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National Network for Early Language Learning Invites You

(Submitted by Marissa Coulehan, NNELL Executive Secretary and FLES Spanish Teacher)

Welcome to the 2019-2020 school year! Check out what NNELL (National Network for Early Language Learning) has been up to at We also invite you to join our #EarlyLang chat on Twitter, which is held every second and fourth Wednesday, 8:00-9:00 p.m. EST.

You are invited to join NNELL. An individual membership is only $30! Your membership dollars help early language programs and teachers in so many ways:
• helping us produce our beautiful journal, Learning Languages
• helping us provide webinars – free for all members
• helping us to advocate for early language learning

Are you coming to ACTFL in Washington, D.C. this November 22-24, 2019? Join us at NNELL’s Networking Breakfast on November 23, 2019 with guest speaker Rebecca Aubrey, 2019 ACTFL Teacher of the Year. She will present “Working Together to Advocate for Early Language”.
**Note: You must register for the breakfast in advance as no tickets will be available at the time of the conference.**

Nebraska Association of Teachers of German Update

(Submitted by Pat Branson, Nebraska Association of Teachers of German)

Guten Tag! Grüß Gott!
Welcome to a new school year! The NATG board would love to challenge all German teachers to become a member of AATG/NATG this year. Remember—to be an NATG member, all you have to do is join AATG. We know some of you feel your PLC in your district is enough, but we encourage you to join us and participate in our activities this year! We’d love to see some new faces and have you share your great ideas with us!

Seeking Officers and Educator of the Year
Our nominating committee needs nominations for President-Elect and Secretary- Treasurer for the coming year. Terms start in January. President-elect transitions to president and then past-president. The term for secretary- treasurer is two years. Please contact Pat Branson ( if interested in running or to nominate someone.

NATG German Educator of the Year nominations are being sought. Information is on our website ( ). Any NATG member is eligible. The award will be presented at NILA in Kearney on Saturday, October 12.

NATG Fall Workshop Features Guest From ZfA
The NATG fall workshop is in the planning stages, but it looks like the date will be Saturday, November 2 in Omaha. Our guest will be Leeni Martinkari, the new “Beraterin für Deutschunterricht” from the Zentralstelle für das Auslandsschulwesen (ZfA). We hope to have a good turn-out for this meeting! More info will be sent soon.

Meet Your NILA Board: Exhibit Chair and NAATF President Cara Heminger

Cara Heminger, NAATF President and NILA Exhibit ChairCara Heminger
Department Chair, World Languages, French Teacher
Lincoln North Star High School

What was your motivation to become a language teacher?
My teachers in junior high and high school, Madame Peggy Ruch and Madame Susan Liden in Willmar, MN, were so enthusiastic about teaching us French that I fell in love with the language and culture the first time I sat in their classes. I took a European tour with them as a junior, then backpacked through Europe after college. I became an Assistante d’Anglais in Paris and then got my MA in French Literature. After, I knew I wanted to spend my life sharing my love for learning about other languages and cultures. Being a French teacher lets me share my passion each day!
Describe your classroom approach in five words or less.
Creating lifelong learners, challenging, inclusive.
What would you recommend to educators to build their pedagogy and practice?
I recommend that an educator approach their life and their teaching career with a positive attitude of learning from every experience. We can learn from each other as language teachers, from our students, from our administrators, from brand new teachers, from veteran teachers, and even from our experiences in the community. Take on every experience — every meeting, every class we take or teach, every interaction with someone new — with a curiosity for learning and for being empathetic. I believe we gain so much to broaden our own horizons when we approach our lives that way. This translates to our own teaching when we glean from others what will work with our different students and topics.

World Language Standards FAQs: A Conversation with the WL Specialist

The 2019 World Language Standards have been in place less than a week but there are many excited to know more about the document and the process. Below are some of the questions that have been asked regarding the new Nebraska World Language Standards. Got a question? Email

What do the standards tell teachers to teach?
The Nebraska World Language Standards do not determine vocabulary, grammar, cultural content, or other static concepts. Instead, the standards focus on what students do with the language. These are proficiency-based standards, meaning students will demonstrate the knowledge and skills they learn in the world language classroom.

When will teachers be expected to create new curriculum?
There is no immediate pressure to create new curriculum. The Frameworks Implementation Guide suggests using this year to evaluate the curriculum that is in place. A comparison of the current curriculum and the standards may, or may not, reveal areas in need of strengthening. Once a thorough assessment is completed, districts will better know if a new curriculum or resource materials would be beneficial.

Why did ‘cognition’ replace ‘comparisons’ as one of the ‘Five C’s’ or world language strands?
The team decided that comparisons is inherent in everything. We compare products, perspectives, and practices in order to make meaning. We compare language as we learn structure. Eventually, we decided that it is a process that belonged in our indicators for every key area. As for the cognition piece, several members of the team brought experience with LinguaFolio, integrated performance assessments, or metacognitive research. We decided that this was a component that had to be included. Much of our state-wide community has long worked on what the teacher should do in the classroom. What better way to drive home the “I Can” than to make it a standard?

