On Friday 29th September, the MML Schools Liaison team welcomed 53 MFL teachers from across the independent (33) and state (20) sectors to St Anne’s College for the Faculty’s annual two-day Language Teachers’ Conference. Although numbers were slightly lower than last year, our geographical reach was just as wide, with teachers joining us from all the way from Maidstone to Belfast! The event was also just as lively thanks to a newly re-jigged conference programme and some very enthusiastic delegates, who included academics and staff from across the Faculty.
After a welcome lunch, the main event kicked off with an impassioned and wide-ranging round-table discussion about the challenges and opportunities that currently exist in the world of language learning and teaching. This set the scene well, allowing us to focus the rest of the afternoon on the more positive developments and accounts surrounding language study at Oxford. Through various sessions, we highlighted the success of our beginners’ languages courses, heard from Lindsay Johns – successful writer and broadcaster – about how his French and Italian degree at Oxford had bolstered his personal and professional life, and indulged in a taster lecture on Spanish Golden Age theatre from Prof. Jonathan Thacker, Chair of the Faculty. This was all followed by a drinks reception and formal dinner, offering delegates the chance to network informally and socialise together.
Saturday’s programme focused on the practical with our annual A-level Literature Circus and Admissions sessions, both designed to support MFL teaching practices and enhance teachers’ specialist knowledge. The former invites academics in French, German, and Spanish to discuss the ways in which an area of language teaching can be used as a starting point for literary analysis in a selection of texts on the A Level syllabus. The latter provides an introduction to the Oxford application process as well as a mock interview with a current undergraduate.
The conference closed, very appropriately, with a presentation from Dr Charlotte Ryland which highlighted the exciting MFL outreach work that is currently occurring across Oxford for Key Stage 3 language learners; from the Queen’s Translation Exchange, to the Oxford German Network, to our very own schools liaison work here in the Faculty.
The feedback we have received about the conference organisation and content has been overwhelmingly positive. So far, 100% of respondents to our feedback form would recommend the conference to a colleague. One teacher from a non-selective state school in Hounslow commented:
I really enjoyed the conference – the programme was excellent and will provide invaluable material and ideas for lesson planning and promoting languages at school.
We are looking forward to acquiring more feedback over the coming weeks and collating any suggestions for next year’s event.
If you’re an MFL teacher who would be interested in attending next year’s conference, please send Nicola an email at firstname.lastname@example.org to be added to our mailing list.