ON AUG. 12 to 15, the much-awaited First Cebu International Tesol (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) Conference will reel off at the Cebu International Convention Center.

Topics will include, among others, second language acquisition theories, Tesol, professional issues on educational standards, alternative approaches and the latest trends in teaching.

English as a Second Language (ESL) and English for Specific Purpose (ESP).

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The major benefits to every conference participant? The chance to discuss the what’s and how’s of improving teaching, lessons learned, the what’s and what-not’s in applicability to other learning environments. These, plus the opportunity to form international linkages with various schools around the world, without having to shell out huge sums for travel.

Over a hundred educators worldwide have committed to either speak as main resource speakers, or present their abstracts and discuss their studies.

I’m particularly interested in four studies so far. One is Malaysian professor E.E. Chop Ler’s “Cultural Factors affecting English Proficiency in Rural Areas: A Case Study,” which is focused on 20 students with different ethnic backgrounds and English language proficiency in six rural schools in Terengganu, Malaysia.

The study discovered five major problems: peer pressure and motivation, attitudes towards English, teaching methodology, school culture and influence of Islamic teaching on the learning of English. Comparison of parallel studies in our own country should prove interesting, particularly the last factor.

Proponents who believe that gender differentiates women from men’s ability and willingness to communicate will have eye openers. Iranian professors Akbar Afghari and Elahe Sadeghi’s showed no significant difference.

Considering the rise of Japanese tourists, some for formal education, the paper by professors Izumi Kansaka and Richmond Stroupe should hold interest for school owners.

The professors acknowledge that the Philippine school’s popularity is attributed to the comparatively lower cost, the quality of programs, and non-academic experiences available during and after their studies.

Studying four groups of university students—those who never came to the Philippines, and those who returned after studying here—the professors present the misconceptions about the Philippines and the reasons for such, and recommend how the Philippines can promote more accurately and better prepare their students for studies here.

Koreans, too, are becoming regular fixtures wherever we go.

Quite a number have put up their own businesses, and set up residences here. The young ones have even learned second languages. What experiences did they learn while developing bilingual identities?

Professors Hohsung Choe and Keeseok Cho studied elementary school students who had stayed overseas from four-eight years, and discovered readjustment problems, which affected their academic performance.

The study ends on a positive note: The Koreans realized that bilingualism was a great asset, and resolved to reconcile their ideal identities.

(lelani.echaves@gmail.com)