“[Learning Spanish] was a collective experience that helped me understand myself within the world. Language gave me that opportunity.” LJ Randolph
As those know who listened to It’s About Language IAL podcast 66, the first half of my sojourn at the SCOLT conference, I asked attendees four simple questions as they went about their activities: “Who are you? Why are you at this conference? What got you into the language profession? What’s your superpower?” These same questions are before the interviewees in this second of the two podcasts from SCOLT.
That is, for conference attendees I asked questions that led from concrete and simple self-knowledge (name, title) to those which required more and more abstract self-understanding.
I found it interesting that quite a few of my interviewees, either before they began their recording or during it (as I invite you to hear), questioned whether they even knew the answer to the final and most abstract question, “What’s your superpower?” It’s both amusing and sweet that these talented educators often had not considered themselves as even having a superpower. It is doubly interesting — try this for yourself! — to listen to a passionate professional clearly demonstrate a multiplicity of gifts and insights as they talk, that is, clearly shine with their superpower, and yet not name it when they get to their own words for it.
Because all the other questions these amazing people can easily answer, we can smile at this last humble moment. They do know what they do (or what they want to do). They do know why they got into the profession (that is, how they fell in love with language).
However, it should give us pause, this fact that even such amazing professionals in the very field of language do not always know or admit in which ways they are powerful, in which ways they make a huge impact in others’ lives. If they, whose lives are all about language, have not fully identified their “life commission” as it were, what of those who have not yet found their path, those who do not yet know the importance of language to name and thus make real the power in their own lives?
In podcast episode 67 I paused to share a personal reflection on one basic truth, after the latest horrors of Buffalo, Uvalde, Dallas, Laguna Hills: through language we name our own worth and learn of the worth of others. But without language, without being led to the tools of self-expression, we do not have the words, and we do not have the training, and therefore we learn neither of our own worth nor that of others.
When we do not or even cannot name our worth, we lose hope. We see such loss of hope in the world-wide epidemic of drug use, depression, disruptive behaviors, and suicide.
Then, loss of hope when combined with a sense of anger over the loss builds resentment.
When we have not been guided to observe and name the worth of others, the resentment builds to hate. The violence of word and deed we see in the worldwide web and on the ground in my country (the United States) and around the word comes from neglecting the language of affirmation for oneself and others from the very earliest years of an individual’s life.
This violence to self and others comes from the neglect of the language of connection with and belonging to the community of human beings in such a way that can continue to grow the circle of belonging, rather than drawing tighter and boundaries around those considered part of “our group.” The violence of word and deed comes from not being able to name and claim even a bit of power to change the world for the positive. So, in the hunger we all have by the nature of our being human to make an impact on the world, we embrace even the methods of destruction and violence so that we might at least feel some semblance of control.
How can we heal this breach between language needed and language provided? How can we save lives by using the one, unique human gift, language, to give hope and health and purpose?
First, we need awareness that this cycle of language-based understanding of ourselves exists. As I have said in my podcasts and workshops, just because we use language every day doesn’t mean it isn’t a miracle. Note: if we label something a miracle, we pay attention and potentially react with awe or at least bewilderment. What we consider mundane experiences we tend to dismiss. But language is not mundane. It is unique. It is central to who we are. It makes or breaks us. It always has been our make-or-break gift.
Second, it is part of human nature to understand more clearly that which we study not by itself alone but in comparison with something else. To a baby everything fuzzy on four legs is a “dog” until they learn the word “cat,” and at that point the clear seeing of the multiplicity of nature’s animals is off and running. Once “cat” exists alongside “dog,” all else is possible. Once we realize our interior world is not the same as everyone else’s, we begin the journey to accept the other as a full person like ourselves. We begin to add categories of being, like the toddler adds categories of animals.
This is world urgently needs to fast-track these life-saving additions, these life-saving insights.
We need to do it through greatly expanded programs of language study, study of not only one native language but at least of one other language.
Language study – or support of those families and groups that are by upbringing bilingual or in active use of heritage languages — brings about this life-saving understanding from the very first word. From the very first word! Whether the listener is a small child, teen, or adult, the moment they hear a new sound comes out of a human’s mouth to refer to something the person knows in a different way, their mind is opened to new categories of being. Wow! It turns out there are multiple languages, so we now more easily understand the possible multiplicity of ethnicities, skin colors, cultures, histories, and opinions!
