Wow, there are a LOT of acronyms in my author title for this article. For clarification, my name is Melissa, and I am the Connecticut Council of Language Teachers nominee for the Leadership Initiative for Language Learning, an annual cohort of emerging educational leaders in world language learning organized by ACTFL. (I think I can let that acronym stand without explanation.) As the CT COLT nominee for LILL, I attended a fabulous 3 day virtual conference in June 2021 to explore topics about world language instruction, leadership, and my own capacity to lead change. The theme for the conference was “Leading in Full Color,” (a great read – highly suggest it!) and I was able to connect and brainstorm with fellow emerging leaders from all across the country.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the need for social distancing, many Honor Society inductions were shifted to virtual events. Traditionally, these gatherings bring new inductees together with their family members, friends, and faculty mentors to celebrate and support them as role models.
The first idea that comes to mind when thinking about learner ownership of learning probably
goes something like this: the learner oversees their own process of learning. And that would be a
correct way to start thinking about this concept. However, there is much more to it that meets the
eye. Most people – educators or non-educators – would probably agree that the idea of taking
responsibility for one’s learning seems like such a serious undertaking. Doubts might rise about
that learner’s (whoever they may be) ability and qualification to assume that role. All of these are
fair points, in my opinion.
The two got their start in Glastonbury under the strong and passionate leadership of Christy Brown and Rita Olesak. Meghan acknowledged that they owe a lot of credit to Glastonbury. “We grew up in a culture of collaboration and high standards. We were allowed to take risks with the goal of improving language learning for kids.” She admitted that in her 17 and Jocelyn’s 10 years at Glastonbury their learning curve was steep as they were mentored and coached to be world language leaders as teachers.
My primary educational experience can be divided into two experiences. From the age of
five through eleven, I was a student in the California education system. I was placed in an ELL
program as soon as I joined first grade because I had learned Spanish at home and stayed in the
program until I was in fifth grade. I did not know the difference between a traditional classroom
and a classroom for multilingual learners. In California there was not much of a difference seeing
as how the majority of the student population were multilingual learners. At home, my older
siblings fluently switched between English and Spanish, a beautiful blend of the two, without
room for hesitancy or a trip of a word. My mother held onto Spanish as much as she could but
slowly slipped into English as she saw how much language assimilation was needed to survive in
The COVID pandemic has caused significant disruption and I have noticed
some reluctance in interaction among students within our school community. To help bridge the gap and bring a sense of normalcy, I believe that emphasizing Communities from the World Readiness Standards can help our students become more excited to use the target language and improve interaction not only in the classroom but also within the surrounding communities.
ACTFL’s annual meeting included a strong showing of advocacy-related discussions and panels. From language teacher recruitment and retention to best practices in strengthening programs in less commonly taught languages, these presentations accurately reflected the multi-faceted nature of advocacy for our profession.
French teachers across the country who’d completed a challenging 2020-2021 school year were still quite eager to add to their pedagogical and cultural knowledge bases. Indeed, an impressive number of workshops were planned for the annual American Association of Teachers of French 2021 convention, scheduled this year in New Orleans. However, because of Covid restrictions, the in-person presentations and exchanges took place virtually. That format in no way prevented the “good times from rolling” and teachers had the opportunity to choose from various presentations and exercises highlighting “la diversité du monde francophone.” The presentations, free to current AATF members, took place on various weeks and times in June, July and August.
Spanish students and alumni of Branford High School volunteered their time throughout the summer of 2021 to design web pages using HTML and WordPress for UConn’s El Instituto: Institute of Latino/a, Caribbean and Latin American Studies. These students had successfully completed the UConn ECE Latin American Studies course .
Since elementary school, I have been exposed to some level of foreign language education, not to mention the exposure within my own household to Latin American culture through my Chilean mom. As an infant I was surrounded by the beautiful phonetics of the language, through lullabies and stories, terms of endearment and words of warning. It took me a while to realize just how valuable this exposure would be for my language learning journey, but in the past few years it has become extremely apparent, as I have been fortunate enough to be a part of many eye-opening experiences involving the Spanish language.