Published by the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages | www.actfl.org
November 2009 • Volume 4, Issue 6
Looking Ahead to Boston
in 2010: How to Write a
Successful Proposal for the
“On the Air”
Interview with ACTFL
Response and Law
Tech Tools for
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What’s Coming Up in the Next Foreign Language Annals
Volume 42 • No. 4 • Winter 2009
Readers of The Language Educator
magazine—including educators in all
languages and at all levels, administrators, and methods instructors, as well
as students and future educators—will
want to be sure to take a close look at
the upcoming issue of Foreign Language Annals, the quarterly academic
journal published by ACTFL.
Four times a year, Foreign Language
Annals presents a wide variety of articles that report empirical or theoretical
research on language or teaching, that
describe innovative and successful
practices and methods, and/or that are
relevant to the concerns and issues of
the profession. All ACTFL members
receiving The Language Educator also
receive Foreign Language Annals as
part of their membership. More information on Foreign Language Annals
can be found on the ACTFL website,
www.actfl.org, under “Publications.”
Based Inquiry” by Laura Levi Altstaedter
and Brett D. Jones. This article discusses
the findings of a project in an undergraduate foreign language course that promoted
a systematic inquiry-based approach to
learning about Hispanic culture. “Essay
Writing in a Mandarin Chinese WebCT
Discussion Board” by De Zhang
reports on the findings of a classroombased study on the use of a Mandarin
Chinese WebCT discussion board to support essay writing in a second-year Chinese
Here’s a preview of the Winter 2009
The article, “A Guide du Routard Simulation: Increasing Self-Efficacy in the Standards Through Project-Based Learning”
by Nicole Mills focuses on project-based
learning, a student-centered approach to
learning in which students collaborate on
sequential authentic tasks and develop a
final project. The purpose of the study was
to evaluate how project-based learning
influenced the development of false beginner French students’ self-efficacy in the five
goal areas of the National Standards.
Technology use in language and culture education is highlighted in “Motivating Students’ Foreign Language and
Culture Acquisition Through Web-
Learner preconceptions are examined
in “Student Preconceptions of Japanese
Language Learning in 1989 and 2004”
by Atsuko Hayashi. The study surveyed a
The Language Educator
total of 374 undergraduate students studying Japanese to measure their thoughts on
four areas of language learning: difficulty,
nature, strategies, and motivation. Teaching strategies and methods are explored
in “The Amount, Purpose, and Reasons
for Using L1 in L2 Classrooms” by Juliana
C. de la Campa and Hossein Nassaji. This
study explored how and when a native
language may be used in a second language
classroom by looking at two teachers’ German conversation university courses.
Textbook approaches are compared in
“Rhetorical Strategies in Chinese and
English: A Comparison of L1 Composition
Textbooks” by Ming-Tzu Liao and ChingHung Chen. The study looked at similarities and differences in rhetorical strategies
for argumentative writing presented in Chinese and English composition textbooks.
Finally, the role of educators in the community is the focus of “Spanish Teachers
as Impromptu Translators and Liaisons in
New Latino Communities” by Soria
Elizabeth Colomer and Linda Harklau.
This article documents how Spanish teachers in new Latino communities are being
asked to serve as unofficial translators and
interpreters in many contexts, and con-
Foreign Language Annals
Published by the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages
siders teachers’ varying attitudes and
responses to these new demands, as
well as the implications for the field of
When the next issue of Foreign Language Annals arrives in your mailbox
this December—open it up and see
how the rich body of information
there can expand your knowledge
of current research in the language
profession and directly inform your
Volume 4, No. 6
The Language Educator
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Director of Education
Director of Communications
Project Support Specialist
Principal Assessment Specialist
Program Assistant/English Specialist
Training and Certification Manager
Director of Membership
Tester Quality Assurance Coordinator
Director of Conventions and Meetings
Director of Professional Programs
Carol S. Orringer
ACTFL Board of Directors
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The Language Educator
The Language Educator
Published by the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages | www.actfl.org
November 2009 • Volume 4, Issue 6
Looking Ahead to Boston
in 2010: How to Write a
Successful Proposal for the
“On the Air”
Interview with ACTFL
Response and Law
Tech Tools for
The Global Language Network:
THROUGH LANGUAGE LEARNING
ON THE COVER:
Italian language students at The Ohio State
University are shown taking part in the FRIT
Radio program in spring 2006. Left to right,
Matt Daniels, Vinnie Young (original DJ trainer),
and Michelle Hungerford.
INTERVIEW WITH ACTFL
CONVENTION KEYNOTE SPEAKER
Volume 4, Issue 6
ACTFL President Janine Erickson
The Savvy Traveler
So You Say
Upcoming Events Calendar
ON THE AIR: Students at
The Ohio State University
Broadcast in French and Italian
HOW TO WRITE A
SUCCESSFUL PROPOSAL FOR
THE ACTFL CONVENTION
Rebecca H. Bias
TEACHING OLDER LANGUAGE
IN THE 21ST CENTURY:
Tech Tools for Language
Maura Kate Hallam
In the Classroom:
DIGITAL GAME-BASED LEARNING
IN SECOND LANGUAGE
USING LANGUAGES IN
EMERGENCY RESPONSE AND
LAW ENFORCEMENT CAREERS
The Language Educator
BREAKING NEW GROUND
NEW THIRD EDITION!
Introduction to Arabic
Letters and Sounds
Kristen Brustad, Mahmoud
Al-Batal, and Abbas Al-Tonsi
The best-selling Alif Baa is the first
volume of the Al-Kitaab Arabic
language program and is now
available in a new third edition. In
this new version of the introduction to Arabic letters and sounds,
English-speaking students will
find an innovative integration of
colloquial and formal (spoken and
written) Arabic. Together, the book
and new online component provide learners with all the material necessary to learn the sounds of Arabic, write its letters, and begin speaking Arabic, including interactive, self-correcting exercises to enhance
learning. The online component also gives instructors additional online
• Four-color design throughout the book features over 50 illustrations
• Gives learners and instructors color-coded options for the variety of
language they wish to activate in speaking: Egyptian, Levantine, or
formal Arabic (MSA)
• Introduces over 200 basic vocabulary words in all three forms of
spoken and written Arabic side by side, including expressions for
polite social interaction, and activates them in interactive homework
exercises and classroom groupwork
• Includes video dialogues in Egyptian and Levantine, filmed in Cairo
• Includes video footage of an Arabic calligrapher, capsules on Arabic
culture, and images of street signs from Morocco, Egypt, and Lebanon
• Includes new English-Arabic and Arabic-English glossaries, searchable
in the online companion
New 3rd Edition Textbook Includes:
• 18 months of access to the companion website alkitaabtextbook.com
that features a fully integrated set of interactive exercises with all the
video and audio materials and additional online course management
and grading options for teachers
DVD of Levantine
From Alif Baa to
Al-Kitaab Part Three
and Abbas Al-Tonsi
In the dialogue sections of each of the four
volumes of the Al-Kitaab program and on the
multimedia, students can follow the story of
Maha and Khalid in the Egyptian dialect. The
DVD of Levantine Videos for Al-Kitaab Arabic
Language Program provides comparable dialect materials now in the Levantine dialect.
Filmed entirely in Damascus, this DVD features Levantine versions of all the dialogue
clips that correspond to each of the program’s
978-1-58901-509-8, 1 DVD, $22.50
Ernest T. Abdel-Massih,
Zaki N. Abdel-Malek,
and El-Said M. Badawi
with Ernest N. McCarus
Originally published in
1979, this classic reference work presents definitions of grammatical and linguistic terms for spoken Egyptian
Arabic in dictionary form from “active participles” through “writing system.”
978-1-58901-260-8, paperback, $29.95
Georgetown Classics in Arabic Language and
• a convenient DVD with the basic audio and video materials (no
interactive exercises) for offline study that will play in any computer’s
978-1-58901-632-3, paperback w/1 DVD-ROM, $39.95
978-1-58901-644-6, hardcover w/1 DVD-ROM, $49.95
The Language Educator
NEW AT THE ACTFL
Take the National
is interested in learning how the
Standards for Foreign Language
Learning in the 21st Century have been implemented in
instruction and the variety of professional development experiences in which K–16 language educators
On www.actfl.org, you will find a link to an online
survey. We are asking all language instructors, methods instructors, and district and state supervisors to
complete this important survey. You do not need to
prepare or gather materials for the survey, but it will
take approximately 20 minutes to complete.
Your responses to this survey will help the profession when updating the student standards and planning
future preparation for teachers. The results will also
be reported in future issues of The Language Educator.
Millennials & K-12 Schools
by Neil Howe and William Strauss
enerational expert Neil Howe captivated
language educators attending the Opening General Session at the 2008 ACTFL Convention with his discussion of generations,
and the Millennials in particular, based on
his book co-authored with William Strauss,
Millennials Rising (currently available at the ACTFL Online Store on
the ACTFL website at www.actfl.org.)
Now, Howe and Strauss’s latest book, Millennials & K–12 Schools,
is also available through the Online Store on the ACTFL website. In it,
the authors explain the generational shifts that are occurring among
today’s students, parents, and teachers, and offer hands-on strategies
to help school leaders and personnel get the most from their students. Howe and Strauss explain everything—from “helicopter moms”
to the new focus on teamwork and protection, from the new research
on “small learning communities” and more rigorous standards to the
best way to get different generations to work together.
The ACTFL Online Store offers this book at a special savings for
members and buying it there is also a great way to support your
association. Order it today!
We are pleased to thank all of our Corporate Sponsors:
Pearson Prentice Hall
Vista Higher Learning
Heinle CENGAGE Learning
The Language Educator
Let’s Link to the 21st Century Together
is a leader in innovation, quality, and reliability in meeting the changing needs of foreign language educators and their students. This past year, technology took a front row seat in both our advocacy activities and
products, proving to be a powerful voice speaking up for language learning. ACTFL’s electronic information and communication
technologies are aimed at informing our members of professional development opportunities and ongoing advocacy efforts that
promote quality foreign language education programs. The new services added this year will provide members with an expanded
and improved network of information, as well as opportunities to collaborate, share, and interact. Let’s take a look at how ACTFL
is linking to the 21st century:
• Last year at the opening session of the convention, many of you met “Ava”—a speaking digital figure known as an avatar.
Ava, or one of her avatar friends, will lead you through the ACTFL Oral Proficiency Interview by Computer (OPIc)®. The
interview is delivered via a secure Internet connection. In addition to the initial tests developed for English and Spanish,
the OPIc is now available in Arabic, Chinese, Korean, Persian Farsi, French, Russian, and Bengali. The scope of the assessment has been expanded through the Superior level in all of these languages.
• Do you want fast interaction with the latest language news? ACTFL’s news alert SmartBrief—introduced and available to
our members in early November—pulls news stories of interest to language educators from various newswires and packages them along with other ongoing and updated activities and information within the organization.
• This year, both ACTFL and Discover Languages® established a presence on the popular social networks Facebook and
LinkedIn. But—hold on to your seats—because ACTFL is currently developing its own online social network that will be
unveiled at the convention in San Diego! Through ACTFL’s new social media site, we will be able to talk about concerns or
issues, and to share ideas, information, and methodologies. Stay tuned for more details to come.
• How do we get our administrators and communities to learn more about language learning? Do you want your students
to thank an administrator or do you want to thank a parent for their support of world languages in your school or district? We now have a great way to do so. ACTFL has developed a series of electronic postcards which allow members to
e-mail personalized thanks and recognition to those who have supported language learning or to encourage people to get
involved in the effort. These cards were a successful enterprise of the Discover Languages. . . Discover the World® public
awareness campaign. Language educators also continue to download the Discover Languages logo and use it to promote
language education in a variety of ways in their local communities.
• The Language Educator is now available to members not only in print but also as a virtual issue on the ACTFL website.
This is the only publication offering comprehensive coverage of foreign language teaching and administration and is recognized as the most knowledgeable resource focusing on the profession of foreign language education at all levels and in all
languages. One helpful feature is Web Watch (p. 60 in this issue); here you will find numerous web resources that can also
be accessed at www.actfl.org/webwatch.
• Would you like to share your voice with the world and reach out to the profession? ACTFL Talk Radio—Promoting Quality
Language Education gives you that chance. With a large audience of active listeners, the service is free and allows you to
listen to the radio show over the Internet. You can also chat online during the show with the host, the guest speaker, and
other listeners for free. Check it out at www.BlogTalkRadio.com/actfl.
• Do you want guidance, supporting information, and documents to help you build support for language programs in your
school, district, or state? ACTFL has developed a new online advocacy resource area where you can find helpful strategies
to advocate for public policies that would benefit the profession. Check it out on the ACTFL website.
I have enjoyed being closely involved with this organization during a time when we have taken such big steps forward in
technology to serve our members. These expanded services will continue to meet the growing needs of ACTFL members as 21st
century skills become an integral part of moving language learning forward as an essential skill. ACTFL will continue to improve
and update its technologies to enhance the overall service provided to the foreign language teaching profession. Be sure to explore
these member benefits.
It has been an absolute privilege to serve as ACTFL president in 2009 and I thank you all for making this such a phenomenal
experience. I would especially like to thank the outstanding leadership of ACTFL—Executive Director Bret Lovejoy, our efficient,
hardworking staff, and our very professional Board of Directors—for sharing the vision throughout the year by speaking up for
language learning. I look forward to seeing you in San Diego!
The Language Educator
U.S. and International Language News
Research Breakthrough Concerning Language and the Brain
esearchers from the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) say they have
achieved a significant breakthrough in understanding how the human brain computes
language. Their study, which provides a
much clearer picture of language processing
in the brain, was published in the October
16 issue of the journal Science.
“Two central mysteries of human brain
function are addressed in this study: one,
the way in which higher cognitive processes
such as language are implemented in the
brain and, two, the nature of what is perhaps
the best-known region of the cerebral cortex,
called Broca’s area,” says study author Ned
T. Sahin, a postdoctoral fellow in the UCSD
Department of Radiology and the Harvard
University Department of Psychology.
The study demonstrates that a small piece
of the brain can compute three different
things at different times—within a quarter
of a second—and shows that Broca’s area
does not do only one thing when processing language. The discoveries came through
the researchers’ use of a rare procedure in
which electrodes were placed in the brains
of patients. The technique allowed surgeons
to know which small region of the brain
to remove to alleviate their seizures, while
sparing the healthy regions necessary for
language. Recordings for research purposes
were then made while the patients were
awake and responsive. The procedure,
called Intra-Cranial Electrophysiology (ICE),
allowed the researchers to resolve brain
activity related to language with spatial accuracy down to the millimeter and temporal
accuracy down to the millisecond. This is
the first experiment to use ICE to document
how the human brain computes grammar
and produces words.
Because complex language is unique
to humans, it has been difficult to investigate its neural mechanisms. Brain-imaging
methods such as functional MRI can be
used in humans, but they blur the activity
of thousands or millions of neurons over
long periods of time. Consequently, scientists have been unable to determine in detail
whether the mechanisms used by linguistic
or computational models to produce grammatically correct speech correspond to the
mechanisms that the brain actually uses.
For this study, the researchers recorded
activity inside patients’ brains while they
repeated words verbatim or produced them
in grammatical forms such as past tense or
plural —a task that humans effortlessly compute every time they utter a sentence. ICE
enabled the authors to look at three components of language processing in real time, to
determine whether related neuronal activities
were implemented serially or in parallel, in
local or distributed patterns.
“We showed that distinct linguistic processes are computed within small regions of
Broca’s area, separated in time and partially
overlapping in space,” says Sahin. The re-
searchers found patterns of neuronal activity
indicating lexical, grammatical and articulatory computations at roughly 200, 320
and 450 milliseconds after the target word
was presented. These patterns were identical across nouns and verbs and consistent
“These results suggest that Broca’s area
actually consists of several overlapping parts,
performing distinct computational steps in
a tightly timed choreography, a dance that
may simply have been undetectable due to
the level of resolution of previous methods, ”
says principal investigator Eric Halgren, professor in the UCSD Department of Radiology.
According to Sahin, the results help
dispel a commonly taught notion that Broca’s
area handles expressive language (speaking) while another part of the cortex called
Wernicke’s area handles receptive language
(reading and hearing). This idea is still
taught in many textbooks.
“Our task involved both reading and
speaking, and we found that aspects of word
identity, grammar, and pronunciation are
all computed within Broca’s area. Crucially,
information about the identity of a printed
word arrives in Broca’s area very quickly
after it is seen, in parallel with its arrival in
Wernicke’s. It has been clear for some time
that the expressive/receptive model is out of
date, and now it is clearer that Broca’s area
has several roles, in both expressive and
receptive language,” says Sahin.
More information about the study can be
found online at ucsdnews.ucsd.edu/newsrel/
The Language Educator
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British Group Calls for New Agenda for Languages
arlier this fall, CILT, the National Centre for Languages released
a “new agenda for languages” in the United Kingdom, insisting
that the nation’s foreign language skills must be improved in order to
help lift the UK out of the global recession.
According to Kathryn Board, chief executive of CILT, “English is
one of the great global languages of the 21st century but it will only
take us so far. Our engagement with the non-English speaking world
will remain superficial and one-sided unless we develop our capacity
in other languages. In this precarious economic climate, we need to
make Britain strong in the global economy.”
Recent research from Cardiff Business School suggests that
improving language capability could add an additional 21 billion
pounds a year to the UK economy and that export businesses that
use language skills, and the cultural knowledge that goes with them,
could boost their sales by 45%.
The agenda calls for increased opportunities for everyone to
develop their language learning, whatever their skills and abilities. It
also highlights a decline in the study of modern languages and calls
for languages to be treated as strategically significant subjects in the
same way that science and math have been. In 1997, 71% of Eng-
The Language Educator
land’s GCSE [General Certificate of Secondary Education] students
took a foreign language; last year the rate was down to 44%.
The CILT’s new agenda comes on the 10-year anniversary of the
Nuffield Inquiry final report, which examined the state of languages
in the UK. The Nuffield report, chaired by broadcaster Sir Trevor McDonald, found that young people from the UK were at a disadvantage in the recruitment market. The report also highlighted a lack of
motivation among teenagers, who found languages “irrelevant,” and
a need for students to learn languages from an earlier age.
Board argues that these messages still hold true 10 years later:
“With the global recession, it is more important than ever that our
young people should have the skills they need to compete in the
global recruitment market. If they neglect to develop their language
skills, employers may recruit from abroad. More employers are
recognizing the importance of languages—the latest CBI skills survey
showed that 74% of UK employers are looking for conversational
language skills—but they need to communicate that need to
Find out more about the new agenda for languages at www.cilt.
White House Challenges Translation Industry to Innovate
September, the Executive Office of the President and National
Economic Council issued “A Strategy for American Innovation: Driving Towards Sustainable Growth and Quality Jobs,” which,
among other recommendations, included a call for “automatic, highly accurate and real-time translation between the major languages of
the world—greatly lowering the barriers to international commerce
As detailed in the paper, some $1 billion of the $787 billion
stimulus package will go to projects designed to reinvigorate science
and technology innovation in the classroom and workplace. However, it is not clear how much of the stimulus money will go directly
toward translation efforts.
There has been much recent progress in machine translation of
languages; companies have combined the power of humans and
computers to simultaneously double the speed of translation and
nearly halve its cost. Where each translator once converted 2,500
words a day at a cost of some 25¢ per word, they can now offer
5,000 words a day at around 12 to 15¢ a word. However, even with
today’s most cutting-edge technology, there are more words to be
translated than most companies or governments could ever afford to
handle. This shortfall limits opportunities for companies to market
and support their products across languages, and to conduct business on a global scale.
Microsoft recently used machine translation for the release of its
Microsoft SQL Server 2008, a database management system, which
increased the time to market but reduced the project cost. The
software was released simultaneously in 11 languages and costs de-
creased by up to 6% per language with seven to nine million words
translated in each language, the company says.
The most advanced translation providers—firms such as Madridbased Linguaserve, UK-based SDL, and Lionbridge Technologies,
based in Waltham, MA—use human-assisted machine translation
(HAMT). With HAMT systems, text is fed into a computer program
that tackles the first round of word and sentence conversion using
statistics, language rules, or matching with past translations. That
covers about 90% of the work. A human then steps in to correct
mistakes, clarify sentences, and refine the language for the intended
audience or market.
In August 2009, Common Sense surveyed 27 corporations, two
government offices, and two nongovernmental organizations that
used human-assisted machine translation. Individual answers were
not released publicly, but companies reported that HAMT doubled
the translation output of what humans could do alone. The companies also reported that the hybrid method is up to 45% cheaper than
using humans alone. Most experts agree that common online tools
such as Google Translate and Yahoo’s Babel Fish are not accurate
enough to do the job without humans.
To access the White House paper, “A Strategy for American Innovation: Driving Towards Sustainable Growth and Quality Jobs,” go
AmericanInnovation. For further details about the Common Sense
survey, “The Business Case for Machine Translation,” visit www.
New Jersey Says Yes to First Public Hebrew School
ew Jersey has approved their first publicly funded school with
a mission of teaching Hebrew. Hatikvah International Academy
Charter School of East Brunswick was approved by the NJ Department of Education in September, along with seven other charter school
proposals. Hatikvah (Hebrew for “hope”) will offer “in-depth study
of Hebrew and Hebrew culture,” and open in fall 2010 with 108
The application submitted earlier this year ignited some controversy concerning the separation of church and state. Two petitions
were circulated in the spring, with more than 100 area residents for
or against. Critics claimed the application was a thinly veiled sub-
stitute for a local private Jewish school in town that teaches religion
and charges up to $13,000 a year in tuition. The founders, meanwhile, stressed that their school would steer clear of religion while
teaching a vital 21st-century skill—a second language that would
prepare students for the global economy. State law forbids publicly
funded schools from teaching religion.
The school will observe the same holidays as East Brunswick’s
other public schools. The cafeteria will not serve kosher food, although students will not be discouraged from bringing kosher food
to school, founders have said. Subjects such as math, science, and
English will be taught in English.
The Language Educator
Students who attend the Middlebury-Monterey Language Academy often
report advancing up to two years in language ability. It’s all because of
MMLA’s immersive approach, where students who are dedicated and
embrace the Language Pledge – No English Spoken Here® – can jump
grades ahead in ability in just four weeks as they live and learn Spanish,
Chinese, French, or Arabic.
To find out more about this unique, fun, and rewarding experience visit
www.mmla.middlebury.edu or call 802.443.2900.
JuNE 27 – July 24, 2010
College-based immersion programs in Spanish, Chinese,
French, or Arabic for middle and high school students.
France Calls for Plan to
Improve Language Teaching
rench President Nicolas Sarkozy has called for an emergency plan to improve foreign language instruction in the
country’s schools and make sure students are at least bilingual.
In a speech on October 13 outlining education reforms,
Sarkozy underscored that “a foreign language is meant to be
spoken,” and suggested language instruction should be shifted
away from written grammar and memorization to emphasize
oral skills. Students in French public schools begin a second
language in middle school and often receive up to six years of
foreign language instruction. Still, many high school graduates
struggle to express even the simplest thought in English, Spanish, German or other foreign languages.
Sarkozy said changes would be made to the way foreign
language learning is evaluated and pledged to hire more native
speakers in schools and encourage more foreign exchanges.
Sarkozy said that French students rank 69th out of 109
countries on the TOEFL, the English-language test for foreign
students, an exam primarily for those who wish to study in
the United States. He also noted with irony that the final high
school exams for modern languages are written, while that for
Latin is oral.
The Language Educator
• On the Green Mountain College campus, Poultney, VT
• MMLA-CTY Immersion*, Bard College at Simon’s Rock, Great Barrington, MA
*student admission through the Johns Hopkins University Center for Talented Youth (CTY)
TLE spotlight on . . .
She is currently associate professor of
Second Language Education and Spanish and director of the Second Language Education Program at
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in Blacksburg,
VA, but Dr. Judith Shrum has also taught French and Spanish at the
elementary, middle, and high school levels. When she received the
ACTFL-NYSAFLT Anthony Papalia Award for Excellence in Teacher
Education in 2008, she was described by one nominator as “a pillar
of the profession who has selflessly dedicated herself to improving
the quality of language teachers and language teaching.” This award
is just one of many she has received during her career. Shrum has
also been active in a number of professional associations, including ACTFL, which she has served as a program reviewer and as a
member of the Audit Team for the ACTFL/NCATE reviews. She has
published extensively, and most notably co-wrote the influential
methods textbook, Teacher’s Handbook: Contextualized Language
Instruction, with her co-author Eileen Glisan.
