International English Language teaching experts meet to discuss Decolonizing English Language Parameters

Release of souvenir

Udaipur, English Language Teachers from all over the country and almost a dozen Asian countries met in Udaipur last week to discuss issues in decolonizing English Language Teaching.  The occasion was First International ESL EFL Conference cum Sixth Annual Conference of Rajasthan Association for Studies in English organized by the Department of English, Janardan Rai Nagar Rajasthan Vidyapeeth University, Udaipur. The conference began on 5th Nov. 2009 and continued up to 7th Nov. 2009. More than two hundred delegates attended the conference and presented their research papers in these three days. The scholars came from countries like USA, France, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Thailand, South Korea, Iran and Oman. Eminent language experts like Prof. Sara E Kuehlhorn (South Korea),  Prof. Channerong Indraprasset ( Thailand) , Prof. Khairi -Al -Zubaidi  ( Malaysia),Prof. Bidisha Bhaduri ( Symbiosis , Pune )etc. made presentations at the conference.  Prof. Z. N. Patil ( Hyderabad ) , Prof. R. P. Bhatnagar ( Jaipur) , Prof O.P. Juneja ( M.S. University , Baroda ), and Prof. Rajul  Bhargava ( Jaipur) were the key speakers who made plenary lectures at the conference.

The papers received from foreign and Indian delegates were divided into five major themes namely Issues in English Language Teaching and Research; Ethnicity , Culture and ELT;  ELT: Across the Borders;  Decolonizing English Studies; Perspectives in Language and Literature Research and Teaching / Learning contexts in Asian countries. The papers took up issues related to teaching methodology, Teaching practices involving technology, English Language text books and their improvement , researchers in testing , Indigenous Languages and English experiences of language Teaching and Learning in various countries and different states India , Issues in teaching English as a foreign language and also as a second language. The significance of the conference increased with the participation of delegates from such Asian countries where, like India, English a second language. The Korean experience was found to be quite different from India in many ways though Language learning situations in Bangladesh and Sri Lanka were found to be comparable with the Indian situation. There were seven parallel sessions everyday in which ten papers were presented. There were four workshops and five plenary sessions. The inaugural function was held in the new auditorium of Rajasthan College of Agriculture while all other sessions and the Valedictory function was held at Janardan Rai Nagar Rajasthan Vidyapeeth University Campus at Pratapnagar near Airport Road.

Addressing the Inaugural function Vice-Chancellor of Janardan Rai Nagar Rajasthan Vidyapeeth University, Udaipur Prof, Divya Prabha Nagar said that Engish Language is now a language of empowerment rather than the language of enslavement . New methods and strategies should be evolved to make the teaching and learning easy for the rural masses. She welcomed the delegates from various countries and expressed her hope that their experiences will enrich the Indian scholars. Key speaker of the inaugural session Prof. R. P. Bhatnagar said that there is an urgent need to decolonize English Language Studies in that no self-respecting country would allow the teaching of another country’s literature in the name of Language. Prof. Channerong Indraprasset (Thailand) said that one has to visit his country in order to understand the teaching – learning situation there. Prof. Sara Kuehlhorn, South Korea talked of her experiences and read her paper on code switching in an Indian film Kal Ho Na Ho.

Prof Z. N. Patil delivered the first plenary address. He took up the task of setting the ball rolling. With his vast experience of teaching in India, Japan and Vietnam Prof. Patil suggested several methods of improving teaching practices in India. He demonstrated how literature could be used as a potential source of teaching nuances of language use. He remarked that the texts used in India for teaching English are hopelessly monotonous and boring. According to him the teacher’s attitude and performance are the key factors in the success of a foreign language teaching situation. In the beginning of the inaugural function Prof. S.N. Joshi, President of Rajasthan Association for Studies in English introduced the theme of the conference. Prof. N.K. Pandya, Principal M.V. Shramjeevi College gave the welcome address. The organizing secretary Prof. Hemendra Singh Chandalia read the message of the Chancellor Prof. B. S. Garg . Dr. S. K. Agrawal , Associate Prof  in the Department of English offered the vote of thanks . Dr. Sharda V. Bhatt and Dr. Mukta Sharma, Associate Professors in the Department of English convened the programme . On this occasion Prof. R. P. Bhatnagar was felicitated for his life- time contribution to the field of ELT. Sh. G.K. Sukhwal, a Teacher Research Fellow in the Department of English was honoured for his painstaking role in organizing the conference while Dr. S.K. Agrawal , Dr. K.S.Kang , Dr. H.M.Kothari , Dr. Ankit Gandhi and Sh. Sunil Bhargava were honored for playing the role of organizing secretary in the previous conferences of Rajasthan Association of Studies in English . The conference souvenir published by the department of English, Janardan Rai Nagar Rajasthan Vidyapeeth University was released by the Vice- Chancellor Prof. Divya Prabha Nagar. She released two issues of the Journal of Rajasthan Association of Studies in English. At the end of the inaugural function national anthems of fourteen countries represented in the conference were played.

The three- day conference was enjoyed by the delegates. The vegetarian food served at the time of breakfast, lunch and dinner was relished by the Indian as well as foreign delegates. Melodious presentations were made by Sanchita Choudhuri, Atish Sarkar (Rourkela), Brian Mendonca (New Delhi), Shweta Sharma (Jaipur) Fateh Singh Charan ( Chittorgarh), Sayyed Bagher Mirshojaee ( Iran) Indira Nityanandam ( Ahmedabad) etc. Besides, the delegates made their presentations in creative writing sessions and were taken round the city of Udaipur to view the world-famous lakes Pichola, Fatehsagar , Maharana Pratap Smarak, Sahelion – Ki- Bari, Manikya Lal Verma Garden etc.

The Valedictory address was delivered by Prof O.P. Juneja, Professor Emeritus, M.S. University Baroda. In his address he underlined the importance of computer aided language learning and said that in the age of globalization a teacher of English has to keep pace with the demands of the market. The chief guest of the valedictory function Prof. M.S. Agwani, former Vice – Chancellor of JNU, New Delhi said that the growth of English should not be allowed at the cost of Indigenous languages. He quoted several instances where English was responsible for the extinction of indigenous languages. Presiding over the valedictory function Sh. Prafulla Nagar expressed the need to strengthen English Language Teaching in tribal and rural areas. He felt it necessary as it would open new opportunities for them. Prof. H. S. Chandalia , Organising Secretary of the conference presented the report of the conference . Dr. Sharda V. Bhatt. convened the session whereas Dr. S.K. Agrawal offered the vote of thanks. Dr. Mukta Sharma, Dr. Bhatt, Mrs. Nandini Mathur and Sh. Basant Jain were felicitated for their contribution to the conference.


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