Episode 55 – When Language Reunites Us: IAL at NECTFL Part 1

“My name is Maki. I live in New York City. I work as an administrator at a language center and sometimes I teach Japanese language at universities. I think the reason I’m here is because I want to be inspired and I want to be in the moment. I am interested in communication, perhaps because I am interested in the fundamental question, ‘How can we understand each other?‘”

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I had the great pleasure of being able to go to an in-person conference this month, the Northeast Conference on Language Teaching (NECTFL). While NECTFL serves education in many ways, this annual gathering world language educators, leaders, trainers, and educational publishers has traditionally had tremendous impact in the region. The last time we gathered in person was two days before the world shut down in March 2020.

With the NECTFL Board’s permission, I set up a podcast station in the main registration area, at an abandoned coat check area, and proceeded to invite, cajole, seize, and otherwise maneuver over to my mic as many attendees as I could as they made their way to sessions, events, and exhibits.

This podcast is composed of the short interviews (from 40 seconds to three minutes) of 23 of the 46 attendees who participated. Next week I will share the other 23.

This is the organization about which I wrote when the executive director, John Carlino, died shortly before the conference was about to take place. In my blog post I paid homage to John, and so did those who, despite a still-unsettled culture and health scene, made their way to NYC because they just HAD to honor John, they just HAD to support the grieving and hard-working board and support teams, they just HAD to show that life and language were going to go on, to keep the momentum and growth going for which John and all had worked so hard.

Indeed, for many of us in meetings and sessions, we found ourselves kind of staring at each other behind our masks and saying that which really the whole of society has been facing and pondering, that weird mix: “We are really here!” “Can we really be here?” “Have we actually survived yet?” “We’ve survived, but there’s so much more to do!” “Our poor systems and lives are in upheaval.” “Things will have to be different but working together we’ll figure it out and make it work. We have to.”

It was unlike any experience with a group of people than I have ever had.

Language people are trained to know that there are words (in many languages) and approaches (in many cultures) for events and circumstances. So at NECTFL there was a hyper-awareness of the role that all of us attending were going to need to play in the “figuring out of the future” together.

We’re not legislators or politicians, but we are in the trenches with the young, the vulnerable, the ready, the frightened, the skilled — bringing with us the broken, the possible, the dedication, the compassion that language calls forth from human beings.

Yes, it was that important, that moving.

Those present knew they were “sitting in” for all who depend on leadership, be it in classrooms, families, communities, businesses, organizations…wherever humans gather and depend on a vision forward.

Listen to the excitement, to the engagement, to the caring, to the hope, and to the insights that came from me simply capturing people on their way to and from various session activities and asking them the four simple questions, that I now turn to you to ask of you, in your life however you are living it:

Who are you?

Why are you here?

Why are you doing what you’re doing in life?

What’s your superpower?

Enjoy the podcast.


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Episode 55 – When Language Reunites Us: IAL at NECTFL Part 1

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Transcript

Norah Jones:

I had the great pleasure of being able to go to an in-person conference a week and a half ago, the Northeast Conference on Language Teaching, NECTFL as its acronym is pronounced. It’s a gathering of world language teachers and leaders. It was an interesting place to be in this challenging time because here are people that are dedicated to languages and cultures and the human condition gathering together both concerned about the ongoing challenges, hopeful for the future, and recognizing that there are a lot of choices to be made. It’s a very engaging and effective time not just for language folks, but for all who depend on leadership found in classrooms, in families, and in communities to help us to find our way into the future. Listen to the excitement, to the engagement, to the caring, to the hope, and to the insights that came from me simply capturing people on their way to and from various session activities and asking them four simple questions: who are you, why are you at this conference, why are you in the language profession, and finally, what’s your superpower?

