“My superpower is that I can find a way to connect with every single person I meet. It really wasn’t about the content. It wasn’t about the grammar. It was about those connections that we were able to make in one, two, three, four languages that really resonated with the students and just really continued them on their path.”
Who are you?
Why are you here?
Why are you doing what you’re doing in life?
What’s your superpower?
In this second of two podcast “ensemble pieces,” you’ll hear the answer to the above questions from 23 attendees at the Northeast Conference on the Teaching of Foreign Language (NECTFL), held in early February of this year in New York City. The conference specifically serves language educators from the Eastern region of the U.S. – basically states stretching from Maine to Virginia – but many others attend from other areas of the U.S. and the world. As I noted in Episode 55, this year’s Conference was the first face-to-face opportunity since the NECTFL conference 2020, which ended just days before the pandemic closed down the globe.
But despite the sorrows, blockages, confusions, fears, and societal transformations, we are here. You are here, reading this and, I hope, listening to the podcast. The persons whose voices you hear are here, deciding despite all, or perhaps because of all, to join together to declare who they are, why they’ve come, what they offer, what future they envision.
Who are YOU? Why are YOU doing what you are doing? What’s the future you envision, and how are you contributing to it?
Perhaps you have the energy and confidence, the health and (relative) stability to answer that with clarity and positivity.
But if you don’t…
You, I especially invite to listen to this podcast.
I have turned in my life from employment with a company to creating podcasts to bring hope. We can learn hope from one another. We have to learn hope from one another. We’ve been separated out, experienced tremendous losses, and had to find or open new pathways for ourselves and for those we live with or love. We need to hear hope from one another.
Come and hear hope. Let it fill you. Let it support you. Let it light a flame again that might have come close to going out, or let it add fuel to the flame you have nurtured to make your life burn even brighter for yourself and for others.
We need you to have that hope. We need exactly who you are, what you are doing, and that superpower that only you can give.
And we learn about you, your work, your gift, and your vision through language. There is no other way, especially from afar.
Hope? It’s about language. Share your words with us, and I’ll share the words and the voices that entrust themselves to me with you.
Enjoy the podcast.
Click to listen:
Scroll down for full transcript.
Yes, @NorahLulicJones definitely has the talent of "bringing out" the best in others or allowing them to showcase themselves in the best light! Thank you for directing the spotlight on others who have great stories and talents to share with others.
Your podcasts are exceptionally relevant and applicable, thought-provoking and insightful, easy-to-follow and enjoyable!
You have an immense talent to draw the best from your participants.
Norah knows how to LISTEN - she really "hears" the message - and the interview is richer because of it. New questions come from the hearing.
Want to hear more? Access previous episodes, and get to know the wonderful people I talk with through the It’s About Language page, or by clicking on the Podcast tab above. You can also find this week’s episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Twitter.
As a certified Gallup Strengths coach, I can provide you or your organization personalized coaching to discover and build on your strengths.
I provide workshops, presentations, and talks that inspire and engage through powerful language insights, and I pair those insights with practical applications for the lives of educators, learners, businesses, and faith-centered organizations. I’d love to share ideas with your organization or group, and develop an event tailored to your objectives.
Norah Jones: This week’s podcast is part two of a setup that I did at the Northeast Conference for Teaching of Foreign Languages, NECTFL, as the acronym, in which I asked participants in this conference four simple questions: who are you, why are you at this conference, why are you in the language profession, and what’s your superpower? I’m excited to share this series with you because listening to the voice, after voice, after voice of enthusiasm, concern, engagement, and intent, I think we reflect our own approach to these challenging times and what our role will be, what we say about our times, and then what we act. Our language, our culture, our outreach. Enjoy this podcast.
Hi, I’m Norah Jones. Welcome to It’s About Language. So, what is language all about? Well, it’s about learning, and sharing, and opening doors of education, work and life. Language is about creating communities and creating boundaries. It’s all about the mystery of what makes us human. So, 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.
