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Meet Your NILA Board

Shanna R. Hellerich, Past President
Spanish 7-12, Shelton Public Schools

What was your motivation to become a language teacher?
Learning about languages and cultures has always been a passion of mine. I am equally passionate about sharing what I know and learn. I am truly fortunate to bring these together and help shape the minds and lives of my students.

Describe your classroom approach in five words or less.
Engaging, communicative, cultural

How do you feel that NILA has helped you develop as an educator?
NILA has been an incredible organization for me over the last several years. The connections with other world language professionals have been some of the best highlights of my time in teaching thus far. While serving on the NILA board has been extremely satisfying for me, it is always the NILA Conference that I benefit from most. Learning from some of the most talented teachers in the state is always a good thing! Every time I have attended, I have come back refreshed and inspired.

Favorite quote:
El que lee mucho y anda mucho, ve mucho y sabe mucho. He that reads a lot and travels a lot, sees a lot and knows a lot.  – Don Quijote de la Mancha

Creating Indicators for the Power of Language

Mary Lea Free and Dr. Jamie Holbein Swanson discuss proficiency levels.

The Standards Writing Team met December 6 at the University of Nebraska Kearney to create proficiency level indicators for each of the standards.

The organization of the revised standards will differ in format. Each standard will have indicators that specify expectations for student progress at particular levels of proficiency. The proficiency levels are Novice (low, mid, high), Intermediate (low, mid, high) and Advanced (low, mid, high). School districts will have autonomy to plan for the proficiency level that best fits the circumstances and needs of the district’s programming.

Syracuse-Dunbar-Avoca teacher Jacqueline Mohr says, “I think that this work will be a great help to those teachers who are departments of one or two in rural Nebraska. This will prove to be an applicable document throughout districts across the state. I hope that this will also allow teachers to become more familiar with proficiency levels and create appropriate level standards for their program.”

NDE plans to present the revised World Language standards to the Nebraska State Board of Education in Fall 2019.

Writing Team Members

Maria Burgos, Axtell Public Schools
Alicia Cornemann, Hartington Newcastle Public Schools
Tiffany Dalton, Waverly Public Schools
Mary Lea Free, District 160 Public Schools (Norris)
Cara Heminger, Lincoln Public Schools
Angela Hinze, Scottsbluff Public Schools
Jami Holbein Swanson, Lincoln Public Schools
Jamie Honke, Ralston Public Schools
Mary Clare Liescheski, Douglas County West Public Schools
Jacqueline Mohr, Syracuse-Dunbar-Avoca Public Schools
Mikayla Niederklein, Hastings Catholic Schools
Kristen Nugent, Concordia University Nebraska
Jorge Ortega, Kearney Public Schools
Rita Ricaurte, Nebraska Wesleyan University
Brenda Schiermeyer, Fremont Public Schools
Cathy Scurlock, Omaha Public Schools
Coral Su, Lincoln Public Schools
Liliana Velasco, Columbus Public Schools
Avie Veldkamp, York Public Schools
Angela Wagoner, Crete Public Schools
Michelle Warren, University of Nebraska Kearney
Rosa Zimmerman, Ogallala Public Schools

Travel Abroad for Students of World Language

YES!-Kennedy Lugar Youth Exchange and Study
The Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study (YES) program, funded by the U.S. Department of State, provides scholarships for secondary school students from countries with significant Muslim populations to spend one academic year in the U.S.


YES! Abroad-Kennedy Lugar Youth Exchange and Study
The U.S. Department of State’s Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study Abroad program, provides competitive merit-based scholarships for U.S. citizens in secondary school (age 15-18.5) to study for one academic year in select countries.


Indicating the Power of Languages

Photo 1: Cathy Scurlock, Alicia Cornemann, and Liliana Velasco participate in a peer sharing activity at UNK during the standards writing process.
Photo 2: The Standards Writing Team celebrates a day of productive work at UNK in December.

The standards revision process continues with the conclusion of the Standards Writing Team’s work on indicators. Mary Clare LIescheski comments, “I am very proud of the work we have produced. I think we have done an excellent job of creating new things in a safe space, while at the same time providing checks and balances for each other. I think that other educators in Nebraska will be excited about new standards that are home-grown and relevant to the work we do here.” Read on for more information about the standards writing.


Nominations Due
Kennedy Center/Stephen Sondheim Inspirational Teacher Awards
December 31

An Orchestra of Minorities: An Evening with Chigozie Obioma and Kwame Dawes
January 8

L’Heure de L’Apero!
Alliance Français d’Omaha
January 10

Registration Rate Change Begins
for Central States Conference on Teaching of Foreign Languages Conference
Columbus, Ohio
January 14

Désir de Lire
Alliance Français d’Omaha
January 20

6th National Symposium on Spanish as a Heritage Language
University of Texas at Rio Grande Valley
February 21-23

Central States Conference on Teaching of Foreign Languages Conference
Columbus, Ohio
March 14-16

If you would like to share your event, please email

NAATF Announces Auberge de Jeunesse

(Submitted by Cara Heminger and Teri Wright, Materials available on NDE World Language website)

NAATF members and their students are invited to attend a unique immersion experience, L’Auberge de Jeunesse ‘19.  The last Auberge, held in 2017, was an enormous success. 75 students had an amazing time, immersing themselves in the French language, team competition, games, and music.

