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Language Association

News (blog)

  • 01 Feb 2013 12:56 PM | Stacy Amling (Administrator)
    Discussion of learning styles and study preferences is probably nothing new to trained language teachers, but may be a revelation to students. The idea that learning (and language learning, in particular) is not a "one strategy fits all" endeavor has proven to be a valuable topic of discussion in my classroom. Each semester, I talk to students about study strategies, mnemonics, and learning tricks that worked for me. I also try to encourage students--and especially struggling students--to think about what they're doing to learn and perhaps to try something different, whether that be studying with a partner or a tutor, making flashcards, or other strategies. After reading Annie Murphy Paul's review of recent research of effective study strategies (, I've been giving this more thought.

    One thing I'm trying with my 2nd semester students is to have them complete the VARK test (free online from and to have them share their results with me. This brief test helps to identify learners as visual, aural, reading/writing, kinesthetic, or multimodal.  To follow up, they also need to look at the study tips for their learning style and see which of those things they already do or what they could perhaps do differently based on those suggestions. I'll see how it goes this semester to see if it'll become a regular part of my class or what other options are available.

    How do you work with your students to help them be more effective learners?
  • 27 Jan 2013 2:42 PM | Kimberly Huegerich

    Have you worked with a language teacher who you were inspired by?  Have you attended an IWLA conference session by someone that amazed you?  Do you have a go-to person when you have a language question?  Has someone directed you to someone to help you with a new idea, research-based concept, or cutting-edge approach?  Want to pay this person a sign of appreciation?

    Nominate an inspirational, knowledgeable, leading educator for the Teacher of the Year, Teacher of Promise, or the Distinguished Educator Award!  Nomination materials can be found on the “Awards”  tab on the right side of the IWLA website.  Nominations are due April 30, but don’t delay.  

    Have a unique idea for your classroom?  IWLA also awards grants for innovation in the classroom.  Check out the requirements and application materials under the "Grants" tab at the left.

    Get your excitement on paper today and send the information to:

    Kimberly Huegerich

    501 Park St

    Jewell, IA 50130


  • 22 Jan 2013 2:06 PM | Kat Akers
    I have tried to incorporate a new, yet exciting, way to increase awareness of culture in my classroom. It has worked out well so far, but is still in progress. 

    I have created a new area in my classroom that is dedicated to culture. This month it is "Cultura de España~ Pinterest Style."

     I created a board on my own personal Pinterest that includes all things cultural about Spain that I could find. I caught myself overwhelmed in it for over an hour! I figured if I was so addicted to this application as many others were, including some of my students, maybe it would be a way to get them excited about it too. 

    I had the kids do the research and find the pictures to go along with it. I had them share their findings and post them to the 'Classroom Board.' They are still working on these and each level will have a different tasks assigned with their grammar and vocabulary included. 

    I am sure there are so many ways to make Pinterest work for you! 
    Happy Pinning! 
    Kat Akers

  • 14 Jan 2013 9:37 PM | Kimberly Huegerich
    Students walk into class on test day and ask what we're doing today.  You want to scream!

    This year I have started using to help students and parents stay on top of assignment deadlines.  This is also a great way to communicate other class information, such as reminders about activities, changes in schedules, late starts, and other school-related information.  This is a texting service that students (and parents) choose to sign up for and the teacher sends out messages via the web.  One message and everyone on the list is informed!  It's completely free and no limit on the number of texts.  The students don't see your personal number and you don't see theirs.  Messages can also be scheduled to send at a later day or time.   Check out this link for more information.
  • 10 Jan 2013 9:37 AM | Kat Akers
    If you are like me it is hard to stick to New Year's resolutions. Whether it be a diet change, spending habits, or even just taking more time for yourself, it is hard to stick to the changes in your lives, big or small. 

    This year we had a huge change in our school district beginning in January, we became a 7-12 1:1 school. This brought much excitement, joy, and fear to our staff. We now had to change to a newer way of teaching and classroom management. How were we going to make sure kids were doing what they were supposed to do on their computers? What happens when the internet is not working? Do I have to use them all of the time? These are just a few of the concerns brought up during our staff discussions during professional development.

    Well, the day finally came when the students came in with their new laptops, there have there been some frustrations, joys, and especially new learning on our part as teachers. It has taken patience, extra work, and some creativity on my part to create lessons to keep the students occupied. I could always do activities at the drop of a hat to fill up those last five to ten minutes in a lesson, but now, I have been trying to create a new set of bell ringers and activities to involve all students through differentiation. It has been a few extra hours after school, assisting in some basic computer skills, and even some last minute decisions. 
    I know this is the new wave of technology and advancement in education and I am quite excited about it. There are so many tools that a computer can give to the students that more options are available for their learning. I am no guru on everything technology, but I am learning with my students and this is exciting. I find myself rejuvenated for the semester. If you have any ideas or examples of how computers, technology, or other 2.0 tools are used in your classroom, please share them. Comment on this blog or even email me. 

    I look forward to hearing from other 'veterans' on this topic. 

    Kat Akers
    IWLA Vice President
  • 08 Jan 2013 3:58 PM | Carrie Morris

    Like many of you who attend IWLA and participate in different technology offerings, I am often amazed by all the cool internet tools that we can use in our world language classrooms.  I just ran across one that I'll use in some of my classes this semester.  I often shy away from tools that entail lots of explanation or practice--I admit it.  But this one is easy.