Each week, it’s a great joy to reach out in thanks to those who have seen in this podcast the opportunity to connect with and grow their communities and connections in this nation and in the world. This week, a special shout out of thanks to Isabel Tran. Isabelle Tran is a wonderful, warm human being who wants language and culture to be able to bring joy to the lives of young people and adults around the world. And she does it through her work in business and in publishing, making things clear, and helping to bring joy in all she does. Thank you, Isabel Tran, for your support of this podcast. Thank you for all you’re doing in the world.
Linda Egnatz: Hi, I’m Linda Egnatz. I am from Chicago, Illinois, and I am the executive director of the Global Seal of Biliteracy. But I’m also a retired high school and college Spanish teacher. So this brings together all of my loves. I’m here at NECTFL to engage with friends and colleagues, but also to learn about how I might be able to support and serve teachers as well as schools and students, most of all. What got me into the language profession? I would say, it was a language teacher. I didn’t plan to be a language teacher, but I was totally overwhelmed by the excitement in her voice when she talked about places that she had traveled to and visited, and I thought that could be me. When my other option didn’t turn out to be as best fitting for me, language seemed to be the easy choice, and I’ve loved it ever since.
My superpower. Well, obviously, I speak more than one language. I think we can all be excited about that piece. I would also say I would really like my superpower to be one that encourages and excites and empowers language learners to not just learn the language, but to use it and make meaningful connections with others as a result. So, thank you.
Celia Zamora: Hi, I’m Celia Zamora, I live in Tampa, Florida, and I’m the director of professional learning and certification at ACTFL. I’m at the NCTFL conference to work the booth, to attend sessions, to really learn from our teachers, to get best practices, and to really see what ACTFL can do to support our language teachers and our language-learning community. I got into this profession by chance. I received my bachelors in English literature and Japanese studies. I always loved languages, but I didn’t think I was going to be a teacher. So one of my friends said, “Well, while you’re in-between careers, why don’t you just try out teaching?” I ended up staying in there for 15 years and getting my masters and my doctorate in linguistics in order to be a researcher, a professor, and just really a lifelong learner.
I feel like my superpower is that I can find a way to connect with every single person I meet. It doesn’t matter if it’s a sixth-grade student, or it’s a college graduate, or it’s a person who’s been in the field for 70 years, I can always find something to really make a connection, to continue the conversation, to collaborate and to really bring people in to just whatever I’m doing. I can talk anybody’s ear off. I think I can make everybody laugh at least once. Really, that is why I was so successful in my 15 years of teaching. It really wasn’t about the content. It wasn’t about the grammar. It was about those connections that we were able to make in one, two, three, four languages that really resonated with the students and just really continued them on their path. Thank you.
Jessica Haxhi: Hi, there. I’m Jessica Haxhi. I live in Middlebury, Connecticut, but I work in New Haven, Connecticut, and I am the supervisor of world languages for New Haven public schools. I’m at NECTFL today because I have been coming to NECTFL for years and I really missed seeing all of my NECTFL friends and getting the energy that you can only get from world-language colleagues at a conference like this. I’m just thrilled to be here and be connecting with everyone and learning from people again. No matter how long you’ve been in the profession, and I’ve been in it 28 years, you can still sit in a session with some young teachers I just went to and you can learn things that you never thought of before. That’s always the joy of being at any conference and it’s really special to me to be able to be back here at NECTFL, where I had served on the board some years ago.
What got me into the language profession? Well, I never wanted to be a teacher. Both my parents were teachers and told me a lot about how difficult it was. Both of them ended up quitting the education profession. As a Japanese/East Asian studies major in college, I ended up going to Japan on the JET Programme and teaching English there for a year, and started, to my own chagrin, realizing that maybe I actually liked teaching just as much as my parents did when they got into it. So I came back and ended up teaching English as a second language for a while, that’s what it was called then, and then falling into a Japanese position in the high school, and then eventually in Japanese and elementary school. Then, I ended up staying there for 20 years. In the end, I felt like it was my calling.
Now, I’ve been a supervisor for eight years in New Haven. That’s been a joy too, because I think my superpower is working with teachers and helping them to feel good about themselves. I really believe in the quote, “Be an encourager because the world has enough critics already.” So I try to be an encourager and I try to be someone who sees the need for things and then provide it for my teachers. So I spend a lot of time thinking about what they need next or what they need now and figuring out ways to provide templates for that, or presentations for that, or ideas for that, or resources for that. So I hope that’s my superpower.
