August 2013 Theme Issue of

The Language Educator

Focus: The Learner

Deadline: May 1, 2013

21 st Century Skills:


Information, and

Media; Life and


Q&A with Teacher of

the Year Noah Geisel

Using Technology

with Interpretive


february 2013 | volume 8 | issue 2

Language Policies

Across the Globe

Dual Language

Program Saves


Using Fables to

Teach Language,

History, and Culture

Pinterest for

Language Educators

ACTFL is coming to Orlando in 2013!

Save the Date

mark these imPortant dates

on your Calendar:

July 10

Deadline for Early Bird Registration

oCtober 24

Deadline to Make Housing Reservations

oCtober 30

Deadline for Advance Registration

registration and housing

oPen at

Please join us at

Pre-Convention WorkshoPs

on thursday, november 21

the american Council on the teaching of Foreign Languages

(aCtFL) annual Convention and World Languages expo,

where learning comes alive, features over 600 educational

sessions covering a wide spectrum of the language profession

addressing the theme New Spaces, New Realities: Learning

Any Time, Any Place. More than 250 exhibiting companies

will be showcasing the latest products and services for you

and your students. the aCtFL Convention is an international

event bringing together over 6,000 language educators from

all languages, levels and assignments within the profession.

announCing our keynote sPeaker:

tony Wagner

harvard’s innovation education fellow at the

technology and entrepreneurship center


for all Convention information

and program updates!

Volume 46 • No. 1 • Spring 2013

Foreign Language Annals

The American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages

Student Collaboration and Teacher-

Directed Classroom Dynamic

Assessment: A Complementary Pairing

Kristin J. Davin and Richard Donato

After five days of classroom dynamic assessment

(DA) targeting WH-question formation,

Spanish students worked in small groups on

a collab orative writing task. This research

sought to determine whether learners were

able to mediate their peers during this task

and if so, whether this mediation might be

traced back to participation in classroom DA.

A Descriptive and Co-Constructive

Approach to Integrated Performance

Assessment Feedback Bonnie Adair-

Hauck and Francis J. Troyan

This article presents a descriptive and coconstructive

approach to feedback related to

performance in the interpersonal mode of

communication on the Integrated Performance

Assessment (IPA). The goal of the microgenetic

analysis in this research was to describe the

discursive features of effective IPA feedback.

To this end, critical discourse analysis of a

feedback session between a teacher and one

student is presented and discussed.

Attitudes Towards Task-Based

Language Learning: A Study of College

Korean Language Learners

Danielle Ooyoung Pyun

This study explores second language learners’

attitudes towards task-based language learning

and how their attitudes relate to selected

learner variables, namely anxiety, integrative

motivation, instrumental motivation, and selfefficacy.

Ninety-one college students of Korean,

who received task-based language instruction,

participated in this questionnaire study.

The American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages

Your resource for research:

Don’t Miss the Spring Issue of

Foreign Language Annals

ARTICLES ONLINE You can view published articles from Foreign Language

Annals even before they are in print. Go to

to discover the latest from the journal.

The Spring 2013 issue of Foreign Language Annals contains a rich body of information to help language educators

explore the latest research and apply it in their own classrooms. When the next issue of ACTFL’s journal arrives in your

mailbox in March, be sure to check out the following articles:

Empirical Validation of Reading

Proficiency Guidelines Ray Clifford

and Troy Cox

This study applies a multistage, criterionreferenced

approach that uses a framework of

aligned texts and reading tasks to explore the

validity of the ACTFL (and related) Reading

Proficiency Guidelines.

The Relationship Between the

Development of Speaking and Writing

Proficiencies in the U.S. University

Spanish Language Classroom

Michael Hubert

This case study seeks to determine if speaking

and writing proficiencies develop at similar

rates among language learners. Seventeen

students enrolled in beginning, intermediate,

and advanced Spanish courses at a mid-sized

U.S. university were administered the ACTFL

Oral Proficiency Interview and Writing Proficiency

Test. Speaking and writing proficiency

scores were then correlated.

Assessing Gains in Language

Proficiency, Cross-Cultural

Competence, and Regional Awareness

During Study Abroad Jeffrey Watson,

Peter Siska, and Richard Wolfel

This study presents a theoretical background

for a three-tiered model for assessing student

outcomes during study abroad in three

domains—language proficiency, cross-cultural

competence, and regional awareness—and

presents quantitative data gathered from the

implementation of this model.

NEW this Issue!

Hear Directly from

the Authors!

Beginning with the Spring

2013 issue of Foreign

Language Annals, readers

will be able to view video

podcasts prepared by some

of the issue’s authors

highlighting their research

and explaining how it

translates to classroom


Self-Regulation in Second Language

Learning: An Investigation of the

Kanji-Learning Task Heath Rose and

Lesley Harbon

This study investigates the learning of kanji

by non-Japanese university students studying

Japanese. The purpose of the study was to

examine learners’ approach to kanji study

through the lens of self-regulation theory.

Data were collected over the duration of a

year in the form of regular interviews with

12 students.

Understanding the Relationship

Between Language Performance and

University Course Grades Alan Brown

The relationship between postsecondary foreign

language course grades and proficiency

appears fraught with interpretive difficulties

given that they represent the intersection of

extremely complex and multifaceted constructs.

This paper presents preliminary data

correlating students’ scores on measures of

speaking, listening, and reading proficiency

with Spanish course grades.

Changes in Affective Profiles of

Postsecondary Students in Lower-

Level Foreign Language Classes

Kimi Kondo-Brown

Recent opinion surveys and second language

motivation research shed light on academic

dilemmas and challenges that postsecondary

students in lower-level foreign language

courses may experience. This longitudinal

study extends this line of research by

examining changes in the affective profiles of

students in a two-year Japanese program at

an American university.

Volume 8, No. 2 n February 2013

The Language Educator

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The Language Educator n February 2013 3


August 2013 Theme Issue of

The Language Educator

Focus: The Learner

Deadline: May 1, 2013

21 st Century Skills:


Information, and

Media; Life and


Q&A with Teacher of

the Year Noah Geisel

Using Technology

with Interpretive


volume 8 | issue 2

february 2013


february 2013 | volume 8 | issue 2

Language Policies

Across the Globe

Dual Language

Program Saves


Using Fables to

Teach Language,

History, and Culture

Pinterest for

Language Educators


2013 ACTFL National Language Teacher of the

Year Noah Geisel in his Spanish classroom at

East High School in Denver, CO.

President’s Message

ACTFL President Toni Theisen 7

Breaking News 8

BriefBits 12

Tech Talk 13

The Savvy Traveler 14

So You Say 24

Inside ACTFL 26

SIG Corner: Teacher Development 31

Legislative Look 48

Web Watch 58

Upcoming Events Calendar 60

Advertiser Index 61

Marketplace 61



Language Educator






Information, Media, and

Technology Skills—Life and

Career Skills

Douglass Crouse


A Turn-Around Plan in Two

Languages: HOW DUAL




Interview with ACTFL National

Language Teacher of the Year

Noah Geisel





Technology for the Interpretive


Patricia Koning



the Power of Story: Teaching

Language, History, and Culture

Through Fables

Bendi Benson Schrambach


How Language Policy Looks

in Various English-Speaking


Kate Brenner


THE IDEA BOX: Pinterest for

Language Educators

Janina Klimas

The Language Educator n February 2013

Introductory French

NEW! Interactive Grammar

Tutorials with le professeur

Live language.

Where will it take you?


The following ACTFL members were certified in November 2012 by the

National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS).

Julie Jezuit

Mt. Prospect School District 57

Mt. Prospect, IL

Debbie Krawczyk

Manassas City School District

Manassas, VA

Nathalie Rose Norris

Tahoma School District 409

Covington, WA

American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages

Congratulations to All!

Kimberly Raciak

Community High School District 128

Vernon Hills, IL

Laura K. Sexton

Gaston County School District

Dallas, NC

Donna M. Shahan

Norfolk School District

Norfolk, VA

We thank all of our Gold Corporate sponsors.

EMC/Paradigm Publishing

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N a t i o N a l B o a r d

for Professional Teaching Standards

We would also like to congratulate all those ACTFL members who were among the first to become

officially certified by the NBPTS and have recently been recertified or are currently going through

the process of recertification.

The Language Educator n February 2013

President’s Message

Discovering New Spaces

and New Realities

Toni Theisen

ACTFL President

How is technology not only helping learners “discover languages,” but also providing many new ways to communicate

with the world?

Discover Languages ® is the national campaign developed by ACTFL to raise awareness about the cognitive, academic,

social, cultural, and economic benefits that language learning provides our nation’s students. In addition to year-round

advocacy, ACTFL and its members focus particular attention on speaking up for language learning during Discover

Languages Month every February, during which a variety of special activities are organized.

Going strong now for seven years, the Discover Languages campaign has encouraged teachers, students, and parents to

promote language learning via polls, art contests, booths at county fairs, parades, language ambushes, and radio broadcasts.

Students have advocated for more language learning by writing to their state representatives, visiting their governors’

offices, and encouraging state legislatures to proclaim February as Discover Languages Month. The list goes on with many

additional creative ways that language learning has been promoted throughout these years of this campaign. There are

many more resources and creative ideas located at

Of course, one of the favorite activities of the Discover Languages campaign is the annual ACTFL Video Contest. Every

year, the quality, creativity, and use of technological effects become more intriguing. Students of all ages and language

levels take pride in collaborating and creating with peers for a purpose. As stated in the ACTFL 21st Century Skills Map for

World Languages, students as creators respond to new and diverse perspectives as they use language in imaginative and

original ways to make useful contributions. The video contest helps our students make their mark regarding the importance

of language learning—in a very personalized way.

But there is another reason why the video contest resonates with the 21st century learner: Our students simply think

differently about technology and creativity than many of us do. Whereas teachers generally see technology (and tasks

embedded with technology) as teaching tools, students view technology as a means to connect to the world. They yearn

for a powerful video that goes viral. They encourage others through social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, their

blogs, and their photos on Instagram to “like” their video. They message friends and friends of friends to vote for their

video—almost with as much vigor as in the production of the piece itself. No sooner have they finished that last edit of

their “masterpiece,” than a team member has already loaded it on YouTube, while others have linked to it on Facebook,

and suddenly it is being tweeted and retweeted many times over.

Our students have truly learned that the landscape of social media provides many opportunities to expand on their

knowledge, to explore their interests, and most of all to make connections with others all over the globe.

In his December 2012 article, “Using Social Media as a Language Learning Tool” in The Guardian, Ryan Owen Gibson

states, “by refusing to engage with our children in the digital playground that is social media, we will never truly understand

their needs and never fully realize its potential as a language-learning tool.” (

So, next year when considering if you can find the time for your students to create a video for the ACTFL Video Contest,

just remember that this experience is more than just an assignment. It is a learning experience that has the potential for

students to critically think through play, to authentically discover their passion for language learning and to manifest this

play and passion into a personal, powerful, and purposeful message that they willingly share and hope many will see.

Check out the 2013 contest-winning videos at And, be sure to connect with ACTFL this month

on Facebook (!), Twitter (, and through the ACTFL YouTube channel


Happy Discover Languages Month to all!

The Language Educator n February 2013 7

BreakingNews U.S.

Scientists are finding that there are

cognitive advantages to raising a child

bilingual, according to a new study from

Concordia University in Canada. Contrary to

what some people may believe, growing up

in a bilingual home does not confuse a baby

and make learning to speak more difficult,

rather it gives them an edge. While they

may be slower initially in picking up each

language than children raised speaking only

one, that temporary drawback is offset by

the benefits of bilingualism, says Concordia

psychology professor Krista Byers-Heinlein.

Done in collaboration with psychologist

Janet Werker of the Infant Studies Centre in

Vancouver, the study recruited 181 parents

who are themselves speakers of English and

at least one other language.

Up to 90% of parents switch easily from

one tongue to another in the same breath

when interacting with their children, the

study found. A few parents adopted a

and International Language News

Bilingual Babies Are Smarter, Says Study

method of “one parent, one language” but in

reality, most mixed their languages regularly.

Either they could not find an adequate

translation for particular words in a current

language or they used the mix as a teaching

strategy for new words, says Byers-Heinlein,

director of the Concordia Infant Research

Laboratory and member of the Centre for

Research in Human Development.

The greater the language mix, the greater

the challenge for the babies and the smaller

their vocabularies at age 2, Byers-Heinlein

says, perhaps because it is harder to pick up

meaning from a mixed-word phrase. “But

this is also a strength because we know from

other studies that bilinguals can tell two

languages apart from birth,” she explains.

“Studies comparing monolingual and

bilingual infants have shown that bilinguals

are more adept at switching between strategies

and are more able to learn two rules at

the same time,” she says. “Infants exposed

to frequent language mixing could develop

specific strategies for coping with this type of

input. That could lead to cognitive advantages

that would outweigh any initial difficulties

brought about by language mixing.”

A decade of studies in Canada suggests

bilingual children perform better on

cognitive tests than monolingual kids who

only speak English. Researchers believe that

the effort of juggling or switching between

languages is what gives the brain massive

practice and a cognitive edge thanks to improved

neural circuits in the frontal region of

the brain needed to execute such control.

Byers-Heinlein is now undertaking new

research with French–English bilinguals in

Montreal to examine whether these findings

hold in other bilingual communities, and

when children’s vocabularies are assessed in

both of their languages.


Foreign Language Jobs to Exceed English Positions, Says MLA

For the first time in almost 20 years, there

are likely to be more full-time jobs in 2012–

2013 for foreign language educators than for

people with PhDs in English, according to the

Modern Language Association (MLA).

The prediction was part of an update on

the humanities job market released by the

association before its annual meeting in early

January. It is based on the MLA’s Job Information

List (JIL), which is widely regarded

as one of the best gauges of humanities hiring

in academe in the nation.

The update projects that the number of

academic jobs in foreign languages in 2012–

2013 will rise to 1,246, up 10.5% from the


previous year. In English the number of

positions is expected to drop to 1,191, down

3.6%. Positions in English have leveled off

after two years of increases, according to the

update, while foreign language positions—

which had also increased in the previous two

years—are still growing.

The MLA says the expected growth in

foreign language jobs suggests that colleges

“recognize the importance of multilingualism

in students’ education.” Despite the growth

in foreign language listings, the number of

jobs has still shrunk by about one-fourth

from a peak in 2007–2008 of 1,680. That

shortfall can be explained by colleges shut-

tering or consolidating foreign language

programs in the wake of recession-related

budget cuts. Meanwhile, English jobs are

34.8% below a 2007–2008 peak of 1,826.

The association notes that recent hiring

trends may affect its predictions. In the last

three years, more than half of the job vacancies

on the JIL surfaced after January 1. As

recently as 10 years ago, the October issue of

the list would contain half of the total number

of vacancies listed in a year. Therefore,

the number of listings predicted could shift

by the end of the 2012–2013 academic year.

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More people learned German at the

Goethe-Instituts worldwide in 2012

than ever before, said institute president

Klaus-Dieter Lehmann at the organization’s

annual press conference in Berlin

last December.

“Curiosity about Germany has grown immensely,

along with the rising expectations

of Germany in the world,” Lehmann said.

While the total number of students

enrolled in these German language classes

abroad increased 6% from 2011, to nearly

200,000 students, in Germany the number

Advertise in

The Language Educator!

Record Number of German Learners at Goethe-Instituts

of language students at Goethe Instituts rose

even higher, by 17%, to 38,000.

The greatest growth occurred in southern

European countries, where up to half

of young people are suffering from unemployment.

The Goethe-Instituts in Spain

recorded a 37% increase in German language

students, followed by Portugal, with

22%, and Greece with a 16% increase. The

Goethe-Instituts in those countries are offering

career-related language courses and opportunities

to establish contacts to facilitate

entry into the German labor market as part

Try them now for free.

of the initiative, Mit Deutsch in den Beruf, or

“Taking German with You into Career Life.”

The Goethe-Institut not only offers

language classes at its locations around the

world; it also advocates for German instruction

in national education systems. In Russia,

which had experienced a temporary drop in

German language students after introducing

English as the first foreign language, the

nationwide outreach campaign Lern’ Deutsch

(“Learn German”) was able to stem the decline.

Russia, with some 2.3 million German

language students, now leads, along with

Poland, in the number of German learners.

Want to reach over 17,000 language teachers and administrators?

Place an ad in an upcoming issue of The Language Educator.

Advertising inquiries should be addressed to

Alison Bayley at; (703) 894-2900, ext. 109.

The Language Educator n February 2013 9

Breaking News

Spanish Second Most Tweeted Language

Spanish is the second-most-used

language on Twitter, after English, the

director of Spain’s Cervantes Institute said

in January.

Víctor García de la Concha was

joined by Foreign Minister José Manuel

García-Margallo at an event in Madrid

to present the institute’s 2012 Yearbook,

which provides an in-depth examination

of the presence of the Spanish language

throughout the world.

Spanish, with its 500 million speakers,

is second only to Chinese as the most

spoken language on the planet and is in

third place on the Internet. The growth

potential for users of Spanish continues

to be great, given that more than 60% of

Latin Americans are still not on the Web.

Besides the growing presence of

Spanish online, García de la Concha

Five Common Mistakes Language Learners Make

t’s a myth that intelligent people are better at learning languag-

“Ies,” writes EFL Instructor Anne Merritt in a recent article in

The Telegraph (UK). “Sure, it doesn’t hurt, especially when innately

academic types hold an arsenal of learning strategies. Most language

learning skills, however, are in fact habits, which can be formed

through a bit of discipline and self-awareness.”

Merritt lists five most common mistakes that she believes language

learners make:

1. Not listening enough

“Listening is the communicative skill we use most in daily life, yet

it can be difficult to practice unless you live in a foreign country or

attend immersive language classes.”

Her solution: Find music, podcasts, TV shows, and movies in the

target language, and “listen, listen, listen, as often as possible.”

2. Lack of curiosity

“A learner who is keen about the target culture will be more successful

in their language studies. The culturally curious students will be

more receptive to the language and more open to forming relationships

with native speakers.”


emphasized the annual growth of 8% in

the number of people learning Spanish

as a second language. If the current

growth trend continues, he said, 10% of

the world population will be able to get

by in Spanish within three or four generations,

and the United States will be the

country with the largest Spanish-speaking


In addition to the United States, the

Cervantes Institute also will focus its

efforts on the booming Asia-Pacific area,

where demand for Spanish instruction

is advancing more and more quickly.

In China, 70% of the requests to study

Spanish currently are rejected because

of the limited access to teachers. Despite

that, some 25,000 Chinese university

students are learning the language, compared

with 1,500 in 2000.

National Consortium

of Language Program


The National Foreign Language Center

at the University of Maryland, working

under the auspices of the STARTALK project,

has established the National Consortium

of Language Program Databases hosted by

the Center for Applied Linguistics (CAL).

The Consortium is pleased to launch the

prototype for the Online Language Programs

Directory as part of CAL’s work for

STARTALK. Visitors to the website can search

the directory for snapshot data from two of

the Consortium partners, providing a proofof-concept

for possible future activities. Learn

more at

3. Rigid thinking

“Language learning involves a lot of uncertainty—students will encounter

new vocabulary daily, and for each grammar rule there will

be a dialectic exception or irregular verb . . . The type of learner who

sees a new word and reaches for the dictionary instead of guessing

the meaning from the context may feel stressed and disoriented in an

immersion class . . . It’s a difficult mindset to break, but small exercises

can help. Find a song or text in the target language and practice

figuring out the gist, even if a few words are unknown.”

4. A single method

“Language learners who use multiple methods get to practice different

skills and see concepts explained in different ways. What’s more,

the variety can keep them from getting stuck in a learning rut.”

5. Fear

“This is the stage when language students can clam up, and feelings

of shyness or insecurity hinder all their hard work . . . The key is

that [mistakes] help language learners by showing them the limits of

language, and [allowing them to correct their] errors before they become

ingrained. The more learners speak, the quicker they improve.”

Find the article online at

The Language Educator n February 2013

Babies can detect the difference in

sounds between their native tongue

and a foreign language at birth, according

to a recent study. Researchers examined 40

infants—an even mix of girls and boys—in

Tacoma, WA, and Stockholm, Sweden. At

about 30 hours old, the babies listened to

vowel sounds in their native language and

in foreign languages. The babies’ interest in

the sounds was measured by how long they

sucked on a pacifier wired to a computer.

The study found that, in both countries, the

infants listening to unfamiliar sounds sucked

on the pacifier for longer than they did when

exposed to their native tongue, suggesting

they could differentiate between the two.

Lead author of the study, Christine

Moon, a professor of psychology at Pacific

Lutheran University in Tacoma, said the

results show that fetuses can learn prena-

More on Bilingualism and the Aging Brain

The latest evidence that knowing more than one language

is good for you comes from a study in the January 9, 2013

issue of the Journal of Neuroscience.

Brian Gold, a neuroscientist at the University of Kentucky

College of Medicine, tested older bilingual people (ages 60–80)

in their ability to perform an attention-switching task, a skill

that typically fades with age. Earlier research has found that

people bilingual since childhood are better as they age at the

higher order thinking called “executive function.”

Gold found that the bilingual seniors were quicker at a

mental ability test than their monolingual peers. He then added

an extra dimension by putting the people’s heads in scanners to

see what was happening inside their brains. The brains of the

monolingual seniors were working harder to complete the task,

while the bilingual seniors’ brains were much more efficient,

more like those of young adults.

Neuroscientists think that having more reserve brain power

helps compensate for age-related declines in thinking and

memory, and may help protect against the losses caused by

Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.

Learn more about this study at

Infants Recognize Language Sounds at Birth

tally about the particular speech sounds of a

mother’s language.

“This study moves the measurable result

of experience with speech sounds from six

months of age to before birth,” says Moon.

“The mother has first dibs on influencing

the child’s brain,” adds researcher Patricia

Kuhl, of the University of Washington. “The

vowel sounds in her speech are the loudest

units and the fetus locks onto them.”

Previous studies have indicated that

babies begin to develop sound-recognition

skills while still in the womb. For example,

in a 2011 study detailed in the journal

PLOS ONE, a group of women were asked

to play a brief recording of a descending

piano melody in the last three weeks of their

pregnancy. When the babies heard the song

again a month after birth, researchers found

that the infants’ hearts slowed significantly

Breaking News

compared with when they heard an unfamiliar

song. In other experiments described in

the journal Current Biology in 2009, scientists

recorded and analyzed the cries of 60

healthy newborns when they were three to

five days old—30 born into French-speaking

families, 30 into German-speaking ones.

Their analysis revealed clear differences in

the melodies of their cries based on their

native tongue.

“We want to know what magic they

put to work in early childhood that adults

cannot,” Kuhl says. “We can’t waste that

early curiosity.”

The new research, which will be detailed

in an upcoming issue of the journal Acta

Paediatrica, could shed light on previously

unknown ways that newborns soak up

information. Find out more at


Thomas Soth

Thomas Soth, a National Board Certified

Teacher, has taught Spanish 1–4, as well

as AP Spanish Language, and AP Spanish Literature at Northwest

Guilford High School in Greensboro, NC, where he also serves as

co-department chair and a teacher mentor. He has taught courses

at the University of North Carolina, Greensboro, and is a former

president of the Foreign Language Association of North Carolina.

He contributes to his profession in many ways, including presentations

at state and regional conferences, as a consultant for The

College Board, and by creating his own website called Spanish is

Fun (, which—in addition to links for his

school’s teachers and students—is filled with resources for Spanish

learners and teachers.

