2018 PALT Int’l Conference tackles language education in Asia

The University of Santo Tomas Department of English and the Philippine Association for Language Teaching, Inc. (PALT) cosponsored the 2017 International Conference with the theme “Language Education in Asia
in the Context of ASEAN” held at the Thomas Aquinas Research Center, UST, from December 7 to 9, 2017.

Presenters and speakers tackled issues in language education in relation to the ASEAN experience in various parallel session strands and plenary speeches, such as language policies, English Language Teaching research,
teacher beliefs and practices, learner autonomy, teacher preparation, language learning, language assessment, and curriculum development,
among others.

As a result of the ASEAN integration, there have been shifts in policies and curricula that have inevitable ripple effects in the field of language teaching. The need to review these effects, infer what they could mean for the stakeholders, and update professionals on current trends has therefore arisen.

Over 150 language teaching professionals and enthusiasts from different countries participated over the course of the three-day international professional gathering, which was held for the first time at the University of Santo Tomas.
“Well, this is really the first time that the PALT [International] Conference went out of its home base,” UST Graduate School Dean Marilu R. Madrunio, Ph.D., who is also the incumbent president of PALT, explained.

Since the Association’s first international conference in 2001, it has normally been held in hotels, such as the Manila Hotel.

Madrunio added that PALT, which was established 57 years ago, is the oldest, professional language teaching organization in the Philippines with whom she and many Filipino English language teachers have spent many active years developing professionally.

PALT has affiliations with other multinational language teaching organizations such as the Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL), and the Pan-Asian Consortium for Language Teaching (PAC).

The association is also known to have for its members well-known researchers, a number of whom were its plenary speakers in the threeday conference. The first plenary speaker was Prof. Maria Cynthia Rose B. Bautista, Vice President for Academic Affairs of the University of the
Philippines – Diliman, who discussed the Philippines’ changing language education practices in the context of ASEAN.

Dr. Anne Pakir, the National University of Singapore’s Director for International Relations talked about “English-knowing Bilingualism”, a term primarily applicable in Singapore where the largely Asian population communicates internationally and nationally in English while maintaining usage of their ethnic mother tongues.

For the third plenary speech delivered on the third day of the conference, Assoc. Prof. Ahmar Mahboob of the University of Sydney focused
on the role that language plays in education across different pedagogic contexts and tackled the question of whether school-level language
textbooks actually prepare students for their future careers.

The other speakers were Mr. Matt Keener, the Cultural Affairs Officer of the US Embassy in the Philippines, Ms. Leonie Overbeek, a language researcher and teacher trainer for Korea -Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (KoTESOL), and Associate Professor Shirley M. Ando of the Otemae University in Japan.

The conference also had over 50 parallel sessions for the different research paper presentations. Mr. Keener, who tackled the topic of “Maintaining the Philippines’ competitive advantage in English,” admitted that he is not an
expert in English or education in the Philippines.

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