Wilfredo Abraha…: Hola como estan todos. My name. Wilfredo Abrahante. I live in New York City. I’m a Spanish teacher. I’m at this conference because, after 30 years of teaching, I still need something to light my fire. What got me into the language profession? I was originally a migrant education teacher, believe it or not, and I would still be there if it paid well. It doesn’t pay that well but it sparked me to want to teach. My superpower is not only teaching Spanish, but it’s also making that language come alive.
Donna Nadratows…: Hi, my name is Donna Nadratowski. I live in North Jersey and I am a Spanish teacher with the Jefferson township in North Jersey. I’m at this conference to ignite a spark. It’s been a rough couple of years and coming in and meeting with like-minded people and other teachers is really inspiring. I like to do one conference a year, if I can’t do more than one, money allowing. Just like you wouldn’t go to somebody who cut your hair unless they took continuing education courses, I think it’s really important for all teachers to go to conferences and learn the latest and the greatest practice.
I got into the profession because I met a boy. I thought that I was going to go to Costa Rica and teach English, and my last name is Nadratowski, so you can figure out that I did not do that, and I became a Spanish teacher. I think my superpower is actually connecting with my students. I think, that, first and foremost, is the most important to connect with them and make them feel safe and welcome, and then you can teach them anything you want.
Michelle Kindt: Hello. My name is Michelle Kindt and I live in Quincy, Massachusetts, and I teach in Sharon, Massachusetts. I am a sixth and seventh grade French teacher, teaching novice learners. I’m here at NECTFL because it is somewhat of a tradition of mine to come to NECTFL. I’ve been teaching for a number of years and I really enjoy conferencing, meeting new people, and learning new things at conferences.
I got into the language profession through the back door. I was actually a music teacher to start and then I moved on to… I had been an exchange student in high school. So I had this French-speaking ability and I thought, “You know, teaching French might be cool too.” Years ago, I finished what I needed to do to do that and I’ve been teaching French ever since. It’s what I’m supposed to be doing. So it’s evident that is where I’m supposed to be. My superpower, I would have to say, is using comprehensible input in the classroom to encourage language acquisition with my students. I am definitely a fan and I see it working with very happy, joyful students that enjoy speaking French.
Aziz Ebinghawna…: My name is Aziz and I live in Oregon. Portland, Oregon, to be specific. My title is I’m an account manager at Avant Assessment. Why am I at this conference? Because I am representing Avant Assessment. I work with many states, including the state of New York, which we’re at right now. What got you into the language profession? Well, my role started as a… I don’t want to call it an accident, but it was sort of luck. As a bilingual, it was kind of fitting. So it kind of helped. Then, I’ve been doing this for at least four years. So, yeah. Obviously, I like it. What’s my superpower? Ugh. What’s my superpower? That’s a tough one. Conflict mitigator, maybe.
Norah Jones: What’s your bilingualism?
Aziz Ebinghawna…: What’s my bilingualism?
Norah Jones: Bilingualism. You said you’re bilingual.
Aziz Ebinghawna…: Yeah. Well, hopefully trilingual. But, yeah. Arabic, English, and maybe a little bit of Spanish. So is that a superpower?
Norah Jones: That’s definitely a superpower.
Aziz Ebinghawna…: Well, I hope so.
Norah Jones: It sounds like your heritage is part of your superpower.
Aziz Ebinghawna…: Yes, I would believe so. I would like to believe so. Yeah, that’s my take.
Meredith White: Hi, my name is Meredith White. I live in Atlanta, Georgia, and I am a Spanish teacher. I was also just recently voted president elect of our state association FLAG. So I am clearly not in the NECTFL region, but I am at this conference to network and to see some people who I care deeply about and really just get ideas. I feel strongly that we are better together. As Myra Canyon says, “Often world language begins and ends with we.” There’s literally a W-E there.