Soth, who was an ACTFL National Language Teacher of the Year

finalist after being named the 2012 Southern Conference on Language

Teaching (SCOLT) Teacher of the Year, understands that language

learning builds 21 st century skills in our students. “I believe that the

learning of language and culture is necessary for all 21 st century citizens,

because these are the skills needed to actively participate in the

modern village, nation, and world.” Languages will help the students of

today become the citizens of tomorrow who can fuse critical thinking

with communication and collaboration so that, Soth says, “creativity

can be shared and spark greater innovations that will help all people.”

The Language Educator n February 2013 11

Here we present some language-related articles which

appeared in newspapers and online, and were recently

featured in ACTFL SmartBrief. To subscribe to this free

e-newsletter and get the most up-to-date news sent directly

to you via e-mail, go to

Maryland District Integrates Language with

STEM Curriculum

Students at two elementary schools in a Maryland district take a

semester of Spanish and a semester of Chinese each year as part

of a pilot program, now in its second year, that seeks to infuse

foreign language instruction in a curriculum based on science,

technology, engineering, and mathematics. The language courses

primarily focus on science, but also incorporate social studies,

language arts, culture, and health.

“Howard Elementary Schools Offer Lessons in Chinese, Spanish” in The

Baltimore Sun, 11/29/12

Indiana School Diversifies Language Courses

Nearly 50 students in an Indiana high school enrolled in the

school’s inaugural Mandarin class, and by the end of the first

semester, students are speaking in full sentences and practicing

writing with Chinese characters. The school also offers Spanish,

as well as German (online).

“The First Semester of Chinese at Logansport High School” in Pharos-

Tribune, 12/7/12

German Immersion Program Impresses

Foreign Diplomats

Students and teachers at an elementary school in Glendale, CA,

received a visit in December from important guests—diplomats

from the Los Angeles-based German consulate. The diplomats

came away with a positive view of the school district’s growing

commitment to dual immersion education and pledged to help

the school secure grants for language programs and to provide

students with opportunities to study in Germany when they

get older.

“Diplomats Visit Dual-Language Classes” in Glendale News-Press,




University Students Speak 10 Languages

Under One Roof

Students living in the University of Maryland’s Language House

spend 80% of their time speaking a language other than English,

such as French, Japanese, or Spanish. The immersion learning approach

has steadily grown in popularity throughout the country;

adapting it to the collegiate lifestyle is another sign of that. “It’s

like study abroad without studying abroad,” said Phoenix Liu,

director of the program.

“UM’s Language House Speaks Anything but English” in The Daily Record,


Organization Provides Services to Help Newcomers


In Boulder, CO, a nonprofit group called Intercambio has helped

thousands of immigrants adapt to American society and learn

a new language. The organization was formed in 2000 when

co-founder Lee Shainis noticed schools cutting English language

learner programs despite a growing number of immigrants living in

the area. “We want to make sure that immigrants are participating

and contributing, as opposed to scared and fearful,” Shainis said.

“Boulder’s Intercambio Helps 8,000 Immigrants Find Their Way” in The

Denver Post, 12/13/12

China Struggles to Replace Aging Scientific


Industry experts say China faces a shortage of individuals with

the skills and training to translate scientific content from other

languages into Chinese. “Science and technology translation requires

one’s high proficiency in science knowledge and language,

but people with such skills usually choose occupations other than

translator, because the importance of translation is minimized in

China,” said Zhao Wenli, deputy secretary-general of the Science

and Technology Translators’ Association of the Chinese Academy

of Sciences.

“Industry Seeks Next Generation of Linguists” in China Daily, 12/8/12

Find out more online:

Franklin Magnet School: International Foreign Language Academy of Glendale

(CA) –

University of Maryland Language House –

Intercambio –

The Language Educator n February 2013

Tech Talk

iSpeak Chinese Phrasebook

Designed for iPods

Published by McGraw-Hill and designed by Middlebury College educational

technologist Alex Chapin, iSpeak Chinese Phrasebook (MP3 CD

+ Guide): An Audio + Visual Phrasebook for Your iPod, is designed

to turn your iPod into a portable translator. It also provides access to

1,500 Chinese phrases—in both visual and audio form.

iSpeak Chinese includes an MP3 audio disc for uploading to an iPod,

as well as a 64-page user’s manual. Though optimized for iPods, the

digital phrasebook is also compatible with other MP3 players. Phrases

are accessed from the iPod in the same way as music:

• Select Artist to choose the theme

• Select Album to choose a topic within the theme

• Select the desired phrase

iSpeak Chinese Phrasebook (MP3 CD + Guide): An Audio + Visual

Phrasebook for Your iPod is available for purchase through a number of

retailers, including Amazon.

German Government Launches

App Directory

The government of Germany has recently launched a new app platform

to create a central repository of Germany-related apps. The directory

was designed in order to create a central place where Germany-related

apps could be browsed and downloaded. Apps available through the

platform cover areas such as family, education, and social networks, as

well as apps related to every region of Germany. All of the apps featured

there are free. Offerings include tu-was, the German police’s first app,

which is meant to help citizens help those in danger without putting

themselves at risk; the DB navigator, which can help you book your next

train trip; and many city-specific apps.

Users can search for apps by name, subject, region, as well as by app

device compatibility (Web App, Android, Apple iOS, or Windows). The

directory is in German.

For more information, visit the app platform at


Share Your Ware!

The Language Educator would like to hear from you.

If you know of any new foreign language technology, software,

or hardware, that you have used or reviewed, please send the

information via e-mail to

The latest in language learning technology

Top Hat Monocle Transforms Any

Mobile Device into a Learning Tool

Top Hat Monocle is a web-based clicker and homework tool designed for

colleges and universities that allows students to use any mobile device

to interact with and participate in the lesson.

Top Hat Monocle works with any mobile device that uses a WiFi or

cellphone signal, including laptops, tablets, smartphones, and “basic”

phones. Questions are displayed both on the classroom projector as well

as on each student’s device, and students can submit answers in real

time using WiFi or by sending a text message. Results are available to

the instructor instantly.

Features available with Top Hat Monocle include:

• A real-time poll and quiz option

• A “discussions” feature that allows instructors to collect opinions,

crowd-source questions, and moderate in-class debates

• The ability to allow your students to complete selected questions for


• Automatic answer grading and tracking

• Gradebook and roster integration for Desire2Learn, Blackboard, and


• The ability to export all data into Excel in multiple formats

For more information, visit

Samsung Smart School Solution

Links Education and Technology

Electronics and technology maker Samsung has created a technology

system designed for classrooms called Samsung Smart School

Solution. It utilizes Samsung tablets and an interactive whiteboard

and is built around three systems to assist teachers to create a

more integrated, engaging digital learning environment that is

easy to manage:

The Interactive Management Solution allows teachers to

deliver content or share a student’s screen with the class. Instructors

can also track student progress in real-time and easily conduct

group activities, Q&As, tests, and polls, then instantly call the

class to attention by locking student screens via voice command.

The Learning Management System gives teachers a way to

provide course e-textbooks, learning apps, and school notices—

and students can see these forms at any time.

The Student Information System assists teachers in tracking

student attendance, grades, prizes, or demerit points.

For more information, visit


Descriptions, information, and reviews of the above software/hardware were

taken directly from the respective websites. Inclusion of products in “Tech Talk”

does not imply endorsement by ACTFL or The Language Educator.

The Language Educator n February 2013 13

Advice for SmArt trAvel And Study AbroAd

A Guide to Help You Go Wisely

In THE SAVVY TRAVELER—Advice for Smart Travel and Study Abroad, we present ideas and advice for how to make

overseas travel and study a great success for you and your students! We not only offer tips and strategies, but we also focus on

successful programs and stories of student and educator experiences abroad. Submit your travel-related ideas and articles for

THE SAVVY TRAVELER to us via e-mail at

be PrePAred for minor


If you are in charge of a group of students on a trip abroad—or

even when you are traveling solo—having an adequate first aid

kit is a necessity. Home first aid kits are usually only used for using

minor traumatic injuries such as burns, cuts, abrasions, stings, splinters,

sprains, and strains. First aid kits for travel need to be more

comprehensive because a drugstore may or may not be easily accessible.

In addition to personal medical items, the kit should contain

items to help alleviate the common symptoms of viral respiratory

infections such as fever, nasal congestion, cough, and sore throat. It

should also contain items to treat cuts, mild pain, gastrointestinal

problems, skin problems, and allergies.

When preparing for a trip, speak with your students about what

they need to personally bring to take care of themselves and the

medical conditions they have. Any prescription or over-the-counter

medications that they take regularly should be packed by the indi-





Antibiotic ointment

Antidiarrheal medicine

Antihistamine cream

Antiseptic agent/small bottle of liquid soap

(for cleaning wounds and hands)


Cough medication

Ibuprofen (e.g., Advil) or naproxen (e.g., Aleve)

Insect repellent

Nasal spray decongestant

Oral antihistamine (e.g., Benadryl)

Oral decongestant (e.g., Sudafed)

Personal medications


vidual and they should bring a copy of the prescription, in case they

need to get an emergency refill at a foreign pharmacy.

You should know your school’s policies on administering overthe-counter

medication to students and be sure that this topic is

covered in any travel permission form signed by the students and

their parents. Clarify any allergies that students have and keep a copy

of this information in your personal traveling papers as well as in the

first-aid kit. You may wish to designate one of the adult chaperones

on your trip as the medical contact who is in charge of first aid, but

all adults and students should be briefed on any major medical conditions

among the travelers, such as allergies to bee stings or peanuts.

You may need to include an EpiPen for serous allergic reactions.

First aid kits can be purchased at a drugstore or online, or you

can easily put together your own. Try to keep it small and simple and

stock it with multi-use items. A water-resistant, drop-proof container

is best; inexpensive nylon bags, fanny packs, or makeup cases serve

very well. Use resealable sandwich bags to group and compartmentalize

items. Put wound supplies in one bag and medications in another.


4" x 4" sterile gauze pads

Adhesive bandages (all sizes)

Adhesive tape

Book on first aid

Dental kit (for broken teeth, loss of crown,

or filling)

Exam gloves

Knife (small Swiss Army-type) *

Moleskin (to apply to blisters or hot spots)

Non-adhesive wound pads

Plastic resealable bags

Pocket mask for CPR

Safety pins (large and small)

Scissors *

Small flashlight



* These items should be put in checked

luggage rather than carry-ons.

The Language Educator n February 2013

Make sure you (and others) know how to properly use all the

items in your kit, since you may be the one who needs first aid.

Pack and use barrier items such as latex gloves and masks. You

should probably also bring a complete list of travelers’ medical histories,

medications, doctors, insurance companies, and emergency

contact persons. If possible, have copies both in English and the

language of the country where you are traveling.

All prescription and over-the-counter medications may be

brought aboard an aircraft in a carry-on bag, according to the Transportation

Security Administration (TSA). Liquid, gel, and aerosol

medications do not have to fit in a passenger’s single quart-size bag

and are exempt from the 3-oz. rule. Other medications, including

pills and inhalers, are permitted through the TSA screening

checkpoint. The quantity of all medications you bring through the

checkpoint should be reasonable for the length of the flight or travel

period. Declare all liquid, gel, and aerosol medications, either orally

or in writing, to the TSA agent at the security checkpoint. Because

TSA officers do not handle personal medications, display all medications

for the security officer as prompted during a visual inspection.

A few tips for going through airport security with medications:

• Leave the original labels on if possible. This can make the

screening process easier and faster.

• Place liquid or gel medications into your quart-size plastic bag

if possible (but only if the amounts are under 3 oz.).

• Pack medications (bagged or not) at the top of your carry-on,

so that you can easily remove them for inspection.

• Arrive at security a little early. Unless you are only bringing

medications which fit in a quart-sized bag, an agent must

exam them.

• Inform the agents if you have any prescription medications

not in the quart-sized bag.

• If you need to bring a large amount of medication with you,

the TSA states that you “will be required to adequately explain

the need.” Bring documentation for supporting your need in

this case.

don’t be A victim When


When traveling abroad, nothing will ruin your trip faster

than being victimized by criminal activity. And, being an

experienced traveler doesn’t necessarily mean you are a safe traveler.

A new book, Passport to Safe Travel by Jeff Haywood, founder of

Ronin Global Safety Group, is packed with simple, no-nonsense

advice that novice and expert travelers alike can use to travel more

safely and confidently throughout the world.

It includes information on:

• What you should know before you go

• What to take with you and what to leave at home

• How criminals and terrorists choose their victims

• How to determine if you are being followed

Language Immersion

& Global Leadership Programs

Spain – Costa Rica – France – Italy – China

Request an Educator Packet Online! 866-502-7505

• How to minimize your risk of being victimized

• How to safely use a public restroom

• How to choose a hotel room

• How to protect intellectual property while traveling

• The common element to street-crime scams

• How to safely travel in rental cars, taxis, subways, and trains

• How to safely carry money and documents

• How to react in a worst-case scenario

First-time or nervous travelers (or their parents) may find this a useful

guide. More about the book is available online at

neW APP helPS trAvelerS

gAther informAtion

Tagwhat, a free app for iPhone, iPod touch, iPad, and Android, can

help expand your knowledge of your travel destination with text,

pictures, and sometimes video on food, sports, history, and more.

Using your mobile device’s built-in location sensors, Tagwhat instantly

delivers the web, social networking, and third party app content

about the places around you. Find out more at

The Language Educator n February 2013 15




“I hold monthly meetings with my

travelers and their parents to cover

topics including spending money,

safety and how to avoid having pockets

picked, hotel and travel rules, packing,

meals, regional souvenirs, etc.” says

Parthena Draggett, Spanish and French

teacher at Jackson High School in

Massillon, OH. The meetings also give

parents and students the chance to ask

questions that they may have as firsttime

travelers abroad, she says,

Sherri Westra, Chinese teacher in

Coon Rapids, MN, suggests creating

a parent phone tree before leaving. “I

set up two main contacts,” she says.

“Whenever I have a chance to get on

the Internet, I will e-mail these two

parents with updates. The main contacts

will forward them onto the rest of

the parents.” This system can also be

used with the telephone for emergency

phone calls, she notes.

“Determine ahead of time how the

group will communicate back home

(blog, phone, e-mail, etc.)” advises

Jeanette Szretter, Spanish teacher at

The Rivers School in Natick, MA.

“Centralize the communication so that

as much language immersion as possible

can occur. The goal is not to have

Susie or Johnnie calling home every

Do you have a teacher travel tip to share?

Send it to with “The Savvy Traveler

Teacher Travel Tip” in the subject line.

Foreign Language Annals SeekS New editor

The American Council on the Teaching of

Foreign Languages (ACTFL) seeks an Editor

for Foreign Language Annals, the association’s

highly respected, peer-reviewed quarterly

scholarly journal. The desired start date for

the Editor’s term is July 1, 2013, following

publication of the Summer 2013 issue. The

journal is dedicated to expanding the awareness

and understanding among language education

professionals of current research, pedagogy and

challenges facing the profession. It is mailed

in March, June, September and December to

more than 12,000 ACTFL members and an

additional 1,000 institutional subscribers. More

information about the journal can be found in

the Publications area at

The Editor brings a solid knowledge of

contemporary trends in language education

day. The minor discomforts, challenges,

and uncertainties are part of the


“Parents love to live the trip

through their child’s eyes, so we journal

and post pictures for families and

friends at home,” says Draggett. “I take

iPads for writing and taking videos,

then we post them when I get to the

hotel or from a restaurant with free

WiFi.” She also plans a post-trip party

for parents and students, usually at the

home of a student, where they share

memories and pictures and “relive the


The American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages

and of new developments in technology and

pedagogical practice. The Editor actively solicits

submissions that reflect the varied needs

and interests of language professionals at all

levels of all languages, and reviews submissions

for publication suitability. The successful

applicant is a senior scholar in the field of language

education with proven capabilities, high

standards in research, writing and publication,

and editorial experience, including familiarity

with the electronic-text-to-printed-page

process. For Foreign Language Annals, this

process is accomplished through the use of

the Scholar One electronic system, for which

those unfamiliar with the system can be easily

trained. The Editor is served by a Managing

Editor who corresponds with submitting

authors, schedules volunteer reviewers, com-

municates suggested revisions to authors, and

edits all contents of the journal. Additionally,

the Editor is assisted by an Editorial Board

comprised of professionals in the field who are

recommended by the Editor and appointed by

the ACTFL Board of Directors.

This position offers a modest annual

honorarium. Applicants should submit a

curriculum vitae and a letter documenting

their qualifications and vision for the journal

no later than March 15, 2013. The review

of candidate applications will begin after that

date and the position will remain open until

filled. Applications should be mailed to: Editor

Search Committee, ACTFL, 1001 N. Fairfax

St., Suite 200, Alexandria, VA 22314. Send

e-mail with attachments to: headquarters@

The Language Educator n February 2013

Spotlight on E.E. Waddell

Language Academy

When E. E. Waddell Language Academy in Charlotte, NC, received the 2012 ACTFL

Melba D. Woodruff Award for Exemplary Elementary Foreign Language Education,

the awards committee quoted one nominator who said, “I cannot think of a better

way to prepare our students for the global experience which is more and more

recognized to be their future.”

Waddell is a public magnet school offering students the opportunity to

become proficient and literate in Chinese, German, French, or Japanese through its language immersion

program. The academy provides instruction to 1,300 students in grades K–8. In grades K–5, all content area

instruction is in the target language. At the middle school level, students can begin a third language with Spanish

added as an option. Students have the opportunity to continue their immersion experience at South Mecklenburg

High School. In 2008, Waddell collaborated with the University of North Carolina-Charlotte to develop a series of

advanced language options so students can have a true K–16 experience.

Students at Waddell have the opportunity to use their language skills in an authentic setting when taking part in

an international exchange. Waddell has developed a strong network of effective relationships with schools and universities

in Germany, France, and Japan with international organizations and businesses that support their programs.

Ynez Olshausen, Principal of E.E. Waddell Language Academy, accepted the award at the 2012 ACTFL Annual Convention

on behalf of the staff and students at the school, saying: “Every year our language immersion magnet school

grows, as more families become aware of the importance of world language proficiency in our global economy. In six

languages of instruction, we are ensuring that every one of our students is globally competitive and well-prepared for

college and career. We are confident that our students will be equipped for their global future with strong academic

skills, advanced proficiency in a second language, and the ability to thrive in a diverse and multicultural society.”






Photos: Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools



“I’m so glad I heard about this program. I loved how the program was geared specifically to world

language teachers. Everything we discussed and shared was relevant and applicable to our own students.

As a result of this class, I started an e-pal collaboration with teachers from Southern France, and created

my own website to use with my students. No matter what personal level of technology you begin the class

with (novice, intermediate or advanced), the class will take you to the next level.” – Larissa Arist

With the success of the initial course offerings, all four courses are being offered in the

Spring Semester, which began on Feb. 4, 2013. Consider enrolling in one or more of these

courses this Fall!

• Foundations of Technology in Teaching and Learning

• Teaching Information and Media Literacies in the Digital World

• Web-Based Teaching and Learning: Design and Pedagogy

• Using Technology for Instructional Improvement:

Research, Data and Best Practices

“My praise of the program’s value is truly heartfelt. I appreciated how much these courses were targeted

specifically to world language teachers . . . I particularly liked how the program has brought me new

awareness about media and information literacies and broadened my perspectives in so many ways. The

courses helped me navigate the many wonderful resources out there that I can use to benefit my students,

and I am now better able to use them in the classroom.” – Stephanie Heid

For more information, visit or contact the UMUC Corporate Learning

Solutions office at 855-CLS-5300 or

The Language Educator n February 2013 17

Making the Connection:

21 st Century Skills and Languages

Information, Media, and Technology Skills — Life and Career Skills

Your 21 st century job

title: Global Readiness

Project Designer.

Your task: to prepare

students to succeed

as culturally attuned,

linguistically competent,

technologically savvy

citizens of the world.


By Douglass Crouse

editor’s note: In this issue of The Language Educator, we further examine 21st century skills, as

defined by the Partnership for 21st Century Skills (P21)—including information, media, and

technology skills (such as interpreting and making smart use of information technology and

media) and life and career skills (those that are particularly vital for future job seekers to

master: cross-cultural competence, social awareness, initiative, accountability, and leadership).

It’s time to stop thinking of yourself as merely a language teacher. Your 21 st -

century job title: Global Readiness Project Designer. Your task: to prepare

students to succeed as culturally attuned, linguistically competent, technologically

savvy citizens of the world.

Forward-thinking educators in the field have long pursued that bigger prize, one

found beyond the preoccupation with verb conjugations and adjective agreement.

They recognize that today’s young scholars need to be equipped to select the best

technology for each particular need, to peer behind the facade of media messages, to

develop know-how that can heighten their value in the eyes of employers here and

abroad—and ultimately to develop a robust internal drive that assures the continuous

acquisition of new abilities.

Those skill sets—and examples of activities and projects aimed at sharpening

them—are described in the 21 st Century Skills Map for World Languages, a document

created by ACTFL and the Partnership for 21 st Century Skills (P21) with input

from hundreds of individual teachers. For Janis Jensen, Director of the School for

Global Education and Innovation at Kean University in New Jersey, the skills map

offers traditional teachers a way to significantly “upgrade” their instructional game

plan, helping them “move away from those tried-and-true methods and toward

greater relevance and meaningfulness.”

The Language Educator n February 2013

“The 21 st century practices are absolutely

the way to go because of their emphasis

on authentic learning experiences,” Jensen

says. “Teachers need to understand that the

content of the world language class is not

language; it’s content from other subject

areas, with language only a tool. Even with

a novice learner, if your focus is on explor-

Information, Media,

and Technology Skills

Information Literacy

Access and Evaluate


Use and Manage


Media Literacy

Analyze Media

Create Media Products

ICT (Information,

Communications and

Technology) Literacy

Apply Technology


ing interesting, relevant topics, it becomes a

whole different ballgame.”

Among other benefits, the skills map

forces teachers to place their own practices

under a microscope, Jensen says. Will current

classroom activities truly prepare students for

demands they are likely to face in the future?

A teacher who concludes that they fall short

Information, Media, and

Technology Skills

Tackling Technology and Information

Online resources can be rich assets in designing skillbuilding

experiences for students while connecting

them with the target culture. Teachers just need

to carefully consider their intended objectives and

whether a given technology truly offers the best route

there, says Thomas Sauer, World Languages Content

Specialist for Fayette County Public Schools in

Lexington, KY, and a member of the task force that

played a key role in creating the skills map.

“I’m not a big fan of technology integration because

it seems like you are trying to fit it in and that can

be very artificial,” he says. “The primary question is:

What is the skill I want my students to acquire? Is

there a tool that would work for that task? If you want

to connect with another class in another country, you

may want to write a letter and that can suit your needs

fine. But if you want to speak directly with them, you

have Skype available ideally suited for that.”

Just as teachers assess the value of each technological

tool, they must lead students through their

own questioning process: Does this site best serve

my needs? How can I be sure the information on

the site is accurate? May I use the content without

infringing on the author’s copyrights? How are these

rights maintained across international borders?

“The map really now puts a clear responsibility

on the teacher to teach those skills,” Sauer says. “It’s

about accessing the right technology and how to use

information in ethical, legal ways.”

can turn to the map for alternatives.

“Many times the tasks we give students

aren’t worth doing,” Jensen says. “What you

need to add is that element of excitement and

interest—meaningful communication on a

meaningful topic. If students think something

is worthwhile, they’re motivated to do it well.”

Sauer, a member of the ACTFL Board of Directors,

acknowledges that this mandate can seem

intimidating to teachers who still tiptoe around

technology. His advice: test out websites and Internet

applications—one or two at a time—that offer the

potential for making your own lives easier.