As a language educator, Shrum advocates the use of authentic
materials, negotiation of meaning, and getting students to communicate with one another as well as with real audiences outside of the
classroom. About her profession she says, “Teaching languages is a
dynamic process in which teachers facilitate meaningful communication among their students, engaging them in comparisons and connections of language and cultures, and helping them to experience
the community in which language is learned and spoken.”
Happy Holidays—See You in 2010
TLE spotlight on . . .
The Language Educator is published six times
a year and our next issue comes out in
January 2010! Look for us in your mailbox
as the new year begins.
In the meantime, be sure to visit the
ACTFL website (www.actfl.org) regularly for
the latest in language education news
Fiesta Latina en La Casa Blanca on PBS
Performance at the White House: Fiesta Latina” was a
concert hosted by President and Mrs. Obama on the
South Lawn of the White House on October 15. The program
celebrated Hispanic musical heritage with performances by Marc
Anthony, Jimmy Smits, Gloria Estefan, Jose Feliciano, George
Lopez, Thalia, Tito “El Bambino”, the Bachata music group
Aventura, and the Chicano rock band Los Lobos, with Sheila E.
as the musical director. The entire 60-minute program can be
seen online at www.pbs.org/inperformanceatthewhitehouse.
Dr. Paul A. García says that he was blessed
to grow up in a multilingual family (Spanish and Italian) in a multilingual city, New York, and certainly the
language education profession has in turn been blessed by his contributions over the past 44 years. He received his PhD from the University of Illinois (Urbana) in German, and has taught from kindergarten
through the doctoral level. Currently, he is visiting associate professor
in the University of South Florida (USF) College of Education, where
he also serves as director of the Second Language Acquisition/
Instructional Technology PhD program. Before “retiring” to Florida,
he taught at the University of Kansas. Prior to that he served as a
teacher of German and Spanish in the Kansas City, MO schools,
where he became the district supervisor and creator of the thenlargest immersion language program in the United States (French,
German, and Spanish). His publications and many conference workshops concern immersion, listening comprehension, and methods/
best-practice pedagogy. García has served as president of the National
Association of District Supervisors of Foreign Languages, Advocates
for Language Learning, and the Foreign Language Association of Missouri. In 2000, he became the first Latino president of ACTFL.
García says, “My approach toward associations, departments, or
students is based on creating a personal relationship.” He believes
that “language learning is for everyone,” reflecting back upon the
theme of the ACTFL Convention during his tenure as president.
“Being a language educator for me means understanding my
students’ needs compassionately and equitably, and always being
available for them.”
Tlingit Learning in Alaska to Expand with Grants
uneau (AK) students will have expanded
opportunities to learn the Tlingit language
and culture over the next four years thanks
to several grants obtained by the Goldbelt Heritage Foundation. The foundation
recently secured $3.7 million in four grants
to help increase Tlingit language and cultural
education efforts for Juneau students.
One of the four grants, which are good
for 1–4 years, was obtained in partnership
with the Juneau School District. The “Wooch.
een: Together We Can” grant applies specifically to the expansion of the Tlingit Culture,
Language and Literacy program, or TCLL, implemented at Gastineau and Harborview Elementary schools. Wooch.een is a three-year
grant from the U.S. Department of Education’s
Alaska Native Education program. That grant
will increase language instruction availability
and “support the involvement of traditional
knowledge bearers, cultural specialists and
elders in the classrooms with the students,”
according to a Goldbelt press release.
Barbara Cadiente-Nelson, project director of the Native education programs in the
school district, said the seminars will help
other elementary teachers become culturally
responsive in their curriculum. Since the
program’s inception, Cadiente-Nelson said
she has seen a better sense of place, pride and
connection with families participating actively in children’s education. “The power of
the program is that it brings all of the educators of that child to the table—the classroom
teacher, the family, the Native community,
elders and other tradition bearers,” she said.
Goldbelt obtained three other grants as
part of the $3.7 million package it announced: a three-year grant from U.S.
Department of Health and Human Service’s
Administration for Native Americans that
will help expand language curriculum
available to schools; a four-year grant from
the U.S. Department of Education’s Office
of Indian Education; and a one-year youth
activities grant from the city. All are bound
for Tlingit education programs.
The Language Educator
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Ask us for a demo
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Students have more speaking and recording time and are not
bound by the time or space limitations of a classroom.”
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©2009 SANS Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without written permission is prohibited. SANS and SANSSpace are trademarks of SANS Inc.
Language Testers Needed
Helping Educators Meet
Our Nation’s Language Needs
Successful candidates will work for ACTFL as freelance language testers conducting telephone-based
oral proficiency assessments from their home. Candidates must be native speakers of the language and
have extensive previous experience in the language field (translation, teaching, interpreting, etc.).
A bachelor’s degree in a related field is required; a graduate degree is strongly preferred. Candidates
must have strong ties to the country where the language is natively spoken and should have lived/
worked in the country as an adult. Candidates must be consistently available for a minimum of three
hours per week between the hours of 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., Monday–Friday. A one-year minimum
commitment is expected. Testers must be legal residents of the United States holding non-restricted
work permission (no student or H1B visas, please). Visas/green card sponsorship is not available.
Candidates should be able to travel to New York for eight days of training. All travel expenses related
to the training (including flight, hotel, and meals) are paid for by ACTFL.
For more information, please visit www.actfltraining.org or contact Michelle Paradies, project manager, at [email protected] To begin the application process, please send your resume and as well
as a brief (one page) cover letter explaining your qualifications to [email protected] Resumes
received without cover letters will not be considered.
ACTFL is seeking contract
(freelance) language proficiency
testers in the following
The Language Educator
The Ideal Guide
for New Teachers!
8 ,) %'8 * 0+9 -( )* 3 6 4 63 *)7 7 -3 2 %0 0 %2 +9%+) )( 9 ' %8367
to the Classroom
A basic manual
to help new language teachers
find their way
The Keys To The
A basic manual to help new
language teachers find their way
Written by experienced language
educator Paula Patrick, this 96-page
book offers detailed guidelines to
help new classroom teachers gain
confidence and direction as they
begin their teaching careers. In addition to step-by-step strategies for
everything from classroom organization to navigating Back-to-school
Night, the book includes sample lesson plans, templates for student and
parent letters … even advice on
dealing with the inevitable difficult
moments every teacher faces!
look for it in the aCTFl
bookstore at www.actfl.org.
See the website for special bulk quantity pricing!
Excellent reference guide for methods students!
Great gift idea! • Perfect manual for new faculty members!
Foreign Language education
The Institute: DLIFLC has
established itself as a national leader
in foreign language education.
DLIFLC has both resident and
nonresident programs that support
military linguists. It is a year-round
school specializing in teaching
20 plus foreign languages and
cultures to approximately 3,000
students. Courses at DLIFLC are
intensive; students attend classes
six hours a day, five days a week.
DLIFLC’s teaching methodology
typically incorporates team teaching;
the average staffing ratio is two
instructors per six student member
sections. DLIFLC hires foreign
language teachers with strong native
language skills and a wide range of
academic experiences. DLIFLC is
accredited by the Accrediting Council
Foreign Language Educators in
Teaching, Faculty and Curriculum
Development and other related
educational positions are needed
at the Defense Language Institute
Foreign Language Center (DLIFLC).
• Visit our website at www.dliflc.edu
for a list of languages and other
academic positions available.
• Applicants must have near-native
target language proficiency and
strong English skills.
• English language testing and target
language testing is required for all
• Full-time employment; Federal
benefits are provided.
• Opportunities exist in Monterey,
California and other locations.
• Applicants must have U.S. work
Central States Conference Offers Study
Abroad Scholarships for Teachers
Check www.csctfl.org for Details
• Centro MundoLengua (Seville, Spain)
• Cemanahuac Educational Community (Cuernavaca, Mexico)
• Universidad Internacional: Center for Bilingual Multicultural Studies
• Goethe Institut—American Association of Teachers of German
To be eligible for the scholarships, applicants must meet the following criteria:
e a practicing teacher with a teaching load of at least 50% in a
foreign language department;
2. Teach in the Central States Conference region;
3. Be willing to present a 60-minute session at the 2011 Central States
Other selection criteria include:
1. Professional commitment and significant involvement in the teaching
of a foreign language (conference/workshop participation, curriculum
development) listed in a current professional resume or curriculum vitae
(Note: participation in the Central States organization and/or attendance
at past conferences will be advantageous and should be noted);
vidence of how the experience will enhance his/her teaching explained in a written statement of not more than 200 words;
vidence of institutional support in the form of a letter of endorsement from an administrator or department chairperson.
Applications must be submitted electronically by December 15, 2009
for consideration. For more information, contact Barbara S. Andrews,
Chair, CSCTFL Awards Committee; [email protected]
The Language Educator
for Community and Junior Colleges
of the Western Association of Schools
students listening, reading,
writing, and speaking skills, as
well as geopolitical, economic and
cultural issues, in an immersionlike environment; duties also
include class preparation, checking
homework and grading tests. Each
faculty member typically teaches
a 40-hour work week. Faculty
members are expected to stay abreast
of current foreign language teaching
theories and methods.
Languages Needed: Persian Farsi,
Mandarin Chinese, Arabic, Russian,
Spanish, and others.
Qualifications: A four-year,
accredited university degree is the
minimum education requirement
for most foreign-language teachers.
Degrees related to foreign language
education are preferred.
How to Apply: Submit your resume
through the Army Resume Builder
or the vacancy announcement on
through the announcement on USA
JOBS website. Additional documents
and forms that must be completed
and mailed to DLIFLC are addressed
in the qualification section of the
vacancy announcement and can be
found at www.dliflc.edu. DLIFLC is
an EEO employer.
TLE spotlight on . . .
Dr. Susan Hildebrandt is currently coordinator of teacher education as well as an
assistant professor of applied linguistics/Spanish in the Department
of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures at Illinois State University in
Normal, IL, but she has taught at the middle school, high school, and
elementary levels as well. She earned her PhD from the University of
Iowa, and her doctoral dissertation, National Board Certified Teachers
of World Languages Other than English: Motivations and Resource
Usage, garnered not only praise, but also the ACTFL/MLJ Emma
Marie Birkmaier Award for Doctoral Dissertation in Foreign Language
Education. The awards committee described it as “of utmost importance to the profession.” In receiving the award, Hildebrandt acknowledged the supportive “village” of her fellow language educators
that made it possible. She also noted, “It is my hope that my work
can contribute to the knowledge base of second language teacher
development and help teaching reach a professionalized state.”
Hildebrandt is a strong believer that learning should occur in
an inclusive classroom, saying, “I am very much an advocate of all
students studying foreign languages. As a profession, we need to
step back and think about how we can better prepare our teachers to
teach students of all levels and backgrounds to use foreign languages
. . .Our challenge is how to teach effectively for the wide diversity
of students we now have before us, and that will take advocacy and
inclusive teaching practices.”
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 will not only offer tips and strategies, but we will 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 [email protected]
Create Your Own
hen taking your students on a trip abroad, have you ever
thought of creating a travel blog so that parents and your
school community can follow along with your adventures online? It
may actually be easier than you think with many free sites out there
offering this service.
TravelPod (www.travelpod.com) was the first website to enable its members to create free online travel blogs. TravelPod lets
you share about your trips using your own online blog, which you
can update while you travel or when you get home. It can include
photos and videos from your adventures. Another site, MyTripJournal (www.mytripjournal.com) allows a similar service where
travelers can set up a personal journal or blog about travel experiences. TravBuddy (www.travbuddy.com) is an online community
for meeting travelers, and sharing travel reviews, photos, and blogs.
Real Travel (www.realtravel.com) is another place to plan and share
valuable travel experiences, and also offers free blogs. TravelBlog
(www.travelblog.org) is a collection of travel journals, diaries, and
photos from around the world. They offer a free travel blog with
unlimited photos and videos.
Most of these sites not only offer a free service, but many also
have a premium membership service that you have to pay for to get
additional features. Usually, the free service is enough unless you
plan to create something much more complex.
Once you have figured out where and how to set up your blog,
the question now is what to put on it! Brave New Traveler suggests
“9 Simple Ways To Make Your Travel Blog Better,” including ideas
such as: make it physically readable, minimize the design toys, don’t
include long boring itineraries, include photos, and provide details.
(Check out all the tips at www.bravenewtraveler.com/2006/12/13/
Finally, be sure to utilize the technological expertise that many of
your students no doubt already have in creating and posting blogs
Las Dos Chicas Offers
a new non-profit organization, Las Dos Chicas is committed
to promoting cultural acceptance through the understanding of similarities across all of humanity and through the appreciation of differences among people. Two language teachers, Jill Bednar
and Erica Mier, came together to create educational DVDs and
activity packets/lesson plans focused on different countries in order
to “inspire all students to experience our world through travel.”
Proceeds from the sale of their products and from donations
will establish and fund the Pack Your Bags Scholarship Fund for
students participating in study abroad or service learning programs
abroad. They have now filmed their first DVD, “Minds-A-Wander:
Spain,” where they visited four cities in Spain. For more information
about the organization and its products, visit www.lasdoschicas.org.
Handling Money in Other
he topic of using money abroad always comes up for traveling
language educators, particularly when leading students on foreign trips. What is the best way to handle money? Cash? Traveler’s
checks? Credit card advances? Debit cards and ATMs?
A good overview of using plastic in foreign countries can be
found online at the Smarter Travel website, “Foreign Exchange 101”
id=2360536). Here, travel expert Ed Perkins advises using a credit
card for big-ticket purchases, like hotel accommodations, restaurant
meals, rental cars, local rail tickets, and such; and a debit card in an
ATM for whatever local currency you need. However, he warns, it is
important to choose your plastic carefully to avoid being gouged.
Perkins generally discourages the use of traveler’s checks because
you will lose much more in currency conversion and fees than using a combination of credit cards and debit cards. He says that, in
general, when converting from one currency to another:
The Language Educator
• You will lose nothing with a few credit cards. With others,
you may lose 1 to 3% of the purchase value.
• You will lose nothing with only a very few debit cards; up to
$5 per transaction with most cards.
• When cashing traveler’s checks, you lose around 5% at the
most competitive banks, up to 7% at less competitive banks,
8–9% at U.S. airports, and up to 9% at independent nonbank change offices.
Credit cards that add little or no surcharge to foreign billings include Capital One, USAA, and some smaller banks and credit unions.
Another important note is to always be sure that you call your
bank before you travel abroad to let them know you may be using
your debit card in another country. If you forget, you may be in for a
rude awakening when your card is refused at the ATM in Barcelona
or Zurich because the bank put a hold on your account for suspicious activity.
The Language Educator
The Global Language Network:
By Susan Bausch
anguage educators may inspire
many students in our classes over
the years. But sometimes even we
cannot imagine where our students
will take their love for languages. A case in
point is The Global Language Network (GLN),
the brainchild of a student who simply could
not get enough language learning and was
moved to share this passion for languages
The GLN is a non-profit organization
based in Washington, DC, whose mission is
to “connect people by providing language
and cultural learning opportunities within
their communities.” Founder Andrew Brown,
an avid language learner who is currently
mastering his 21st language, started the
organization as a student group on the
George Washington University (GWU) campus
in 2005 and incorporated it into a non-profit
three years later. He has trained over 350
volunteers to teach through GLN and with its
inception has brought the language class offerings at GWU from 13 languages to 55. He
has won seven awards for his work, including
The George Washington Award, the highest
award bestowed upon any individual at GWU.
environment—to engage them in another
culture for a few hours per week.
By offering free language classes with
volunteer instructors, the GLN does not in
any sense replace the university courses
taught by language educators, but the program does aim to broaden access to language
learning beyond the traditional classroom
and provide additional opportunities for people to achieve their language-related goals,
including travel, public service, and connecting with family and friends. Because of
this focus on language learning as a means
to an end, culture plays a central role in the
GLN curriculum. All volunteer instructors
are native speakers and well versed in their
culture of origin. Their mandate is to take
the students to another country and another
Andrew Brown considers himself lucky to be
based in the Washington, DC area, where there
are so many native speakers of less commonly
taught languages. For example, Ana Pavasovic
has taught Serbian through the GLN on the
George Washington campus for two semesters.
Motivated by the altruism of offering free
language classes to the community, as a new
language teacher Pavasovic also welcomed the
opportunity to gain some teacher training.
She is thrilled with her experience.
“I had fairly large classes both semesters,
and most of the students started with zero
knowledge of Serbian, but by the end of the
semester they spoke well enough to hold an
effective conversation in the language!”
Pavasovic says. ”It was absolutely amazing
to watch the students’ progress.”
Fabiana Perera, a native of Venezuela,
has been teaching Spanish for the GLN
since 2007, both on the George WashingThe Language Educator
Projec4:Layout 1 10/6/09 2:36 PM Page 1
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ton University campus and at a D.C. public
library. She knew that she wanted to become
a volunteer instructor as soon as she heard
about the program.
“A very good friend had tried to enroll in
a Spanish class but there were no spots left.
I was sad that he couldn’t enroll, but I was
thrilled that so many people wanted to learn
my language,” says Perera. “I decided that if
there were people willing to learn Spanish, I
was more than willing to teach.”
Like Pavasovic, Perera has nothing but
good things to say about her language
“Teaching with GLN has been wonderful. All I have had to do is show up willing
to teach. The GLN books rooms, enrolls
students, and even tracks their attendance. I
get all the fun and all the rewards of teaching and I am very thankful for that.”
Brazilian Portuguese instructor Juliana
Piper found that the training GLN provides
helped her feel confident about the organization’s “No English Challenge.” After watching
The Language Educator
a teaching demonstration, giving a mini-class
of her own, and receiving feedback from
other teachers, she was ready to teach exclusively in the target language. In just a few
classes, students who had never heard Portuguese before were able to make complete
sentences and carry on a short conversation.
Students Enjoy Language
GLN students are a diverse group with a
variety of language learning goals. Judith
Friedberg enrolled in Ana Pavasovic’s beginning Serbian course because she wanted to
travel to the Balkans and communicate with
the locals. Despite some initial skepticism
that there would be sufficient interest in
Serbian to conduct a class, Friedberg was
pleasantly surprised when the class filled up
and a wait list began. Looking back on the
experience, she could not be more pleased
with the instruction she received.
“I think [my spouse and I] were very
lucky to have an extremely motivated,
intelligent and energetic teacher—and a volunteer to boot! We loved the first semester
so much that we—and more than half the
class—enrolled for the second semester,”
Currently the GLN offers language classes
through affiliations at The George Washington University and D.C. public libraries.
They have start-up affiliations at Vanderbilt
University, Georgia State University, and
the University of Alabama, although they
do not yet offer language classes. As a
small community-based non-profit, the GLN
welcomes help with curriculum development,
teacher training, and lesson plans. For more
information, go to www.TheGLN.org or call
Susan Bausch is a contributing writer to The
Language Educator. She is based in San Mateo,
Q&A I n t e r v i e w
On behalf of the members of the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL), thank you for your willingness to take
time to speak with us today and at our upcoming 2009 ACTFL Convention and World Languages Expo in San Diego, California.
You were the deputy national campaign director for Barack Obama’s
2008 run for the White House and,
with your more than 20 years organizing high-profile campaigns, you
clearly know how to make a national
impact. Indeed, you had a major role
in crafting the original message back
in 2006 when few thought Obama had
the chance to be the next president.
What kind of general insight can you
give based on your experiences that
might also apply to non-political
grassroots campaigns? Could you offer
any specific advice for language educators who are on the front lines of
fighting on behalf of foreign language
education in the United States?
A big part of the Obama campaign
was the use of the Internet in reaching and organizing a large number of
people. What can you tell us about
enlisting the latest technologies in
order to gather greater support for
a cause, such as the protection and
expansion of U.S. foreign language
programs? What do you see as emerging trends in this area?
A: With the campaign, a big part of our success was having a simple message that
people could get excited about and organize around; we also offered the ability
for people to organize in a centrally located way. Having a clear message is really
important—and it’s important that it be consistent and very prominent in your
website and all communications. People are so busy in their lives today and there
is so much information coming at them, typically we don’t have a long time to
capture their attention.
Issues relating to language education are subject to so much government oversight that, in order to achieve your goals, it’s going to be really important that educators, parents, and to some extent students, be encouraged and empowered to be
in contact regularly with government bodies that regulate the teaching of foreign
languages—whether it is a state board of education, state legislatures, Congress, or
the administration. There is an incredible amount of competition when it comes to
policy setting at every level. If you want to be competitive and stand out, it’s really
important that policy makers have a clear understanding of what goals you are
trying to achieve and why, and what you need from them. They also need to make
sure they are hearing from their constituents, such as the schools within their districts and so on. The more local—and organized around a central message—that
you are in this highly competitive environment, the better off you will be.
A: The ability of people to engage in an Internet dialogue is very important. There
are a lot of constituencies that care about foreign language education, whether
it’s parents who are looking out for the best interests of their kids, teachers,
community leaders, etc. There are areas of this country where foreign languages
are becoming more and more important within a community, as well as within
business and enterprise. That would be the next step—to go beyond the community to large employers, who tend to have a lot of political clout, who depend
on foreign trade, and who need people that have foreign language expertise. It’s
really important to engage these people and get them involved. I think that bringing them to a central organizing location online (like ACTFL) is really important,
The Language Educator
Q & A Interview
especially when you are in the heat of the battle. You want to make this easy for
people because their time is limited.
All the social networking sites are really important, such as Facebook, etc. It’s
good to encourage the use of those social networking sites to help amplify the message and goals you have. For example, if you have a graduate who really felt that
their foreign language education was a vital part of their school experience, then
you should encourage them to be vocal about it and encourage them to utilize their
social network to put that message out. Especially if you are in the midst of a battle
at the school board level or the legislative or Congressional level—social networking really allows for the ability to communicate with so many people. You can take
ACTFL’s 12,000+ members and dramatically expand the impact they could have on
other people and policy makers, people who are influential within the community.
Can you offer some thoughts on how
those of us who support expanded
language education at all levels, in
both commonly and less commonly
taught languages, can align our goals
with the administration and Congress?
What do we need to do to get this
issue the kind of attention we believe
A: For anything, you’ve got to know the pressure point: Where can an organization
Are there any other major trends that
you see shaping national communications or policy making that we would
be smart to pay attention to over the
next decade? Where do organizations
like ACTFL most wisely focus our
efforts to accomplish our goals?
A: There are more and more foreign language speakers in this country—some of
apply pressure that’s going to resonate? So, you have to look at, who are the people
that the Secretary of Education is going to listen to? Maybe you have a half dozen
governors in states around the country who believe this is very important; they
certainly would have an entrée to the Secretary of Education to make their case.
Maybe you have some influential business leaders who are in different places in this
country, there’s no question that they would have an influential voice within the
administration to try and make this point. Also, of course—the senators and representatives who support language education, people who have access with a voice in
the administration. I think it’s really important that those who speak on this issue
have the most current information and a set of talking points, that they understand
the timing of various issues, and that they are very well-informed.
whom are not proficient in English—but who are a part of various communities,
such as immigrants from Mexico who are Spanish-speaking, or those from other
nations as well. I would encourage you to look at how to increase the number of
people in support of advancement of foreign language education in this country
by including immigrant groups, who can be very well-organized and very skillful
at communicating within their communities and can be another powerful voice to
help. Making online communications available in other languages is one idea.
One more thing that I want to stress is that your voice is very powerful—and
you should use it to make sure that your point of view is getting across in the
community, that policy makers and elected officials are hearing from you. Never
assume that your voice is irrelevant; know that policy makers do listen to what their
constituents say even though they may not always do what their constituents want.
They do want and need to hear from you.
Learn More About Generating Support for Language Learning
Don’t miss Steve Hildebrand’s keynote address at the Opening General Session at the ACTFL
Convention and World Languages Expo in San Diego, California, on Friday, November 20, 2009!
He will talk about how language educators can enlist grassroots demand and support for stronger language programs in the United States.
