March 2016
Edo Forsythe, Hirosaki Gakuin University, Hirosaki, Japan

When and where did the conference take place?

The 2015 AsiaCALL annual conference took place 27–30 November 2015 at Xi’an Aeronautical University in Xi’an, China. The conference was attended by CALL aficionados from throughout Asia and around the world. Xi’an, as the beginning of the Silk Road and the former capitol of the Middle Kingdom, offered experiences rich in Chinese history amid the modern urban life of a global city. Naturally, no trip to Xi’an would be complete without visits to the Qin dynasty’s Terra Cotta Warriors and the Big Wild Goose Pagoda.

Attendees at Xi’an’s Big Wild Goose Pagoda during the sightseeing excursion.

Who/what organizations/people were involved?

More than 50 presentations and workshops were offered by an international array of language teaching professionals. The sessions available to the more than 80 attendees were mostly research paper presentations and research-related workshops. The conference offered three keynote addresses from around the world. The first was by Dr. Jozef Colpaert of the University of Antwerp, Belgium. Dr. Colpaert spoke on the topic of educational engineering as new research method, and its implications for language learning and teaching. The second keynote address was given by Dr. Philippe Martin of the University of Paris-Diderot, France. His address was titled, “Sentence Intonation in Second/Foreign Language Learning and Teaching: Why It Is Important and How It Can Be Acquired,” and was about using technology to help learners improve their intonation. The final keynote address was delivered by Dr. Zeng Yongqiang, the president of the Guangdong Teachers’ College of Foreign Languages and Arts, China. He spoke about what technology can do to lead education forward. Details about the keynote addresses are available on the conference website.

What were the highlights of the conference?

The conference weekend opened on Friday with workshop discussions exploring what it means to use CALL to engage language learners. The conversations were exciting and full of the debates we all should be having about what CALL enables teachers to truly do. Other conference sessions included presentations about current research efforts in various Asian countries. Some of the sessions over Saturday and Sunday included

  • “The Development and the Effects of ICT in the Learning Process as Well as Students’ Perceptions and Expectations on the Use of ICT in Classrooms,” by Marleiny Radjuni;
  • “Intercultural Communication Competence of Chinese College Students in English E-Learning,” by Deng Dongyuan;
  • “Incorporating Social Networking Sites Into the Language Classroom,” by Dian Toar Y. G. Sumakul;
  • “A Study of Blog-Based Foreign Language Teachers’ Reflective Practice,” by Wang Qi;
  • “Promises and Pitfalls of CALL and MALL Technologies in the EFL Classroom,” by Stephen Lambacher; and many others.

The AsiaCALL 2015 Conference Program is available on the web here.

One of the biggest events of the conference was the closing dinner, hosted at a 5-star hotel in downtown Xi’an. A wide variety of international foods sated our appetites after a weekend full of discussions, debates, and learning. Students of the Xi’an Aeronautical University entertained the crowd with dance and musical performances, which were then joined by some of the attendees (including yours truly joining in to sing Auld Lang Syne!). The conference wrapped up on Monday with tours of the world-famous Terra Cotta Warriors and the Big Wild Goose Pagoda and Daci’en Temple. These sites were too amazing to be adequately explained in this article, but no visit to China should miss these unbelievable treasures.

I would be remiss if I failed to commend the AsiaCALL Conference organizers, Kalyan Chattopadhyay and Andrew Lian, as well as the conference president, Zhang Huali, and the rest of the staff, faculty, and students of Xi’an Aeronautical University. In spite of many challenges, they provided a memorable experience for all of the attendees. Each foreign guest had a student volunteer personally assigned to help us explore and enjoy Xi’an and the conference—that was unbelievably helpful. I am sure that I speak for all of the attendees when I say that we are very grateful for all of your hard work and dedication to make AsiaCALL 2015 a success!

Banner for AsiaCALL 2015 at Xi’an Aeronautical University (in background), Xi’an, China

What about future AsiaCALL Conferences?

The location of AsiaCALL 2016 is still being decided, but this annual conference is normally held in November. Details will be posted on the conference website. This was my first time attending an AsiaCALL conference, but it will not be my last. I hope to see more TESOL and CALL-IS members at an AsiaCALL conference in the future.

Edo Forsythe is an associate professor of English and foreign language education at Hirosaki Gakuin University, in Hirosaki, Japan. He is an EdD candidate at Northcentral University with a focus on EFL and technology in language learning. He has published several articles on the topic of technology in language learning.