“I often ask teachers during workshops, ‘How

many of you file your taxes online?’ Usually about

two-thirds to three-quarters will admit that they do,”

he says. To teachers in the audience whose use of the

Web is limited to e-mail and Google, Sauer recommends

experimentation. “If they are comfortable

using technology in their own daily lives, they will

be more comfortable using it in class,” he says.

Students often are already familiar with cellphone-based

technologies and others that can be

used in class. But it is up to teachers to recognize

that potential for learning, says Lauren Rosen, Collaborative

Language Program Director at the University

of Wisconsin, where she specializes in language

learning pedagogy and use of technology in learning.

“I talk to instructors a lot about letting students

show what they know in the way they know how to

show it,” she says. “That means teachers need to be

willing to let go a little bit.”

To make the most of classroom time, Rosen encourages

the teachers she works with to ask their computer

class colleagues if they would be willing to include

particular sites and applications in their curriculum.

“That frees us to focus on content, allowing students

The Language Educator n February 2013 19

A Framework for

21 st Century Learning

to come right into the language class and

produce,” she says. “There does not have to be

a lot of teacher-talk time in English, explaining

how a site works.”

A number of educators take issue with

the term “digital natives,” contending that it

belies the average student’s true technological

knowledge and skills. A poll by The Henry J.

Kaiser Family Foundation in 2010 found that

children between the ages of 8 and 18 spent

more than seven hours a day using entertainment

media. But media use does not equate

to media literacy, cautions Nicole Stiles, a

French teacher in Pottsville, PA, who gave a

presentation on critical media literacy at the

2012 ACTFL Convention in Philadelphia.

“We put too much emphasis on the fact

that they grew up with the technology,” she

says. “In too many cases, they have never been

taught how to use it. If it’s not Google or Wikipedia,

students often don’t know what to do.”

In lower-income districts, many students

have limited access to the Internet outside

school. That is the case with a majority of

Kara Parker’s Spanish students at South Park

TAPP, an alternative school in Fairdale, KY.

“They would be at a great disadvantage if

they did not have the opportunity to learn

how to create using technology,” says Parker.

“Since I use authentic resources, they learn

about new forms of media as they learn

the language. I especially love to use social

media as models of the language, before they

create a similar product themselves.”


Life and Career Skills

Learning and Innovation Skills – 4Cs

Core Subjects – 3Rs and 21st Century Themes

Standards and Assessments

Curriculum and Instruction

Professional Development

Learning Environments

Information, Media, and

Technology Skills

For example, her Spanish students have

picked up new vocabulary from messages

Parker discovered through key word searches

on Twitter, including opinions of last

summer’s Olympic Games and Valentine’s

Day love notes. Posts on corporate Facebook

pages—Parker has gathered comments to

and from Taco Bell Colombia, Heinz, and Oil

of Olay—allow students to see how others

express themselves and their views in the

language they are learning, Parker says.

Teachers and students also can tap sites

such as Yelp (, which offers

user reviews of restaurants and other businesses,

by searching business categories in

target language cities.

“I take this approach: if they can understand

it, they can create it,” Parker says. “So

if they read a Yelp review of a restaurant in

Madrid, then they write a review of a restaurant

they love or hate. If they watch a commercial,

then they can create a commercial. I

hope that this will also show them different

types of creative jobs using technology. And

I try to connect to why they need to do it in

the target language by showing bilingual job

postings or positions.”

Parker shares many of her ideas in The

Creative Language Class blog (creative, which she

co-founded last year with fellow Spanish

teacher Megan Johnston.

True Media Literacy

Many teachers argue that Standards-based

world language classes lend themselves ideally

to promoting scrutiny of—and critical

exchanges about—media messages. In that

setting, students are primed to consider

perspective—whether the views are of an

individual in the target culture or the slant of

an international corporation—and how that

relates to the media product.

During her eight years as a teacher, Stiles

often included period paintings, images,

and texts in her French 4 unit on the French

Revolution. Last year, she asked her students

to go a step further—to try analyzing how

different artists rendered the participants and

events of that time period.

At the outset, she found her students

unprepared to engage in critical discussion

of either the images or text. By the end of

the unit, she says, students could articulate

a new-found understanding of the perspectives

behind the images and better apply

critical skills to other types of media.

“We said, from here on, whenever you

look at anything, think about what you think

the authors want you to take away from

it—whether it is the messages you are getting

through TV shows, or the ads on Facebook, or

the videos on YouTube,” she says. “The number

of images presented to students is so great that,

without instruction in media literacy, they are

forced to accept at face value all of the messages

with which they are being bombarded.”

Stiles and other teachers emphasize that

such analyses are possible at all levels of language

instruction. “At the Novice level, you

can do this even with the short video clips

that come with textbook series,” Stiles says.

“There is an idea that France is just Paris

and Paris is all accordion players and men

in striped shirts. You need to get students

beyond that idea.”

In an example echoed in the skills map,

some instructors have their students compare

how the same topics are handled differently

in American and target culture publications,

with special attention paid to the

prominence of news articles and the space

devoted to each subject. At the lower levels,

the focus might be solely on headlines, while

upper-level students could consider which

The Language Educator n February 2013

details are most conspicuously present or

absent—in print or, for advanced learners,

even live broadcasts—depending on the

culture in which they appear.

In such explorations, balancing the needs

of students to adequately express themselves

Life and Career Skills

Flexibility and Adaptability

Adapt to Change

Be Flexible

Initiative and Self-Direction

Manage Goals and Time

Work Independently

Be Self-Directed Learners

Social and Cross-Cultural Skills

Interact Effectively with Others

Work Effectively in Diverse Teams

Productivity and Accountability

Manage Projects

Produce Results

Leadership and Responsibility

Guide and Lead Others

Be Responsible to Others

When students go abroad and

interact with others in the target

language, they develop valuable

social and cross-cultural skills.

Here, Haley Bautista of Indian

Hills High School (NJ) works with

students in Oaxaca, Mexico.

with the maximum possible use of the target

language can be tricky. While Stiles admits

to students’ difficulty in staying in the target

language, allowing brief periods of mental

processing in students’ native language helps

them resolve a challenging issue which they

Life and Career Skills

Preparing for Life and Career

Giving students the opportunity to use different

technologies to connect with individuals

and groups in the target culture also helps them

broaden their life and career skills, which in the

P21 framework include flexibility and adaptability,

initiative and self-direction, social and

cross-cultural skills, productivity and accountability,

and leadership and responsibility. Such

skills often grow out of online collaboration and

creative exchanges with target-culture peers,

says Rosen.

“Having an audience that interacts with the

content often leads the original authors to re-

21 st Century Skills and Languages

can then better explain back in the target

language. The instructional challenge is in

finding ways for students to express with

limited language the relationships in the

content they are exploring.

think their own ideas,” she says. “Students tend

to write more and more accurately when they

have an audience beyond the teacher.”

She gives an example of instructors she

worked with whose Japanese language students

collaborated with students in Japan. In the

course of discussing different places in the United

States, the students in Japan asked the American

students, “Can you show us on a map?” Adding

digital labels became a regular part of their online

communication from then forward.

Giving students opportunities to show

leadership and responsibility is a key part of

the life and career skills section of the P21 map.

The Language Educator n February 2013 21

21 st Century Skills and Languages

One example envisions students organizing

a partnership between their school and one

in a target culture country by tapping the

support and expertise of an international aid

organization. Students talk directly with the

students at the foreign school and determine

their needs, then collect and ship the

items overseas. As a final step, the American

students “engage in follow-up conversations

with the students in the school to determine

what impact the supplies had.”

One typical effect of online exchanges is

to fuel students’ desire for meaningful travel

overseas, says Janet Glass, Spanish teacher

at Dwight-Englewood School in Englewood,

NJ, and the 2008 ACTFL National Language

Teacher of the Year. In just one example at

her school, sophomores and juniors last

summer helped paint and refurbish schools

in Peru and are planning another trip this

year. “Working side-by-side with students

there shows caring and acceptance and helps

the local students meet their goals,” Glass

says. “It’s a model for the kids in the high

school here.”

Students need equal parts language and

culture to be adequately prepared for such

experiences. For many years, Glass also ran

a Japanese exchange program at Dwight-

Englewood. While Japanese language classes

ended at the school in 2000, the exchange

continued for nine more years. “What we


saw was, without those classes, the students

in later years wound up being poorly

prepared. I remember that one young lady,

a junior, once called home and complained,

‘They’re treating me so rudely; they’re making

me sleep on the floor!’ With minimal

prior exposure to the language or culture,

the girl had never learned about that very

normal part of life in Japan.

“There are many subliminal messages

you receive by studying another culture and

language,” Glass says. “You learn that your

currency is not the only one, that climate

is different in other places, that habits

that are perfectly ordinary for us might

seem very odd to members of a particular

target culture. You’re taught that we ought

not to think of American culture as the

dominant culture.”

Indeed, many activities aimed at building

flexibility and cross-cultural skills work well

closer to home. One skills map example has

students designate a conversation table in

the school cafeteria in which native speakers

and new language learners choose and chat

about a different topic each week.

Working with target language groups in

the local community, such as residents of

a nursing home or students at a day care

center, allows students to “show flexibility

in their language abilities in terms of meeting

others’ needs,” Glass says. “If you’re at a

21 st Century Exploration

For more information about 21 st century skills

and language learning, check out the following


21 st Century Skills Map for World Languages

Partnership for 21 st Century Skills

21 st Century Skills for World Language

Students: Beyond the Classroom Wikispace

Engaging the World: U.S. Global

Competence for the 21 st Century

nursing home and you’re talking with people

in Spanish or German, you might have to

change your vocabulary a bit— they may be

more or less literate than you—or you may

need to moderate your points of view.”

Parker recently reached out to some of

her former Spanish students to ask how class

had prepared them for jobs and careers.

One student told her she used her Spanish

during a humanitarian project in Nicaragua,

while another expressed delight at making

Valuable life and career skills are developed

by participants in the 2012 STARTALK Program:

Building Competency in Hindi and Urdu Through

Global Project-Based Learning.

The Language Educator n February 2013

personal connections with children while

teaching English in Mexico. Parker’s Spanish

class gave one young lady the confidence

to tackle German, and she is now planning

a possible move overseas with her military

fiancé. Parker recalled another student who

got a job at Target while still in high school

after filling out both the English and Spanish

questions on her application—an example of

initiative rewarded.

On a daily basis, students at all levels

can develop self-direction and initiative by

documenting each new language skill or cultural

insight—regularly updating a chart of

“I Can” statements that list a variety of ways

to demonstrate those skills, for instance, or

tracking progress toward personal learning

goals. Or, as a test of long-range enterprise,

students could choose a global topic early in

the year to research in their free-time, then

report their findings at year’s end on a class

blog or wiki.

Throughout the P21 skills map, the

mandate is clear: Teachers need to find ways

to put students directly in contact with the

world, to bridge the here and there, and to

connect what students do in the present with

what they aspire to be in the future.

“Language learning can no longer be limited

to communication among students and

teachers in the language classroom, or we are

short-changing our students,” says Jensen.

“The digital age demands that students be

provided with multiple and ongoing op-

portunities for real-world interactions within

an authentic cultural context and, most

importantly, for a real-world purpose.”

Douglass Crouse is a contributing writer to The

Language Educator. He also teaches French at Sparta

Middle School in Sparta, New Jersey.

Look for a focus on 21 st Century Support Systems and The Role of Languages for Specific Purposes in the 21 st Century in April!

F r o m A C T F L

The Ideal Guide for Language Educators!

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and focus teaching on what really matters?

Written by language education expert Paul sandrock, this

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The Language Educator n February 2013 23


Q: 21 st Century Skills include flexibility and adaptability;

initiative and self-direction; social and cross-cultural

skills; productivity and accountability; and leadership

and responsibility. With these specific life and career

skills in mind, what do you do to empower your

students to be independent learners?

ACTFL Invites Educators to

Air Their Views on Topics

in So You Say


Q: How do you demonstrate to your students the

usefulness of linguistic and cultural knowledge for

their future careers? What assists you in preparing

students for the global workplace of the 21 st century

and ensuring their mastery of 21 st century skills?


Q: How do we personalize the language learning

experience? Tell us about a time when your students

took their language learning in their own direction,

making it match their own needs and goals.

So You Say is the section where you can speak up

on the issues most important to you.

Each issue of The Language Educator will include this

feature where our readers can offer their opinions on

topics relevant to language education. Representative

statements will be published in the magazine.

To offer your views on a topic, please go to You will be taken to a form where

you may enter a message of no more than 150

words. When finished, click submit and your

message will reach the editor.

Thanks in advance for contributing

to more representative content for

The Language Educator!

ReadeR Responses to issues in language leaRning

Students from grades 2–5 are exploring ways to work in groups

to assess their speaking, reading, and writing skills. For instance,

students in fourth and fifth grades are taking turns videotaping

each other as they keep short conversations. Another student in the

group assesses their performance with a user-friendly rubric that is

age- and grade-level appropriate. Students are able to share their observations

while learning how to provide and receive feedback from

their peers. As a result, students are working together to divide their

tasks and working collaboratively in decision making. Students are

receptive to working together rather than being tested in front of the

class. Their videos become part of their assessment and important

and powerful evidence for their performance portfolio.

Jeannette Hernandez-Cordero, Spanish

Ranney School, Tinton Falls, NJ

Provide students with opportunities and choices. For example,

create a Facebook group (you do not need to “friend” your students

to have a group) or similar social network and let them decide what

to share rather than making it an assignment. They will find amazing

links to media that you can incorporate into your lessons, thus

empowering and encouraging the students who shared the items.

Also, give them a performance task and a rubric, and perhaps some

possible options for what the final product should be, but don’t

require them to all turn it in using the same technology. You end up

with a much better demonstration of what students know and can

do in the language when they can share it their way: electronically,

orally, or on paper.

Lauren Rosen, Spanish

University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI

I believe that modeling 21 st century skills is an essential component

of empowering students to be independent learners. If I expect

students to be flexible, productive, and responsible, I must demonstrate

these characteristics myself as a teacher. Never underestimate

the power of example.

Andrew Schwei, Spanish

Jefferson High School, Jefferson, WI

The Language Educator n February 2013

I focus on developing lessons that are

cognitively achievable and that focus on

teaching the most frequently used words/

phrases first, so that students are much

more likely to understand what they read

or hear. My goal is to help EVERY student

feel successful in the language and to reach

a minimum threshold so that independent

learning and relevant application is

at least possible. I do that by focusing on

ordinary high-frequency structures, (e.g.,

I don’t have, I need, I can’t), as well as

other structures that are high-frequency,

but only as they apply to their particular

situation. I call these phrases situational

high-frequency structures (e.g., throw,

catch, ball). I focus on a few key phrases

each class period and at the end of the

week, I instruct students to listen for and

look for those target phrases (on the field;

in the locker room; on the bus; on TV; on

Facebook, Twitter, or our class Wiki, etc.).

Each week, students must share at least

one instance of how new learning was

applied (either on the field or off); how

they used their new skills to help another;

and what new word(s) they picked up (or

acquired) independently, outside of class.

Consciously recognizing and articulating

personal learning outcomes helps students

develop confidence, as well as a sense of

accountability and responsibility—both to

themselves and others.

Carol Gaab, Spanish

Fluency Matters/TPRS Publishing, Chandler, AZ

In Spanish 3, my students do a “study

abroad project.” I teach them how to get a

passport, make airline reservations, find a

school where they can study, how to deal

with culture shock, etc. Then I recommend

a school in Salamanca, Spain, where they

can study Spanish. I do not take the students

to Spain; they engage in independent

travel. Last summer, seven students studied

for a month in Spain (4 hours of class per

day) for the same cost as an eight-day tour

with a teacher through a travel group.

Pattipeg Harjo, Spanish

Norman North High School, Norman, OK

In my mind, languages should be at the very

core of any good 21 st century educational

program as we are uniquely positioned

to facili tate so many of these skills. For

example, in my Spanish classes, students

must be flexible and adaptible when they

don’t know a particular vocabulary word and

they make use of circumlocution to express

meaning. During Skype conversations with

a partner school in Venezuela, they demonstrate

cross-cultural skills when they discuss

the realities of being a teenager in New York

City and Caracas. When they write, illustrate,

and construct their own picturebooks

in Spanish and post them online or share

them with younger students, they are demonstrating

productivity and accountability.

Languages are not just a “nice” skill—they

are the “killer app” of the 21 st century.

Lori Langer de Ramirez, Spanish

The Dalton School, New York, NY

To provide my German 4 students with

experience designing their own learning

plan and not always depending upon their

teacher to define what they would learn, I

had them create six-week learning plans.

I outlined 10 curricular areas in which

students could work and earn points toward

a grade and at the start of each six-week period

the students needed to present me with

a learning plan for work in 7 of the 10 areas.

However, they could decide the emphasis

that they placed on any one of the areas. For

example, one of the areas was to produce a

“writing piece” of some 150 words worth up

to 20 points. One year I had a student who

wrote 3,000-word chapters of an excellent

original story each six weeks and did not do

as much in the other areas.

Robert Morrey, German

retired, high school level, San Jose, CA

Share the So You Say Questions

We can connect what we do in the classroom

with our students’ identities by creating

activities that will enable the expression

of their own “self.” For instance, when talking

about colors, rather than asking them

to repeat the words for colors or describe

isolated objects based on color, I share a

list of questions in which we discuss our

preferences of colors at different moments

and places in our lives. For instance, they

would talk about their favorite color for

their room, car, a dress for a cocktail party,

etc. Enabling them to speak on their own

will help them find a stronger connection

of language as a tool for self-expression and

hopefully motivate them to see themselves

as language speakers rather than learners.

Maria Villalobos-Buehner, Spanish

Rider University, Lawrenceville, NJ

So You Say

To foster independent learning, I try to get

students to understand the importance of

thinking in terms of tasks and not chapters,

units, etc. I found it a lot more helpful to

have a piece of paper with the language

that I would need to say to successfully

complete a transaction at the bank than to

have Chapter 1 of my Beginning Korean

language book when I was in Seoul. I like

to have students create their own portfolios

of tasks. Today’s technology brings this

to a whole new level. If students feel they

haven’t quite grasped something as effectively

as a fellow student, they can download

that task from their friend to their

own playlists and/or folders. Another way

to personalize learning is to give several

options for projects. Given some choice,

they produce some amazing things demonstrating

their knowledge and interests.

Janina Klimas, English and Spanish

Real Life Language, Inc., Lake Jackson, TX

We appreciate your help in getting more voices to include in this section. Please feel

free to share the upcoming questions with your colleagues in the language education

profession and urge them to send in their own responses. Mention them in person, via

e-mail, on a listserv, or through a social network like Facebook or Twitter. Keep the

great ideas coming!

The Language Educator n February 2013 25

2013 President-Elect

Mary Lynn

Redmond has

been elected as

2013 President-

Elect and will

serve as ACTFL

President in

2014. Redmond

is Professor of

Education at

Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem,

NC. She teaches undergraduate and graduate

level courses in K–12 methodology and research,

and supervises student interns. Prior

to her work at the university level, Redmond

taught French in grades K–12 in both public

and private schools.

Redmond has held numerous state and

national positions, including President

of the Foreign Language Association of

North Carolina (FLANC) and President of

the National Network for Early Language

Learning (NNELL). She held the position

of Executive Secretary of NNELL from

2003–2006. Redmond was a member of the

ACTFL Board of Directors from 2010–2012

and served as Treasurer last year. An ACTFL

member since 1990, her professional service

activities include chairing the Florence

Steiner K–12 Award Committee (1999) and

nominations committee (2003), participating

on the strategic planning committee

(2004), and serving as a member of the New

Visions project and Teacher Development

Group. She was also a member of the task

force that developed the ACTFL/NCATE

teacher standards. Redmond recently served

as the external evaluator for the federal grant

project on dual language immersion for the

North Carolina Public Schools, which led to

a new K–5 curriculum and teaching licensure

in immersion.

Redmond’s contributions to the profession

have been dedicated to the promotion


Inside ACTFL

an update fRom the ameRican council on the teaching of foReign languages

Meet Your New ACTFL Officers

of high quality K–12 proficiency-oriented

foreign language programs. She is a frequent

presenter at state, regional, and national conferences

and has coordinated several teacher

development institutes at the state and

national levels. Her research covers a wide

range of topics, and she has published articles

in The French Review, Hispania, Foreign

Language Annals, Learning Languages, and

The Language Educator. Redmond received

the 2004 SCOLT Teaching Award and the

2005 ACTFL/NYSAFLT Papalia Award for

Excellence in Teacher Education.

She holds a BA and EdD from the University

of North Carolina (UNC)-Greensboro

and MAEd from UNC-Chapel Hill.

Members of the Board of Directors

Todd Bowen

was elected to the

ACTFL Board of

Directors beginning

in 2013.

Bowen serves as

the Department

Chair for Modern

and Classical

Languages at New

Trier Township High School in Winnetka, IL,

in a department of 37 teachers of seven languages.

Previously in Barrington, IL, Bowen

chaired the World Language Department and

managed state and federal language grants

to create innovative programs and re-align

the curriculum. As a French teacher at Adlai

Stevenson High School in Lincolnshire, IL,

he achieved National Board Certification,

was honored with the American Association

of Teachers of French (AATF) K–12 Ludwig

Excellence in Teaching Award, and served as

a reader for Advanced Placement (AP).

Bowen began teaching in the state of Indiana,

at Winamac Community High School and

Bloomington High School South where he was

honored as Indiana’s French Teacher of the

Year in 1998. In 2012, Bowen was decorated

as a Chevalier in les Palmes Académiques. He

holds a BA from Anderson University, an MA

in French Language and Civilization from the

University of California at Santa Barbara, and

an MA in Educational Leadership from Northeastern

Illinois University.

Bowen is active in the Illinois Council on

the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ICTFL),

the Central States Conference on the Teaching

of Foreign Languages (CSCTFL), the

AATF, the Joint National Committee on

Languages (JNCL), the National Association

of District Supervisors of Foreign Languages

(NADSFL), and ACTFL. He has served on

the CSCTFL Board of Directors, as the Delegate

Assembly Co-Chair and Finance Chair,

and as President of ICTFL, and he currently

serves as the Professional Awareness Chair

of ICTFL. He attends the JNCL-NCLIS

Delegate Assembly, as well as leading Team

Illinois to advocate for languages. He shared

about those experiences at the 2011 ACTFL

Delegate Assembly. Bowen served on ACTFL’s

Florence Steiner Award committee and as

its chair. He has presented on numerous

occasions at the local, state, regional, and

national levels.

Benjamin Rifkin

was elected to the

ACTFL Board of

Directors beginning

in 2013.

Rifkin earned his

BA and MA in

Russian Studies

from Yale University,


for two years as a translator in Moscow, and

then earned his PhD in Slavic Languages and

Literature from the University of Michigan.

At the University of Wisconsin from

1990–2005, he supervised the work of

graduate student teaching assistants and student

teachers, and coordinated the Russian

The Language Educator n February 2013

language program, ultimately serving as chair of the Slavic Department

and director of a Title VI interdisciplinary center. He was director

of the Middlebury Summer Russian School from 1999–2003.

From 2005–2009, he worked at Temple University as Professor

of Russian and from 2005–2007 as Vice Dean for Undergraduate

Affairs. Since 2009, he has been Professor of Russian and Dean

of Humanities and Social Sciences at The College of New Jersey.