The Language Educator
An update from the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages
Election Results to Be
Announced in November
he results of the recently held
election for ACTFL’s PresidentElect and members of the Board of
Directors will be announced at the
ACTFL Convention and World Languages Expo held November 20–22,
2009 in San Diego, California. The
information will also be made available on the ACTFL website at www.
actfl.org and will appear in the
January 2010 issue of The Language
Attention: Twitter and Facebook Users
or the upcoming ACTFL Annual Convention and World Languages Expo,
ACTFL is establishing the hashtag “actfl09” for tweets through Twitter (www.
twitter.com). Just add #actfl09 at the end of your tweets about the ACTFL Convention to add to the ongoing conversation.
Also, Facebook (www.facebook.com) has recently created the ability to link to
friends, groups, and events with your status updates. [To find out more, go to blog.
facebook.com/blog.php?post=109765592130.] Simply enter the @ symbol in your
status messages and then pick the ACTFL Annual Convention from the drop-down
list of your friends, groups, and events to tag your update. (Note: You may have to
first RSVP that you are attending.)
ACTFL will be running all the tweets (and hopefully the Facebook links) on our
website at www.actfl.org, making it easy to follow the conversation. Join us in this
new online adventure!
Learn About the ACTFL Online Community at the Convention
Onsite Registration at
San Diego Convention
hose individuals attending the ACTFL
Convention and World Languages Expo
who have not registered by October 14 will
need to register onsite in San Diego. Details
about registration and all other events are
available online at www.actfl.org.
has developed an exciting new benefit for its members: a
social networking community that will be unveiled at the
ACTFL Convention and World Languages Expo in San Diego. The site will be a
gathering place where foreign language educators can connect online to communicate and it will have many exciting features, including the opportunity to blog,
share documents, join different networks, make contacts, and much more!
Find out all about this new way of connecting when you attend the ACTFL Con
vention in November—and look for an article with all the details about the new
ACTFL online community in the January 2010 issue of The Language Educator.
SmartBrief Will Provide Language News and ACTFL Updates
ave you put together your individual
plan for getting the most out of the
ACTFL Annual Convention and World
Languages Expo? The complete schedule
can be found at www.actfl.org under “2009
Convention Program” and using the online
tool you can add sessions and events to
“My Schedule,” thus creating your own
personalized schedule. Give it a try!
new service to provide the latest language news, as well as relevant activities
and information from ACTFL, will be made available to language educators as
of the beginning of November. This e-newsletter, SmartBrief, will compile the top
stories from across the country on language education and provide a short summary of each, plus a link to get more information. The newsletter will be sent out
The first three issues will be distributed to all members via e-mail with a special
note at the top to sign up to continue receiving them. Members will need to “opt-in”
to receive the weekly e-mail, and non-members will also be able to subscribe. Anyone interested can go to www.actfl.org to sign up and view a sample newsletter.
The Language Educator
Don’t Miss Speaking in Tongues at
the ACTFL Convention
anguage educators attending the ACTFL Annual Convention and World Languages Expo will have the opportunity
to see Speaking in Tongues (www.speakingintonguesfilm.info),
an excellent award-winning documentary about the journey of
four children on their quest to become bilingual.
The film will be showcased on Saturday, November 21 at
10:00 a.m. in Room Torrey 3 at the San Diego Marriott. Following the screening, at 11:00 a.m., the filmmakers will discuss
tools and approaches for educators to use the film to promote
multilingualism in their local communities. To get a taste of the
film, check out the two-minute trailer online at www.patch
Reviewers Needed for Teacher Education
Programs Recognized Through NCATE
a member of the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE), ACTFL invites
individuals to apply to become program reviewers. Program
reviewers are trained to examine the reports and data submitted by institutions seeking NCATE recognition of their foreign
language teacher education programs. The training will be held
all day on Thursday, November 19, in conjunction with the
ACTFL Annual Convention and World Languages Expo. Those
who successfully complete the training will be assigned to a
two-person program review team by NCATE and are expected
to complete at least one review per semester and serve for a
three-year term. The entire review process is conducted online.
Educators from schools, universities or colleges/departments of education, departments of languages, cultures, and
literatures may apply to be reviewers by completing an online
application. Submit the completed application accompanied by
an abbreviated curriculum vitae outlining experience relevant
to program review and/or teacher education, and two letters
of recommendation that address the applicant’s ability to make
program judgments to Marty Abbott at ACTFL. For complete
information, visit www.actfl.org and click on “Professional
The Language Educator
Mark Your Calendar Now for Future ACTFL Conventions
November 20–22, 2009
November 19–21, 2010
November 18–20, 2011
November 16–18, 2012
November 15–17, 2013
San Diego, California
Update Your Contact Information with ACTFL
You can now make sure that your ACTFL membership information is
correct and make any necessary changes yourself at www.actfl.org.
Click on Membership to access the Members-Only section of the
site. After you enter your personal member account, you can
update your profile information and change your password if
necessary. You can also pay your dues online to ensure that you
stay current with your membership. Remember that receiving The
Language Educator is a benefit of your ACTFL membership, so be
sure to keep up-to-date and you won’t miss a single issue!
Connect with the ACTFL National Language
Teacher of the Year
To stay connected online with 2009 ACTFL National Language
Teacher of the Year Toni Theisen, go to www.actfl.org and click on
Teacher of the Year Award. Scroll down
and you’ll find links to three different sites: World Languages 21st
Century Collaboration and Conversation Wikispace; Where in the
World is the ACTFL Teacher of the Year? Blog; and World Language
Teachers 2.0 Ning. Explore these sites and learn more about what
Theisen is doing with new technologies this year.
New Foreign Language Enrollment Data—
Coming Soon from ACTFL!
An updated ACTFL survey of foreign language course enrollments
for K–12 students is currently underway. The target year for the
data collected was the 2007–2008 school year, and data from previous years are being added where available. Preliminary national
findings are expected in November at the ACTFL Annual Convention
and World Languages Expo in San Diego. The finalized results and
reports will be released in February during Discover Languages
Month. These data will provide an important update on national
trends in language enrollments in K–12 public schools. Look for
updates in future issues of The Language Educator and on the
ACTFL website at www.actfl.org.
Write a Successful
By Barbara Rupert
he ACTFL Annual Convention and World Languages
Expo is an exciting event that brings thousands of
language educators together to share ideas, learn from
one another, and grow professionally. Breakout sessions, presented
by educators like you and me, are at the heart of the convention
for many of us. About a decade ago, I submitted my first ACTFL
proposal. I remember being thrilled that it was accepted (and even
more delighted that it was well received), only to be disappointed
the following year when my next proposal didn’t make the cut.
The whole process seemed mysterious to me.
Many years later, as a member of the Program Committee on
the ACTFL Board of Directors, I discovered I was not alone! Many
potential presenters wonder how proposals are selected and if theirs
will ever have a chance. The purpose of this article is to make the
proposal selection process transparent in order to dispel the mystique
and encourage all interested ACTFL members to submit proposals.
Process and Timeline
Each year, the call for proposals opens in mid-October on the
ACTFL website (www.actfl.org) under the Conventions and Expo
tab. The theme for 2010, which will be held in Boston, MA, November 19–21, is “Language: Gateway to Global Communities.”
The deadline for submissions is midnight, January 10, 2010.
The first step of the submissions process is to log on to the
website with your ACTFL username and password and read
through the submission guidelines and rubric. On a regular basis
the Program Committee reviews and updates this information to
encourage strong proposals that address the current needs and
interests of language educators. After being armed with the latest
information, the entire proposal process can be completed online.
It is not necessary to complete the proposal in a single sitting; you
may save drafts until the submission deadline. After the deadline,
however, no changes can be made to your proposal.
Once the call for proposals closes, each proposal undergoes a
blind review process and is scored, based on the rubric, by at least
three reviewers over the next few months. The scores are averaged and proposals are ranked based on their scores. The number
of accepted proposals is determined by the space available at the
convention location. ACTFL commonly receives well over 500
proposals for approximately 250 available sessions. The goal of the
committee is to provide a balanced and engaging program that addresses the needs and interests of educators of multiple languages,
at all levels (Pre-K through postsecondary and administration) and
across professional learning strands. These sessions are carefully
scheduled so that they are distributed across the times and days
of the convention. Finally, presenters are notified by e-mail of the
program committee’s decision by the end of April.
Here are some tips to help in getting a proposal accepted:
Think About Content
The program committee is looking for topics that are current,
original, and of vital interest to the profession. Be clear in describing
the content and do not assume that the reader will be completely
familiar with the subject of the proposal. Avoid acronyms if possible.
In order to help conference participants select proposals that
are of most interest to them, presenters identify a professional
learning strand that best fits the content of their proposal. Our
2010 strands include:
• The Learner
The Language Educator
Proposal for the
tion before, it would be helpful to check out the previous year’s
program to get a feel for the types of presentations that have been
successfully accepted. The program can be accessed on the ACTFL
website at www.actfl.org.
Descriptors of each of these strands can be found in the submission guidelines.
Decide on the Type of Session
Choose the type of session that best fits your topic and presentation
style. ACTFL offers three 60-minute formats: breakout sessions,
graphic or electronic poster sessions, and—new for 2010—”hot
topic roundtable” discussions. In addition, a very limited number
of three-hour workshops proposals are selected. Most of us are
familiar with the 60-minute breakout sessions. Poster sessions
can be used to highlight action research, special programs, or
other topics of interest. Presenters use graphics and visual aids on
poster boards or laptops to engage attendees in the selected topic.
Presenters stand by their displays and discuss their work one-onone or in small groups with attendees. As the name suggests, in our
hot topic roundtables, participants are gathered around a table to
discuss a topic of common interest. Roundtables typically consist
of a 15-minute presentation followed by 45 minutes of discussion,
feedback, and networking. Workshops are designed to delve into a
topic more deeply than the other sessions allow.
Consider Title and Description
The title and description are key parts of your proposal and the
only parts that are actually included in the convention program.
With so many sessions from which to choose, most convention
participants select the sessions they attend based on the titles
and descriptions. If you have not attended the ACTFL ConvenThe Language Educator
Use Engaging Delivery Methods
The methods section can often be the deciding factor that determines whether or not a proposal makes the cut. We want presenters to model best teaching practices at our convention by using
delivery models that actively engage the audience. Be specific in
your proposal for a higher score.
Include Other Languages When
The proposal must be in English so that it is accessible to reviewers, but we are interested in language-specific presentations as well
as those applicable to all languages.
Follow the Guidelines
Sometimes in the excitement of a great idea, small details can be
overlooked, and that can mean the early demise of a proposal. It
may sound obvious, but one of the best pieces of advice we can
offer is to follow the submission guidelines and check the rubric. Like teachers who carefully craft assignment directions and
provide rubrics to enhance student success, the program committee has worked to do the same with the submission guidelines.
Many times a reviewer will be hooked by the beginning of a strong
proposal only to discover that subsequent sections are missing
or incomplete. We don’t want to lose a great session because the
presenter missed key submission information.
How to Write a Successful Proposal
Be sure to proofread your abstract well, because not only do typos
and other errors make a bad impression, but they also can make
reading a submission distracting for the reviewers. Having a colleague review it is a good idea, since he or she will be looking with
a fresh pair of eyes and may see things you have overlooked.
Language educators are smart, educated people, but they are
also often very, very busy. So last, but certainly not least, is this
reminder—Don’t miss the submission deadline!
Many presenters are surprised to know that there are other
ways of submitting proposals in addition to the ACTFL-sponsored
sessions. Our special interest groups (SIGs), co-sponsors, and
other invited organizations also select presentations for the ACTFL
Convention and World Languages Expo. Some of these organizations accept 20-minute presentation proposals on research papers
in addition to the other formats described above.
The Program Committee follows all of these procedures to select sessions that will make participants want to come back to our
convention year after year. The ACTFL Annual Convention and
World Languages Expo is more than just a meeting. It is an exciting professional development opportunity and a time for language
Call for Proposals Online Now
Submit your proposal for the 2010 ACTFL
Convention and World Languages Expo in
Boston, Massachusetts, at www.actfl.org.
The submission deadline is January 10,
educators from across the country to come together to inspire and
be inspired. Each year we look forward to the knowledge and creativity that our fellow language educators so generously share with
one another—and it all begins with your proposal.
Barbara Rupert is a member of the Program Committee and represents the
Pacific Northwest Council for Languages (PNCFL) on the ACTFL Board of Directors.
She was the program chair for the 2008 and 2009 ACTFL Conventions. She is
also an elementary school principal at Brookdale School in Tacoma, WA.
Need: language educators and administrators
Anyone can promise you applicants, but can they promise you relevant
applicants? With the ACTFL Career Center, you will reach only language
Don't let your competitors get to these candidates ahead of you—log
onto http://jobcentral.actfl.org today!
ACTFL is the only national organization representing all levels,
assignments and languages of foreign language educators worldwide.
American Council on the Teaching of
Foreign Languages (ACTFL)
1001 North Fairfax Street, Suite 200, Alexandria, VA 22314
Ph: (703) 894-2900 � www.actfl.org � http://jobcentral.actfl.org
The Language Educator
The latest in language learning technology
Byki Available as iPhone App
ASC Direct Releases ReLANpro
ReLANpro, an all-digital language lab product distributed by ASC Direct,
is now available as a portable, cart-based system.
ReLANpro Voyager© offers all of the features of the original ReLANpro product but in a self-contained cart that can be easily moved from
room to room. The system uses a new generation Bretford cart and
the latest draft-N netbooks, which are directly connected to the cart’s
own wireless router, eliminating the need to use the school network.
The cart includes headsets, teacher and student computers, and a
server. This “travel and teach” methodology allows teachers to set up a
computer-based teaching class in any classroom,
Student PCs charge on the cart and, because the latest draft-N
netbooks use “green” processors (low energy consumption), they offer
around six hours of operation before requiring a recharge. Like the
standard ReLANpro system, ReLANpro Voyager has all the traditional
language lab features plus video streaming, visual pairing, textural
exercises, multiple-choice testing, computer management, and Internet
site direction and student lockout.
For further information, contact Carla at ASC Direct Inc.
(800-613-9554) or e-mail [email protected]
Adobe® Acrobat® Connect™ Pro Helps
Create E-Learning Environments
Adobe® Acrobat® Connect™ Pro web conferencing software allows teachers to create virtual classroom environments. Using a web browser and
the Adobe Flash player, which are readily available on most computers,
teachers can provide instruction remotely or create self-paced courses.
Using the software, teachers can:
• Create custom content
• Schedule virtual classrooms, invite attendees, and set access
• Assign persistent rooms for recurring classes and control who has
access to content
• Get detailed reports on learner progress and attendance
• Create a persistent URL for virtual classroom “locations”
• Create custom windows for web seminars, meetings, and virtual
• Save layouts as templates for future reuse
• Use the Internet as a phone, with Internet audio (VoIP)
For more information or for an online demonstration, visit
Byki, the foreign language-learning system developed by Transparent
software, includes desktop software, online applications, free content,
articles, and games. The company is now offering Byki software for free
for iPhones at the iPhones app store.
Byki for iPhone is available in 15 languages—including Chinese,
French, German, Russian, and Spanish—and offers a number of features, including:
• Real-time Twitter search of words and phrases from within Byki
• An updated download list interface, which provides access to more
than 5,000 user-created lessons
• Progress tracking
• Access to companion study lists from popular textbooks
• Quizzing features
• Native speaker audio
Byki for iPhone is OS3 compatible. For more information, visit
PolyVision Offers Environmentally
Certified Interactive Whiteboard
The interactive whiteboard ēno from PolyVision is environmentally
certified and designed to combine uses of a traditional ceramic/
steel surface with interactive features.
The surface can be written on without damage, like a traditional whiteboard. The surface is magnetic to allow the use of magnets
for problem solving or other interactive learning activities. The
interactive technical components are consolidated into a Bluetooth-enabled stylus, reducing cost of ownership and replacement/
maintenance costs, as well as eliminating the need to have power
access for the board itself.
Video demonstrations and more information are available online
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 [email protected]
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
Getting C nnected
in the 21st Century
Tech Tools for
Computers and Beyond
By Maura Kate Hallam
Students use a number of online resources, including wikis,
in Toni Theisen’s class.
—and its possibilities for enhancing
student learning—revitalized Toni Theisen’s teaching career. A National Board Certified Teacher who teaches French at Loveland High
School in Loveland, Colorado, Theisen was contemplating retirement
about five years ago. After more than three decades in the classroom,
“I was thinking it might be time for me to go and try something
else,” she says.
But then she attended a Mentoring for Change workshop at the
National Foreign Language Resource Center in Iowa. The workshop
integrated a range of technology tools into its program, including
one of Theisen’s now favorites, wikis.
“I left that workshop saying, ‘What happened?’” she remembers. Energized by the possibilities that technology held for teachers and language
teaching, Theisen returned to Loveland High School as a tech convert.
“That launched me into where I am now,” she says.
Today, Theisen, who is her school’s world languages department
chair, serves as the Thompson School District world languages coordinator, and has been ACTFL National Language Teacher of the Year
for 2009, incorporates a range of technology tools into her lessons to
enhance her students’ language practice and provide them with opportunities to experience other cultures. She is also an eager explorer
of new ways to use technology to help accomplish these tasks.
“Things keep spiraling up,” she says. “There’s no going back.”
• Computers and Cameras and . . . Cell Phones?
Like many teachers who embrace technology tools, Theisen relies
heavily on computers and the Internet for the applications she uses.
One tool she uses frequently is wikis, collaborative web spaces that
multiple users can contribute to and use to communicate.
“I love Wiki Spaces (www.wikispaces.com),” Theisen says. “You
can do a lot of collaboration with other countries on Wiki Spaces.”
The site offers free wikis for K–12 education and helps to make creating wikis easy for educators.
In addition to Theisen’s own wiki page, her French classes use a
wiki where they share photos and videos; blog; access and add to
online resource lists that connect them to websites and other applications relating to the French language, France, and French culture;
and connect to other French students around the world. She has also
created a wiki for the French teachers in her district, and this year
her senior students are building an e-portfolio using Wiki Spaces.
Theisen and her students also sometimes use avatars, online
animated “surrogates” of the user that can be used to interact with
others in online environments, such as Second Life (secondlife.com)
and other sites. Theisen’s students use avatars for various activities,
including language practice and presentations in French.
“It makes it a lot more engaging for the kids,” she says.
Other online applications Theisen incorporates into her lessons include creating “word clouds” using the free site wordle.net,
which she uses for vocabulary study, word puzzles, and other tasks;
and xtranormal.com, a site that allows you to enter text to create
“You type in the text to create voiceovers,” she says. “They can
speak in an authentic accent.”
She also incorporates digital cameras into lessons for activities
and presentations the students put together. Videos that the students
The Language Educator
• Connecting to the World and the Learning Objective
For Theisen, the technology applications that are available today are
exactly what foreign language teachers have always dreamed of, and so
foreign language teachers, in her mind, are natural advocates for using
technology in the classroom.
“We have always said we wanted ways to collaborate with the rest
of the world, to connect to authentic places and situations,” she says.
“We’ve been waiting for that ‘magic tool.’ Now we have access to that.
We should be leaders of that.”
For example, through her own interactions on Twitter and sites like
flashmeeting.com, she has had the chance to interact with teachers as
far away as Australia and New Zealand to and work with her long-distance
colleagues to set up next-day interactions between their students.
“It just comes about like that,” she says.
In addition to bringing authentic voices directly into the classroom, and exposing students to foreign cultures with a few clicks on
the keyboard and mouse, technology also adds a real-world element to
learning—especially for today’s students.
The Language Educator
Photo by Lizzie VandeSande
shoot themselves are used for podcasts, and photos can be turned into
slide shows or movies using applications like Windows Movie Maker.
Theisen has even taken what some may see as the radical step of
using cell phones in the classroom. Using websites like www.pollevery
where.com, Theisen has created cell phone-related activities for her
students. While she admits not all of her colleagues embrace the idea
of students pulling out their phones in the middle of class, for the
students, it was energizing. She recalls asking one of her classes to take
out their cell phones so they could complete a poll on the best ways to
use a foreign language.
“They’re teenagers; they’re excited about this,” she says. “Here’s this
tool that they already had in their hands, and this is a different way to
show their work.”
Incorporating these tools into the classroom is not without its challenges. For example, while Theisen personally uses Skype (www.skype.
com), a web-based telephone and videoconferencing application, and
many of her students use it at home to collaborate with other students on projects, her school’s network simply does not have sufficient
bandwidth available for her to use it in the classroom. And four years
ago, when she was just preparing to launch her first major wiki project,
she discovered that the school district’s computer network had added
security measures that blocked the use of many websites and online
applications—including Wiki Spaces.
“That was a catalyst for getting the network open,” she says.
Now, partially through her efforts, Loveland’s school district provides
different levels of network security for elementary, middle, and high
schools, to balance Internet safety concerns with a real need for access
to these useful online resources.
And, of course, setting boundaries for cell phone use in the classroom has been part of this as well. Theisen emphasizes that it has been
important to help students learn when it is, and is not, appropriate to
be using their phones.
“It’s about creating a respectful workspace,” she says.
Theisen to Share Her Knowledge
at ACTFL Convention
The ACTFL Annual Convention and World Languages Expo will
be held this year November 20–22 in San Diego, California.
Toni Theisen, 2009 ACTFL National Language Teacher of the
Year, will be presenting on “21st Century Tools to Teach, Learn,
Collaborate and Advocate for Languages.” The session will be
held Sunday, November 22, 8:00–11:00 a.m., in Room 1A of
the San Diego Convention Center.
Attendees are encouraged to bring their laptops, as Internet access will be available and part of her presentation will
include an online exercise. For more information about the
convention schedule, visit www.actfl.org.
“It adds relevance,” Theisen says. “It adds a piece that makes them
feel they are connected. Quite frankly, they have more ease with these
skills than I do. But I have the teaching experience. By bringing those
two together I can help them learn the lesson in a way they already see
In the best cases, this can inspire students to take what they have
learned to the next level. For example, when Theisen had the opportunity to meet French Ambassador to the United States Pierre Vimont,
she asked her students for ideas on what she could bring him from
Colorado. Her French IV class, on its own, went out and created a movie
for her to present to the ambassador. The movie included montages and
testimonials—in French—on why they believed studying the language
“They filmed it, put it together, and just like that, I had it in
my hand,” she says. “Now it’s the students who are collaborating
with the teacher.” [The video can be viewed at www.youtube.com/
Of course, it is not enough, Theisen says, to simply use technology
for technology’s sake. Unless it can be connected back to the lesson
and its objective, it is not ultimately useful.
In addition to computers, Theisen incorporates other technologies,
like digital cameras and cell phones, into her lessons.
How to Become a
21 Century Risk Taker
Toni Theisen offers the following advice for teachers who may
be unsure about taking the plunge into new technologies.
Don’t get bogged down. There are thousands upon
thousands of software applications, websites, and other
technology tools available that may be able to enhance your
students’ foreign language learning experience. You don’t
need to explore them all, or learn them all, before choosing
some tools to use in your classroom.
Make sure it works. There can be very real limitations to
using a technology, such as bandwidth issues or computer
compatibility issues. A quick test using the school’s network
is the simplest way to determine if a tech tool has any potential for practical use in the classroom.
Listen to the students. Generally speaking, today’s students naturally adapt to using technology and may be aware
of tools that could be useful for learning with which you are
not familiar. When it comes to choosing—and using—
technology, students can often be your greatest resource.
Use these websites to access some of the resources
recommended by Theisen.
“You have to align it with the curriculum,” she says. “That is essential. You always have to go back and say, ‘Okay, what’s the objective?’
Don’t just choose a tool because it’s a tool. Ask yourself, ‘What’s the
learning that’s going to take place?’”
Century Risk Takers
For Theisen, using technology in the classroom is about more than just
using new tools or connecting with students in another country. She
believes it is about creating 21st century skills in our students, teaching them information literacy and management, problem solving, critical thinking, and, perhaps most importantly, helping them apply what
they are learning to the real world. “It is moving away from a linear
perspective to a right-brain, collaborative perspective,” she says.
“Never think that by using these tools kids will not be able to excel
in other areas,” she advises her fellow language educators. “Don’t be
afraid to take that risk to try it.”