Norah Jones:

Hi, I’m Norah Jones. Welcome to It’s About Language. What is language all about? Well, it’s about learning and sharing, opening doors in education, work, and life. Language is about creating communities and creating boundaries. It’s all about the mystery of what makes us human. Our conversations will explore that mystery and the impact of what makes us human. It’s about language in life, it’s about language at work, it’s about language for fun. Welcome to the podcast. Every week, I like to do a shout out of thanks to those who have seen in this podcast an opportunity to reach out, connect, and grow their community in this nation and in the world. This week, I’d like to do a special shout out to Gregory Nedved. Gregory is the president of the National Museum of Language and he is a linguist, historian, and man of the world who is excited about sharing the power of language with all he meets. Thank you, Gregory Nedved, for your support of this podcast and for your work in language and culture for the good of the world.

Howie Berman:

Hi, my name is Howie Berman. I am the executive director of ACTFL and I live in Columbia, Maryland. I’m at this conference because of the power of connections. The last two years have been incredibly difficult for so many of us and we recognize as language educators as a profession that power of human connection. While we’ve been to connect through Zoom and through other virtual platforms, it doesn’t make up for that in-person connection that so many of us crave, so many of us really require. It is such a rejuvenating feeling to see our colleagues, to see our friends, to be able to share stories, to be able to support one another and that’s why I’m here, to get that sense of rejuvenation and to feel inspired by all the wonderful things that so many people in this profession are doing.

Howie Berman:

I got into this line of work in a sort of roundabout way. I was a Spanish major in college. I got my master’s degree in Middle Eastern studies. I studied Arabic and Turkish in graduate school, but I actually went a little bit of a different route. I never was a classroom teacher. I actually was an association professional, managed nonprofit associations for many years. I’ve done it for over 20 years and a position at ACTFL as a director of membership came available and it was the perfect blend of my language love, my language experience, and my love of association management and I jumped at the opportunity and I have just absolutely fallen in love with the mission and vision of the organization. Here I am, 11 years later at ACTFL as the executive director.

Howie Berman:

I would say my superpower is empathy. I really value this idea that we listen, we comfort, we understand what other people are going through. I think the last two years again have been so challenging, so difficult, and sometimes people just want to be heard, they just want to be seen. I look at what I do at ACTFL and I think what all of us do at ACTFL, we are in sort of a service industry. We’re here to serve, we’re here to serve our members, we’re here to serve the profession, and we’re here to be empathetic. We want our members to feel like they’re being listened to and so I think I’ve learned over the years how to listen, how to be a supportive professional to my colleagues and for them to understand that I know what they’re going through and I’m here for them and I think that’s what I would consider my superpower.

Bill Heller:

Hi, this is Bill Heller. I am an adjunct instructor at SUNY Geneseo in World Language Teaching Methods and a retired high school Spanish teacher having taught school Spanish for 24 years. Why am I at the Northeast Conference 2022? Well, first of all, to keep honing my craft. If I’m working with method students, the future of the profession, I want to make sure that I’m bringing back to them the most current knowledge informed by the most current research and the realities of the classrooms that they’ll be walking into. I’m also here to share my experiences in a presentation for my colleagues here and to share those experiences and those insights and to continue conversations with other professional colleagues that help us all grow in our understanding of our craft.

Bill Heller:

I got into the language profession kind of through the back door. I started out as an elementary school teacher and when the mandate in New York state was instituted back in the ’80s, they needed language teachers. I was able to get certified and I got certified and started teaching high school Spanish. From then on, I began kind of a crash course learning my craft through the experiences with my students and through, most importantly, getting involved with professional organizations, first NYSAFLT in New York state and then NECTFL and eventually, ACTFL, each time expanding my network of colleagues and learning from great minds from across the state, across the region, across the country about what the best practices are of our craft.

Bill Heller:

If you were to ask me what my superpower was, I think it’s because I’m old and I have a lot of experience and I can share those experiences with my colleagues and I can share those experiences with my method students, who are just entering the profession and still excited about the possibilities of introducing their students to the world of languages and to all the doors that can be opened, the doors that are opening in their own lives, and despite all the publicity about the state of our profession, they still want to do it. I want to still be there to support them, to help them, to encourage them, and to share my experiences with others.