So we can’t do what we do without all of us together compromising and working and doing the best that we can every day for our students. I got into the language profession because of my Spanish teacher. I always knew I wanted to be a teacher and then when I was in Spanish I, as a sophomore, it just clicked and I knew this is what I’m going to do for the rest of my life. She was incredible and completely changed the trajectory of my life with language. I just suddenly realized I can talk to anybody in this place or this place or this place. I can do so many things now that I have been given this gift of language.
I would say my super power is being creative with professional development. I think there are a lot of different ways that we can grow as professionals and there are so many people that bring so many things to the table. I really like to, as I am here at NECTFL, travel into different regions and be all over the place, seeing what everybody’s doing. I really appreciate what everyone does in their different roles, and I really like to think about how they can work with each other, and again how we can be stronger together. Thank you.
Jennifer Short: Hi, my name is Jennifer Short. I live in Wilmington, Delaware. I’m a Spanish teacher at a public high school. I’m also the immediate past president of DECTFL, our state organization in Delaware, and was just selected to the board of directors for NECTFL. I am here because I believe in the power of engagement and the power in being around people who are like-minded and the energy you get and the networking abilities, in addition to actually learning in-person, which is what helps motivate me.
I got into the language profession because I always knew I was going to be a teacher ever since I was six years old and I would teach my brother in the garage in my house every day after school. I tried to teach his friend but he gave me a black eye when he decided he didn’t like playing that game. The first moment I stepped into my Spanish class, I thought, “This is so cool. I can try and speak things that not everyone around me knows.” It just came easily to me so I loved it. My superpower. I remember doing that. Superpower’s empathy. I work really hard in building relationships with my colleagues, with my students to really give them a sense of belonging and to help them find their strength and their reason for being. Thank you.
Ruy Albarran: My name is Ruy Albarran. I live in Mexico City. I am sales manager for CLE International. This is a French publishing house based in Paris. Why am I at this conference? I represent this CLE International French publishing brand. We create books for teaching and learning French with a French perspective. When I say French perspective, I’m not meaning only the European French. French, as a language, is very wide, is very diverse. That’s what we do. We try to diffuse, to promote, the French language, and to provide with tools for teachers and students so that they can work in French, learn French, and understand that this world is very intercultural, very diverse, and very rich. That’s what we do.
I got into this language profession because… Well, nowadays, I’m a sales manager but, in the past, I used to be an English teacher, French teacher as well. I had the chance to talk to lots of students and to contribute to their career. One time, I had the chance to go to the other side and to be on the creative side of the publishing task. So, right now, I’ve been working for CLE International for about eight years and my task is a worldwide one. We have a great team and we are really committed with this diffusion of French language.
In French language, what we have at home, at school, is a vision of intercultural, of understanding, of giving a voice to other cultures that speak French. We know that everywhere in the world there is someone who speaks French with a beautiful, different accent. We have accents from all around the globe and that is what makes this beautiful.
What is my superpower? I think that I try to see the positive things of life, including in cultures, including in learning. That giving a chance, giving a voice to other ways to see life is something that makes us very rich. I think that is my superpower, giving a positive view, a positive interpretation of how things are done by other persons who do things differently. That’s why. If we are speaking about languages, my superpower, and that’s a very personal one, is that I get used very quickly to accents and I can imitate them if I pass some time with people. So, that’s my personal superpower.
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. 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.
Rossibel Tavera…: Hi, my name is Rossibel Taveras and I am a world language teacher. I came to this conference because my school is on a mission to decolonize our curriculum, and what better way than to talk with other colleagues and see what other people are doing to get different resources, et cetera. I got into teaching language because I had a really powerful professor in school that really pushed me. I’m bilingual and learning English was really difficult for me, but she made it just a wonderful experience, and I wanted to bring that same experience to my kids that are obviously not learning English, but Spanish. My superpower is my personality. I bring my personality 100% everywhere, especially in my classroom. I feel like that really helps students just feel at home, feel comfortable, because learning a language is really scary and I think that students and anyone learning a language just needs to feel comfortable and needs to feel like making mistakes is okay. I make tons of them. So, that’s my superpower.
