An AILA-ASEAN Webinar:
COVID-19 has changed the way we live, work and learn forever. As the world moved into lockdown and populations around the world were confined to our homes, digital and virtual platforms for teaching and learning remained the mainstay of continuing our efforts at education. Yet, the challenges to continuing education during pandemic times have thrown up massive issues of inequity not least those that pertain to language policy, power and agency. The historical tensions between the dominance and role of English vis-a vis the other multilingual languages spoken in each SEA country has come to the fore. For example, much of the information available on the pandemic and on the public health response has been in both English and in the national language of the country, while less used and minority and indigenous languages have been neglected. The availability of accurate information is crucial not only for the public but also for health professionals and decision makers. As the example of the pandemic demonstrates, local languages will continue to lose ground to English in the absence of effective language policies. Unless governments in the region develop holistic and coherent language education policies, and find a way for regional languages to co-exist with English, it is inevitable that English will continue to increase its range at the expense of local and regional languages. In this panel, speakers will highlight what negotiating the new normal means in their country for Language education in multilingual ASEAN and more broadly, how it will force the scholarship and practice of Applied Linguistics to transform urgently to meet with the new normal.