REPORT: ASJA -ASCOJA International Symposium 2018 in Bangkok


21st – 22nd September 2018, Grande Centre Point Sukhumvit 55, Bangkok


21, Sept 2018

Welcoming Reception – 55th F Floor, Grande Centre Point Sukhumvit 55, Bangkok

–           The reception included words from Ms. Bhusdee Navavichit, the OJSAT President, Mr. Shigeki Kobayashi from the Embassy of Japan and Mr. Vuthy Monyrath, the ASCOJA Chairperson, as well as a speech from Mr. Jiro Sato, Secretary General, ASJA International. Since this was my first time in such events, I was very curious about what each of these respected and experienced members of the organizations have to say. Of course, with my level of experience, I was awed by their ease of addressing the floor. Never have I been more thankful for my Japanese language education as most of the speakers were more comfortable in expressing themselves in Japanese.

Mr. Sato’s speech focused on developing Japanese language education across the ASEAN countries in relation to the modern day application of the language, especially labor. I couldn’t agree more, as with the rising and aging population of Japan, the ASEAN community should look for ways to work together and further advance interests in commerce and industry.


22, Sept 2018

ASJA-ASCOJA International Symposium on “Linguistic Ability and Cultural Competency for Human Resource Development in the Era of Globalization”

The event was opened by a short speech from Ms. Bhusdee Navavichit, the OJSAT President about cooperation between the ASEAN nations revolving around the concept of globalization. This would be one of the many times she would be asked to climb the stage to deliver a few words.

Mr. Jiro Sato was up next and he talked about the importance of labor assets from the ASEAN countries and how the current era is awash with opportunities for everyone.

Mr. Kobayashi Shigeki ended the opening ceremonies by thanking everyone in attendance, especially our Thailand hosts for the event. Based on anecdotes from different sources, each ASEAN nation was, understandably, eager to show off their respective countries during these type of events, and our hosts certainly aren’t holding back this year in my opinion.


The main event was spearheaded by a special lecture by Ms. Shinko Fukazawa, Representative of Japanese Mother Tongue and Heritage Language Education and Research Association in Thailand (JMHERAT) about “Various Scenes of the Japanese Language Learners’ Linguistic and Cultural Background; a Report on Case Studies in Thailand’s 3 Universities to Search for the New Goal to Teach Linguistic Skills at School”  The lecture introduced the report’s study on Japanese language learners coming from different linguistic and cultural backgrounds, ranging from the ‘halfs’, of part Japanese descent up to people with a completely different mother language (Mandarin, Russian, etc.). The learners’ backgrounds were directly and indirectly influenced by how their community perceived them. It is obvious to point out how household interactions (language) shifted their interest and motivation between different languages. With NCF receiving its share of students with Japanese heritage, this made me think of how Philippine culture perceives everyone of mixed heritage, especially with the common belief on how they should already be at some point proficient in the respective native languages of their parents. With globalization already in full swing, every country has its experience in multicultural groups after all.

This was followed by a presentation from Prof. Sirimonporn Suriyawongpaisal about Japanese Language Education and Literature. Here, Prof. Suriyawongpaisal recommended the inclusion of classic and non-classic Japanese literature in learning the language. This was further complemented by websites, especially Youtube, to draw learner interest in the language, and more importantly, the Japanese culture. This was interesting to me as I appreciate a good read now and then, and language learners get another view of the culture of the country whose language they are studying through its literature. Classic literature is especially adorable as we get to see morals and life lessons simplified almost to the point of childlike narration. Not many would appreciate the way these are geared towards children, however, so feedback is a must.

Another presentation was from the Laos representative Malaykham Sayakone on the country’s status regarding their Japanese language schools, with data from the recent JLPT scores. As their curriculum is relatively young compared to the other ASEAN countries, this would be an excellent chance for those other nations, including the Philippines, to assist and further our collective interests.

Indonesia’s Ari Artadi followed up by discussing their topic Basic Level of Japanese Education for Health Workers, which discussed the EPA program of Indonesia and the relevant literature and data from the previous candidates. They are also having problems with the imbalance between language teachers and students, the lack of interest in pursuing a career in the former and the language and cultural barrier encountered frequently by the candidates. I was informed that our country, the Philippines was not authorized to discuss details of our EPA program as it is a joint venture between our country and Japan. Indonesia, it seems, received clearance to do just that.

The Japanese Language Education for Business topic was presented next by Tran Thi Thuthuy Nguyen Thi Bich Hue from Hanoi, Vietnam with focus on the current economic climate, specifically ASEAN nations’ competency in responding to Japan’s call for human resources. The current goal has been upgraded from ‘laborers with experience in the Japanese language’ to ‘laborers with the competency to operate using the Japanese language’. Besides language proficiency, there is a need to focus on specialization, communication, problem solving and cultural adaptation and cooperation. This should be the way to move forward in my opinion. We are already consuming so many aspects of multiculturalism, so language should be developed as a skill instead of just an academic subject with little impact in the real world.

Ms. Thin Aye Aye Ko from Myanmar was up next expanding on the effects of globalization and the need to stay competent with improvement on specialization with Necessity of Japanese Textbooks in Myanmar Language. Ms. Ko demonstrated the number of books she has developed for Myanmar’s learners while sharing the information of the average age of said learners in Myanmar (between high school graduates and university level). The room (including yours truly) expressed surprised delight on seeing how much she must have contributed to the Japanese language education in her own country. She also pointed out the need to balance conversation in the Japanese language and the JLPT, with emphasis on the learners being able to express themselves as much as they can to further learning.

Mr. Hy Sokny from Cambodia also gave a report on the current status of Cambodia regarding Japanese language education, where one would be quick to notice similar trends between the ASEAN nations, especially between Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia, with most of their learners approaching or at a university level of education. As we all know, Cambodia has had a rocky past as a multicultural country, yet despite that they are looking forward to the future and all the opportunities it offers.

Malaysia’s Ms. Au Yong Hui Nee touched up on their medical workers with her topic Issues in Healthcare in Malaysia as Experienced by Japanese Retirees. With Malaysia currently experiencing the benefits of being a retirement location for Japanese citizens, Ms. Nee discussed the importance of language competency when it comes to nursing/care-giving. This translates to a call for better support for EPA candidates across ASEAN countries with focus on assimilation of the target culture/language. This is not limited to the Japanese language, as pharmacy software requires support in the English language. Here she briefly touched up on the proposed OET (Occupation English Test) to be included in the healthcare curriculum.

The event was concluded by an open forum with representatives answering questions relating to their current status regarding Japanese language education. This would be the first time I felt something of a strong impression of the importance of our bonds with our ASEAN family. We all provide labour to Japan and each other, we experience almost the same disasters and economic situations, and share the same roots. We could (and we have, repeatedly learnt) learn from each other, not just about solving problems, but celebrating our shared interests regarding Japan. I have always thought of myself as open-minded about foreign relations, but now I realized how one could really broaden their horizons by visiting the other side of the fence. I am really thankful for the opportunity afforded to me and I hope to utilize my experience to further the study of the Japanese language in my country.


Report by: Kevin Paul Bautista



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