6th International Seminar, 2012, Satya Wacana Christian University, Indonesia

Christian Rudianto and Anne Burns

For the past few days I’ve been attending a conference in Salatiga, a small town in Central Java, Indonesia. It’s a relaxed and attractive town lying at the foot of two mountains, Mount Merbabu and Mount Telomoyo, surrounded by rice fields and relatively cool because of its elevated position. Each year for the last six years, the Satya Wacana Christian University has organized an international seminar focusing on topical areas of research and practice in English language teaching. This year the theme of the conference is Research in Teacher Education: What, How and Why?  I was invited by Christian Rudianto, one of my former Masters’ students and the Chair of the Organising Committee, to give the opening plenary and a follow-up workshop on action research. The other plenary speaker was Dr Willy Renandya, from the National Institute of Education, Singapore, who spoke about the challenges of choosing and focusing topics for research. One of the main aims of the conference is to enable teachers from all over Indonesia, as well as pre-service teachers doing their Bachelors’ courses at the university, to attend a conference locally and to get the opportunity to hear and meet international speakers, without incurring the high costs associated with most national and international conferences.  The conference always attracts international teachers as well, for example, this year from Malaysia, and from Iran at previous conferences.

The range of papers, most of them research-based, was impressive with five parallel strands offering 60 presentations over the two days. Presentations ranged across topics  such as teachers’ views of teaching English as an international language, the attitudes of pre-service teachers towards research, the theory and practice of computer-mediated communication in ELT, critical incidents from teachers’ action research journals and promoting reflective teaching in teacher training programs. Many of the papers were directed towards researching various approaches towards teacher education, particularly looking at the role of small-scale research or exploratory teaching projects in a teacher education programme.

While the conference programme itself was very engaging, another highlight was the cultural evening organized by the students for the end of the first day.  Participants were not only treated to some delicious traditional Indonesian food but also to a programme of singing, music and dancing all performed by students at the university. Students performed traditional music, involving drumming and  songs from various regions of Indonesia, as well as Javanese traditional dances, and extended dance versions of well-known folk tales. The whole evening was capped off by some extremely energetic and rhythmic performances by dancers from the Papua region of Indonesia, who then enticed the audience to join in. Yes, I have to admit I didn’t escape – but it was a lot of fun! I’m very glad I had a chance to attend this conference and to be involved in such productive debates about the challenges but also the developments in teaching and researching English in Indonesia.

Anne Burns
23 November 2012

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Guest post: Joe Siegel, postgraduate researcher

Joseph Siegel has taught L2 English in Japan for several years at a variety of levels, and is currently Assistant Professor at J.F. Oberlin University, Tokyo, Japan. He is currently pursuing a distance PhD investigating L2 listening pedagogy.
In today’s post he reports on two conferences he attended this autumn:

It was an exciting Fall for me on the conference scene. I was happy to have my first opportunity to attend the British Association for Applied Linguistics (BAAL) Conference at the University of Southampton in September. This was my first chance to attend a conference in the UK, and I was very impressed. It was great to be around like-minded colleagues from Europe and North America. And I was surprised to meet so many participants there from Japan! I also really relished the fact that the whole event was set up to make connections with other researchers (for example, all meals were served on campus, so there was plenty of time to meet informally and share ideas). I’m looking forward to BAAL 2013 in Edinburgh. Hopefully we can have a big contingent of Aston people there, too!

Then in October, back on home turf, I went to the Japan Association for Language Teaching (JALT) annual conference. It was a great chance to catch up with old friends and make new ones as well. I’ve been to several JALT conferences over the years, and I was very pleased and impressed with the consistent quality of the presentations this time around. My primary research area is listening, and I presented some listening-related data from my Ph D course at Aston. I was also fortunate to meet a small group of other teacher-researchers interested in listening, and we’ve decided to form a small informal study group that will meet periodically in the future. We already have some ideas for group events like symposia and pair presentations on our listening studies. While at JALT, I also attended a presentation on strengthening qualitative research through “peer debriefing”, a technique similar to inter-rater checking. I plan to integrate this technique into my own Ph D thesis in order to (hopefully) enhance the credibility of my findings.

These two great Fall events renewed my enthusiasm for teaching this semester, provided me with new personal and professional connections, and gave me both practical teaching and research tips that I could immediately incorporate. Can’t wait for next Fall!

Joe Siegel was CLERA Researcher of the Month earlier this year. Click here to view his profile (follow the Archive link for August 2012).