What does leadership in English Language Teaching (ELT) in ASEAN and Australia really mean, and how can we define a refreshed outlook for the future quality of teaching and assessing English as lingua franca in ASEAN and beyond?


Australia is unprepared for the Indonesian Market.

The chief executive of the Asia Society, Philipp Ivanov, said if the proposed free trade agreement between Australia and Indonesia was put in place Indonesia education would be opened up to foreign markets, which potentially put 200 million would-be students on Australia’s doorstep.
Australia does not rank in the top 10 destinations for Indonesian students wanting to learn English, a fact which has exposed how under-prepared Australia is for the expected deregulation of Indonesia’s education market.
Other markets within ASEAN are growing rapidly, with urbanisation taking hold in multiple countries.
The time is now for Australian ELT managers to understand Leadership within ASEAN and Australia and ask the right questions before the ASEAN market ignites.

For three days from Wednesday 8 to Friday 10 May 2019, more than 300 key influencers within the ELT sector from around Australia and the world will consider these crucial issues. They will convene in a key location in Sydney – Pyrmont Bay, to share their research and opinions with a large and networked audience within the ELT sector.

You can join them, and in doing so help to strengthen the relationship between the ELT community and government organisations through a dialogue that increases awareness of the ELT sector within the global education industry. Signing of the ASEAN Charter in 2009 legislated English as the sole working language, the lingua franca, of the group, with English becoming ‘post-Anglophone’ and being adopted and adapted by its Asian users to suit their own needs. Within ASEAN countries “the number of different accents and pronunciations of English are legion. In such circumstances, it is not sounding like a native speaker which is important, it is mutual intelligibility,” observes Kirkpatrick. “The lingua franca approach really requires non-native speaker teachers of English” (pp.13-14).

How can we connect across the region?

So, what should be the next steps in developing quality English language competence and cooperation throughout ASEAN? How feasible will it be to develop an ASEAN-wide holistic approach to quality in ELT that includes teachers’ proficiency, qualifications, experience and professional support as well as governance and business performance?

Can players in peak bodies and regulatory authorities, in both Australia and the ASEAN countries, leverage Australia’s status quo dialogue partner relationship with ASEAN to influence ELT developments there, either through participation in the wide array of ASEAN-led bodies or via industry events such as CamTESOL or the ASEAN Australia Education Dialogue?

The 2019 NEAS Management Conference provides an opportunity for your voice to be heard on these important matters, and more. And, to help shape fresh responses to what Andy Kirkpatrick refers to as “the key issues surrounding the building of English competency in ASEAN, and to the challenges that need to be faced.”

So, what does leadership mean to you in this context? Is it developing ELT partnerships with regional ASEAN leadership bodies? Or, helping less economically developed regional areas in ASEAN to improve the ELT levels of both their teachers and students by partnering with other, ‘more proficient’ countries? Perhaps it’s working to encourage English language teacher mobility across
ASEAN. And what is the role of Australian ELT professionals in promoting a joint ASEAN-wide approach to developing multilingual English language teachers in ASEAN and Australia?
Or is it a mix of all these activities, and more? What to date has been your lived experience of ELT in an ASEAN perspective; what have you learned that’s worth sharing?

Who are the influencers in ELT in ASEAN and Australia?

ASEAN is the most important regional body facilitating Australia’s relations with Southeast Asian states, writes Malcolm Cook in his August 2018 analysis for the Lowy Institute of ASEAN-Australia relations. If so, who then are the real influencers in ELT in ASEAN? Are they political or governmental, business operatives or administrators, the new generation of multilingual ELT teachers and leaders, or a combination of all the above? And what now should be the role and influence of the “traditional” native English-speaking ELT in developing “mutual intelligibility?”

Further, what influences on ELT, and by whom in ASEAN and Australia, have issues such as digital solutions for improving ELT delivery, or harmonisation of the quality of ELT teacher qualifications, or combined ELT business ventures?

Find out the answers to these questions at the 2019 NEAS Management Conference.


1 Robert Bolton, ASEAN is ignored by Australian education providers despite the market’s giant scale (The Australian)

2 Writes Andy Kirkpatrick, in Building English Language Competency: English as the Official Language of ASEAN – Position Paper (Griffith University March 2018), p.2.

3 Malcolm Cook, Analysis: ASEAN-Australia relations: The suitable status quo (Sydney: Lowy Institute August 2018), p.5.