Past President Jun Liu Reports on ThaiTESOL Conference (January 2007)

I witnessed the excitement of the 27th ThaiTESOL Conference and 6th Pan Asian Consortium Conference on “Beyond Boundaries: Teaching English for Global Communication in Asia.”  At the invitation of ThaiTESOL, I delivered a keynote speech, “Unlimited Boundaries in Promising Asia,” on the opening day, January 26, 2007.

About 1000 people from all over Asia and Thailand participated in the three-day vibrant event.  Many excellent speakers contributed to both plenary and featured sessions, and about 500 presentations were given throughout the conferences.

What uniquely caught my attention is the Asian Youth Forum (AYF) that brought more than 75 students (both high school and college) from almost all Asian countries to experience the idea of exchanges and to share with the audience their thoughts on language teaching from student perspectives. It was eye opening and very refreshing.  Kip from Japan, the former chair of the Teachers for Social Responsibilities Caucus, is one of advocators for AYF.

The organizers of the conferences were superb, and the presentations were well balanced in content as well as in geographic location.  There seemed to be a strong sentiment among EFL colleagues in Asia that the next wave of our profession is occurring at this very moment in this continent.

I was interviewed by a reporter from the Bangkok Post following my 50-minute keynote speech.  The reporter asked me a number of pointed questions from language policy to language teaching trends, from a global perspective of English to local variations, from high-stakes testing to language teaching methodology, from bilingual education to the role of the mother tongue in language learning, and from learner motivation to the impact of socioeconomic needs and parental expectations on language learning.  The interview was to be part of a feature article about ThaiTESOL.

The ThaiTESOL Conference and the Pan Asian Consortium Conference marked a new beginning for English language teaching in Asia.  The level of enthusiasm, collegiality, and momentum to empower Asia in ELT was conveyed through formal presentations and workshops, informal chats, networking, and socializing. 

After such a great conference, I was reminded of a number of trips in Asia ahead in 2007:  Russia, Singapore, Malaysia, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and the Philippines, among others. While many of these trips are not sponsored by TESOL, I attend as its representative to achieve visibility and get recognition that TESOL is moving toward globalization, diversity, and harmony.

Respectively submitted,
Jun Liu
TESOL President (2006-2007)

Link to article on Bangkok Post:learning post, February 13, 2007: http://bangkokpost.net/education/site2007/cvfb1307.htm

Abstract of Keynote Speech by Jun Liu:  Unlimited Boundaries in Promising Asia

English language education in Asia has recently been the center of attention in a global community symbolized by a number of initiatives of TESOL (Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages, Inc.), the leading association of English language teachers around the world.  Trends, innovations, and challenges in language teaching confronted by the world affect, and are affected by, the local English language education reform in Asia. In this keynote speech, Liu will review the changing perspectives of the profession over the last few decades, assess the current practice of English language teaching in Asia, and speculate on the vision of English language education reform in Asia in the next decade.  Liu will conclude the speech by calling for a concerted effort from nonnative-English-speaking teachers through self-empowerment and collaboration with their native-English-speaking counterparts in promoting the status of English education in Asia and in the global community.

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