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WL Events May 2018

La Veinticuatro-South 24th Walking Tour
May 19 and June 16
Starts at 24th and N St.
$10/person, $15/couple

Oakland Swedish Festival
June 25-30

Children’s China: Celebrating Culture, Character and Confucius
May 26-June 30
Omaha Children’s Museum

Desir de Lire
Book Club
Alliance Francaise Omaha
June 3
4:00 pm-5:30 pm

Highlights of the European Collection
Joslyn Art Museum
June 7
6:30 pm-7:30 pm

Santa Lucia Italian Festival
June 7-10

International Thespian Festival
June 25-30

Alphabet Soup



News From Nebraska

Updates from Around the State and Our Collaborative Partner Organizations

Alliance Française Announces Summer Courses

The Alliance Française d’Omaha has announced Summer French courses open to beginner through advanced. Contact directly for information. Summer courses include Visitons Le Louvre, Chateaux, Eglises, Et Cathedrals, Conversation, and Pronunciation Courses.

Mexican Consulate of Omaha Celebrates Binational Week

The Mexican Consulate is celebrating Binational Education Week May 9-11. Consul Guadalupe Sanchez Salazar invited representatives from educational institutions around Nebraska to celebrate and commemorate the week. Honorable Mention was given to a 12-year-old Omaha student who entered the art contest sponsored by Mexico’s Secretary of Foreign Relations. Two scholarship funds were granted in partnership with Nebraska Universities.

Nebraska International Language Association (NILA)

If you are interested in attending NILA’s fall conference or presenting a breakout session, visit the NILA website at: NILA continues to accept proposals for 50-minute sessions on topics related to “Coming Together: Collaborating to Improve Outcomes” and other areas related to language learning. Proposals will be accepted until June 1st. Notifications will be made by June 15. All presenters must sill register for the NILA conference.

Learn a Language: Beat the Machine

Second Language Learning v. Google

Google reported that their most sought characteristics in employees are soft skills such as communicating and listening well, having empathy, and being a critical thinker. Although most of the world has come to rely on instant, online translation for easy answers, there are some important ways in which the human brain continues to beat the machine.

Translation programs will never be able to negotiate for meaning. Think of how often we negotiate in conversation. “Do you mean to say, ‘Give the book to Paul?’ or ‘Give the pen to Paul?’?”. Perhaps we mean to give the pen to Pauline. Translation programs can’t distinguish the nuances that we mean but don’t say and lack the ability to ask for clarification.

When you consider further that elements of humor, feeling, intuition and non-verbal response are not mechanical concepts, you can clearly see that the value of language to be immersed in meaning.

Why Not Be a Superhero?

Second Language Learning Makes Us Smarter

Language learning does make us super smart. Think about some of the commonalities of language teachers. Language teachers always teach other teacher’s content, reference other languages than the one they are teaching, and change like chameleons to blend from one surrounding to another. These are actually signs of enhanced mental ability.

Regardless of which language system is currently in use, both language systems stay active at all times in a bilingual brain. This allows us quicker access to a greater array of options in problem solving. Monolinguals are usually constrained to an established pattern of thinking. Bilinguals have the ability to transition into multiple, and at times, conflicting patterns of thinking.

Bilinguals are often more adept at noticing details. This Sherlock-like ability comes from the constant practice of having to track the languages used for meaning and content in order to respond appropriately in the right language at the right time.

Language learning should really be considered the equivalent of power training for the brain. Increasing brainpower enhances decision-making, critical thinking, and mental agility in all areas of life.

Why Not Celebrate Heritage?

Second Language Learning Connects Us to Our Past

World language teaching was criminalized in Nebraska in 1919 as a response to World War I. One country schoolteacher went so far as to tie a naughty Swedish-speaking boy to his chair until he spoke English. Newspaper articles recorded that German speakers were tarred and feathered.

With this kind of past, it is difficult to think that one might be able to appeal to language as a heritage skill. However, genetic kit testing companies are reporting record sales of $99 million dollars this year.  Babel Magazine noted that Americans cited the importance of learning their heritage language.

Wherever the district and whatever the language, creatively think of a heritage connection. Read Willa Cather’s The Song of the Lark to learn about Nebraska’s Mexican Town. Research Dawes County to find the site of the work camp where 3000 German prisoners-of-war were held in 1943. Review that La Louisiane was a French territory until sold in 1803 and that long after French trappers settled throughout Nebraska. While many Chinese arrived to the U.S. to build the transcontinental railroad, Omaha’s experience with Chinese shows a variety of Chinese professionals including nationally famous doctors, restaurateurs, and religious leaders.

Heritage does not have to be constrained to the ancestry of the students in your classroom. It can be viewed as a communal gift. By doing so, it allows students to find identity through commonalities and to build a stronger sense of community through a shared past and language.

