CHS Host 26th Annual ISMLA Conference

Modern language teachers from independent schools around the UK gathered at CHS on 2 February 2019 for the 26th annual ISMLA conference.

Over 130 delegates from 65 secondaries took part in debates and hands-on workshops and listened to speakers from top schools and universities.

Topics under discussion included increasing fluency amongst sixth-form language students, how modern and classical languages can operate more closely in the curriculum and raising the profile of language learning in schools.

The keynote speaker was Gianfranco Conti, founder of the Language Gym and co-author of the award-winning book The Language Teacher Toolkit, who put forward a persuasive case for challenging the way grammar is often taught in schools.

CHS had the privilege of hosting the annual event as the school’s Head of Modern Languages, John Wilson, is the outgoing chair of the membership organisation, whose initials stand for the Independent Schools’ Modern Languages Association.

At John’s initiative, modern languages teachers from local state schools and PGCE (teacher training) students were offered complimentary places to the conference for the first time and six took up the offer.

John said: “The conference was a real success, with language teachers finding plenty of time to share experiences and to reflect on their practice. 

“Students benefit enormously from this kind of event as teachers leave reinvigorated, having immersed themselves not only in current best practice, but also having explored future innovations and advances in language learning.

“We left acknowledging the need to work more closely with Classics and English to develop linguistic competences and awareness across learning.”

Jessica Houghton, Head of German, The King’s School, Macclesfield, was amongst the delegates. She said: “I really enjoyed the day; it was a fabulous event. The speakers were excellent, and I loved the chance to ‘talk shop’ with so many like-minded colleagues from the language departments of other independent schools.”

The next ISMLA conference will be held in February 2019 at Highgate School in north London.