AULC conference 2016 #aulcconference2016

Last week I attended the 17th annual conference organised by the Association of University Language Centres in the UK and Ireland (AULC). It took place in Cardiff, where everyone I met was really friendly, and I met quite a few colleagues from other institutions. This is my fourth year of attending, and a lot of time is now spent trying to catch up with people I haven’t seen for a year.

Here are my notes:

Day 1

Welcome and Keynote 1 (Professor Diarmait Mac giolla chriost)

  • Wales is aiming to make its population bilingual plus 1, i.e. every child is taught English, Welsh and one other language in school. This is meant to raise the profile of modern languages in the country and increase employability.
  • Welsh is to be seen as language of inclusion
  • some identities are linked to language (research into this taking place e.g. at University of Cardiff)

Session 1: Accessibility of Professional Development by Language Practitioners Investigating a Better Understanding of their classroom Practice (Dr Assia Slimani-Rolls and colleagues)

  • focus on exploratory practice (EP) as method for research and practice
  • research is essential/powerful, needs to inform practice – ‘potentially powerful transformative force’
  • why are teachers not engaging in research? lack of time/available resources/mutual respect between teachers and academic researchers
  • exploratory practice aims to empower teachers and develop professionalism
  • importance of putting ‘quality of life’ in the classroom first
  • use of normal pedagogic activities as investigative approaches
  • some teachers presented their own ‘puzzles’, reflecting on their individual contexts
  • EP helped to make informed CPD decisions, to understand what happens outside the classroom as well as inside

Session 2: Developing Digital Literacies through Observation and Reflection (Dr Ulrike Bavendielek)

  • internet use offers authentic, relevant material, greater scope for participation and autonomy
  • communication skills: different skills required for different media/platforms
  • access to help and support in target language
  • ‘real language’ communities of practice – native speakers, at a distance
  • ‘participation is learning’
  • enable students to know what’s out there and how to find/access it
  • show students how to access things, e.g. at the beginning of a lecture – don’t assume they know!
  • need for cultural background, underlyig values and ideas
  • language use on social media can be very creative, it isn’t about ‘correct’ language – students need to be made aware and they may be able to play with language, too
  • encourage students to use target language on existing networks rather than start afresh – be aware how people engage with social media generally – there may be issues

Keynote 2: Opportunities and Challenges in the Multilingual and Multicultural Learning Space: Principles and Practices (Dr Kevin Haines)

Session 3: Acquired through Languages for All / IWLP Programmes – the Certificate in Languages for Business – Chartered Institute of Linguistics Accrediting Language Skills (Matthias Postel)

  • Level 2 certificate: A1/B2
  • need for applied language content with a workplace focus
  • currently on offer: French, Spanish, German
  • two units (reading/writing and listening/speaking), plus exam

Day 2

Session 1: Use of Tablets/Smart Phones to Support Accessibility (Antonio Barriga Rubio)

Plenary Talk: Beyond Accepted Standards – The German UNIcert Language Certificate for University Students (Dr Peter Tischer)

  • “The UNIcert ® system of language education and certification is based on a policy document agreed by leading German universities.”
  • one curriculum with academic focus
  • framework and network
  • cooperation with DAAD
  • certificate for teachers: FOBIcert
  • international expansion
  • different (new) skills – new certifictae needed

AULC – Annual General Meeting (John Morley and colleagues)

  • updates

There was a Twitter hashtag as well, #aulcconference2016, which you may want to look at to access other people’s tweets, posts and thoughts.

Added on 24/02/2016: Presentations can be accessed here.


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