The Value of World Language

Middlebury Interactive Language’s free poster download illustrates five reasons to learn another language. It’s time to think more about “the why” of language learning. If your “why” explanation has centered only around college admittance requirements, you may be inadvertently advocating for your students to think in the short term and to treat language learning as a chore or necessary evil. In this issue, explore more about “the why” and the value of languages.

Why Learn A Second Language?

I was inspired to learn languages when my cousin Gina spent her junior year of high school in France. I loved hearing her stories about exploring Vierzon. Travel became my “why” to learning languages. Recently that same cousin asked how we address the justification and the promotion of world languages. Too often, she noted, languages are a requirement to knock out of the way in order to be admitted to college. This idea was confirmed at the World Language Colloquium in February. I asked world language leaders from around the state to answer the question ‘Why learn another language?’ as if they were high school students. The responses fell into three basic categories: job fun, and for college. I know that all of my Back to School presentations and parent materials emphasized that my class would satisfy a college requirement and save families money. We short change ourselves though in doing this. Why do we learn world languages? Language gives us the power to do everything else with exponential power because we have greater access to resources, an expanded vision, and a larger audience.

Request For Information NDE-21st CCLC-2018

The State of Nebraska (State), Department of Education, 21st Century Community Learning Centers Program, is issuing this Request for Information RFI NDE-21st CCLC-2018 for the purpose of gathering information to consider providers of statewide program evaluation services and continuous improvement processes, including web-based tools for grant administration.

Written questions are due no later than June 7, 2018, and should be submitted via e-mail to

Sealed information must be received in the Department of Education on or before July 2, 2018, 2:00 p.m. Central Daylight Time, at which time information will be publicly opened.

Bidder should submit five (5) originals of the entire RFI response.

Sealed RFI responses should be received by the date and time of RFI opening indicated above. No late information will be accepted.

RFI NDE-21st CCLC-2018

RFI NDE-21stCCLC-2018 Addendum (6/13/2018)

All Kids Deserve Quality Child Care

I’m a mom of two biological kids, but in my heart, I feel like I have hundreds.

Fellow child care teachers and facility owners can back me up. It’s not just a job to us. I would do anything for these kiddos, just like I would my own.

My center, Bright Beginnings, is open from 6 in the morning to 6 at night. Some of the kids are with me for ten or 11 hours a day. We are licensed for 41 kids, so since we opened in 2009, many families have come through our doors. It’s a privilege I don’t take lightly.

The Best Job I’ve Had

Just like being a mom, our job doesn’t stop in the evening after we’ve cleaned, sanitized and put everything away.

On a recent Sunday, I got a text from the mom of one of my toddlers. She sent a video of her two-year-old daughter counting from one to 15. She thanked me over and over and said, “It melts my heart what you have taught her!”

We have been working on counting with her daughter, and we love every minute of it. I texted her back and said she made my whole Sunday.

I wish parents knew how much of an impact their kids have on us. How their smiles make us smile. How their squeals delight us, and their hugs fill us up. How we live for seeing those light bulb moments of growth and hitting those milestones.

Another mom recently sent me a photo of her son hitting his first triple in a baseball game. He was the very first infant we cared for. My office walls are covered with photos of my kids, including him. They mean the world to me.

I was originally going to be the cook at Bright Beginnings when it opened, but I had a lot of experience with kids and I quickly became its director. Lisa, our curriculum director, and I have been leading the center ever since, and we often talk about how we want to raise the bar on child care, because we believe that our kiddos deserve the best.

Step Up to Quality Steps In

Once I heard about Step Up to Quality, we decided to go for it. I describe Step Up to Quality as a system that helps the best child care facilities become better. I almost think it should be mandatory. It’s worth it for our kids.

For Bright Beginnings, it was a no-brainer to decide to participate. It was a bit overwhelming at first, and it was a lot of work. We had a few bumps in the road but we took our time with it and worked at our pace.

Step Up to Quality helped us focus on the level of education we were offering, and it helped us improve our environment rating scale measurements (ITERS and ECERS). We had a great foundation to start from, and the key for us was our staff. My team is the absolute best and their commitment to our kids made it easy for us to improve on these items.

The Results

When you enroll in Step Up to Quality, you are almost automatically at a Step 2 (out of five) once you complete the paperwork, set up process and initial training. Where it gets real is the observation and visit from a Step Up to Quality staff member – that’s when you can graduate up to a Step 3.

You can imagine how emotional I was when after all our hard work, we actually moved up two steps to a four! It was incredible news, and even better things started happening for us.

We were profiled in the Fremont newspaper. We were featured in the Rooted in Relationships video for the Fremont Family Coalition. I started getting more calls from new parents about our program. We have a waiting list of families. And, much better candidates for jobs were coming in to interview.

Most importantly, I believe our kiddos know the depth of our love for them. We will never stop improving for them. We are already preparing for our Step 5 rating, I’ve been going back to school, and we are constantly taking classes and reading new methods on early childhood education. We want to show our kids that even big people are always learning, and hopefully that inspires them to be lifelong learners, too.