Barbara Jones: Hi, I’m Barbara Jones. I live in Houston, Texas, and I’m director of customer success for Edinumen USA. It was so exciting to be invited to come to the conference as an exhibitor, and that’s why I’m here today. I’ve had the wonderful experience of getting to know Spanish teachers throughout the region and to learn about what’s exciting to them, what they need, and what they want in a Spanish program. Norah’s asked us what got us into the language profession and, of course, that’s always a long story. I started out as a musician and, like every flutist in the world, the language I needed to learn was French so that I could read the treatises so that I could actually have the muscle formation to play the instrument the way it was meant to be played.
Real life got in the way and my first orchestra job was in Venezuela. So armed with five classes at the YMCA in Houston, and it was a powerful five classes, I must assure you, I arrived at the airport in Maiquetía and learned that I really wasn’t ready to talk to anyone. Every day, I had exciting experiences learning how to communicate with butchers, with taxi drivers, with the stage hands at the orchestra, and of course with my colleagues with whom I had music in common. It was such an exciting experience and so life changing that when we came back to the United States, I became a bilingual teacher in Houston, worked as a teacher trainer, a campus administrator, did some university work, and began consulting for a publishing company, and I found my niche. What can I say? It was the most exciting place to be and I learned that language educators are among the most interesting, dedicated, and hardworking people in the world.
I suppose, if I were to choose a superpower, my superpower would be synthesis. You learn a language, and it’s an exciting experience, you’re able to speak to so many more people, make so many more friends, but you need to combine those language skills with real life practicality and offer people something that makes their lives better. My job is to make every Spanish teacher’s life easier and that, in a nutshell, is why I’m here today.
Jorge Arbujas: My name is Jorge Arbujas. I live in New Orleans, Louisiana. My title is director of product marketing for Vista Higher Learning. I am at NECTFL because I think it is important to connect with people in many different ways. Yes, it is similar, but I also look at people in outside the conference and in the hallways just for connections. What got me into languages? I started a PhD in second language acquisition 20 years ago. From there, I honestly had this superpower of connecting with people. This allowed me to expand my professional reach through [inaudible] across the country. For me, the beauty of being a language teacher is being able to teach others about your culture, about what you do. That’s my superpower, connecting with people.
Beth Marshall: Hi, my name is Beth Marshall, I live in Fredericksburg, Virginia, and I’m the world language department chair at Riverbend High School, where I’m also a French teacher. I’m at this conference for a million and one reasons. The major reason is I was privileged to represent Virginia as the Best of FLAVA here and I was able to present what I had presented this past fall. I also am at this conference for a million other reasons. Primarily, being around people who are as energetic and enthusiastic and passionate about their learning. It is obviously something that is very contagious. So doing something like this allows me to come back to my classroom and just be the best that I can be.
The language profession, I think, for me began when I knew I wanted to teach, and I had an opportunity in college to study in Paris at the Sorbonne, and came back and realized that opening up doors for language for other students and watching them speak for themselves for the first time was just the most amazing thing I’d ever seen and experienced as an adult. My superpower would be that we can manage six preps, seven classes, be department chair, run a pottery business and raise three kids on the side. They’re all very important to me. So there you go. Thank you.
Jon Hills: My name is Jon Hills. I live in New Jersey and I’m the director of a learning center that has a location in New York City. I’m at this conference. I like to see people in-person. My main driver to come here. I also just always interested in an up-to-date teaching methods and what the research says. How’d I get into this language profession? I, all the way back, decided to take Japanese in college. Then I moved to Japan and lived there for four years, and became, let’s say, intermediate-high Japanese. I won’t go advanced. I won’t say I was. Then came to at New York city and decided to try to start a tutoring center teaching Japanese. 13 years later, I’m running a language center, still. So, yeah, been a long time. My superpower. My superpower is I enjoy learning language, Asian language, and I’ve developed recently a strength for birding language. I started to understand a lot of calls and songs and identifying birds. So I learn a lot through audio.
