Krashen the Party at the KOTESOL International Conference

by Wayne Finley , 09/10/2018

Stephen Krashen. If those two words don’t immediately make you salivate like one of Pavlov’s love-stricken dogs then you should hand in your notice. You know nothing about English language teaching. Stephen Krashen is to ELT what Elvis Presley is to rock and roll. Stephen Krashen is to linguistics what Lionel Messi is to football (the proper one). Stephen Krashen is to language acquisition what parachutes are to gravity. More than just a household name, he’s an institution. And this year he’s Krashen the party, pardon the pun, at the KOTESOL International Conference on October 13.

Go on YouTube and search for Stephen Krashen. Unlike most plenary speakers at these big conferences, his name actually comes up. And not only does it come up, it yields more videos than you’ll ever have time to watch (unless you have one of those university gigs with four months of vacation!).  What’s even more impressive is that a lot of the videos are from the 1980s and they have loads of comments on them (and they’re not just talking about 80s fashion choices). This guy is a certified ELT celebrity. After delivering his plenary speech at the KOTESOL International Conference they should erect a statue outside Sookmyung Women’s University. It would become every teacher’s duty to make a Krashen pilgrimage in their first week in Korea.

“If Krashen’s such a big name, then name one thing he actually came up with that’s decent!” One thing? Let’s try five. According to Wikipedia, King Krashen introduced all those famous hypotheses that you hear about on teaching training programs. No, not the ‘make the class fun, guys!’ hypothesis, but the big ones. For example, the affective filter. Students are not robots (“could’ve fooled me,” I hear you say) but people, with feelings and things, and if the mood’s not right the language learning stays in its room. Locked away. Like the madwoman in Jane Eyre. Other famous hypotheses include the acquisition-learning hypothesis, the input hypothesis, the monitor hypothesis and the natural order hypothesis. Whoa. That’s more than Einstein.

The last time the KOTESOL International Conference was graced by Professor Krashen’s presence was in 2011. An avid KOTESOL-goer remembers it well. “There was something different in the air that day. It wasn’t the yellow dust. It was…something intangible. Something electric. It was like, I don’t know, like gods were among us. Then I saw him. Stephen Krashen himself. In the flesh. It was a moment I’ll be telling my students’ grandchildren about when I teach them, too.” Tales of witnessing Krashen’s scintillating plenary speech still reverberate around the corridors of Sookmyung’s campus to this day. “You saw BTS at Olympic Stadium? I raise you one Stephen Krashen. Have a good day, sir!”

If you are an English teacher and you want to see the educational equivalent of The Rolling Stones, then get yourself to the KOTESOL International Conference on October 13. Two of the biggest names you’ll see on any program book, anywhere, are headlining the event. Stephen Krashen, the most famous of all ELT practitioners, is leading the lineup with a mysterious plenary speech called, ‘The Secrets of Hyper-polyglots.’ A speech so wrapped up in mystery that only US National Security knows the contents of it. The McCartney to Krashen’s Lennon is none other than Scott Thornbury, the Godfather of the Dogme teaching method! All You Need Is A Conference Pass…

Ready to take a Krash course in ELT excellence? Learn more about the conference of a lifetime here.

Wayne Finley is an English educator and administrator at Woosong University in Daejeon. Although he has retired from life on the KOTESOL publicity team, he is happy to recommend KOTESOL events to anyone he comes into contact with. Admittedly, that’s not many people. He’s a bit of a recluse.

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