Kim Haas:

Hola, my name is Kim Haas and I live in Jersey City, New Jersey, and I am executive producer and host of the PBS public television travel show, Afro-Latino Travels with Kim Haas. I am here at the conference because I had the great pleasure and honor of being the keynote speaker for the conference and it was an absolute delight. I got interested in languages because I tell the story that my grandmother took me to Acapulco, Mexico when I was six or seven years old and a perfect stranger taught me to count my numbers in Spanish, 1 to 20, in the hotel lobby, so uno, dos, tres, and you know the rest, and I was completely hooked and it changed my life. I say that if it could change my DNA, my DNA changed from that moment on and I wanted more and more language, more and more travel, more and more culture and an opportunity to meet people from all over the world. I owe my love of languages to my grandmother, who had an incredible appetite for travel and meeting people, she was just an absolute inspiration and then a perfect stranger, who took the time to share part of her culture with me. That’s how I got involved in languages and then eventually, wanted to combine all of those into a travel show.

Kim Haas:

My superpower, I would say, is this love of languages and I think my ability and desire to connect with people. I think a desire to meet people from all over the world and connect with them, whether it’s in Spanish or Portuguese or Italian or learning a few words from another language that I might not be familiar with, but I think it’s a great gift and honor that we all can enjoy if we just take the time to learn even a few words in another language just to show someone that we care about them and that we honor their traditions, their background. I just love languages and travel and communication and putting them all together.

Isadora Zanon:

Hi, my name is Isadora, she/her. I live in New York City and I am the social media coordinator/assistant producer for Kim Haas, who has her show, Afro-Latino Travels with Kim Haas on PBS right now if you want to watch it. I’m at this conference because Kim did a keynote speech today here. It was lovely. It was all about the importance of learning languages and learning about new cultures and lighting a spark in order to do that. That’s what got me as well into the language profession. Before I worked with Kim, I actually taught English as a second language in Europe for about eight years. I also taught Spanish and Portuguese for a little while. My love of languages started at a really early age. I am bilingual. I was born in Brazil and I moved to the US when I was six years old and I was so, so lucky to live in a multicultural neighborhood in Astoria, Queens. My next-door neighbors were from Mexico, across the street they were from Yemen, my best friend was from Chile. So I was hearing all of these languages from an early age. In fact, I learned Arabic because I stayed so often at my friend’s house and her mother was always saying, “Yela-yela-yela,” and I was like, what is this? It’s my first word that I learned in Arabic, means hurry up. Her mom was trying to get the kids out of the house.

Isadora Zanon:

Since then, I’ve learned many new languages. I’ve learned French, I’ve learned Spanish, Italian, German, Arabic, I think I mentioned. I think my superpower is being able to cultivate this love. I love the history, I love really getting into it, not just the language, but the culture, the history of the places that speak the language. I wrote my bachelor’s thesis on Las Jarchas, which were proto-Spanish poems written at the end of Arabic poems in medieval Spain. It was amazing. I loved it. It was the first bit of Spanish ever recorded in history. I think my superpower is just being able to share my passion with my students, with the people that I am around and this love of culture, this empathy, this being able to share that and just, I don’t know, a little rambly at the end, sorry.

Rita Oleksak:

Hi, my name is Rita Oleksak and I live in Massachusetts, but I work in Glastonbury, Connecticut for the Glastonbury Public Schools. I’m the director of World Languages and Multilingual Learners and in that capacity, I hire, supervise, lead professional development and coach over 60 staff. I am at this conference because it is part of my personal professional responsibility. I’m also passionate about the work that takes place at the Northeast Conference and the opportunity to network with my colleagues as a way not only for me to bring back information for my staff and to provide current professional updates and provide information that will help to keep us in the forefront in providing excellent learning to our students in a pursuit of proficiency, but also the opportunity for me to continue to grow in my life’s work and my passion around languages.