Monica Lluch: Hello. My name is Monica Lluch, I live in Bridgewater, and I was a teacher at a private school in Far Hills for, let’s see, 30… No. 20 some years. The 30 is from when I was teaching in Texas. My role was a Spanish teacher and at the schools at Far Hills, I taught from kindergarten through eighth grade. But, technically, through my long career of 30-plus years, I don’t want to say the actual number, I taught from pre-K through college-level Spanish courses. I’m at this conference because I think it’s a great place to network. Because I am retired, I am looking to see… I’m not ready to just stay home and do whatever retired people do. I love this profession and I’m very enthusiastic about it. So I’m here to talk to people, network, and see what different paths I can take now as a retired educator.
What got me into the language profession? I started out studying biology. So I did not do any education until my senior year in college. Then I did a Masters in Education. Language, if I’m all honest, it’s because I speak Spanish. So that’s why I chose it and I never looked back. That was my big thing. I still remember my first school job. I was teaching a class and, it was a long time ago, I had a yardstick, and I was running around the class and getting the kids to talk, and slapping the yard, stick on the table with a puppet in my other hand. These were middle schoolers. I turn around and I see the vice principle at the door. I was so embarrassed, but that’s what I do. That’s what I told them. They’re looking at me. They’re like, “What is she doing with a yardstick?”
So, my superpower, I think, is allowing the kids to experience a world outside of their own in my classroom space. I never minded whether it was Spanish or any language, but giving them the chance to see and connect with the language, I think, opens their mind a little bit more to see what’s out there. Doing it through song, through games, through videos, and with the rise in technology now, through connections and all sorts of different things… I think that’s my biggest passion, is giving young kids, kindergarten kids, pre-K kids, first graders, the opportunity to see their world outside of their own four walls that they might have and to get them to ask questions. That’s the end. That’s the last question. So thank you very much for listening to me. Bye.
Maggie Fiorenti…: So, my name’s Maggie Fiorentino. I am from Orlando, Florida. I am a senior product marketing manager for Carnegie Learning World Languages. I’m attending the conference because I want to understand what’s important to language educators, want to understand more around how we can best communicate our message to the world-language market, communicate with colleagues, network, and really just get excited about world language and what’s new and exciting about the trends today.
I came into the language profession through the education window. I was a former teacher of pre-K and special ed. Then, after teaching for years, moved into educational publishing through sales and marketing roles. Very happy to be part of this profession in a supportive way, if not a direct educator. I think I’d say my superpower is being able to take lots of information and to disseminate it in a way that is most helpful and most clear. What I like about my role and the roles I’ve had in the past is that I’m trying to help communicate to educators what we can provide them for resources in a really simple way that helps them, and helps their lives, and helps their students.
Sarab Al Ani: Okay. So my name is Sarab Al Ani. I live in New Haven, Connecticut. I’m a senior language lecturer of Arabic at Yale University. I’m here at the conference to launch our project. The project is called Read, Learn and Play. It’s a project of providing free e-reading resources in Arabic to students along with free electronic workshops. I always love being here. How I got into the profession of language teaching, it’s a little bit of heritage, a lot of education, and something along the ways of a little bit of both. My superpower is that I love languages and I love teaching them. Thank You. Thank you.
Chris Gerding: Hey, my name is Chris Gerding, I live currently in Nashville, Tennessee, and I’m the CEO of Boomalang, which is a language company to connect your students with native-Spanish speakers over a video chat for a live 15-minute conversations guided by you as the instructor who can submit discussion topics ahead of time for them to discuss. I am at this conference because, let’s see, there’s a number of schools we work with who are here that we can see in-person and there’s plenty of other schools who don’t know about us who we’d like to get to know about us.
What got me into the language profession? I used to work in advertising and would connect with a multicultural team to make transcreations of ads and different cultures and languages, which was the most exciting part of my otherwise very stressful and uncomfortable job for the long-term. Let’s see. What got me into the language profession? Then, I had an experience in Costa Rica where I had my first language exchange over a beer and went from thinking that multicultural industries are interesting to, “Oh my God. This is the coolest experience I just had. Let me find a way into the language world,” and eventually built out a company around it, which leads me to number four. What’s your superpower? My gosh. I’m really good at being the dumbest one in the room. So I surround myself with a lot of really talented people, which is probably why I’m at this conference and also maybe another reason why you should trust that our team is a crack staff of superpowers in themselves. Yeah. I guess, that’s it.
