About NCTE

About NCTE

The National Conference for Teachers of English Costa Rica (NCTE) is a collaborative endeavor between the Cultural Affairs Office of the US Embassy in Costa Rica, the Ministry of Public Education, and Centro Cultural Costarricense Norteamericano. With an impressive history spanning thirty-nine years, the organizers of NCTE have demonstrated unwavering commitment to equipping teachers with the latest resources and trends in the field of English language teaching. NCTE serves as a platform where presenters can showcase cutting-edge research and effective practices, fostering an environment of continuous learning and professional growth. Moreover, the conference serves as a valuable opportunity for educational publishers and suppliers to exhibit their innovative teaching materials and promote their services to English teaching professionals. Throughout the years, NCTE has evolved in response to the demands of a globalized world, recognizing the ever-changing technical and methodological advancements in the field. The profound impact of this event spans generations of English teachers, both at the national and regional levels, and has played a transformative role in their professional journeys.


“Promote the dialogue among all TEFL stakeholders to share innovative strategies to enhance English acquisition in Costa Rica and the region to acknowledge 21st century global social trends.”


“Provide public and private sector professionals and stakeholders with a cutting-edge forum to examine the latest trends to foster best practices in the ELT classroom.”

Early Influencers: The first NCTE event was held in February of 1984. Being the first conference of its kind in Costa Rica, NCTE became a landmark event in the development of English teaching in the country. Under the theme “Learning Language Through Culture: TEFL for the 80s,” the first conference showcased Communicative Language Teaching, a methodology that has influenced the way thousands of Costa Ricans have acquired English. Throughout its subsequent editions, NCTE has been a forum to assess the effectiveness of ELT in the country, determining challenges and setting goals.

International Presence: NCTE has attracted renowned international experts in the field of ELT, including Stephen Krashen, H. Douglas Brown, Spencer Kagan, Kathleen M. Bailey, Andy Curtis, Ruben Puentedura, Ana Uhl Chamot, Bryan Lynch, Alvino Fantini, Tony Wright, Fredricka Stoller, William Grabe, Rebeca Oxford, Lying Cheng, Lawrence Bouton, Kate Cory-Wright, Deborah Healey, Philip Haines, and Dorothy Zemac, among many others. Their contributions have been a major strength of NCTE’s plenaries and workshops.

Over the decades, NCTE has witnessed pendulum shifts in pedagogy, such as Marianne Celce-Murcia’s talk on Discourse Analysis and ELT (1998) or the emergence of Task-Based Instruction in the region portrayed by David Nunan’s plenary talk “New Millennium” in 1993. Changing trends in the world of TESOL for the 21st Century have also been addressed in our plenaries through speakers like Andy Curtis (2003-2004) and Joan Kang Shin (2013, 2017, 2020). We were pleased to have Neil J. Anderson, former TESOL President, as a special guest five times (1997, 2001, 2003, 2020, and 2021) to discuss topics such as assessment, metacognition, and reading. More recently, we were honored to learn from renowned linguist Stephen Krashen (2021, 2022, 2023).

Teacher Development has also been a staple of our sessions, with plenary speakers on the topic including Donald Freeman (2002, 2018), Diane Larsen-Freeman (1993, 2006), Kathleen Bailey (2003), Victoria Kimbrough (2003), Mary Ann Christison (1997), and Kathleen Graves (2000, 2005, 2018).

Local Expertise: Valuable insights have also been shared by local and regional experts in the field of ELT, such as Leonor Cabrera (1987 and 1996), Laura Demediuk (2010), Augusto de Dier (2008), Mary Scholl (2009, 2010, 2021, 2023), Luz Adriana Lopera (2012), Jonathan Acuña (2013, 2023), Dr. Allen Quesada (2002), Dr. Leyla Hasbun (1997), Dr. Clotilde Fonseca (1999), and Jonnathan Elizondo (2020, 2021), among others, who have shared their expertise at NCTE plenaries and workshops.

PD Talks: In 2016, NCTE launched a public speaker series focused on language teacher professional development called PD Talks: Professional Development Sessions. The goal was to serve the local ELT community during the interim period between conferences. Initially held every two months at the Mark Twain Library, the talks are now hosted monthly in a virtual format, expanding their reach and impact. This change in format has allowed the series to grow enormously, with the 2023 series impacting a global audience of nearly 1,000 teachers from 43 countries.

Recent Innovations: Over the decades, the conference has evolved to better meet the needs and realities of our participants. In 2020, the unprecedented conditions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic led us to hold our event in a virtual format for the first time ever, enabling the participation of more than 1,000 teachers from over a dozen countries, as well as distant regions across Costa Rica. The 2021 conference was again held remotely, with distinguished speaker Dr. Stephen Krashen delivering the two most popular workshops. In 2022 and 2023, we pioneered a new hybrid format with a mix of virtual sessions and in-person plenary talks broadcast live to our audience around Costa Rica and the world.

