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ALTA 2009 Conference Report


The 13th Annual Conference was jointly held with the 13th Annual Conference of the National Council of Less Commonly Taught Languages – (NCOLCTL). The venue was at the Sheraton Madison Hotel, Madison, Wisconsin from April 23-26, 2009. Prior to the conference there was a call for papers on the theme titled: “Towards a New Paradigm in Teaching and Learning African Languages?”

The following ALTA Executive Board Members: Antonia Schleicher, Executive Director, Leonce Rushubirwa, President, Audrey Mbeje, Vice President, Alwiya Omar, preceding president and Kiarie John Wa’Njogu, Secretary/Treasurer, were all present at the conference to oversee the pre-conference workshop, individual papers, colloquia, and the poster sessions. Maggie Nassif of BYU chaired the pre-conference workshop and the presenter, Mahmoud Al-Batal, from the University of Texas-Austin, presented on “Teaching Advanced to Distinguished Levels in the LCTLs” specifically to the ALTA audience while Prof. Hong Gang Jin, NCOLCTL President, presented on “Task-based Language Teaching and Performance Assessment”. Her session was chaired by Michael Everson, former NCOLCTL president. 
There were about 50 presentations specifically for the ALTA audience.  Some were general while others focused on a particular language. Although these presentations focused on individual languages, they addressed issues that clearly related to more than just that one language. Presentations addressed the link between language study and professionalization, curriculum and material development, methodology, bilingual education, the use of technology in teaching Languages, and research and assessment. The colloquia sessions were done by three or more presenters who addressed the conference theme as well as cut across different languages and language groups. Some poster sessions focused on completed work, while others focused on work in progress relating to the teaching and learning of less commonly taught languages. 
The executives of ALTA made use of the period of the conference to hold a business meeting which brought all ALTA members together to discuss on the future of ALTA. 
In conclusion, Prof. Leonce Rushubirwa showed his appreciation to all for their individual and collective effort towards the success of the conference. This was supported by all the members of the Executive Board.