Marci Harris: Hi. My name is Marci Harris and I am from Ann Arbor, Michigan. I am a French teacher in Ann Arbor at community high school. I’m also the Ann Arbor public schools world language curriculum coordinator, K through 12. We have seven languages in Ann Arbor and I support the teachers there both professionally and personally. That is why I’m at this conference. I believe the importance of always learning and collaborating with other teachers. I’m a strong advocate of sending teachers to our state conference, to our regional conference. Myself, I love just coming to network and meet people, other teachers.
I got into the language field because I always wanted to be a teacher my whole life and I loved my French teachers in high school. But what changed for me was when I was 16 years old and my French teachers offered a trip to France. It was by traveling to Paris, France, and seeing the Orangina bottle in-person and not just that picture in the textbook. It was walking around and seeing words on buildings. Those vocabulary words came to life for me. That was when I decided to become a French teacher instead of an English teacher. That is why I believe so much in taking students to travel. I took students to Quebec for many years. I’ve taken students to France. Leaving our homes, seeing the world, opening up to other cultures, it’s what we do in this profession.
I love that as world language teachers, we are able to bring in all content areas. We bring in the geography, the music, the art. I believe it’s one of the only content areas that we really can make those connections to everything else in the school day. It’s the best. My superpower, I believe, is bringing people together. Whether it’s at a school, whether it’s in a district or at the state level, I really believe in collaboration and bringing people together. That’s why I’m here in NECTFL this year.
George Melendez: My name is George Melendez. I live in North Bergen, New Jersey, which is just outside New York City. My title and my role. I am the national sales manager for Edinumen USA. Just passionate about language and the way it transformed my life, both as a kid and as an adult. I think it was just not by happenstance, but I went to business school, and all of a sudden I just got a job at a publishing company, and it was with Pearson in the ESL division. Once you grow up speaking another language, especially Spanish in this country, it opens up new doors and new horizons. So, now, I am in the language acquisition space of the editorial world. What is my superpower? Hmm. Communities. Yeah. Having grown up in a very urban setting in America, and maybe because I grew up in a very Spanish-speaking neighborhood similar to the Lin-Manuel Mirandas of the world, and In the Heights, and so forth, I just saw just the many facets of the way communities and language intersect and how powerful that could be.
Elizabeth Shore…: Hi, my name is Liz Shores and I’m live here in New York City. I am at the NECTFL conference this year to launch a very exciting, new, free resource for Arabic language educators called Read, Learn and Play that includes downloadable books and editable worksheets. I am incredibly passionate about language education. I really believe that if every kid has access to language classes and cultural competency classes and lessons, that it will change their entire trajectory. Thank you for doing this.
Norah Jones: What’s your superpower?
Elizabeth Shore…: My superpower is organization. I’m a very organized person and I can bring that into projects that I work on.
Jana Antelo: Hi, my name is Jana Antelo. I am at this conference because I saw so many interesting topics and I am a language teacher. I came here to learn and hopefully be motivated to create a conference or put together conference so that in the future I can also be heard. What got me into this language profession? I think my cheerful spirit, and I took linguistics, and I’m passionate about teaching and learning, and I’m also an ESL teacher. That’s it. Really, life got me there. My superpower is definitely teaching and creating meaningful materials that my students can immediately absorb and just take it to the next level. So it has to be meaningful for them. I can create and give materials that is appropriate and that is also motivating to them. So, that’s what my superpower is.
Norah Jones: Thanks for listening to this podcast and, in general, the last two weeks from the Northeast Conference. I hope that throughout you have remembered my invitation to think about who you are, why you are where you are, why you are engaged in what you are doing and what your superpower is. Please go to my website. Let me know, either through the forms that are there or through writing me an email, if there are any other places that you think I should go to record those that are engaged in the language enterprise of life, the language enterprise in business and organizations, language for fun. Perhaps you would like to propose yourself as a podcast guest or one or more others. Perhaps you would like me to come and speak to your organization, your group, or your team about how language works and how we work with language in life and business. Appreciate you listening to these podcasts, I look forward to hearing from you, and until the next time.Become a Sponsor