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Learning Through Language ( LTL), 1st edition

The conference aimed to share ideas about what it means to educate in a multilingual environment

The first edition of “Learning Through Language: the changing role of teachers” took place this weekend at St Peter’s School and focused on the changing role of the teacher. The conference, organized by St. Peter’s School, aimed to create a meeting point where practicing teachers, schools, universities, student teachers and institutions interested in could share ideas and reflect upon what it means to educate in a multilingual environment.

Those who attended the first edition of LTL confirmed that, even though the scenarios and contexts may differ, teachers today face a common challenge: that of teaching in a global world where linguistic diversity is the norm rather than the exception, making it a necessity to work together, collaborate and create networks.

"We need to see what is really happening in our classrooms"

The conference director, Jane Mitchell-Smith stressed that “we need to see what is really happening in our classrooms. Even though we know our own specific cases, we need to share and contrast our observations and reflections with our colleagues. We cannot make improvements on our own. Action research (that carried out by teachers in their own classrooms) is becoming an ever greater necessity”.

The conference is the result of collaboration between St. Peter’s School and a network of universities, schools and institutions which operate in multilingual environments. Amongst the universities which took part were Blanquerna, Pompeu Fabra, UAB, UB and the University of Lleida.

Schools were also invited to share their own particular experiences. El Col.legi Luis Vives from Mallorca; La Miranda Global School; El Colegio San Patricio, and El Colegio Mirabal from Madrid and El Colegio San José de Calasanz from Fraga, spoke about how they addressed learning through language.

Some of the questions raised by the participants during the conference were how the teacher could face the challenge of linguistic diversity in the classroom, how this affected the role of the teacher, who the teacher actually is, and what tools and resources are needed to guarantee sound initial teacher training, high-quality teaching practice and comprehensive continuing professional development.

The conference included two rounds of practical workshops where practicing teachers shared resources for the classroom, converting participants into students for two days. In addition to the workshops, the conferences reflected upon how to use the cultural and linguistic riches that each child brings to the classroom. Universities and schools were invited to work together. The conclusion of various discussions led to the conclusion that research into language acquisition and multilingualism needs to reach the classroom.

Also taking part in the conference were the “Col.legi de Doctors I Llicenciats de Lletres I Ciències de Catalunya, the British Council of Barcelona and the CICAE school association. Sponsors included Education First, Vicens Vives publishers, Person Education, Santillana, Inedit magazine and Playtual.

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