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									Report on the 2008 International Strategic Initiatives Project “Work-related education for local communities in global economies: Global South perspectives” led by Dr Phan Le Ha, Faculty of Education, Monash University
The International Conference The role of language and multi-cultural education in educating local communities in global economies Hanoi, Vietnam, 6th – 7th – 8th April, 2009

Background This conference is an outcome of a project on work-related education in the ‘Global South’ led by Dr Phan Le Ha, Faculty of Education, Monash University. The project team includes Professor Lesley Farrell, University of Technology Sydney, Dr Anita Devos, Monash University and colleagues based in universities across Asia. Jointly sponsored and organised by Monash University, Hanoi Open University and The Institute for the Study and Development of Language and Culture - Vietnam Society of Linguistics, the conference received remarkable attention from scholars, academics, educators, students, policy makers and employers from almost ten different countries including Vietnam, Australia, China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. The two main days of the conference accommodated about 160 participants. Almost 30 papers were presented, addressing various aspects of the role of language and multicultural education in educating local communities in global economies. Presentations covered the following themes: 1. English as an international language in educating the global workforce 2. Local languages and other foreign languages in the knowledge-based economy 3. Multicultural education, literacy, value education and bilingual education in global contexts 4. Educating local communities for global economies: perspectives from corporations, enterprises, NGOs and policy makers 5. Ethical concerns surrounding language policy, practices and pedagogies in educating local communities and the global workforce 6. Local and global cultures 7. Others The conference offered a forum for the exchange of perspectives on these above themes, exploring what is involved and what is at stake when global corporations, NGOs, national education systems and local communities attempt to educate individuals and workforces to engage in the global economy. One of the best parts of the conference was that it was truly inclusive and accommodating, encouraging presentations to be given in different languages whereby students, young academics, educators and well-established scholars could really see the importance of being able to communicate in languages other than just English. 1

Conference chairs and convenors Dr Phan Le Ha Faculty of Education, Monash University, Australia Associate Professor Phan Van Que Vice President, Hanoi Open University Dr Duong Ky Duc Vice President, Institute for the Study and Development of Language and Culture, Vietnam Society of Linguistics Monash University staff and students presentations

Monash University staff and students made a significant contribution to the success of the conference. Former Monash staff also presented there. Specifically, current and former Monash staff and students included: 1. Dr Phan Le Ha, Faculty of Education: Delivering the overview of the conference, closing the conference, and chairing the keynote sessions 2. Dr Jenny Miller, Faculty of Education: The native/nonnative problem: teaching, learning and using English in local contexts 3. Dr Libby Tudball, Faculty of Education: Developing Asia literacy in young Australians: changing emphases, shifting conceptions, why, what, how? 4. Dr Bao Dat, Faculty of Education: Exploring the intercultural perspectives of lecturers and students 5. Dr Wee Tiong Seah, Faculty of Education: Educating values for local communities in global economies: Perspectives from mathematics education (sent abstract but could not attend at the end) 6. Ms Nguyen Thi Hong Hai, PhD student, Faculty of Education: Towards analysing business letter texts in English as a lingua franca: an intercultural perspective 7. Professor Lesley Farrell, formerly at Monash, currently Associate Dean Research at University of Technology Sydney: Educating global workforces for local communities: English literacy and knowledge economies 8. Associate Professor Rui Yang, formerly at Monash, currently at The University of Hong Kong: The English language in China’s Internationalisation of Higher Education

Conference Outcomes One of the key features of the conference was the creation of networks and partnerships that people are keen to pursue with Monash and with the wider community in multiple domains, ranging from the academia to the industry. For example, policy makers and scholars in Vietnam have strongly suggested that Monash co-organises annual conferences with Vietnamese universities and institutes to promote knowledge building of both sides and to further consolidate Monash’s publicity in Vietnam. Local support for such events has been confirmed. The Vietnam Institute for Education Sciences has invited Dr Phan Le Ha to develop research projects on foreign language education and policy to seek funding from the Vietnamese government and overseas funding bodies. Potential consultancy work involving Monash University staff has also been recommended. 2