    My students are assigned to write paragraphs or compositions in Spanish.  They often prefer to type them on the computer, but putting in all the appropriate accents and punctuation can be time-consuming for them.  I show them the shortcut keys with the ALT key, but this only works on keyboards with a numeric keypad.  I tell them about Microsoft Word and Insert-Symbol.  I show them how to select the US-International keyboard.  It all seems too complex. 

    So now there is yet another option to add to the list of possibilities, a website called TypeIt.  Choose your language and students can click the button for the character they want, or they can hold down the Control key and type the letter.  Quick and easy.  The text can then be pasted to essentially any application.  I'll be trying it in some of my classes this term. 

  • 05 Jan 2013 1:57 PM | Tracy Dinesen

    Happy New Year from IWLA! We hope that 2013 proves to be a positive year for us all. As president, I would like to take this opportunity to introduce you to some changes that are happening here on the webpage. We will be posting items of interest here on the blog, items that we are working on as a board, items of interest in world language education and items of interest to you as a teacher. We have many projects underway and we look forward to sharing them with you.  There will be two or three posts every week so we hope that you not only enjoy reading them, but that you also comment and share your thoughts.

    Our first post is from Jason T. Dinesen, E.A. Jason is an enrolled agent who specializes in taxes. Welcome Jason and thank you for letting us know what changes we will see as a part of the fiscal cliff deal made last week in Congress. Thank you for letting us know what teachers can expect this year!

    Congress passed a “fiscal cliff” bill on January 1. Here are some of the key provisions of interest to educators:

    $250 “Above the Line” Deduction for Classroom Expenses
    The bill extends, through December 31, 2013, the deduction for classroom expenses of K-12 teachers and teacher’s assistants. This deduction can be taken even if an educator claims the standard deduction.

    Tuition and Fees Deduction
    The deduction of up to $4,000 of qualifying tuition and fees for college expenses has been extended through December 31, 2013.

    Student Loan Interest Deduction
    The allowance of a deduction of up to $2,500 of student loan interest has finally been made a permanent part of the tax code.

    American Opportunity Credit
    The American Opportunity Credit (formerly known as the HOPE Credit) has been extended through 2017. This credit is available to students in their first 4 years of undergraduate studies.

    Employer-Provided Educational Assistance
    The bill makes permanent the ability of your employer to pay up to $5,250 of tuition, tax-free, on your behalf (for example, if you are pursuing a masters degree and your employer helps pay your tuition).

    Other Things to Know About the Fiscal Cliff Bill
    Here are some general-purpose items about the fiscal cliff bill of interest to anyone:

    • The “Bush Tax Cuts” are made permanent, except for a new tax bracket of 39.6% created for taxpayers with income above $400,000 (if single) or $450,000 (if married). The top rate under the Bush Tax Cuts had been 35%.
    • The capital gains rate of 0% for people in the 10% and 15% tax brackets has been made a permanent part of the tax code. The capital gains rate of 15% for people in the 25%-35% tax brackets has also been made permanent. A new capital gains rate of 20% has been created, but will only apply to people in the 39.6% bracket.
    • The child tax credit is permanently set at $1,000 per child (it had been set to drop to $500/child in 2013).
    • The credits available for adoptions and for daycare expenses have been made permanent.
    • The Earned Income Credit remains expanded through 2017, allowing more taxpayers to qualify for this credit.

    Jason T. Dinesen, EA
    Dinesen Tax, Inc.
    Twitter: @dinesentax
    Phone: 515-778-8189
  • 14 Oct 2012 2:20 PM | Stacy Amling (Administrator)
    We would like to send out a big "thank you" to all who participated (Conference Committee members, Advisory Council, presenters, exhibitors, and attendees) in our conference this weekend. It would not be as successful as it was without everyone's participation.

    The Executive Board is looking for your feedback about your conference experience. Please take a few minutes to respond - it's only 5 questions! Gracias, Danke, y Merci.
  • 27 Apr 2012 11:53 AM | Tracy Dinesen

    Remember to apply for grants and nominate colleagues and student teachers for our awards!  Deadline is Monday the 30th for nomination.  If you are worried about getting a paper copy in by deadline, please send me an email to let me know one is on the way!

  • 27 Mar 2012 10:51 AM | Tracy Dinesen

    As April looms, don't forget to apply for a grant, nominate an outstanding fellow teacher or a teacher of promise!

    IWLA grants are for projects that are innovative, creative and directly affect students and student learning. We now have a rubric to evaluate grants, which the executive board hopes will help everyone better understand the grants and will guide members in writing their proposals.

    As always, we ask that you nominate your fellow teachers (or even yourself) for the outstanding educator awards. We have awards for primary, secondary and post-secondary teachers. We have an amazing membership and Iowa is lucky to have so many wonderful teachers at all levels. Help us recognize our colleagues and let the state know what wonderful things language teachers are doing in the state.

    Last, but not least, we have a NEW award this year: the Michael Oates Teacher of Promise Award.  This award is for students completeing their student teaching or teachers in their first year.  We want to award our up and coming teachers who show great promise in the teaching profession and who will inspire thier students for years to come.  The award comes with monies for classroom supplies and a paid registration for the IWLA conference the following year.  Please, if you are a mentor teacher, a teaching supervisor or you work with an inspiring  student teacher or first year teacher, nominate them for this important award!

    ,The award and grants deadline is April 30th.  You can send all nominations and applications to me, Tracy Dinesen at the following address:

    Tracy Dinesen

    World Language and Culture Studies

    Simpson College

     701 North C Street

    Indianola, IA 50125


    I look forward to receiving your applications and nominations!


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