June 1, 2008

It is now less than 8 weeks to the third WorldCALL Conference in Fukuoka, in southern Japan. After more than three years of preparations all the jigsaw pieces of this special event are coming together.

We are anticipating 500 attendees and 220 presentations have been confirmed covering all aspects of CALL and the use of new technologies in language learning. The breadth and depth of the conference is well-illustrated in the work and specialisations of our four keynote speakers. Collectively, they will provide important perspectives on CALL from around the world (Brazil, Canada, Japan, United Kingdom). At the same time, in their different ways, each will respond to the conference theme, CALL Bridges the World.

Vera Menezes will focus on the challenges of learning a language in South America. In that region and elsewhere technology can act as a bridge in two ways: between learners and speakers of the target language; and between privileged and underprivileged learners. Katsuhiko Shirai and Trude Heift will discuss state-of-the-art technologies and applications including the latest advances in artificial intelligence and speech processing, but the focus will remain where it should be, namely on the learner and how we might better respond to learner diversity and individual differences, bridge between the technology and the learner perhaps? Then Stephen Bax will consider the metaphor of the bridge in yet another way: how we move from the initial introduction of new technologies to their regular, everyday use in the language classroom. I know we will all benefit from the wisdom and knowledge of our special guest keynote speakers.

In addition, as many of you know, one of the unique contributions of the WorldCALL Conference is that participants from underserved regions of the world are particularly encouraged to share their experience through the scholarship program. This year we have 13 scholarship holders from Argentina, Brazil, China, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Iran, Sudan, Turkey, Ukraine, and Venezuela. It's a rare occasion to have such diversity among participants at a CALL Conference and I'm sure many of you are looking forward to hearing what they have to say about CALL in their part of the world.

If you haven't quite made your mind up about attending the conference, please consider it carefully. We can promise you a rewarding and enjoyable experience both professionally and socially. See you there!

Mike Levy
Conference Planning Committee


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