Since its inception in 1990 the CLESOL conference has brought together the needs and interests of two groups of language teachers and researchers.
Community languages are the first part of the CLESOL equation. Community languages teachers are committed to maintaining the first languages of migrant and refugee groups settled in Aotearoa New Zealand, and introducing those languages to others interested in learning them. Teachers of community languages usually come from the local community, and their work is usually community based.
The other half of the CLESOL equation is ESOL teachers. By comparison, ESOL teachers are a much bigger group who work in a wide range of situations of English language teaching including state education institutions (primary, secondary and tertiary), private language schools, or as volunteers in the community.
The interests of these two groups of teachers coincide in many ways and the CLESOL conference provides an important opportunity for dialogue between the two groups to occur. Each has much to learn from the other and the synergy of the CLESOL conference draws on the energy and interests of both. It also provides a forum for a wide range of researchers, from practice-based to more theoretical, to meet and share their work.
Two organisations contribute to the planning and running of the CLESOL conference, which is held every two years in a different location around the country. TESOLANZ – Teachers of English for Speakers of Other Languages, Aotearoa New Zealand – hosts the conference. It is the larger partner, and has been an incorporated society since 1994. CLANZ – Community Languages Association of New Zealand – is the smaller partner and has been an incorporated society since 2004. The organising committee for each conference is made up of TESOLANZ members from the local branch where the conference is to be held, and a local CLANZ representative where possible.
With the assistance of a professional conference organiser, the CLESOL conference is a biennial highlight of professional development for ESOL and community language teachers, and attracts around 500 national and international delegates.
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