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Note of Appreciation

Thank you to everyone who helped with this process by providing expertise, resources, time and dedication. I look forward to sharing more about the standards at the NILA Conference October 11-12 in Kearney.

Cognitive Benefits of Language Learning

This summer, I traveled to Spain on a scholarship to the University of Valladolid’s professional development seminar for teachers of Spanish. There I met educators from around the world. I was struck by the tendency of world language teachers to be bold, adventurous, adept at wordplay, precise in expression, and creative in problem solving. In fact, I’m convinced that the cognitive structuring from our language studies actually made us better travelers. Every attention was paid to details, comparing, contrasting, problem-solving, and negotiating. Our language learning not presented the ability to communicate in Spain, it awarded us a greater level of understanding and learning from the experience.

Stephanie Call, World Languages Specialist ♦ 402-471-4331 ♦

Have Passport, Will Travel

When Mrs. Moser showed our Spanish Two class photos of Mayan pyramids, I could not imagine myself in such a place. Since then, I’ve been to Mexico, Uruguay, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Canada, and Brazil. Truly, travel is more than the destination. It is the experience, the unexpected, the growth in discovering what you didn’t know you didn’t know. If you’ve been there, you know that sentence isn’t a grammatical error. Traveling with students makes for even more poignant memories. Place names take on extraordinary value. La Fortuna waterfall is where we splashed as the fish darted around us. Teotihuacan is where we conquered the Sun and the Moon in an afternoon. Monteverde is where one conquered his fear of Spanish and chatted with area school children. This summer, remember that travel isn’t impossible. It’s invaluable.

Uruguay’s Take on Global Understanding

In 2007, I participated in a Fulbright exchange to Uruguay with nine other US teachers. At that time, 109 full time schools offered 8 hours of school time and three meals day. 24 of those schools were dual-language English/Spanish or Spanish/Portuguese. Schools did not typically have computers, internet or photocopiers. Yet, Uruguay was willing to think globally. A national team examined problems, consulted with various experts, worked to understand the cultural needs of the communities, and considered sustainability. In 2009, President Tabare Vazquez finalized “Plan Ceibal” which gave laptops to all grade school students and their teachers. Now 319 full time schools offer second language from dual language to immersion. Uruguay continues to think globally as it analyzes its needs and prioritizes how to address them.

Columbus Teacher Deserves Credit

Columbus High School teacher Liliana Velasco has long participated in the University of Nebraska Lincoln’s International Day competitions hosted by UNL’s Department of Modern Languages and Literatures. When UNL announced it would not be possible to host International Day this year, Velasco, saddened by the loss of a valuable opportunity for her students, decided to host her own Spanish Day at Columbus High School. I traveled to Columbus to participate in this event. Although many educators at the school participated in and assisted with making this a wonderful experience, they all credited Liliana Velasco with the drive and determination to motivate, organize, and inspire others. I am in awe of Ms. Velasco. Her talent for inspiring students to become passionate for acting, dancing, singing, and performing in another language and her willingness to step up to create a new venue for language celebration are phenomenal.

The Power of Languages

The Power of Languages came to me when, as a high school student, I participated in a mission trip to Nuevo Progreso, Mexico sponsored by the Bladen/Blue Hill United Methodist Church. My first semester Spanish skills were applied to creating and memorizing a phrase of introduction and an explanation of why I was there. I still remember: “Estoy aquí para construir casas para Mabel.”  It worked. One day, I became separated from the work team as we were in downtown Nuevo Progreso. I used my phrase with a nearby vendor who took me to another vendor who led me through the maze of streets to where the workgroup had gathered. In our broken bilingual conversation, I made a human connection and learned more about the incredible impact the program had on the community. That day, even broken language had the power to unite, to inform, and to change perspectives for the better.

Stephanie Call, World Languages Specialist ♦ 402-471-4331 ♦

The Heart in Language Teaching

Personal communication and intercultural connections in the world language classroom are often the attractions to world language learning. Think about the reasons that students want to learn a language: the annual world language soccer game, to communicate with a friend’s family, or to be able to read the YouTube comments to their favorite channel. Supporting intercultural connections breathes life, adventure, and immediacy into language.

January Blues

Despite the flu, the weather, and the holiday clean up, January trudges onward. As you resume your regular schedules, remember to think of the positives. Counting your blessings is not trite; it is a survival skill. Setting goals can also help to focus on the positive and move forward. Hopefully, this edition of the WL Review will provide a positive note and inspiration for you this January.

Stephanie Call, World Languages Specialist ♦ 402-471-4331 ♦

Back From the Bayou

Ibn Battuta said ‘traveling—it leave you speechless, then turns you into a story teller. The National Council of State Supervisors of Foreign Languages annual meeting and the ACTFL Convention proved just that. From my arrival in a torrential downpour, to Cajun music on a centuries old patio, to beignets and café du lait with colleagues from Massachusetts and Kansas, I two stepped from one cultural lesson to another. Surrounded by the slow N’Awlin’s drawl and the smell of the river, I immersed myself in the French, Spanish, African, Native American, Mexican fusion that New Orleans is and has been for centuries. History is living here, and if you pay attention, it still speaks. While the city itself provided a professional development experience, I am immensely grateful for the opportunity to bring back to Nebraska the benefits of the contacts, relationships, materials, and resources that were developed at our meetings in New Orleans.

Heading to the Big Easy

Next week, I will attend the National Council of State Supervisors of Foreign Language Annual Meeting and the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Language Annual Convention. While the rest of New Orlean’s visitors explore the Vieux Carre or Woldenberg Riverfront Park, 100 language specialists will discuss policy, standards, and teacher recruitment strategies. On Friday, ACTFL will hold its opening assembly featuring President Dr. Ali Moeller. The level of activity will increase from level 3 to a level 5 hurricane as over 8,000 educators gather to increase their professional knowledge and to find resources to better their programs. It is sure to be an amazing time and I look forward to sharing with you everything that I bring back to Nebraska.