AFMLTAAustralian Federation of Modern Language Teachers Associations
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In a change to the AFMLTA executive, we have stepped into the role of editors until the next National Assembly, and will be working on Babel volumes 51 and 52 this year.
In addition, support from government and education departments, both at the state level and nationally, for the conference theme and for the agenda of increasing awareness of and engagement with languages and cultures was a welcome recognition that there is bipartisan support for the languages education agenda, In support of the mission of the AFMLTA, and of the work of the state and territory languages teachers associations.
John Hajek and Joseph Lo Bianco, both seasoned AFMLTA keynote speakers and leaders of languages education in Australia, of The University of Melbourne, together with Anne-Marie Morgan, of the AFMLTA and the University of New England, and Diane Larsen-Freeman, provided perspectives on what is meant by plurilingualism and why it needs exploring through innovative pedagogies.
A panel led by Russell Cross and Margaret Gearon, and with one of the internationally recognised founders of CLIL, David Marsh, and a number of teachers using this approach, attracted much attention and interest, as did the regular meeting of the bilingual schools network, hosted by Kylie Farmer, President of AFMLTA.
Data collected from the evaluations have been useful for planning ongoing professional learning for the AFMLTA membership, some 3500 teachers of languages across the nation, and for reflection on changing trends in languages teacher needs, contextualised in relation to national and international literature, events and responses to languages teaching and learning.
In particular, we address the issues of comparison of the AFMLTA conference with like conferences in other disciplines; expectations of content in 'by the profession, for the profession' conference programs; the needs of early career teachers, and whether they are missing out on the fun of conferences that could assist with teacher self-efficacy, satisfaction and retention; and the most prevalent consistencies in evaluation responses, and what these mean in relation to the issues identified and for ongoing planning.
The conclusions drawn relate not only to ways forward in maintaining the relevance and value of AFMLTA conferences, but also to contributing to the political agenda and advocacy for the languages profession, using conferences to drive the national agenda, rather than merely responding to it.
In considering AFMLTA conferences, the final article in this issue interrogates the benefits of conferences as professional learning (PL) for teachers of languages.
The 19th biennial AFMLTA National Languages Conference was held in Canberra in July 2013.
The 19th biennial conference of the AFMLTA was held in Canberra in 2013, and a similar evaluation to that conducted for the Darwin conference was undertaken and analysed by members of the AFMLTA executive.
This paper reports on the results of the Canberra conference evaluation, with a focus on comparison of the new data with those of the previous conference, and discussion of themes emerging from the comparison that inform ongoing consideration of and planning for AFMLTA conferences.