It is the nature of humanity to react in this way: to happily add cats to dogs, then bunnies and horses, and on and on…to add categories of how humans can be. Also note: we do not become someone else in this process, but rather a richer version of ourselves!
So, let’s keep that in mind as we go about our lives. And ask yourself as you listen to this podcast:
- What have these educators themselves experienced that helped them to add categories to what they defined humans to be?
- How do their experiences compare to yours?
- As you listen, what do you hear them sharing that shows they understand they are sharing the opening of the mind of their students to see humanity more fully and richly?
- How does their work compare to what you have seen bring a sense of well-being and acceptance into the lives of others?
All this, and an invitation: connect with me and let’s see how we can do this work together.
Enjoy the podcast.
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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.
Welcome to the second of the two episodes coming from the Southern Conference on Language Teaching in Norfolk Virginia in April. I went on the road to the SCOLT conference to ask attendees four simple questions: “Who are you?” “What’s your role?” “Why are you in the language profession?” And, “What’s your superpower?”
I’m going to ask you to reflect, again, as you listen. And especially I’d like you to think about it, as I interrupted the flow between that episode and this one on these same questions and especially at this time, when I interrupted between episode 66 and this by pointing out that with language we can help to heal the fear and the hatred that has brought such violence to our country and the world. How can your language help to bring about joy? How can your language help to bring about healing?
So listen with joy, but also listen with this purposefulness. What can each of us do? What is our language sphere of influence, our language superpower, that can help to bring healing to this world? And I would like to thank those generous sponsors and donors that help to make this podcast possible. This week, the Coalition of Community-based Heritage Language Schools and Freestyle Languages. Thank you, sponsors.
Hello, my name is LJ Randolph. I live in Wilmington, North Carolina, and I am currently an Associate Professor of Spanish and Education and Coordinator of our Rural Language Teacher Education Program. I am currently at SCOLT because I love connecting with my colleagues, I love seeing the cool and interesting things that people are doing in their classrooms, and outside of that connection, I also love being able to walk away with new ideas and new resources that previously weren’t on my radar. What got me into the language profession was just initially it was something that was new and I didn’t know anyone who spoke another language, and so it seemed like just this, I don’t know, otherworldly skill to have. It was just something that drew me into it immediately. I started learning more about the cultures of the people who spoke Spanish and Portuguese and all of the artistic production that comes from those cultures and the rich histories, and also how my history as an English speaking Black person in the United States is connected to the histories of people from those cultures, both here and in other communities around the world.
There was just this collective experience that helped me understand myself within the world, and so I think language gave me that opportunity. One of my super powers is if you give me any resource, I can probably make an activity out of it, build something around it, and get students speaking at their current proficiency level.
Hi everyone. My name is Laura Zinke and I live in Tempe, Arizona. I wear several hats, I am a full-time Spanish teacher in a public high school in Tempe where I’ve spent the last 38 years, here I’m at SCOLT serving as a national language consultant with Vista Higher Learning. I love conferences, some of my best practices I learned when I was attending sessions at a conference, but I would encourage you to attend a conference if you’ve not done that in the past. Why did I get into the language profession? Well, language and culture are just a part of my life. I grew up speaking Spanish and I love everything about it and I wanted to share all of my amazing experiences with others, I really love being with kids, they energize me, and so I think that’s really the reason I decided to become a Spanish teacher. Superpower, I think I do a really good job of connecting with young people. I really enjoy being in the classroom, they motivate me and they stimulate me to be better every single day.
Hi, I’m Jeff Samuels. I live in Maryland and I have multiple roles and multiple titles. I’m the President of the Maryland Foreign Language Association, I’m the president of the Midatlantic Association for Language Learning Technology, and I’m the co-founder, president, and CEO of World Languages 360, which is a nonprofit, so I’m doing a lot. I’m at this conference to see old friends and colleagues, and also to hear about best practices and to network a little bit, and to find out what folks are doing in online learning and teaching, and also what they’re doing in terms of project-based learning, problem-based learning, opportunities for language learners in workplace settings, and just generally speaking what’s going on in the profession, it’s been two years we haven’t been together.
