Stakeholders value the partnership work being done by the 210-strong organisation, and a heightened focus on quality will build greater opportunity to collaborate with overseas ministries or government departments.
“[Members] are seeing the activities that LC is developing overseas, the outreach that’s been done especially in Brazil and Mexico and the opportunities that will bring more students to Canada,” explained LC director of member services, Linda Auzins.
A clear focus of the conference was on new membership criteria for institutions, which have been developed by the association’s board in consultation with members and were voted into force at the AGM “unanimously”, LC executive director Gonzalo Peralta told The PIE News.
“We want to distinguish ourselves and set ourselves apart from non-Languages Canada members”
For Peralta, it’s a question of identity. “We are quality, we are student protection, we are about ethical practices and we are no longer taking care of the whole Canadian language education landscape,” he said. “We want to distinguish ourselves and set ourselves apart from non-Languages Canada members.”
A focus on quality and compliance will strengthen LC’s position as an industry body both in Canada and abroad.
Auzins explained, “One of the biggest challenges for Canada is our decentralised education system – often when a government is looking for a credible body, they want to deal with the government ministry of education, and this means in Canada they have to go to 10 different provinces and two territories if that applies.”
“They just don’t have the resources, they want one credible organisation and they seek Languages Canada out in terms of anything to do with language education.”
Another major amendment that members voted on was a change in the teaching requirements for English language teachers at LC member schools.
The standard so far required teachers to be level 1 TESL Canada or equivalent. The new standard will remove reference to TESL Canada and require teacher qualifications to instead follow certain specifications – such as 100 plus hours of instruction and a practicum – that can be externally validated by other bodies around the world, such as Trinity or Cambridge, for example.
“The intention is to bring our standards in line with other global standards,” quality assurance committee co-chair Julian Inglis told The PIE.
“One of the drivers in this is to encourage international teachers to look at Canada as a good place to come and be a teacher.”
Student mobility, both inward and outward, was another theme of the event, especially in relation to one of Canada’s source markets, Brazil.
“In the aerospace industry if someone sneezes it usually makes front page news, instead international education simply isn’t on the radar”
A number of partnerships with Brazil were built since 2014 thanks to a collaboration between LC and Languages without Borders, an organisation within the Brazilian Ministry of Education.
The organisations are now piloting student mobility projects between partner institutions.
LC also focuses on advocacy, and committee chair Gary Gervais told The PIE that another big issue that the association faced was raising awareness of its integral role in Canadian industry and society.
“International education in Canada now is bigger than aerospace in terms of economic impact, yet we rarely get recognition in society and the government. In the aerospace industry if someone sneezes it usually makes front page news, instead international education simply isn’t on the radar,” he said.