Rifkin became an ACTFL OPI tester in 1992 and an OPI trainer in

1996. He has served as a member of the Editorial Boards of Foreign

Language Annals and the Slavic and East European Journal, and on

the Boards of Directors of the Northeast Conference on the Teaching

of Foreign Languages (NECTFL) and the American Council of

Teachers of Russian (ACTR). Rifkin has also served in the leadership

of the American Association of Teachers of Slavic and East European

Languages (AATSEEL), as Vice President (1997–1998) and President

(2003–2004). He has written Russian-language textbooks and

numerous articles—for Foreign Language Annals, Modern Language

Journal, and Slavic and East European Journal—and has given

invited lectures, workshops, and conference presentations about

language education. In 2010–2012, he consulted with ACTFL on

the development of the 2012 Proficiency Guidelines. He has won

several grants and has been recognized with awards for teaching and

advising, as well as with the AATSEEL Award for Outstanding Contribution

to the Slavic Profession and two AATSEEL book awards for

contributions in pedagogy.

Deborah Robinson was elected to the

ACTFL Board of Directors beginning in

2013. Robinson taught pre-K through

university French and Spanish for 15

years in immersion, after-school, summer,

and traditional programs. She then

joined the faculty of The Ohio State

University’s Foreign and Second Language

Education Program where she taught

methods, second language acquisition,

and teacher education courses to students from around the world.

In 2001, Robinson was hired by the Ohio Department of Education

to shepherd the development of the state’s first iteration of academic

content standards and model curriculum. She also served as the

project director for a U.S. Department of Education-funded K–4

content-enriched Mandarin curriculum, leading an international

team of Chinese teachers to write detailed units.

Robinson is a recent past president of the National Council

of State Supervisors for Languages (NCSSFL). Through NCSSFL,

she collaborated on a common version of LinguaFolio, a student

goal-setting and self-assessment tool used in states, STARTALK,

and more. Additionally, she worked with NCSSFL, Hanban, and

ACTFL Officers Nomination Deadlines

Inside ACTFL

Nominations for 2014 President-Elect (2015 President) and two

Board of Directors positions must be postmarked by April 30,

2013. Visit

Mark Your Calendar Now for Future ACTFL Conventions

November 22–24, 2013 Orange County Convention Center and

Rosen Centre Hotel, Orlando, FL

November 21–23, 2014 Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center and

Grand Hyatt San Antonio Hotel,

San Antonio, TX

November 20–22, 2015 San Diego Convention Center, San Diego, CA

November 18–20, 2016 Walter E. Washington Convention Center,

Washington, DC

November 17–20, 2017 Music City Convention Center, Nashville, TN

Teacher Educators: Request Your ACTFL Student Kits Today

Many teacher educators find that getting their students involved in

professional organizations early helps in their development as future

teachers. If you are a teacher educator, you can receive information

packets about the products and services available from ACTFL

along with sample copies of The Language Educator and Foreign

Language Annals, and information regarding the regional conferences.

Enclosed with these packets are membership brochures and

applications for your students to join ACTFL. We hope that you will

encourage your students to become members of their professional

organization and take advantage of the resources and benefits you

enjoy. Student membership in ACTFL is available for $25 a year and

requires a letter verifying student status. Don’t miss out on this

wonderful opportunity for your students! To request these packets,

please send an e-mail containing your name, address, and number

of packets needed to or call (703) 894-2900.

Please allow four weeks for processing and delivery.

ACTFL Performance Descriptors Available

The new ACTFL Performance Descriptors for Language Learners can

be downloaded free from the ACTFL website. The Performance

Descriptors are designed to describe language performance that is

the result of explicit instruction in an instructional setting. They

reflect how language learners perform whether learning in classrooms,

online, through independent project-based learning, or in

blended environments. Find the document available for download


or order a printed copy

from the ACTFL Online Store at

The Language Educator n February 2013 27

Inside ACTFL

The College Board to interview in-service

Chinese guest teachers who live and teach

across the U.S. She has served as president

of the Ohio Foreign Language Association

(OFLA) and as the Ohio and Central States

representative to NNELL. Recently, she

chaired the Institutional Impact Taskforce

of ACTFL’s three-year International Research

Studies grant investigating the impact of the

National Standards for Foreign Language

Learning on the profession. Throughout her

career, Robinson has presented hundreds of

sessions and workshops and authored many

articles. She was named NCSSFL’s 2010 State

Supervisor of the Year and honored with

OFLA’s Professional Service Award during

the 2011 conference. Robinson retired from

the state of Ohio in January 2012 to join The

Language Flagship as their K–12 strategist

and consultant. She coordinates initiatives

within Flagship and among partner organizations

to promote high-quality, outcomesbased

world language learning opportunities.


ACTFL Workshops at Regional Conferences

will be providing two workshops as pre-conference offerings at each

ACTFL of the four regional conferences (CSCTFL, NECTFL, SCOLT, and

SWCOLT) this spring. The fifth regional organization, Pacific Northwest Council for Languages

(PNCFL), meets in conjunction with state organizations’ meetings in the fall and the

same workshops will be presented at that conference.

Developing Literacy for 21 st Century Learners helps educators identify specific strategies to

address literacy as described in the Common Core State Standards through world languages.

The Oral Proficiency Interview Familiarization Assessment Workshop helps educators

under stand what students need to demonstrate to move from novice to intermediate and

from intermediate to advanced proficiency levels and how to apply this understanding to

improve instruction.

The workshops will be presented as follows:

March 7, 2013 Northeast Conference on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (NECTFL) –

March 14, 2013 Central States Conference on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (CSCTFL)


April 4, 2013 Southwest Conference on Language Teaching (SWCOLT) –

April 11, 2013 Southern Conference on Language Teaching (SCOLT) –

ACTFL Webinars for Language Professionals—

Winter and Spring Series

The latest series of ACTFL webinars for professional language educators on the important topics of “Improving Language Learners’

Performance Through Integrated Assessments,” and “Curriculum and Instruction: Purposeful Planning to Increase Student

Learning,” will be offered this winter and spring. These webinars are designed especially for language educators at all levels and

will energize and inspire you to grow as a language professional. Led by educational experts, each series delivers new insights and

proven techniques that you will use right away.

Simply go to to view any or all of these excellent webinars, including:

Winter Webinar Series 2013

Improving Language Learners’ Performance Through

Integrated Assessments

Creating Effective Assessment of Performance –

January 30 (now available on-demand)

Providing Effective Feedback – February 13

Designing Backward from Assessment to Impact

Instruction – February 27

Presenters: Bonnie Adair-Hauck (University of Pittsburgh)

and Francis J. Troyan (Portland, Public Schools, ME)

This webinar series focuses on designing effective

Integrated Performance Assessments (IPAs), providing

effective feedback, and focusing instruction to prepare

language learners for successful performance on the

assessments. The series builds on the forthcoming

ACTFL publication, Implementing Integrated Performance

Assessment, by Adair-Hauck, Troyan, and Eileen Glisan.

Spring Webinar Series 2013

Curriculum and Instruction: Purposeful Planning

to Increase Student Learning

Curriculum Design – April 3

Content-Rich Units of Instruction – April 17

Purposeful Lesson Planning – May 8

Presenters: Donna Clementi (Lawrence University,

Appleton, WI) and Laura Terrill (Indianapolis, IN)

This webinar series explores the basic elements of

effective curriculum design. Participants consider how

the National Standards, 21st Century Skills, and Common

Core guide the development of a vertically aligned

curriculum that builds students’ communication skills

and cultural understandings. The webinars will also

address thematic unit design and daily lesson planning

focused on key strategies that maximize student

learning in support of curricular goals.

Individuals can participate in the webinars

live or access them at a later date, ondemand.

Fees for ACTFL members are $75

per webinar; $180 for three; $315 for

six; fees for non-members are $105 per

webinar; $252 for three; $441 for six.

ACTFL’s webinars qualify for continuing

professional development credits for the

renewal teacher certifications in most

states. All registrants receive an e-mail

with a certificate of completion once

you have viewed the webinar, which you

can then submit for credit. One person

may register for the webinar and show

it to multiple viewers from one location,

however only the individual who registered

for the webinar will be eligible to

receive professional development credits

from ACTFL.

The Language Educator n February 2013

ACTFL Offers Scholarships to Members

Seven scholarships will be offered to ACTFL members for study in 2013:

COINED, an intercultural organization

promoting Spanish-based courses, volunteer

programs, and internship programs throughout

Latin America, will provide two scholarships

for ACTFL members for two weeks of

Spanish language instruction in Santiago,

Chile during 2013.

Each scholarship will cover the following items:

• Spanish placement test

• Spanish intensive course (20 hrs/wk)

• welcome package and course materials

• weekly tours and recreational activities


• course certificate

• 24/7 emergency phone

• COINED tutorship

• Internet access

To be eligible, a candidate must:

• be an American citizen

• be interested in the teaching of

Spanish as a second language, with a

focus on Latin America

• demonstrate a high level of commitment

and interest for the program

• book accommodation offered by

COINED, including the cost of the

registration fee

• travel during 2013, except during the

months of January and July

The winners are responsible for all travelrelated

costs to Santiago de Chile and the

school, as well as personal expenses, accommodation

via COINED, registration fee

($75), and any additional activities or studyextensions

in Santiago de Chile.

The Cemanahuac Educational Community

in Cuernavaca, Mexico will provide a scholarship

to an ACTFL Spanish teacher for two

weeks of Spanish language study at any time

during 2013.

This scholarship covers:

• registration and tuition for two weeks

of intensive Spanish language study

• housing (double occupancy) with

all meals

• one field study trip

The scholarship winner is responsible for all

travel to Mexico and Cuernavaca, textbooks,

all personal and incidental expenses, as well

as fees for any additional activities or study

in Mexico.

To be eligible, a candidate must be:

• an American citizen whose first

language is not Spanish

• able to demonstrate a high level of

interest and motivation for the course

of study offered

• of a sufficiently advanced proficiency

level in Spanish to be able to profit

from the course of study

• willing to share the experience gained

ACTFL and IMAC–Spanish Language

Programs in Guadalajara, Mexico are

pleased to offer ACTFL members a scholarship

for four weeks of Spanish language

study during summer 2013.

The scholarship includes:

• tuition

• learning materials

The winner is responsible for all travel and

accommodations and any personal expenses

and optional activities.

To be eligible, a candidate must be:

• currently a teacher of Spanish at

the high school level, preferably an

experienced teacher

• an ACTFL member in good standing

• able to demonstrate a high level of

interest and motivation for the course

of study offered

• able to show institutional support

• willing to share the experience gained

with colleagues and others

Complete information about all these scholarships is available online at


NEW! An additional online scholarship for

ACTFL members has just been announced:

Speak Mandarin is an online Mandarin

tutoring company based in San Diego

and Beijing. Utilizing the latest in Internet

technologies and pedagogical approaches, offers live online,

one-on-one Mandarin Chinese training with

native-speaking certified teachers to learners

worldwide. These Mandarin teachers are

highly qualified, experienced, and welltrained

by China’s top universities such as

Peking University, Beijing Normal University,

and Beijing Language and Culture University.

All are teaching Mandarin Chinese as a

second language major, and hold the teaching

credentials for TCSL. SpeakMandarin.

com accommodates all levels of learners.

Speak Mandarin will provide three scholarships

for ACTFL members with 90 online

live Chinese lessons within six weeks.

Each award, valued at $1,045, includes:

• a customized learning plan

• ninety 50-min. online live Chinese

classes within six weeks, 15 sessions

per week

• learning materials

• out-of-class, self-study learning tool

• personal consultant

To be eligible, a candidate must be:

• a current ACTFL member

• able to demonstrate a high level of

interest and motivation for the course

of study offered (scholarships are open

to all levels of learners including students,

teachers, and retired members

with no past Mandarin experience)

• able to commit to the program and

complete the lessons and other


• willing to share the experience gained

The deadline to apply for the above awards

is March 29, 2013.

The Language Educator n February 2013 29

Inside ACTFL

Contest Theme:

Discover Languages

. . . Discover the World!

Contest Deadline: December 20, 2012

Video 2013 Contest Discover Results Languages Coming Soon

Student VIDEO Contest

The sixth annual Announced!

ACTFL Video Contest was recently concluded

and the results will be announced in February, in

ACTFL is sponsoring a national student video contest to celebrate

conjunction with Discover Discover Languages Month Month. during February Check 2013! This out effort actfl is part

of the sustained Discover Languages public awareness campaign, to get the which latest is designed information to bring media attention about to the the critical 2013 need for

all students to have the opportunity to learn a second language.

winners Students will develop and a video to public view service some of the winning videos online. We

announcement that promotes language learn- Students across the country, from elementary school through

ing and provides the audience with compelling college age, are encouraged to submit original videos on how

will also feature more information about the winning entries in

reasons why students should be developing

language learning has been important in their lives. The videos will

proficiency in more than one language. For

be judged for originality and creativity by an expert panel of judges

the April issue of The Language Educator.

specific contest rules, go to www.Discover

For more information go to:

The contest is also supported by CLEAR (The Center

for Language Education and Research) and MERLOT

(Multimedia Educational Resource for Learning and

Online Teaching).


and cash and product prizes will be awarded to the students who

produce the winning videos.

Cash/produCt prizes worth up to $500!


LAnguAges ® MONTH!

—Share the Research on the

Benefits of Language Learning—

The Discover Languages® section of the ACTFL website

( highlights some research

studies showing the benefits of language learning. Three

major areas have been identified:

How does language learning support academic achievement?

How does language learning provide cognitive benefits

to students?

How does language learning affect attitudes and beliefs

about language learning and about other cultures?

Visit the site today and find these studies listed under “What

the Research Shows.” This information is not designed to

provide a comprehensive review of all the research studies

available, but has been compiled to highlight the benefits of

language learning.

Share what you learn with your students, their parents, your

administrators, and community this Discover Languages Month!

Participate in the ACTFL Mentoring Program

announces the 2013–2014 Mentoring Pro-

ACTFL gram, designed to help early career language

teachers succeed in their current assignments and learn the skills

to be successful long-term in their careers. The mentoring will be

conducted over e-mail and/or phone. Mentors and mentees will be

matched by needs, skills, and experiences.

To be considered as a mentee, you must be a new teacher

within your first five years of teaching; to be considered as a mentor,

you must have completed at least three years of teaching. The

program will run from September 2013 through May 2014. If

you are considering participating, please read the Program Guidelines

online at

Applications must be submitted by

August 19, 2013.

For more information, contact Jaime Bernstein at jbernstein@

Be An Early Bird!

Start Thinking About ACTFL 2013

The 2013 ACTFL Annual Convention and World Languages

Expo will be held at the Orange County Convention Center in

Orlando, FL, in November. The theme will be “New Spaces New

Realities.” Start planning your attendance now and don’t miss the

early bird deadline of July 10, 2013. Registration is now open and

more information will come soon online at

convention-expo/2013-actfl-convention-world-languages-expo and

in The Language Educator.

ACTFL Offers Scholarships for

Convention Attendees

is again offering three Robert J. Ludwig

ACTFL New Teacher Scholarships for new teachers

(less than three years in the classroom) to attend the 2013 ACTFL

Annual Convention and World Languages Expo in Orlando, FL.

These are made possible by a bequest from the Robert J. Ludwig

estate. Ludwig was a member of the ACTFL Board of Directors

(then Executive Council) from 1985–1988 and he served as ACTFL

President in 1989.

ACTFL also offers a number of first-time attendee scholarships

each year. The deadline to apply for either type of scholarship is

July 10, 2013 and information will be posted on the ACTFL website

on the 2013 ACTFL Convention page under “Scholarships.”

The Language Educator n February 2013

Teacher Development

Special Interest Group Submitted by Susan A. Hildebrandt

The ACTFL Teacher Development Special Interest Group had a

productive 2012 ACTFL Convention. A new leadership team

was elected at our business meeting, with Pamela M. Wesely from

the University of Iowa taking the position of Chair, Beth A. Wassell

of Rowan University assuming duties as Vice-Chair, and Martha

Castañeda of Miami University of Ohio becoming the Secretary/Treasurer.

Susan Hildebrandt of Illinois State University begins her tenure

as Past Chair. Special thanks to Mary Curran, our previous Past Chair,

who has done so much for the Teacher Development SIG and who

will continue on as our main contact and expert in university/K–12

collaboration. Congratulations to all in new leadership positions!

Both winners of our travel grants were able to join us at the

business meeting. Amy Wopat, who teaches Spanish and serves

as the World Languages Department Chair at Woodrow Wilson

Senior High School in Washington, DC, was one recipient of a

grant. Jeong-bin Hannah Park, a PhD candidate in Foreign Language

Education at the University of Texas at Austin who is studying

computer-mediated communication, online discourse, and

second language writing, was the second recipient of a grant. We

were happy to support the travel of both an in-service language

teacher as well as a language teacher-educator in training.

“It was life-changing. Everything I have ever

accomplished stemmed from taking Spanish in

high school.”

“Living abroad and being married to a foreigner,

it helped me quite a bit. It helped me

pick up Italian easily last year and is helping

me now to learn Romanian.”

“Knowing additional languages has helped me

in every aspect of my life: personally, professionally,

recreationally. Of course from a cognitive

perspective it is highly beneficial because

thinking through/translating keeps your mind

challenged and active.”

“The best real-world example is a story a

former boss of mine in the Army told. He was

assigned as an attaché in South America. For

the months before the move, he told his teenagers,

‘You need to bone up on your Spanish—

learn some basic phrases,’ but the motivation

just wasn’t there. He kept nagging them and

finally gave up. They arrived and that first

night, to welcome them, the local teenagers

took the kids out into the social scene. When

the boy came back to their temporary quarters,

he told his dad, ‘It was amazing! This place is

awesome. The girls are beautiful! They love to

dance. I just wish you would have taught me

a little Spanish so I didn’t look like such a fool

meeting them.’ The dad was beside himself. He

said his son quickly picked up Spanish.”

“I love being able to say ‘hello’ to just about

every person I’ve ever run across. Even if it’s just

a sentence that I can say—I’m always happy

and proud to be able to say it, and it’s always

seemed appreciated . . . here or abroad.”



During our business meeting, Greg Duncan, owner and

President of InterPrep, Inc., a company that provides assistance

to schools, school systems, and other educational entities in matters

related to languages and international education, shared portions

of The Teacher Effectiveness for Language Learning (TELL)

Project (, a free set of evaluation and professional

development tools for language teachers. Many thanks,

Greg, for sharing your expertise with us!

Thanks too to the presenters in our session, “Innovative

Practices in World Language Teacher Pedagogy Courses: Beyond

Methods.” Janel Pettes Guikema of Grand Valley State University,

MI, and Hyunsoo Hur of the Defense Language Institute, CA,

discussed their practices and shared ideas with SIG members. The

SIG was proud to devote this session to research in teacher development.

During our “Language Teacher Development: Research

and Current Practices” session, Maria Adamowicz-Hariasz and

Susan Colville-Hall presented “Internationalizing the Teaching and

Learning Experience,” An Chung Cheng presented “Teacher Cognition

and Professional Development in Cross-Culture Contexts,”

and Kelly Conroy presented “Case Studies of Non-Native Speaker

Student Teachers of World Languages.”

What Are the Benefits of Studying Languages and Cultures?

ACTFL member Emily Serafa

Manschot recently posed this question

on her Facebook page, targeting former

students who are now her friends online.

Here are a few of their responses:

The Language Educator n February 2013

“Living in Southern California for the past 30

years, I can say learning Spanish has been helpful.

Going to Europe and using my limited skills

were beneficial as well. Learning a language

makes your brain work out and you develop

that muscle. Learning about other cultures is

always a plus in uniting this little blue planet. It

gets smaller every day. I didn’t realize during my

days in school how it would shape my life.”

Now, it’s your turn!

In honor of Discover Languages Month in

February, get your current and former students

thinking about what language learning has

meant to them. Be sure to pass on the best

answers to administrators, parents, and on social

networks. Let’s not keep the benefits of language

education a secret!

A Turn-Aroun

in Tw

How Dual Language Immersion Helps

Students enjoy learning in both English and Spanish at the

new Juan Diego Academy.


Holy Rosary School is a 122-year old accredited, pre-

K–8 Catholic school in Tacoma, Washington that

hasn’t let age get in the way of innovation. Although

the school has been in existence for well over a century,

their dual immersion Spanish–English program is a popular

new approach introduced in 2012.

Holy Rosary is the first Catholic school in the state of Washington

to offer such a program. Dual language immersion programs—

integrating native English speakers and speakers of another

language—provide instruction in both languages for all students.

They promote bilingualism and biliteracy, grade-level academic

achievement, and positive cross-cultural attitudes and behaviors in

all students.

It is this new program that may indeed be the saving grace of

the once struggling school.

Making a Change

The reinvention of Holy Rosary was pioneered by Principal

Timothy Uhl. When Uhl first came to the school, he was met with

a dramatically dwindling enrollment list.

“The school was struggling to stay open year after year after

year. It was probably struggling with financial issues for 20 years,”

he says. “When I was hired, I thought something has to be done to

turn this school around, or it’s going to close.”

Uhl says the superintendent also warned him that the school’s

days were numbered unless a major change was made.

“I am always up for a challenge, but I wouldn’t have stuck

around if we couldn’t do something unique,” he explains. “I was

able to turn the curriculum around so quickly because there was

no one around to resist; there were a lot of empty seats. When half

your seats are empty, that’s 50% less [opposition].”

Student numbers had been steadily dropping for years at Holy

Rosary. Fortunately, the focus of Washington’s archdiocese and

archbishop was on outreach to Catholic Hispanics, coinciding with

Uhl’s initiatives.

The Language Educator n February 2013

d Plan

o Languages:

Save a School

“[Hispanic] representation in Catholic schools is very low. So

we found the archbishop was very supportive financially in giving

us the resources to research and develop this program.”

Joe Womak is the director of The Fulcrum Foundation, the fundraising

arm for the archdiocese of Seattle, who assisted the effort.

“He and I both have young kids the same age—pre-K and K,”

recalls Uhl. “Both of us are of the mind that we want our kids to

be in a dual language program. In Seattle, there are immersion

schools that are very popular; people are aware that this program

is very popular among young professional parents,” he says.

So, in the fall of 2012, Uhl breathed life back into Holy Rosary,

and the pre-K and kindergarten classes became the Juan Diego

Academy, unifying the newly enrolled children in their unique

language program. The first class participating in the program

includes Uhl’s own two children. ACTFL Board of Directors Member

Bridget Yaden also has a son in the kindergarten class at Juan

Diego Academy.

“We chose the school based on the dual immersion program,”

says Yaden, an Associate Professor of Hispanic Studies and Language

Resource Center Director at Pacific Lutheran University in

Tacoma. While she had not been considering sending her youngest

son to a private kindergarten, once she saw a newspaper article

highlighting what was happening at Holy Rosary and took a tour,

she knew she wanted to enroll him.

“As a parent and educator, I’ve always wanted all my kids

to learn the language as early as possible,” says Yaden, who has

two older children that have studied Spanish in middle and high

“The dual language component has

added a level of focus and motivation

that we can even see at age five; that’s

a difference in performance.”

—Principal Timothy Uhl

The Language Educator n February 2013 33

A Turn-Around Plan in Two Languages

Because they are encouraged to help

each other learn, the children are sharing

not only their languages but their

cultures as well. The expectation of the

program is to cultivate bilingual students

who are able to read and write in both

languages by eighth grade.


school. She sees a great advantage for her son in the immersion

program—even after just a half a year. For one thing, she says, “his

accent is perfect.”

Yaden continues: “He has this awareness of language and he’ll

tell me that ‘Today is Spanish day’ or ‘Today is English day’— and

when it’s Spanish day, he comes home and says it’s Spanish day so I

need to only speak Spanish to him. To see a five-year old have that

kind of awareness that these are two different languages and he

knows that; it’s pretty exciting.”

