LMI ESP Symposium Report

The LMI ESP Symposium is the culmination of the Lower Mekong Initiative (LMI) Education Pillar English Project "Professional Skills for Leaders", a regional English for Specific Purposes (ESP) training project which aimed to build regional collaboration in the fields of Environment, Health, and  Infrastructure by developing the English capacity of professionals in those fields.
The LMI ESP Symposium brought together approximately 120 educational policy makers, academics and CEOs to discuss varied perspectives on and approaches to addressing the need for English for Special Purposes  training and to share the LMI English Project model in order to inspire and highlight the need for more regional ESP training initiatives.

Date August 23-24, 2012

Venue The Imperial Queen’s Park Hotel, Sukhumvit 22, Bangkok 10112, Thailand


As countries in the lower Mekong region become members of one single ASEAN Economic community (AEC) with a free flow of goods, services, investments and most importantly labor, and as English is used as the working language of the community, it has become essential to increase the capacity of regional professionals to communicate effectively in English in their respective fields in order to build synergy among member countries and industries within the countries, develop stronger professional networks, and to aid the region in addressing strategic economic, environmental and political issues in various regional and international forums.

Symposium Goals
The LMI ESP Symposium was created to establish a dialogue between English for Specific Purposes (ESP) stakeholders in the ASEAN region (i.e. employers, educational policy-makers, regional leaders, academics, teachers and learners) in order to create awareness of the need for ESP training in the region.  In this symposium, participants discussed the need for specific language instruction for LMI/ASEAN country professionals to assist them with improving their ability to communicate on a professional level in regional and international meetings, conferences, and training events, especially as the integration of ASEAN Economic Community takes place in the year 2015. Lessons learned from the recently completed series of LMI ESP language seminars were also shared to facilitate participants’ understanding of the need for such ESP instruction and to provide a model for planning such training in a systematic way for the various professions, industries and organizations represented.

Expected Outcomes
  • Participants will use the strategies and processes shared in the symposium to design and teach their own ESP programs. 
  • Participants will apply lessons learned and resources shared to initiate new or improve existing programs to teach ESP online or in blended-learning formats. 
  • Networking and collaboration within the symposium will lead to initiatives to design and implement ESP programs within the region.

The symposium opening was presided over by representatives from each of the symposium's sponsors including: the LMI Education Pillar Co-Chair, Secretary General of the Thai Office of Higher Education Commission, Dr. Piniti Ratananukul; the U.S. LMI Education Pillar Co-Chair's representative, the Counselor for Public Affairs at the U.S. Embassy Bangkok, David Hodge; Chulalongkorn University Vice-President of Personnel Management, Dr. Pornpote Piumsomboon; and the Thailand International Development and Cooperation Agency (TICA) Director General, Piroon Laismit.
The symposium opened with an overview of the LMI English Project by Regional English Language Officer, Damon Anderson. He was followed by featured speaker, Kay Westerfield, an expert on ESP training from the University of Oregon,who discussed the circles of economic impact that ESP has on the individual, his/her family, his/her employer, his/her teachers, and his/her country. Points made in Ms. Westerfield's illuminating presentation were echoed in the inspiring keynote address of ASEAN Secretary-General, H.E. Dr. Surin Pitsuwan, who underscored the dire need for English capacity building in order for national and regional, social and economic growth to take place in South East Asia. Additionally, a panel of business leaders from Bangkok Hospital, DTAC, Charoen Popkhand Foods, and the Center for Professional Assessment shared their perspectives on the need for ESP training for professionals in the communications, health, and agro-industry sectors, while e-learning experts Dr. Jintavee Khlaisang and Vorasuang Duangchinda shared the rationale and tools for integrating educational technology into the English curriculum in a dynamic and very popular session. Finally, the symposium ended each day with an LMI English Project panel presentation, where lessons learned from different aspects of the project, i.e. curriculum development and implementation, as well as, logistics and planning, were shared by each of the project's trainers. In addition to highlighting strategies for implementing a regional ESP training initiative, the teacher mentoring aspect of the project was showcased as co-teachers representing the five LMI member countries shared what they have learned from their participation in the multi-national and collaborative LMI English Project.
The following presentation slides may be viewed online.

To view the complete program, including presenter bios and abstracts, click on the link. 

Small Group Discussions
One of the keys to the success of the symposium was the integration of small group discussions after most plenary sessions. In these meetings, diverse groups of ten specifically selected participants were led in discussions of the points made by the plenary speakers. The discussion leaders then collated these ideas into session notes which were duly shared in the daily wrap up  and later emailed to all symposium participants. 
To view the bulleted summaries of the notes from the small group discussion sessions click on the link.

Symposium Planning
The LMI ESP Symposium was designed by Damon Anderson, Regional English Language Officer at the U.S. Embassy Bangkok. This plan was realized by LMI English Project Coordinators: Associate Professor Suchada Nimmannit and Senior English Language Fellow Brigitte Miller in collaboration with the Chulalongkorn University Language Institute (CULI) Symposium Planning Committee headed by Assistant Professor Wattanawan Sanguanruang. The organizers are indebted to Chulalongkorn University Language Institute and, in particular, CULI Director, Assistant Professor Saowapa Chayaburakul for her support throughout the project. They would also like to thank the symposium sponsors: the Office of Higher Education Commission (OHEC) of Thailand, Thailand International Development and Cooperation Agency (TICA) and the U.S Department of State.

