JALTCALL 2012 Conference report

Adam Murray, CALL SIG Publicity Chair


This year’s conference was from June 1st to June 3rd in Nishinomiya City, Hyogo Prefecture. The conference was held at the modern Konan Cube, the home of Konan University’s Hirao School of Business.

The theme of the conference was Beyond Call: Integration, Normalisation, or Separation? Over the years, the conference has grown and draws attendees and presenters from all regions of Japan as well as from overseas. This year was no exception with presentations, workshops, show and tell demonstrations, and poster sessions given by delegates from Australia, Canada, China, the Republic of Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, the United States, and the United Kingdom. In terms of numbers, this year’s conference was the largest JALTCALL conference to date, with more than 300 attendees.

The three-day conference got underway with pre-conference workshops on the evening of June 1st. The well-attended workshops covered a number of topics such as video processing, game mechanics, automated feedback devices, and project work. The main conference took place on June 2nd and 3rd. Over the two days, more than 100 concurrent presentations were offered. In addition to the concurrent sessions, one keynote and two plenary speeches were delivered. Dr. Stephen Bax’s keynote address was How does technology become fully effective in language education: The social and psychological dimensions of education normalization. The first plenary speech was Defining roles: Who does what and why by Lance Knowles, and the second was Language technology: Predictions and unintended outcomes by Dr. John Brine.

This year, the conference included the first AJET Forum as an outreach to the ALTs who are serving throughout Japan. The CALL SIG Program Chair, Tom Gorham, worked with the National AJET Chair, Matthew Cook, to arrange for some AJETs to attend the conference as well as to provide a forum for more experienced CALL educators to share some useful tips. The CALL SIG hopes to expand its outreach to the AJET community in furtherance of JALT National’s efforts, by sharing our experience with ALTs at their training sessions throughout Japan.

Generally speaking, the conference was well received by the attendees. A relatively large number of attendees responded to a post-conference survey administered by the conference team and gave great post-conference feedback. An overwhelming majority (98%) of the survey respondents were satisfied with the conference as a whole. The attendees were excited about the hands-on presentations, which showed what presenters are doing in their classes and how the attendees could try those ideas in their own classes. One attendee said it best by stating that the presenters “really made it easier to understand why JALT CALL is relevant to my teaching.”

When asked what they liked most about the conference, several attendees complimented the venue, Konan Cube, referring to it as, “a very modern conference venue, with easy access to computers and instant Wi-Fi, which ran without any problems,” and “…an ideal setting for the conference.”

In addition to comments about the venue, attendees commented on the atmosphere of the conference. Typical comments were: “Nice informal atmosphere. Everyone willing to share, discuss and assist,” and a “relaxed yet professional atmosphere.”

For many attendees, the complimentary reception was one of the highlights of the conference. A few of the comments were: “The party was excellent and a great chance to network,” and that, “the reception was fantastic - room for mingling, alcohol, and food was pretty good.”

We are pleased to officially announce that the 2013 JALTCALL conference will be held at Iwate University in Morioka City, Iwate. The dates are being decided and details will be disseminated via the JALTCALL SIG’s website <jaltcall.org> and our official Twitter account, @JALTCALL. We hope to see you at JALTCALL 2013!

Fortunately, JALT members do not have to wait for next summer to get a dose of CALL training. Any SIG or Chapter who is interested in having an experienced CALL practitioner visit an event to provide training or answer questions, should contact the CALL SIG Coordinator for assistance. The CALL SIG wants to further its efforts at the grassroots level by sharing our experience and knowledge with those who are interested. The CALL SIG Coordinator can be reached at <sig-coordinator@jaltcall.org>. We’re ready to help our fellow JALT members grow professionally so CALL us today!

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