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Language Association

News (blog)

  • 25 Apr 2013 2:24 PM | Tracy Dinesen
    Teacher Study Group: Exploration of Cultural Teaching and Competence.

    A Drake university World Languages and Cultures faculty member is seeking language educators to participate in a teacher study group focusing on cultural teaching and cultural competence for world language learners.
    The teacher study group is a form of collaborative professional development in which teachers with similar interests meet regularly and explore issues relevant to classroom practices. Participants who agree to join the teacher study group will meet once a week face-to-face or online. At the meetings, members will exchange their questions, ideas, and experiences. They will also learn about and discuss theories and teaching methodologies related to cultural teaching and cultural competence.
    The expected group meeting duration will be for five to ten weeks, and meet once a week for one-hour meetings, during the summer break of 2013. (meeting times and duration of the teacher study group activities will be determined according to participants’ schedule.)
    This is a research study, and the participants will be asked to fill out questionnaires and participate in interviews regarding their teacher study group experiences. No participation fee or stipend are involved in this teacher study group research.
    To sign up, or for questions, contact Chinatsu Sazawa at or 515-271-4992.
  • 23 Apr 2013 9:05 PM | Carrie Morris
    JNCL-NCIS urges all of those interested in world language issues to contact their Senators and have them sign on to the letter below.  The letter goes to Senator Harkin, so contacting Senator Harkin directly could also be helpful! 
    Do not call Sen Schatz's office or e-mail his staff. Instead contact your own Senators' offices, asking that they sign on to Sen Schatz's Title VI (International Education) Dear Colleague Letter. You can go to to look up your Senators' phone numbers. Call and say who you are, and what you are calling about. Thank you!
    Today Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI) circulated the attached (copied below) Dear Colleague letter on FY 2014 funding for Title VI/Fulbright-Hays to all Senate Members inviting sign-ons. Addressed to the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Subcommittee on Labor, HHS and Education Appropriations, the letter urges "robust funding for Title VI/ Fulbright-Hays International Education and Foreign Language program, at minimum the President’s request of $80.938 million."
    The deadline for sign-ons is NOON Thursday, April 25. This is a short timeframe, because Senator requests to the Labor, HHS and Education appropriations subcommittee are due on April 26. Senate staff may contact Sen. Schatz's Legislative Assistant, Christiane Cardoza, e-mail or phone, 202-224.-934.
    Please support Sen. Schatz's efforts by circulating the letter to your Senate contacts ASAP, urging Senators to sign on by April 25. Sen. Schatz is striving for a bi-partisan letter.
    Message and Letter to Senate offices from Sen. Schatz's office
    Senator Schatz would like to invite your bosses to join him in sending a letter to the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Subcommittee requesting at minimum $80.938 million for Title VI/Fulbright-Hays International Education and Foreign Language programs. These programs enhance instruction in foreign language and area studies in order to advance our nation’s diplomacy, national security, and trade competitiveness. The President’s FY 2014 budget requests $80.938 million for these programs.
    The deadline to sign on is 12:00 noon Thursday, April 25.


