International Conference on Language Teacher Education: A Brief History

The Center for Advanced Research on Language Acquisition (CARLA) of the University of Minnesota sponsored the inaugural International Conference on Language Teacher Education in May of 1999 in Minneapolis, Minnesota under the leadership of Dr. Bill Johnston. The conference was created to bring together research, theory, and best practices from all contexts of language teacher education including ESL/EFL, foreign/modern/world languages, bilingual, immersion, indigenous and minority languages, and less commonly taught languages. From its inception, the conference program has been organized around four key themes:

  • The Knowledge Base of Language Teacher Education
  • Social, Cultural, and Political Contexts of Language Teacher Education
  • Collaborations in Language Teacher Education
  • Practices of Language Teacher Education

One of the main aims of the conference is to foster an ongoing interdisciplinary dialogue between scholars and practitioners who work in a wide variety of educational settings. Since it was launched, the conference has been very successful in bringing together language teacher educators from all over the world who work in many different contexts—from faculty working in academic departments of education, linguistics, or foreign/world languages to professionals in organizations that actively provide inservice professional development for teachers. While the audience is diverse, the conference has a single focus on practice and research in language teacher education.

The program format is designed to maximize opportunities for exchange and networking, and the modest size of the conference helps facilitate in-depth conversation on issues that are most important to language teacher educators. Conference evaluations have shown that participants value the unique focus of the conference and connections that they have been able to make because everyone shares a common professional passion. As one participant wrote:

I go to a whole set of conferences, but this is the only one where the needs of my profession and work as a language teacher educator take center stage. The knowledge and professional contacts I gained here are invaluable.

After its start in 1999, the conference was offered biennially at the University of Minnesota in 2001, 2003, 2005, and 2007. As part of an effort to extend the reach of the conference and to collaborate more closely with other Title VI Language Resource Centers, CARLA partnered with the National Capital Language Resource Center to offer the conference in Washington D.C. in 2009 and 2013. CARLA hosted the conference in Minneapolis in 2011 and again in 2015. 

The National Heritage Language Resource Center is serving as the host for the Tenth International Conference on Language Teacher Education at UCLA in February 2017. CARLA plans to bring the conference back to Minneapolis in May 2019, and looks forward to supporting the conference as the field of language teacher education continues to evolve.

See the CARLA conference archives for more information on the Language Teacher Education conferences, 1999-2015.


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