THEY came, spoke and shared their experiences or expertise with fellow learners in the field of teaching English, all 106 speakers and presenters from 34 countries all over the world.

Whether on the vast and grand stages of the Cebu International Convention Center, Cebu Doctors’ University (CDU) and Benedicto College, or in the equally comfortable break-out sessions in CDU’s rooms, they presented their papers and researches at the 1st Cebu TESOL International Conference here in Cebu last Aug. 12 to 14.

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Among the 106 speakers, 82 were from other countries. True, they worried before and after their arrival in our country.

Charge that to the present crisis at the Philippine Airlines and its departing pilots. Would they leave on schedule or might they be stranded in Cebu? Even the slightest possibility could add to the anxieties.

Twenty-four of the speakers were from Philippine colleges and universities. Of these, four were from our very own Cebu whose papers figured among the well-attended: Prof. Aurelio Vilbar of UP Visayas Cebu College, Dr. Angel Pesirla and Dr. Lyster Tiston Ramos of Cebu Normal University and Dr. Grace Gimena of Cebu Technological University.

Prof. Vilbar, who’s finishing his Ph.D. in Language Education at UP Diliman, Quezon City, spoke on “Developing ESL Multimedia Solutions for Sustainable Development.” He shared important findings in an ongoing research developing localized interactive multimedia software for Filipino English language learners.

Dr. Pesirla, a former dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and then vice president for Academic Affairs, spoke on “The New Englishes of Asia.” To the common question “Is it still English if spoken with a foreign accent?,” his paper stressed, among others, that in India, Singapore and the Philippines, the Asian English is spoken as a second language and is used generally for administration, broadcasting and education.

On the other hand, in Japan, Korea and Thailand, the Asian English is spoken as a foreign language, and is generally used for contacts with other countries for trade, industry and scientific progress.

Dr. Ramos, an IELTS examiner for the British Council and IDP Education Australia, shared her paper on “Using Games in the Language Classroom,” a research reminding all to bring back fun into the classroom. Approaches are as motivation at the beginning of the lesson, or as pleasant breaks before or after some arduous drill or prolonged deskwork.

Dr. Gimena’s paper, “English Proficiency of Freshman Teacher Educations: Intervention Packet,” reiterated the urgency of intervention packets in English to assist students in improving their proficiency levels.

Among the audience’s favorite speakers was Prof. Marc Helgensen who teaches at the Miyagi Gakuin Women’s University in Sendai, and at the Teachers’ College Columbia University in Tokyo.

His paper on “ELT and the Science of Happiness: Positive Psychology in the Classroom” did not really have any earth-shaking or new revelation. But it provided very good grounding for all teachers—that the journey of a thousand steps to having happy students begins with the first step, being a happy teacher. Well put!