Are you heading to the Association of Language Learning conference this weekend? Here, authors of ¡Claro! José and Tony share what they’re looking forward to…
Of Primary Importance
One of the first things that struck us when we received the programme for Language World 2020 was the healthy number of talks and workshops relating to primary language learning. We have observed some inspired language teaching in primary schools and never fail to be impressed with the enthusiasm and inquisitiveness of primary students. Nevertheless, language learning at primary level remains a huge source of untapped potential. Imagine a national languages curriculum starting at foundation stage and progressing seamlessly through to secondary school and on to higher education! Many secondary teachers are currently wrestling with Ofsted’s focus on curriculum in isolation, and do so in the midst of a recruitment and retention crisis, falling hours of language study on their timetables, and all while battling against the relative difficulty of language exams. A coherent primary languages strategy, backed by effective training and resources, and with the input of secondary schools and higher education institutions, could have real, long-term transformative power in education, business and even society as a whole. Language World 2020 has given admirable prominence to language learning at primary level and we think this is a very welcome development.
Innovation, Innovation, Innovation
The debate around language acquisition is still one of the hottest out there! As such, it’s great to see such a wide range of talks and workshops on offer which promise some fresh perspectives on language learning. We’ll be approaching them with an open mind and look forward to some lively discussions. We love a bit of technological innovation so will be keeping a close eye on any developments in this area. We’ll also be looking at opportunities to make grammar learning more engaging, embedding literature and culture more effectively in lessons and promoting the use of spontaneous language. Most importantly, we look to see how new ideas can help students build on prior learning. We thoroughly enjoyed writing ¡Claro! for Oxford and did so with these points in mind. It will be interesting to see how others are pushing the boundaries to tackle these different aspects of language acquisition.
As language teachers at a large secondary school in the North West, we often find ourselves with little time to reflect on our practice; often answering the question ‘what are we doing?’, but rarely reflecting on why we are doing it. Why did we become language teachers in the first place? What fires our passion for language- learning and how do we transmit that to others? There is no better way to answer these questions than by meeting fellow linguists, sharing the challenges we face and listening to some cutting-edge ideas. In our experience, language teachers are a creative, ambitious and resilient bunch, and bringing them together at events such as Language World 2020 can create moments of real inspiration and act as a welcome antidote to the weariness caused by exam preparation at this time of year. Time, then, to pause, reflect and celebrate what we do!
We’re taking over the @OxfordEdMFL twitter feed for the day on Saturday so look forward to sharing our thoughts and ideas on Twitter and maybe meeting you in person! You can also find us at @tonywestonmfl and @misterjgarcia.