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UW–Madison professors (from left) François Victor Tochon, Catherine Compton-Lilly and Aydin Bal will be speakers at the opening Shanghai Seminar.

First "Shanghai Seminar" Launches March 27

School of Education faculty organize Shanghai conference on language education

by Laurie Dennis

Language education policy will be the focus of the first in a new seminar series hosted in China by the University of Wisconsin–Madison’s Wisconsin China Initiative. The conference will open Wednesday, March 27, with a reception at the UW–Madison Shanghai Innovation Office.

The Shanghai Seminar Series was developed in conjunction with the opening of the Shanghai Innovation Office as an opportunity for UW–Madison faculty to host seminars in Shanghai for colleagues from across China, as well as from Greater China, Japan, Korea, and beyond. The series is designed to encourage both new and ongoing scholarly collaborations between UW–Madison faculty and colleagues in East Asia.

In May, a proposal by François Victor Tochon and Catherine Compton-Lilly, professors in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction, received the first Shanghai Seminar award. The first proposals were reviewed by a committee of the Center for East Asian Studies chaired by Director Quitman Phillips, which selected the Tochon/Compton-Lilly project. In the fall of 2012, administration of the Shanghai Seminar Series was transferred to the Wisconsin China Initiative (WCI). The WCI awarded the Tochon/Compton-Lilly project $10,450 to collaborate with Shanghai International Studies University (SHISU) to co-host the "2013 International Conference on Language Education Policy: Global Perspectives and Local Practice."

Shanghai Seminar Link

The conference will feature 10 speakers from China and 15 from other countries, addressing topics related to bilingualism, deep teaching methods, multiculturalism, the challenges in learning a second language, and other aspects of language education.  Several of the Chinese speakers are members or leaders of Ministry of Education committees and other national associations, such as the National Curriculum and Textbook Development Committee, the National Advisory Committee on College Language Teaching, the Foreign Languages Education Association and the China Education Linguistics Association. Over 30 other China scholars will also be attending the conference.

Tochon said the conference seeks to offer multiple views on the topic, and to explore opportunities for new research projects in China.  The conference will conclude with a special session to plan research that will be attended by a representative of the Shanghai Municipal Education Committee.

"China has the largest population of foreign language learners in the world. Shanghai has had 30 years of teaching English and more than 10 years of bilingual education in the elementary classroom, but still lacks effective teacher development programs," Tochon explained. "The Chinese are looking for solutions and they are open to teaching other languages besides English.  We want to look at how to resolve problems and ask 'what solutions can we bring to them?'"

The opening reception will showcase the UW–Madison presence in China. The Shanghai Innovation Office features a mural of Bascom Hall and other images of the Madison campus. Director Neville Lam will host the conference participants.

Wisconsin China Initiative (WCI) Director Nicole Huang said she is proud to have the WCI sponsoring the language education conference and hopes it will become a model for future seminar series programs.  The WCI is preparing to issue a new call for proposals for the next seminar, which will likely occur in the spring.

After the opening reception, the inaugural conference will include two days of paper presentations and small group work at Shanghai International Studies University.

Tochon will present a paper, "Autonomy as Education Policy to Increase Program Effectiveness in Languages and Cultures," that looks at Europe’s successes in teaching multiple languages and options for introducing "deep immersion" methods for teaching a second language. Compton-Lilly’s lecture, "Literacy and Language Education Policy: A Comparative International Study," will look at language instruction practices in five countries, including the United States, and plans to extend her research model to include China and three additional countries.

In addition to Tochon and Compton-Lilly, UW–Madison's School of Education also will be represented by Professor Aydin Bal, Department of Rehabilitation Psychology and Special Education, who will speak on the intersection of language policies and disability.  Jinting Wu, who will talk about how ethnic Chinese language groups can become disenchanted with official Mandarin Chinese education policies, received her PhD from UW–Madison and currently is a research fellow at the University of Luxembourg.

Besides co-host SHISU, the Chinese universities represented at the conference include Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Fudan University, Zhejiang University, Sun Yat Sen University, East China Normal University, the Shanghai Institute of Technology and over 20 other universities from across China. 


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