Editorial

By Morgan, Anne-Marie | Babel, November 2013 | Go to article overview

Editorial


Morgan, Anne-Marie, Babel


The AFMLTA national conference was recently held in Canberra and was an outstanding success. Our biennial conferences attract dedicated support from the languages education community across Australia, and internationally, and this one was no exception. Despite the chills of a Canberra winter, more than 250 languages educators gathered to participate in four days of presentation, collaboration and celebrations of what we do. Inspirational keynote addresses from Tim Lindsey and John Hajek of The University of Melbourne compelled us to burst Australia's unsustainable monolingual 'bubble' and to urgently engage with multilingualism, and more directly with our neighbours in Asia. Both these presenters argued the necessity and urgency of increased engagement, for an effective place in the world and as an entitlement of young people, which can only effectively be done through increased languages and cultures understanding, and capacity to engage with others for whom multilingualism and interculturalism is an everyday given. Lesley Harbon of The University of Sydney delivered the Horwood address, providing us with a sophisticated and nuanced challenge to reconsider what it is to be a new learner of a language, how languages teachers prepare for new learners, and how we must not lose sight of the affective domain of language learning. Lid King, Director of The Languages Company, and instrumental in development of languages curricula and policy in the United Kingdom and Europe, told of the contexts, approaches and challenges in developing European languages curricula, as timely lessons to Australian language educators and policy makers, as we work with new draft curricula. Matthew Absalom, of The University of Melbourne, challenged us to consider and challenge 'the Google generation' as we embrace the role of technology in languages learning. In more than 80 presentations in total, nearly 90 languages educators shared their explorations of theory, classroom practice, networking and pedagogy. The quality of presentations was excellent, and preliminary analysis of evaluation data shows a very high level of participant satisfaction. We thank our hosts, MLTA ACT, whose work over the several years required to plan a national conference ensured the smooth running of the event. We also thank the ANU and its languages faculty for hosting the conference, and also the conference's other major sponsors. …

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