    April __, 2013
    The Honorable Tom Harkin The Honorable Jerry Moran
    Chairman Ranking Member
    Senate Appropriations Subcommittee Senate Appropriations Subcommittee
    On Labor, Health and Human Services On Labor, Health and Human Services
    and Education and Education
    Washington, D.C. 20510 Washington, D.C. 20510
    Dear Chairman Harkin and Ranking Member Moran:
    As you draft your Fiscal Year 2014 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education Appropriations bill, we request that you include robust funding for Title VI/ Fulbright-Hays International Education and Foreign Language program, at minimum the President’s request of $80.938 million.
    Title VI/Fulbright-Hays programs have had a tremendous impact on our nation over the years by developing a strong foundation in international education, research, and foreign language studies, especially in the less-commonly taught languages of U.S. strategic interest. The FY 2014 budget is particularly critical, because the nation’s premier Title VI language, area, and international business resource centers and fellowships will compete for the next cycle of 4-year grants. Given the 44 percent funding reduction since FY 2011, without an adequate restoration of Title VI funds, we could potentially lose nearly half of these centers that form the cornerstone of the nation’s deep international knowledge and expertise.
    The various programs funded under this account serve to strengthen the nation’s educational infrastructure in areas where the need grows greater by the day. Strong academic programs in critical foreign languages and intensive training in multi-disciplinary regional studies including socio-economic, cultural, security, and religious aspects among others are vital to our national security. It is also important to keep in mind that, beyond the intensive curriculum development and related academic programming that is possible thanks to these programs, these resources make possible extensive outreach to K-12 classrooms, strong collaborations between four year postsecondary institutions and community colleges, and strengthened ties between U. S. postsecondary institutions and international partners.
    We strongly urge a robust restoration of funding for these programs to preserve this critical international and foreign language education infrastructure. This is a small, but vitally important investment both in education and national security, as well as economic competitiveness.
  • 19 Apr 2013 7:22 PM | Carrie Morris
    The Department of Languages and Literatures at the University of
    Northern Iowa, in conjunction with the Office of Continuing and Distance Education, is offering two Spanish graduate online courses for the Summer 2013 semester:

    SPAN 6052 - Topics in Language and Culture: Sport and Media in Spain
    3 units
    Instructor - Juan Carlos Castillo
    Dates - 6/10/13 - 7/5/13
    Instruction Mode - online via eLearning
    The aim of this course is to develop an understanding of the culture of
    Spain through the study of sports. The focus will be on how sports are
    used to promote different identities, through the study of the media,
    national icons and symbols, nation-building, globalization, immigration,
    gender, drugs and cultural diversity. Even though some of the readings
    for the course will be in English, Spanish will be the language used in
    the class and in all assignments.

    SPAN 6060 - Spanish American Literature: Latin American Novel
    3 units
    Instructor - Ivonne Cuadra
    Dates - 7/8/13 - 8/2/13
    Instruction Mode - online via eLearning
    Study of selected Latin American novels of the 20th century.

    Tuition will be $431/unit + $24.25 technology fee per class.

    These courses are fully applicable to the UNI Spanish, Spanish-Teaching, and TESOL-Spanish M.A. programs. For information about admission into these programs, please visit:

    Students who want to take a Continuing Education course can also be
    admitted through the Continuing Education office as non-degree seeking students.

    Please fill out the enrollment form at by June 6th if you are enrolling for SPAN 6052 and by July 4th if you are enrolling for SPAN 6060 to ensure you will have eLearning access at the start of the course.

    Questions regarding course content should be direct to the instructor, &

    Any questions regarding enrolling or locating course information can be
    answered by Trisha at UNI Continuing and Distance Education,

  • 12 Apr 2013 11:51 AM | Carrie Morris

    At this time of the term, I think it’s safe to say that students as well as teachers are starting to run out of gas a little.  This is my attempt to help to put a little zip back into your attitude and some spring in your step so that we finish the year on a positive note.  So here are some things that may help to keep in mind.

    YOUR CLASS CAN BE THAT ONE BRIGHT SPOT.  At the 2011 conference, Ellen Bernard Shrager made some comments that I haven’t forgotten.  She talked about how some of our students don’t come from the very best environments and our class may be the best part of their day.  They may feel safe, happy, cared about, and excited in our classrooms.  Even if that is true for just one student, think of that one student when you walk into your next class.  You can help him/her have a great day.  Teach every class as if there is at least one of these students in it.

    YOU SET THE TONE.  I know I have had days where I feel less than energetic or less than prepared.  Recently, I decided to combat that with a dose of energy and positive attitude.  I started my second semester class like I had the most exciting story to tell them.  It was just two minutes, but I used gestures, dramatic faces, and simple enough language to tell them what happened to me at a restaurant.  They listened, responded appropriately, asked questions and they were off to the races.  They worked so well in conversation activities, stayed engaged and kept the energy level up for the rest of the almost two-hour class.  I feel almost certain that those students didn’t spend a single minute disengaged from the task at hand.    

