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English as a global teaching communicator

07 June 2013

Assoc Prof Wu (left) welcoming the international attendees who participated in the many engaging activities during the CELC symposium

The NUS Centre for English Language Communication (CELC) held its international symposium "Alternative Pedagogies in the English Language and Communication Classroom" recently at the Stephen Riady Centre in NUS University Town.

Guest-of-Honour Professor Tan Tai Yong, Vice Provost (Student Life) of NUS, opened the symposium by tracing its beginnings in 2004 to the present. CELC Director Associate Professor Wu Siew Mei in her welcome address described the meeting as "a feast of ideas" about how language and communication teaching is responding to the globalising cultural forces and technologies shaping education today.

Over the three days, talks, parallel sessions, colloquia, workshops, demonstrations and a poster session were held. A total of 268 participants from 23 countries around the world discussed the interplay of theories and practices underlying radical and innovative approaches to language and communication instruction.

Professor Christopher Candlin from Macquarie University delivered his keynote via video-conference on how oversimplified notions of communicative language teaching can be corrected to provide a more robust conceptual framework for designing reading and writing curricula. Another keynote speaker Professor William Grabe from Northern Arizona University outlined research ideas and principles about the nature of reading and reading comprehension needed for developing effective second language reading programmes.

In her talk, San Diego State University's Professor Ann Johns argued for the development of reading and writing instruction around the idea that texts emerge from genre, which shapes choices of language, organisation and register to get things done with specific audiences. Professor Ulla Connor, Indiana University-Purdue University, discussed the effects of interactions between "small" and "large" cultures on the production and consumption of texts, as well as the need to use multiple analytical approaches to better understand these interactions to better plan English for Specific Purposes programmes.

The participants gave very positive feedback about the symposium, which provided a valuable platform for sharing and learning from professional colleagues around the globe.

By Paul and Susan Nerney, CELC