What got me into the language profession was probably my junior high school French teacher and then the Spanish teachers, and just a passion for cultures, language, and the wonderful interactivity of the classroom and the opportunities, and at the college and university levels, just the ability to study multiple disciplines, but to always have that ongoing theme of the culture and language underneath and weaving through. It’s really an interdisciplinary thing, so I’m an ultimate inter-disciplinarian. As for my superpower, aside from just loving being involved in a variety of organizations and meeting people and so forth, I always joke that my superpower is turning lettuce into body fat.
Hi, my name is Jennifer Whyte and I live in Anniston, Alabama. I am a Spanish teacher, also a mom of five kids, and let me see, I have a lot of hats, I’m just not going to tell you everything. I’m also a Zumba instructor, I have to add that in. But, I’m at this conference because I was the teacher-of-the-year last year, so this year I had to announce the new teacher-of-the-year. I was so excited to be able to be face-to-face with everybody for the first time and finally see the teachers-of-the-year. I was also on the awards committee of awarding the new teacher-of-the-year, so I got to see the background of how everything happens with that process. I’m also here to learn, to meet new people, connect with people and just do things that we haven’t been able to do in a long time.
What got me into the world language profession was a lot of different trial and errors. I first wanted to be a PE teacher because I thought, “That’s fun. I get to wear pants every day, like sweats,” but then when I realized I had to stay after school and coach sports that I don’t even know how to play, then I thought, “No, I don’t want to do that.” After doing a lot of thinking, I asked several principals and I said, “Hey, you know who I am, you see my personality, what would you hire me for?” All of them said the same thing, they said, “You should be either an ESL teacher or a Spanish teacher.” I said, “Spanish? No. Why would I be a Spanish teacher?” Just give it a shot, I think you will be great.
I said, “Oh my goodness, I just don’t…” Spanish being my first language, I just thought, “That’s kind of boring, that’s what we talk at home.” I went ahead and went into that profession and then realized, “Wait, I could teach whatever I want with Spanish. I could talk about anything.” That’s how I got into that profession, and I just loved it ever since. I don’t know why I even thought of PE to begin with, it’s like this is where I belong. I feel like my superpower is being a foster mom. I’m not currently a foster parent, but when I am, I feel like that’s a superpower that a lot of people cannot do. A lot of people can’t balance their homes, their family life, their work, their extracurriculars, and then this extra little family of kids that you need to provide for, give love to, and go through some hell with the parents and the county and the city, and just having somebody down your neck about, “Hey, you’re not supposed to talk to them like that, or you’re not supposed to do that or bring them to this appointment and bring them…”
I think that has to be a superpower to be able to be a teacher, a mom, and that, and love kids that people don’t love or parents don’t want. I think that’s it.
You started a podcast yourself, correct?
I sure did. I started a podcast called Afro-Latina Teacher in the Rural South because I thought that my story is interesting. Most of the Latinos of color, they come from Chicago, Miami, and New York, but me being in Alabama, my experience is just different. I thought, “Man, I have good stories about things that have happened to me,” not just all bad stories, but just interesting with the culture shock and my kids growing up in that area of the rural south of Alabama. It’s been great. It’s been bad, great, bad and horrible, but it’s been a really good experience, so that’s why I want to be able to bring in that podcast my point of view. I do interview people, and in those interviews I do give my point of view. Even though some people have gotten a little upset, they’re like, “Wait, why are you calling us minorities? We’re not minorities, we’re…” Then I’m like, “I’m a minority where I’m at.” Where I’m at there’s not a lot of people like me and I have to teach my kids that, that they need to shine beyond being a minority, it’s okay.
I think it’s great content, I’m just new at it still and I’m making a lot of mistakes right now, so I don’t know. I’m really excited about it though. I get to meet so many cool people. I just interviewed somebody the other day that… they’re an African American from my city that moved away to Vietnam and he’s fluent. He started his own program and he’s back in the US and he’s like, “What’s going on here? What is Black Lives Matter?” He’s an African American and he don’t even know what that means. I was like, “What?” He goes, “I’m totally disconnected from the United States.” It’s so cool to find those… not strange people, but those people that are out-of-the-box, out of the norm that you would think… because that kid graduated from a failing school and ended up in Vietnam, and that’s what I’m trying to highlight his story.