“One of the things I’ve noticed in this kindergarten is that the

classroom seems much more focused,” notes Uhl. “They have an

academic motivation that they didn’t have last year. Kids do have

to learn to [use scissors], they have to develop their motor skills,

but now they’re cutting out Spanish words. The dual language

component has added a level of focus and motivation that we can

even see at age five; that’s a difference in performance,” he says.

Positive Reactions

Many other parents, like Yaden, were inspired to take advantage

of the opportunity which had never before existed in Tacoma

and the school doubled enrollment in the kindergarten class for

2012–2013. There is also great diversity among the class, including

both native English and Spanish speakers, as well as a number

of Vietnamese speakers who are learning English and Spanish as

their second and third languages in class.

“You can see kids of all different backgrounds mixing and mingling;

it’s phenomenal,” says Uhl.

Parents have responded with strong enthusiasm. One woman

e-mailed Uhl and said: “I heard my daughter during playtime this

evening speak Spanish for 20 minutes. Some were phrases I recognized

from homework, but most of them I didn’t know. It was

pretty exciting!”

He recalls this mother’s concern last year about the change in

the curriculum. “She didn’t know what to think. She thought it

would be interference, getting in the way of the important stuff.

But here we are, this year, and she and her husband are now interested

in learning the language themselves.”

The school expects to incorporate the program at all levels by

2020, as each new grade begins in kindergarten. The students receive

instruction in both languages equally, but in different deliveries.

For example, the Spanish-speaking students receive written instruction

in their native language, and oral instruction in English.

Because they are encouraged to help each other learn, the children

are sharing not only their languages but their cultures as well. The

expectation of the program is to cultivate bilingual students who

are able to read and write in both languages by eighth grade, once

the Juan Diego Academy has reached its full potential.

Yaden, as a college professor, has an additional perspective on

what is happening at the school and thus in her community.

“I think that when we see these kids progress with their language

education and eventually show up at the postsecondary

The Language Educator n February 2013

level, they’ll be starting out in 300- and 400-level courses, purely

content. They’ll bypass the lower language levels entirely and a lot

of them will be ready to start their third or fourth language,” she

says of the native English-speaking students.

When it comes to the Spanish speakers—many of whom come

from economically disadvantaged backgrounds—Yaden thinks it

is more likely that these students will end up in her classes than

it would have been before this early start. “Their English and

Spanish skills will be much stronger from this model and so I

think it’s going to add to the growing population of heritage Latino

students that we see coming to college that want to continue their

Spanish language study at higher levels,” she says.

Starting Small Can Work

For language educators and administrators throughout the country,

the successful turnaround of a small school like Holy Rosary

can be an inspiration to look to language education to solve problems

of dwindling enrollment. The hope in this case is that the

dual language immersion model spreads to other Catholic schools

in western Washington.

Yaden thinks it is a good example that language advocacy efforts

do not need to be on a large scale to be successful. “As an

ACTFL member, I go to the convention and read The Language

A Turn-Around Plan in Two Languages

Educator, and I might hear about Utah’s emphasis on dual immersion

or read that big city school districts are adopting immersion,

and I can think, ‘Well, my city is never going to do that.’”

Yaden continues: “To see that one school just did it all on their

own as a turnaround model is inspiring. “They knew that they

were going to have to close the school or come up with something

innovative to keep it open and that can give us all hope. When it

comes to advocacy, we can get nervous or scared when we think

we have to go talk to our school board or governor about language

education, to change how things are done in our states. You may

hear about these big successful models but it doesn’t have to only

start that way; it doesn’t have to come from top down. It could be

about making changes at one small school—and then who knows

where it can spread from there.”

Learn more about Holy Rosary School

Learn more about Dual Language and

Two-Way Immersion

A comprehensive site from the Center for Applied

Linguistics, including resources for two-way

immersion and dual language practitioners

Join the ACTFL Immersion Special Interest

Group (SIG)

Discuss immersion in the ACTFL Online


Choose the Discussion Group: IMMERSION


Q: As you know, you are our profession’s eighth National Language

Teacher of the Year. As you represent other language

educators and ACTFL as an ambassador for our profession

throughout 2013, you will be visiting many events and conferences

to promote the importance of language learning. For the

non-language educators in your audience, what might be their

key “take-away” from your message?

Q: As Teacher of the Year, you will be visiting Capitol Hill to

speak with national legislators and also meeting throughout

the year with local policymakers. You will be speaking with

national, state, and local legislators from Washington, D.C.,

to Denver. What issues would you like to impress upon them

when you have this opportunity?


ACTFL National Language

Teacher of the Year

Noah Geisel

On behalf of the more than 12,000 ACTFL members, the ACTFL Officers, and the ACTFL Board of Directors, we offer you sincere

congratulations, Noah, on being named the ACTFL National Language Teacher of the Year for 2013!

A: I am excited to take on this role and look forward to sharing

how the great work we are doing goes beyond teaching

the target language. We emphasize cultural competency

and prepare students to feel comfortable taking risks and

reaching across divides. Our students practice public speaking

and create presentations. They engage in higher-level

thinking by analyzing and evaluating information. World

language classrooms are in fact multidisciplinary environments

where students are acquiring many of the 21 st century

skills that are requisite to postsecondary and career success.

A: Our future leaders will be bilingual and bicultural. A robust

and high quality language education is a great tool we

already have to help make this happen. Our schools need

to ensure students have access to world language education.

Further, it is time to build on the successes of dual language

immersion by expanding programming into more schools

and communities. Learning important content through the

lens of a different language develops critical thinking and

analytical skills, the literacy of the Common Core State

Standards. These efforts are affordable, non-partisan, and

cost-saving in the long run—as it is far cheaper for our

bilingual and bicultural leaders to make friends around the

world than it is for them to fight our enemies.

The Language Educator n February 2013

Q: When you were named at the 2012 ACTFL Annual Convention

in Philadelphia, you suggested all the language educators

there make “six contacts” with an elected official or

decision-maker in their district or area in the upcoming year.

Would you care to repeat and clarify that challenge to all

the members of ACTFL? Why is this advocacy so important?

Q: You have presented many workshops on the use of technology

for language learning. In using technology in classrooms,

the tool can very easily become the focus rather than the

educational outcome. What recommendations do you have

to help educators effectively use technology in support of

language learning?

Q: At Duke University, you majored in English and minored

in Spanish. While many similarities exist in teaching

English or any other language, what experiences led you to

become a teacher of Spanish? What advice would you give

to would-be teachers of world languages, including your

own students?

A: In the current climate of education policy, it is easy to find

truth in the saying, “If you are not at the table, you are ON the

table.” It’s tough to overstate the importance of vocal, proactive

advocacy on behalf of our great profession. The advice given

to attendees at the ACTFL Delegate Assembly was that a single

contact is not sufficient; in order to be effective, we as teachers

need to be targeting policy makers (school board members,

superintendents, legislators, or others) and attempting to call,

e-mail, and shake hands with them to advocate on behalf of

world languages at least six times over the next year. That is

my challenge to all ACTFL members and I will certainly be

taking on that challenge myself.

A: Maintaining a focus on the learning objective is the important

piece here. Whether the technology is helping us to teach 21 st

century skills or simply engaging our learners in new ways, we

always want to be intentional in our decisions on the tools employed.

This is the same if we are talking about a poster board

or an iPad. The tool is a means to an end, but the objective is

still about helping students learn language and culture.

A: My path was not exactly traditional. I did not take a single

education class during my time as an undergraduate. I was in

love with learning and took the classes and professors that I

thought would be the most inspiring. I took Spanish classes

because I love everything about the Spanish language and

culture. Three years after graduating, when I decided to be a

public school teacher, the truth is that I pursued Spanish jobs

because I was told I would not find an English gig supported

by the alternative licensure route. But that door slamming shut

was one of the best things that ever happened to me. Teaching

world languages is such an important and rewarding job . . .

I still find it hard to believe that I get paid to do something I

enjoy so much.

Two pieces of advice:

1. Teach in the target language as much as possible so that you

are teaching meaningful content through the language and not

just teaching about the language.

2. Use culture as a hook to engage learners and inspire their

interest in the target language. I believe that most of us as

language teachers were drawn to our languages by aspects we

appreciate in the cultures. Share that passion with students!

Then create opportunities for them to discover what part of

the culture is going to spark that same interest in them.

The Language Educator n February 2013 37


Using Technology for the

Interpretive Mode

By Patricia Koning


Students can use

websites like www. to

access authentic


When one man in Mexico created a video tour of his

new home and posted it on YouTube to share with

his family and friends in far off places, he probably

had no idea he’d also be helping New Jersey middle school

Spanish students practice the interpretive mode of communication.

Technology—both for sourcing authentic materials like that

video and making those materials accessible and educational for

students—is changing the way language educators address the

interpretive mode in their instruction.

“I find that the interpretive mode is often the hardest for

teachers to assess, both formally and informally. The traditional

packet with a list of questions doesn’t work anymore, not for the

way our students learn today,” says Dana Pilla, a Spanish teacher

at Haddonfield Middle School in Haddonfield, NJ, and part-time

lecturer at Rutgers University.

For an informal in-class assessment, Pilla’s students watch that

home tour video or a similar authentic, level-appropriate video

on an iPad, either alone or in pairs. Students view the short video

as many times as they need to, then answer questions about it in

Google Docs. The entire activity, both the video and questions, are

embedded in Edmodo or a class wikispace.

“As the students are answering questions and pressing submit,

I can see all of their answers in one place and give them realtime

feedback, like suggesting they redo a question because they

weren’t specific enough,” says Pilla.

The one-on-one nature of the activity also means that slower

or shyer students are not left behind. “If you show a video to

the class, the student in the front row has an advantage over the

The Language Educator n February 2013

student in the back row,” she says. “Some students need to watch

the video several times. This means everyone can complete the

activity at his or her own pace and every student must participate

equally. I don’t mind if the lower-level students want to work

in pairs for an informal assessment because it will help build

their confidence.”

Brandon Zaslow, director for the Los Angeles area site of the

California World Language Project at Occidental College, believes

technology is essential for accessing authentic materials. In his

programs, teachers learn how to locate authentic materials through

technology; determine the language, culture, and context within

the materials; and make those materials comprehensible to students

through technology.

Authentic materials can include videos, websites, blogs, social

media, pictures, and newspaper articles—essentially any material

someone in the target language might interact with in their

daily life. “If it is designed for people in the target language, it can

become a valuable resource,” says Zaslow.

Bruna Boyle, an instructor of Italian at the University of Rhode

Island in Kingston, RI, thinks teachers need to introduce their

students to authentic materials right away. “If you wait until a

student is preparing for the Advanced Placement (AP) exam, he or

she will be overwhelmed and scared,” she says. “You need to start

at the earliest level. Authentic materials really help students build

their vocabulary. As an AP reader, the biggest shortfall we see is a

lack of vocabulary.”

Pilla uses authentic materials she finds on the Internet to challenge

her students. Finding the right material is often a painstaking

task, but she finds that the effort pays off in the end. “Students

pay more attention when they know something is real,” she says.

“I like to expose my students to a variety of native speakers.”

For a unit on the house, she found a Spanish language talk

show about the safety of household chores. “The Spanish is very

fast, but this video had plenty of visuals so students could pick out

key words,” says Pilla. “They key is to tailor the questions to what

I want them to interpret from what they are watching. The task

should require some effort, but not leave the students feeling lost.”

The most basic interpretive tasks, she says, are matching key

conceptual ideas with English meanings or answering true/false

questions to demonstrate basic comprehension.

Boyle finds that videos are an effective way to teach interpretive

communication to beginning language classes. She typically shows

a 15-minute segment of a movie several times, asking the students

more detailed questions after each viewing. “Just by watching,

the brain already has done some interpreting, so it’s a very good

springboard for discussions on characters, themes, symbolism and

other topics.”

Another current favorite video of Pilla’s is from a blog in

Argentina in which people discuss the best places to ski. “I use

it with a unit on winter sports in South America and ask the

students to pull out vocabulary they hear in the video,” she says.

“Watching the video is really a springboard for vocabulary. The

students tell me what they heard and then we create a vocabulary

list. Then we transition to a relevant reading. It’s a lot of work finding

an appropriate video that uses appropriate vocabulary, but this

exercise ends up creating more meaning for my students and they

remember so much more.”

MeeTIng The Challenge

There is no doubt that authentic materials can be daunting—

native speakers often speak quickly using different dialects and

words students may not be familiar with. But this is where technology

comes in.

Zaslow recommends Camtasia or Screenflow to capture video

and edit it for classroom use. These tools allow the user to remove

parts of the video, slow down or repeat sections, and add arrows,

subtitles, or text balloons to direct students.

“For example, if you were using a video of a night market in

China, you could add arrows to point out specific items in the

market. You can stop the video and ask the students to answer

questions, either identifying items in the video or those they

would they like to buy. This allows you to use interactive authentic

materials where in the past you might just have a picture.”

FrOM The naTIOnal

STandardS: a lOOk aT The

InTerpreTIve MOde

The Communication goal area of the national

Standards for Foreign language learning—

“Communicate in languages Other Than english”—

includes three standards. The second focuses on the

interpretive mode of communication:

Standard 1.2. Students understand and interpret

written and spoken language on a variety of topics.

The Language Educator n February 2013 39

Interpretive Communication

Using Snagit, a teacher might sequence and highlight tasks

related to reading a website. “You might put checkmarks near the

relevant sections or add a button the student pushes to answer

questions about the main idea of the site,” says Zaslow. “This

focuses them on the task, because when students first look at a

website in the target language, there can be so much information

that they don’t know where to start. You help your students access

the information by starting with what they do know.”

K.C. Kless, a middle and high school Latin teacher in the

Indian Hill School District in Cincinnati, OH, uses WordChamp

to teach interpretive communication to his students. WordChamp

is a website by Global Linguist that features multimedia flashcards

and online vocabulary and grammar practice, among

other activities.

Kless particularly likes WordChamp’s web reader for teaching

and assessing interpretive communication. “I can design a reading

assignment so that when the students hover over a word, they will

get a pop-up with extra information like the definition, context,

and even audio. This activity is recorded for me, so I can see what

words the students need help with and if they continue to need

help with those same words in other parts of the passage,” he

says. “The students then answer comprehension questions about

the passage.”

Technology can also help students demonstrate their understanding

of the target language by doing things like highlighting

key words and phrases that helped them identify the

main idea; journaling about how they made meaning

out of a passage (such as using a search engine to

look up a cultural reference, looking at a website on

the same topic to gain more background information,

etc.); cutting and pasting words, phrases, sentences

that describe each of the characters in a story (to keep

track of what they are finding out about each character);

or adding to a group space (such as a wiki) to


USe The reSOUrCeS





identify what they are finding out on a given topic (i.e., looking for

different angles on or different sides of a topic or debate issue).

“It’s important for educators to use technology to directly assess

interpretive proficiency,” says Zaslow. “Students can highlight or

cut and paste text that reflects main ideas or supporting details or

that shows the organization of arguments. They can also document

their skills by using search engines, consulting websites for background

information or different aspects of a topic or debate.”

For some projects, Pilla uses a digital graphic organizer that

the students fill out by cutting and pasting information from an

assigned website. “For example, when we go ‘shopping’ in Spain

for sporting equipment and clothing in El Corte Inglés department

store, the students cut and paste the name of an article of clothing,

the price in euros, and a picture of the item into a graphic

organizer on Microsoft Word or Pages,” she explains.

“In this way, they are showing me evidence of understanding

what they have read on the website and they are also able to pair

the name of the item with the image. It is a great way to build up

vocabulary, and a wonderful way to give the students a choice in

the vocabulary they want to learn and to make the ‘words’ have a

real life, personal connection to each student.”

When Pilla’s students use an iPad for a listening, watching, or

reading activity, they often type answers to questions about the

material directly into Edmodo. This allows her to view all of the

students’ responses in one place and quickly determine if they

The Language Educator n February 2013

understand the material. Pilla also sometimes allows the entire

class to view everyone’s responses, letting them compare different

interpretations of the same material.

For the interpretive mode of communication, technology plays

two key roles—giving teachers access to a virtually unlimited

supply of authentic materials and then helping teachers bring

those materials into the classroom in a meaningful way. Within the

interpretive mode, the methods of communication that students

must learn to navigate continue to grow and change.

“Teachers need to be able to move far beyond the textbook,”

says Zaslow. “Almost as soon as you put something on paper, it

becomes obsolete. So you really cannot teach interpretive communication

without technology.”

With even limited technology, teachers can still be effective. A

computer and an Internet connection are all a teacher needs to get

started—the hard part comes with identifying and presenting the

right materials.

Pilla jokes that her school moved into the 21 st century only this

past year when they purchased a cart of iPads that teachers can

check out for classroom use. “Without some form of technology,

you are stuck with books and tapes,” she says. “Embracing technology

for the interpretive mode is really the only way to propel

your students forward linguistically.”

Patricia Koning is a freelance writer and regular contributor to The Language

Educator. She is based in Livermore, California.

The Language Educator n February 2013 41

From the beginning of recorded history, stories have offered entertainment

and instruction to old and young alike. How might the inauspicious

fable serve students in their efforts to learn a second language?

In their brevity and wit, fables disarm even the most reluctant

reader. Students in a language classroom, often familiar with

the plots, characters, and lessons of these narratives in their own

language, are empowered by this recognition. They thus approach

what might be their first authentic text in the target language with

increased confidence.

Unlike textbook activities generally created by non-native speakers,

fables and tales are genuine cultural artifacts that offer students

much more than simple practice with grammar and new vocabulary.

Often cultivated through the oral tradition, these literary forms truly

reflect the cultures from which they derived. Their subtle priorities

and lessons are illustrative of the history and culture of their respective

lands. What better than the Grimm brothers’ Hansel and Gretel

to remind the German populace of hard times endured (during the

14th century Great Famine) and the importance of resilience and

ingenuity? Who better than Perrault’s Cinderella, which emphasizes

the heroine’s great beauty, to reveal the French infatuation

with aesthetics as well as the all-but-immutable social hierarchy of

pre-revolutionary France (sans the intervention of a supernatural

fairy godmother)? How better than through the safe distance of Felíx

María de Samaniego’s animals to criticize the folly of humanity and

abuses of the Church in 18th century Spain?

As a language educator, I decided to harness the rich cultural, historical,

grammatical, and lexical content of fables in a unit for my fifth

semester university students. This content satisfied another objective as

well, namely to provide a link between the short literary and cultural

excerpts students had encountered in first- and second-year textbooks

and the longer authentic texts they would face in fourth-year language

classes. Although the three- to four-week program outlined here was

created for Advanced-Intermediate university students, it could be

modified for upper-level high school students as well.

I begin the unit by displaying a few images from the culture and

time period in which the texts were penned. Some of the faces and

places are familiar to the students, but other information needs to

be deduced. Handing a group of students a copy of a painting to


Harnessing the Power of

Story: Teaching Language,

History, and Culture

Through Fables

By Bendi Benson Schrambach

analyze, I ask them to describe what they see: What is pictured?

What clothes are the figures wearing? Where are they? What do they

seem to be doing? Each group spends time scrutinizing the image for

clues. After considering these with their groupmates, they hold up

the picture to share their ideas with the class. Then, in conversation

in the target language, we piece together what we can about the era

in question: its government, economy, religion, and key figures. A

plethora of images and videos are available on the Internet to assist

language educators in bringing a time period to life for students.

We next address the question of genre. In groups, students are

asked to list what they know about this literary form: What is a

fable? What are its characteristics? What are some examples with

which they are familiar in English? Again, we come together to

ensure proper and thorough understanding of this literature. Fables

and tales are short works of fiction; they often derive from the oral

tradition where they originally provided pre-television and pre-

Internet entertainment; and they relate a lesson or moral—either

implicitly or explicitly. Since our class focuses on Les Fables of Jean

de La Fontaine, I also mention the versified structure of La Fontaine’s

tales and his use of animals to represent human stereotypes.

This is also a good time to raise the question of intended audience.

While fables are generally crafted to be read to children, some

authors envisioned their tales for more a sophisticated public. Such is

the case with La Fontaine. Part of the brilliance of this literature lies

precisely in its ability to posit subtle critiques of society in a generic

form that was non-threatening to those in power at the time. Recalling

the historical context from which our texts arose, I alert students

to the notion that the fabulist may use these diversionary tales to offer

commentary on such things as the government, rulers, and religious

leaders of the time—as well as on human nature more generally.

Next, we turn to the question of characterization and stereotypes.

What features do we associate with certain professions, for

example? What do we imagine when we think of a baker, a fireman,

or a teacher? Or in the case of animals, what characteristics might we

attribute to a lion, an ant, or a fox? Such activities introduce students

to the idea of symbolism. A lion is courageous; an ant, industrious;

a fox, sly. After providing a few examples for the class, I assign to

groups two or three different characters we will read about in the

The Language Educator n February 2013

fables, and ask students to provide descriptions of what they would

expect of their respective personalities. This activity allows students

to review known adjectives in the target language and learn new ones

that I introduce to help them construct a more nuanced portrait.

Finally, we arrive at the fables themselves. I always read these

aloud first for the class. Students thus encounter structured input

in the form of proper pronunciation and, in La Fontaine’s case,

utterance of a versified form. The students read along on a copy

that includes some vocabulary assistance defining obscure words or

expressions. One way to help students with words they don’t know

is to provide synonyms, to give examples, to say what it is not, or to

ask students to guess from the context whether the intent is positive

or negative. All of these examples provide students with more

practice in developing interpretive strategies, rather than just turning

to a bilingual dictionary.

When it is the students’ turn to examine the texts, I again assign

them to groups to answer initial questions of general comprehension

(not just minute details) provided in the target language: Who are

the main characters? Describe their personalities. What happens in

the tale? How does the story end? Students are allowed time to read

over the text, to digest it little by little with groups of their peers.

Relatively easy questions boost the confidence that may have faltered

when they were first faced with the text in its entirety. We review the

answers to these questions together to ensure the students’ proper

understanding before turning to questions of interpretation.

Again in groups, I ask students to probe the tale for slightly more

complex meaning: What is the lesson? Where do we see it in the tale?

Is it explicit or implicit in the consequences? Reflecting on the historical

period in which the tale was written, to whom—outside the literal

intrigue—might this lesson apply (i.e., a certain type of person or

persons)? After reviewing these together, I provide the groups with a

third set of questions intended to personalize these stories and connect

what they are learning with information that they already know:

Is there an American tale or expression that highlights this same

moral? Is this lesson still true today? If so, what might be a contemporary

example or manifestation of this story? Which character do

you most resemble? Why? Have you personally ever learned this same

lesson? Explain. Such questions allow students to offer their unique

opinions and interpretations. They also encourage students to speak

about the subject with which they are most comfortable: themselves.

In this way, synthesis questions render the fables meaningful for

students on a more personal level.

Our class investigates a selection of six fables. I pose questions

similar to the ones above for each tale, moving from easier questions

of comprehension to more open-ended questions of synthesis. A less

advanced language class could lessen the difficulty for students by

adjusting the type of questions posed. Alternatively, they could limit

their study to one or two fables.


Below are some resources that might be helpful in creating a

unit on fables. Although several of these sites are in French,

similar activities and depictions are available in other languages.

A young French girl reciting “La Cigale et la Fourmi” (“The

Grasshopper and the Ant”)—proof that memorization of fables

is possible!

French cartoon depicting “Le Corbeau et le Renard” (“The

Crow and the Fox”). Many portrayals of fables are available

online in both animated and non-animated form. Search to find more in different languages.

This free site will allow groups of students to create original

fables collaboratively. (You may also be able to create wiki

pages on your school’s web-based learning software.) In

either case, you as instructor will be able to see the amount

each student contributed to the project.

