LLAS News Blog

News articles of interest to higher education LLAS subject fields.

Thursday, 31 May 2012

Landscapes, frontiers, transitions and connections: a voyage through the Languages in Higher Education Conference 2002-2012

The journey began in 2000 with the birth of the LLAS Centre (then Subject Centre) as part of the Learning and Teaching Support Network with an explicit mission to support and promote teaching within UK Higher Education. In 2000 we were invited to attend the dissemination conference for the 10 projects developed under the Fund for Development of Teaching and Learning (FDTL). From there came the idea to run a biennial conference with UCML, AULC, CILT and SCHML.  Over the years, this conference has become a significant and regular feature of the language conference landscape opening up a space for colleagues for whom teaching is a core or specialist activity and for whom research is a minor or emerging activity.

Over the years, themes have ranged from technology-enhanced learning, to residence abroad, to teacher training. Topics covered are as familiar as translation-teaching, intercultural communication and assessment, and as wide-ranging as laughter, climate-change and apprenticeships in language learning. The conference has also engaged with the sticky issue of employability: every year it will include contributions from employers and has, on a number of occasions, heard from recent language graduates who have made very successful transitions to employment.

Over the years the conference has reflected and discussed the changing fortunes of language teaching in Higher Education and it has weathered the storm of funding changes all due in no small part to everyone who has been involved over the years in organising and supporting the event. Core to this has been the continuing collaboration with UCML, AULC, the Higher Education Academy and the earlier support of CILT and ALL. But its most loyal and valuable partners are the conference participants, some of whom return year after year and more of whom are now travelling in from across the globe. Keeping the languages community connected is really what the conference is all about and as it heads towards the 2012 conference on 6 and 7 July in Edinburgh it promises to be a lively event which will carry on the tradition of stimulating conversation and debate in languages, whatever the future may bring.

Conference timeline:
  • 2002 Setting the agenda: Languages, Linguistics and Area Studies in Higher Education (Manchester)
  • 2004 Languages, linguistics and area studies conference  - navigating the new landscape for languages (London)
  • 2006 Crossing frontiers (Cardiff)
  • 2008 Languages in higher education conference: transitions and connections (York)
  • 2010 Languages in higher education: raising the standard for languages (London)
  • 2012 Language Futures: Languages in Higher Education conference 2012 (Edinburgh)
Alison Dickens
Assistant Director, LLAS

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