My name is Claudia Elliot. I live in Jacksonville, Florida, and I’m a Spanish teacher. I am in this conference because I love to collaborate with other colleagues, I love to learn from them, and I love to have these simple conversations in the hallway where you always get to ask a question or somebody asks a question, somebody makes a comment, and then from that little conversation, you came out with another great idea to bring to your class. How I got into this profession, wow, that was just like life. I was a lawyer in my past life and I came to the United States, and my husband, who is a teacher, one day came and say, “Hey, can you come and replace our Spanish teacher just for one week?” That was 17 years ago. My superpower is just being me, just trying to understand that I grow every day, that I can connect with people. At the end, it’s just being human, and I think humanity is my superpower.
You do a podcast with a student, correct? Can you describe?
Yes. I started this project last year and it was a student who approached me after I shared with them that I really wanted to do a podcast. Then, she came to me and said, “Do you think that we can do a podcast together?” I say, “Of course we can.” We didn’t have any resources, we didn’t have any editing or a pretty microphone or nothing, and then one day say, “We should,” so we did. I have a podcast with her, we share stories that are relevant to the month. Then, one of my two heritage speakers do the transcript, and it’s just the four of us doing our podcast and we invite other students to join. Then, in May I have a surprise because I have a student from the Philippines and she’s sharing a story from her country, which really makes me happy. It’s just a very simple conversation with the student like when we show how imperfect but beautiful our languages are. Thank you.
Salvete. My name’s Stephanie Buckler. I teach and live in Stafford, Virginia, specifically Latin, and my students call me Magistra. I’m at the conference today presenting one of my favorite go-to units that I use at the beginning of the year to see what my students remember from over the summer, as well as when I have those two sections of Latin-1 converging together, and I call it “Checking the Waters.” I’m sharing that knowledge as well as getting to attend my first in-person SCOLT and second SCOLT overall because last year, FLAVA sponsored me to come. Then, my Latin teacher was fantastical, shout out to Angie Bohon, then followed by my amazing mentor teacher that got me into spoken Latin, shout out David Yates. It just kept getting me into the language profession because it was so cool where I was connected to this civilization in the past and then being able to revive it and challenge people of you can speak Latin, you can understand Latin, it’s not dead.
My superpower is I learned my students names before they ever enter my classroom, and so I greet them by name the first time I ever meet them and they’re like, “How do you know my name?” It is such a power move because I will never reveal my secret, and if a student guesses how I’ve learned it, I’ll just subtly nod. Normally, that’s a one-on-one conversation, but it’s so cool because it’s just being able to be like duh duh duh duh duh and they’re like, “How do you know?”
My name is Elizabeth Harrington and I live in Washington, DC. I am the Supervisor of World Languages for Arlington County Public Schools. I’m here at this conference because I needed something to feed my soul, and it has. What got me into the language profession? I was blessed with my upbringing in that my dad was a foreign service officer, and so I grew up immersed in France, that was my first academic language. In France, you learn your second world language in the eighth grade, so that’s when I began my study of Spanish. Growing up bi-literate and bi-cultural just gave me a different perspective on the world. I think my superpower is always looking at things from multiple perspectives and asking, “Why wouldn’t we?”
Salvete omnes. I am Sue Robertson, a retired Latin teacher from Midlothian, Virginia. It was my pleasure to serve FLAVA as president in the past few years. What I love about this conference is that we are helping to host it. We haven’t been in Virginia in a long time, and so this was just fabulous for us to be able to do this. My other thing for this conference is it’s the first time that they can recall that there is full sessions for the Latin language, and so I’m so happy that the Latin teachers wanted to participate. What got me into the Latin profession or the teaching profession is that I always wanted to teach, but it was a matter of choosing what. At that time, English and history were passions as well as Latin, but at that time also there were so many English and history teachers, so I went with Latin and I have not regretted a moment.
I spent 43 and a half years teaching Latin and every day was a pleasure. As far as a superpower is concerned, I don’t know that I feel that I really have one, but what I love to try to do is to connect people together regardless of their language background and to make them realize that each person is truly important.
My name is Monica Lamelas and I live in Mississippi. I am the Spanish-1 and two teacher in Booneville High School. I am at this conference representing Mississippi as teacher-of-the-year. I got into the language profession because I used to work with humpback whales before and there are no humpback whales in Mississippi. My superpower I guess is flexibility.