Wikipedia: Fables. Presents information about the history of

this genre as well as some classical fabulists. This can help

give you ideas for fables to look for online.

The fact that La Fontaine’s fables are versified allows us, lastly,

to broach the matters of meter and rhyme. What is meter and how

do we count it in the target language? What constitutes a rhyme and

which words rhyme in the text we are studying? How do we describe

this rhyme scheme in the target language? Why would the author even

include rhyme in a narrative tale? Explanations of these points serve

as an introduction to the study of poetry.

The popularity of certain fables means that many are available in

animated form in online videos. These can be wonderful and appreciated

supplements to the class. Students benefit from the visual portrayal

of these intrigues and often better recall the fables they have

had the benefit of viewing—either via illustrations or reenactments

online. I show my class an animated version of the fable in the target

language when available, only after they have spent time decrypting

the tale in groups. However, if teaching these fables to less advanced

students, it might be preferable to show students videos depicting

the narratives before asking them to analyze the texts in groups.

Assessment Related to Fables

All of the aforementioned activities take place in the classroom. Yet

we know that in order for students to actually master the material,

they need to ultimately produce something. Following are four assessments

I use to measure their understanding of the language and

culture studied in this unit on fables.

The Language Educator n February 2013 43

In the Classroom

The first assignment requires students to memorize fables. Following

our detailed study of two particular tales, I ask students to

memorize them (one after the other, separated in time by about a

week) in order to be able to recite them aloud to the class. This is,

after all, how the original tales would have been transmitted as part

of an oral storytelling tradition. Though often anxious about this assignment

beforehand, my students do manage to learn two appropriate-length

tales (of 18 and 22 verses, respectively). In doing so,

they master the fable’s content, acquire the new vocabulary, practice

advanced grammar structures, become more fluid in their articulation

of the language, and gain confidence in their abilities—not

only in the language but also in their ability to commit something to

memory, all worthy outcomes!

A second assessment requires students to reenact in groups their

choice of one fable studied in class. This occurs near the conclusion

of our unit. For this assignment, students are expected to maintain

the original intrigue and lesson of the fable, but to present it

in modified form and by means of less formal language. Although

I originally had students act these out in front of the class, I now

require them to record these fables and present them to the class

in digital format. Some possible ways for them to accomplish this

include burning a DVD, bringing in a Windows Media file (on a zip

drive), or even posting their reenactment on YouTube. The digital

delivery eliminates the challenges posed by live theater, such as

illness, nervousness, and forgetting lines. Our students are already

quite competent in their use of technology—indeed, even most cell

phones are equipped with recording devices—so I have not found

this to be an excessive demand. On the contrary, I am convinced that

this new format encourages students to put their best efforts into the

task of bringing their fable to life in video. Students are graded on

their faithfulness to the original intrigue, transmittal of the lesson,

depiction of the stereotypical characters, comprehensible pronunciation,

and overall creativity. In addition, a portion of their grade on

this project is assigned by the others in their group, which somewhat

alleviates the problem of any one person slacking off. Innovative,

imaginative, and humorous, these reenactments have been very successful

ways to demonstrate student learning in my class.

A third assessment, also a group project, is the creation of an

original fable. Students compose this on a wiki (i.e., “what I know

is”) page. As a consequence, the educator can see who contributed


to the tale’s composition and how much. As with the reenactment,

then, each student’s participation—reflected clearly as a percentage

on the wiki page—comprises one element of his or her grade on

this assignment. This original fable should demonstrate all that they

learned in the unit. Thus, while the students have extensive liberty in

the content of their tale, they must by means of it demonstrate their

knowledge of the required elements of this genre. Some students

modernize fables we have studied; some change the point of view of

the narrative; some imagine a prequel or a sequel to a tale; and some

invent new intrigues entirely. I like the wiki form of this exercise as it

requires the 21 st century skills of collaboration and critical thinking.

Since students act as both authors and editors of the fable, they must

assess and sometimes correct the work of their classmates to ensure

a quality final product. And as with the reenactment of the fable,

students are motivated by the fact that not only their teacher but

also their classmates will be observing their work. The result is an

improved final product.

Before finishing this unit, we spend a class period reviewing what

we have learned by means of a PowerPoint game of Jeopardy! The

students are divided into two teams. Possible game categories might be

the individual fables studied, or alternatively, the content of just one

fable: Plot (to test knowledge of storyline and lesson/s), Characters

(to review characterization of the fable’s protagonists), Language (to

test understanding of difficult syntax or sophisticated construction),

Vocabulary (to test their mastery of new words), and Mixed. This

lively game allows us to review in a friendly but competitive setting.

Those not quite familiar with the answers are gently encouraged to

study before the upcoming test. A written exam, covering all that we

have studied—from the history to the narratives, from characterization

to the lessons, from grammar and vocabulary to meter and rhyme—

constitutes the fourth and final assessment for this unit.

Student Responses

In my class, student reception of the fables has been extremely positive.

They enjoy the narratives as mini-masterpieces in themselves.

They appreciate the opportunity to draw analogies between the lessons

or characters appearing in the fables and their own lives. They

are empowered by their newly acquired understanding of authentic

texts and consequently, less anxious about moving on to longer

The Language Educator n February 2013

works. Finally, they are excited about the fact that they can actually

recite a story in the target language.

On an online end-of-the semester evaluation of the course, one

student enthused about this unit’s content while capturing some of

the multiple objectives met. The student wrote, “I really enjoyed

this course this semester, by far my favorite French class I have ever

taken. I really enjoyed the reading assignments (memorizing the

fables too!), and how we addressed grammar but didn’t overdo [it]

. . . I learned a lot about French culture . . .”

Over the years, I have had several alumni of this unit write to me

from a subsequent study abroad experience excited by the fact that

they felt more a part of the culture—understanding advertisements,

recognizing literary allusions—specifically because of their knowledge

Videos of many fables are available online. Here, an animated version of

La Cigale et la Fourmi can be found on YouTube.

of these tales. Indeed, once upon a time, one of my students even

recited one of the memorized fables along with her host family—a

memorable and authentic cross-cultural connection.

Bendi Benson Schrambach is Associate Professor of French and Chair of Modern

Languages at Whitworth University, Spokane, WA.

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Add Your Voice to the Conversation

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items to help them celebrate in their classes

and communities. The products make great

classroom giveaways, event prizes, meeting

tokens, and information booth premiums.




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Languages ® products, as well as instructional brochures and books at

the ACTFL Online Store on the ACTFL website (

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The Language Educator n February 2013

Learn About the ACTFL Latin

Interpretive Reading Assessment

As of the beginning of this year,

Latin teachers have a new way

to assess their students’ ability

to read for meaning—the

ACTFL Latin Interpretive Reading Assessment

(ALIRA). The American Classical

League (ACL) and ACTFL collaborated to

create this assessment based on both the

National Standards for Foreign Language

Learning and the Standards for Classical

Language Learning.

“This is a really exciting development

for the Latin community,” says Sherwin

Little, ACL past president, placement

director and ALIRA consultant. “ALIRA

is going to be a huge asset to teachers

and students.”

In addition to being Standards-based,

ALIRA offers test takers a 21 st -century testtaking

experience. It is computer-adaptive

and assesses students’ comprehension of

main ideas and supporting details, inferences

and prediction using a wide variety

of texts from YouTube comment threads,

Wikipedia entries, Ephemeris, as well as

the Classics. All texts and questions are

aligned with the ACTFL Performance

Descriptors for Language Learners.

One driver for the creation of ALIRA

was accountability. “As states are becoming

increasingly driven by accountability,

in many places you have to prove you

know a language in order to teach it. Latin

teachers have been at a disadvantage without

a way to demonstrate proficiency and

there has been concern that we might start

losing Latin certifications,” explains Little.

“So this test will clearly benefit teachers in

that regard.”

Another benefit will be the ability to

document student progress. ALIRA is a

first-of-its-kind assessment for Latin that

will provide a performance rating at four

points within the Novice range and five

points within the Intermediate range. “We

have the National Latin Exam, but that is

curriculum-driven and not designed to deliver

a performance rating,” explains Little.

Colleges can also use ALIRA for placement

of incoming students.

“It’s going to be really interesting to

see where students are assessed by the

exam versus their language level in school.

I could guess as to where my level 2

students might score, but I can’t say with

certainty,” Little says.

ALIRA will aid teachers in developing

their language programs. “You expect to

see a natural progression, but we might

see kids staying at the Novice level for a

long time and then suddenly jumping to

Intermediate. This might mean some kids

were not learning as well as we would like

or that we have frustrated some kids who

were ready to move on,” says Little. “If you

aggregate all your students you will see a

general trend. It is going to be fascinating

to discover those trends.”

Developing ALIRA took about two and

a half years because Latin—as an ancient,

unspoken language—is quite different

from modern spoken languages. “ACTFL

taught us the theory behind text typology

and the assessment, and then we had to

explain to them what was and was not

possible. For example, you aren’t going

to find directions for assembling a toy

in any of our texts. And literary Latin is

very dense and thick, so you need a much

shorter word count for a reading passage

than you would for other languages,”

notes Little.

Teachers across the country began offering

ALIRA to their students in January 2013.

The current testing period lasts through

the end of February. ALIRA is also available

in April/May and in September/October.

“I hope that once students begin taking

this test, it will create a discussion in the

Latin community about how we can help

our students become better readers,” says

Little. “We want our students to understand

the difference between translation

and reading. We as teachers need to learn

different activities that will develop that

reading skill.”

ACTFL and ACL are also offering an

online, self-study course called Classics

in the 21 st Century Classroom. The course

is divided into five parts and takes an indepth

look at standards, communication

modes, proficiency and performance, addressing

21 st century skills, and text-task

alignment. Upon completion, teachers

may claim continuing education credit by

notifying ACL.

For more information about registering

for ALIRA or Classics in the 21 st Century

Classroom, visit

Sample task that is similar to what appears on

the ALIRA.



National, state, and local news on policy and legislation

As ACTFL members no doubt realize, many things have been

happening recently concerning the ability of our elected

leaders in Washington to address our economic health and resolve

challenges related to taxation, spending, and deficits. To help sort

out these various issues, we present a brief update on the fiscal

cliff, sequestration, and the debt ceiling—along with what we

know currently about how potential spending cuts might affect

federal education budgets.

Fiscal Cliff

Late on January 1, the House of Representatives passed legislation

that addresses the tax-related aspects of the fiscal cliff. The House

vote followed an 89-8 vote in the Senate. The package finally

solidified following a closed-door collaboration between Senate

Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Vice President Joe Biden.

The main points of the deal included:

• Higher taxes on individuals earning $400,000 and on families

making $450,000 or more. Under that threshold, the Bush-era

tax cuts will be permanent for all but the wealthiest households.

• Higher tax rates on capital gains and dividends for wealthier

households. Taxes on capital gains and dividends will be held

at their current levels of 15% for individuals making less than

$400,000 and households with income of less than $450,000.

They will rise to 20% for individual taxpayers and for households

above those thresholds.

• Sequestration delayed until March 1. These steep across-theboard

cuts to domestic and defense programs were put off for

two months.

• Emergency unemployment benefits extended for one year.

• Scheduled cuts in physician payments under Medicare put off

for one year.

• Nine-month farm bill extension.

• Personal exemptions phased out for individuals making over


• Forty percent estate tax, rising from its current 35% level, with

the first $5 million in assets exempted.

• Alternative Minimum Tax permanently indexed to inflation.

Update on Budget Battles in Washington

• Tax breaks for working families, including five-year extensions

of the American Opportunity Tax Credit, which can be claimed

for college-related expenses; the Child Tax Credit; and the

Earned Income Tax Credit, which is a refundable income-tax

credit for low- to moderate-income working Americans.

• Business tax breaks for research and development.

• A Congressional pay freeze.

• Expiration of the payroll tax cut.

The deal did not resolve some of the country’s long-term fiscal

issues, such as the complicated tax code and rising entitlement

spending on Social Security, Medicare/Medicaid, and other programs.


As mentioned above, the automatic spending cuts to discretionary

programs known as “sequestration” were put off by the fiscal

cliff deal and now will be triggered in March, unless Congress

comes up with a plan prior to the new deadline. The January 1

deal postponed cuts that otherwise would have taken effect at the

beginning of 2013—a self-imposed penalty enacted by Congress if

it failed to reduce the deficit by $1.2 trillion over the next decade.

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) originally announced

that Defense Department agencies would have their budgets cut by

about 9.4% and domestic agencies would see roughly 8.2% budget

cuts from sequestration. Military personnel and the Veterans Affairs

Department would be exempt from the cuts.

However, in January the Committee for Education Funding (CEF)

amended their projection of the impact of sequestration in 2013.

CEF now estimates that nondefense discretionary programs will see

a 5.9% cut instead of the 8.2% projected by OMB.

According to CEF Executive Director Joel Packer, the new calculation

is a result of the $24 billion reduction in the Fiscal Year

2013 sequester total. The total sequester amount for FY13 will

now be $85.33 billion, instead of $109.33 billion. The domestic

sequester is half of that amount, at $42.67 billion. Packer projects

that the cut for the Department of Education will be approximately

$2.95 billion. How that relates to specific foreign language programs

and funding is not yet known, nor is it known yet if these

cuts will ever take place.

The Language Educator n February 2013



Members of Congress often have their greatest influence

not in the larger legislature or by writing bills, but through

their service on a House or Senate committee or subcommittee. These

groups can pass on (or bury) legislation and we should work hard to

cultivate a champion for language education on any committee which

may consider and rewrite legislation that can impact language learning

and program funding.

Among these are the very powerful Senate and House Appropriations

Committees, which are in charge of setting the specific expenditures

of money by the government of the United States. Also important are

the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, and the

House Education & The Workforce Committee.

For the U.S. Senate, you can access the following pages to find out

if either of the senators from your state serves on a key committee

or subcommittee:

Senate Appropriations Committee -

Click on ABOUT THE COMMITTEE for a list of committee members.


Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies -

Defense -

State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs -

Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee -

Debt Ceiling

On January 23, the House of Representatives approved a temporary

suspension of the $16.4 trillion-ceiling on the nation's debt, allowing

the federal government to continue borrowing through spring

while Washington shifts to other budget battles.

Under the previous scenario, it was expected that the United

States would hit the debt limit as early as mid-February; sequestration

would go into effect (unless changes are made) on March 1;

and current annual funding for the government (an FY13 continuing

resolution) would expire at the end of March.

Learn if Your Legislator Serves

on a Committee

For more tips on advocacy, go to

For the U.S. House of Representatives, you can access the following

pages to find out if your district’s representative serves on a key

committee or subcommittee:

House Appropriations Committee -

Click on ABOUT THE COMMITTEE for a complete list of committee members.


Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies -

Defense -

State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs -

House Education & The Workforce Committee -



Early Childhood, Elementary and Secondary Education -

Higher Education and Workforce Training -


Once you have determined which of your members of Congress serve on

these committees and subcommittees (and especially if any of the committee

chairpersons are from your state), make an initial contact with

their office, either by phone or e-mail. Let them know of your interest

in any legislation concerning language education and offer to serve

as an expert advisor on topics relating to world languages. Also, don't

forget to let ACTFL know when you make contact so that we can better

coordinate your advocacy efforts with our state team efforts.

The decision will lift the debt ceiling temporarily, allowing time

for the House and Senate to pass a budget. The House Republicans’

bill would also make paychecks for Members of Congress contingent

on passing a budget. The bill goes on to the Senate and the White

House has said the president would not oppose it.

Clearly the circumstances surrounding these important issues

are changing quickly, so ACTFL members are urged to stay upto-date

and informed on what is happening with regards to the

decisions made that will affect the nation’s economic health

and stability.

The Language Educator n February 2013 49

Legislative Look


Legislation passed in December by the

U.S. House of Representatives and

signed into law by President Obama in January

will permanently establish a National

Language Service Corps (NLSC) within the

Department of Defense to help meet critical

defense-related foreign language needs.

The NLSC provision was written by U.S.

Rep. Rush Holt (NJ) and Sen. Daniel Akaka

(HI) and is part of the National Defense

Authorization Act.

“America is linguistically malnourished,”

Holt says. “Far too few Americans can

speak or understand foreign languages, and

as a result, we are hampered in participating

in global commerce and in defending

our national security. The permanent establishment

of the National Language Service

Corps is a meaningful step toward helping

Interested in Getting Involved

with a State Team?

Advocacy teams have formed in most states and have

been active in various ways including participating

in quarterly conference calls with ACTFL, coordinating and

taking part in e-mail campaigns, and setting up legislator

visits to language programs. California, for example, has had

a very active team which has been staying in touch with and

influencing both their state and federal legislators.

There is still room for more committed individuals who

want to join their state team. Contact ACTFL headquarters to

get connected with your state team leader and other participants

in your state. E-mail

Invite a Member of

Congress to Visit Your

Language Program

National Language Service Corps Established

our government address its shortfall of

skilled foreign language speakers.”

“The National Language Service Corps

is a unique effort to take advantage of the

Americans who learned a language at home or

in school and are eager to put that ability to

work for their country in times of need,” says

Richard B. Brecht, Executive Director of the

Center for Advanced Study of Language (CASL).

The bill provides that the NLSC will

“provide a pool of nongovernmental

personnel with foreign language skills who

. . . agree to provide foreign language

services to the Department of Defense.” The

Secretary of Defense will then be able to

“call upon members of the Corps to provide

foreign language services to the Department

of Defense or another department or

agency of the United States.”

The NLSC currently exists as a pilot

program that has recruited more than 1,800

members. To date, NLSC members have

worked with the Department of the Navy,

the National Security Agency, the Centers

for Disease Control and Prevention, and

other federal agencies. For instance, the

NLSC provided translation and interpretation

support services to the U.S. Army Pacific for

counterinsurgency training in Thailand.

Holt originally introduced the language

authorizing the NLSC as an amendment

during House consideration of the National

Defense Authorization Act in May 2012. The

final provision was included in the conference

version of the bill negotiated by a

House–Senate committee in early December.

Learn more about the NLSC at www.

More Details on

JNCL-NCLIS 2013 Legislative Day

The Annual Joint National Committee on Languages &

The National Council for Languages and International

Studies (JNCL-NCLIS) Legislative Day and Delegate Assembly

has been planned for May 9–11, 2013 at the American

Councils for International Education, 1828 L Street, NW,

Washington, DC. More detailed information is now available


Inviting legislators to your language program is a great way to build a connection to their office.

Seeing a high-quality 21 st century language program in action will illustrate the importance of

language learning and let you and your school or university showcase the great work you are doing.

Find out exactly what you need to do to make it happen on the ACTFL website at


The Language Educator n February 2013

How Language Policy Looks in

Various English-Speaking Countries

By Kate Brenner

Editor’s NotE: In this and the next issue of The Language Educator, we will be looking at language policy around the

globe as compared with the United States. Here, we focus on language policies in English-speaking countries, including

Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland. In April, we’ll explore what programs currently exist

in the United States in lieu of a national language policy. We’ll also take a look at multilingual Europe and see how their

approach can inform support of language education in the United States.

We hope these articles will help your own advocacy efforts and knowledge of global efforts to promote languages and

language learning.

Comparing the United States with other countries with regard to language policies can be tricky. Laws

around language exist for various reasons and motivations and many nations even include language

policies in their constitutions. Some countries are concerned with establishing an “official language” in

response to a perceived external, internal, or existential threat. For example, France declared French as its official

language before it joined the European Community in 1992, because of the perceived threat of losing French

identity or of dramatic changes to the French language through the legal connections with other countries with

other languages. Many Arab countries have also established Arabic as a national language in conjunction with

proclaiming Islam as their official religion. More than half of national constitutions include one or more language

clauses establishing national or official languages. The most common languages proclaimed as official throughout

the world are English, French, Arabic, and Spanish.

The United States does not have an official language; however there has been an “Official English” movement since

the 1980s which has had some success at the state level. As of April 2011, 28 of the 50 states had established English

as the official language—including Hawaii where both English and Hawaiian are official. Many supporters of world

language education see these “Official English” or “English Only” efforts as promoting a divisive agenda which excludes

the beneficial study of languages other than English and threatens programs such as dual-language immersion.

Beyond promoting a language or languages as official, some countries have formally established policies and

strategies to encourage multilingualism and the study of additional languages. Often in these cases, it is English

as a second language that is being promoted, with the idea that it can function as a lingua franca in the global

economy. Language policies may also exist to protect indigenous languages that may be threatened.

Because learning English is such a big part of many nations’ push toward multilingualism, it can be helpful for us to

examine most closely those countries where English is already the primary language spoken—so that we can make a

better comparison with the United States. Language laws in Australia, Canada, and the United Kingdom can help inform

us on what others around the globe have done to officially encourage the study of world languages in addition to English.

The Language Educator n February 2013 51

Canadian Language


In Canada, the Office of the Commissioner

of Official Languages is responsible

for protecting language rights and promoting

English and French in Canadian society.

Reporting directly to Parliament, the Office of the Commissioner has

a mandate to ensure that federal institutions comply with language

policy legislation.

The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, part of the Canadian

Constitution, includes a series of language rights. It declares,

“English and French are the official languages of Canada and have

the equality of status and equal rights and privileges as to their use

in all institutions of the Parliament and government of Canada.”

This language demonstrates a commitment to official bilingualism

in Canada by the federal government, and is open to expanding

language rights in the future. This charter also mandates that the

federal government conduct business in both official languages, and

dictates that goods and services be available in both languages, such

as nutritional labels on foods.

When it comes to minority language educational rights, the Canadian

law is clear: “Those whose first language learned and still understood

is that of the English or French linguistic minority population

have the right to have their children receive primary and secondary

school instruction in that language.” In certain parts of Canada,

English-speaking citizens are actually the minority; Canada ensures

those students can still receive their education in English as it is one

of the official languages.

Canada passed the Official Languages Act (OLA) in 1969 to

clarify and specify the language rights discussed in the Charter; it

was substantially amended in 1988. As defined by the Canadian government,

the OLA intends to “ensure respect for English and French

and ensure equality of status and equal rights and privileges as to

their use in federal institutions; support the development of English

and French linguistic minority communities; and advance the equal

Australian Language Policy

status and use of English and French.” It also requires that federal

institutions actively offer communication in both languages, from

bilingual signage to telephone operators.

While Canada’s approach protects official language rights, it leaves

the native Aboriginal languages in question: Where and how are they

protected from extinction?

It is estimated that in Canada, before the bilingual policy, there

were 450 Aboriginal languages and dialects, in 11 language families.

By the late 1970s only some 60 Aboriginal languages were still identified

in the same 11 language families. In 1982, of the 60 languages

only three had more than 5,000 speakers, which is the cut-off population

for endangered languages.

The objective of the Aboriginal Languages Initiative (ALI) is to

“support the preservation and revitalization of Aboriginal languages

for the benefit of Aboriginal peoples and other Canadians.” This

federally funded grant program “maintains and revitalizes Aboriginal

languages for future generations by increasing the number of

Aboriginal language speakers, by encouraging the transmission of

these languages from generation to generation, and by expanding

language usage in family and community settings,” according to the

Canadian Heritage website.

In summary:

• In Canada, second language learning is a core component of

the curriculum. A course in second language is compulsory.

• In general, second languages are taught at a much younger

age than the United States.

• Policy strength reinforces the prerogative of language learning

throughout the country.

• Canada places importance on the maintenance of indigenous

languages; the most vital result of this practice is the success

of minority language populations. Some Canadian provinces

even have indigenous language classes in their curricula.

• Canada employs a comprehensive and expansive use of technological

resources available to students and teachers, as well

as continuous research conducted to maintain accuracy in

language programs.

