Kentucky Represented at ACTFL Conference

A large group from Kentucky attended the 2011 ACTFL Conference held in Denver in November. Some 20 KWLA members attended, participated, and presented at this year's conference. Among the KWLA members presenting this year were:
Tom Welch, Session Presenter
Jacque Bott Houten, Session, Workshop and Delegate Assembly Presenter
Susann Davis, Chair of Committee for the MLJ Paul Pimsleur Award for Research in Foreign Language Education
Janna Chiang, Session Presenter
Nadine Jacobsen, Session Presenter
Jocelyne Waddle, Workshop Presenter
Michael Klumper, Session Presenter
Thomas Sauer, Workshop and Session Presenter, NADSFL's 2011 Supervisor of the Year

It was great to spend time with all the wonderful colleagues and friends who attended this year's conference. Thanks for all you do, for helping to make Kentucky one of the national leaders in language education.


As President of the KWLA it was my privilege to attend the conference and represent our membership. I gained valuable information from the Delegates' Assembly held on Thursday of the conference, as well as the many sessions I was able to attend. My hope is to summarize what I learned and provide you with some background and links to more in-depth resources. Please take some time during the upcoming holiday break to review the information provided. It will give you a national perspective on changes, improvements, as well as resources available for our profession. This page contains updates from our national association, and some useful information for your classroom.

Delegate Assembly Report

  • Aligning the National Standards for Language Learning with the Common Core Standards: Understand how National Standards for Language Learning support the existing Common Core Standards for Language Arts. Our own Jacque Bott Van Houten co-presented the draft document which outlines this support. Visit this ACTFL link to find a summary and the draft document. You too can make comments.

  • Speaking of the National Standards: ACTFL has published a report which attempts to measure the effectiveness of this document titled "A Decade of Foreign Language Standards". Have you used the standards while planning your units, lessons, activities? Are you aware of Kentucky's new Standard? Visit the link to find several resources.

  • Teacher Effectiveness: What does it Mean for Language Educators? A national discussion is taking place about how to measure 'effective teaching'. One aspect of this discussion deals with value-added measurements based on student test results. At the Delegate Assembly we were introduced to 3 evaluation systems specific to language educators. These were from the North Carolina Department of Public Education (Helga Fasciano), Deleware Department of Education (Gregory Fulkerson), and Memphis Public Schools (Alyssa Villarreal). Is it possible to measure effective teaching in our particular profession? I encourage you investigate this topic and, where possible, give your input. To get you started I did a search in the Education Week journal on this topic, these are articles given.

  • Teacher Effectiveness; A Model Approach: In a follow-up answer to the question raised above, a model was presented which ALL OF YOU should see now. This is a new document/web site that spells out what quality teachers do in their lives, their careers, their classrooms. It is called TELL (Teacher Effectiveness for Language Learning). In fact, our Thomas Sauer was part of the team of language educators that put this document and website together. If you are looking for a professional development tool for immediate use, one you understand and apply by yourself, visit the TELL website now. You may recognize the strands of this tool from our KWLA Conference this past September. Thanks to Thomas' leadership we were able to organize our conference under the same.

  • Advocating for Language Education: While teachers in particular and education in general are under attack from many quarters, Language Education, along with the Music, Arts, and other non-core subjects see the worst of these attacks. In spite of the CIA, Defense Department, Global Business Leaders, and a host of other constituencies telling our politicians about the need for strong language programs and students, they have decided to cut many sources of funding. What can you do? Understand the issues, educate yourself about what is happening and what you can do to help. Begin by visiting this website: JNCL-NCLIS. The mission of the Joint National Committee for Languages (JNCL) and the National Council for Languages and International Studies (NCLIS) is that the member organizations of JNCL-NCLIS are united in their belief that all Americans must have the opportunity to learn and use English and at least one other language. Also visit the ACTFL website, where you'll find on the home page a list of issues, articles, and such about current issues.

2012 ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines
  • The revised guidelines - descriptions of what individuals can do with language in terms of speaking, writing, listening, and reading in real-world situations in a spontaneous and non-rehearsed context - are available now at the ACTFL website. This document is a logical place to start both your yearly plans as well as unit plans. What do you think students should be able to do at the end of one, two, three years of study? What can a Novice vs. Intermediate user of the language accomplish, and how well? Start your planning here: Guidelines 2012.

Useful Session Links

I'm providing links to a few of presentations I attended at the conference. I suggest you read through these before planning your next lesson. These wiki pages focus on the IPA (Integrated Performance Assessment) with specific examples and descriptions of Interpretive, Interpersonal, and Presentational activities. I've already used these pages to inspire my own planning since returning from Denver. These presentations were given by ACTFL Teachers of the Year from this and years past.