AILA Early Language Learning Research Network

 Janet and fellow delegates in the volcanic rock and ash fields of Iceland.

Hosted by the School of  Education,University of Iceland, the conference on Early Language Learning: Multiple perspectives, proved an inspiration, with many excellent research presentations. A theme emerging throughout the conference was the need to find ways of addressing challenges of increasingly multilingual classroom contexts. 

 For Iceland particularly, the recent experience of new migrant arrivals has focused attention, with teachers urgently seeking out ways to draw on this rich multilingual resource for all pupils to benefit.

Responding to this central theme, plenaries from Gunhild Alstad (Norway) and Roma Chumak-Horbatsch (Canada) offered both research and practical classroom solutions, while Francis Hult’s (Sweden) final plenary left us in no doubt that language policy and planning is the responsibility of all of us, teachers, parents, school principals as well as policy makers.

For conference delegates Reykjavik proved to be an exotic venue, with many taking the opportunity to explore the nearby geysers, waterfalls, wild landscape of lava fields and ash deposits from old and new volcanic activity. Perhaps the most dramatic sight however, was visiting the area where the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates are moving away from one another – shifting apart 2 cms. every year, creating a rift valley some 4 kms. wide in one region. An exciting and unique conference in every sense!

Report by Janet Enever

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