Australia has not claimed an official language. The first comprehensive language policy applied by the country is the National Language Policy (NLP),

written in 1987 by Joseph Lo Bianco, Professor of Language and Literacy Education at the University of Melbourne and President of the Tsinghua

Asian-Pacific Forum on Translation and Intercultural Studies. His policy is considered the grandfather of current language legislation in Australia.

Since its adoption, a large number of programs have been created with three main objectives: (1) to promote multilingualism;

(2) to end language discrimination; and (3) to strengthen public opinion on bilingualism and its importance. Technology, such

as “satellite teachers” in virtual classrooms sent to schools in remote areas, has continued to innovate and support Australian

language education.

The policies overall have resulted in the agreement that language education should be appreciated and cultivated.

The NLP managed to align the teaching of English with other languages in a complementary fashion, thus avoiding

discrimination so common in the “Official English” propositions. However, Australia’s lack of a federal education curriculum

for languages has caused a flaw in the educational process.

Like the United States, Australia is a federation and each state is responsible for local language policies. Currently,

Australia is only halfway finished developing part of a national curriculum called the Australian Curriculum: Languages.

The Language Educator n February 2013

“The conundrum is that there is no national position on languages

guiding this process and, due to the division of federal and state

responsibilities for education, it is unclear how the national curriculum

in languages will be implemented around the country,” says

Matthew Absalom, President of the Australian Federation of Modern

Language Teachers Association (AFMLTA).

“In some sense, Australia, while very multicultural, suffers from

a monolingual mindset that considers English as the only necessary

language—which I would suggest has been the cause for apathy in

the development of a clear policy on languages. AFMLTA is very

keen to revive discussions of the need for a national languages policy.

Our view is that a policy of this type would strengthen the place of

languages education in schooling,” says Absalom.

There is an exception—the state of Victoria. According to Lo

Bianco, “Several states have ambitious national policies, especially

the state of Victoria which is possibly the leader for the number of

programs and languages covered. It is presently possible to study and

have examined at the final pre-university year of schooling some 47

languages.” Almost all elementary children there are studying at least

one foreign language, and 18 different languages are taught in public

schools. The Victorian School of Languages teaches 39 additional

languages, and makes language teachers available to regions in the

state lacking in appropriate staff. Victoria’s commitment to language

British and Irish Language Policy

According to the National Centre for Languages (CILT), “language

policy in the UK has evolved to take into account devolution to national

administrations in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. It has

reflected policy developments in the European Union and in Anglophone

countries across the globe, such as Australia. Linear progression

from the aspirations of language policy to the desired results in

practice, for example, ‘all members of the European Union able to use

two languages in addition to their mother tongue,’ can be frustrated

or supported by the (unintended) consequences of policy enacted in

other fields. It is not enough to look at language policy in isolation.”

There is in fact currently no overall national policy on languages

in England today. The latest development on this front came in June

2012 when Education Secretary Michael Gove announced that all British

schools would be required to teach a foreign language at “Key Stage

2”—from Year 3 to Year 6. This will form part of the government’s new

primary curriculum due to be launched in 2014. Gove announced that

the new foreign languages program of study will “require an appropriate

balance of spoken and written language.” Documents are not yet

available detailing the upcoming approach to languages.

A lack of language policy was not always the case in the UK.

“Languages for All; Languages for Life,” a white paper published by

the Department for Education and Skills (now Department of Children,

Schools and Families) in December 2002, comprised England’s

national language strategy up until 2011. This was informed by and

built upon the report of the Nuffield Languages Inquiry in 2000,

which sought to foster public acceptance of language competence

How Language Policy Looks

policy is a model not only for other Australian states, but can be a

guide for the United States as well.

The National Languages and Literacy Institute of Australia

Limited (NLLIA) began operations in June 1990. The Institute is

largely funded by the federal government and is closely linked to the

implementation of policies on language and literacy in Australia.

The institute “conducts high-level specialist policy advising, publishing,

and consultancy. It also specializes in fields as diverse as sign

language, interpretation and translation, English as a second language,

literacy in English and bilingual literacy, adult literacy and adult English

as a second language, as well as heritage (community) languages.”

In summary:

• The Australia National Language Policy and subsequent policies

created a broad, unbiased promotion of multicultural

education, without naming an official language.

• Making foreign language teachers available to transfer to

regions lacking teachers of a specific language has proven very

effective in Victoria.

• Australia’s overall view is that multilingualism is a rich

resource useful to economic health and national security

• Australia implements language education with technology.

• Australia suffers from an unfinished national language curriculum.

and intercultural understanding as essential

components in the makeup of an informed

international citizen.

Three overarching objectives

were identified:

1. To improve teaching and

learning of languages (centered on an

entitlement to a language learning experience

for all students in Key Stage 2

[the four years of school for children ages 7 to 11] with coherent

transition to an enhanced and flexible secondary curriculum).

2. To introduce a recognition system (a “Languages Ladder” that

would potentially credit a learner’s progression through a scenario

of lifelong learning and complement existing qualifications


3. To increase the number of people studying languages (moving

beyond schools to further and higher education, and to

work-based training, maximizing the contribution of a suitably

skilled workforce within a global and multilingual economy).

In May 2011, the Government decided to withdraw almost all of

the funding targeted at languages in school, effectively ending the

eight-year National Languages Strategy. A proportion of the funding

previously allocated to the primary languages initiative went into

schools’ general budgets, along with dedicated funding for language

colleges but these amounts were no longer earmarked or identified.

While many people credit the strategy as having had significant

success in promoting the study of languages, it has also been called

The Language Educator n February 2013 53

How Language Policy Looks

“seriously unfinished business.” A 2011 report published by The Languages Company

says that now, “In the absence of Strategy we therefore have to support positive

policy initiatives and to find possibilities for future engagement, learning lessons

from both the successes and failures of the past.” The current review of the national

curriculum is meant to address the need for more language study, but it remains to

be seen what the final effect will be on language education in England.

England was not in fact the first part of the UK to develop a languages strategy. In

2000, Scotland produced a comprehensive report and set of proposals for responding to

the challenges and opportunities of multilingualism. Although not all of the proposals

were implemented by the Scottish government, this set an agenda which has been regularly

updated. The country’s new “Curriculum for Excellence” introduced in 2010 gives

an important role to languages, and describes the outcomes expected at different stages.

In April 2002, the Welsh Assembly Government published its own languages

strategy for Wales called “Languages Count,” which aimed in particular to increase

recognition of the importance of language skills by schools, students, parents and

employers, and to ensure that language learning was linked to the learning of English

and Welsh to increase intercultural understanding among learners. An action plan for

languages in secondary schools, “Making Languages Count,” was set forth in 2010.

A recent report published by a state-funded Irish language promotion agency in

November 2012 aims to establish an approach to the revival and revitalization of the

Irish language in Northern Ireland. It recommends a two-pronged approach to (1)

promote the Irish language on a cross-community basis and (2) achieve desirable

linguistic outcomes and identify options for achieving them.

The Republic of Ireland (an independent state not part of the UK) has established

Irish as the national and first official language in its constitution, with English as the

second. Ireland’s entire language policy is designed to formally and legally reinstate

Irish in areas from which it has been ousted for more than 300 years. In education,

bilingualism is compulsory. All elementary schools must teach English and Irish

until the end of the primary level. Ireland’s ministry of education has adopted special

measures (involving less English) in Celtophone districts of the Gaeltacht in which

the mother tongue is Irish and the second language is English. At high school, Irish

as a second language becomes optional and can be replaced by French, German, or

another language.

In summary:

• England’s National Languages Strategy was a reasonably successful approach

to national language policy, but it was defunded in 2011.

• There is currently no language strategy in the United Kingdom

• According to the new curriculum which will be released in 2014, all children

will be required to study a foreign language beginning at age 7.

• Scotland and Wales also have addressed language policy in various ways in

their countries. Northern Ireland aims to promote Irish to a greater degree.

• The Republic of Ireland has pursued a bilingual language policy, also promoting

Irish as a mother tongue.

Why hasn’t the United States established its own formal language policy, like many

other English-speaking nations have or previously had? This question, and a look

at what the U.S. does have in place to promote the study of languages other than

English, will be addressed in the next article on this topic in the April issue of The

Language Educator.

Kate Brenner is a contributing writer to The Language Educator, based in Middleburg, VA.


Learn More

Aboriginal Languages Initiative, Canada

Australian Federation of Modern Language

Teachers Associations

Canadian Heritage

Citizens of a Multilingual World – Scottish

Executive Response

Community Languages Australia


Language Learning in Scotland: A 1+2 Approach

“Languages Count” for Wales

Languages for All: Languages for Life, a Strategy

for England

“Making Language Policy: Australia’s Experience”

by Joseph Lo Bianco

Making Languages Count (Wales)

National Curriculum Review, England

“National Policy on Languages” (Australia) by

Joseph Lo Bianco

Overview of the National Languages Strategy,

2003–2011 (UK), The Languages Company

Official Languages – Government of Canada

Official Languages Act, Canada

The Language Educator n February 2013

ACTFL National Language Teacher

of the Year Award

Do you know a language teacher whose

work is so exemplary that you think he or she

would well represent our profession?

Contact your state association to nominate

that person for the ACTFL National Language

Teacher of the Year Award, sponsored by ACTFL

and Holt McDougal. This esteemed award also

includes a $2,000 stipend.

ACTFL-MLJ Emma Marie

Birkmaier Award for Doctoral

Dissertation Research in Foreign

Language Education

Have you read an exceptional doctoral dissertation


Nominate the writer for the ACTFL-MLJ

Emma Marie Birkmaier Award for Doctoral

Dissertation Research in Foreign Language

Education, which recognizes an author

that has contributed to the advancement of

the profession.

Help Us Honor

the Best in Our Profession

With ACTFL Professional Awards

ACTFL Nelson Brooks Award

for Excellence in the Teaching

of Culture

Do you know someone who captivates their

students with lessons in culture?

Acknowledge their dedication to the teaching

of culture by nominating them for the ACTFL

Nelson Brooks Award for Excellence in the

Teaching of Culture.

ACTFL-Cengage Learning Faculty

Development Programs Award for

Excellence in Foreign Language

Instruction Using Technology

with IALLT

Think that someone has excelled at integrating

technology into instruction at the postsecondary


Recognize their commitment and recommend

them for the ACTFL-Cengage Learning Faculty

Development Programs Award for Excellence

in Foreign Language Instruction Using

Technology with IALLT.

ACTFL Award for Excellence in

K-12 Foreign Language Instruction

Using Technology with IALLT

Know an educator who has done a

remarkable job at integrating technology into

instruction at the K-12 level?

That person would make a great candidate

for the ACTFL Award for Excellence in

K-12 Foreign Language Instruction Using

Technology with IALLT.

ACTFL-NYSAFLT Anthony Papalia

Award for Excellence in Teacher


Were you inspired by an excellent teacher educator?

Show your appreciation by nominating them

for the ACTFL-NYSAFLT Anthony Papalia Award

for Excellence in Teacher Education.

If you answered YES to any of these questions, be sure to submit a nomination and assist ACTFL with

continuing to acknowledge excellence, hard work, and dedication to the profession.

ACTFL-MLJ Paul Pimsleur Award

for Research in Foreign Language


Have you read a great research article lately?

Let the editor of that journal know that

the author should be submitted as a nominee

for the ACTFL-MLJ Paul Pimsleur Award for

Research in Foreign Language Education.

ACTFL Wilga Rivers Award for

Leadership in Foreign Language

Education, Postsecondary

Know someone who is a fantastic example of a

postsecondary leader in our profession?

Help us to honor this individual with the

ACTFL Wilga Rivers Award for Leadership in

Foreign Language Education, Postsecondary.

ACTFL Florence Steiner Award for

Leadership in Foreign Language

Education, K-12

Have you worked with someone who deserves to

be recognized for their leadership skills at the

K-12 level?

Nominate this person for the ACTFL Florence

Steiner Award for Leadership in Foreign

Language Education, K-12.

ACTFL Melba D. Woodruff Award

for Exemplary Elementary Foreign

Language Program

Have you heard about an exemplary elementary

foreign language program?

Consider nominating it for the Melba D.

Woodruff Award for Exemplary Elementary

Foreign Language Program.

To bestow these annual awards, ACTFL relies

on its member organizations to nominate

qualified candidates. Awards include cash

prizes of $500. More information, including

deadlines and how to apply, is available at

Pinterest for Language Educators

We encourage educators at all levels to send in

their short ideas and suggestions for The Idea Box.

Please try to keep your submissions to fewer than

1,000 words.

Pinterest is a fast-growing social network

and bookmarking site. It allows users

to set up boards of things they love from

the Internet, or images that they themselves

upload. Many people create boards

of visuals that inspire them. Boards exist

featuring recipes, travel, design, wedding

ideas, journals, books, nature photography,

bucket lists—the ideas for boards are endless.

Pinterest is like a virtual visual wish

list—a place to collect, organize, and share

images of things one loves.

While there are many useful bookmarking

sites out there, Pinterest offers some

unique advantages for the language education

profession. There are already many

language teachers organizing resources and

sharing them on Pinterest. They are creating

boards of great lessons, tips, handouts

and videos on Pinterest and making them

available to many via the site. Pinterest is

turning out to be an indispensable resource

for me as a language educator, as well as

for many of my colleagues.


By Janina Klimas

This page, left below: Me Gusta stamp the author found on Pinterest; right below: Board

titled “Spanish” for organizing web resources for the author’s class. Next page: Screen

shot of the author’s main page and access to all of her boards.

There have been some amazing activities

that I have found on this site from other

language teachers, and the boards have

been an excellent way to organize them. I

have a passion for languages, so I have a

board for each one that I have experience

in. However, I teach Spanish and English,

so since joining earlier this year many of the

activities that I have found and/or uploaded

have been in one of those languages.

Another way that Pinterest can benefit

language teachers is by featuring their

products. Some teachers are selling the

great products and activities that they

have created via their Pinterest boards by

providing links to sites like Teachers Pay

Teachers (

There are also links to items on Etsy and

other sites.

The Language Educator n February 2013

As you find activities, videos, lessons, products,

realia, photos, and ideas, you can repin

them to your boards. The user whose board

you repinned from then receives a notification

that you have done so. This brings you

to their awareness. Imagine the collaborations

with other language educators that can

be established. I am finding so many useful

resources via Pinterest from teachers I would

never have access to otherwise.

This way of connecting also works by

introducing people to others’ blogs and websites.

Word Press is an open-source software

that makes creating web pages incredibly

easy. You are a Word Press user if you have

used eBay or accessed The New York Times

online. Word Press can be installed on your

own domain, but also has a blog platform

that is completely free at

Pinterest has introduced me to some great

blogs dedicated to language teaching and

learning at Word Press. Users can follow

other blogs on Word Press. This is providing

one more way to help bring great ideas to

more educators.

As was previously mentioned, there are

many sites out there to help us bookmark

and organize web resources. So what makes

Pinterest so special for our profession? There

is no bookmarking site out there that I am

aware of that can so vividly bring the target

culture to life. For example, a board named

“Paris,” with all of the famous sites you

want to share with your students, could be

projected in your class. It can be a great way

to bring the target country to your room.

Pinterest enables users to organize images

into as many categories as possible. Boards

could be organized into categories such as

foods, famous cities, famous people, or transportation.

The visual aspect presents cultural

products and practices in a visual way that

helps bring our students to other worlds.

Students can even make their own

Pinterest boards. Imagine each student in

a class selecting one place or aspect of the

target culture. They would then create a

board with that as its theme. As they search

for images and read about the boards, they

will find many opportunities for input from

the target language in the comments box for

each image. The activity also requires them

to use keywords from the target language.

The students could then comment on the

boards the other class members have created

in the comments box.

If you, like me, love online resources but

are restricted by either your school, or by

general anxiety with having students on the

Internet due to safety concerns, there are

some offline possibilities to use Pinterest for

culture and communication. The students

could be assigned a “board” of a certain

theme. They would do their research outside

of class using their target language keywords

to find relevant images. They would then

print out a set number of images. They bring

these to class and create boards by sticking

them on your walls. The students are

given post-it notes to leave comments on the

different boards. Visiting different boards

Getting Started with Pinterest

1. Sign up for an account at

2. Select some images that you like to

help Pinterest offer you suggestions

on other things you might like.

3. Follow their directions to install the

Pinterest applet on your browser.

4. Create your own board.

5. Pin images you upload, find on the

web, or through boards you find on

Pinterest (i.e., repins).

6. Comment on other people’s boards.

7. Be inspired by all of the great ideas

out there.

8. Enjoy the great place you now have

to collaborate with other language


provides movement in your class as well.

The activity can then turn into conversation

practice, as the whole class discusses

the best things they saw, the most colorful,

where they would like to go in the future,

etc. The students might select a place that

they “visited” during their Pinterest trip.

They would then write a postcard to another

student describing what they did, what they

saw, what they plan to do next, etc.

Pinterest is, in my opinion, an excellent

tool for language educators. This resource

enables us to share our creativity, realia, target

culture media, and ideas. Thank you to

all of the teachers on Pinterest sharing their

videos, games, projects, and ideas with me.

My repertoire has grown because of you.

Janina Klimas is a language educator and founder of

the startup company, Real Life Language.

How do you use technology to share with other language educators or your

students? Send your ideas to Sandy Cutshall at and we will

share a variety of suggestions in a future issue of The Language Educator.

The Language Educator n February 2013 57

Lunchbox Project

An international language and cultural awareness project

begun in 2008, the Lunchbox Project wiki connects language

students with those in other countries to discuss and show

what they eat for lunch, talk about/prepare an example of an

ideal healthy lunch from their country, and create instructions

or a video about how to make that typical healthy

lunch. The project can be tailored to individual groups

throughout the world at various levels and ages. Teachers

can also share their reflections through a blog on the site.

Hindi Blog

Transparent Language recently added Hindi to its list of

supported languages, so the website now offers a Hindi

language blog. Recent blog post topics include poems, traditional

sweets, household chores, and New Year resolutions.

What’s that APP?

MindSnacks Educational Games

The MindSnacks app for each language available (Chinese,

French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish) features nine

games designed to build essential vocabulary and conversation

skills. Every lesson features up to 25 vocabulary words and phrases

along with matching audio clips from a native speaker. MindSnacks ESL

is available for Chinese (Simplified and Traditional), French, Italian,

Korean, Spanish, and Vietnamese, and features six games with 50 levels

of language content, each with up to 25 English words and phrases.

MindSnacks SAT Vocab offers nine games designed to build essential SAT,

PSAT, and GRE vocabulary.

MindSnacks apps are free for the iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad, and can

be downloaded at the App Store. The product will soon be available for

Android. Find out more at

What’s Online for Language Educators

Spanish Resources from Nulu

The Nulu website includes news stories about sports and

entertainment, business, science and technology, politics,

travel, and Spanish/Latin culture. Features include instant

human translation, and questions and reviews in easy,

medium, and hard formats. It also allows users to network

with friends as well as with native speakers.

MYLO Resources in Four Languages

This UK-based online language learning service offers

resources for learning Chinese, French, German, and Spanish.

For each language, you can select lessons in diverse

topics including “Going to an Internet café” and “Sending

messages.” Each activity includes information for teachers.

The site also has a phrase book, dictionary, culture

notes, and videos offering insights into becoming a better

language learner.

The PanLex Project

As a contribution to long-term linguistic diversity, the

PanLex project makes every language on Earth more viable

by facilitating the translation of any word from any language

into any other language. To achieve this goal, the project is

consulting thousands of dictionaries and other knowledge

sources to build an open-source database. It already documents

half a billion translations, from which billions more

can be derived. To help make them all useful for global communication,

PanLex aims to translate any word or word-like

phrase from any language into any other language.

Free Lesson Plans in Five Languages

The website Language Plan-It is a commercial site that sells

resources to teachers, administrators, and homeschoolers,

but it also offers free lesson-of-the-month plans in five

languages—Arabic, French, Italian, Russian, and Spanish.

The Language Educator n February 2013

Web Lesson Plan Creator

The web lesson planning template on this site by Kathryn Murphy-Judy

at Virginia Commonwealth University is for language education, and its

nine sections begin with establishing the mission and goals, and they

conclude with assessments. There are also links to additional resources.

Resources on the International Phonetic Alphabet

The International Phonetic Alphabet is a notational standard for the

phonetic representation of all languages, and it is provided by the

International Phonetic Association. The full chart of the alphabet can

be found on the association’s website, and Wikipedia has information

and the chart on its site as well.

Germany Fact Book


Facts about Germany is a reference book of information about modern

life in Germany. It includes sections on federal states, business,

education, foreign policy, culture and media, the social system, and

history, among others.

Free Interactive Russian Course

The Dotty-Dingo Russian language course has interactive Java

modules for learning the basics of the Russian language. The course

consists of lessons in the Cyrillic alphabet, vocabulary, and phrases.

The vocabulary and phrase lessons are accompanied by test modules.

The White House Website in Spanish

The White House Spanish language website features articles, news,

and blogs that are of special interest to Hispanic Americans and

Spanish-speaking immigrants. There is also a pdf of Una América

construida para que perdure: La Agenda del Presidente Obama y La

Comunidad Hispana, which includes links to many other government

websites of particular interest to Hispanic Americans.

Online Arabic Textbook

The Arabic I online textbook is a resource from LEARN NC, a program

of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Education

that offers the basics of the written and spoken Arabic language.

There are chapters on public services and directions, and introducing

friends and where they live—in addition to other topics. The glossary

provides a word or phrase, its part of speech, and its meaning, as well

as the opportunity to hear it spoken.

Japanese Nature Game

This environmental education website is intended to help Japanese

children learn about the wonders of nature through play. It includes

a nature game video and activities that are represented in four stages

by animals—otter, crow, bear, and dolphin. The site also has an

information page about the Great East Japan Earthquake, which can

be found at

Folk Music for Language Learners

A project of the European Union project, Digital Children’s Folksongs

for Language and Cultural Learning (Folk DC) has 20 songs in 10

languages (two songs each in Czech, Danish, English, Finnish, Greek,

Italian, Portuguese, Romanian, Spanish, and Turkish). The resources

also include a set of language activities, a set of cultural activities,

a set of musical activities and how-to videos. The website recently

became available in a German version at

These and other

Web resources can be

accessed through the

Publications area on the

ACTFL website at



Visit today.

The Language Educator n February 2013 59



February 1–28 The eighth

annual Discover Languages . . .

Discover the World! ® Month

will continue efforts to increase

public awareness of the importance

of language learning.

Information: www.Discover

February 13 ACTFL Professional

Development Webinar:

“Improving Language Learners’

Performance Through Integrated

Assessments – Providing

Effective Feedback.” Leaders:

Bonnie Adair-Hauck and

Francis J. Troyan. Information:

February 27 ACTFL Professional

Development Webinar:

“Improving Language Learners’

Performance Through Integrated

Assessments – Designing

Backward from Assessment to

Impact Instruction.” Leaders:

Bonnie Adair-Hauck and

Francis J. Troyan. Information:


March 7–10 Northeast Conference

on the Teaching of Foreign

Languages, Baltimore, MD.


March 14–16 Central States

Conference on the Teaching of

Foreign Languages, Columbus,

OH. Information:

March 20–23 Teachers of

English to Speakers of Other

Languages Convention, Dallas,

TX. Information:


Upcoming Events 2013

March 29 Deadline for Scholarships

for ACTFL Members:

Cemanahuac Educational

Community Scholarship

(Mexico); IMAC Scholarship


Scholarship (Chile); and Speak

Mandarin Scholarship (online).