NCTE 2024: The field of English language teaching has experienced unparalleled changes in recent years driven by global crises, improvements in access to online and hybrid learning opportunities, and technological advances such as the emergence of generative artificial intelligence software. These disruptions bring both challenges and opportunities, underscoring the need for teachers to come together as a cohesive professional community to address them.

The NCTE 2024 conference, with its theme “Connecting Knowledge in ELT: Opportunities and Challenges in Moving Forward,” invites us to take the next step in this journey. Now, more than ever, educators must unite to address common dilemmas, leverage collective knowledge, and propel English language teaching into a new era of excellence.

In 2024 we will expand on the hybrid format we have offered over the last two years by continuing to offer a combination of virtual sessions and in-person plenary talks livestreamed from the Eugene O’Neill Theater in San José, Costa Rica. These plenaries will also have online moderation which will allow remote participants to interact with each other and pose questions for the speakers. In addition, we will offer a full day of pre-conference workshops with renowned international figures in an in-person setting that will not be livestreamed.

Thank you for being a part of our journey!

NCTE Timeline: 39 Years of Innovation in Professional Development in Language Teaching

NCTE 1 – Learning Language through Culture: TEFL for the 80’s
February 20-24, 1984

NCTE 2 – Towards Excellence in Teaching English
February 18-20, 1985 – Featured Speakers: Karl Drobnic, Maria Cantarero, Ruth Montalvan

NCTE 3 – Meeting the Challenge
February 10-12, 1986 – Featured Speakers: Patricia Werner, Martin Phillips, Ellen Cohen, John Shepherd

NCTE 4 – Tradition and Innovation: Working Together for Success
February 9-11, 1987 – Featured Speakers: William Carroll, Leonor Cabrera, Eve Chambers Sánchez, Richard Boldon, Rebeca Bundy, Ted Gehr, Richard Hoffman, Judith Leverone, Joan Theine

NCTE 5 – Curriculum Goes Communicative
February 9-10, 1988 – Featured Speakers: Marjorie Terdal, Federick Jenks

NCTE 6 – Growing as Professionals: Learning from Ourselves and Others
February 2-4, 1989 – Featured Speakers: William Carroll, Kristine Dluhy

NCTE 7 – Ready for the Nineties?
January 25-27, 1990 – Featured Speakers: Fred Davidson, William Carroll

NCTE 8 – Making the Nineties Happen
January 25-27, 1991 – Featured Speakers: Sarah Hudelson, Grace Woodman, Carolyn Ryffel

NCTE 9 – Facilitating Successful English Language Learning: Essential Elements
January 28-30, 1993 – Featured Speakers: Diane Larsen-Freeman, Brian Linch, Tony Wright

NCTE 10 – Keeping in Tune with EFL
January 26-28, 1994 – Featured Speakers: Dr. Richard Day, Dr. Tony Wright, Dr. Alvino E. Fantini

NCTE 11 – English Today for a Successful Future
January 25-27, 1995 – Featured Speakers: Dr. Marilyn Rosenthal, William Ancker, Michael Vaughan

NCTE 12 – Sustainable Development in ELT
January 24-26, 1996 – Featured Speakers: Dr. Mary Lou McCloskey, William Ancker, Leonor Cabrera

NCTE 13 – Languages and Communication in an Integrated World
January 29-31, 1997 – Featured Speakers: Neil J. Anderson, Lawrence F. Bouton, Mary Ann Christison, Brian Tomlinson, Leyla Husbun, James Robinson

NCTE 14 – Creating Autonomous Language Learners
January 21-23, 1998 – Featured Speakers: Marianne Celce-Murcia, Geraldine de Berly, Anna Uhl Chamot, Michael Jerald, David Eastment

NCTE 15 – A New Millennium: Reflecting on ELT Teaching Goals
January 27-29, 1999 – Featured Speakers: David Nunan, Kay Davis, Jodi Crandall, Steven Gaies, Clotilde Fonseca, Michael Lewis

NCTE 16 – A New Era: New Directions and Challenges
January 26-28, 2000 – Plenary Speakers: Jodi Crandall, Rebeca Oxford, Ron Schwartz, Sabino Morera, Bonnie Brown, Thomas Ricento, Kathleen Graves

NCTE 17 – Pathways to Excellence
January 24-26, 2001 – Featured Speakers: Neil J. Anderson, Janet Orr, Silvia Sánchez, Dr. Sandra Savignon, Anabelle Hernández, Carolyn Ryffel

NCTE 18 – Globalization and ELT: The Challenge
January 23-25, 2002 – Featured Speakers: H. Douglas Brown, Donald Freeman, Allen Quesada, Mary Meyer, Brock Brady, Angela Llanas

NCTE 19 – ELT: A Bridge to Cultural Understanding
January 22-24, 2003 – Featured Speakers: Neil J. Anderson, Andy Curtis, Victoria Kimbrough, Kathleen Bailey

