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English educators hit Phnom Penh

English educators hit Phnom Penh

An annual conference for teachers of English as a second language to be held in Phnom Penh this weekend is an opportunity for local educators to mix with their peers abroad

Photo by:HENG CHIVOAN

Students take notes in an English language class at Phnom Penh’s New World Institute.

More than 1,200 teachers and administrators from Cambodia and around the world are expected to descend on Phnom Penh for the fifth annual CamTESOL conference this weekend, organisers say.

The theme for the English language training (ELT) conference, which will be held at the National Institute of Education (NIE), is "The Globalisation of ELT: Emerging Directions".

"There is no doubt that the high level of participation in this conference reflects the desire of local English teachers to seek more professional development," conference convener Paul Mahony, who is also country director for IDP Cambodia, said.

He added that the strength of the conference was its international flavour. More than 300 teachers and education administrators from 27 countries were expected to attend, providing an opportunity for local educators to exchange ideas with their peers abroad.

Koun Chamrouen, director of studies at the New World Institute in Phnom Penh, said the presence of international educators was instrumental in bringing the latest teaching methods to the country and helping teachers lift their skills.

"It's difficult to set benchmarks for English language training in Cambodia," he said. "But every year we have a lot of international speakers, which makes it a good opportunity for educators to share ideas. It's a truly international forum."

Leang Sokhom, a teacher at the Australian Centre of Education, said the opportunity "to share teaching experiences with other teachers of English from different parts of the world" was a key reason she was planning to attend.

Mahony said the conference would also feature an impressive cast of international speakers.

Professor Jun Liu, head of the Department of English at the University of Arizona, will present the opening plenary on the increasing role of non-native English speaking teachers in the sector, based on his his own research.

Jun has had a long career in TESOL (Teaching of English to Speakers of Other Languages) and was the first Asian president of TESOL Inc in the United States, serving in 2006 and  2007.

Professor Anne Burns, the chair of the Department of Linguistics at Macquarie University in Australia, who is delivering the closing plenary, is conducting a research workshop to encourage Cambodian teachers of English to begin their own classroom-based action research .  

The 2009 conference is also the first to feature a speaker from Cambodia. Om Soryong, the deputy head of the English department at the Royal University of Phnom Penh's Institute of Foreign Languages will give a presentation called Using Humour, the Spice of Effective Teaching.

Cambodian practitioners will also receive grants for the first time at the conference for research into their teaching. Two awards will be announced for research to be undertaken in 2009 and written up as papers to be presented at CamTESOL 2010 and potentially published in the conference's academic publication.

The conference will be opened by Education Minister In Sethy on Saturday morning.

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