Maura Kate Hallam is a contributing writer to The Language Educator. She is the
owner of Hallam Creative Services (www.hallamcreative.com), a writing and
editing firm based in Washington state.
World Languages 21st Century Wiki
Live Audience Polling
Generating Word Clouds from Text
Global Community of Connected Classrooms
The Language Educator
2010 Video PODCAST Contest Announced
American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages
. . .Discover the World!
ACTFL is sponsoring a national video student podcast
contest to celebrate Discover Languages Month during
February 2010! This effort is part of the sustained
Discover Languages public awareness campaign, which
is designed to bring media attention to the critical
need for all students to have the opportunity to learn a
December 20, 2009
Students across the country, from elementary school
through college age, are encouraged to submit video
podcasts on how language learning has been important
in their lives. The podcasts will be judged for originality
and creativity by a celebrity panel of judges and cash
and product prizes will be awarded to the students who
produce the winning podcasts.
Contest theme: Discover Languages. . .Discover the World!
Students will develop a video public service announcement that
promotes language learning and provides the audience with
compelling reasons why students should be developing proficiency
in more than one language. For specific contest rules, go to
Cash/produCt prizes worth up to $500!
The contest is also supported by
CLEAR (The Center for Language
Education and Research) and
MERLOT (Multimedia Educational
Resource for Learning and Online
The Language Educator
For more information go to:
Using Languages in
By Patricia Koning
Editor’s Note: In this issue of The Language Educator, we continue our series of articles
on different career opportunities available to language professionals by looking at work in
the field of emergency response and law enforcement.
By Patricia Koning
hen Richard Taylor interviews candidates for 911 telecommunicator positions, he starts with the negative aspects of the job.
“Be prepared to work bad hours in very stressful situations,” he says.
“This is a job with high turnover, in which you are going to face a lot
of bad things.”
According to Taylor, only some people are cut out to work as
telecommunicators, a term he prefers over “dispatcher” because they
do much more than simply dispatch calls. “Telecommunicators don’t
just connect callers to emergency responders. They have to assess the
situation and get pertinent information out of people who are probably having the worst day of their lives,” he says.
While telecommunicators, emergency medical technicians (EMTs),
police officers, firefighters, and special agents all have very specific
roles and responsibilities, a common denominator in all these fields
is the ability to communicate with many different people. For someone with a passion for a second language who also wants to serve
the public, such careers can be a perfect fit.
Responding to Emergencies
Taylor worked for 10 years as communications director in a 911 call
center in New Bern, NC, a career he describes as akin to being in a
carnival—in an exciting, adrenaline-pumping way. He is now executive director of the North Carolina 911 Board and president of the
National Association of State 911 Administrators.
“This can be an incredibly rewarding field because you are part of
life-saving situations,” he says. “There is nothing greater than having
a parent call you when their child is choking and you get the right
person there in time to save the child’s life. And there is no worse
feeling when it doesn’t go that way. Every shift is an emotional roller
coaster, in which you experience either end of the rainbow.”
Many 911 call centers do use telephone interpreter services, but
they cannot replace an immediately available bilingual person. “When
you conference in a third party to interpret, it slows the process. This
goes for the on-the-scene response as well,” Taylor explains. “Language
skills are a huge and growing piece of the first responder business.”
Monica Muñoz, who is now the public information officer for the
San Diego Police Department (SDPD), started her career as a bilingual
telecommunicator when she was 19 years old. She received additional
pay for her language skills. “It was really a great job. I learned to
communicate with people in stressful situations, and how to synopsize information so the responders had everything they needed as
efficiently as possible,” she says.
Chris Cebollero, clinical services manager for MedStar Emergency
Medical Services, agrees. “You need to develop rapport within the
first 30 seconds,” he says. “Someone who can speak the language and
understand an ethnic community is a real asset to any department.”
MedStar is based in Fort Worth, TX, and covers a service area of
421 square miles and more than 860,000 residents in Tarrant County.
In that region are large areas of people with limited English proficiency; the most common languages are Spanish and Korean.
Cebollero says MedStar’s EMTs and paramedics receive some basic
training in Spanish. “We try to give people enough language skills for
basic patient care,” he explains. “So they can ask date of birth, does
your chest hurt, and other questions to help assess the situation.”
Still, staff capabilities often fall short of the language needs of
a community, especially in urban areas where 100 or more different
languages are spoken. Cebollero says that bilingual paramedics and
EMTs cannot be matched to calls where language skills are needed
because teams respond based on geography and availability. Units
with language capabilities are often stationed in areas where their
skills might be used, but over the course of a day a unit might travel
anywhere within MedStar’s region.
Telephone interpreter services such as Language Line Services are
an invaluable resource in filling that gap. Language Line Services’
The Language Educator
staff of 5,000 interpreters provide telephone interpreting and
language solutions in 170 spoken languages across the country. The
company also provides video interpretation, document translation,
and interpreter training, among other services.
In 1982, a San Jose police officer who was frustrated by language
difficulties on the job founded Language Line Services with a friend
who was an instructor at the Defense Language Institute (DLI) in
Monterey, CA. The company now has 20,000 clients worldwide. Dale
Hansman, a spokesperson for Language Line Services, estimates
that the company works with 70% of the 911 call centers in the
United States. Language Line Services conducts extensive training
and proficiency assessments of its staff; the company also provides
such services through its Language Line University®. In addition,
interpreters are trained for emergency, health care, insurance, and
financial services situations.
“Recently, a trainer for 911 dispatchers spent two days training
our top interpreters, who in turn trained our interpretation staff,”
says Hansman. “Training is a two-way street, as we train dispatch
centers on how to best use our services.”
The New York City Fire Department (FDNY) is an extensive user
of Language Line Services. From January through November 2008,
FDNY made 2,605 calls to Language Line, using 12,631 minutes and
requesting services in 44 languages. The most predominant languages
requested are Spanish, Russian, and Chinese.
Protecting the Public
Several years ago, the New York City Police Department (NYPD)
developed a linguist program to identify and certify members of
service who read, write, and speak foreign languages. “We started
the program very simply by just asking our officers if they spoke a
language and making a list,” says Chief Rafael Pineiro, head of the
NYPD’s Personnel Bureau. “Then we tested them to assess proficiency
levels in speaking, writing, and reading.”
In its first year, the program identified 460 individuals with language skills in at least one of 35 critical languages including Arabic,
Urdu, Hindi, Fukienese, Bengali, Punjabi, Romanian, and Dutch.
Those officers were placed in a database that is available to the
entire NYPD and citywide administration.
NYPD has also extended its language outreach to recruitment and
hiring. When applicants register to take the police exam, they answer
questions about language capability. “Speakers of languages we need can
get preferential hiring treatment,” says Pineiro. “We’ve also increased our
recruitment in neighborhoods where specific languages are spoken.”
Today the NYPD has 764 certified linguists in 63 languages.
“One of the remarkable things about the police department is the
depth of foreign language talent. It serves us well in crime fighting,
community relations, and in our counter-terrorism efforts,” NYPD
Commissioner Raymond Kelly said at a ceremony recognizing 80 NYPD
members who possessed outstanding language skills.
The NYPD has such a deep linguist program that it shares the services of its linguists with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI),
Secret Service, Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), and other government agencies. The linguists perform a variety of tasks, such as
interpreting taped conversations in Albanian for the Secret Service,
interrogating Urdu-speaking suspects for DIA, or assisting the New
The Language Educator
York State Police Department in conducting background checks on job
applicants in Hindi-speaking neighborhoods.
Beyond New York, in areas all around the country, police officers
find a second language extremely useful on the job. Ruben Gutierrez,
a bilingual police officer in San Diego, CA, considers his job very
people-oriented. “You have to love the people and they have to love
The Civilian Side of Law Enforcement
the public information officer (PIO) for the San Diego
Police Department, Monica Muñoz is a civilian, but her
work is integral to law enforcement.
“I’m the spokesperson for the San Diego Police Department,
so I’m in daily contact with the media about cases, investigations, arrests, scams, and anything else involving the department,” she explains. “I also conduct media training for the
police academy and new detectives and sergeants.”
Contact with the media happens as frequently in Spanish as
it does in English since Muñoz is in close contact with Spanish
language media outlets in both Mexico and the United States.
Having been born in Mexico City but raised in the United States,
she works comfortably in both languages. Her mother, who
taught Spanish to adults, insisted that she and her siblings
study their heritage language in school so they could read and
write Spanish and not just speak it.
Certainly the need for bilingual skills does not exist only in
large urban areas. In Anderson, SC—population 27,000—Nora
Puñales managed to extend a temporary job as a receptionist
through her knowledge of Spanish. In an interview with the
local newspaper, Puñales said her interpretation skills represent
nearly half of her work. She was initially surprised by the number of Spanish-speaking visitors to the relatively small town’s
police department. “[People] come in, and I notice they have
a problem speaking,” she said in the interview. “When I talk
to them, they say, ‘Oh God, thank you for having someone who
In San Diego, Monica Muñoz worked as a 911 bilingual
telecommunicator for eight years, experience she believes really
prepared her for her current role. She continued as a telecommunicator part-time while studying journalism in college and working as a journalist. She initially worked as the PIO for the City
of San Diego’s Water, Transportation Engineering, and Planning
Departments before the position with the police department
came open. “This is really the perfect job for me,” she says.
One of the most gratifying aspects of the job, she says, is
when her outreach contributes to solving a case. “Sometimes
a detective comes to me with a picture or video of a suspect
that he has been unable to track down through other means,”
she explains. “I put the information out to the public and a few
days later, the department gets some calls and they can close
the case. It’s very gratifying and I feel like I am doing a lot to
contribute to law enforcement.”
Using Languages in Emergency Response and Law Enforcement Careers
you. Great communication skills are essential,” he says. “As a Spanish
speaker in a city like San Diego, I feel I am a big asset to both my
organization and the citizens. It is a much needed skill in an urban
environment with such a mix of cultures.”
Gutierrez joined the SDPD seven years ago after leaving what he describes as a rewarding and satisfying career in telecommunications. It all
started when he went on a police ride-along. “I was interested in seeing
what law enforcement was all about and what was occurring in my city,”
he says. “I was blown away. I saw a whole new side to the police.”
During the ride-along, the officer that Gutierrez was accompanying responded to an assault with a deadly weapon. On the way to
the scene, the officer was stopped by a woman who had the severely
injured victim in her car.
“As I watched from the sidelines as a civilian, I was in awe at
the composure of this single officer in dealing with such an intense
situation—providing CPR, controlling the scene, requesting necessary
resources for the scene we were at as well as the crime scene,” he
says. “The wealth of knowledge of this officer was amazing.”
Currently, Gutierrez works in background investigations for the
SDPD Human Resources Department. He interviews candidates, their
family members, friends, and co-workers and conducts investigations
on the applicants’ backgrounds to determine if they meet specific
standards. Previously, he worked as a patrol officer.
“I love communicating with the public. I learn so much from the
people I deal with, and they come from every background you can
imagine,” he explains. “The best part of the job is working with the
community. I may not be able to solve every single problem out
there, but I can help. And sometimes all people need is a little bit of
help and that has made it very rewarding for me.”
Police officers, or peace officers as they are also called, work
in a variety of capacities such as traffic, crime prevention, domestic violence, youth and schools, crime analysis and investigations,
canine, and specialized patrols like harbor or airport. Nearly 100 different local, state, and federal agencies also employ law enforcement
personnel, such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Drug
Enforcement Agency (DEA), Department of Homeland Security, State
Departments of Fish and Game, and transit and rail agencies.
“Studying a foreign language can open up so many doors in the intelligence community and law enforcement field,” says Margaret Gulotta,
chief of the Language Services Section for the FBI. When hiring special
agents, the FBI considers foreign language proficiency a critical skill,
just like accounting, computer science, engineering, and intelligence.
Currently, legal attachés working out of the San Juan, Puerto Rico field
office qualify for incentive pay for substantive use of a second language.
The DEA seeks bilingual candidates to work as special agents and
intelligence research specialists. Meghan McCalla, a DEA public affairs
specialist, says familiarity with any language is helpful. “We have 83
offices in 62 countries, which represents the plethora of languages
spoken and the DEA’s appreciation of anyone with foreign language
instruction and experience,” she explains.
Two officers with the San Diego Police Department’s mounted
enforcement unit speak with visitors at a community event.
The need for language skills in law enforcement and emergency
response far outweighs the number of workers who come into the
profession with those abilities. In response to this critical need, a
number of occupational language programs, community colleges and
universities, and specialized language companies—many founded by
language educators—offer courses aimed at giving officers and first
responders basic communication tools.
With regards to the most commonly spoken second language in
the United States, the particular needs of public safety professionals
may not always be met by general Spanish courses. Police officers,
firefighters, and paramedics often encounter people who are agitated,
angry, and afraid who use slang and profanities in their speech—
sometimes as way to deceive officers.
The Atlanta-based company, Workplace Spanish®, develops and
publishes job-specific Spanish and English learning tools for a number
of sectors, including firefighters and EMS, law enforcement, and corrections officers. Police and fire departments all over the country use
Workplace Spanish to train personnel; the FBI is another client. More
than 400 colleges, schools, and adult education programs around the
country also utilize Workplace Spanish’s tools in their own course offerings, including East Central University in Ada, OK; Idaho State University in Pocatello, ID; and Lower Columbia College in Longview, WA.
Another provider of occupational Spanish training is Command Spanish® Inc., which offers its curriculum through online courses, books,
and audio CDs, and licensed Command Spanish providers in 25 states.
Ball State University in Indiana offers Survival Spanish courses for paramedics/EMTs and law enforcement officers through Command Spanish.
Teacher Kendal Knetemann started SpanishOnPatrol.com, an online
interactive Spanish training program for law enforcement, corrections,
EMS, firefighters, and park rangers, after teaching several seminars on
Spanish to the Aurora, CO Police Department. “I was shown a video
about a deputy who lost his life in the line of duty because of language. He didn’t understand the slang that was being used,” she says.
“It really got under my skin and I decided I wanted to help.”
A key feature of SpanishOnPatrol.com is the focus on slang and
alert words. “We cover slang that indicates harm is on its way—
The Language Educator
words that are vulgar, foul, or threatening in all Central and South
American dialects and ‘Spanglish,’” explains Knetemann. “The bottom
line of this program is to empower officers with language so they can
do their jobs effectively and safely. Having officers speak some Spanish opens the door to more communication; it will build and earn
trust between law enforcement and Hispanic communities.”
Knetemann spent two years researching the needs of law enforcement officers and emergency responders, research that included numerous ride-alongs and extensive interviews. She has a team of translators
who represent different Spanish-speaking countries that review all
materials to ensure the Spanish phrases taught to students are universal. “An officer probably doesn’t know if he’s speaking to people who
understand Peruvian or Mexican or Nicaraguan Spanish, so he needs to
use language that would be understood in all dialects,” she explains.
The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, located west of Denver,
recently began using SpanishOnPatrol.com on the recommendation of
several other police departments. In addition to Jefferson County’s
patrol deputies, detention officers, animal control officers, and records clerks are also taking the course. “We have a growing Hispanic
population, so SpanishOnPatrol.com will help us better serve the
public,” says Captain Robert Baker of the Jefferson County Sheriff’s
Office. “That means recognizing alert words in Spanish that might
trigger an officer’s safety skills, communicating on a cursory level at
a traffic stop, and bringing in an interpreter when necessary.”
Knetemann is considering branching out into other languages.
“Spanish is not the only language needed in the public sector,” she
says. “We are planning to adapt SpanishOnPatrol.com into other
languages that are critical to public safety.”
Like Knetemann, Alejandra Gomez was another educator who saw
a need for language education specifically geared to law enforcement
and emergency responders and she created her own company to fill
that need. Gomez, a Mexican-born Spanish teacher living in Morgan
Hill, CA, founded Public Safety Language Training (PSLT) in 1991. At
the time she was teaching Spanish classes to Silicon Valley companies
like Apple and Sun Microsystems. When she read a newspaper article
about Spanish classes being given to her local police department, she
realized there was an even greater local need for Spanish training.
“The class [they were] offered covered grammar, and not the practical information the police needed to do their jobs,” she explains. The
Redwood City Police Department asked her to develop and deliver a
Continued on p. 37
Students as LANGUAGE Teachers
Jackson High School students work with firefighters in their
community to help them improve their Spanish skills.
One Innovative Service Learning Project
Jackson Township, OH, a group of high
school Spanish students have become
the teachers for the community’s fire department. Jackson High School Spanish and French
teacher Parthena Draggett started a program
last year in which students in the Sociedad
Honoraria Hispánica designed and taught
Spanish lessons to local firefighters.
“Our honor society was looking for a service
project that involved teaching others,” she says.
“Turns out, the deputy fire chief had told his
grandson—one of my students and an Honor
Society member—that he’d like to have the firemen learn Spanish as they’d had some communication incidents. Our local community college
isn’t offering classes like this right now.”
For the first meeting, the firefighters talked
to the students about the situations they had
The Language Educator
encountered. Once when responding to an accident, the firefighters showed up and everyone,
including the accident victims, scattered. “One
of the first things we taught them was how to
say ‘We are not immigration. We are here to
help’,” says Draggett, who is a new member
of ACTFL. “Both the students and firefighters
were real nervous at first, but the classes were
a huge success. The deputy fire chief required
three stations to take the classes.”
Fire Chief Ted Heck says the classes were
very successful and gave his staff an opportunity to better communicate with a sector
of the community and provide services more
efficiently. “The classes also permitted an interaction between firefighters and high school
students that enabled both groups to exchange ideas, discuss generational differences,
and see procedural standards the medics must
follow to perform their duties,” he adds. “The
end result has afforded our personnel a better
understanding of the Spanish culture that has
started to grow in our township and a better
understanding of our younger citizens.”
The students made CDs so the firefighters
could practice over the summer. Now they are
gearing up to begin the classes again after
Honor Society inductions in November. The
Jackson Police Department has expressed interest, as has a fire department in a neighboring
township. After the project was written up in
the local press and International Journal of
Emergency Medicine, Draggett was asked by retired teachers and others to share her curriculum so they could use it in their communities.
“For the students, I think the relevance of
what they are learning really hit home stronger
than with anything else they’ve done,” says
Draggett. “They see the power of knowing a
SO YOU WANT to Become a . . .
911 Telecommunicator. No experience is typically required to
become a 911 telecommunicator. To qualify, candidates need a high
school diploma or equivalent and sometimes must pass a skills test.
Most training comes on the job, and requirements vary by state and
jurisdiction. Richard Taylor says that in his experience, knowledge of a
foreign language can result in higher pay and faster promotion.
As of May 2008, the mean hourly pay for police, fire, and ambulance telecommunicators was $16.99 and the mean annual salary was
$35,000. Salaries start as low as $21,000 and can be over $65,000 in
major metropolitan areas. For more information, check with the personnel offices of state and local governments and police departments.
EMT or Paramedic. To work in emergency medicine, candidates
must first become certified as an EMT by completing basic EMT training,
which is typically offered through community colleges. Exact requirements vary from state to state. To maintain certification, EMTs must
be working in the field and meet continuing education requirements.
Paramedic training is offered through community colleges and some
state colleges and hospitals. The training typically consists of 750 to
1,500 hours of classroom and field instruction (again, requirements vary
by state). Many firefighters are also certified paramedics or EMTs.
Both the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians
(NREMT) and National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians
(NAEMT) have information about training and education as well as job
listings on their websites. NREMT certifies emergency medical service
providers at five levels: First Responder; EMT-Basic; EMT-Intermediate,
which has two levels called 1985 and 1999; and Paramedic.
For both paramedic and EMT positions, candidates may be required
to pass a physical exam and complete additional training after being
hired. Salaries range from $20,000 to $50,000, but many EMTs and
paramedics work overtime as well. EMTs and paramedics who are part of
police and fire departments typically receive the same benefits as police
officers and firefighters.
Firefighter. The minimum qualifications are being 18 years of age
or older, passing a rigorous physical and written civil service exam, and
possessing a high school diploma or GED. An associate’s degree in fire
science or emergency medicine gives candidates an advantage, as does
knowledge of a foreign language. Potential candidates are screened
through advanced testing and interviews; candidates who pass this stage
must complete firefighter training, which typically lasts about six months.
The median salary for a firefighter is $44,000 and can be over
$75,000. Pay in urban areas is much higher, for example the mean annual salary in Oakland, CA, is $86,000 and it is $77,000 in Newark, NJ.
Many firefighters also earn overtime pay. First line supervisors earn a
median salary of $67,000 and fire inspectors and investigators earn a
median salary of $53,000.
Language skills can be a great advantage for paramedics and other
emergency response workers, such as those shown here from the FDNY.
Police Officer. To become a police officer, one must be at least 21
years of age, have a high school diploma or GED (some departments
now require an associate’s or bachelor’s degree), and pass a written
exam, physical test, interview, and background check. Military service,
education, and foreign language skills will help a candidate stand out.
Ruben Gutierrez recommends that anyone interested in a career in
law enforcement learn about the different agencies and what they do.
Once you become fully informed about where you might want to work,
he says, become familiar with the agency. “Visit that organization and
talk to the people who are doing the job. I highly recommend a ridealong,” he says. “I had heard so much about what peace officers do,
but I didn’t really understand until I went on a ride-along.”
Salaries for police officers start at $30,000 and can exceed $80,000,
with a mean of $51,000. Salaries for supervisors range from $46,000 to
over $115,000 with a mean of $75,000. Detectives and criminal agents
earn from $36,000 to $100,000. Police departments typically have
Special Agent. Becoming a federal special agent is typically a long
and rigorous process. Candidates for the DEA must pass a qualifications
review, written assessment and panel interview, drug test, medical
exam, physical task test, polygraph examination, psychological assessment, and full-field background investigation.
The most competitive candidates are between 21 and 36 years of
age, have a bachelor’s degree with a GPA of 2.95 or higher, and possess
specialized skills including foreign language fluency. Check your eligibility at the DEA’s Special Agent Eligibility Quiz (www.usdoj.gov/dea/job/
To become an FBI linguist, candidates must pass several language
ability tests and a background check. To become an FBI special agent, one
must be a U.S. citizen and between 21 and 37 years of age, and have a
bachelor’s degree or higher and three years of work experience. Candidates
must also meet specific physical requirements and pass a background check.
The starting salary for a DEA agent is $38,000 to $50,000, depending on pay grade and locality pay. Following graduation from Basic
Agent Training, FBI special agents also receive Availability Pay which is
25% of the sum of their base pay. DEA employees (excluding political
appointees) are paid according to the government’s General Schedule.
The Language Educator
Using Languages in Emergency Response and Law Enforcement Careers
Find out More
911 Industry Alliance
PSLT founder Alejandra Gomez visits with a group of “Operaciones
Tacticas,” a Puerto Rican special operations police group, at the National
Latino Peace Officers Training Convention held in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Continued from p. 35
classroom-based course for their officers. Based on word-of-mouth recommendations, she expanded to teaching classes in 13 local agencies and
developed specific courses for firefighters/EMS and correctional officers.
To reach a broader audience, Gomez created self-study audio
courses, available as a CD or download, based on her classroom
training experience. The self-study courses are integrated into all
of her classroom-based courses as a learning aid and can be used
as a refresher when the classroom sessions are completed. She also
created instructor guides to enable bilingual officers or firefighters
to lead classroom-based sessions in their own agency. Instructors
receive mentoring and are certified by Gomez to teach the class.
Gomez’s classes are accredited by the California Peace Officers
Standards and Training (POST) and her self-study courses are the only
Spanish training courses reviewed and endorsed by the National Latino Peace Officers Association, the National Association of Hispanic
Firefighters, and the Chicano Correctional Workers Association.
An important aspect of Gomez’s classes is the focus on understanding and appreciating other cultures, including their food. “Every
time I present a class, I cook a different recipe from different states
of Mexico or other Spanish-speaking countries,” she explains. “I also
show movie segments or play music as a way to teach my students
about Hispanic culture.” [Check the Recipes tab on www.pslt.biz to
see what traditional dishes Gomez has shared with her students.]