    WE HAVE ONE OF THE MOST FUN JOBS EVER.  Administrative responsibilities aside, when we are in our classrooms with our students, what we do is so much fun.  We wouldn’t do this if it wasn’t to some point.  No matter what is going on outside the classroom, we have a few minutes to be with students and teach them another language and culture.  I firmly believe that our attitude dictates how well it goes.

    I hope this helps you to get through these last few weeks.  Summer will be here soon. 


  • 08 Apr 2013 10:07 AM | Carrie Morris

    Ensure that existing language programs are protected.

    We know that actions speak louder than words with the future of critical education and foreign language programs on the line. Our leaders on both sides of the aisle must come together for a “grand bargain,” but so far, these conversations have yet to yield real results. Tell your Member of Congress TODAY to work with their colleagues on both sides of the aisle to support a grand bargain that provides a long-term solution to sequestration and includes a balanced approach to deficit reduction. Without a real solution, the education and foreign language programs we care about face an uncertain future with nearly 10 years of devastating cuts. The time to act is now – send a message to your representative and senators today!
    To learn more about ACTFL’s Action Alert, “Sequestration Now in Effect - Urge a Grand Bargain”, go to  and contact your representative and senators today!
  • 08 Mar 2013 10:02 AM | Kat Akers
    When collaborating with your staff are there certain breaks in your conversation because they just don't understand your content? Do you feel you are pushed to the bottom of the totem pole of knowledge because you are a language teacher?

      Of course there are always going to be times that you feel your content is just not understood by either a parent, staff member, or administration. The important thing is to remember that each individual has gone into their content area for their own reasons and the best thing to do is respect them. I have learned in my few years of teaching is that I must take interest in my colleagues work for them to take interest in mine. How can you do this you say, check it out below. These are just a few basic steps to create a great environment in your own district to ensure others respect your work.

    1. Be enthusiastic behind your own doors. If you are not excited about what you are teaching, the kids won't be either, which will trickle into a downward spiral of respect from all sides of the spectrum. 

    2. Collaborate! Take an interest in another team members classroom by asking them to collaborate on a project together. You might have to schedule a few extra meetings or communication with them, but try it and see how your kids then make the connections in the two or three content areas. 

    3. Communication is Key! Ask questions and really listen to the responses you are getting. Do this by asking what is going on in your colleagues' classroom. They might be struggling with the same problems or students. 

    4. Get your kids out of your room. Okay, this may not be a possible action for all to leave your classroom on a regular basis. What I mean is: get the kids to explore language development, culture, or uses outside your own room. Globalize the classroom, even if it is just in your school. Get the kids to explore the uses of languages in other content areas or show them how by taking a field trip. 

    5. Attitude is everything. If you are willing to work with someone new or try something new how can others around you do the same? You need to take a step out of your comfort zone and show everyone that you are willing to take chances to try something new. Having a great attitude about risks will show others you are willing to work beyond your own mind and accept others' work as well. 
  • 04 Mar 2013 7:15 PM | Kimberly Huegerich

    Being a polyglot is not normal.  They master multiple languages with ease.  What if we could harness that ability and teach people the same skills?  Are those skills even teachable?  Could language teacher make language learning easier?

    Reading blogs of polyglots and the process they go through to learn can be fascinating.  They do offer some insight into language learning that sets them apart from the general population.  Follow these tweeps or read their blogs to get inside their heads and see how learning a language can be fun and easy!



  • 07 Feb 2013 1:32 PM | Stacy Amling (Administrator)
    Here's Carly's report from attending the ACTFL conference in November as our IWLA representative:

    After a very long election season, it was nice to visit our nation’s birthplace, and be reminded of all of the positive things in our country. While the Liberty Bell and Ben Franklin’s constant presence reminded me what was great, many of the things discussed at ACTFL also reminded me what we need to work on, particularly in terms of our educational system. Much like the local efforts of IWLA members, ACTFL members are working hard to get our subjects recognized by our administrators and political representatives. Advocacy, 21st century skills, and technology were the overwhelming themes throughout the conference.

