2006 Conference Report

African Language Teachers Association

10th Anniversary Conference

March 23-25, 2006

Rutgers University

New Brunswick, NJ

The Tenth Anniversary Meeting and Conference of the African Language Teachers Association took place March 23-25, 2006, at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, NJ. Over fifty (50) teachers of African languages from around the U.S. and from nations such as Nigeria and South Africa, attended this year’s conference. The theme of this year’s conference was “African Languages in the Age of Globalization: Prospects and Challenges.”

Sponsors of this year’s conference included a number of Rutgers organizations such as the Office of the Executive Vice President of Academic Affairs, the Executive Dean and Deans of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Global Programs, the Center for African Studies, the Department of Africana Studies, the Transliterature Project, the Department of Comparative Literature, the Department of Spanish and Portuguese, the Department of French, the Language Institute, and the Department of Linguistics. Other sponsors included the National African Language Resource Center, the University of Pennsylvania African Studies Center, and Africa World Press.

The conference began on Thursday, March 23, with a Pre-Conference Workshop by Ray Clifford, Associate Dean of the College of Humanities and Director of the Center for Language Studies at Brigham Young University. The subject of Mr. Clifford’s presentation focused on classroom implications of the ACTFL oral proficiency guidelines. The workshop was followed by a reception.

On Friday, March 24, after the opening remarks of the conference, Paul Stoller, Professor of Anthropology at West Chester University, delivered the keynote address on language issues in Diaspora and African immigrant communities. The remainder of that day was spent in and out of Parallel Sessions. Over the course of the conference, six (6) plenary presentations were given and forty six (46) papers were presented. The topics addressed at this year’s conference included:

1. Language acquisition theory and heritage learners
2. African languages in the USA in the context of recent US higher educational policies
3. Microsoft in African languages and its implications for African language instruction in the USA
4. The Internet, the World Wide Web and African language instruction
5. African immigrant communities in the USA as resources in African languages study
6. The growing constituency of African heritage students: pedagogical implications
7. African languages and the transition to English in K-12 schools
8. African languages for special purposes (law, business, public health, international relation/diplomacy, etc)
9. African languages and translation studies
10. Literature in the African language classroom
11. Learner and Learning Strategies
12. Advanced Proficiency Development and Assessment
14. Curriculum Assessment
15. Language Learning in immersion context, locally and abroad
16. New challenges and new prospects in the funding of African language instruction
17. New challenges and new prospects in the production of instructional materials
18. Study abroad programs -- yesterday, today and tomorrow
19. Distance education and classroom learning: Implications for African language learning

The evening of Friday, March 24, the film “Against All Odds: African Languages and Literatures into the 21 st Century,” by Charles Cantalupo, was screened by conference attendees. The film detailed the events of a literary conference that took place in Asmara, Eritrea in January of 2000, in which over 250 writers from 20 African nations gathered to discuss the future of African languages in literature and life in the new millennium.

On Saturday, March 25, Fatima Sadiqi and Ntombenhle Nkosi delivered plenary speeches. The remainder of that day was also spent in Parallel Sessions. That evening, at the conference banquet, two more plenary presentations were delivered by Sinfree Makoni and Moha Ennaji.

he 2006 ALTA conference brought together a variety of African language professionals from different backgrounds and countries around the world. Please visit the ALTA 2006 Conference Website, at Rutgers University, for more information about the conference and for conference photos. Join us next year at the 11 th Annual Meeting and Conference of ALTA, which will coincide with the Annual Conference on African Linguistics (ACAL) at the University of Florida-Gainesville, March 22-25, 2007.