Rita Oleksak:

Interesting story, I graduated with a degree in French and Spanish, a double major and at the time people said, “Well, what are you going to do? All you can be as a teacher.” I refused to do that and then shortly at the end of that summer after graduation, a dear friend called me and said, “They really need a teacher at this Catholic school and would you consider doing it?” The rest is history and 40 years later, I absolutely love what I do. I have the most amazing staff. We work really hard to provide a program that revolves around the use of the target language and 90% plus in our classes. I don’t know if I’d call it my superpower, but I am extremely passionate and I believe with all my heart that the single greatest factor to building student proficiency is the use of the target language. Thank you.

Michael Bogdan:

Hi, I’m Mike Bogdan. I live in central Pennsylvania and I am a Spanish, French and gifted teacher in the South Middleton School District. I am at the NECTFL Conference because this is the best conference for networking with other language teachers and for improving my craft as a language teacher. I’m not exactly sure why I got into the language profession other than usually saying it’s because I had some unique language teachers when I was in grade school and high school, who through their passion for teaching the language I sort of caught the bug and then continued with it and made that decision in college. For my superpower, I would say it is being very detail oriented and perhaps someone who’s more comfortable behind the scenes, helping others, organizing events, such as this, and then sometimes when I’m in my classroom, changing that role around, being more dynamic and really working with my students to make sure that they can make progress, enjoy learning languages, and reach the highest levels of proficiency possible.

Maureen Lamb:

Hello, my name is Maureen Lamb. I am from Avon, Connecticut and I am the Latin teacher, language department chair and academic technology coordinator at the Kingswood Oxford School in West Hartford, Connecticut. I am just so excited to be back at this conference in-person. It has been so much fun presenting and getting that wonderful energy that people have when you’re in the room with them. I’ve been presenting online for two years, but there’s something really different about having people in the room and being able to engage live with people. I really started teaching languages because I was passionate about mythology and my dad used to tell me mythology tales for my bedtime stories. And so when I went to high school, it was my fervent wish to learn Latin and then from that, I wanted to learn Greek.

Maureen Lamb:

From that, I always loved working with kids. I was a camp counselor for many years, [inaudible 00:18:32] a drama director, and I just I knew I wanted to work with kids. It’s been so much fun to spend the last 15 years teaching secondary school Latin and ancient Greek and seeing the wonderful light bulbs when kids learn something and just being able to kind of put them in communication with the ancient world and realize when they compare things, they’re not all that different from us and really seeing that their lives are just as complicated and interesting as ours. Oh my gosh, my superpower, I guess I would say I have two really it’s I have boundless enthusiasm and I am willing to work hard to get the job done. I know that kind of makes me a Hufflepuff, but I’m okay with that because that’s fun. But thanks so much for having me, this is fun.

Elcie Douce:

My name is Elcie. I live in New York. I am a world language department chair. I am at this conference because I’m looking forward to reenergize and get more information for my department to help them frow professionally. I got into that profession because I love sharing my culture and my superpower is to learn and share.

Norah Jones:

What is your culture?

Elcie Douce:

I am Haitian and my background culture is Haitian and French and practically, I’m an Afro-Franco. That’s my culture.

Norah Jones:

How are people responding to hearing about the Haitian culture [inaudible 00:20:13]?

Elcie Douce:

In general, very positively. They love our music, they love our culture, our food, music in general, and even when our country is in a lot of political turmoil, but we kind of feel like embraced wherever we go because we have a lot to share, we have a rich culture and a beautiful country, by the way.

Cheri Quinlan:

Hi, my name is Cheri Quinlan. I live in Lewes, Delaware, and my title now is retired and part-time consultant when I want to work. I’m at this conference because Northeast Conference really has been very important to me since I first started as a teacher. I actually came to the conference, well, I was still in college. What got me into language profession, I would say, was my first experience studying abroad in high school, spending some time in Guanajuato, Mexico. My superpower, I’m not sure what my superpower is, let me think about that a second. I think my superpower is sharing with others. I’ll leave it at that. How’s that?

