His first time to present on computer assisted language learning outside of Japan, Patrick Ratesshares his experiences attending a conference in the Philippines aiming to make language learning not only more effective through the use of computers, but also pleasant. The conference organizers call on speakers from around the globe to share their experience in using computers with language teachers from schools in the local area. This outreach activity brings teachers together to discuss how to adapt valuable ideas from abroad to local conditions.
GLoCALL 2011convenes in the Philippines
TheGlobalization and Localization in Computer-Assisted Language Learning conference, GLoCALL, isorganized by the Asia-Pacific Association for Computer-Assisted Language Learning (APACALL) and the Pacific Association for Computer-Assisted Language Learning (PacCALL).Previously convened in Malaysia,Thailand, Indonesia, and Vietnam, the fifth meeting of GLoCALL 2011was hosted by the Department of Education and Applied LinguisticsatDe La Salle UniversityinManilafrom October 27-29. The conference attractedparticipantsfrom all over the world, mostly from Asia, especially from the Philippines and Japan.
The aim of the conference is to share knowledge, research, and experience on how to use computer technology to make language learning more effective and pleasant,andto explore how the technology can be adapted to better meet the local needs of students and teachers. Conference organizers encourage speakers to provideglobal perspectives on CALLand bring the technology to local teachers who wish to develop their professionalism.
Held at the Century Park Hotel in Malate, one of the 16 cities that make up Metro Manila,one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world, hotels, specialty restaurants, and cafeswere easy to find.An active nightlife keeps the city aglow all hours. Filipinos seem to love shopping. Shoppingmalls are everywhere, including the largest mall in Asia, The Mall of Asia. Malate is the old part of Manilawithmany tourist destinations:The National Museum, San Sebastian Church, Malacanang Palace, Binondo (China town), and Rizal Park.
The3-dayconferencescheduleprovided various opportunities to exchange information about CALL.Workshops were opened on the first dayto introduce CALL tolocal teachers, to instruct participants how to conduct research and publish in CALL journals, as well as how to teach oral skills in groups online in real-time. Four plenary sessions and about eighty concurrent paper presentations, workshops, postersessions, colloquia, and book publisher displayswere offered on the following two days.
Plenary speakers Dorothy ChunfromUniversity of CaliforniaatBerkeley, Marie-Noelle LamyfromThe Open Universityin the UK, Siew Ming Thangfrom theUniversity Kebangsaan Malaysia, and Rachel Edita RoxasfromDe La Salle University in Manila were interesting and informative. Being interested in language and its involvement with culture, it was inspirationalto listen to Dorothy Chun discuss Developing intercultural communicative competence through online exchanges: Focus on Asian and Pacific Languages. She pointed out the difficulties in online intercultural exchanges that aredue to linguistic and cultural differences in English, and Chinese, Japanese, Filipino, and Samoan languages.
Participants could choose from a broadrange of topicsbecause the set theme and sub-themes of the conference included the application of technology to the classroom; using the Internet for cultural exchange; managing multimedia/hypermedia environments; e-learning;collaborative learning and blended learning; emerging technologies; fostering autonomous learning through technology;andtraining language teachers in e-learning environments.
This being my first international CALL conference outside of Japan, attending and presenting at GLoCALL was an interesting experience. It was motivating to be able to share my ideas withnot only teachers from Japan, but also with participants in the Philippines andother countries. There was lotsof informationto absorb. Some of the information was quite useful and some wasjust a kind of review to me. Attending presentations that were practical and could be easily adapted to my teaching situation were of most interest and use to me. N.M.(Mitch) Terunes’Autonomous CALL: Fostering independent language learning provided ideas that could be easily taken directly to the class. He talked about providing students with the resources to be independent lifelong learners of English. ThomasRobb’sInside MoodleReaderwas very interesting and informative. Ialsoenjoyed hearingpresenters and participants discuss their experiences teaching in countries other than Japan.
My presentation, Autonomous learning through collaborative interactive group rolesexplainedhow students can use the Internet to find materialstopresent and more effectivelydiscuss in collaborative groupswhenrolesare assignedfor each member of the group. Everything ran smoothlybecause my topic was practical to implement in the classroom and not too theoretical. I found the participants to be very active and enthusiastic.
It was disappointing for meto learn that a proceedings will not be published forthe conference.Imay not have decided to present at the conferenceif I were aware of this before I registered. Apparently the editors are still struggling to get papersfrom the previous yearup to mark for publication.
Overall, it wasan enlightening and rewarding experienceto attend my first conference on CALL outside of Japan. I listenedto educators from all over the world explainhow computers and technology can be used to assist language teaching in the classroom.Much of the information andmany of the ideasI brought backhave been useful tome and to my students.I felt this was a worthwhile conference and my time and money was well spent. There was plenty of useful information for those who don’t consider themselves computer perceptive.
GLoCALL 2012 will be held October 18-20 at Beijing Foreign Studies UniversityinChina. I am sure that by attending the conference you can get some ideas on how to use computersto learn languagesin and outside the classroom.More information is available at: <glocall.org>.