ABOUT THE AATF
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The American Association of Teachers of French (AATF) was founded in 1927 and is the largest national association of French teachers in the world with nearly 10,000 members. Our headquarters are located at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, having moved there in August 1997 from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana. A full-time Executive Director, Dr. Jayne Abrate, and a staff of two handle the needs of the membership under the guidance of an elected Executive Council consisting of 18 or 19 members: a President, President-Elect or Past-President, three Vice-Presidents, nine Regional Representatives, as well as appointed representatives of various activities. We have 73 chapters located across the U.S.
Our members are French teachers at all levels and include approximately 3/4 secondary teachers and 1/4 post-secondary. We also have a growing number of French teachers in immersion settings and in the elementary grades. Our President Mary Helen Kashuba, SSJ is a university professor of French and Russian.
The association produces two well-known publications--the French Review, a scholarly journal of French studies now entering its 86th volume and known the world over, and the National Bulletin, now in its 38th year, a newsletter devoted to the teaching and promotion of French and Francophone studies. As of 2002, the French Review archives are available on-line through J-STOR (www.jstor.org). We also have an internationally known Web site (www.frenchteachers.org) which has been recognized by the National Endowment for the Humanities Edsitement project as an outstanding site for teaching in the humanities and by Schoolzone as an outstanding resource for teachers.
Our most important recent initiative has been National French Week: La Semaine du Français. It was such a resounding success that we have voted to institutionalize National French Week as an integral part of our programs. We will celebrate National French Week 2013 and 2014 from November 5-11. This week will be celebrated across the U.S. by our 73 local chapters and many of our 10,000 member teachers. We encourage all teachers to take French out of the classroom and into the schools and community to promote interdisciplinary cooperation, let students demonstrate what they can do with the language, and celebrate the French language and French-speaking cultures which are found both in the U.S. and on all continents.
Our annual conventions regularly occur in French-speaking areas where our members can benefit from immersion in a French-speaking culture. Recent conferences in Francophone locales have included 2000 in Paris where French Minister of Education and French Prime Minister addressed the joint AATF/FIPF meeting, 2003 Martinique, 2005 Quebec City, 2008 in Liege, Belgium, and 2011 in Montreal. In 2004 we met jointly in Atlanta with the Fédération internationale des professeurs de français which regroups the more than 130 national associations of French teachers throughout the world. This meeting was attended by over 1100 teachers from more than 115 countries. In upcoming years we will hold our convention in Providence (July 11-14, 2013) and New Orleans (July 19-22, 2014), followed by the province of Quebec.
Our Commissions, made up of experts and interested members from all teaching levels, address issues of concern to our members and include: Technology, Student Standards, Professional Teacher Standards, Foreign Language in the Elementary School, Cultural Competence, French for Business and International Trade, Middle Schools, Colleges and Universities, High Schools, Promotion of French, and Advocacy. These groups have published numerous specialized volumes for teachers and serve as important resources in their area of expertise.
The AATF participated along with the American Association of Teachers of German and the American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese and the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages in the development of the Standards for Foreign Language Learning in the 21st Century which were first published in 1996 and have served as a model for many states developing their own standards. The five goals of Communication, Cultures, Connections, Communities, and Comparisons (known as the 5 C's) are now widely used, both in documents produced at the regional, state, and local levels, and in public discourse on the topic. The original sponsoring associations have reinvested the proceeds from the sale of the National Standards document in the creation of language-specific standards and have invited our colleagues in Italian, Russian, Classics, Chinese, Japanese, and most recently Arabic, to join us. Standards are currently being developed for several African languages. By adapting the generic document to the particularities and situations of each language, the standards can better serve the needs of the classroom teacher using them. We are continuing to collaborate on the development of professional teacher standards, articulation, and assessment.
As a professional association we seek to address the concerns of our members which include: promoting the study of languages in general and French in particular;facilitating the implementation of national and state standards in the classroom; improving the training of French teachers by encouraging minimum levels of language and cultural proficiency, and exposure to the French-speaking world through study abroad opportunities; creating opportunities and finding resources for practicing teachers to update their skills and improve their teaching;encouraging the use of new technologies in the teaching of French and actively developing materials to support this use.
This is just a brief overview of what we are about. We remain ready to answer any questions you may have on the study of French in the U.S. or on foreign language study in general.
The AATF is a founding member of the Joint National Committee for Languages/National Council on Languages and International Studies.
AATF National Headquarters
Southern Illinois University
Carbondale, IL 62901
Created: November 11, 1999
Last update: February 18, 2013