April 3 ACTFL Professional Development

Webinar: “Curriculum

and Instruction: Purposeful

Planning to Increase Student

Learning – Curriculum Design.”

Leaders: Donna Clementi and

Laura Terrill. Information: www.

April 4–6 Southwest Conference

on Language Teaching,

Henderson, NV. Information:

April 7–9 National Chinese

Language Conference, Boston,

MA. Information:

April 11–13 Southern Conference

on Language Teaching, in

collaboration with the Alabama

Association of Foreign Language

Teachers and the Southeast Association

for Language Learning

Technology, Birmingham, AL.


April 17 ACTFL Professional

Development Webinar: “Curriculum

and Instruction: Purposeful

Planning to Increase Student

Learning – Content-Rich Units

of Instruction.” Leaders: Donna

Clementi and Laura Terrill. Information:

April 25–27 National Council

of Less Commonly Taught

Languages Annual Conference,

Chicago, IL. Information: www.

April 30 Nominations for

2014 ACTFL President-Elect

and Board Members Deadline.






May 1 Deadline for submissions

to the August 2013 theme

issue of The Language Educator

focused on “The Learner: How

do we personalize the language

learning experience?” Information:

May 8 ACTFL Professional Development

Webinar: “Curriculum

and Instruction: Purposeful Planning

to Increase Student Learning

– Purposeful Lesson Planning.”

Leaders: Donna Clementi

and Laura Terrill. Information:

May 9–11 Annual JNCL-NCLIS

Legislative Day and Delegate

Assembly, American Councils

for International Education,

Washington, DC. Information:

May 28 ACTFL Awards

Nomination Deadline.


June 27–29 American Classical

League Annual Institute,

Memphis, TN. Information:

Volume 8, No. 2 n February 2013


July 1 Deadline for submissions

to the October 2013 theme

issue of The Language Educator

focused on “Technology: How

do today’s learners shape a new

learning environment?” Information:

July 10 Deadline for 2013

ACTFL Convention scholarships

for new teachers and

first-time attendees.

July 10 Early Bird Deadline

for 2013 ACTFL Convention

pre-registration. Information:

July 8–11 American Association

of Teachers of Spanish and

Portuguese Conference, San

Antonio, TX. Information:

July 11–14 American Association

of Teachers of French

Convention, Providence, RI.

Information: www.french


August 1 Deadline for submissions

to the November 2013

theme issue of The Language

Educator focused on “Instruction:

How are our practices

helping students learn?” Information:

August 19 Deadline for applications

for ACTFL Mentoring Program.

Information: www.actfl.



The Language Educator n February 2013

The Language Educator

Advertiser Index

2013 ACTFL Annual Convention

and World Languages Expo Inside front cover

United Cultures 3

Vista 5

Holt McDougal 9

Study Programs International 15

Please send in your brief announcements

of interest to ACTFL members to

Walker Receives ADFL Award

The Executive Committee of the Association of Departments

of Foreign Languages (ADFL) has named ACTFL

member Galal Walker the 2012 recipient of the ADFL

Award for Distinguished Service to the Profession.

Walker is a professor of Chinese and the director of the

National East Asian Languages Resource Center and the

Midwest US–China Flagship Program at The Ohio State

University. The ADFL award recognizes members of the

profession who have attained a national or international

reputation for distinguished service to teaching

and scholarship in foreign languages in the context of

the mission of ADFL. Walker was honored at a special

session at the Modern Language Association (MLA)

Annual Convention in January.

Villarreal Named NADSFL Supervisor

of the Year

ACTFL member Alyssa Villarreal of Memphis City Schools

(TN) was chosen as the 2012 Supervisor of the Year

by the National Association of District Supervisors

of Foreign Languages (NADSFL). Villarreal was Vice

President of NADSFL in 2012 and became President in

2013. The NADSFL Supervisor of the Year award is given

out annually at the NADSFL Annual Conference, held in

conjunction with the ACTFL Annual Convention, and is

sponsored by Pearson. Applications for the 2013 award

are due in June. Find out more online at www.nadsfl.



Quinlan Named NCSSFL State

Supervisor of the Year

ACTFL member Cheri Quinlan was chosen as the 2012

State Supervisor of the Year by the National Council of

State Supervisors for Languages (NCSSFL). Quinlan is

World Languages Coordinator in the New Jersey State

Department of Education. The NCSSFL Supervisor of the

Year award is given out annually at the NCSSFL Annual

Conference, held in conjunction with the ACTFL Annual

Convention, and is sponsored by Pearson. The deadline

for the 2013 award is in September. Find out more at

New Language PSA from California


A public service announcement (PSA) created by

language students at North Salinas High School in

California is available online. The video highlights two

“typical” students who study languages and the many

benefits this study offers them. Check it out and share

with others during Discover Languages Month. It can

be found online at

Tweet All About It

Use the hashtag #dlmonth on

Twitter throughout Discover

Languages Month in February

to share your good news

about language learning in the

United States.

Volume 8, No. 2 n February 2013

The Keys to Assessing Language Performance 23

The Keys to the Classroom 45

ACTFL Online Store 46

ACTFL Career Center 46

EMC Publishing Inside back cover

SANS/Sony Back cover




The Language Educator is looking for writers to

take on feature article assignments. Interested

individuals should have a background in journalism

and/or magazine feature writing, as well as strong

knowledge of standards-based language education.

Language teachers with experience in professional

journalism are encouraged to apply; résumé and

writing samples will be reviewed. There is compensation

for assigned articles. Contact Sandy Cutshall

at if you are interested.



We offer this section to provide a venue

for classified advertising, including

employment, schools, travel, and more!

Find out more about this opportunity to

reach language educators by contacting

Alison Bayley at or

703-894-2900, ext. 109.

The Language Educator n February 2013 61


Announcing Theme Issues in

The themes for these issues are:

August 2013—How do we personalize the language

learning experience?


Possible article topics include (but are not limited to):

• Student backgrounds: Who are our learners? What is

their prior knowledge and what are their skills?

• Meeting the needs of heritage language learners

• Enhancing learner motivation

• Students’ careers and other interests

• Differentiation for special populations, including students

with learning disabilities

• Languages for Special/Specific Purposes

• STEM and languages

Article submissions due: May 1, 2013

—Beginning August 2013

The Learner • Technology • Instruction • Cultural Proficiency

Assessment and Feedback • Professional Development

Editor’s NotE: Everyone involved with the production of The Language Educator

is very proud of the magazine that we began publishing in January 2006. This

year, while continuing the high standards that have been established over the

past seven years, the magazine will be taking a new approach suggested by

the ACTFL Board of Directors.

Beginning in August, we will present a year of six themed issues of The

Language Educator. The articles submitted for these issues will be reviewed

by two experts, in addition to other TLE and ACTFL staff. We plan to include

a variety of innovative and cutting-edge articles exploring each broad theme

related to language education, and we hope that this new approach will be

well-received by our readers.

October 2013—How do today’s learners shape a new

learning environment?


Possible article topics include (but are not limited to):

• Connecting with learners’ means of learning

• Learning environments, learning centers

• Using new technologies in language learning

• Effective use of technology

• Online language instruction

• Web 2.0 tools

• Accessing and utilizing authentic materials

• Hybrid/blended classes

• Social networking

Article submissions due: July 1, 2013

The Language Educator n February 2013

November 2013—How are our practices helping

students learn?


Possible article topics include (but are not limited to):

• High-leverage practices

• Comprehensible input

• “Flipping” the classroom

• Do effective language teachers still teach grammar and

if so, how?

• Research-informed instruction

• Thematic units

• Project-based learning

• 21 st century skills

Article submissions due: August 1, 2013

January 2014—How do encounters with cultures change

our learners’ views of the world?


Possible article topics include (but are not limited to):

• Interculturality

• Study abroad and intercultural adjustment

• Pragmatic competence

• Service learning

• International collaboration

Article submissions due: October 1, 2013

February 2014—What kinds of assessments improve

learning and teaching?


Possible article topics include (but are not limited to):

• Measuring what has been learned

• Performance and authentic assessments

• Backward Design

• New Advanced Placement (AP) exams and revised


• Modes and cultures

• Linguafolio

• Assessing proficiency


• Designing effective rubrics and feedback tools

Article submissions due: November 1, 2013

April 2014—How can educators improve their effectiveness?


Possible article topics include (but are not limited to):

• Teacher preparation and sustained improvement

• Teacher effectiveness

• Professional learning communities/communities

of practice

• Collaboration

• Mentoring

• Continual improvement as an educator

Article submissions due: January 1, 2014

We encourage you to begin submitting original, previously unpublished articles for these

special theme issues directly on the ACTFL website at

There will be a link there allowing you to upload your article directly to

the site for a specific issue, as well as more information about formatting and content.

NOTE: Articles for these theme issues, while peer-reviewed, should still follow The

Language Educator Author Guidelines (available online) and should be written in the style

of a magazine feature article, with direct quotes from multiple primary sources and intended

to appeal to educators of all languages at all levels. They should not be narrowly focused

research articles or dissertations with long lists of references, literature reviews, etc.

The Language Educator n February 2013 63



By David Jahner



Why Do Students

Continue with

Language Study?

A Survey of Upper-Level Language Learners Reveals Motivating Factors

hat motivates students to go beyond the perceived “two-year requirement” of language study for college

entrance that is pervasive around the United States? How well do students think they are progressing in developing

skills to communicate in their chosen language of study? Is it possible for school systems to build

viable upper-level programs in a time of increasingly tight budgets and an ever-increasing emphasis on testing?

To answer these questions, the Gwinnett County Public Schools (GCPS) in Georgia surveyed the majority of all

students enrolled in upper-level courses during the spring of 2012. For purposes of the survey, upper-level students

were defined as anyone taking a Level 3 course or higher.

Gwinnett County is the largest public school system in Georgia, with slightly over 163,000 K–12 students

enrolled. Of those students, approximately 54,000 are enrolled in language courses. The majority of students take

language classes in high school, although middle school enrollment has increased steadily over the past several years

and elementary programs are offered at several schools. The district has 19 high schools. One reason the Foreign Language

Office undertook the task of developing and surveying students is because upper-level course enrollment has

increased 24.5% in the past five years, from 5,450 in 2007–2008 to over 6,783 in the 2011–2012 school year. During

this same time, the overall high school enrollment increased from 25,763 to 28,363, an increase of 10.1%.

This dramatic increase in upper-level language learners becomes even more interesting when looking at the trends

for each of the five languages offered in GCPS high schools (shown below). French upper-level course enrollment has

nearly doubled in the past five years, with healthy increases across the other languages:

Level 3+ Enrollment Across GCPS

Language 2007–2008 2011–2012 % Increase

Chinese 0 80 N/A

French 755 1,439 90.6%

German 369 443 20.1%

Latin 482 604 25.3%

Spanish 3,844 4,217 9.7%


TOTAL 5,450 6,783 24.5%

To learn more about what motivates students to take an upper-level language course, and to see how well students

feel they are progressing in the language, the high school department chairs and district coordinator developed

an electronic survey. Approximately 4,500 students completed the instrument. More than 50% of the respondents

(2,274) were in 11th grade, with 27.6% (1,242) in 12th grade. Because GCPS is also one of the most diverse school

districts in the nation, 44.7% of the respondents indicated that they speak a language other than English with their

family, with Spanish being the most predominant.

“Before learning Spanish, I was already bilingual. I thought it would be nice if I knew a third language so that I

could tell people that I know how to speak three languages,” remarked one student from Norcross High School.

More than 1,700 of the students completing the survey began their language study in middle school, with 78% of

them indicating that they either “Strongly Agreed” or “Agreed” that they are glad they started learning a language in

middle school. As a motivated language student from South Gwinnett High School noted, “Taking an upper-level class

is rewarding in all ways possible. It opens your eyes and ears to the language like never before. It takes you to a place

that you would have never thought about before. The class is rewarding. Take it!”

Understanding Community-Based


Examining Motivation

In order to help gauge what motivates students to enroll in an upper-level language course, students read various

factors and ranked each on a Likert scale from “very important” to “not important.” The five factors with the highest

percentage ranked by the students as “very important” were:

Factor % “Very Important”

I want to make my college application competitive. 57.5% (2,535)

I want to be prepared for my future career. 52.8% (2,329)

I want to become better at using the language. 45.4% (2,012)

I like the language. 40.0% (1,769)

I like the teacher. 35.0% (1,541)

The two factors which received the most “not important” responses were “I want to take the AP or IB course in the

language I’m learning” (39%) and “My parents/guardians want me to take the class” (21.8%). Students ranked “I am interested

in the culture” and “I liked my other language courses” as important, but not as important as the other above mentioned

factors. Based on the survey results, most students clearly understand the importance of taking language courses for

their futures and also want to continue to improve their ability to communicate in their chosen language of study.

As one student at Duluth High School said, “Not only is a foreign language challenging, it’s fun. Taking a foreign

language course makes your college application look ten times better.” At Peachtree Ridge High School, another student

remarked, “Learning a second language is actually practical—unlike many other classes. The content learned in

this class can be used for the rest of your life and improves your resume as a job candidate in the future. It also opens

up more job opportunities.”

These results clearly reveal how important it is for everyone in the language education profession to continue to

emphasize the usefulness of language study for students’ futures and to ensure that counselors, administrators, and

others have current information and research about the importance of language learning.

Later in the survey, a large number of students corroborated these findings by indicating that they intended to continue

studying the chosen language in college. Only 16.5% said that they did not plan to take a language in college. In

fact, many students responded by stating that they planned to take multiple languages as part of their postsecondary

studies. While students mentioned many languages for college studies, the two mentioned most often were Italian

(89) and Japanese (74). Clearly, students see the versatility in learning languages and believe they will be able to apply

their current experience to future language classes.

Measuring Progress and Proficiency

Another goal of the survey is to determine how well students perceive they are doing in their language classes. Their

responses will help inform overall program design and suggest areas for improvement. Students read a variety of

statements about how they are using the language they are learning and ranked them on a scale from “strongly agree”

to “strongly disagree.” In this section of the survey, each statement is tied to one of the National Standards with the

exception of the final statement, which asks students to give an overall reaction about how well they think they can

communicate in the language they are learning. The results of the survey indicated that the most often selected response

was “agree.” What follows is a percentage of students who selected “strongly agree” or “agree”:

search of real-life cultural their French language skills. The outcomes

connections for my under- fall in line with current literature on second

graduate students and myself, language acquisition that encourages instruc-

I was drawn to a local refugee tors to integrate even a small-scale CBL

center that had recently opened 20 miles component into early levels of the foreign

from the private university where I teach language curriculum whenever possible.

French in Elon, NC. The Avalon Commulanguage

community significantly enhances

nity Center in the nearby city of Greensboro

motivation, boosts students’ self-confidence

serves approximately 100 refugees primarily

in their skills, and promotes positive at-

from French-speaking regions of Africa. In

Community-based learning is a wide-ranging

titudes towards language learning.

an area where Spanish is the predominant

umbrella term that includes practices like

second language, I saw this as a remark-

volunteerism, field work, service learning,

able opportunity: My intermediate students

and internships—all of which are becom-

Researchers stress the importance of mean-

would be able to make community connecing

more common on university campuses

ingful integration of a community-based extions

and apply their French language skills

where there is a heightened focus on enperience

into the academic curriculum—not

and cultural understandings to civic engagegaged

teaching and learning practices. CBL

only for its effects on student motivation but

ment. At the same time, I was looking for an

expands the classroom into the community

for the integrity and enhancement of course

initiative that would not require extensive

as it connects students to people of diverse

content. In an article from Introduction to

preparation or class time. Service-learning

backgrounds. It involves critical thinking as

Service-Learning Toolkit entitled “Pedagogy

models did not fit with the particular goals

it builds on course content, and it includes

and Engagement,” Edward Zlotkowski

or learning objectives for the course, so

reflection to help prepare for, succeed in, and one semester beyond the International

writes, “Community service activities must

I needed to design a community-based

and learn from the experience. CBL is par- Studies program’s language requirement.

always be grounded in a deliberate, care-

learning (CBL) project that would involve

ticularly beneficial in the field of language Enrollment at this level indicates a commitfully

articulated understanding of how such

fewer contact hours. I decided it was worth

education as we look for class strategies that ment to language studies, and yet it is still a

activities advance the specific learning goals

trying—even if it meant starting small.

are consistent with the National Standards “make-or-break” level in the curriculum. As

of the course in which they are embedded.”

As it turns out, the great strength in

for Foreign Language Learning. Four of the 5 many educators know, it is not uncommon

At Elon University, we use the textbook

the short-term community-based project

Cs (Communication, Cultures, Connections, for intermediate-level students to abandon

Sur le vif: Niveau Intermédiaire by Jarausch

I undertook was in its manageable scope.

and Comparisons) are regularly addressed in their language studies. There can be a dip

and Tufts (5

The short-term nature means that it can be

language courses; however, it is widely ac- in motivation and self-confidence at this

incorporated into an existing course without

knowledged that the fifth C (Communities) level when coursework remains textbook-

much redesign. In the case of a multi-

is often missing from the classroom concentered and language use is limited to

section course, the CBL project can either

text. With CBL, however, the first 4 Cs are the classroom setting. Culture at this level

be staggered across sections or added into

reinforced in the community and no longer tends to be learned or observed rather than

one section as a pilot study. Here I describe

limited to the classroom.

experienced. Students may have not yet

the project and address learning outcomes,

My decision to explore CBL in an studied abroad, and if a department does

assessment, rewards, and challenges. Also

intermediate-level grammar semester course offer a hands-on community-based learning

included are results from a pilot study

in particular was influenced by the fact experience, it is likely to be for majors in a

conducted about the effects of community

that the course is two semesters beyond capstone course. Yet research on language

engagement on students’ self-confidence in

the university-wide language requirement learning shows that contact with a target-

th provide a context from which to draw when

speaking with the families at Avalon.

refugee community, the chapter vocabulary, Although I had planned for the course

readings, and discussion topics would be project to be 10% of the final grade in my

instantly more relevant and applicable. syllabus, the project and assessment details

For an additional text, I chose C’est were undefined when the semester began. I

toujours bien by Philippe Delerm (2001), a wanted the class to play an active role in the

short literary book that would prompt us project design. As literature on teaching and

to discuss cultural practices and perspec- learning reveals, when students are given an

tives. C’est toujours bien is made up of essays opportunity to help make decisions about

about life’s little pleasures from the viewpoint structure, content, and assessment, they are

of a young French boy. The story “Faire un more vested in the outcomes and therefore

canard,” for example, is about the joy of more likely to put forth the necessary effort

dipping a sugar cube into his grandfather’s to make those outcomes happen. Early in

coffee on Sunday afternoons—a petit plaisir the semester, I invited a representative from

or “little pleasure” that is culturally specific the Avalon Center to speak with our class

to this French narrator. Delerm’s essays about a possible community connection with

provided models for students to write about refugee families. (I should add that she and I

their own little pleasures in essay form with had met in person to discuss options before

multiple drafts and peer feedback. (Some the semester began.) A recent college gradu-

examples included baking cookies, building ate working at Avalon through AmeriCorps,

sand castles, and stepping in puddles.) Ulti- Lizzie was engaging during her visit. She

mately, they would share their stories at the gave a PowerPoint presentation with infor-

ed.) over the course of two refugee center and ask about the children’s mation about the center, the populations

semesters at the intermediate level. This own little pleasures. With this assignment, served, the circumstances that many families

leaves space for additional projects, texts, then, students were writing for a wider, au- face, and the state support they receive. We

films, roundtable discussions, etc. One of the thentic audience. This would be meaningful also discussed cultural sensitivity and the

chapters of Sur le vif is devoted to immigra- as it worked on students’ grammar, vocabu- prevalence of common assumptions and/or

tion, and therefore I knew that by connectlary, and composition skills, and it would misconceptions. Lizzie told us about Avalon’s

ing students to a local French-speaking

“Fun Friday” afternoon series when volun-


One Educator and Her Students Find

a Small Project Can Have a Big Impact

Sophie Adamson

Statements % Strongly Agree/Agree

above: Elon students with Avalon Community Center members.

I can have a conversation with a friend. 77.4%

I can understand increasingly more complex written texts. 80.9%

I can understand increasingly more complex listening prompts. 71.3%

I can give short (3–5 minute) presentations. 72%

I can write increasingly more complex essays. 68.6%

I can use things I’ve learned in my language class in other subjects at school. 64.7%

I can compare the language I am learning to English. 83.8%

I am satisfied with how well I can communicate in the language I am learning. 66.9%

opposite page: An Elon student enjoys her time interacting with the children at Avalon.

“I was able to develop a relationship with some of the children,

and it makes me want to go back.”

Choosing Course Readings

The Language Educator n August 2012 The Language Educator n August 2012


We Want your contribution to

contribute your Experience | Expertise | New Ideas

Some Advice for Submitting to

Undertaking the Course Project

“Most students don’t actually use their French until they study abroad, but we had an amazing

experience right in our own backyard, so to speak. I talked to the father of one of the children for

30 minutes and I understood and responded to everything he said! That’s so amazing!”

The Language Educator n February 2012 The Language Educator n February 2012


• Become familiar with the magazine. Read previous issues. Pay particular

attention to the style of writing in TLE. How is it different from some

educational newsletters or academic journals you may be used to reading?

Look over the guidelines (available on the ACTFL website). Always

be sure that your article represents accurate, up-to-date information.

• Think beyond yourself to a greater audience. Try to see your topic

beyond your own classroom or perspective. Will this be interesting to

an educator who teaches a different language or at a different level?

Might this be important to someone who cares about language learning

but is not an educator? Would the information be accessible for administrators,

government officials, parents, students, or others? Have you

talked to anyone else to get another perspective and can you include

quotes from other experts that broaden the topic?

• DOs and DON’Ts for writing about research. DON’T simply repackage

a research study or dissertation. DO approach the information

you have from a new angle. DON’T include every small detail of your

research procedures. DO get to the heart of the findings and why they

are important. DO add in quotes with reactions from participants or

experts concerning the topic. DON’T include extensive citations to

previous studies, literature reviews, bibliographies/reference lists, etc.


Theme Issues in

Submit Now for August 2013


How do we personalize the language learning


Special Issue Submission Deadline: May 1, 2013

We encourage you to submit your original articles now

relating to the issue of The Learner for our August 2013

theme issue. More information and topic suggestions

appear on p. 62 of this issue.

To submit, go to the Publications section of ACTFL.

org and click on “The Language Educator.” You can

enter your contact information and upload a Word

document containing your article. We ask that you do

not submit photographs or other supporting materials

unless contacted directly by the Editor. Please follow the

Author Guidelines for The Language Educator detailed

on the ACTFL website.

For more information, contact

DO properly cite sources naturally within the body of your text. [Note:

If what you have done is really an academic study, we encourage you

to submit to ACTFL’s journal, Foreign Language Annals.]

• Add some extras. Can you provide photos that go with your article?

Are there other items such as bulleted lists, pull-out quotes, or short

vignettes that might be featured alongside your article in a box or sidebar

item? Can you provide some “web extras”—such as rubrics, documents,

interviews, or further information that could be made available

on the ACTFL website as a tie-in to your article?

• Be patient and responsive. The magazine is printed six times a year

and there is limited space for publication. Not all submissions can be

accepted and some are in consideration for some time before a decision

is made. Often accepted submissions are scheduled for an issue months

later because they will fit well with the articles in a future issue. Try not

to write something that will be dated in a few months. Alternatively,

you may hit the timing just right and submit something that fits perfectly

for an upcoming issue. Please respond right away when contacted by

the editor in order to get your article ready for publication. If you have

not been contacted recently or have questions, feel free to follow up via

e-mail to for an update about your submission.


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