Evaluation of the symposium was done by an anonymous online survey emailed to the symposium participants. Forty-five of the one hundred and fourteen symposium participants responded to the survey, which reveals that overall, the symposium successfully accomplished its objectives and that the symposium organization (over 80% approval) and venue (most rated the facilities "excellent") were well appreciated.

The following are some of the quantitative results.

  • 95% indicate that they would recommend the LMI ESP Symposium to a colleague
  • 100% indicate that the symposium achieved its objective of "highlighting the current need for ESP training in the ASEAN region"
  • 93.3% indicate that the symposium "provided opportunities for networking and idea sharing"
  • 86.7% indicate that the symposium "introduced new strategies, innovations or approaches to teaching ESP"
  • 80% indicate that the symposium "put them in contact with potential project collaborators"
  • 97.8% indicate that the symposium "inspired them to consider designing or redesigning an ESP program"
All the plenary sessions were rated useful and informative (over 80%). Additionally, the results consistently reveal that the most popular sessions were Dr. Surin's keynote address, followed closely by Kay Westerfield's "The Micro and Macro Economic Impact of ESP" and Dr. Jintavee Khlaisang and Vorasuang Duangchinda's session "IT for ESP: Access, Advantages and Approaches".  

The impact of the symposium was elicited qualitatively through comments, which reveal that the LMI ESP Symposium inspired some to take action, others to propose more training, and others to reflect on the place of ESP and more. The following are a sample of the comments submitted.
  • "The symposium was a good opportunity for ESP professionals and ESP teachers to meet and share their interests and experiences. I believe that the symposium will affect ESP training in LM or ASEAN region a lot. After the symposium, for instance, Vietnamese members have met each other and wanted to run a mini project to improve ESP teaching in some universities in Hanoi in order to fill the gap between employers' requirements and employees' competences in terms of English". 
  • "The LMI ESP Symposium will open the eyes of the Lower Mekong/ASEAN region that caters with all level of ESP training. However, I propose that the training should be carried out simultaneously in every country of the Lower Mekong. For example, the training of medical doctors with low English language competence from Laos, should join their neighboring country pre-intermediate level as in Thailand and vice-versa. So that the people are force to use their English with other people of other countries. In a class of twenty, not more than 3 people of the same country are involved. I proposed that professionals from Indonesia, my country, for example would be given the same chance to join the training which would be a very positive input".
  • "It helped me to understand the LMI as a region with specific needs and issues that are pressing as ASEAN 2015 approaches. I can see how LMI ESP is not just individual training courses for disparate groups, but how it can be a venue for participants from different countries to share their knowledge with each other and to learn one another's "Englishes." 
  • "It provides a chance for ESP teachers to understand the role of ESP in the region and the need to change in their own teaching. It shows the necessity of the collaboration in the region to get the good community as well as the challenges in ESP training that each member is facing to."
To view the results of the anonymous online evaluation of the symposium, click on the link.

To view the slides from the presentation click on the highlighted links.
 Day 1 – Thursday, August 23, 2012  
Time Session
8:00 – 9:00Registration
9:00 – 9:20Opening Ceremony
9:20 - 9:30"LMI Education Pillar English Project Overview"
Damon Anderson
9:30 – 10:30

Kay Westerfield

10:30 - 10:50Break
10:50 - 11:20
Small Group Discussion: Meeting 1 - Notes
11:20 - 12:20Session 2: Panel “Assessing the Need for ESP”
  • Dr. Chatree Duangnet, MD.
  • Tinakorn Ruenthip
  • Perapong Klinla-Or
  • Robert Woodhead
Moderated by Suchada Nimmannit
12:20 - 12:50Small Group Discussion: Meeting  - cancelled
12:50 – 14:20Lunch
14:20 - 15:40Session 3: Panel  “Lessons Learned from the LMI ESP Project: Developing & Implementing the ESP Curriculum"
LMI English Project Team
15:40 – 16:00Break
16:00 – 16:30Small Group Discussion: Meeting 2 - Notes
16:30 – 17:00Wrap Up - LMI English Project Coordinators
18:00 – 20:00Welcome Dinner

  Day 2 – Friday, August 24, 2012
9.00 – 9.10Announcements
9:10 – 10:30Session 4: Plenary “IT for ESP: Access, Advantages & Approaches"
1. "Pedagogical Blended E-Learning for ESP: Access, Advantages & Approaches"
Dr. Jintavee Khlaisang
2. "Social Media and Social Networking that Click"
Vorasuang Duangchinda
Moderated by Dr. Chulaporn Kongkeo
10:30 – 10:50Break
10:50 – 11:25Small Group Discussion: Meeting 3 - Notes
11:30 – 12:30Session 5: Keynote Address ASEAN Integration and Collaboration”
Dr. Surin Pitsuwan
12:30 – 14:00Lunch
14:00 – 15:00Session 6: Panel “Lessons Learned from the LMI ESP Project: Planning a Regional ESP Program"
LMI English Project Team
15:00 – 15:40 Final Small Group Discussion: Meeting 4 - Notes
15:40– 16:00Break
16:00 – 16:30Final Wrap Up - Regional English Language Office Team
16:30 – 17:00Closing Ceremony

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