NCTE 20 – Pursuing Standards for a Competitive World
January 28-30, 2004 – Featured Speakers: Liying Cheng, Kami Lee, Mary Louise Baez, Paul Davies, Mary Ann Christison, Andy Curtis, William Grabe, Fredricka Stoller, Adrian Palmer, Edwin Marin

NCTE 21 – Towards a Socially Responsible Pedagogy
January 26-28, 2005 – Featured Speakers: Kathleen Graves, Lesley Opp-Beckman, H. Douglas Brown, Peter Medgys, Ronald Flores

NCTE 22 – ELT: Integrating Principles and Practices
January 24-26, 2006 – Featured Speakers: Christine Coombe, Diane Larsen-Freeman, Kathryn Koop, Samantha Mace

NCTE 23 – Crossing Frontiers for Innovative Teaching
January 24-26, 2007 – Featured Speakers: Barbara Bangle, Mary Lou McCloskey, Mickey Rogers, Kate Cory-Wright

NCTE 24 – Empowering Tomorrow’s Leaders
January 23-25, 2008 – Featured Speakers: Raouf Mama, Evelyn Smith, Augusto De Pier, Tony B. Harden

NCTE 25 – Learning: Enlightening Our Inner Self
January 21-23, 2009 – Featured Speakers: Mary Scholl, Laura Alicia Meza Martinez, Dr. Spencer Kagan, Ricardo Romero Medina, Joann Miller

NCTE 26 – Learning: Opening Minds with a New Set of Keys
January 27-29, 2010 – Featured Speakers: Mary Scholl, Dr. Jozef Merkx, Andreina España, Beatrice Palls, Laura Demediuk

NCTE 27 – Teaching: A Dignifying Experience
January 26-28, 2011 – Featured Speakers: Roxana Chevez Herra, Kate Cory-Wright, Deborah Healey, Lauren Evans, Leon Zuna

NCTE 28 – ELT: An Art in Itself
January 25-27, 2012 – Featured Speakers: Luz Adriana Lopera, Phillip Haines, Dorothy Zemach, Laren Evans, Julie Watso

NCTE 29 – Reflecting on Learning to Learn
January 23-25, 2013 – Featured Speakers: Elizabeth Camargo, Maria Weinri, Laura Demediuk, Andre Vermeulen, Joan Kang Shin

NCTE 30 – NCTE: Three Decades of Pioneering in Educational Opportunities
January 22-24, 2014 – Featured Speakers: Johnathan Acuña Solano, Liz England, Greg Davies, Lindsay Clandfield

NCTE 31 – New ELT Paradigms: Dare to Join the Change
January 27-29, 2016 – Featured Speakers: Ana Isabel Campos, Neil J. Anderson, Anne Katz, Adrian Palmer, Mary Louise Baez, Mary Ann Christison, Marianela Granados

NCTE 32 – Skills to Inspire 21st Century Young English Learners
February 3, 2017 – Featured Speakers: Joan Kang Shin, Jodi Crandall

NCTE 33 – Developing Global Competence in the English Classroom
January 24-26, 2018 – Featured Speakers: Donald Freeman, Kathleen Graves, Lewis Lansford, Diane Schmitt, Norbert Schmitt, Mary Scholl, Margaret Rose Grigsby

NCTE 34 – Innovation Made Simple: Everyday Tech in the English Classroom
January 25 and 28-30, 2019 – Featured Speakers: Jair Felix, Fabian Corrales, Sergio Mondragón, Darragh O’Grady

NCTE 35 – Insights to Navigate the Learning Disruption in English Language Teaching
June 11-14, 2020 – Featured Speakers: Joan Kang Shin, Nik Peachey, Betsy Parrish, Gilly Salmon, Laura Baecher, Deborah Healey, Keith Folse, Ruben Puentedura

NCTE 36 – Building a Community of Practice to Enhance and Transcend English Language Teaching and Learning – May 20-23, 2021 – Featured Speakers: Stephen Krashen, Aziz Abu Sarah, Neil J. Anderson, Nicky Hockly, Deborah Healey, Keith Folse, Laura Baecher

NCTE 37 – Reimagining ELT: The Innovation Journey to Empower Teachers and Learners in Times of Constant Change – May 25-28 and 28-30, 2022 – Featured Speakers: Keith Folse, Ruben Puentedura, Betsy Parrish, Karen Beer, Stephen Krashen, Ruben Salgado, Nik Peachey, Fernanda de Oliveira

NCTE 38 – Inspiring Change: Reflecting on Who and What Really Matter in the ELT Classroom to Foster Versatile, Equitable, and Empowering Learning Spaces – June 7-10, 2023 – Featured Speakers: Thomas S.C. Farrell, Ruben Puentedura, Joe Grabowski, Mary Scholl, Marta Ramirez, Jonathan Acuña, Graham Stanley, Betsy Parrish, Deborah Healey, Keith Folse, Nik Peachey, Bill Acton

NCTE 39 – Connecting Knowledge in ELT: Opportunities and Challenges in Moving Forward
May 23-25, 2024