Reflecting as my Presidency winds down

Mike Ledgerwood's picture

Since i care so passionately about IALLT, it is hard not to think about what I've done (or not done) as an IALLT member to help our organization.  I recently had a long talk with Stéphane Charritos, a UNC (Univ. of North Carolina) graduate school friend, who is now Language Center director at Columbia Univ. in New York City.  In our wide ranging and far ranging conversation I asked him, at one point, what he saw as the future of IALLT and its role in the language learning profession.  He surprised me by asking me to look at our acronym.  He asked, "how is IALLT international?"  I think we have good answers to that question.  We have renewed our ties with LET (of Japan) this past year.  We have renewed our ties with EuroCALL this year.  I attended AsiaCALL and set up an affiliate relationship with them.  We have added IndiaCALL as a regional group this year, too.  We still need to work on Africa and Latin America however.  i also want us to be affiliated with GloCALL.  Second question follows from the first, "How are we an Association?"  We have a good answer to that.  We are not a huge group, but a very warm group.  We greet each other with hugs (and sometimes kisses).  We respect each other and revel in the wide variety of position we hold in the world of language learning technology.  We're looking at webinars and other development activities for our group.  However, we also do workshops in the U.S. for ACTFL and have a strong relationship with them.  We have good relationships with all of our affiliates now.  Our regional groups host good (and sometimes big) conferences.  Next.  How about with "Language Learning?"  I think this is the hardest answer of all.  Language learning is the focus of what we do.  However, at times this focus becomes unfocussed, I think.  Finally, "Technology?"  Well, technology has been our focus since our 1989 conference.  Yet, as Stéphane said, is technology deserving now of this focus?  Isn't technology now more of a tool than an "end"?

I guess my own follow-up question to that one is, "isn't every single conference dealing with foreign language learning and with ESL (English as a Second Language) learning including several sessions dealing with how a particular technology/program/web site?

The obvious next question is "how is IALLT different from other groups in what it is about, what it represents, and what it provides"?

I have my own answers to that question but am much more interested in seeing yours.  Please comment!

In your comments, if you have suggestions for projects I can undertake as Past President, both big ones as well as very specific ones, I'd be quite grateful.  And your help with these is always appreciated!  Grin.

Hugs to all, Mike

Comments

some thoughts . . .

Deanne Cobb-Zygadlo's picture

Good morning Mike,

First off, thank you for opening this discussion in this particular forum and thank you for the excellent introduction to the topic.  While it is true that CALL/TELL presentations have become an integral part of (almost?) all language learning conferences, I do believe that there is still a distinct niche for IALLT that we can "own".  Certainly there is an increased interest in CALL/TELL and in CALL/TELL ideas from colleagues and peers which these conferences do attempt to meet; however, I still think there is a disconnect - particularly at the post-secondary level - that shows CALL/TELL is still not considered "essential" to the learning of language (or any subject).  The K-12 system has NETS (National Educational Technology Standards) published by ISTE (International Society for Technology in Education), but these do not exist for the post-secondary level and to a certain degree are not written with the foreign language classroom (and its unique challenges) in mind.  The standards are meant to address the issue that technology is now a part of literacy and that the skills of creativity, communication/collaboration, research/information fluency, critical thinking/problem-solving/decision-making, digital citizenship and understanding of basic technology concepts are now inherent skills in being "literate" in today's society.  While this is not the "content" of a language learning course, it is nonetheless arguable that it is neglectful to teach the content in absence of the development of these skills with a solid technology-woven curriculum. It is by no means a new argument that the "medium is the message" and that ultimately the use of technology changes how and what "effective communication" is.

At the same time, in many cases, I think educators still struggle to see technology as integral because the message they so often receive about technology in the FL/L2 classroom is about raising student attention and making learning fun.  While these are very real reasons within themselves, it can detract from the message that CALL/TELL should first and foremost be effective - as or more effective than the traditional classrooom.  ACTFL produces guidelines for the teaching, learning and assessment of language ability which are excellent.  For the most part, these are predominantly focused around classroom teaching (minus technology).  They are excellent but I believe that it often leaves educator with a disconnect between the will and desire to be the most effective educators and the will and desire to use more technology in their teaching.  I believe the power of IALLT could be in being the central group devoted to the combining of these two excellent resources to develop guidelines and ideas for K-16 on technology in the foreign/second language learning environment. 

One of the strengths of IALLT is our K-16 focus and this is just one way that I see this strength contribute a unique position in the field of CALL/TELL.

I know there are others in IALLT who are working on these ideas as well who may have their own thoughts on IALLT's role in the on-going development of these thoughts.

Deanne