Eighth Annual Pan-SIG Conference report

Writer(s): 
Salem K. Hicks, Pan-SIG 2009 Publicity Chair, GALE SIG Coordinator, and JALT Publications Website Editor

 

With the spread of the H1N1 influenzavirus in Japan early this spring, it was hard not to worry not only whether the school district closures mightaffect the attendance, but also whether the venue of the conference itself mightclose. In the end, Toyo Gakuen University in Chibaremained open and the attendance at the EighthAnnual Pan-SIG conference was record-breaking!

With the sponsorship of some very generous Associate Members, the help of some talented JALT members, and the dedication of an awesome organizing committee, we were able to create yet another successful conference.

This is the third year the GALE SIG has joined the conference as a co-organizer and it has been a beneficial experience each time. For GALE, it has been a great chance to: organize a conference for our members to share research and pursue professional development; luckily raise some extra funds; gain new members; forge new professional relationships; and collaborate with other SIGs, Chapters, and individual JALT members.

Along with the nuts and bolts of conference organizing, our committee instituted the Pan-SIG Professional Development (PD) Scholarship. The goal of this scholarship is to offer a full conference fee waiver to one member of each of the cosponsoring SIGs who does not have access to research funding. In this way, each SIG was able to promote professional development among its members to present a paper at the conference and subsequently publish in the conference proceedings publication.

Being awarded the Pan-SIG Professional Development Scholarship gave me the opportunity to participate in an academic conference which I wouldn't have been able to do otherwise due to the costs. The scholarship gave me the chance to present my current research in front of my peers, receive valuable feedback,and network with people in the same field.

Michi Saki, recipient of the 2009 Pan-SIG PD Scholarship for GALE.

This year’s conference also attracted several researchers and presentersfrom abroad. We were delighted and encouraged at their positive feedback on their conference experiences. Their comments inspire us to believe that the Pan-SIG conference is indeed a special event.

Because it was my first international conference, I was very meticulous in choosing the right conference for me in terms of the location, time,and the severity…I met some colleagues who participated in your conference before. They shared some memorable experiences about both your conference and Japan. I was really impressed with what they told, so I chose to join to yours among others.

Seher Kasikara, Anadolu University, Eskisehir, Turkey

The interaction helped to clarify ideas and spark new ones. I love the frequent interaction, which was seldom seen in other big and serious conferences.

Yun-yin Huang, National Chiao Tung University, Taiwan

In between the presentations, people were gathered around the presenter and would discuss particularly interesting aspects just seen or would engage in conversation with the people sitting next to them, asking about their own interest topics, and sharing personal stories of past research experiences. I have to say, it was such a relaxed environment that it felt less a formal event, and much more a reunion of old friends.

Vera Marques, University of Averiro, Portugal

The conference has grown in many ways over the years. This year two newly formed JALT SIGs joined the conference, Extensive Reading and Study Abroad,and both held presentation programs that offered new perspectives and information. Of course, like JALT itself, the Pan-SIG conference is a member-driven and envisioned event and one that each year takes on the combined qualities, aspirations, and creativity of the groups and members that produce it. As the Greek word implies―the union of all branches of a group―the Pan-SIG conference has the potential to unite groups of educators with seemingly disparate interests and research focuses,and provide them with the opportunity to engage in collective enquiry,and perhaps even collaboration.

Next year’s conference will be held at Osaka Gakuen University on 22 and 23 May. We welcome Catherine Kinoshita as the conference chair and appreciate OGU’s generosity in allowing us to use their facilities. So far, the ER, LLL, OLE, Pragmatics, SA, and TEVAL SIGs are on board toparticipate in 2010. The exciting and insightful theme of Learner Perspectives has been decided upon and it is of course not too late to join,so please come to the organizing meeting at the JALT2009National Conference in Shizuoka.

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