LMI Education Pillar ESP Symposium sets new model and trend for LMI and ASEAN countries
August 23-24th in Bangkok, government policy officials, academics and CEOs from Lower Mekong and ASEAN countries gathered at a symposium designed by the Regional English Language Office of the U.S. Embassy in Bangkok, Thailand to discuss the need for English for Special Purposes (ESP) as a key step in making member nations' work forces more competitive and able to collaborate on important regional initiatives such as the Lower Mekong Initiative (LMI). The Symposium, which was the culmination of the LMI Education Pillar English project, “Professional Communication Skills for Professionals,” was presided over by the Thai Co-Chair for the Education Pillar, Dr. Piniti Ratananukul, who is the Secretary General of the Thai Office of Higher Education Commission. The U.S. Co-Chair was represented by David Hodge, Counselor for Public Affairs at the U.S. Embassy in Bangkok. Leading off the Symposium was Professor Kay Westerfield from the University of Oregon, whose opening speech on “The Micro and Macro-economic Impact of ESP” set the tone for the important dialog carried on throughout the two-day symposium. The keynote by Dr. Surin Pitsuwan, ASEAN Secretary-General, clearly stated the need for English as the neutral language of communication and for ASEAN citizens to develop a new Cultural Intelligence, to foster stronger regional collaboration. The over one hundred invited participants highly praised the symposium not only because of the inspiration and information gleaned from the presentations, but also because of the format which allowed for substantive discussion and network building. This symposium is leading to sustainable outcomes with participants planning further collaboration. This highly successful symposium was implemented by Chulalongkorn University Language Institute with the Senior English Language Fellow and in large part funded by the Thai Government (the Thai International Development and Cooperation Agency and the Office of Higher Education Commission).