“Language barriers are the biggest obstacle to communication between the police and some communities. People don’t report crimes
or want to interact with the police,” she says. Clearly, anyone who
considers a job where they interact with the public in high-pressure
and often stressful situations—whether in law enforcement or emergency services—would benefit from facility in a second language.
As Gomez notes, “If someone can speak your language, fear disappears and trust is built.”
Patricia Koning is a freelance writer and regular contributor to The Language
Educator based in Livermore, California. She covers education for the Livermore
Independent and has written for numerous local publications on the wine
industry, small business, and lifestyle topics.
The Language Educator
Association of Public Safety
Drug Enforcement Agency
Federal Bureau of
of Women in Fire and
Language Line Services
Law Enforcement Officer
(U.S. Office of
National Association of
National Association of
National Association of
State 911 Administrators
National Registry of
New York City Fire
North Carolina 911 Board
San Diego Police Department
Spanish on Patrol
U.S. Fire Administration
Students at The Ohio State University Broadcast in French and Italian By Rebecca H. Bias
he excitement builds as the door to the
soundproof inner studio is sealed. Five…
four… three… two… and, “You’re on the
air!” The techno beat of the FRIT Radio jingle cues the beginning of another broadcast, and the young DJs take control.
“Sweepers,” “stingers,” “bumpers,” and “teasers” are the new
vocabulary used by some language students from the Foreign
Language Center and the Department of French and Italian at The
Ohio State University (OSU). By providing them the chance to be
a DJ for a live broadcast with their own voices, cultural interests,
and exciting international music selections in the spotlight, FRIT
Radio is changing the way these students learn languages.
FRIT (French and Italian) Radio is a quarter-long independent study course offered fall through spring quarters at OSU.
Students in the course prepare one-hour radio scripts with
a partner and receive the technological training necessary to
broadcast live in the target language as DJs in OSU’s Arts and
Humanities Digital Media Services (DMS) recording studio (his.
osu.edu/media/default.cfm), located in Hagerty Hall’s World
Media and Culture Center (wmcc.osu.edu). The broadcasts are
then made available via streaming and download through the
Department of French and Italian FRIT Radio webpage (frit.osu.
edu/resources/frit_radio/default.cfm) for language students and
international music enthusiasts.
FRIT Radio was inspired by a young student of Italian at
Ohio State, Vinnie Young, who was interested in how the Internet was transforming the radio industry via live streams from
countries around the world. The possibilities for technology
integration, coupled with task-based language instruction, were
well-received, and the initial course curriculum was designed
for the spring quarter of 2006. In the first quarter of instruction,
FRIT Radio hosted a small pilot group of eight students: four in
French and four in Italian. Since then, around 45 students have
Pedagogy Meets Technology
FRIT Radio students are motivated by the desire to become a
DJ, and learning about the target language and culture becomes
a means to this end. Pragmatically speaking, they learn the
language to achieve a goal or to complete a task, a proven and
accepted method of the communicative approach using contentoriented instruction. As Rod Ellis states in Task-Based Language
Learning and Teaching (2003), “A task is intended to result in
language use that bears resemblance, direct or indirect, to the
way language is used in the real world.”
The digital technology component of the FRIT Radio course
enables students to experiment with powerful web tools and
audio recording and editing software. Most are already adept at
using many of these tools in their digitally-oriented lives. Will
Richardson, author of Blogs, Wikis and Podcasts (2006), affirms:
“New technologies make it easy to not only produce digital
voice and video files, they also make it easy to publish and
distribute them to wide Internet audiences. Students can now
easily ‘write’ in many different media, a fact that opens all sorts
of possibilities for the classroom.”
The Language Educator
A “DJ Smart” Classroom
The classroom experience itself is non-traditional, as students
are often seen working independently, screening music samples
on iTunes. Upbeat music with an international flavor reverberates throughout the room, students sing along to the tunes, and
even dance to the beat at their seats. They mix and distort their
own voices to make signature FRIT Radio jingles using music
tracks they create with programs like Audacity, Vegas Movie
Studio, or Garage Band.
The three-hour credit course meets once per week for 78
minutes in the Foreign Language Center’s Experimental Classroom (wmcc.osu.edu/experimental.htm). The course content
is created in English to accommodate the French and Italian
students working together. The smart classroom is equipped
with 20 student computers and one instructor station, along
with state-of-the-art software, automatic screen, multi-zone DVD
player, multi-region VCR, and high-speed Internet access. [Note:
If schools do not have access to a smart classroom such as this,
the course can easily be adapted to available resources. For example, students can actually use their own laptops to broadcast,
and most editing software is open source and easy to learn.]
Class time is dedicated to researching cultural topics for broadcast scripts, script outlines, peer editing, researching and choosing
music, and pronunciation practice. Students are also required to
make appointments with their instructor when necessary for final
script editing and more refined pronunciation practice before
broadcasts. Each group of two students broadcasts three times
each quarter, generally during weeks five, seven, and nine.
Student training consists of hands-on technical instruction under
the direction of Paul Kotheimer, instructional media specialist
and FRIT Radio producer. DMS hypermedia studio staff is committed to helping faculty and students with innovative multimedia audio and video projects for courses and outreach projects.
According to Kotheimer, “Doing a live broadcast is a nice
change of pace from the usual media production that the studio
facilitates, and the enthusiasm of the FRIT Radio students is fun
to be around. I am continually surprised at the level of professionalism they bring to the table. Other language departments
have now noticed the popularity of FRIT Radio, and seem eager
to bring the idea to their respective language students.”
After an initial group tour of the studio, students meet oneon-one with Kotheimer to go over all equipment operation. The
sound studio is equipped with Apple computers, Quicktime
Broadcaster software, and a PC-based streaming server, Darwin,
to stream the live broadcasts over the Internet. This software
also facilitates mp3 broadcast archive procedures. Each student
group is required to produce a one-hour air test (in English) to
become familiar with the technical aspects of streaming broad-
The Language Educator
Matt Daniels (Italian), Vinnie Young (original DJ trainer), and Michelle
Hungerford (Italian) in the original studio location in the OSU Union.
casts. Seasoned DJs often assist with the training of novices,
and groups are arranged so that one seasoned DJ is placed in
each group, if possible. The air tests are not live, but are done
in short “takes.” Students perform portions of their scripts while
managing the broadcast equipment, and are then given feedback
and comments by their producer and instructor before continuing to the next training segment.
The first two broadcasts of each quarter take place in the
high-tech DMS studio, supported by Arts and Humanities
information technology. The third broadcast, near the end of
each quarter, is staged live in the Crane Café (wmcc.osu.edu/
cranecafe.htm), Hagerty Hall’s international satellite television
gateway to the world. The café provides a bustling venue with
the added possibility of more impromptu student interaction.
The live programs quickly attract a student audience and DJs
often invite listeners to participate on the air if they are willing
to practice their own language skills. Others choose to dance,
sing along, or simply enjoy the experience.
Students are required to incorporate at least five cultural topics
with no more than five songs during each one-hour broadcast.
Topics may include, but are not limited to: current events,
politics, weather, song artist background, movie reviews, study
abroad, course offerings, language trivia, interviews with native
speakers, and call-in requests.
Matteo Amburgy, a student of Italian, remarked in spring 2007,
“Throughout this quarter, I have gained even more cultural knowledge about Italy. From the very serious topics, such as the problem
of bullying and school violence in Italy, to the funny stories about
cows being on display in Milan for a large art exhibition.”
One Italian student group in the spring of 2009 arranged
a Skype phone call to an American student studying Italian in
Rome and carried on a live on-the-air conversation with him
about his program, his living arrangements, and his favorite
Language Learning On the Air
FRIT Radio DJs Juan Ruiz-Coll and Samantha Werner interview a former (Italian) DJ, Matteo Amburgy, in a Crane Café live broadcast in winter 2009.
places to relax. When the student returned to the United States,
he was again featured on the program to promote and answer
questions about study abroad to Italy.
Student DJs must interact with one another in casual conversation to avoid lengthy soliloquies that may not interest the
listeners. DJs also incorporate practical techniques for blending
their music seamlessly into the broadcasts. Smooth transitions
and segues to new topics or songs using fade techniques and
noise reduction are also encouraged. Students must also incorporate cohesive composition-style transitions within their narration for continuity and ease of comprehension for their audience. They often use what are called “bumpers,” or sound effects
they create, to lead into the next segment. After each broadcast,
students are required to do a brief self-critique by reviewing
their recordings through a secure access media storage interface
called Media Manager (mediamanager.osu.edu), developed in
the College of Arts and Sciences.
Course Assessment and Feedback
Assessment in the FRIT Radio course is both formative and
summative. It is percentage-based and divided into five categories. The initial research essay on target culture radio history is
weighted at 10%. Participation in orientation and training at the
DMS studio is 20% of the final grade. The final written selfassessment of progress, including advice for future FRIT Radio
students and new and interesting sites for research, is 10% of
the final grade. Both the initial research essay and the final written self-assessment of progress are written in English.
Preparation of the three broadcast scripts is 30%, and pronunciation and performance during the broadcasts are also 30%
of the final score. These two categories incorporate grammar
correction and vocabulary enhancement, in addition to pronunciation rehearsals. The limit of three broadcasts per quarter
facilitates close attention to grammar and vocabulary choices.
This formative practice resembles process writing, in that the
students learn how to write by writing and rewriting. As a result, students also become more adept at improvising during the
broadcasts when appropriate.
French student Carolyn Hersch says, “My French speaking skills
grew tremendously. As I grew more comfortable with the script and
radio, I felt freer to ad-lib. This helped me, because I had to think
of verb tenses, vocabulary, and other phrases off the top of my head
. . . A lot of it came out naturally, and while I did make some mistakes, they tended to be things that were not too egregious.”
Adapting the Concept
The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers
(ASCAP, www.ascap.com) and the Broadcast Music Corporation
(BMI, www.bmi.com) regulate the use of international music on
the radio, whether by Internet streaming or FM frequency. Since
the FRIT Radio broadcasts fall under fair use for academic purposes, and the live broadcasts target a specific and limited university
audience, complete international music selections may be used
for the live broadcasts. However, the broadcasts may be available
for archived (re-broadcast) streaming only after removing the
majority of the musical content from the songs. This editing of the
broadcasts is done to satisfy ASCAP rebroadcast copyright limitations. Students are also required to sign releases allowing their
voices and images to be used in broadcasts and on the website for
future student reference and for course archives and promotion.
The course concept of FRIT Radio could be adapted to other
university or high school needs in several ways. For a languagebased media and culture course, students could be required to
broadcast or “podcast” once per quarter, for example, or a single
broadcast could simply be part of a final project in any language
or culture course. The open source software, Audacity, allows
students to create mp3 or wav files for playback to their own
class, or a potentially larger audience. If available, working with
information technology specialists is often the best way to handle
technical and broadcast delivery issues; however, fortunately,
The Language Educator
Language Learning On the Air
most students are quite adept at using iTunes, Garage Band, and
Windows Media Player. Finding and reviewing music comes easily to them. They can also readily access lyrics to songs on sites
such as paroles.net (French) and a-z-music-lyrics.com (Italian).
Chris Bazzoli and
Juan Ruiz-Coll at
the Italian Award
Ceremony in the
Crane Café in
Toward the Future
FRIT Radio has developed in its current form over several quarters, and will continue to adapt to technological advancements
and ever-changing ASCAP and BMI regulations. The Foreign
Language Center at Ohio State (flc.osu.edu) has invited other
languages to participate by offering similar courses. The Department of Spanish and Portuguese at OSU is currently reviewing
the curriculum with hopes of incorporating the course into
their offerings in the near future. The DMS studio staff hopes to
expand and adapt to this growth by creating an OSU Language
Network where foreign languages will have their own dedicated
stream for live listening.
Student target culture knowledge and speaking skills are
enhanced appreciably over the course of the quarter in FRIT
Radio. DJs are also highly motivated and enjoy the experience
a great deal. As a testimonial to this motivation, the course is
repeatable once, and to date the department has seen 100%
re-enrollment for the second quarter of study. Benjamin Woodhouse, a senior in French and Italian who recently completed his
second consecutive quarter in FRIT Radio, advises future DJs,
“The largest chunk of time is spent brainstorming and actually
putting those thoughts onto paper in a script format. The biggest
aspect of preparing for the broadcasts is revision: the scrutiny of
every sentence, and your ability to pronounce each word. The
most important aspect of performing is relaxing, reading slowly,
looking up from the script, and having fun. That is the best part
about this class: For all the work you put into it, you get an equal
amount of fun out of it. More importantly, you discover a newfound sense of pride and confidence in your target language.”
After successful completion of the quarter requirements, each
student is presented with a DJ award certificate at a celebration
hosted by the chair of the Department of French and Italian,
Professor Diane Birckbichler. According to Birckbichler, “The
broadcast technology component of FRIT Radio is the most interesting aspect. It is a landmark for language study at OSU, and
the students thrive upon the creative elements as they develop
their speaking proficiency in a fun and exciting venue.”
“That’s a Wrap!”
Whether they are interested in a broadcast media career or simply fascinated with the thought of becoming a DJ and performing
live before a listening audience, FRIT Radio gives students an opportunity to learn new vocabulary in the languages studied, improve their pronunciation skills, explore current cultural topics
and trends, and research and enjoy music from target cultures.
The Language Educator
“The experience this past quarter with FRIT Radio was absolutely incredible,” says Chris Bazzoli, a spring 2009 student of
Italian. “It was work, but it was so much fun that it was hardly
noticeable. My apprehensions about my speaking and writing
abilities were quickly put to rest and I am a much more confident speaker and writer in Italian.”
The product of the FRIT Radio DJs efforts—the live one-hour
broadcasts—extend to and benefit other language students,
providing them with yet another venue for accessing current
resources and fun music outside the traditional classroom, this
time created by their peers. Most new FRIT Radio students do
not have any idea what “sweepers,” “stingers, “bumpers,” and
“teasers” are when they walk into class the first day, but they
soon learn to use them creatively in their broadcasts. They have
so much fun during their shows that they often forget they are
making it all come to life in the target language.
According to many participants, the feeling of satisfaction
they get when the producer signals, “That’s a wrap!” is like no
other language learning experience they’ve ever had.
Rebecca Bias, PhD, is the assistant director of the Foreign Language Center
at The Ohio State University and specializes in technology in the foreign
language classroom. She directs the FRIT Radio course and edits the French
scripts for FRIT Radio students of French.
Currently, Eleonora Boscolo-Camiletti, a graduate teaching
associate in French and Italian and a native of Venice, directs the Italian students in script writing and pronunciation.
A project such as FRIT Radio would never be possible
without those who contributed to its initial pilot and
promote its continued success: Professors Janice Aski and
Wynne Wong, Department of French and Italian; Gwen Davis,
digital media services manager; Scott Sprague, DMS electronic media producer; Vinnie Young, Italian major alumnus;
and Adam Ross, alumnus and former FRIT Radio producer.
Listen to FRIT Radio
To listen to the broadcasts, go to the ACTFL website and click
on “See It in The Language Educator?” to link to the OSU site.
So You Say
Reader responses to issues in language learning
What specific methods do you choose to get your
students using the target language?
ACTFL Invites Educators to
Air Their Views on Topics
in So You Say
Q: What advocacy activities are you planning for
Discover Languages Month? What evidence do you
have that they are effective?
Q: How do you connect with other colleagues in
language education? What type of information do
you find most helpful to share with one another?
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
To offer your views on a topic, please go to
www.actfl.org. 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!
Students are generally eager to use the target language
because I am a native speaker and I often play dumb and
act like I don’t understand student comments and questions
when they use English. My e-mails to students are in the target language and I try to use simple language which encourages them to use the target language as well. Sometimes, if
the matter to discuss is complicated, they ask whether they
can use English, however I respond in the target language.
Ultimately, the students are thankful and are not afraid to
voice their opinions and feelings in the target language.
Margrit Zinggeler, German
Eastern Michigan University, Ypsilanti, MI
I am a proponent of Communicative Language Teaching
(CLT). I firmly believe that it is crucial for a teacher to
facilitate interaction and immersion between the students
and native speakers of the target language. I like to invite
other native speakers, if conditions permit, to my class,
to conduct interviews or other activities, so that students
have opportunities to interact with people from the target
country whom they do not know. In addition, for each of
my classes, I try to pair up my students, if they want, with
my friends or Chinese students studying in Monterey as
language partners, so that they can interact more with native speakers after class. Moreover, these language partners
can bring my students to their Chinese community, thus
increasing their language and cultural awareness.
Judy Zhu, Chinese
Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center
Every week we have a video conference with students
from our sister school, Lycée Louis Bertrand in Briey,
France. Our students speak French to the students in
France. Then the French students speak English to our
students. Everyone benefits from that exchange.
Gerard Gatoux, French and Spanish
Holy Innocents’ Episcopal School, Atlanta, GA
The Language Educator
So You Say
At the beginning of the semester this year,
I put a wide strip of bright red duct tape on
the floor marking each of the thresholds of
our Spanish classrooms. Then on the first
day of class, my colleagues and I made a
big deal out of standing on the outside the
door, speaking English and then standing
on the inside and speaking Spanish. (We
use only the target language in class.) The
red line is so simple but seems to have
made a big impression on the students;
plus they see it every day when they come
in—a good reminder. They are staying in
the target language inside the classroom,
even in their personal chit-chat before and
after class! Who knew?!
Jean LeLoup, Spanish
Colorado Springs, CO
Having students speak in the target language can be a daunting task no matter
what level you are teaching. I teach in a
Title 1 urban school. Most of my students
have never heard French in the community
or anywhere else for that matter. I am their
first and only contact with the language
and the culture. I speak French with them
beginning day one. They can answer in
English, of course, specifically in French 1
and 2 to check for understanding. I use a
lot of TPR [total physical response] and music. My students learn “to do” French before
they can speak, read, or write. All teenagers love to sing, so I use YouTube videos
of French songs to get them excited about
the language. They even download them
in their iPods. I love this since they take
French out of the classroom and into the
community when they share the music with
their family and friends. I also teach my
students to send text messages in French
so they can practice with each other. They
learn a lot of vocabulary and syntax without
me having to teach it in class.
Even at the intermediate and advanced levels, I give students a “toolkit” of vocabulary
items (on a handout or overhead transparency) to spark their imaginations and
get them using diverse and sophisticated
words and phrases. For example, if students are walking around surveying their
classmates’ opinions of various foods, they
have phrases in hand like “In my opinion
. . .” or “I would say. . .,” as well as a variety
of adjectives for describing food items
(ranging from “delicious” to “disgusting”).
Putting together these “toolkits” requires
preparation on the part of the teacher, but
they really do work.
Jennifer Redmann, German
Franklin & Marshall College, Lancaster, PA
I have a verbal participation rubric where
the students earn 5 points per day for
speaking in Spanish with me and/or classmates. They give themselves the points and
at the end of the week, I collect it and turn
it into a quiz grade. The students get into it
because they are helping their quiz grades
since I don’t have a retake policy or allow
dropping the lowest grade, etc. When
students complain that they want to raise
their grade, all they have to do is speak
more Spanish in class. Speaking Spanish
not only helps their immediate grade, but
it also helps their long term grade because
they begin to realize their mistakes.
Deborah Karpel, Spanish
Middle Creek High School, Apex, NC
I have students work in pairs to do information gap activities. I also have students
do pair interviews, asking and answering
questions with one another. I also have
students use the Rich Internet Applications
(RIA) technology tools, “audio boxes,” for
speaking assignments. The students like to
record themselves speaking Spanish.
Jocelyne Waddle, French
Frankfort High School, Frankfort, KY
The Language Educator
Sonia Steckert, Spanish
Lakeland Christian School, Lakeland, FL
I teach my students to “lie”! Well, before
one starts thinking negatively about teaching students to lie, one needs to know that
children understand when I say “lie” better
than the directive, “Be creative.” I start out
with silly TPRS-like stories in first year
and whenever the students create these
stories that focus on three main structures,
they can get ridiculous and far-fetched.
But these exaggerations and “stretches on
the truth” do not matter to me as long
as they get in the repetition of the three
chosen structures. So, this method lays
the groundwork for when I get students
to independently narrate in written or
spoken forms. After I give them a prompt,
I remind them to “lie” in order to get better
samples that are creatively developed. So a
simple prompt to tell me about a personal
collection is more successfully completed
because students now know that I do not
care if they truly have a doll or toy train
collection. I just care about the targeted
words and phrases being used correctly!
Linda Zins-Adams, German
Highlands High School, Fort Thomas, KY
I use a variety of methods, but perhaps
the most important is on the first day of
class discussing techniques for them to be
successful language learners. One of those
important techniques shared is that they
stay in the target language during the entire
class. I then make sure that I structure the
class activities so that they will indeed be
able to stay in the target language and not
be tempted to use English. I also have a
substantial class participation grade that
rewards students for remaining in the target language. I make sure that they know
early on in the semester what their class
participation grade is so that they can either maintain or alter their behavior. Other
successful techniques include teaching a
high-paced class, and changing partners
weekly, if not more frequently.
Audrey Heining-Boynton, Spanish
The University of North Carolina at
Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC
“I want to pick up a new
language after I retire.”
ow often have you heard adults announce how they plan
to simply acquire a new language in their free time? How
easy—or difficult—is it really to take on the task of learning a language later in life? Middlebury College in Vermont
has been encouraging students of all ages for years and every
summer older students mingle with “twentysomethings” as they
communicate in languages other than their own.
How do learners age 40 and older feel when they are learning a
language in an intensive program, such as those at Middlebury College? Do their insights about their own language learning have any
lessons for professors who may have increasingly age-diverse classes?
Measuring Experiences of Older Learners
As a Middlebury alum, I always dreamed of going back and doing
another summer in “language paradise.” Having majored in French
and Spanish in the 1970s and later attaining my M.A. in Spanish
through Middlebury’s program in Madrid, I decided to try either
Italian or Portuguese. When I learned that Portuguese qualified
as a critical language, I applied for the Kathryn Davis Fellowship
htm) and was accepted for the summer of 2007. I placed into Portuguese 1.5 (for speakers of Spanish) and subsequently returned
in the summer of 2008 to complete the intermediate level—Portuguese 3. I naïvely thought the experience would be easy, but I was
wrong. It was more challenging than I ever imagined, which made
me wonder if this barrier were due to my age (52 and 53 those
When I went back to Middlebury, it had been 30 years from the
time I had received my M.A. in Spanish. Although I feel confident
as a teacher, know verb conjugation patterns, have an ear for cognates, and I believe I possess strong motivation and dedication to
language learning, I was having a relatively hard time. Why? Did
other older learners find that the wrong words spilled out of their
mouths when trying to speak in the target language?
By Christi Moraga
With permission from Dr. Michael Geisler, vice president for
Language Schools, Schools Abroad, and Graduate Programs at
Middlebury, I ran a survey at the end of my second summer aimed
at language students who were age 40 and above to see if they felt
the same way as I did about their learning process. I hoped their
answers might shed light on how instruction could be improved
upon so that the older learner’s experience would become more
productive. [Note: The survey was given in English after the
language pledge was lifted, during the last two days of the summer
term when the students could read and write in English again.]
The survey was voluntary, anonymous, and confidential; the
raw data was not shared with the Middlebury instructors. Fifteen students from the following schools answered the survey:
French, Spanish, Russian and Portuguese. Of these, five were in
the “youngest” category of 40–44, two were ages 45–49, four were
50–54 and then there was one each for the remaining categories:
55–59, 60–64, 65-69, 70+. Eleven subjects were female and four
Findings of the Middlebury Survey
The results showed some trends with which I could identify. The
overall perception was excellent: 43% were “very happy” with
their studies, 50% said, “I learned a lot but wish I could have
learned more,” and only one person felt discouraged with the
learning process. Knowing that highly motivated students attend
Middlebury, the wish for more learning is probably not due to a
dislike for the Middlebury Program, but rather the subjects’ own
desire to achieve more. Also, the one person who was discouraged
wrote that she was “overloaded” with Russian and did not have
time to process. Although I thought that a lack of mobility might
interfere with an older person’s ability to attend activities on a large
campus, it turns out that 85% had no problem getting around
campus and only about 15% felt that they were slightly hindered
and sometimes skipped a few activities.
In general, these students were experienced learners of languages: 47% were returning to Middlebury to study a different language
and 53% had completed a language program in another university.
