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Assoc Prof Dr Hanafi Hussin (left) presenting a gift to Prof Dr Noorsaadah Abd Rahman (right) while Prof Dr Stefanie Shamila Pillai looks on. Pix by Vincent D’Silva
Participants from 15 countries attended the Free Linguistic Conference at Universiti Malaya. Pix by Vincent D’Silva
Participants from 15 countries attended the Free Linguistic Conference at University Malaya. Pix by Vincent D’Silva

KUALA LUMPUR: Universiti Malaya recently hosted an annual gathering for language teaching practitioners and linguists from around the world during the 12th International Free Linguistics Conference (FLC) 2018.

The FLC has made a name for itself for being a language conference that does not charge any participation or entrance fee.

This is the first time that Malaysia is hosting the annual conference since it was first held by a group of like-minded language enthusiasts at the University of Sydney 11 years ago.

It has gained a reputation as an accessible forum for people working in the area of language sciences to come together and share their diverse perspectives, practices and research through workshops and talks.

The latest edition of the conference, held on Tuesday and Wednesday was co-organised by the UM Faculty of Languages and Linguistics and Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences in partnership with the Hong Kong-based FLC Group.

More than 420 English language practitioners, academics, lecturers, teachers and students attended the conference which was launched by UM deputy vice-chancellor of research and development , Prof Dr Noorsaadah Abd Rahman.

Also present were UM Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences dean Assoc Prof Dr Hanafi Hussin.

FLC Group organising chair Prof Dr Stefanie Shamila Pillai said that the annual event was all about giving access to the people working in the area of language sciences to the current research that was being done in this field.

“The conference brings together people with different experiences from diverse language and cultural backgrounds as well as different language education and linguistic training which encourages multi and interdisciplinary analysis and interpretations of our work,” said Stefanie Shamila.

She said the underlying spirit of the FLC was to get language experts to think about ways to make their work relevant to their communities.

She said that such complex linguistics issues in most communities in the world required thorough research to be done by both academics and language science practitioners.

"There should not be any 'grab and go' -type of research model used when it comes language sciences," she said.

Stefanie Shamila said language research must contribute to better classroom practices, language revitalisation and challenge language and education policies that disadvantage communities and practitioners.

UM's Noorsaadah, who commended the organisers for not imposing any registration fee, said the conference would allow language experts from around the world to network and initiate various research collaborations.

Participants were equally impressed about the outcome of the conference.

Nigerian doctorate student Adidat Ibrahim said the free-to-all concept espoused by the FLC Group in its annual conferences allowed language learning to reach all segments of the community.

“It was a wonderful conference and very well-organised. I gained some new ideas and ideas for some research areas. I made new friends from Malaysia," said Adidat.

Undergraduate Kenneth Michael Navarez from the Philippines said he enjoyed participating in the forums presented by the renowned linguistics experts, including a session held by the conference's co-founder Assoc Prof Dr Ahmar Mahboob, who is from the University of Sydney, Australia.

Other speakers who took the rostrum were Prof Dr Gerard Docherty (Griffith University, Australia), professor Dr Azirah Hashim (UM), Dr Willy A. Renandya (National Institute of Education, Singapore), Dr Kofi Yakpo (Hong Kong University, Hong Kong) and Dr Elaine Espindola (Federal University of Paraiba, Brazil).

“The speakers were all great and the paper presentations attended are extensive and are great avenue for me to interactively participate together with other students and professionals,” said Navarez.

Indonesian lecturer, Sri Hardiningsih said that Malaysia was the ideal location to hold a language conference due to its multilingual community.

“I was able to pick up lots of ideas from this Conference and enjoyed the hospitality of the people here,” said Sri.

The next Free Linguistic Conference will be held next year in Brazil.

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