts with little to no resources. To that end, the Reporter remained free outside the United States and Canada.
However, as the field grew more complex and specialization became the norm, the number of journals proliferated, and the arrival of the internet lessened the impact of the TESL Reporter with each succeeding decade. Websites soon took over the role of sharing classroom ideas, lessons, plans and so forth, and could do so much more quickly than a publication could
In recent years, it became clear to the TESOL program’s faculty the TESL Reporter had lived out its natural lifespan and accomplished its mission. In addition to promoting the university, it made friends for the Church, (much like the musical performing groups of BYU in Provo and BYU-Hawaii do) in countries where the Church did not (and in some cases still does not) have official status—for example, Cuba, Iran, China, Syria, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Uzbekistan and the other Muslim former satellite nations of the Soviet Union.
On Nov. 4, the TESOL program held an official “celebration of life” event, (complete with tres leches cake from Food Services!) and gave the TESL Reporter “emeritus” status. Though the journal is officially no longer being published, its presence (all back issues) will remain for a long time we hope on the internet, thanks to the efforts of past and present editors, and Justin Marshall at IT services.