University of Calgary

Conference explores impact of multilingualism on classrooms

UToday HomeApril 29, 2013

The Language Research Centre is hosting the Interdisciplinary Approaches to Multilingualism conference from August 15-17, 2013, which will offer students and faculty the opportunity to engage with leading scholars from around the world on topics relating to multilingualism.The Language Research Centre is hosting the Interdisciplinary Approaches to Multilingualism conference from August 15-17, 2013, which will offer students and faculty the opportunity to engage with leading scholars from around the world on topics relating to multilingualism.Today’s classrooms reflect the changing face of Canada and with more than 200,000 Calgarians speaking a language other than French or English, the complexity facing teachers promises only to increase as this linguistic diversity becomes the norm.

In order to provide teachers with access to the latest findings and ideas on multilingualism, the Language Research Centre is hosting an innovative conference entitled Interdisciplinary Approaches to Multilingualism. From Aug. 15 to 17, international experts will come to the Rozsa Centre to share cutting-edge research on second language pedagogy and literacy development, adult second language acquisition, and developmental psycholinguistics.

“We are especially interested in engaging classroom teachers and graduate students as well as policymakers,” says Rahat Naqvi, associate professor and conference co-chair. “We want to show how cutting-edge research in these areas can inform and transform the work and professional development of educators. This conference aims to bridge the gap between theory and practice.”

Mary Grantham O’Brien, director of the Language Research Centre, and Suzanne Curtin, associate professor in the Department of Psychology, are co-chairing the conference with Naqvi and agree that the importance of engaging in discussions about the implications of multilingualism cannot be overstated.

“In our city alone, 49 per cent of new Calgarians speak neither English nor French as their first language. As a result of this demographic shift, experts recognize a variety of societal issues that relate to successful integration of immigrants, literacy acquisition for multilingual children, and the broader implications of multilingualism,” says O’Brien.

The Aug. 15 preconference, which will be of particular interest to educators, will shed light on some of these issues with examples from real-life data stemming from current research projects, overviews of current methodologies, and an outline of basic theory.

“By creating a forum where interdisciplinary research collaboration and research dissemination is possible, we are helping initiate engagement across professions and within communities,” says Naqvi.

The conference schedule is still under development but attendees can expect to select from more than 50 presentations as well as keynote addresses by Jim Cummins, Canada Research Chair in Language Learning and Literacy Development in Multilingual Contexts; Craig Chambers, principal investigator for the Language and Action Laboratory at the University of Toronto; and Tracey Derwing, professor of TESL in the Department of Educational Psychology at the University of Alberta.

Complete details and registration information can be found on the Interdisciplinary Approaches to Multilingualism conference website http://www.ucalgary.ca/iam2013/ Early bird registration for the main conference is open until May 15.

 

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