On July 5-6, 2012, the 6th biennial LLAS conference entitled ‘Language Futures: Languages in Higher Education’ took place in Edinburgh. The rich conference programme included plenaries from distinguished scholars and policy makers such as Prof Jim Coleman (Open University, chair of University Council of Modern Languages UCML; click here to download his presentation slides), Prof Rosamond Mitchell (University of Southampton), Prof Colin Riordan (University of Essex) and Prof James Foreman-Peck (Cardiff University), alongside two days of paper sessions from UK and European researchers and practitioners working in Higher Education. The key note speeches gave an excellent overview of the status quo – and the future – of MFL teaching and learning in the UK and the plenary discussions contributed to a wider understanding of the challenges which universities are facing in relation to national educational trends.
The themes of the conference focussed on employability, the value of the year abroad experience, internationalisation and MFL for non-specialists, among others. A wide range of papers and presentations offered insight into current practice and innovative solutions at a wide range of HE institutions in the UK and elsewhere. For a full list of the papers presented, go to the conference website to download the programme.
Two members of CLERA presented papers at the conference: Dr Claudia Gremler presented findings from a project on video production in the language classroom (read a good practice report on her project on the HEA website), and Elisabeth Wielander talked about content teaching in the target language, presenting some of the findings of her on-going PhD project investigating CLIL in UK Higher Education. A number of delegates from UK universities expressed their interest in CLIL and their institutions’ intention to expand target-language delivery in undergraduate MFL programmes, which opens possible avenues for future cooperation and dissemination of these findings. Both papers sparked lively Q&A sessions which provided valuable feedback and led to stimulating discussions with other researchers, and both conference papers will be revised and submitted for publication in the future.