World Language Review Special Edition

The American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Language (ACTFL) annual convention met in New Orleans, November 15-18, 2018.  At least fifteen Nebraska educators were among the thousands that convened for professional development and support on hundreds of topics. . The following is a special report about the annual meeting of the National Council of State Supervisors of Foreign Language (NCSSFL) and the ACTFL convention. Read ahead for session summaries, personal adventures, and resources.

Visit the materials from sessions Nebraskans attended! Go to:


World Language Review ACTFL Special Edition

National Comparison of Dual Language Programming
NCSSFL Panel Discussion
Reported by Stephanie Call

Dual Language Program leaders from around the US shared their perspectives and experience in a panel discussion.

What are needs and challenges in Dual Language programs?
Colorado: Rural districts struggle to provide qualified teachers and quality resources.
Virginia: Students who use community colleges as a bridge to university are struggling for appropriate placement in language courses.

What steps can we take to meet challenges?
Connecticut: Leadership has provided essential questions, common rubrics, standards-based grading and external benchmarks.
Delaware: A world language teacher network includes higher education participants.

What might K-20 articulation look like in 5-10 years?
Delaware: The first K-12 immersion students will have completed college.
Colorado: Language learning may be marketed from a career or skill based perspective.
Alaska: Changing mindsets may involve concentrating on technical language and connecting to business.

ACTFL Adventures of a Nebraska Chinese Teacher

I think ACTFL was a life-changing conference for me! Not only did I learn many new ideas and new technology for my teaching career, but I also made more friends!

I was surprised by the way that an amazing teacher implemented physics into a French lesson. She asked the students in the target language to guess whether each fruit can float or not in the water. Then, she put all the fruits into the bowl full of water one by one. We got many surprises. I will implement simple STEM elements into my future Chinese class in an interesting way.

Bo Liu is a graduate student at the University of Nebraska who has taught Chinese and English in the United States and China.


NOLA Fast Fact
Mardi Gras coins are called dubloons. As Mardi Gras is rooted in ancient Greek traditions adopted by Romans, coins are printed with figures from Greek mythology.


Dr. Ali Moeller
“The ability to exchange ideas and perspectives through language, the ability to observe what’s happening and interpret it with understanding, transformed my thinking and, more importantly, my behavior.”
Moeller is the 2018 ACTFL President and the Edith S. Greer Professor at the University of Nebraska Lincoln.

Akash Patel
“[World language learning is] about teaching empathy. People are exposed to people of other colors, languages.”
Patel is a Spanish teacher in Texas and the founder of Happy World Foundation.

Rebecca Aubrey
“When we cut world language programs, we’re cutting what best prepares [students] for the world that they live in.”
Aubrey is the 2019 ACTFL Teacher of the Year and a Spanish teacher in Connecticut.


State Department Pipeline to Teachers
Session Summary
Reported by Stephanie Call

State Department representatives shared the following opportunities.

NSLI for Youth: All-inclusive scholarships for American high school students to study critical languages overseas. Previous language experience is not required.

Kennedy Lugar Youth Exchange Study Abroad (YES): Merit-based scholarship for high school students to support academic year homestay as ‘youth ambassador’ in a Muslim country.

Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange: Hosting and travel opportunities for groups of US and German high school students.

Critical Language Scholarship Program: 8-10 week study abroad program for post-secondary students to learn a critical language. No previous language experience required.

Benjamin A Gilman Scholarship: Merit and need-based scholarship for undergraduate students to study abroad.

Fulbright Critical Language Enhancement Award: 3-6 month study abroad grant for undergraduate students to learn a critical language.

Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistant: Provides qualified foreign instructors to US colleges and universities.


Matching Teacher Talents to Posted Positions
NCSSFL Discussion Summary
Reported by Stephanie Call

Strategies for recruitment and retention included using the Seal of Biliteracy as a recruiting source, identifying teacher leaders, building recognition programs and encouraging media awareness.


ACTFL By the Numbers

  • 20 Pre-conference workshops
  • 826 sessions (including presentations and collaborative meetings)
  • 250 exhibitors
  • 8000 attendees
  • 61 sponsors
  • 10 partner organizations

How to Attend ACTFL on a Dime

Many Nebraska teachers would like the opportunity to attend ACTFL. Here are some ideas on how to make it happen.

Get a scholarship!
ACTFL offers assistance. This year, EMC School awarded 40 scholarships to first-time attendees. The Robert J. Ludwig Scholarship Program through ACTFL supported first-time attendees and ACTFL members with expenses. The Rolando Hernandez/ACTFL Scholarship, the Stephen L. Levy Scholarship Award, and the ACTFL Student Stipend Award are similar programs.

Sign an accord!
Consider asking several cooperating school districts to contribute toward the expense with the caveat that the attendee will lead professional development and provide materials upon return.

Road Trip!
Reach out to other teachers who are making the trip. Connections were offered this year through the newsletter. Consider combining travel and hotel expenses.

Book Early!
Convention hotels fill up fast leaving the most expensive and difficult for last. Take advantage of early-bird pricing.


ACTFL Adventures of a Nebraska German Instructor

ACTFL is always exciting.  I particularly wanted to be there this year, since Ali Moeller was president. I loved spending time with my Nebraska colleagues in the evening and reconnecting with other German teachers I only see at ACTFL.

This year’s sessions definitely focused on the can-do statements and comprehensible input.  Here are some items to share:

  • Tech tools worth exploring:  Lyrics Training and TedEd (you can paste in a URL and make your own questions with timings).
  • Books to read:  “Making Learning Stick” by Peter Brown, “High Leverage Teaching Practices”, Glisan & Donato, 2017
  • Pinterest: “In a Word”
  • Fairy Tales for German Teachers:  “3 Haselnüsse für Aschenbrödel” is an East German version with an active female figure instead of the passive heroines of Disney and Grimm.

My favorite session was probably one on music.  I would definitely like to use more.  The session was for German teachers but could be adapted:

My two favorite quotes were from the session “Making Input Comprehensible”:  ‘We need comprehensible output to strengthen learning and memory’ and ‘Effortful learning changes the brain’.

Pat Branson is a German instructor at Creighton University College of Arts and Sciences and at the University of Nebraska Omaha.