This year’s Auberge will be Saturday, March 30, 2019  at 11:00 a.m. through Sunday, March 31 at 11:00 a.m. at the Western Town (Camp Carol Joy Holling) in Ashland, Nebraska.  High school students enrolled in French 2 or above are eligible to participate.

Enrollment is limited to ten students per participating teacher. Registration is on a first-come, first-served basis, as the program is best suited for 90 participants or less.

The cost is $80 per participant. The price covers shared rooms, three meals, unlimited access to snacks & beverages, and all activity fees & prizes.  Teachers must accompany their students.  Additionally, participating instructors must be members of AATF, as our Nebraska Chapter is hosting this event.

Student registration and payment are due by Friday, February 1, 2019. Refunds are not available; but substitutions may be made. Students will sign a Code of Conduct form as part of the registration process promising to behave responsibly and appropriately and to speak French.

Please send registration forms with payment (made out to NAATF) to:
Terri Wright
2326 S. 177th St.
Omaha, NE 68130


Kansas Welcomes Open Language Resource Center at KU

(submitted by American Councils for International Education)

 The University of Kansas in Lawrence recently opened the Open Language Resource Center (OLRC). The OLRC is one of only sixteen federally-funded National Foreign Language Resource Centers working to increase the nation’s capacity to teach and learn foreign languges. Each center focuses on particular areas of need.

Of all the centers, OLRC has the closest proximity to Nebraska. Its work will focus on the creation of Open Educational Resources (OER), broadly defined as teaching and research materials offered to the public at little or no cost.  Faculty in KU’s School for Languages, Literatures and Cultures will produce an array of language materials that strike a careful balance between breadth of audience (Spanish, French and German) and demonstrated need for quality materials in Less Commonly Taught Languages (Russian, Ukrainian, Turkish, Chinese, Kiswahili and Wolof).  The Center will also provide an array of professional development opportunities for K-16 instructors, including free workshops in French, German and Spanish and free Modified Oral Proficiency Interview Assessment workshops, which are the first step toward certification as an ACTFL certified OPI tester for Novice to Advanced Levels.  The OLRC will also host an annual World Language Fair that brings middle- and high-school students to campus for a day focused on exploring world languages and cultures, and a Language OER Conference to be held as part of broader Open Education Week events at KU.  For more information about the Center and its work, see their website at

‘Nebraskans at CSCTFL’ Organizer Requested

Are you attending Central States? A “community organizer” is requested for the Central States Conference held in Columbus, Ohio March 14-16, 2019. The organizer would facilitate get-togethers and communication while in Columbus and provide a brief report for the World Language Review. All you need is knowledge of Google Suite products and a willingness to be social. Please contact if you are attending CSCTFL and also if you would like to be an organizer.

Fully Funded Teachers for New Critical Language Programs

(submitted by American Councils for International Education)

 The application period for the 2019-2020 Teachers of Critical Languages Program (TCLP) has opened. TCLP brings fully-funded Egyptian, Moroccan or Chinese teachers to K-12 schools across the U.S. to share world culture and language. Increase your student’s access to critical foreign languages and apply today!

TCLP is sponsored by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, U.S. Department of State and seeks to strengthen foreign language instruction at U.S. schools. TCLP teachers have completed approximately 14,200 out-reach hours to promote host school critical language programs and bring global experiences to local communities. Want to learn more?  Go to

The application deadline for TCLP U.S. Host Schools is January 22, 2019.

China Bridge Summer Camp for Nebraska HS Students

(submitted by UNL Confucius Institute)

The 2019 China Bridge Summer Camp for Nebraskan high school students will be July 8 to July 22, 2019. Students must be 14 to 18 years old, have taken at least one Chinese language class, and have parental permission. Students will travel to Beijing and Xi’an.

The Confucius Institute will cover accommodations, travel, meals, and activity expenses while in China. Students are responsible for passport and visa expenses, airfare, travel insurance, and incidentals. Two Nebraskan teachers serve as chaperones on the trip as well as one or two local chaperones. The deadline for students to register is February 17, 2019.

UNL-CI will hold an information session for students and parents on December 20, 2019 in Lincoln and on January 10, 2019 in Omaha.

UNL-CI is also looking for two chaperones, one male and one female, for this year’s summer camp. If interested, please e-mail a letter of introduction, a resume, and a brief explanation for your reason for wanting to chaperone. Please contact us no later than February 1, 2019.

Chaperones must have K-12 teaching experience (currently active teachers preferred), be under 50 years old and in good health, able to manage students, have good communication skills, and have experience travelling abroad. Although chaperones do not need to speak Chinese or have any experience teaching Chinese, they should be adaptable and willing to learn from the experience. The Confucius Institute will pay for all chaperone expenses for the summer camp including flight, visa, accommodations, meals, activities, and  transportation.

More information can be found at or e-mail