Linguapax Asia 2018 – Symposium Report

Bilingualism Now: The Imperative Issues in Bilingualism and Bilingual Education

Linguapax Asia 2018 Collage

The Linguapax Asia 2018 symposium on Bilingualism Now took place on June 23, 2018, at Tsukuba University in Ibaraki Prefecture. The symposium was co-organized with the Institute for Comparative Research in Human Social Sciences at Tsukuba University and sponsored by The Sign Language Research Center at Kwansei Gakuin University. The programme was prepared in cooperation with the Bilingualism SIG of Japan Association of Language Teachers.

The symposium included nine oral presentations, including six 30-minute presentations, two 15-minute presentations by ‘Linguapax Young Scholars,’ a 40-minute plenary lecture; a two-hour plenary panel discussion on ‘Deaf Sign Bilingualism in Japan’; and 15 poster presentations. During the lunch break, the audience was treated to a reading of folk stories in Miyakoan, an endangered language of the Ryukyus, and watched excerpts from a Miyakoan documentary video.

The presentations addressed the main topic of bilingualism and bilingual education from diverse perspectives and in a variety of linguistic environments, including the Ukraine, Thailand, Australia, Slovenia, Palau, East Timor and Japan. A detailed programme can be viewed on the website .

The plenary panel discussion addressed the issue of bilingualism of two different modalities, namely spoken language and sign language. The accounts of the presenters’ experiences as bi-modal bi-linguals were very impressive and enlightening to the audience. The presentations were simultaneously interpreted and shown on the screen in Japanese and English transcripts which required sophisticated technical expertise. The panel discussion was moderated by Dr. John Maher who at the end stressed that successful bilingualism requires both big decisions as well as life decisions – on personal and governmental levels which must then be followed by action. The Japanese sign language being awarded an official status in the future, is one such example!

The symposium was attended by approximately 60 participants who gave a very positive and enthusiastic evaluation of the symposium at the end. The collaboration with organisations that share Linguapax values and objectives has proved very successful and we hope to continue with this practice in the future. In 2020 Tokyo will be hosting the Olympic Games and this may be an opportune time to further promote Linguapax’s essential mission and objective which is “language for peace”.


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