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Historic Gathering of Southeast Asian Language Teachers at UCLA

Historic Gathering of Southeast Asian Language Teachers at UCLA

The largest group of U.S.-based teachers of Southeast Asian languages met at UCLA January 30-February 1, 2003, to improve their teaching skills and to develop new materials.

By Barbara Gaerlan

An historic gathering of teachers of Southeast Asian languages in the United States occurred in Royce Hall at UCLA from January 30 to February 1, 2003, with participation also by a small number of teachers of Arabic and South Asian languages. The teachers enjoyed the opportunity to meet colleagues from around the world as well as the unusually warm Los Angeles weather.

A total of 74 participants attended this workshop - the largest gathering of SEA language teachers in the U.S. in the memory of the participants. Language teachers came from Canada, Singapore, Thailand, and the U.S. Target languages included Filipino/Tagalog (15), Vietnamese (11), Indonesian/Malay (11), Thai (8), Lao (7), Hmong (6), South Asian languages (6), Khmer (4), Southeast Asian Other (3), Arabic (2), and Burmese (1).

The main purpose of the workshop was to develop and promote the art of teaching Southeast Asian languages in the United States and to develop basic classroom teaching skills among junior teachers. For this purpose experienced teachers conducted workshops and distributed materials, including the most senior faculty developing pedagogical materials for Southeast Asian language teaching in the U.S. Participants learned basic principles of curriculum development, the effective use of existing materials, and classroom management. They also had an opportunity to meet in language-specific groupings. Junior teachers were assigned mentors to follow-up with exercise development and other pedagogical tools.

Topics of the joint workshops included "Adult Learning and Teaching Preferences and Classroom Strategies," "Language Proficiency as a Tool for Teaching and Planning," "Using Existing Materials and Basic Lesson Plans," and "Presenting Language Skills and Classroom Activities."

An additional workshop for intermediate teachers was held in tandem with the workshop for junior teachers. Topics included "Computer Reading Project for Thai--What We Have Learned?," "Utilizing Web-CT in the Introductory Indonesian Class at UCLA," "Beginning Language: A New Look at 'Rote Learning' as a Confidence Building Technique," "Developing Teaching/Learning Materials for All Three Levels of Proficiency," "Developing Language Videos," "Intermediate Language: 'Advanced Conversational Structures,'" "Developing a Questionnaire for Heritage Learners," "Knowledge and Performance: What Do Heritage Students Really Know?" and "Challenges Posed by Unpredictable Demographic Changes in Student Population."

The meeting was jointly sponsored by the UCLA and UC Berkeley Centers for Southeast Asian Studies, the UCLA South and Southeast Asian Languages and Cultures Program, the Council of Teachers of Southeast Asian Languages (COTSEAL), and the University of Hawaii Center for Southeast Asian Studies, with additional funding from the Southeast Asian Council of the Association for Asian Studies and the Center for South Asia Studies at UC Berkeley. Conference organizers were Prawet Jantharat, COTSEAL President, and Shoichi Iwasaki, Director of the UCLA South and Southeast Asian Languages and Cultures Program.

Center for Southeast Asian Studies