ACTDEC was founded in 1993 by a small group of TESOL distance education providers concerned at the considerable number of organisations offering dubious TEFL/TESOL distance-learning courses to the general public. For the unwary, not knowing what comprises a sound distance TESOL course can be a problem. So many offer little more than the briefest of introductory programmes. ACTDEC offers accreditation at a range of different levels which are set out under the ACTDEC Distance Learning Qualifications and Levels framework.
ACTDECs first Chair, and one of its driving forces, was Dr W.R. Lee, who was also responsible for ACTDECs Code of Practice and accreditation procedures. The courses and qualification levels framework was originally proposed by Monica Vincent of the Overseas Development Authority. The status titles she suggested were subsequently adopted by ACTDEC.
The late W.R. Lee, was a leading expert in the field of English language teaching. As a teacher, a writer, an examiner, and as founding father of the International Association of Teachers of English as a Foreign Language and the Accreditation Council for TESOL Distance Education Courses, Bill Lee left an indelible mark on the profession.
Bill’s main professional interests were in the training and education of modern-language teachers with a special interest in phonetics/phonology (especially intonation) and, towards the latter part of his life, in distance learning.
William R. Lee, OBE, HonFTCL, MA, PhD, PGCE, HonFCoT held many important posts during his life time including a 20-year editorship of the ELT Journal, a World Language (journal of the English-Speaking Union) and World Language English; member of the ELT Advisory Committee of the British Council and Founder and Chairman of IATEFL. As a result he brought to ACTDEC a lifetime of professional experience and expertise which proved invaluable in setting up the ACTDEC Council and its accreditation scheme.
The purpose for which the Accreditation Council was founded is enshrined in the resolution approved by the meeting of members which established it in 1993 namely: the ‘Accreditation Council for TESOL Distance Education Courses is a non-profit making independent body governed by officers and Council, established to advance professionalism by maintaining and also improving on standards of distance programmes at four levels graded from introductory to advanced.’
Since then the role of the Council has been widened to include the award of four certificates and a diploma as well as the introduction of a Teaching Practice Portfolio Scheme.
In 2013 after agreement by the Council, the ACTDEC levels were revised in an effort to standardise criteria with reference to nationally understood benchmarks.
Chair of ACTDEC, Secretary and Treasurer are elected annually from accredited members. Council is made up of co-opted members prominent in the ELT profession and members elected by accredited providers.
The Accreditation Panel is appointed by Council. Panel members are independent, appropriately qualified with experience and expertise in the field of TESOL distance learning and training.
Former members of the ACTDEC Accreditation and Audit Panel
- 1993 – 1996 William R. Lee, OBE, HonFTCL, MA, PhD, PGCE
- 1997 – 2002 Sheila Needham, BA(Hons), MA(ELT), PGCE, FCollP
Deputy Sandra Cornbleet, BA(Hons), DipTEFLA, MA(ELT)
- 2002 – 2004 Anne Kennedy BA(Hons), MA(ELT), PGCE, Dip.TEFLA, M.Inst.Ling
Deputy Jacqueline Sykes, BA(Hons), LTCL(TESOL), Dip.TESOL, MA TESOL
- 2004 – 2009 Karl Kaliski, BA(Hons), RSA Dip.TEFLA, MA(ELT)
- 2004 – 2013 Jacqueline Sykes, BA(Hons), LTCL(TESOL), Dip.TESOL, MA TESOL
- 2008 – 2013 Deputy Ian Marvin BA(Jt Hons), MA(ELT)
- 2011-2014 Tony Goodwin BA(Hons Eng), MA(Ling for ELT)