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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.

Standards Workshops Coming Soon to Your ESU

The Revised Nebraska World Language Standards offer a greater emphasis on language production, global perspectives, and ownership in language learning. The NDE World Language Education Specialist offers an opportunity to talk about the revised world language standards and their potential impact to districts, to develop standards-based activities, and to collaborate with peers. Expect a fast-paced day with practical ideas, rich discussions, and a wealth of resources. Please enroll through the Educational Service Unit.

ESU 1 21 Apr 20 ESU 8 24 Apr 20
ESU 2 22 Apr 20 ESU 9 and 10 at ESU 9 16 Oct 19
ESU 3 19 Feb 20 ESU 11 07 Oct 19
ESU 4 14 Feb 20 14 Nov 19
ESU 5 04 Oct 19 ESU 13 TBD
20 Feb 20 ESU 16 11 Mar 20
05 Mar 20 ESU 17 10 Mar 20
ESU 6 24 Oct 19 OPS 20 Sep 20
03 Mar 20
ESU 7 23 Apr 20


Cognitive Benefits of Language Learning

As language educators, we can enumerate the cognitive benefits of language learning without thinking twice. However, this list of benefits does not often have its desired impact in advocacy. Our messaging regarding the cognitive benefits of world language learning can change. In debate terminology, we need the “link, brink, and impact”. The link is how we benefit from language learning. The brink is how these benefits could be generally beneficial. The impact is the ultimate consequence and must be tied to what matters to us most: basic, psychological, and self-fulfillment needs. Consider relating that list of benefits in terms of how each one has a personal impact on the daily life and expectations of your students. This compilation shows the link, brink, and impact of how language has cognitive benefits that affect us personally.

Meet Your NILA Board: Secretary Dr. Jonathan Dettman

Dr Jonathan Dettman, Secretary
Associate Professor of Spanish,
University of Nebraska Kearney

What was your motivation to become a language teacher?
My experience as a college student was very positive and personally transformative. A big part of that was learning languages. I had a great deal of admiration for the teachers who had been my intellectual guides, and when I finished college, I contemplated becoming a Spanish teacher. I ended up taking the long route to teaching (through graduate school), but I think post-secondary education is a very good fit for me.
Describe your classroom approach in five words or less.
“I bet you didn’t know…”
How do you feel Nebraska is raising the standards for world language education?
Both NILA and NDE are very conscientious about staying informed about best practices and promoting them throughout the state. Since arriving in Nebraska in 2013, I’ve been impressed by the overall level of professionalism and commitment to teacher education.
What would you recommend to educators to build their pedagogy and practice?
Take time for professional development, even if that means organizing workshops and idea sessions for your colleagues–maybe you’re the teacher you’re looking for.

Teach in Nebraska: World Language Openings

The following positions were posted in June 2019 on the Teach in Nebraska website

Spanish 9-12, Full-Time, Cedar Catholic Jr.-Sr. High School, Hartington
Spanish 9-12, Full-Time, St. Thomas More School, Omaha
Spanish 9-12, Full-Time, Elgin Public Schools, Elgin
Spanish 9-12, Full-Time, Kearney High School, Kearney
World Language, 9-12, Full Time, Lourdes Central Catholic School, Nebraska City:

Nebraska International Language Association Conference

NILA’s Annual Conference is October 11-12 at the University of Nebraska Kearney. This year’s event will feature support for the new world language standards as well as professional development offerings on timely topics. NILA has arranged for an evening social at Cunningham’s On the Lake and for a discount at a local hotel. Visit the NILA conference website.

The Traveler’s Tales: Experiences from Abroad

From Lincoln to Le Tour Eiffel: High School Students Abroad

Lincoln Public Schools French teachers Will West, Sasha Van Zandt, and Kristen Tangen organized a trip to France for 22 students in March 2019. LPS has offered travel abroad for 50 years. The commitment to this experience remains strong as plans for a trip to France in 2020 continue.

LPS Teachers leaders Sasha Van Zandt, Kristen Tangen, Will West

LPS Teachers leaders Sasha Van Zandt, Kristen Tangen, Will West.