Hi, I’m Janet Bunch. I live just south of Memphis, Tennessee in Hernando, Mississippi. I am the Spanish department at my community college where I teach Spanish-1, 2, 3 and 4, both virtually and live in the classroom. I am at SCOLT because there is no better place to be, wonderful people, awesome sessions, and even some really great exhibitors. What got me into the language profession is the fact that I love people, I love communication, and of course I love food. I’m a Spanish teacher because hello, how many Mexican restaurants are there near you and you want to talk to the waiters and know what they’re talking about, right? I speak Spanish kind of by accident, I don’t know, it just came naturally. Everybody else failed the test, I got an A. My superpower is connecting, being able to look at somebody, look them in the eye, smile and somehow make their day better.
Hi, my name is Thomas Sones and I am a 20 year veteran of teaching Japanese and French in Richmond City Public Schools in beautiful Richmond, Virginia. I came to SCOLT this year because I believe in professionalism, I believe in the power of personal growth as a teacher, and I just want new ideas because I want a fun, innovative classroom. I got into language… well, I decided to be a teacher before I decided to become a language teacher. I knew that I wanted to help other people grow and help the world become a better place through education. But as I learned to travel around the world and learned that affected me and I grew from that so much, I wanted other people to also have that opportunity to learn and grow through other cultures and global experiences. There’s nothing like feeling the beat of a drum in your heart, in your chest, no matter where you go, it’s always the same reverberation in your body, in your chest, and that’s a powerful thing to experience.
My superpower is community. I love connecting with people and being part of organizations, and I love to donate time and energy to organizations, personal, professional and community groups.
Hi, my name is Helen Stapleton and I live in Sewanee, Tennessee. I am the Language Resource Center Director at the college there, which is called Sewanee, but also the University of the South. I occasionally teach French as needed and ESL there as needed, but typically I help the language professors with anything they need in terms of technology. I’m at this conference just to get ideas, and I realized I’ve sort of been in dormancy the past two years in terms of my professional growth. I haven’t really picked up… well, no, I actually have picked up a ton about remote learning. We’ve done so much with Zoom and Brightspace, which is our content management system, and how to use that for languages because it has voice recording capabilities and whatnot. But, I haven’t been in contact with the community of language educators in the past two years, so it’s so nice to be here in person.
I did try an online conference, but I just couldn’t really get into it like I do when I’m actually there. What got me into the language profession? I wanted to be in the Peace Corps and I didn’t have the skills such as, I don’t know… I didn’t know how to dig wells or other things, so I felt like language teaching was probably my best shot of getting into the Peace Corps. I started an applied linguistics program at Georgia State University in the early nineties and got about halfway through it, the applied linguistics and ESL program there. Then, I got into the Peace Corps and decided I just loved language teaching. When I finished the Peace Corps, I was in Guinea West Africa, then I went back and finished my degree. I’ve just been working in that field ever since, and I love it, I love ESL, I love French. My superpower is forgetting what to say when I’m on the spot. All right, thank you.
Hi there, my name is Christopher Gwin and I am from the Philadelphia area. I’m here at the SCOLT conference representing NECTFL Northeast Conference, and also the National Federation of Modern Language Teachers Associations, talking about our grant programs and award programs to the constituency here, which is very exciting. I came to SCOLT because I’d never been before and I wanted to have the perspective of how another conference is organized and managed, and I learned tremendously from paying attention to what’s happening here and feel good about the attendance. Also, I love the city, the atmosphere here, there’s a very good vibe, so it felt like a good time. Why did I get into the language profession is such a great question. That’s a really good question. There’s a real reason and then there’s the philosophical reason, so let’s just do the philosophical reason. I think it’s important for Americans to have the opportunity to learn English and one other language to broaden their perspective, to see the world from multiple perspectives.
I was very fortunate as a child to grow up in a family where my father, when he was a sophomore in high school, was offered the opportunity to get a pen pal in Britain just after the end of the second world war to support those folks. He took this advantage, and up until he passed, they still continued to write, so it was 62 years of correspondence. I always had another perspective growing up of how folks in our family and Britain saw what was happening in the world. That made an impression on me as a young person and I carried that into my adult life, and that is part of why philosophically I chose this profession. What’s my superpower? I have no idea what my superpower is, but I think I can embrace people, connect people, and bring people together. Thank you.
