History of the Association

The AATF was founded in the state of New York in 1927, the last of the major language associations to be founded. Charles A. Downer, the first president of the association, states in the very first issue of the French Review that that purpose of the AATF was devoted to “…the maintenance of the highest standards of culture among the teachers, to the study and application of the best methods of instructions, the pursuit of the best conditions for teaching and the creation of the spirit of solidarity and mutual helpfulness without which these aims cannot be realized (Vol. 1, November 1927, p. 5).” This is not so very different from our mission more than 90 years later.

The AATF was incorporated in 1936 and, after many years in New York, moved to the University of Illinois under two Executive Directors, Frank Nachtmann and Fred Jenkins, where it was housed for more than 30 years. In 1997, the association moved to Southern Illinois University when Jayne Abrate took over as Executive Director, and in 2015, it moved to our own building in Marion, IL. Upon Dr. Abrate’s retirement, Megan Diercks became the Executive Director in 2022, and the office then moved to Lakewood, CO, a suburb of Denver.

Under the leadership of many visionary presidents and dedicated Executive Council members, the AATF has continued to publish the French Review, created the National Bulletin in the 1970s, organized an annual convention, launched the National French Contest and the Société Honoraire de Français, welcomed many honorary members, began National French Week, and continues to promote publications and projects which support the teaching of French at all levels.

The AATF currently has 70 active chapters across the U.S., divided into 9 regions.

The AATF has worked over the past few months to develop the following statement on diversity:

The AATF is an inclusive association, which seeks to build, value, honor and cultivate diversity. Associations that are diverse in age, race, ethnicity, faith, gender identity, sexual orientation, physical or mental ability, and perspectives are better associations.  To this end, we seek to create a community where educators, from any background, can promote francophone cultures around the world.