University of Calgary

Conference to explore need for 2nd language teaching in Alberta schools

UToday HomeApril 9, 2013

By Clayton MacGillivray

Tom Ricento’s second annual Linguistic Diversity and Language Policy conference will examine the importance of second language instruction in Alberta’s schools. Photo courtesy of the Faculty of EducationTom Ricento’s second annual Linguistic Diversity and Language Policy conference will examine the importance of second language instruction in Alberta’s schools. Photo courtesy of the Faculty of EducationLooking to ensure Alberta’s workforce is skilled and productive? Invest in second language learning, says Tom Ricento, the Faculty of Education’s English as an Additional Language chair.

“Investing in language instruction will pay dividends in both near and long-term economic development of Alberta,” says Ricento, who is hosting the second annual Linguistic Diversity and Language Policy conference on April 22.

“As Alberta hopes to expand its international reach in attracting foreign investment and in developing partnerships with countries from the Pacific Rim to Latin America, and especially with the BRIC countries, proficiency in major international languages is becoming more and more a necessity and not a luxury.”

Ricento says there are more than 200 languages spoken in Canada with many seeing significant growth in the number of speakers over the last 10 years.

“English monolingualism is not an asset in a tight, and tightening, knowledge economy labour market in Canada; if a student graduates from high school in Alberta with advanced proficiency in Spanish or Mandarin, for example, along with an official language, they will be more attractive to prospective employers.”

Linguistic Diversity and Educational Options in Albertais the theme of this year’s conference which will explore the benefits of the high-quality foreign language and bilingual learning opportunities available in Alberta schools.

“The purpose of the conference is to provide a forum to share information and new ideas about language programs in Alberta,” says Ricento.

The one-day conference will examine language programs in Calgary and Alberta that often get less attention, such as bilingual programs in English and German, Mandarin, and Spanish, as well as programs and curricular innovations on Aboriginal languages and ways of knowing. Plenary talks will be followed by a panel discussion on specific programs lead by educational leaders from the Calgary Board of Education and the Calgary Catholic School District.

“The conference will be of interest to parents, educators and policy-makers who are considering introducing innovative international language programs in their schools, and to academics interested in hearing about the efficacy, and challenges, with bilingual education programs.”

The event is free and open to all. Registration information can be found on the conference website https://educ.ucalgary.ca/ldlp/

 

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