Forty-seven percent wrote they were studying a second language,
whereas 27% were studying a third language, 20% a fourth lanThe Language Educator
A younger student and author Christi Moraga (age 53 in photo)
doing an oral presentation for a class on the Amazon looking at
how well Middlebury is doing with ecological sustainability.
guage, and one was onto a fifth foreign language. The older learners
attended Middlebury’s rigorous summer program at all levels: two
were in the introductory level 1, two were in level 1.5, five were
in level 2, two were in level 3 (advanced intermediate), one was in
level 4, and three were studying at the graduate level.
Which professionals are interested in going back to school to
study a foreign language? The majority were teachers: 7 out of 15,
plus one retired professor. Other professions included actress, orchestra/opera director, retired soldier, diplomat, medical illustrator,
computer consultant, and one unemployed person who previously
worked in finance.
Why were these students, in the autumn of their lives, taking up
new languages? Only two students needed the credit; these were
teachers working on their M.A.s. The vast majority of those surveyed
were taking languages for more personal reasons, such as a love for
language, the desire to move to another country, for a job, or “to
avoid wasting a good foundation and to keep my mind challenged.”
This last comment reflects some recent research that learning a
language can delay Alzheimer’s and other illnesses that interfere with
memory. A Canadian study in 2007 showed the onset of dementia
was delayed 4.1 years in bilingual subjects (see box on p. 46).
Middlebury has a long history of excellence in the field of immersion language programs and I wanted to know why these students
above the age of 39 had chosen this institution. Middlebury’s
reputation has a lot to do with it: 85% came for the professors
and 69.2% said the classes were a big draw. However, academics
do not take up the whole day and
46% felt the activities were important. The Language Oath, a key to
Middlebury’s successful programs,
was listed by 39% as an important
factor. The location in the foothills
of the Green Mountains was also
important to 39%.
How did they feel about being
in a class, and dorm, with much
younger students? Overall, they were
pleased with interactions with other
students: 80% found group work productive and 73% related well
socially to the younger student body. One commented that it was
“very inspiring to work with smart and mature young adults.”
How were the older students treated by their professors? In the
two summers that I attended the Portuguese School, only one out
of a dozen professors acted as though she was worried about her
authority with me in the classroom, which in itself was surprising since all the others treated and graded me like just one more
person on the roster. Fourteen of the 15 respondents felt that
overall they were treated fairly and equally by their professors.
Their comments included: “[The] teacher tolerated my errors and
respected my desires,” and “I was treated with respect.” In general,
age did not seem to be a big issue in the classroom; students commented that “none of the professor issues seemed to be related to
my age or the age of others” and “they made no concessions and
certainly did not patronize me.” However, some noted that “the
pace privileged those who came in with more knowledge of the
language,” and “the teachers [were not] flexible enough to realize
everyone has a different learning style and rate of learning.” This
last comment brings up the issue of differentiation, which apparently at least one student did not feel her professors took into
Students were also asked about which instructional strategies
worked well for them. While this will always vary widely according to the individual, certain strategies were deemed more effective
by students: small group discussion (71%); key terms, vocabulary,
or structures printed (50%); oral presentations (43%); films with
“It can be difficult to dispel the rumor that once you are past 25, your
brain turns to mush. I have a burning drive to work because I know
how lucky I am to be here. If you have the drive and commitment,
anyone can learn a language after 39!”
The Language Educator
—an older student in the Middlebury language program
discussions (36%); lecture format (36%); and corrections made
by professor orally immediately after mistake (36%). The older
students also made numerous comments with regards to wanting
and needing more time in learning vocabulary, completing quizzes,
processing information, and using technology—all of which indicate that professors would do well to realize that older students
are capable of producing excellent work as long as they are given
enough time to process.
Teaching Older Language Learners
Middlebury Student Bruno (age 40) dancing with
a younger student at the Brazilian Festa Junina.
The other side of the coin from
teacher instructional strategies is
student strategies for learning and
acquiring language, and a wide variety
of study techniques were used. Almost
everyone (85%) reviewed their notes,
and working with a partner was found
to be very effective by 69%. The communicative method, which includes a
lot of speaking and practicing aloud,
was also considered a useful way to
learn language by 62%. With regards to writing skills, 46% stated
that “rewriting compositions with corrections” worked, as well as
retyping notes (39%). Listening skills were also not forgotten, as
39% listened to tapes or CDs and repeated aloud.
A few people also found these other methods helpful: reading
film subtitles in the target language; making flash cards; doing
research online; and doing research in the library with books and/
or journals. Other ideas mentioned were: planning in advance for
assignments; written work; exercises; computerized flash cards; as
well as “having patience with myself” and “just hard work.”
In the teaching of foreign languages, culture is integrated into
instruction. This survey asked a question referencing not only
the target cultures of the languages under study, but also the oncampus “culture” of the language school. Only just over half had
the time to be “totally integrated into the culture of the school and
participate in many activities.” Four people “partially bought into
this idea” and one person was “turned off” by the cultural activities. Other comments showed that time constraints interfered
with most students to be able to fully take advantage of all that
Middlebury had to offer.
about Age-Related Research in Language Learning
Canadian Study Shows Bilingualism Has Protective
Effect in Delaying Onset of Dementia by Four Years
Keep Your Mind Young: The Benefits of Learning
a Second Language
How did the participants feel that their
ages affected their learning process? The
results were mixed, with some feeling at
a disadvantage and others thinking they
were ahead of the game. Technology is one
area where they tended to feel less capable
than their younger classmates: 67% felt
that younger students were more at ease
with technology and one respondent said
that he did not use it at all. Five of the
students felt that they were at a disadvantage because younger students learned more quickly. However,
only two people felt that younger students had an easier time with
pronunciation. Several students felt quite good about their age and
said that they were more mature and made better choices regarding free time. Only three people felt that they were better organized and only three thought that they used time more efficiently.
This perhaps is a compliment on the part of the older learners
saying that the younger students were motivated to be organized
as well; or just another way to say that time is a huge issue that
works in favor of younger people.
The findings of this small survey may not be revolutionary, but
they can be instructive for anyone who teaches languages to older
students. In general, I found that older students take languages at
all levels and many study multiple languages. The ratio of female to
male older learners was 3 to 1 at Middlebury’s immersion program
during the summer of 2008, which may or may not reflect a general
trend for greater numbers of females at all ages in language classes.
I found that these older students were willing to walk around a
large campus to get to class and activities. Most blended in easily
with younger students and they did not feel that their professors
at Middlebury treated them any differently than others. However,
they did feel that the professors could have better differentiated
instruction to help their 40- to 70-year old students process
information, and could have given them more time to absorb new
material. Students themselves recognized that they also needed
more patience to learn—vocabulary and structures at any level can
be daunting if there is a huge quantity to learn in a limited time
period. Finally, these older learners felt that they did use their time
wisely but did not have enough of it.
Christi Moraga is a French and Spanish teacher at West Woods Upper Elementary
School in Farmington, CT. In the summer of 2009, she was the French and
Spanish dean of Concordia Language Villages in Savannah, GA.
The Language Educator
In the Classroom
Learning in Second
By David Neville
omputer gaming has become a popular pastime with many
of our students. Yet just because an innovative technology
is available does not mean that we should uncritically apply it
toward second language acquisition. Likewise, simply because
students grow up with a certain technology does not mean that we
need to cater to these tastes in the classroom. The latter reasoning creates a culture of student entitlement, whereas the former
is the expensive mistake of putting the proverbial cart before
the horse. Instead, use of technology should be predicated upon
what Donald Norman in The Design of Everyday Things terms its
“affordances”—or the quality of its interface that makes it particularly usable in a given learning situation. As this article will
illustrate, computer games have unique affordances that make
them especially useful in content-oriented, culture- and task-based
foreign language curricula.
One note: For teachers who have very little experience with
computer games—or absolutely none at all—it is understandable
that getting involved with these technologies can be an intimidating experience. It is therefore reassuring to know that many of the
game development platforms currently available are geared toward
the casual hobbyist. Although some of the more advanced features
of these platforms do require knowledge of a scripting or programming language, entry-level features are generally simple to master
and require little to no coding expertise. The online communities
that have grown up around these platforms are excited about what
they have to offer the world and eager to help novices overcome
any difficulties. In any case, foreign language instructors have a lot
to gain by implementing digital game-based learning (DGBL) in
their curriculum: In my own research on the use of interactive fiction to teach German language and vocabulary, to be detailed this
fall in the journal Computer Assisted Language Learning, I have
found that DGBL has positive effects on students’ comfort level,
sense of self-efficacy, and knowledge transfer and retention.
The Language Educator
Computer Games in
Second Language Acquisition?
As many language instructors have no experience in computer
gaming, for the sake of illustrating what DGBL can offer the profession, please refer to a web-based video of Battlefield 2142 gameplay
(www.youtube.com/watch?v=8QOdVB2hzxY; or search: “BF2142
Squad VOIP Teamwork 1 ‘Breaking Through’” on YouTube).
The video in question depicts a team of players, each of whom
has individual and unique responsibilities on a combat assault
team. The players can access the game from remote sites around
the world and may never have met one another in person. In this
version of the game, players must work together to coordinate
an attack in order to capture an enemy flag. A direct attack is not
feasible due to overwhelming enemy forces, so the squad leader
modifies plans and instead opts for an assault along a circuitous
route. While communicating with squad members via VoIP (voice
over Internet protocol), focusing on the immediate tactical aspects
of the current operation, the squad leader is also managing the
broader strategy of his team’s performance in the game via a headsup-display of the battlefield and positioning combat resources
accordingly. What the game provides, therefore, is an engaging 3D
experience with numerous complex layers that interact with one
another in real time. The game also requires the player to evaluate emergent challenges in the environment, create a hypothesis
for how to deal with these challenges based on existing game
resources and player capabilities, test this hypothesis for validity,
and, if necessary, make any changes to the hypothesis and allow
for retesting. Clearly, there can be a lot of learning going on in
these computer games.
The video clip also illustrates what DGBL proponents, such as
James Paul Gee (author of What Video Games Have to Teach Us
About Learning and Literacy), have long seen to be the primary
learning principles inherent to computer games. Some of these
In the Classroom
• Community of Learners. DGBL allows players to interact
with one another, exchanging experiences and knowledge,
while working together to solve a common problem. Similar
to a more competent peer in Vygotsky’s theory of the zone of
proximal development, more advanced players help novice
players become more adept at gameplay.
• Goal-Based Learning Scenario. Unlike more open-ended
computer-mediated communication (CMC) tools such as
Second Life (secondlife.com), which lack traditional game
mechanics and rules, thus making it difficult to align gameplay with discrete instructional objectives, DGBL requires
rules of play and conditions under which the game can be
won. Successful navigation of the game space, therefore,
can be interpreted as mastery of context-specific learning
• Open-Ended Exploration. As mentioned above, DGBL
encourages players to develop patterns of iterative problem
solving. If a problem cannot be solved in one way, other
methods are attempted. Although a game must have clear
rules for defining what is successful and legitimate gameplay, players can test the limits of these rules, experiment
with them, and seek ways to circumvent them. This playful
exploration of a virtual environment helps players develop
skills for dealing with an ill-structured and emergent problem in a real environment.
• Situated Cognition and Far Transfer of Learning. Confronted with a problem space that continually challenges
their hypotheses, players do not learn rote answers to static
general-knowledge questions. Rather, their interaction with
the game environment assists in developing complex and
nuanced mental schemata that are not only tailored to specific problem spaces, but also are flexible enough to allow
transfer to parallel problems in the real world.
As we formulate new ways to revitalize the language profession at the beginning of the 21st century, DGBL must be one of the
technologies we seriously consider for inclusion in our respective
curricula. Reason for this consideration is that computer games
can handily complement current pedagogical approaches. In addition to learning a foreign language through a content-oriented
and culturally based lesson, DGBL can further enhance this lesson
by allowing students to test their own mental hypotheses actively,
while simultaneously exploring use of the language in a virtual
reconstruction of an authentic socio-cultural context.
Why not learn about navigating a train station in Germany
in a manner that anticipates the way students eventually will be
required to perform this task in the real world, for example? Or
buying groceries in a Russian supermarket? Or finding the right
classroom on the first day at a Spanish university? Seeking to foster
the playful exploration of language within its specific social and
cultural contexts, DGBL for second language acquisition seems
like a logical and natural fit.
Finding Your Game Development Niche
Not every computer game is, like Battlefield 2142 (www.battle
field.ea.com/battlefield/bf2142), developed in the genre of a firstperson shooter. There is a wide range of computer games that
appeal to an ever-expanding demographic of young and old, male
and female players.
For example, action adventure games (e.g., Prince of Persia,
prince-of-persia.us.ubi.com) combine elements of exploration,
puzzle solving, and object gathering with fighting scenarios. Roleplaying games (e.g., Oblivion, www.elderscrolls.com/home/home.
php) require the player to assume a persona with specific skill sets
while advancing through specific game-based challenges. A strategic life-simulation game (e.g., The Sims, thesims.ea.com) requires
the player to control the lives, relationships, and social interactions
of virtual characters. Each of these games has a different interface
and story arc and, accordingly, provides the player with different
learning opportunities and experiences.
Granted, the computer games mentioned here are professionally developed, high-end products supported by large budgets
and numerous team members. This does not mean, however,
that DGBL should be out of the reach of language instructors or,
for that matter, that developing games to meet our professional
objectives is a fruitless activity since we could never aspire to the
heights that these game creators have scaled. In what follows, I
will briefly focus on gaming technologies that are currently accessible to second language instructors, including interactive fiction,
2D, and modded games.
The Visionaire programming interface for the creation of
2D graphical adventure games.
The Language Educator
In the Classroom
Left: A still render of the 3D
game that author David Neville
is currently developing.
Right: The interface for the TES
Construction Set, a free
software tool used to make
mods for Elder Scrolls games.
Relying on textual descriptions of the game space as the primary
player interface, although static 2D images and sounds can also be
included, interactive fiction (IF) allows a player to explore a simulated environment through text commands that control characters
and influence the game environment.
Although not as popular as 2D and 3D graphic-based games,
IF nevertheless has a dedicated fan community that continues to
develop adventure- and puzzle-based IF games for free distribution. The Interactive Fiction Archive (www.ifarchive.org) is a valuable online resource providing games for free download, articles,
essays, and IF development tools. Allowing the player to explore
a text in non-linear fashion, IF can be a powerful tool for teaching
second language reading.
I used the open source IF programming language Inform 6
(www.inform-fiction.org/inform6.html) to create an interactive text
adventure game that introduces beginning university students to
the German vocabulary and culture necessary to navigate a train
station in Germany. The game, available for free download and use
(cle.usu.edu/CLE_IF_AUSFLUG.html), requires players to assume
the persona of Karin Moller, an American foreign exchange student
living in Freiburg im Breisgau and studying computer science
and German at the university. On a free Saturday she decides to
take a sightseeing trip to Munich. Before she can depart by train,
however, she must first park her bicycle, buy a train ticket, get
something to eat and drink, find a book to read, and locate the
correct train platform.
The game makes use of German-language code libraries,
which ensure that all player interaction with the game—even
interaction not anticipated by the game developer—is met with a
response in German. Support libraries for French, Spanish, Italian,
Dutch, Russian, and Swedish are also available. Although Inform
6 requires knowledge of how to write computer code, Inform 7
(inform7.com) is the latest release of the design system and allows
game developers to write code using natural English language
sentences. Although there is currently no code library support
for languages other than English, this will probably be rectified in
the future. In addition, the Inform 7 website provides the novice
The Language Educator
game developer with numerous tutorials, resources, help files, and
recipes for getting a successful game off the ground.
2D Graphical Adventure Games
Having developed and tested several games using Inform 6 and
7, I occasionally encounter students who feel that, although the
game itself is an excellent idea, the interface is rather dull. These
students want to have a richer visual environment to explore.
Although IF can insert static images and audio clips into the flow
of onscreen text, these multimedia function similar to illustrations
found in a printed book: They support and enhance the reading of
the text, but the primary player interaction remains grounded in
The 2D graphical adventure games change this interaction
slightly. Games in this genre were popular during the early 1990s
with releases such as Sam and Max Hit the Road and the Monkey
Island series. Although text is still printed onscreen, this is done
over a pre-rendered graphic image. The game character and nonplayer characters (NPCs) also become visible to the player from
a third-person perspective and the player interacts with the game
environment through a point-and-click interface. Many 2D game
developers seem to prefer cartoon-like game environments, although photographs can also be used. These 2D graphical adventure games replace the rich textual descriptions characteristic of IF
with more detailed visual images, giving rise to simpler dialogues
between the player and NPCs. The overall effect is one of playing a
comic book or graphic novel rather than reading a text.
The shift to visual primacy is not necessarily a bad thing. The
increased emphasis on the visual track to support gameplay means
that practice with a second language can occur within a cultural
context that is explicitly modeled for the player and that responds
to his or her interaction. Whereas IF, being primarily text-based,
allows some room for player interpretation and imagination, 2D
graphical adventure games can be more unequivocal about how
a foreign culture looks and functions. Although most 2D game
development environments require knowledge of a scripting
language, Visionaire Studio (www.visionaire2d.net) is an inexpensive editing platform offering a full range of game actions that can
In the Classroom
be combined in different ways without programming experience.
Current language support is offered in German and English. Similar to Visionaire Studio, Adventure Maker (www.adventuremaker.
com) is a toolkit requiring no programming expertise for the creation of point-and-click adventure games and providing language
presets in German, Italian, Spanish, and French. Both Visionaire
Studio and Adventure Maker have freeware versions with more
3D Game Mods
Finally, no survey of available gaming technology would be complete without briefly mentioning computer game mods. More difficult to create, a game mod is essentially additional player-defined
programming that alters or modifies some aspect of the original
game. Modifications can be as simple as depicting a game character with a different color hair or as complex as a complete game
world with additional 3D models, game challenges, and parallel
story tangents. Some software development companies, such as
Bethesda Softworks, actively support the development of game
mods as this ensures continued player interest in a computer game
release. For example, players of The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion are
still active in the game long after completing it through the development of back stories and characters that were introduced in the
original game release.
The primary advantage of 3D game mods is, of course, their
realism. Whereas 2D graphical adventure games can only provide
players with a static representation of target environment, 3D
mods allow players to enter that environment, freely move around
in it, and interact with it. The game world can be made to function
similarly to the cultural spaces that students will encounter in a
Elon University student Kyle Schutt works on fine-tuning the character
animation and actions for a game.
Elon University students Jack Garratt and Daniel Cresse discuss the game
layout and player challenges for the 3D adventure game Conrad Schaeffer
and the Case of the Stolen Nazi Gold.
foreign country and, therefore, can serve as a valuable learning
opportunity for these students as they explore the limits of these
spaces and improve their mastery of a foreign language.
The student/faculty development effort I currently help lead
at Elon University, the DigiBahn Project team, used the TES
Construction Set (cs.elderscrolls.com/constwiki/index.php/Main_
Page), made available for free download by Bethesda Softworks,
in conjunction with the Oblivion game to develop a mod allowing
German language students to navigate a virtual train station in
3D while meeting specific instructional goals such as purchasing a train ticket, locating the appropriate track, making sense
of arrival and departure tables, and interacting with game NPCs.
Other development projects (e.g., Aristotle’s Assassins, imrc.usu.
edu/index.php?page=aristotles-assassins) use the Aurora Neverwinter Toolset (nwn.bioware.com/builders) to modify the popular
third-person perspective computer role-playing game Neverwinter
Nights for educational purposes. Truly ambitious game developers
with robust institutional support structures can use existing game
engines, such as Gamestudio (www.3dgamestudio.com), or 3D
rendering engines, such as OGRE (www.ogre3d.org), to develop
their own 3D games from the ground up. Feeling more ambitious
with regard to our game development capabilities, the DigiBahn
Project team recently switched to Blender (www.blender.org), a
free and open source 3D content creation suite that ships with a
built-in game engine and Python programming interface, to continue game development. We post all recent game development on
our research blog site (www.digibahn.blogspot.com).
As we have discovered with the DigiBahn Project, students can
be involved in all levels of game development, from the creation
The Language Educator
of culturally sensitive NPC dialogues to the actual programming
of the game and development of the 3D meshes. I recently used
my interest in game development to define a class project for my
intermediate German conversation course, which requires students
to assume the role of an NPC in the game, to develop the identities of the NPCs through library research, to brainstorm how the
various backgrounds of the NPCs could potentially influence their
speech acts, and to work with other students in the class to create a
linguistic network of NPC dialogue that a player could use as a tool
to accomplish specific game objectives. The project will culminate
with students playing a paper-based version of the game in class to
test both the dialogue they developed and the flow of the game.
Keep Games in Mind
From the brief outline presented above, it is clear that educational
computer games can range from the simplest solo projects (interactive fiction) to more complex projects requiring full crossdisciplinary development teams (modded 3D games). It should
also be noted that game genres provide varying instructional affordances that can appeal to different student demographics. An
interactive fiction game, for example, would be more appropriate
for strengthening reading skills in more advanced language learners whereas a point-and-click adventure could possibly be more
interesting for beginning language learners in elementary school.
The essential point is that educational computer games can provide a meaningful way for interacting with a foreign language and
much research still needs to be done on formulating best practices
for their application in SLA contexts.
It would wrong to assume that designing a game that is simultaneously fun, playable, and educational—and with clear and
demonstrable learning objectives—is easy work. On the contrary,
the entire process from articulation of the game’s preliminary
requirements to development of the final product can be difficult,
challenging, and even frustrating. Students will invariably break
your first game prototype or discover programming bugs you did
not anticipate. Nevertheless, the thrill of having your game finally
installed on student computers and watching them interact with
the challenges you have designed is intensely gratifying.
Instead of complaining about computer games detracting from
education, perhaps it is time that we roll up our collective sleeves
and leverage this powerful and popular technology platform for
teaching foreign languages and culture.
Elon University students Tess Stamper, Daniel Cresse, and Natalie
Lampert clarify design plans. The students shown here are trying make
the game space depict the outside of Stuttgart Central Station as closely
Learn More in San Diego!
The author of this article, David Neville, will
be presenting more about digital game-based
learning at the ACTFL Convention and World
Languages Expo in San Diego, CA. He will present
at a panel session, “A Digital Game-Based Learning Approach to Developing Situated Cultural
Competency,” on Friday, November 20 from 6:15
to 7:15 p.m. in Convention Center Room 28D. He
will also present a poster session, “Getting Game:
Digital Game-Based Learning for Second Language Acquisition,” on Saturday, November 21
from 2:00 to 3:00 p.m. in the Convention Center
Ballroom 6 Lobby.
David Neville is assistant professor of German and director of language learning
technologies at Elon University, Elon, NC.
The Language Educator
Central States Conference
on the Teaching of Foreign
The CSCTFL serves the 17 states of
Arkansas, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa,
Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota,
Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio,
Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, and
The CSCTFL 2009 Paul Simon Award for
the Promotion of Language and International
Study was presented to Michigan State Super
intendent of Public Instruction Michael P.
Flanagan. Superintendent Flanagan proposed
rigorous new high school graduation requirements that included a two-year language requirement ensuring that Michigan’s students
will gain the linguistic and cultural skills to
live in a multicultural society both at home
TEACHER OF THE YEAR
The 2010 Conference will be held at the
Hyatt Regency in Minneapolis, MN, from
March 4–6. The conference theme is “2020
Vision for 2010: Developing Global Competence.” Mary Goodwin is serving as program
chair with Phyllis Farrar as assistant program
chair. Janice Kittok has been named as the
local arrangements chair.
More than 1,200 participants attended the
Central States Conference, “Diverse by Design,” March 19–21, at the Hyatt Regency in
Chicago, IL. Program chair was Lori Winne
with Mary Goodwin as assistant program
chair. Leann Wilcoxen served as local arrangements chair and Todd Bowen was assistant local arrangements chair. In his Friday keynote,
“In Search of Language: Diverse by Design,”
John De Mado used humor to guide participants through understanding the “nature”
of language. Carolyn Gascoigne and Melanie
Bloom served as co-editors of the CSCTFL
2009 Conference Report, Diverse by Design.
The CSCTFL 2009 Founders Award for Professional Excellence in Education was awarded to Mary M. Carr. A retired high school
Spanish teacher, she has also taught at the
University of Indianapolis. She traveled with
students abroad, planned Foreign Language
Week activities, helped her school initiate an
International Baccalaureate Program, and was
always willing to try new methods to support
and cultivate her students.