Norah Jones:

Cheri, you and your husband provide a scholarship. Part of your superpower is generosity. Can you talk about why you established the scholarship?

Cheri Quinlan:

Okay. I do a scholarship here for the Northeast Conference for someone who is studying to become a language teacher because I wanted to pay it forward and pay it back because so many people have been kind to me in my professional life and we also fund a scholarship at the college where I went to school. The purpose of that scholarship is to promote study abroad because I know how influential that was in changing my life and I want to provide that opportunity to future teachers as well.

Margarita Dempsey:

Hi, my name is Margarita Dempsey. I am from Smithfield, Rhode Island where I teach French and Spanish and I am the vice chair of the NECTFL Conference. Come to New York next year, March 2nd to the 4th. I’m at this conference because when I was teaching for the very first time, many, many years ago, I attended a NECTFL Conference and I sat at the pre-conference workshop and the title was Input Output and a light went off in my head and I went, wow, this is what I should be doing. From that moment on, I attended as many NECTFL conferences as I could. I got into the profession because I grew up speaking other languages at home. When I was in the seventh grade learning French for the first time, I said, “Wow, this is easy. I love this.” I think that’s my superpower. I love what I do. My students know that I love it and it’s okay if I make mistakes and it’s okay if my class didn’t go so well, they know that I love it and that I love them and I love that they are learning and progressing and that gives me joy. Thank you.

Rochell Alves:

Hey, my name is Rochelle. I live in New Jersey and I am a Spanish teacher. This is my first time at NECTFL Conference. It’s my first in-person conference with NECTFL. I did attend last year virtually and I’m also presenting on podcasting. I got into teaching languages primarily because I wanted to make an impact and I also noticed the power of language and the different perspectives and cultural difference that people bring to the table. It’s important that we build up the next generation to have cultural literacy, not just reading and writing, but also cultural literacy for our next generations to better understand one another and bring about change. My superpower is empathy. I empathize with all my students, families, and I always try to brainstorm ways to make a way when there are challenges ahead.

Melissa Wells:

Hi, my name is Melissa. I live in Rahway, New Jersey, but I work in Elizabeth, New Jersey at the Alexander Hamilton Preparatory Academy. Shout out to my Lions. I am the Italian teacher there and I’m at the NECTFL 2022 Conference this year presenting with my friend from high school on using podcasting in our world language classroom. As far as getting into this profession, it kind of happened by accident. My family is half-Irish, half-Sicilian, so a lot of my cousins, aunts, and uncles still live in Italy, in Sicily. In college, my professors realized I was really, really good at speaking the language, but even better at sharing it with the world and my classmates and helping them understand a little bit better. That’s how I fell into it. My superpower, I think, is not just collecting the masses of kids, but giving those kids the feeling of empowerment that they can do it too. If I can do it, then they can do it and yeah, I think that’s wonderful.

Norah Jones:

Thank you for listening to this podcast. This podcast is specifically designed to grow the communities of those who know that language and cultural understanding are critical for the future of education, business, and connections. If you’d like to donate, sponsor, or subscribe, please go to my website, fluency.consulting. Thank you so much for listening and thank you so much for your support.

Robert Terry:

Hi, my name’s Bob Terry. I’m from Richmond, Virginia, and I am the editor of the NECTFL Review and that’s why I’m here at the conference. I’m representing the NECTFL Review, trying to find new articles, new submissions, and we have a booth in the exhibit hall. That’s basically the reason that I’m here. What got me in the language profession, I always found languages easy, even though I started off as a zoology major with a full ride scholarship. Organic chemistry taught me the folly of my ways and I majored in French. Then I got a PhD in romance languages and so that’s how I got in it, but languages have always fascinated me. My superpower, geez, that’s hard. I like to advocate for languages because I just think it’s the most important thing for people to have, a skill for people to have.