Wanderbus Coming to Deutschlandjahr at Bellevue West

The “Wanderbus” is coming to Bellevue West on September 20 from 10-12 for the Deutschlandjahr. The Wanderbus travels the United States, meeting people in their hometowns to share about their German heritage, about Germany, and about US German connections. The program is sponsored by the Goethe Institute in Washington, D.C. Spots are still available. Contact Amanda Messerschmitt at if interested in bringing your students. See more about the bus at the Goethe Institut USA Wanderbus page.

Nebraska World Language Standards Approved

On September 6, 2019, the Nebraska State Board of Education approved the Nebraska World Language Standards. Culminating twenty months of research, discussion, brainstorming, and honing, the Standards present a framework for teaching and learning in second language acquisition at a level that encourages us to reach above, to go beyond, and to be reflective in practice. To view the Nebraska World Language Standards online, please visit the Nebraska Department of Education World Language Standards page.

2019 NILA Conference Update: Free Workshop and Conference Events

Raising the Bar

2019 NILA Conference
Raising the Bar: Nebraska’s New World Language Standards
October 11-12, 2019
University of Nebraska Kearney

  • Free Half-Day Workshop
  • 25 Professional Sessions
  • Lunch and Keynote
  • Awards Ceremony
  • Vendor Exhibits
  • Association Meetings
  • Opportunities to Network
  • Door Prizes
  • Stuff Swap
  • (Bring items to exchange)

Friday Workshop with Keynote Presenter Stephanie Call

World Language Specialist Stephanie Call will introduce the new standards with activities, resources, and methods that are meant to provide practical and effective strategies to meet the bar. Come prepared to participate, to share, and to learn. Expect to have fun. Standards implementation packets will be provided to those in attendance.

The Friday workshop is available at no cost. It is from 1:00 to 4:00 in the Sandhills Room on the first floor of the Nebraskan Student Union. Pre-registration is preferred. Visit


Nebraska Welcomes New German Language Advisor

Recently, Nebraska welcomed a new German Language Advisor of the Central Agency for Schools Abroad in Nebraska, Leeni Martinkari will be taking over the role of Irene Mrázek, who has returned to Germany.

Could you please describe your background?
After graduating from Freie Universität Berlin and obtaining my teaching degree in German and English, I later added Theatre Studies and received my teaching certificate for School Theatre as well.

My latest teaching post was at an Upper Secondary School in Berlin-Weissensee, where I taught German, English and Performing Arts for eleven years, often adding some spark to my language classes using theatre methods. From 2014, I also taught refugee-classes, which were established in many Berlin schools that year. I was also responsible for the school’s contacts abroad and coordinated the students’ annual study-trips and internships to various European countries. I left the teaching profession in 2016 to work as a German Language Advisor in the region of Ohio, Michigan, Indiana and Kentucky.

What is your role as a language advisor?
I offer guidance for schools that wish to establish a DSD-program (German Language Diploma). I provide professional development workshops for teachers, workshops in cooperation with AATG, professional coaching in cooperation with the Goethe Institute, fun German workshops for students, information on studying in Germany, and every now and then workshops for students with German artists (music or theatre), when these are funded by the German Government. I am looking forward to working together with colleagues in Nebraska, promoting and supporting German language programs.

What is your contact information?

Chansons Françaises en Nebraska

If you are interested in hosting a French singer in your school, this coming Fall, Eric Vincent will perform in your area during mid-November. Eric Vincent’s songs are included in several major textbooks such as “Discovering French Today”: Blanc (Level 2) by Valette and Valette (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), “SAM Contacts: Langue et Culture Françaises, 9th edition” by Valette and Valette (Heinle Cengage). If interested, contact Marie Claude Barbin at There are still availabilities and we propose a sharing receipts formula allowing the organizer to host a concert without financial risk. Please visit the Eric Vincent website.

World Language Standards Update: August 2019

Editors met in July to review the results from the Public Input Survey that was available from May to June. In response to the results of the survey, the language of the indicators was clarified to provide more clear and specific learning targets. Specific examples were also provided to support focus groups of language for heritage speakers and for classical languages.

The final draft of the standards was presented at the August meeting of the Nebraska State School Board for a first review. Two individuals spoke during the State Board’s public commentary period. Mary Lea Free, Spanish teacher at Norris Public School, read a statement of support from colleague Jacqueline Mohr, Syacuse Dunbar Avoca Schools. Mrs. Mohr wrote, “With the adoption of these standards, the Nebraska Department of Education is ensuring the world language education in the state remains one of the top in the nation while producing students who are 21st Century global learners.” Mrs. Free added, “The proficiency levels are well explained. They use a common knowledge that all of our teachers in Nebraska will relate to and use in the classroom.” Rebecca Gill Rose, Bennet Palmyra Public Schools Spanish teacher, presented to the Board that, “Today’s world language classroom is about real-world production of language and global awareness. These proposed standards speak to this.”

It is hoped that the State Board will adopt the standards at the September 2019 meeting. The final draft can be accessed on the World Language website.