Acknowledging Monash’s international leading role in education and research in the AsiaPacific region and its commitment to engaging more fully with Vietnam, various enterprises and corporations including major banks and human resources agencies have proposed a model consisting of Monash University, a Vietnamese university and multiple corporations based in Vietnam to train high quality individuals and the workforces meeting the challenges posed by the knowledge economy. Publication of selected papers submitted to the conference in a special issue in an international refereed journal co-edited by Professor Lesley Farrell and Dr Phan Le Ha will be pursued. Likewise, several publishing houses in Vietnam have offered to publish the conference papers in Vietnamese. A special issue of the Journal of Language and Life, affiliated with the Linguistics Society of Vietnam, will dedicate to the publication of relevant conference papers. Monash University Linguistics Papers is also interested in publishing a special issue featuring the conference papers written by Vietnamese scholars on issues involving language education and linguistics. Vietnamese scholars in Vietnam and Vietnamese doctoral students at Monash University have offered to undertake the translation where necessary. Very importantly, in addition to all these, the publicity of the conference was immense. Coverage of the conference and interviews with conference participants were broadcast on the Hanoi Television Channel for four times. News and articles written about the conference and its impacts were published in popular local newspapers. Hanoi Open University and The Linguistics Society of Vietnam have received many congratulations phone calls from scholars, academics and corporations commenting on the success and public impact of the conference. Monash University’ publicity has greatly been acknowledged and consolidated in Vietnam and among the international participants.

Future Initiatives A number of future initiatives have been identified and proposed, including: 1. Together with Vietnamese counterparts, Monash University co-organises regular international conferences on various topics related to educating local communities in global economies in different parts of Vietnam 2. Forming a network of Asian professionals and those who are interested to promote English language with the help of Asian languages. 3. Establishing a network of interested scholars operating through the internet to begin with but with regular events held in different countries to allow face to face communication on issues related to work-related education and language education To sum up, the conference has not only achieved its academic and scholarly aims but also promoted Monash University’s reputation, commitment to engage meaningfully with local communities to enhance mutual understanding, boost local research capacity and knowledge building, and create respectful multilateral dialogues with the wider community. Monash University presenters were highly regarded by the audience. I would like to end this report with several participants’ comments and impressions of the conference. Professor Lesley Farrell, University of Technology Sydney: “The conference was a wonderful opportunity for me to meet colleagues from different parts of Asia and to begin to understand some of the similarities and differences in the 3

challenges facing us in our own parts of the world. Our perspectives were often quite different, and the conference offered me an opportunity to try to see the world, and our issues, from other points of view. It was my impression that we learned a great deal from each other at the conference and that we would all benefit from opportunities to meet and talk more regularly. I especially enjoyed learning more about Vietnam and Hanoi in particular, and I know I have much to learn about all the other countries in the Global South. So, I would be very supportive of establishing a network of interested scholars operating through the internet to begin with but with regular events to allow face to face communication. It is so important to know each other personally! Finally, thank you to you and our colleagues and students in Hanoi for such a warm and hospitable welcome – you have all set a very standard.” Mr Muhammad Iqbal, Vocational Training Institute, Pakistan: “Conference was really interesting and enjoyable for me. One thing was the most remarkable it has been inclusive. People from different walks of life appeared to be interested. I am especially pleased that non-star people were also there. Most of the conferences are held for highly reputed professionals but in our conference a number of participants, as I found, were new learners and they loved our work very much for their leaning process. It was also fascinating that the local language was not ignored and common local person could exploit the ideas of the scholars with translations. During conference I felt that English had not a dominant role to kill our Asian languages and cultures rather it is the sister of our own languages. I also had opportunity to meet up with different scholars. As an audience I widened my professional experience. I learnt there many new things. The idea of work related English was deepened in mind. I feel, now I am a different professional that I was not before speaking there. When I got back home my community and students were found very eager to hear the story of the conference. I gathered them in institute ground and told the story of the conference because they started to raise many questions in my periods. I concluded how poor communities are enthusiastic to learn about other cultures and nations. Only the reason is that they are usually ignored and their voices are not heard. International opportunities are only available to the elite usually living in big cities. I especially thank to Monash University on behalf of my community and students that had partly funded my travel.” Dr Jenny Miller, Monash University: “I thought the experience was terrific and organisation excellent”. Dr Libby Tubball, Monash University: “I did want to congratulate you again and thank you for all you did to ensure the 100+ success of the Hanoi conference. Your attention to detail in developing the conference was admirable! I personally was thrilled to be able to be a part of the conference and to visit Vietnam.”


On behalf of the project team, I would like to thank Monash University and the Faculty of Education for the generous support and look forward to your further support to organise future events in Vietnam and other countries in the ‘Global South’. Events like this are among the best to promote education, research and meaningful collaborations. Dr Phan Le Ha Faculty of Education, Monash University


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