My name is Sharon Scinicariello. I live in Henrico County, Virginia, and I’m the Advocacy Chair for FLAVA after having a long career in language and technology. I’m at this conference to speak advocacy and to hear what other people have to say about advocacy. What got me into the profession? A love of languages. My grandmother was a German speaker and had been immersed in bilingual education before World War I, and she was teaching me some German. Then, I had the opportunity to have some teaching at the elementary level in French, and then started taking French in seventh grade, took Latin, just really loved it. I thought I was going to be a chemist, but discovered it needed way more math than I was interested in, so I decided to go into languages, and that’s what I did. My superpower, if I have one, is to see the connections among all the different languages. I did romance philology and studied the history of the romance languages. That’s what really fascinates me, is that connection between all the languages and how languages evolve.
My name is Tavane Moore, and I’m a Spanish teacher at Sandtown Middle School in Fulton County. I’m the Foreign Language Association of Georgia Middle School board member, member at large for FLANC. I live in Atlanta. I’m part chair and I’m at SCOLT to present… I presented two sessions, one pre-recorded on using the Can-Do statements for student self assessment proficiency, and the other is… yesterday I did on personalized learning with mastery-based assessment. I got into the language profession because of my family’s cultures were mixed with African, Irish, five native American tribes are documented, and Mexican, and I love languages. My mom speaks French. I’ve studied Spanish, German, English, Russian. My superpower is passion. It drives me, absolutely, passion for the power of knowledge. Thank you for having me.
Hi, I’m Christina Andros. I live in Gainesville, Virginia, and am the World Language Coordinator for Fairfax County Public Schools. I came to this school conference because I just wanted to learn from a lot of my different peers and see the growth of our immersion programs, what’s happening in trends in the south regions. I got into the language profession because I, myself, enjoyed languages, but really fell in love with it because I realized that it can open your eyes to view the world in a completely different way, and that you have so much more in common with people at the human level, that language just opens the door to be able to connect to one another’s hearts and converse and exchange in a way that leaves you changed and transformed, that you can’t be the same person when you look at everything again.
I wanted to give students that opportunity, and I just wanted to have a lot of fun too. I loved working with youth. I continued after college, continuing back to serve with the youth, and so that’s what brought me into education and what propels me is always keeping that child in mind at the end of it, to just help them across their growth continuum, wherever they may be. My own superpower, it probably would be the power of adaptability. I think that started from birth, being a Korean-Chinese-American myself, but then a lover of the Latin American culture and just navigating through also deaf culture, different circumstances and environments, and always wanting to see at that level that were the similarities and the ways that we are unique, to be able to celebrate that. Being able to just be willing to jump into whatever circumstance that may be and find how we can connect and celebrate. That’s it.
Hi, my name is Cheryl Kincaid. I am a Language and Literacy Sales Specialist with Vista Higher Learning. I live in Lynchburg, Virginia. I am at this conference because I was starving to connect with teachers, with other supervisors, and with people in all roles between SCOLT, FLAVA, and FLANC, and everyone else who’s here today. I missed the connection. I missed seeing the faces to the emails that I was receiving, asking for help and interested in how can I change this now that I have to go all digital? I just wanted to give everyone a hug.
I got into the language profession because I grew up in an area where we were not exposed to a lot of diversity. I took Spanish, and with Spanish I was introduced to multiple cultures, multiple types of foods, and even the languages because Spanish isn’t just Spanish, it varies from country to country. I was just enamored with the fact that there’s all this diversity out there and I can know it if I can communicate with them, so that’s how I got into being a Spanish teacher before into the role that I am now. My superpower, I would say, is as long as I have four hours of sleep I can do anything for anyone.
Hi, my name is Nathalie Ettzevoglou. I live in Sugar Hill, Georgia, but I teach in Alpharetta, Georgia as a high school French teacher of levels one, two and IB ab initio. My reason for being at this conference is I’m heavily involved with the SEALLT board, and I was offered the opportunity to present a workshop on Thursday about gamification in the classroom. It was about how I used the popular game that teenagers love called “Among Us” and how I adapted the theories and concepts of gamification into my own personal versions that I use in the classroom. What got me into the language profession? That is a very good question. I never imagined I would actually be a language teacher. I knew I wanted to be a teacher, but I went through the phase of really loving biology, which I still do. Then, when I got to college, I actually did my studies at the University of Richmond, and so it’s great that I’m back here in the Commonwealth for the Norfolk SCOLT convention.