    My first day at ACTFL was spent at the Assembly of Delegates. Our focus was on advocacy. As we make efforts to reach out to our representatives on a state level, ACTFL members did have some advice. The easiest piece is that everyone who teaches a world language should have a 30-second “elevator speech” as to why our subject is so valuable to learners. We all know that our subject area has so much to offer, and it would be easy for us to give long speeches about it. The idea was that we should condense those speeches to very short, concise dialogues that include the current buzz words in education.  We also spent part of the day working on ACTFL’s position statement regarding incorporating languages into the core curriculum. If you are interested in this topic, ACTFL has aligned all of the national standards for learning languages with the common core standards, which can be found at:

    The second day started off with the opening session, featuring keynote speaker Dr. K. David Harrison, who specializes in endangered languages. He stated that there are currently 7,000 languages in the world, most of which are currently unrecorded. He estimated that half of those languages will go extinct during this century, as we lose a language every two weeks. I found it very interesting to see how Dr. Harrison is fighting to preserve these languages, just as many of us are struggling to keep our programs alive, even some of us who teach well-known languages.

    As I attended the rest of the sessions, my intention was to be sure to find at least one 21st century skills session and one technology session. It turned out that I didn’t need to try very hard, as those themes were prevalent in almost every session that I attended. In terms of technology, we’re all still trying to come up with the best ways to use our SMART Boards or our classroom iPads. One of the presenters even had a graphic to show how some of the apps for iPads could line up with 21st century skills. I found it very interesting; you can see it at:

    The ACTFL sessions were an amazing opportunity to see what other world language teachers across the United States are doing in their classrooms. The performance based programs and the incredible uses of technology were very inspiring. If you can manage to find a way to attend, next year’s convention looks equally promising--the theme is New Spaces, New Realities: Learning Any Time, Any Place), and it will take place in sunny Orlando!

  • 04 Feb 2013 5:19 PM | Carrie Morris

    ACTFL has been in touch with state advocacy teams and has asked us to pass on the following message.  I hope that you can read the following message and help take action!


    Dear fellow language advocate:

    As you may know, “sequestration” (an across-the-board spending cut to all discretionary federal programs) is set to go into effect on March 1st of this year. If nothing happens to prevent it, large cuts to Title I and IDEA will go into effect, meaning jobs and services lost. Important language programs, such as the K-12 Language Flagship initiative and STARTALK, will also experience significant cuts if sequestration is not prevented. Furthermore, if elected officials agree to spending cuts that avert sequestration, there will still be winners and losers. Now is the time for language advocates to speak up – in an effort to protect critical programs.

    ACTFL, the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages, is leading an advocacy effort to prevent these cuts. Please join me TODAY in sending a message to your senators and representative telling them that funding for language and education programs are important to the future of our country! It will only take a few minutes – click here to make your voice heard.

    Go to ACTFL’s site and “take action” on the sequestration alert at

    Thank you!


    Martha G. Abbott

    Executive Director

    American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL)

    1001 North Fairfax Street, Suite 200

    Alexandria, VA 22314

    Ph: 703-894-2900 ext.110| Fx: (703) 894-2905 | E-Mail: |

  • 04 Feb 2013 1:10 PM | Stacy Amling (Administrator)
    At our Executive Board meeting yesterday, we discussed problems we've been having with spam posts on the "Teacher Swap Shop." We like the idea of providing a forum where members can post questions, materials requests, or other topics of interest, but unfortunately our site has been the target of more spam than real posts.

    As such, we have taken that sub-page down temporarily in order to re-evaluate the settings and consider how we can balance the desire to have an open forum with the need to protect members who do post from getting hundreds of irrelevant and potentially harmful replies.

    In the meantime, if you have an event or an issue/request to share, please email it to me or one of the other Exec Board members and we'll get it posted.

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