The History of Language Teacher Associations
The teaching of languages is undoubtedly one of the world’s oldest professions but was oddly one of the last academic fields to organize professional associations. The guilds of medieval Europe were the forerunners of today’s professional societies, as certain occupations banded together to protect their interests. In the sixteenth century there emerged the first organizations to watch over the development of national languages in Europe, but these had little to do with pedagogy. However, true professional associations, based on education rather than manual skills, appeared at about the same time for a few mainly scientific fields. It was not until the final decades of the nineteenth century that the first professional societies were founded for the advancement of education in general and specifically for the teaching of languages. The chapter looks at the opening days of one of the first associations in 1903 in France. It then traces the impressive proliferation of language teaching organizations throughout the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries until today, when nearly every country in the world has some sort of organized group that provides the opportunity to interact with colleagues, exchange ideas for teaching in the language classroom, promote research, and advance language teaching as an international profession.
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