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Highlights from the Languages Canada 17th Annual Conference

Nearly 300 participants attended the Languages Canada 17th Annual Conference in Vancouver, February 28 to March 2, 2024, making it our first ever sold-out gathering of language education leaders, experts, stakeholders, and influencers from across the country and around the world.

It was also the first major international education event to take place in Canada in the wake of new measures introduced in January to stabilize the number of international students in Canada, including a cap on study permits. The conference theme, Collaborate, Innovate, Reposition: Shaping the Future Together—chosen well before the government’s announcement—proved exceptionally timely as participants convened for two full days of professional development and networking, and, most importantly, to discuss the sector’s path forward through uncertain terrain.

After a casual meet-and-greet sponsored by International Insurance on Wednesday night, the event kicked off Thursday morning with the traditional President’s Welcome. Outgoing President Cath D’Amico (Trent University) and Vice President Biba Fakhouri (Université de Montréal), reflected on the association’s challenges and accomplishments over the past year and set the stage for a virtual address and Q&A with the Honourable Marc Miller, Canada’s Minister of Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship.

This marks Minister Miller’s second participation in Languages Canada’s flagship event after having met with Quebec LC members, many of whose programs operate within his constituency in Montreal, at the 2022 conference in Ottawa. It was also the third consecutive year a federal immigration minister addressed LC conference delegates. Remarking on his participation, Mr. Miller said:

"I'm honoured to participate in the Languages Canada Annual Conference again. French and English language education is a key success factor for achieving the diverse, well-integrated, competent international student mix needed to address Canada's labour force and demographic goals. I look forward to the opportunity to connect with LC members and partners to discuss our shared commitment to keep Canada a top choice and top quality study destination."

Minister Miller’s address was followed by a panel composed of Languages Canada board members Anthony Stille (English School of Canada), Christopher Mediratta (ILSC Education Group), and Stéphane Lemelin (Collège de Sainte-Anne-de-La-Pocatière), as well as LC Executive Director Gonzalo Peralta, to discuss how the association and Canada’s language education sector plan to face 2024 given the new context.

Next, a panel of international education thought leaders, featuring LC President Cath D’Amico, Cyndi McLeod (CEO Canada, Global University Systems), and Carole St. Laurent (Associate Vice President – International, Kwantlen Polytechnic University), moderated by Dr. Randall Martin (Executive Director, BC Council for International Education), shared their insights and responses to the morning’s presentations.

This year’s conference offered a wealth of engaging professional development sessions, with members and external partners sharing best practices in language education pedagogy, program management, student experience and welfare, international recruitment, and language testing. A popular topic this year was AI, with presenters addressing the technology from the classroom perspective (ChatGPT in the Classroom: Students' Ranking of Argumentative Papers Using ChatGPT in the Writing Process, Julie Lee, University Canada West, and Practical Applications of AI in ESL Classrooms, Ali Noori, Mardy Arenas, and Livia Wolffenbuttel, ILSC Education Group), as well as recruitment and testing (The Arrival of AI and Online Selling: Student Recruitment in the Digital Era, James Cowan, Edvisor, and Implementation of Human-AI Hybrid Tools for Responsible Content Development, Michael Holaday and Jennifer Flasko, Prometric).

Other highlights include two presentations sponsored by National Geographic Learning from UK-based author, communication skills trainer and teacher trainer Chia Suan Chong. Ms. Chong examined the key competencies required for successful international communication and how to help students develop their relationship with English.

A Global Affairs Canada panel featuring International Education Division Deputy Director Oussamah Tamim and Trade Commissioners Anne-Marie Leclerc (Pacific Regional Office, Vancouver), Alexander Leon (Embassy of Canada to Costa Rica, Honduras and Nicaragua), and Xavier Rodriguez (Embassy of Canada to Iceland) focused on how members can take advantage of the Trade Commissioner Service’s on-the-ground intelligence, qualified contacts, and practical advice on foreign markets. Delegates also had the opportunity to meet one-on-one with the Trade Commissioners in attendance.

Friday’s closing reception was sponsored by International Insurance and provided a welcome opportunity for delegates to unwind and enjoy the sense of community and camaraderie that was reinforced over the past two days, with a few cocktails, great food, and a bit of dancing to the sounds of The Rain City Six Band.

During the Annual General Meeting held on Saturday, March 2, Languages Canada members welcomed their new board of directors:

  • Anthony Stille (President), ESC - English School of Canada
  • Cath D'Amico (Vice President – Public), Trent University - ESL Program
  • Gary Gervais (Vice President – Private), Heartland International English School
  • Sharon Curl (Immediate Past President), Oxford International Education Group
  • Chris Mediratta (Treasurer), ILSC Education Group
  • Stéphane Lemelin (Secretary), Collège de Sainte-Anne-de-La-Pocatière
  • Robin Adams, Centre of English Studies (CES) - Toronto
  • Jesse Black-Allen, Seneca Polytechnic
  • Veronica Cartagenova, Collège Canada / Canada College
  • Angela Johnston, International Language Academy of Canada (ILAC)
  • Evan Lavoie, University of Ottawa Centre for Language Learning
  • Kerrianne MacKenzie, Cape Breton Language Centre
  • Shaun MacLeod, Canadian College of English Language (CCEL) – Vancouver
  • Lisa Morgan, University of Toronto English Language Program
  • Sheri Rhodes, Mount Royal University
  • Corinne Whitney, Georgian College

The Languages Canada 17th Annual Conference was made possible through the support of our valued sponsors and partners.

A very special thank you to our Diamond Sponsor and long-time supporter of Canada’s language education sector, International Insurance.

Our sincere thanks to: