In November of this year, IAFOR hosted WorldCALL2023 – CALL in Critical Times in Chiang Mai, Thailand, bringing together 100 onsite delegates and over 50 virtual participants for meaningful dialogue onComputer-Assisted Language Learning (CALL).
WorldCALL2023 began with an invigorating first day dedicated to workshops. The morning session offered insights into developing effective language learning materials, focusing on enhancing reading skills through innovative tools and platforms. The afternoon workshop pivoted to international collaboration, highlighting virtual exchange projects that facilitate cross-border student collaboration and global learning networks.
As the sun set, the ambiance shifted to the Welcome Reception by the poolside. This relaxed evening offered delegates a chance to network, share ideas, and enjoy local flavours, all accompanied by an engaging introductory speech from the WorldCALL Steering Committee. It was an ideal start, fostering connections among participants.
Ana Gimeno of the Universitat Politècnica de València opened plenary day with an insightful address. She then introduced Worawit Chaisawad, Deputy Governor of Chiang Mai Province, who extended a heartfelt welcome to all attendees. Joseph Haldane, Chairman and CEO of IAFOR, also joined virtually to express the importance of the international, intercultural and interdisciplinary aspects within the field of CALL, highlighting how the conference connects to IAFOR’s internationalising mission.
Marta González-Lloret of the University of Hawai'i at Mānoa took the stage with her opening keynote, presenting a compelling vision for the future of language learning. She stressed the pivotal role of technology and modern methodologies in making language education not only relevant but indispensable in today's world.
Following that, the conference delved deeper with Regine Hampel of The Open University, who illuminated the importance of theoretical frameworks in CALL. In her keynote, centred on ecological theories, she provided a fresh perspective on understanding the role of digital media in language education. This underscored the intricate interplay between theory and practice.
Andrew Lian's keynote was equally thought-provoking. Representing institutions across Thailand, Vietnam, and Australia, he offered a critical review of language learning systems in Asia. His "Retprospective" shed light on the need for CALL to evolve at this crucial juncture, suggesting promising research directions for a more robust future in language education.
The final keynote by Nik Peachey was a forward-looking exploration of AI in education. Addressing the rapid advancements in AI, he skillfully navigated through its potential to revolutionise language learning and teaching, illuminating the opportunities and challenges presented by this transformative technology.
The Gala Dinner that evening provided a delightful respite, offering delegates an opportunity to unwind and indulge in Thai culinary delights. This gathering was not just a meal but a celebration of the conference's success and a further chance to build networks in an informal setting.
The following two days were packed with parallel sessions across five rooms, showcasing the wide spectrum of research and practice in CALL. A special session by WorldCALL Scholarship Awardees shed light on the real-world challenges of implementing CALL. The concluding panel featuring invited speakers and WorldCALL Steering Committee members, offered reflective insights and a look ahead to the future of CALL.
The final day was conducted entirely online, allowing for the continuation of rich discussions and knowledge exchange and ensuring that the connections and learning at WorldCALL2023 transcended physical boundaries and resonated globally.
As WorldCALL2023 concluded, the resonating message was clear: the field of CALL is at a pivotal moment, ripe with possibilities and challenges. We extend our heartfelt thanks to all the speakers, delegates, and organisers who contributed to the success of this event and eagerly anticipate future gatherings under the WorldCALL banner.