The Dynamic Rhetorical Structures of TESOL Conference Abstracts


  • Caroline Payant University of Idaho
  • Jack A. Hardy Emory University



Conference abstracts, TESOL, Proposals, English for academic purposes, genre analysis


In English Language Teaching (ELT), conferences have developed into valuable venues for both researchers and practitioners to learn and share their knowledge bases. Attending and presenting at academic conferences has become an important form of scholarship and professional development for researchers, in-service teachers, and pre-service teachers. In the field of ELT, the TESOL International Convention and Language Expo is a highly prestigious event but, for those wanting to present, highly competitive. The conference abstract is the basis of being granted permission to present at such conferences and, as such, is a critical gate-keeping genre. The goal of the present empirical study is to examine rhetorical features of successful conference abstracts (N=16) with the hope that the results will help teachers write their own conference proposals. Using genre analysis (Swales, 1990), the rhetorical structures of conference abstracts for TESOL 2014 were collected and annotated for rhetorical moves and steps following Halleck and Connor (2006). This detailed analysis uncovered rhetorical patterns common to all conference abstracts. Despite this, variations within proposals were identified in terms of number of moves and specific sequencing. Guidance and tips for novice writers are presented, and connections are made to local TESOL affiliates, such as BC TEAL.

Author Biographies

Caroline Payant, University of Idaho

Department of English

Assistant Professor

Jack A. Hardy, Emory University

Program in Linguistics

Visiting Assistant Professor




How to Cite

Payant, C., & Hardy, J. A. (2016). The Dynamic Rhetorical Structures of TESOL Conference Abstracts. BC TEAL Journal, 1(1), 1–17.