CSCTFL Teacher of the Year Lisa Lilley teaches Spanish in Springfield, MO, where she is
curriculum development committee chair.
She has studied abroad in Spain, Mexico, and
Costa Rica and coordinates study trips for her
students and other teachers of Spanish. One
colleague says of her, “For Mrs. Lilley, teaching is not a job, but a calling: one which she
has accepted with enthusiasm and passion.”
dents: Differentiated Instruction in the World
The CSCTFL Grants Program supports
the needs of states that have an issue to be
addressed. Grant projects may include, but
are not limited to, professional development
grants designed to improve the teaching and
learning of world languages, support for
special programs that strengthen local and
state organizations and allow them to contact
or offer increased and special services to their
members, and funding for research on topics
of general interest with wide applicability to
teachers at all levels.
The CSCTFL supports professional development outreach to the 17 states in the CSCTFL
region. CSCTFL uses the ACTFL model to
encourage each state to present a session at
their state conference that includes CSCTFL
information and classroom tips from their
current state Teacher of the Year.
The Centro MundoLengua Scholarship was
awarded to Kirsten Ehrke and the Cemanahuac Educational Community Scholarship
was awarded to Kathleen Keffeler.
The CSCFTL Leadership Program supports
state projects with state-nominated representatives within a CSCTFL-sponsored mentoring program. Emerging leaders are supported
by two-way peer mentoring and the expertise
of recent Leadership Program graduates. A
variety of state projects ranging from action
research to increasing membership are supported by this program.
Conference Workshop/Extension Workshop Program participants receive content
information, materials, and training from
workshop presenters on the practical application of new ideas for the classroom.
Participants then conduct a similar workshop
in their local area in order to bring the conference and its new ideas to a greater number of
teachers. ACTFL National Language Teacher
of the Year Toni Theisen presented the all-day
workshop “Making a Difference for Our Stu-
Northeast Conference on
the Teaching of Foreign
The NECTFL region extends from Maine
to Virginia and includes Connecticut, the
District of Columbia, Delaware, Maine,
Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire,
New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode
Island, Vermont, Virginia, and West Virginia.
The Northeast Conference on the Teaching
of Foreign Languages is a not-for-profit proactive regional organization that serves a broad
constituency including language learners,
educators and the larger community, and
is dedicated to the belief that all Americans
must have the opportunity to learn and use
English and at least one other language.
NECTFL aspires to serve the diverse community of language professionals through
responsive leadership in its outreach activities
and its annual conference. Its mission is to:
• anticipate, explore, respond to, and advocate for constituent needs;
The Language Educator
• offer both established and innovative
professional development in support of
language teachers and learners; and
• provide opportunities for collegial interchange on issues critical to the profession.
NECTFL welcomes three new directors to the
Board: Cheryl Berman (Spanish and French,
NH), Mohamed Esa (German, MD), and
Amanda Seewald (Spanish, NJ). Gratitude
and a fond farewell goes to departing Board
members Doug Bunch (Latin, VA) and Martin
Smith (Spanish, NJ). A fond farewell and
heartfelt thanks also goes to Sharon Wilkinson,
outgoing past chair, who presided over the
This year’s conference, “Engaging Communities: The World Is Our Classroom,” chaired
by Laura Franklin of Northern Virginia Community College, brought a new perspective
on global connections to 2,250 participants at
our 56th annual gathering held April 16–18,
at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in New York
City. The keynote speaker was Barbara “Bee”
Dieu, internationally acclaimed speaker and
ESL teacher from Brazil who has been honored for her work with online communities
and telecollaborative project-based learning.
A highlight of the conference was the
Global Exchange, a section of the exhibit hall
devoted to community-oriented organizations such as The Peace Corps, iEarn, Global
Playground, and Equal Exchange. Conference
attendees were able to speak with representatives of these entities and to learn how
language study could connect their students
to others in meaningful ways.
The annual awards ceremony at the conference
provided the chance to honor a number of
outstanding colleagues. NECTFL was pleased
to bestow upon Vickie Mike of Horseheads
(NY) High School, the title of NECTFL Teacher
of the Year for 2009. She is thus a finalist for
the ACTFL National Language Teacher of the
Year award to be presented in San Diego in
November. The Brooks Award for Outstanding Leadership in the Profession was given
to Marjorie Hall Haley of George Mason
University, who chaired the NECTFL conference in 2007. The Dodge Award for Advocacy
The Language Educator
went to Luma Mufleh of the Fugees Family.
The Freeman Award was presented to Jason
Goulah of DePaul University for his article in
Foreign Language Annals 40, 1(2007), titled
“Village Voices, Global Visions: Digital Video as
a Transformative Foreign Language Learning
Tool.” Finally, retiring webmaster/photographer Jack Henderson was recognized and
celebrated with the NECTFL Service Award for
his 10 years of dedication and contributions to
LEADERSHIP FELLOWS AND
NECTFL’s Mead Leadership Fellows for 2009
are: Steven Berbeco (Arabic, MA), Richard
Detwiler (Spanish, PA), Monica Dominguez
Mulholland (Spanish, DC/VA), and Susanne
Sutton (German, MD).
Scholarship winners were Catherine
Schwenkler (VA), recipient of the Annenberg
Media/Marjorie Hall Haley Graduate Student
Travel Award; Sharlise Shulterbrandt (DC/
MD), who received the Cemanahuac scholarship to study in Mexico; and Alberta Costa
Norton (PA) who participated in the French
Embassy program as NECTFL’s recipient.
BEST OF NECTFL
Michael Bogdan, of the South Middleton
(PA) Public Schools, presented a jam-packed
session that was selected as Best of NECTFL
and that will be given again at the ACTFL
Convention in San Diego: “Talking on Their
Feet: Advancing Speaking Skills.”
OUTREACH AND PROFESSIONAL
NECTFL continues its special outreach to
urban context world language educators.
Thanks to the expertise and generosity of a
number of Board members, workshops were
provided to to 300 New York City teachers
last February in Brooklyn. NECTFL also continues to partner with the states by providing support for the Best of States sessions,
the Mead Fellows Leadership Program, the
Teacher of the Year award, and other initiatives. The companies that display products
and services in the exhibit areas at the conference are both constituents and partners in
supporting language educators.
Some major transitions are opening up new
opportunities for NECTFL in the realm of
publications. With our webmaster’s retirement, NECTFL is studying ways to serve the
profession through the website and we will
be inaugurating a number of new pages in
the coming year. The NECTFL Review is also
moving to an entirely electronic format with
issue 65. While exactly the same rigor in peer
review processes and in evaluations of materials and programs will be maintained (thanks
to editors Bob Terry and Tom Conner), the
electronic format will facilitate the introduction of some exciting new, teacher-friendly
sections. Watch for them soon!
NECTFL 2010, chaired by Jaya Vijayasekar
of the Vernon (CT) Public Schools, will be
held March 25–27 at the Marriott Marquis
Hotel in New York City. It will focus on the
theme, “Simply Irresistible: People, Programs,
and Practices That Inspire.” In celebration
of many years in New York, and prior to the
move to a new conference location in Baltimore, MD (2011 and 2012), NECTFL is honored to join the New York State Association of Foreign Language Teachers (NYSAFLT)
in presenting a joint conference in 2010. In
addition to the outstanding array of sessions, workshops, receptions, and exhibit
hall displays attendees have come to expect
from NECTFL, there will also be a special
set of panels constituting NYSAFLT’s spring
The conference will open with a unique
and engaging event this year. In an effort to
serve many diverse constituencies, there will
be opportunities to hear from experts, to
interact with leaders both in and outside the
field, and to participate in or observe demonstrations. NECTFL recognizes that one size
does not fit all, so participants can tailor the
conference to their needs beginning with this
NECTFL has also responded to requests
for a chance to network with colleagues informally at the conference by designating a large
ballroom in the hotel as a “Teachers’ Lounge.”
Participants may visit this area at any time
during the conference to sip a cup of coffee,
discuss sessions, consult with colleagues, or
page through the program. There will truly be
something for everyone at the conference and
it is in New York City, the language professional’s paradise!
Has your district or university reduced or
eliminated financial support for conference
attendance? Please e-mail [email protected]
edu for help.
Pacific Northwest Council
for Languages (PNCFL)
The Pacific Northwest Council for Languages
unites, serves, and supports all world language educators in Alaska, Idaho, Montana,
Oregon, Washington, and Wyoming.
This year, the Pacific Northwest Council for
Languages (PNCFL) celebrates its 60th anniversary. PNCFL still holds to the original
ideals of the organization: to unite language
educators from across the region, no matter
their language of choice or their level of
instruction, from kindergarten to college.
Happy birthday, PNCFL!
Teacher of the Year
PNCFL congratulates Renee Fritzen from
Gillette, WY, who will be the region’s nominee for the upcoming ACTFL National Language Teacher of the Year award. Fritzen is a
National Board Certified Teacher of Spanish.
She has been a member of Wyoming Foreign
Language Teachers’ Association (WFLTA)
since 1994. Fritzen has taken students abroad
several times and has successfully earned
grants for teaching culture. In her application materials, Fritzen describes her passion
for creating lifelong learners in her students,
helping them see the value of foreign language learning.
The Ray Verzasconi Northwest Post
secondary Teacher of the Year Award
Dr. Rachel Halverson of Washington State
University (WSU) has served as the president
of the Washington Association for Language
Teaching (WAFLT) and has been involved at
the national level as well, regularly participating
in the American Association of Teachers of German (AATG) Conference and ACTFL Conven54
tion each year. She has worked hard at WSU
to ensure that students meet their language requirement not by seat time, but by proficiency
as assessed using the National Standards.
Outstanding Contribution to the Teaching
of World Languages Award
Dr. Josefa (Pepa) Baéz-Ramos, currently living
and working out of Seattle, was originally
assigned by the Spanish Embassy to serve the
state of Washington. In addition to her work
in Washington, she has served Alaska and Oregon as well by being a mentor and leader to
language educators. She has been an honorary board member of the Washington Juan de
Fuca Chapter of the American Association of
Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese (AATSP)
and has served actively on the Washington
Association for Language Teaching (WAFLT)
board for many years. Pepa supports language
teachers in many ways through her work at
the Center for Spanish Studies at the University of Washington and through the many free
presentations and workshops she gives.
webite at www.pncfl.org. In addition to
articles on successful language programs,
second language acquisition research, and
course materials, Lingo includes information
on professional development opportunities,
conferences, and state and national language
COUNCIL GOES HIGH TECH
In an effort to bring the organization into the
21st century, the PNCFL Council began holding their monthly meetings via Skype instead
of using a conference call service. This has
saved the organization hundreds of dollars,
and the council members have learned new
technology skills as well.
The PNCFL Council met in person for
their annual meeting at the Idaho Association
of Teachers of Language and Culture. The
Council enjoys visiting different state association fall conferences each year.
WESTERN INITIATIVE FOR
The Western Initiative for Language Leadership (WILL), a two-year professional
development opportunity coordinated by the
Center for Applied Second Language Studies
(CASLS) at the University of Oregon, serves
second language teachers in the western
region of the United States. This year, CASLS
welcomed 17 teachers to the week-long
institute in Portland, OR. These teachers were
from California, Hawaii, Montana, Nevada,
Oklahoma, Oregon, Utah, and Washington.
Each participant accomplished the goal
of planning an action research project for
the coming school year. With the help of
five mentors from previous WILL sessions,
teachers chose topics that range from implementing new technologies in the classroom,
perhaps using A National Virtual Language
Lab (ANVILL) or LinguaFolio Online, to
exploring ways to improve students’ reading
and speaking proficiency levels. After a year
of studying their classrooms, WILL participants will reunite in the summer of 2010 to
share their work.
PNCFL has revised the publishing schedule
of its newsletter, Lingo, to twice per year
in September and March. The newsletter is
also available for download from PNCFL’s
PNCFL welcomes Dr. Carolyn Taylor from
the University of Wyoming in Laramie, WY,
as president of the Council. Laurel Derksen of
the Anchorage School District Curriculum Department was elected as vice president. Other
Council members are dedicated professionals
from across the six states of the region.
Southern Conference on
Language Teaching (SCOLT)
The fourteen affiliates in the SCOLT region
are as follows: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida,
Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi,
North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee,
Texas, Virginia, West Virginia, and the U.S.
The Richmond County foreign language
teachers in Augusta, GA agreed that the
assessment project in which all K–12 world
language teachers participated was indeed
instrumental in moving their language
programs toward more productive student
outcomes through the use of performancebased assessments. Greg Duncan of InterThe Language Educator
Prep served as the facilitator for this SCOLT
The Richmond County Language Team
shared their work and the results at the
March 2009 SCOLT/Foreign Language
Association of Georgia (FLAG)/Southeast
Association for Language Learning Technology (SEALLT) Conference in Atlanta and will
also present at the 2009 ACTFL Convention
as the “Best of SCOLT” presentation: Penny
Johnson, coordinator; Candida Thompson,
Academy of Richmond; Robert Walker, Cross
Creek High School; Debra Welch, Hephzibah
Comprehensive High School; Peggy Wright,
Westside High School; and Sara Cashin,
formerly from Westside High School.
SOUTHERN INITIATIVE FOR
The summer of 2009 brought the completion of the Southern Initiative for Language
Leadership (SILL), a year-long leadership
training for 14 of the original 20 candidates.
The group had worked throughout the school
year on individual action research projects
and presented their results in a “miniconference” format at this summer’s session.
In addition to hearing the SILL facilitators’
“Road to Leadership” stories, four leaders
residing in Georgia shared their stories and
encouragement with the group: Keith
Cothrun, world languages consultant with
the College Board; Kristin Hoyt of Kennesaw
State University, current president of the
Georgia American Association of Teachers of
French (AATF); Brandy Meeks, past president
and current historian of FLAG; and Jon
Valentine, Georgia Department of Education foreign language specialist. Other guest
speakers included Sherri Moss, language arts
coordinator for the Fulton County Schools,
and her co-presenter, Millie Fuller, who
shared insights and activities based on the
Myers-Briggs personality profile each participant had completed. Dr. Robert Hess was the
special guest speaker who presented during
the final two days of the program. The participants received one of his three books, Follow
the Teacher: Making a Difference for School
Improvement, which has wonderful examples
of teachers portraying acts of leadership as
well as an excellent rationale for why teacher
leadership is so very important.
Of course, much appreciation for the
planning and execution of SILL goes to the
CASLS-sponsored facilitators: Brenda Gaver,
Brandee Mau, Lynnette Pottenger, Krista
Swenson, Richard Winegar, and Greg
Hopper-Moore, who fills a dual role as
The Language Educator
research and development coordinator at
the University of Oregon and as the executive director at PNCFL. In addition, SCOLT
Past President Lynn Fulton-Archer was an
integral part of the planning as well as session
The SILL graduates are as follows:
LaTricea Adams, Jady Arriaga, Wanda
Evangelista, Esther Gonzalez-Wright, Laura
Hall, Stephanie Hicks, Tiffany Hornback,
Kristine Lentz-Johnston, Beth Murphy, Kristin
Perez, Vance Pitman, Melissa Ruder, Melissa
Spain, and Lin Yun-Ching.
SCOLT congratulates all the 2009 SCOLT
• Charles Moore, Gardner-Webb Univer
sity—SCOLT World Languages Teacher of
• Alisha Dawn Samples, Midway Elementary (SC)—SCOLT World Languages
Teacher of Excellence, K–12
• Greg Duncan, InterPrep, Inc., and Sharon
Rapp, Société Honoraire de Français—
SCOLT Founders Award
• Patricia Close, Florida Virtual School—
Embassy of Spain Scholarship
• Elizabeth Ellis, Brookland-Cayce High
School (SC)—Cemanahuac Educational
• Suzanne Lange, Grassland Middle School
(TN)—University of Quebec at
• Erica Poole, South Gwinnett High School
(GA)—Centro MundoLingua Scholarship
• Alexis Rowland Mattingly, Hunters Lane
High School (TN)—Cultural Services of
the French Embassy Scholarship
• Melissa Ruder, Bellevue Middle School
• Lundon B. Sims, R.J. Reynolds High
School (NC)—Estudio Sempere
• Kathleen Wheeler, Pickneyville Middle
School (GA)—Cultural Services of the
French Embassy Scholarship
• Scott Windham, Elon University (NC)—
Goethe Institut and AATG Scholarship
TEACHER OF THE YEAR
Linda Zins-Adams, Highlands High School
(KY) is the 2009 SCOLT Region World Languages Teacher of the Year. The summer of
2009 found Linda hard at work doing what she
does best. . . being a great language teacher!
Linda served as an AP reader for German in
Nebraska at the close of school followed by
facilitating two week-long AP Summer Institutes at Morehead State University and at La
Salle University. Her summer culminated with
a reversal of roles as she became a student in a
week-long TPRS workshop for German teachers held in Sweetbriar, VA.
FRIENDS OF WORLD LANGUAGES
2009 Friend of World Languages Recognitions:
• Heifer International: www.heifer.org
• Soccer in the Streets: www.soccerstreets.
• Michel Personnaz (FL)
SCOLT JOURNAL: DIMENSION
In celebration of SCOLT’s 45th conference
anniversary, the 2010 edition of Dimension
will contain the 1980–2009 index. Maurice
Cherry, former Dimension editor and past
SCOLT president, has worked on this project
since 2003 and is pleased that it will be
included in the forthcoming edition. Carol
Wilkerson, current Dimension editor, has
selected only a few articles from the 2010
conference for inclusion in this edition since
most of the space will be devoted to the
index. Carol has recently agreed to complete
the term as SCOLT’s representative to ACTFL
for Jim Chesnut as he takes on other
NEW SCOLT BOARD MEMBERS
At the 2009 SCOLT/FLAG/SEALLT Conference, Caroline Switzer Kelly joined the
SCOLT Board as advocacy director, and Juan
Carlos Morales joined as the director for
World Languages Teacher of the Year award.
Other members include: Nancy Decker,
president; Kenneth Gordon, vice president;
Patricia Carlin, SCOLTalk editor, Susan NaveyDavis, scholarship director, Vernon LaCour,
conference registrar; Carol Wilkerson, Dimension editor; and Lynn Fulton-Archer, past
The 2010 conference will be held April 15–
17 in Winston Salem, NC, and will celebrate
SCOLT’s 45th anniversary. The theme will be
“Communication Beyond the Classroom.” See
the website for complete details.
on Language Teaching
The Southwest Conference on Language
Teaching is a regional foreign language
teachers’ organization that hosts an annual
conference in partnership with state foreign
language teacher associations. The participating states in SWCOLT are Arizona,
California, Colorado, Hawaii, Nevada,
New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, and Utah.
SWCOLT held its 26th Annual Conference
at the brand new Embassy Suites Hotel and
Conference Center in Norman, OK, on April
2–5. The conference was a collaborative
effort with the Oklahoma Foreign Language
Teachers’ Association (OFLTA). The theme
was “Language Cultivated.” The SWCOLT
Board was honored to have ACTFL President
Janine Erickson; ACTFL Director of Education Marty Abbott; and 2009 ACTFL National
Language Teacher of the Year Toni Theisen
in attendance at the conference. More than
450 participants attended. The conference
provided six workshops and 85 sessions.
The preliminary results from the conference
evaluations show that it was a success.
On April 3, Forrest “Frosty” Troy, founding
editor of the Oklahoma Observer, was plenary
speaker. Troy shared his deep belief that our
schools are in fact educating our students
and that today’s teachers are doing more to
educate more than ever before in history. Our
Saturday luncheon speaker, Peggy Boyles,
shared with attendees the strong connections
that culture makes with our lives and the
importance of integrating culture into our
Our awards luncheon was held on April 3.
The following awards were given:
• Excellence in Teaching: Shelli Brown,
Spanish teacher, Vines High School,
• Friend of the Profession: Ralph Pohlmeier,
Stevens Learning Systems, Bethany, OK
• Honorary Lifetime Member: Helene
Zimmer-Loew, executive director, AATG
In addition, Consul General de France M.
Pierre Grandjouan awarded Desa Dawson,
director of world languages, Oklahoma State
Department of Education, with the Chevalier
de l’Ordre des Palmes Académiques for her
efforts in establishing partnerships between
Oklahoma schools and those in the Picardy
region of France.
The following individuals were awarded
scholarships by the SWCOLT Board:
• Goethe-Institut Scholarship: Melissa L.
• Cemanahuac Educational Community
Scholarship: Anthony Troche, NV
• Universidad Internacional-Center for
Linguistic Multicultural Studies: Curtis
• Centro Mundolengua, Sevilla, España:
Troy Frieling, OK
TEACHER OF THE YEAR
The 2009 SWCOLT Teacher of the Year
nominees were the following individuals:
Upon review of their application packets and
following the interview process, Nellie Spurin
from Texas was selected as the 2009 SWCOLT
Teacher of the Year.
BEST OF SWCOLT
Based on session evaluations, Satoru Shinagawa
of the University of Hawaii, was selected as
“Best of SWCOLT.” His session was entitled,
“PodText: Using iPod as an Audiobook.”
from Colorado has completed his three-year
term. The Colorado Congress of Foreign
Language Teachers (CCFLT) has selected Judy
Cale to replace him. During the Board meeting on April 5, however, Rudy was elected
to serve as the program chair for the 2011
conference; therefore, he will remain on the
board in an at-large position.
The 2010 Annual Conference will be held
April 8–10, at the Embassy Suites Hotel in
Albuquerque, NM. Greta Lundgaard will be
the program chair and has selected “Developing 21st Century Skills” as a theme. She is
soliciting presentations that focus on helping
students learn languages via the use of technology. The Local Committee Chair is Natalie
Figueroa. Tom Welch will be the plenary
speaker and Blaine Ray will be the luncheon
SWCOLT will hold its 2011 conference in
Fort Worth, TX. The Board is in the process
of selecting locations for the 2012–2014
Annual Conferences. Additionally, the Board
voted to move the annual conference from a
time period of March/April to late-January/
mid-February, beginning with the 2011
Executive Director: Jody Klopp
Chair of the Board: Paul Chandler
Past Chair: Tom Mathews
Program Chair: Greta Lundgaard
Assistant Program Chair: Rudy García
ACTFL Representative: James Yoder
Advocacy/Publicity Chair: Tanya Zaconne
Awards Chair: Guadalupe Martínez
Evaluations Chair: Judy Cale
Newsletter Editor: Bev Burdett
Scholarship Chair: Linda Bedson
Teacher of the Year Chair: Joyce Pitt
Local Committee Chair: Natalie Figueroa
NEW AND RETIRING BOARD
Mara Sukholutskaya has finished her term as
the SWCOLT representative to the ACTFL
Board of Directors and will be leaving the
SWCOLT Board. Additionally, Rudy García
The Language Educator
National, state, and local news on policy and legislation
Secretary Duncan Calls for Rewrite of NCLB Act to Begin
ecretary of Education Arne Duncan said in September
that the $24.8 billion in federal funds available annually
to the nation’s schools should support reforms that prepare
students for success in college and careers.
“Today, I am calling on all of you to join with us to build
a transformative education law that guarantees every child
the education they want and need—a law that recognizes
and reinforces the proper role of the federal government
to support and drive reform at the state and local level,”
Duncan told more than 200 leaders of key education groups
in his first major speech about the future of the Elementary
and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) of 1965. The ESEA was
reauthorized most recently in 2002 in what is known as the
No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB).
In his speech, Duncan said that NCLB has significant
flaws and that he looks forward to working with Congress to
address the law’s problems. He said the law puts too much
emphasis on standardized tests, unfairly labels many schools
as failures, and does not account for students’ academic
growth in its accountability system.
“But the biggest problem with NCLB is that it doesn’t
encourage high learning standards,” Duncan said. “In fact,
it inadvertently encourages states to lower them. The net
effect is that we are lying to children and parents by telling
kids they are succeeding when they are not.”
