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ACTFL Conference Wrap-Up from Carly Triplett

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: http://www.actfl.org/sites/default/files/pdfs/Aligning_CCSS_Language_Standards_v6.pdf

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:

http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7277/7732438324_4a51312d05_z.jpg

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!

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