For the last twenty years the Association for Language Learning (ALL) has been running the biggest annual conference for the language practitioners from all sectors.
The University of Manchester was the place chosen this year to host this venue and during the last Friday and Saturday, teachers and professionals from all over the country and even some from aboard came together to exchange their experiences and ideas. With the common interest and passion for languages, everyone met up to learn more from each other.
The atmosphere was great; all the different people speaking in all the different languages: French, Spanish, German, Italian, Japanese, Russian and sometimes even English! Many stories were told, opinions shared, teaching and learning methods discussed”¦ everyone was deeply engaged with work.
Choices for all Tastes
During the two days there were many talks, practical sessions, workshops and seminars available to everyone together with an exhibition of books, resources and equipment for language teaching and learning from the leading brands in the UK. The conference was also enriched with the presence from superb speakers from diverse backgrounds and areas in the language sector, always ready to pass on their knowledge and give concrete examples of real life situations.
The sessions were very interesting and they showed teachers a number of different ways to communicate with students, demonstrated the “practability” of activities and also how lessons can be playful and great fun. And some speakers were actually very amusing and funny!
In an area such as language, which keeps changing and in which methods have to be constantly updated, meetings like this one are extremely important as they provide the opportunity for people to work together and come up with new appropriate goals and cultural approaches to languages.
In general, people really enjoyed the conference and believed it was very helpful. “The conference is excellent! The speakers are very enthusiastic and inspiring. I am looking forward to try with my students in the classroom all the new things I have learned here!” stated Teresa Marrable, a Spanish and French teacher from Westbourne High School.
Indeed, one of the speakers, Steve Fawkes from BBC Learning and Interactive, even said enthusiastically: “I have been coming every year since 1990 to this conference. Once you get into the swing, it gets compulsive! It is impossible to stop coming!”
To close the conference, the three presidents of ALL, Barry Jones, a past president, David Wilson, the president elect, and Kathy Wicksteed, the current president, addressed all the participants in a final plenary session. They presented a reflection of languages learning and teaching, introducing comments of teachers and regulations from the past and demonstrating that this is not so much different nowadays as there is still in many ways a “pedant avoidance of languages”.
With a great sense of humour and in an ironic manner, they showed how much the area of languages has to develop and be connected to the real world. The final message was that it is worth making the effort and “battling” for the rights of languages as it is highly compensating, in personal terms, to see that we made a difference for a student and even if in a little scale, for the world. Furthermore they re – emphasised the importance of a conference like the Language World and asked people to spread the word about it and the ALL organization. If more and more people participate, it is easier to carry on this endless “battle” and change the opinions of most people about the essentialness of language teaching and learning.
The next Language World conference will be on the 30th and 31st of March in 2007 in the Oxford University.
Joana Lage, Language Learning Correspondent
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