Norah Jones:

Why is that?

Robert Terry:

Why is that? Especially in today’s world, it’s very important. I know in Virginia they are bringing up a bill to change an advanced high school diploma, make it two tracks, one that has career ed with no foreign languages and the other that has foreign languages, but no career ed and I think that’s just foolish because people in Korea definitely need to have at least two languages if not more than that, especially, as I said, in today’s global society, global economy.

Layla Lamchahab:

My name is Layla Lamchahab. I live in Boston, Massachusetts. I am a language and literacy specialist for Vista Higher Learning. I am at NECTFL representing Vista and I work directly with schools in New York City and help them choose language programs. I got into the profession because I’m half-Moroccan and growing up, my parents spoke French and I’ve always wanted to learn French to be able to kind of crack the code of their secret language. I should mention they’re divorced, so French was their secret language, and I just really wanted to know what they were talking about. But more than that, it was an opportunity to be able to go to Morocco at some point and visit my family. I’ve been fortunate enough to make a career out of it. I taught with the program that I get to sell now and I think my superpower professionally speaking is just connecting with other passionate language people, whether they’re teachers, whether they’re administrators or whether they’re someone who comes from another country and language is crucial to their survival. I think it’s really important to just be able to connect with anyone from anywhere and that passion is just so prevalent in everything we do at places like NECTFL.

Zach Neumann:

Hi, I’m Zach Neumann. I am from Virginia Beach. I work for Virginia Beach City Public Schools as a K-12 world languages instructional specialist. I was a French teacher for 12 years before coming into this role. I am at NECTFL because I love going to conferences and this was an opportunity to get back into going to conferences face to face. I also presented a session on teaching grammar in context here. It’s also a region that I’m not familiar with and so coming to a regional conference represents both the best of the states in the area and I am excited to be here, to learn from more teachers and just make some connections with people.

Zach Neumann:

What got me into the language profession? I first fell in love with language actually when I was in seventh grade, I got bored in my English class and I looked in the back of a dictionary and I saw a Russian alphabet table. So I memorized it and then I started teaching myself tidbits of Russian here and there. When I was between eighth grade and ninth grade, I went to Russia and Ukraine on a service project. I loved learning the language, which I don’t speak Russian now, but I loved the interwovenness of culture and language and that just became a passion that has been fueled by my international travel. I love language. I have a collection and dictionaries and books in other languages just because I like looking through them.

Zach Neumann:

And then I just I love kids and middle school is where my heart is. So teaching and sharing, one of my passions with middle school kids is what really got me into the teaching portion of language and just having kids understand that they can communicate and language is all about communication. Having them communicate with a person from France, with a person from West Africa, with their grandparents who are from West Africa who don’t speak English, having the kids open up a world or another portion of their world and seeing that is just so rewarding from a teacher standpoint. And then, oh gosh, my superpower, I don’t know. I’m a really awesome cook. I guess in the classroom, my superpower is making language relevant and exciting for kids because if they’re not excited about it and they don’t connect to it, they’re going to disconnect from you and they’re not going to learn the language. I guess my superpower is getting kids to really use language for their own personal enjoyment.

John Conner:

Well, hello everyone. My name is John Conner. I’m from Groton, Massachusetts. I am the Dean of faculty at Groton School outside of Boston. I’m also a Spanish teacher. I taught at Groton for 41 years and I also started a little company called Breaking the Barrier and we teach Spanish and French, soon to be teaching English for Spanish speakers. Why am I at this conference? Well, truth be told, the very first language conference I ever went to was NECTFL in 1997 and if you do the math, this is my 25th year and I think I’ve given a workshop here maybe in 21 out of the 25. I told the people that went to my session today, I remember distinctly the first time I was here giving a session. I got the graveyard shift, which was Saturday afternoon at about 3:00 PM and I decided I wanted to be prepared. So I typed up my entire 40 minute presentation. It was like 17 pages, single spaced, and I read every word. It was horrible. I mean, people were polite. They stayed. I would’ve left if I could have, but anyway, I got better.