Duncan credited NCLB for highlighting the achievement
gap in schools and for focusing accountability on student
outcomes, and said he is committed to policies that work
toward closing that gap while raising the achievement of all
children. He says he wants the next version of ESEA to create
tests that better measure student learning and to build an
accountability system that is based on the academic growth
of students. He also wants the law to create programs to
improve the performance of existing teachers and school
leaders, to recruit new effective educators, and to ensure
that the best educators are serving the children that are the
“Our role in Washington is to support reform by encouraging bold, creative approaches to addressing underperforming schools, closing the achievement gap, strengthening the
field of education, reducing the dropout rate, and boosting
college access,” Duncan said.
After Duncan’s speech, the two senior staff members who
will coordinate the department’s effort to reauthorize the
ESEA invited members of the audience to outline proposals
for the next version of the law. The session was the first of
a series of events where education stakeholders will offer
input about the law. Carmel Martin, assistant secretary for
planning, evaluation, and program development, and Thelma
Melendez de Santa Ana, assistant secretary for elementary
and secondary education, will be hosting these events in
the Barnard Auditorium at the department’s headquarters in
the Lyndon Baines Johnson Building, 400 Maryland Ave. SW,
Three of the ESEA stakeholder meetings have already
taken place in October and early November. Upcoming meetings will also be held Friday, Nov. 20 from 1:00–2:30 p.m.
and Wednesday, Dec. 2 from 2:00–3:30 p.m. The forums are
part of the department’s “Listening and Learning” tour seeking public input about changes to the ESEA. By the end of
the year, the secretary or a senior staff member will have led
a listening-and-learning event in all 50 states.
Language Advocacy Video Online
he Joint National Committee for Languages and National Council for Languages and International
Studies (JNCL-NCLIS) has posted a video entitled “Language Advocacy: Making Your Voice Count”
on their website at www.languagepolicy.org/advocacy/legday_simluation_video.html. The video
contains guidelines for congressional staff meetings, follow-up instructions, and suggestions for
keeping up with advocacy at home. The video also contains a simulated Congressional staff meeting
that was conducted at JNCL-NCLIS’s annual Legislative Day held on Capitol Hill this past May.
The Language Educator
$12.4 Million in FLAP Grants Awarded for Foreign Language Instruction
he U.S. Department of Education recently announced the awarding of more than $12.4
million in Foreign Language Assistance Program (FLAP) grants to local and state school
systems in 24 states and the District of Columbia. The funds will be used in elementary and
secondary schools to establish or expand programs of study in one or more foreign languages.
“Communicating with our international neighbors not only promotes peaceful relations
but also equips students for employment and to compete in the global marketplace,” says
Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. “These grants will help strengthen both our national
and economic security.”
The FLAP grants were awarded in three categories: state educational agencies (SEAs),
local educational agencies (LEAs), and local educational agency-institution of higher education partnerships (LEA-IHE Partnerships). This is a combination of what has been done
in past competitions.
Congratulations to the following FLAP recipients for 2009:
State Educational Agencies (SEAs):
Over $500,000 in Grants
South Orangetown Central Schools
Chinese, Korean, Russian, Japanese $261,029
Arabic - $193,600
Cumberland County Schools
Spanish - $266,367
Cleveland Heights-University Heights City
Chinese - $177,746
Summit County Educational Service Center
Chinese - $300,000
Washington Yu Ying Public Charter School
Spanish - $290,875
Virginia Department of Education - $182,601
Tuscarawas Carroll Harrison Education
Chinese - $291,564
West Virginia Department of Education $123,033
Seminole County Public Schools
Chinese - $102,316
Tulsa County School District, Debbie Burchfield
Chinese - $299,966
Chicago Public School District #299
Arabic - $298,395
Nebraska Department of Education - $194,898
Local Educational Agencies (LEAs):
Approximately $8.7 Million in Grants
Montgomery County Public School System—
Loveless Academic Magnet Program
Chinese - $212,574
Woodstock Community Unit School District 200
Spanish - $300,000
School District 1J Multnomah County
Spanish - $292,005
South Central Kansas Education Service Center
Chinese - $237,999
Southern Oregon Education Service
Chinese - $203,017
Deer Valley Unified School District
Chinese - $209,938
The Dearborn Academy
Arabic - $97,000
Alameda County Office of Education
Chinese - $300,000
Forest Hills Public Schools
Chinese - $238,261
Berks County Intermediate Unit
Chinese - $297,078
Northeastern Educational Intermediate Unit
Chinese, Arabic, Japanese, Hindi - $200,000
Glendale Unified School District
Spanish - $273,192
Young Scholars of Central Pennsylvania
Chinese, Turkish - $192,355
Oak Park Unified School District
Chinese - $86,815
Chinese - $274,905
Pasadena Unified School District
Chinese - $291,225
Arlington Independent School District
French, German, Spanish - $300,000
Englewood Public School District
Chinese - $269,870
Cosmos Foundation Inc.
Turkish - $300,000
Binghamton City School District
Chinese - $202,894
Henrico County Public Schools
Chinese - $52,771
San Diego County Superintendent of Schools
Chinese - $295,821
Shasta Union High School District
Chinese - $250,000
Walnut Valley Unified School District
Chinese - $295,821
District of Columbia
Chinese - $284,717
City School District of New Rochelle
Chinese - $300,000
The Language Educator
Local Educational Agency/Institute
of Higher Education (LEA/IHE)
Partnerships: Over $3.1 Million
Anchorage School District
Russian - $257,106
Glendale Unified School District
Korean - $300,000
Palos Verdes Peninsula Unified School District
Chinese - $297,665
San Francisco Unified School District
Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Russian $300,000
Aurora Public Schools
Chinese - $294,899
Missoula County Public Schools District #1
Arabic - $162,204
Township High School District #214
Chinese - $242,763
Cumberland County Schools
Chinese - $290,689
Southeast Kansas Education Service Center
Chinese - $214,952
Independent School District No. 5 of Tulsa
Chinese - $215,219
Fayette County Public Schools
Chinese, Japanese - $300,000
Hopkins Public Schools
Chinese - $257,208
Senate Intelligence Committee Decries Shortage of Foreign Language Speakers
its “Report to Accompany S. 1494, the Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2010,” the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence stated that “the Committee is concerned about
the abysmal state of the Intelligence Community’s foreign language
programs. The collection of intelligence depends heavily on language, whether information is gathered in the field from a human
source or from a technical collection system. Even traditionally
nonlinguistic operations such as imagery rely on foreign language
skills to focus and direct collection efforts.”
The report continues: “Almost eight years after the terrorist
attacks of September 11th and the shift in focus to a part of the
world with different languages than previous targets, the cadre of
intelligence professionals capable of speaking, reading, or understanding critical regional languages such as Pashto, Dari, or Urdu
remains essentially nonexistent.”
The report was highlighted in an article by Anthony L. Kimery
posted September 24 on the HSToday: Homeland Security Insight
& Analysis website (www.hstoday.us). Kimery also noted that a
Send in Your
Legislative Updates to
The Language Educator
The Language Educator
new report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) stated
that as of October 31, 2008, 31% of Foreign Service officers in
overseas language-designated positions (LDPs) did not meet both
the foreign language speaking and reading proficiency requirements for their positions. According to Kimery, the GAO also said
that the State Department continues to face foreign language
shortfalls in regions of strategic interest—such as the Near East
and South and Central Asia, where about 40% of officers in LDPs
did not meet requirements.
Despite efforts to recruit individuals with proficiency in critical
languages, shortfalls in “supercritical” languages, such as Arabic
and Chinese, remain at 39%, the GAO study reported.
To read more of Kimery’s analysis of the shortage of foreign
language professionals in the fields of national security and
intelligence, go to www.hstoday.us/content/view/10359/149.
Read the entire report from the Senate Intelligence Committee at
intelligence.senate.gov/090722/11155.pdf. The GAO study is
available at www.gao.gov/new.items/d09955.pdf.
Please e-mail [email protected] with any information about
new legislation in your area that either helps or threatens
languages, as well as your own state and local efforts such as
letter-writing campaigns. Photos welcome!
What’s online for foreign language educators
Dictionary for 11 Languages
What to Do About the Flu
The lingro website says that its mission is to create an online
environment that allows anyone learning a language to
quickly look up and learn the vocabulary most important to
him or her. Through its dictionary builder feature, those who
are fluent in two or more languages can add words that are
missing from the dictionary. Users of the dictionary can find
the English translation of words in 10 other languages, or can
find the translation of an English word into another of those
languages, which are Chinese, Dutch, French, German, Italian,
Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, and Swedish.
This year, there is even more conversation—and more concern—
about flu season than ever, and this site is a one-stop access to
information from the U.S. government about seasonal, H1N1, avian,
and pandemic flu. It includes the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance for institutions of higher education, a communication toolkit for institutions of higher education, and the new
K–12 guidance and information. The 2009 H1N1 Flu Watch can also
be accessed on this site, including the situation in the United States,
with information provided by the CDC, and the international situation,
with information provided by the World Health Organization.
RIF in Spanish
Chinese for Travel
On its website, Reading is Fundamental (RIF) offers some
material—for preschoolers through adults—in both Spanish
and English. RIF also has a bilingual website section, called
Leamos en Familia, designed to help Latino families read, sing,
and share stories at home, but Spanish teachers might also
use them in their classrooms.
Along with what it calls “survival Chinese lessons,” this site includes
podcasts, a language forum, and lessons on pronunciation, grammar,
and vocabulary. There are also articles and information about travel in
China and Chinese culture.
Free Stuff for Teachers
Periodic Table in Different Languages
The Freeology site has printable graphic organizers, forms, awards and
certificates, and a humorous and inspirational blog.
This site offers the periodic table in languages that include
Dutch, English, French, German, Italian, and Spanish,
Center for Advanced Language Proficiency
Education and Research
One of the U.S. Department of Education’s National Language
Resource Centers, the Center for Advanced Language Proficiency Education and Research (CALPER) is focused on improving the environment of advanced-level foreign language teaching and learning, and
assessment. CALPER is based at Pennsylvania State University, where
its projects include Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Russian, heritage
language assessment, project-based learning, dynamic assessment,
and technology. CALPER also offers a number of other resources for
The Language Educator
Unit About Japanese Student Life
Funding for Classroom Projects
Created by Andrew Scott with the Confederation in Oregon For Language Teaching (COFLT), this site includes a section about the lives of
Japanese elementary school students, including videos of their classes,
customs, and games. The high school section includes an interview
of two actual Japanese high school students, and it also notes that
supplemental activities such as webquests and games are coming
soon. A third section has information about Japanese school uniforms.
Calling its work “citizen philanthropy,” DonorsChoose.org is
an online charity through which public school teachers in
America can post classroom project requests. Visitors to the
site browse the requests and choose ones to which they wish
to donate. When the project reaches its funding goal,
DonorsChoose.org delivers the requested materials to the
school. Some of the requests from language educators have
included books, projectors, and recording equipment.
Lesson Plan Using German-American Cookbooks
From the Max Kade Institute, this unit for German Levels I and II
details the objectives, resources, and materials needed, and the suggested activities—from introductory to hands-on activities.
Interactive Spanish Exercises
AsíSeHace.net is a free website from Nottingham High School in
the United Kingdom. It has Spanish interactive exercises and other
resources designed to help intermediate and advanced students,
although its creators say that it may be useful for anyone learning
Walk, Talk, and Learn French
French Online Grammar Quiz
Created by Carol Reiter, an instructor of French at City College
of San Francisco, these quizzes are designed to accompany
Latin Best Practices Wiki
The Latin Best Practices Wiki is intended to be a place for
teachers to come together to begin creating together lists of
basic dialogue that they can use to conduct more of their Latin
classes in Latin. Creator Bob Patrick has also placed on the site
a list of folders with topics that range from grammar to literature to TPRS lessons based on specific texts, and notes that he
is open to creating more as teachers contribute to the wiki.
In this video series from the Radio Lingua Network that began in
January 2009, teacher Pierre-Benoit walks around the streets of Paris
talking about the language he sees on posters, advertisements,
Dutch Online Grammar Course
This site includes a Dutch grammar reference, audio files in mp3
format, and a Dutch grammar forum.
These and other Web resources
can be accessed through the
Publications area on the ACTFL website
Why not visit today?
The Language Educator
Volume 4, No. 6
January 29–31, 2010
Send in Your Events for the Calendar
Center for Educational Resources in Culture,
Language, and Literacy Second International
Conference on the Development and Assessment of Intercultural Competence, The Hotel
Arizona, Tucson, AZ. Information:
If you have information about any upcoming events related to language
education, please send it to Sandy Cutshall at [email protected]
November 2, 2009
Connecticut Council of Language Teachers Fall
Conference: “Connecting Disciplines Through
Language and Literacy,” Crowne Plaza,
Cromwell, CT. Information: www.ctcolt.org/
November 16–19, 2009
Oral Proficiency Interview (OPI) Assessment
Workshop, San Diego Convention Center,
San Diego, CA. Information: www.actfl.org.
February 1–28, 2010 Discover Languages. . .
Discover the World ® Month
The fifth annual Discover Languages Month
will continue efforts to increase public awareness of the importance of language learning.
Information, and products and resources to
help celebrate Discover Languages Month:
November 16–20, 2009
International Education Week. Information:
November 4–10, 2009
Seventh Annual National French Week.
November 5–7, 2009
November 19, 2009
ACTFL Pre-Convention Workshops,
San Diego, CA. Information: www.actfl.org.
Indiana Foreign Language Teachers Association
Conference, Crowne Plaza (Holiday Inn Select),
Indianapolis, IN. Information: www.iflta.org/
November 19, 2009
November 5–7, 2009
November 20–22, 2009
February 3–6, 2010 National Association for Bilingual Education
Annual Conference, Denver, CO. Information:
OPI Tester Refresher & Norming Workshop,
San Diego Marriott, San Diego, CA.
February 19–21, 2010
ACTFL 2009 Annual Convention and World
Languages Expo, San Diego, CA. Information:
First International Conference on Heritage/
Community Languages, Covel Commons,
UCLA, Los Angeles, CA. Information:
Wisconsin Association For Language Teachers
Annual Conference: “Learners without Borders:
World Languages for a Global Society,” Radisson Paper Valley Hotel, Appleton, WI. Information: www.waflt.org/conference.htm.
December 1, 2009
March 4–6, 2010
Deadline for ACTFL Video Podcast Contest.
November 6–7, 2009
December 27–30, 2009
Central States Conference on the Teaching of
Foreign Languages, Hyatt Regency Minneapolis, Minneapolis, MN. Information:
Symposium on Second Language Writing,
Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ. Information: sslw.asu.edu/2009.
November 5–7, 2009
Kansas World Language Association Conference,
Wichita Marriott Hotel, Wichita, KS. Information: www.kswla.org/2009conferenceinfo.htm.
November 6–7, 2009
Mississippi Foreign Language Association Conference, The Summit, Tupelo, MS. Information:
November 13–14, 2009
Tennessee Foreign Language Teachers Association Fall Conference, Franklin Cool Springs
Marriott, Franklin, TN, Contact: Francille
Bergquist, 311 Kirkland Hall, Vanderbilt
University, Nashville, TN 37240; Fax (615)
343-8453. Information: www.tflta.org.
American Association of Teachers of Slavic and
East European Languages Annual Conference,
Hyatt Regency Philadelphia at Penn’s Landing,
Philadelphia, PA. Information: www.aatseel.org/
March 6–9, 2010
American Association for Applied Linguistics,
Sheraton Atlanta Hotel, Atlanta, GA. Information: www.aaal.org/aaal2010.
December 27–30, 2009
March 10–14, 2010
Modern Language Association Annual Convention, Philadelphia, PA. Information:
California Language Teachers Association Conference, Town and Country Resort, San Diego,
CA. Information: www.clta.net.
March 19–20, 2010
January 7–10, 2010
Annual Meeting of the Linguistic Society of
America, Hilton Baltimore, Baltimore, MD.
The Classical Association of New England
Annual Meeting, Moses Brown School, Providence, RI. Information: www.caneweb.org.
The Language Educator
Volume 4, No. 6
The Language Educator
Inside front cover
Defense Language Institute
Monterey Institute of International Studies
Georgetown University Press
Concordia Language Villages
ACTFL Career Center
Middlebury-Monterey Language Academy
ACTFL 2009 Convention
and World Languages Expo
ACTFL Language Testers Needed
The Keys to the Classroom
Inside back cover
March 24–27, 2010
April 22–25, 2010
Teachers of English to Speakers of Other
Languages (TESOL) Convention, Boston, MA.
National Council of Less Commonly Taught
Languages Conference, Sheraton Madison Hotel, Madison, WI. Information: www.councilnet.org/conf/conf2010/2010-announce.htm.
March 25–27, 2010
April 29–30, 2010
Northeast Conference on the Teaching of Foreign Languages, Marriott Marquis, New York,
NY. Information: www.dickinson.edu/prorg/
Arkansas Foreign Language Teachers Association Spring Conference, Arlington Hotel, Hot
Springs, AR. Information: www.aflta.org.
March 25–28, 2010
Association for Asian Studies Annual Meeting,
Philadelphia Marriott Downtown, Philadelphia,
PA. Information: www.aasianst.org/annualmeeting/index.htm.
June 3–6, 2010
Association of Departments of Foreign Languages (ADFL) Summer Seminar East, Host:
Thomas DiPiero, University of Rochester,
Rochester, NY. Information: www.adfl.org/
April 8–10, 2010
June 17–20, 2010
Southwest Conference on Language Teaching, Albuquerque, NM. Information: swcolt.
ADFL Summer Seminar West, Host: Daniel
Uribe, United States Air Force Academy,
Colorado Springs, CO. Information:
April 15–17, 2010
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Contribute your Experience | Expertise | New Ideas
Submissions should be sent via e-mail to
G out La
Your Great Idea
things that educators
of the most important
community is one country have come up with some
others to get
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for advocacy and
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around the state.
New Visions in
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In looking at the
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By David O. Neville
Professor David Neville (center) with students Kayla Thornton (left) and Caitlin Roberts (right).
n recent months, the stock market has been a dizzying roller-coaster
ride and, unfortunately, many of us—including our colleges and
universities—have been unwilling passengers. With money tied up
in private equity and venture capital funds, these institutions are now
witnessing the evaporation of their endowments while the value of
these funds has fallen. The New York Times, the Boston Herald, and The
Chronicle of Higher Education have all reported on how major institutions
are implementing hiring freezes, imposing travel restrictions, suspending
building construction, and cutting budgets and jobs. Already coping with
traditionally low operating budgets, foreign language departments may
find the pending round of cuts particularly difficult to swallow.
Forced into a corner by shrinking budgets, foreign language departments have every reason to throw their hands up in despair and
rail against circumstances beyond their control. Are slashed budgets
not just another sign that portends the decreasing value of a broad
humanities education? Yet the story need not be so bleak if we know
where to invest our intellectual resources. The questions we must
ask ourselves are straightforward: What areas will have the greatest
“return on investment” for foreign language departments in terms of
future professional growth, student recruitment, and program expansion? When others see risk, where can we glimpse opportunity? One
answer to these questions, I believe, lies with digital technology.
The current bear market conditions need not have a negative
effect on the quality of program offerings or departmental growth.
Savvy language educators will see digital technology as a force
multiplier that is scalable, can reach students in new and exciting
ways, supports a variety of approaches to second language acquisi-
tion, maintains consistent levels of instructional excellence, and, if
properly and creatively applied, can ensure continued departmental
growth despite shrinking economic resources.
and the Educated Educator
With a background in instructional design and computers, I am often
asked about digital technology in the classroom. Language educators want to know which technologies are on the rise, how these
technologies can be adapted for classroom use, and whether they are
easy to learn. Although these questions are legitimate, I nevertheless
hesitate somewhat when answering them. Technology cannot be applied in a blanket manner to all instructional situations but must be
weighed against the learning objectives and format of a course, the
personalities of the instructor and students, and its known pedagogical strengths and weaknesses.
That noted, however, if we do not experiment with technology in
all its forms we will remain ignorant of how and when it can best be
applied to teach a foreign language. Looking to younger scholars to
carry the torch in this area may also be problematic. Although the
MLA Ad Hoc Committee Report, Foreign Languages and Higher Education: New Structures for a Changed World (2007), recently challenged
graduate programs to “provide substantive training in language
teaching and in the use of new technologies” and to “teach graduate
students to use technology in language instruction and learning,”
very few graduate programs have courses of study in place that can
equip graduates with the necessary training, knowledge, and skills
The Language Educator
to provide leadership in these areas. Until graduate programs address
this weakness, the responsibility to provide direction and articulate
areas of research falls on all of us.
The first step of leadership we must take is to inform ourselves of
what technology is currently available and what is just around the
corner. In fact, the latter is probably more important as technology
evolves quickly and it is vitally important to stay ahead of the curve.
What was cutting edge yesterday is commonplace today. Therefore,
in addition to observing how our students and fellow colleagues in
other departments use technology, we must also learn to identify
developing trends in technology, anticipate their direction, and
position ourselves along their predicted paths. I have found the New
Media Consortium’s Horizon Report (wp.nmc.org/horizon2008) to be
invaluable for this purpose. I generally utilize four steps to develop
and maintain my own computer literacy: (1) identify potential technology targets; (2) develop a knowledge base; (3) drill deeper into
the technology; and (4) assemble a support structure.
Using the example of podcasting, an interested language instructor could follow these four steps as follows: Through discussions with
colleagues and observation of students, this instructor has identified
podcasting as a potential way of extending his instruction beyond
the limits of the traditional classroom. After searching free online
resources such as Wikipedia (www.wikipedia.org) and HowStuffWorks (www.howstuffworks.com) to develop a knowledge base, he
feels confident enough to drill deeper into the topic. After browsing
through online bookstores and personally visiting a few in the area
where he lives, the instructor purchases a book on podcasting that
The Language Educator
he feels fits his personal learning style and is pitched exactly at his
level. The instructor reads through the book, completes several of
the examples, and ultimately develops a familiarity with the software
presented in the book and the steps required to create a podcast.
Excited about what he has accomplished thus far, the instructor
contacts the faculty technology support services at his university to
discuss the best options for hosting and maintaining his podcast.
Of course, this is not a series of inviolable steps that must be
performed in a set sequence, but rather it is meant to illustrate a
mindset that should be cultivated as language instructors explore
educational technology. This mindset requires curiosity, experimentation, tenacity, and openness. But most importantly, this mindset
values play. If you are interested in digital game-based learning, for
example, there is nothing better than purchasing a new game, going online to see what your students are doing, and wondering how
its game play could be adapted to teach your course. One thing to
remember: If you are not having fun with your technology of choice,
chances are that your students are not either.
Getting Involved in
Research and Development
Technology changes daily and new tools are continually being
brought to market that can be adapted for language instruction. This
semester I have focused on deepening my own podcasting knowledge
with Audacity (audacity.sourceforge.net), a freeware audio editing
and recording software, and Camtasia Studio (www.techsmith.com/
camtasia.asp), a proprietary screen capture software. My use of these
• Exciting new programs and
practices being used around the
• Technology advances in
• Hot news in language learning
at all levels
• Your suggestions and contacts
for Q&A interviews
Have you been involved with an innovative project in language education? Or have you taken part in an unusual professional experience
that you would like to share with your colleagues? Do you possess special expertise in an area that others might benefit from learning more
about? Have you ever wondered why you haven’t seen coverage on a particular topic—when it is an article that you yourself could write?
If you have something valuable to share, we welcome your submission to The Language Educator magazine!
Some Advice for Submitting
to The Language Educator
• 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
• 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. 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 [email protected]
for an update about your submission.
Join us at the
on The TeAChing oF
And World lAnguAges expo
noVemBer 20-22, 2009 | pre-ConVenTion WorKShopS — noVemBer 19
SAn Diego ConVenTion CenTer | SAn Diego, CALiForniA
For complete information visit the Convention
and Expo area on our website at www.actfl.org
ACTFL 2009 Co-SponSorS:
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American Association of Teachers of Italian (AATI)
California Language Teachers Association (CLTA)
Chinese Language Association of Secondary-Elementary Schools (CLASS)
Chinese Language Teachers Association (CLTA)
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National Council of Japanese Language Teachers (NCJLT)
National Council of State Supervisors for Languages (NCSSFL)
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Visit us at booths 1510 and 1619!
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