Boyle McCauley News

Since 1979 • February-March 2023 • Circulation 5000

IHLA: Languages and Learning

The Edmonton Intercultural Centre (EIC) is a community full of love, caring, and support. In this and future articles, we will inform readers of the non-profit organizations operating in the EIC facility in order to bring light to their many good deeds.

The International and Heritage Languages Association (IHLA) is a non-profit organization consisting of a consortium of community-based heritage language schools and programs in Northern Alberta. Heritage language schools are community-run schools that operate typically on weekends. They teach the language and culture of the ethnic community that support them.

Prior to 1977, heritage language schools were taught by dedicated volunteers and operated in isolation among diverse linguistic and cultural communities. Thanks to a grant offered by the Canadian Consultative Council on Multiculturalism, heritage language schools organized a conference in 1977 by and for their teachers. Once teachers discovered that their challenges and rewards were similar across schools regardless of the languages they taught, they decided to continue to learn from one another.

In 1978, the Alberta Ethnic Language Teachers Association (AELTA] was born. In 2003, this organization would become IHLA in 2003. The tradition of learning from each other continues to this day. Most heritage language schools still have volunteers and/or provide a small honorarium to their teachers, many of whom are also Alberta Certified Teachers.

IHLA’s membership consists of principals, teachers, teaching assistants, administrative school staff, and parent volunteers in the various heritage language schools that teach students of all ages, including preschool, elementary, high school, and adult learners.

IHLA supports:

  • heritage language students with the annual International Mother Language Day (MLD) and annual MLD Book which showcases student works and understanding of their language and culture
  • volunteer, internationally-trained, and Canadian-trained teachers with professional development opportunities, curriculum support, the IHLA Newsletter, and career support and advice
  • language school leaders by offering a mentorship programme, professional development and networking, advertisement, and help with creating a locally-developed curriculum.

IHLA is currently located in the Edmonton Intercultural Centre. It hosts a variety of events and learning opportunities within the building. Information about IHLA can be found at IHLA’s website: ihla.ca. IHLA can also be reached at coordinator@ihla.ca (Coordinator) or edmontonihla@gmail.com (President, Antonella Cortese).

Information provided by the Edmonton Intercultural Centre.

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