What was your itinerary? We spent 5 days in Evreux, France for a family stay, and 3 days in Paris, visiting many sites and monuments.
Describe how this affected your understanding of the language. The LPS-sponsored trips have always included a family stay, because the main purpose has been for students to have that immersion experience where they are living with a family, practicing their language, making connections, experiencing what it’s like to go to school, hanging with their host sibling and his/her friends, etc. I feel their understanding of the language grows immensely…they find it frustrating, joyful, funny, embarrassing, thought-provoking, and educational! Students are often very nervous about the family stay, and yet many tell us afterwards that it was their favorite part and that they learned the most during that time.
What was your most unexpected surprise? I think the most unexpected or surprising benefit to students is how much they grow in their independence, self-knowledge, and desire to travel again in the future
What travel service did you use? LPS has traveled with ISE/Xperitas for many years (I think 40+ years), in part because this company offers a family stay experience.

From Crete to Costa Rica: High School Students Abroad

Spanish teacher Angela Wagoner organized and led a trip to Costa Rica in early June 2019 with her students at Crete High School.

What was the purpose of your travel? Student experience – they did some tourist travel and also did a short homestay with a family and took classes at a language academy.
Describe how this affected your students’ language growth. This is my third personal experience with Costa Rican Language Academy (CRLA) and their homestay and language program. It is rejuvenating to be immersed in Spanish each day. I feel my proficiency increasing as I am there and remembering things about the language and culture I feel I have forgotten or that do not stick when I am in the States.
What was your most unexpected surprise? How much the students immersed themselves in the culture. On the very first day in San José, multiple students went with their host families and did cultural experiences such as church, playing soccer/basketball with groups of people, and really just immersing themselves in the experience.
What travel service did you use? We used a mix of Explorica and the Costa Rican Language Academy (CRLA) services. For our next trip we will just be using CRLA – it is much cheaper and much more personalized experience.

From Kearney to A Coruña: Summer Study for College Students

Associate Professor of Spanish and Graduate Program Chair Dr. Michelle Warren organized and accompanied ten University of Nebraska Kearney students to La Universidad da Coruña, A Coruña, Spain during the month of June 2019.

A Coruna with UNK Students

UNK students with Dr. Michelle Warren at the Tower of Hercules in A Coruna.

What was the purpose of your travel? Students worked on their linguistic and cultural fluency.
Describe how students interacted with the community. Students lived with local families and attended classes at the University of A Coruña. They also participated in city and area excursions, ate tons of delicious local food (including octopus!), and enjoyed time on the coast.
What was the most unexpected surprise? While almost all of our students came to the program fluent in Spanish, none of them had ever spent time in Spain. Their biggest surprise was learning about regional differences between Latin America and Spain and cultural differences between Galicia and Spain. A Coruña is located in the autonomous province of Galicia.
What travel service did you use? Dr. Michelle Warren organized the trip in cooperation with the Universidad da Coruña and a local agency, Ad Astra, which provided housing. For more information or to reserve your spot on next year’s trip, email Dr. Warren at

From Lincoln to La-Point-Du-Bout: Professional Development in Martinique

Lincoln Public Schools French teachers Lisa Maupin and Sasha Van Zandt traveled to the International Conference in La-Pointe-du-Bout, Martinique, sponsored by the American Association of Teachers of French (AATF) in July 2018. Maupin and Van Zandt presented a session entitled “Reaching Each Student Through Learning Stations, Technology and Authentic Resources”. They had the opportunity to learn about Martinique’s history, French colonization, the long-lasting effects of the slave trade in the French West Indies, the Creole language, culture and cuisine.

Lisa Maupin and Sasha Van Zandt with Catherine Daniélou, President of AATF (American Association of Teachers of French)

Lisa Maupin and Sasha Van Zandt with Catherine Daniélou, President of AATF (American Association of Teachers of French)

How did this experience impact you and your teaching?
“We have learned a wealth of information from our trip, not only within the sessions themselves and on the excursions, but through the everyday exposure to the people and culture of Martinique. Partaking of the food, hearing the language, seeing and smelling the flowers, walking the streets, shopping the markets – all of this is a treasure trove for a language teacher. The aggregate of these experiences is now brought back to the classroom and transformed how we teach, exposing in turn our own students to a rich and vital part of the francophone world” – Lisa Maupin

“It’s these kinds of experiences that continue to keep our flames and passion for teaching lit and allow us to keep our classrooms alive and connected. Learning that Martinique is a part of France, drawing connections between slavery in the US and slavery in Martinique, checking that Napoleon was really that short, finding out how much older Josephine was than Napoleon before they changed their birth dates, learning that 1 in 5 people are unemployed, or traveling virtually by mapping out flights and a hotel stay–these are small steps to becoming stronger global citizens, one of the main skillsets that a language teacher wants to develop in their students.” – Sasha Van Zandt