John Conner:

What got me into the language profession? Well, I think when you teach a language, you’re doing something incredibly profound. You’re breaking down barriers between people. You give them the words to share what’s inside their hearts, what’s inside their minds. I feel I have one of the best jobs in the world. I go into class every day and realize I’m helping my students to be able to speak with people that maybe didn’t grow up where they grew up and have different life experiences. It’s certainly true that truth is found in many languages is found all over the world and I think those of us lucky enough to teach a language know that. This conference, NECTFL, has helped me to celebrate that.

John Conner:

My superpower? Well, it’s fun… I don’t really have a great name for it, but a woman today at the end of my session raised her hand and said, “Mr. Conner, how is it…” I had just confessed that I taught at my school for 41 years. She said, “Mr. Conner, how is it that you still have so much enthusiasm and passion for what you’re doing?” I just wanted to hug her. I love that question. I said, “No one’s ever asked me that.” I basically answered what I just said a minute ago. I said, “I’m doing something that’s useful for the world, something that I love. I’m never faking it, it’s a general love.” Anyway, that’s me. I say, “Adios,” to everybody. Hasta luego.

Julia Koch:

My name is Julia Koch. I teach high school French at Ridge in Bernards Township, New Jersey, well Bernards Township School District in Basking Ridge, New Jersey, which I still don’t understand all the towns in New Jersey because I grew up in south central Pennsylvania and you can drive for an hour and a half and still be in the same town, so it still mystifies me a little bit. But I do love where I’m living, love where I teach. I am at this conference because I have missed conferences with every fiber of my being. The energy is just completely unmatched and I have yet to attend any conference anywhere of any size where I didn’t learn something that would make me a better educator.

Julia Koch:

It’s funny, I’ve been thinking a lot about why I got into the language profession because my methods professor from college, Dr. [Susanna Nimmrichter 00:35:50], was just honored last night with the Nelson H. Brooks Lifetime Achievement Award for outstanding leadership in language education. She’s a German professor at Millersville University and she was teaching us about pace lessons before it was cool. She prepared me so well for the challenges of trying to wear so many hats in a language classroom. She’s one of the things that got me into the language profession. I don’t think I would’ve been willing to do it if I didn’t feel as prepared as I was.

Julia Koch:

I think my superpower is perspective and the ability to kind of guide my students to a different perspective. We’ve been working a lot with intercultural competence and being aware of the lenses through which you see the world and how it’s not just about analyzing the culture that you’re studying, but it’s about considering your reactions to things because that’s going to make you a better human. It’s going to allow you to be more thoughtful, be less reactive, be less dismissive of things that are unfamiliar to you. My hope is that it gives them a little bit more appreciation for the world around them.

Allison Litten:

Hello, everybody. My name is Allison Litten and I work at the Marion Cross School in Norwich, Vermont. I teach French to preschoolers through sixth grade and I love NECTFL. The regional conference was here two years ago before the world shut down and so it’s great to come and connect with people, see people, old friends, meet new friends. I’m here with my friend, Elissa McLean, to talk about our summer conference, the Conference in the Cloud, which we’re very excited about. This is our third year with it. I found a passion for languages in high school and took all the languages that my high school had to offer for. When I graduated from college, I was like, well, I don’t really know what I’m going to do, I guess I’ll teach and I’ll share what I love with my students. It’s just the greatest thing ever. My superpower in the classroom is collecting stuffed animals and my superpower outside of the classroom is randomly changing song lyrics to fit whatever event or person is requiring a unique song. Have a great day.

Elissa McLean:

I’m Elissa McLean and I live in Sag Harbor, New York. I am the director of a language school called Express Fluency and I’m at this conference because I’m exhibiting, I’m sharing information about our exciting summer conference for language teachers, and I love attending the sessions and learning from other language teachers here. What got me into the language profession? Really, if you had told me 30 years ago that I would be a Spanish teacher I would not have believed you. It took me traveling after college to South America and picking up Spanish there and realizing all the worlds that it opened for me that I got passionate about learning Spanish and then passionate about sharing it with other people and helping my students. My superpower in the language classroom is bringing joy and spontaneity and just so much fun to my students.

Myles Stavis:

My name is Myles, last name is Stavis, that’s S-T-A-V-I-S and I live in Arlington, Massachusetts and grew up in Cambridge, Massachusetts. My title is a language and literacy specialist for Vista Higher Learning and that is fancy for a sales rep and that’s within the K through 12 sector and we do world language and we do English learning. The next question, I am at this conference because I represent a few of the states within the Northeast, being Maine and New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont and Connecticut, not to forget, and a little bit of upstate New York. That’s why I’m here. What got me into the language profession? That’s a really, really good question. I would say that when I applied to my job at Vista Higher Learning a part of that application process was to learn about the Supersite and give a presentation about it. In studying for that and learning that I was blown away by the technology and by the people I met and how passionate they were. That pretty much sold it for me and I’ve been here ever since for a little over three and a half years.

Myles Stavis:

What’s my superpower? That’s a tough one. I don’t know, does eating a lot of food in one sitting count? Probably not. I feel like I am pretty good at connecting with people. Even if I do not have the specific substance or content or pedagogical knowledge that other folks have, I feel like I’m just good at being personable and connecting with people on that level. I think I’m pretty good with the technology. Those are two things I would say are my strengths, probably not super powers, but we’ll see.

Kelly Satzler:

Hi, I’m Kelly Satzler. I live in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania and I am a high school Spanish teacher. I’m at this conference because my department chair dragged me here. Just kidding. I’m here because I love learning about what other teachers are doing in their classrooms. And I always love having my bag of tricks constantly expanding. I lived in Argentina for a year and discovered, oh, I like teenagers and I like speaking Spanish, so I guess I should be a teacher. My super power is, well, visually I can do this weird thing with my lips. Oh, I can also, I can talk like a little kid and it’s really creepy for my students and they hate it. Sometimes I’ll do it in class because they just won’t stop talking. Yeah, thanks.

Christian Gorze:

All right. My name is Christian. I live in Mechanicsburg. I teach in Central Dauphin High School in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and I’m a Spanish teacher there. I teach Spanish two and Spanish four. I’m here at NECTFL ’22 just to learn, just to have moments of collaboration with other people, other language teachers, but then also to learn things about good practice in my classroom, reflect on what I do, and learn and see what I could do better. I got into the language profession because of an awesome Spanish one and Spanish two teacher that I had. I grew up not speaking Spanish, but I had a really awesome teacher in my two first years of the language that kind of set me on the trajectory of where I am today. My superpower? Oh, shoot. I like to think getting students engaged in the classroom, especially at the upper levels, like having more in depth discussions in Spanish with them. And so teaching upper levels is something I really enjoy and I don’t know if that’s my superpower, but something like that.

Maki Fujita:

My name is Maki. [in Japanese: “My name is Maki. I live in New York City. I work as an administrator at a language center and sometimes I teach Japanese language at universities.] Why are you at this conference? [in Japanese: I think the reason I’m here is because I want to be inspired and I want to be in the moment.]. What got into the language profession? [in Japanese: I used to teach music, and I used to work in theater. Now I’m in the field of languages. It was a natural progression for me to go into language teaching. I am interested in communication, perhaps because I am interested in the fundamental question, “How can we understand each other?”] What’s your super power? [in Japanese: My current interest is in how to implement a Plurilingual Approach in the classroom. I’m always looking for ways to do that.”]. Thank you so much. [in Japanese: Thank you very much.].

Norah Jones:

Thank you so much for listening to this podcast episode today. Please leave a review for me or share your thoughts on social media or on my website, fluency.consulting, and thanks again for considering a donation to keep the podcast going. I appreciate it. I look forward to our next time together.

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