I thought I was going to teach math. That was not a good experience for me, so I switched gears and I went on a study abroad in 1998 and that summer changed my life completely. Our director took us to the Mont Saint Michel and I was standing at the very top of the mount and I looked out and I said, “This is what I’m going to do.” From that moment on, I just stuck with it. It was going to be French, and oddly enough, not the most popular choice, but I was choosing to go into medieval studies literature, which I then continued on into graduate school. I don’t know, it just stuck with me and I always knew I wanted to teach, I just wasn’t sure which lane I was going to stay in. I stuck with French language, but I still adore the literature anyhow.
My superpower, wow, okay… well, I think first and foremost, I would have to say just being myself with my students and for them to get to know me as a human being and for me to get to know who they are and try to meet them where they currently are. It’s been difficult, so I rely on my second superpower, which is the integration of technology in my classroom, specifically through gamification because that’s what makes sense to my students and I try my best to speak their language.
My name is Dali Tan. I live in Herndon, Virginia. I’m a professor of Chinese at the Northern Virginia Community College. I’m also the World Languages Discipline Group Chair. I’m here at the conference because I really want to come to a face-to-face conference to learn from my colleagues, and also I was named as the finalist for SCOLT teacher-of-the-year, so I came here to present my session. I’m also here to be part of the interview process, so I met wonderful teacher-of-the-year from different states, so I learned a lot from them. I got into the language profession because of my father. During World War II, he had meningitis and could have died in the mountainous area of Southern China, an American priest saved his life. In his nineties, he still remember that the cream of potato soup was really delicious when he stayed at the church hospital, and that story really make me want to major in English because I want to learn more about that wonderful American priest who saved my father’s life.
That’s why I taught English in China and have been teaching Chinese for over three decades in the United States. My superpower is that I just feel like the learning languages have changed my life and have given me so many opportunities to learn about other cultures, and so that’s why I want to share the Chinese culture with my students. Another thing is that in 2003, my student who has become a presidential scholar, and then he named me as the most influential teacher in his academic career, so I got a Department of Education Teacher Recognition Award. When I went to the award ceremony, out of 128 awardees, 14% were foreign language teachers, and consider not every students have opportunity to learn Chinese or learn other foreign language compared to other school subject, I really believe this over 10% percentage of awardees is really significant.
I’ve been talking to students at this who are all presidential scholars, and then one student said senora… I forgot, her last name….senora not only taught me a language, but had given me a new world, so I just feel like world language teachers work have not been recognized by the general public. We do change lives and give students a new world every day. That’s what set me on the path for the advocacy for all the world languages, so that every student get to learn the foreign languages, to get the life changing experience of learning of foreign language and cultures. Thank you.
I am Amy R. Cohen. I live in Lynchburg, Virginia, where I teach at Randolph College. I am Professor of Classics and of Theater. I am at this conference because I wanted to talk about my new online Greek classes, but also especially to talk about having adopted a 1932 textbook for Beginning Latin by three American women, one of whom was African American. It’s in the public domain. I wanted to see what Helen Chestnut and her colleagues would come up with and whether it was still a useful and valuable textbook. It has been wonderful and has some wonderful surprises and some interesting ways of handling things that Latin textbooks have some difficulties dealing with. I was really excited to share that and to meet up with language enthusiast colleagues from all over the place, so I’m very excited to have come. I’m really glad to have been here.
What got me into the language profession is my first teachers, of course, were my parents. My mother was a French major and my father, a Shakespeare professor and Founder of the American Shakespeare Center. Language, the power of words, and the delight in words and what they can do was part of my life from the very beginning. Then, I had a magnificent Latin teacher in high school, a magnificent Greek teacher in college, and there’s just been no way for me to do anything else apart from directing plays, but that’s another wonderful thing I get to do at Randolph College.
I would say that my superpower is, apart from not being afraid of computer things and enjoying trying to translate some really old stuff into the modern world, since I study ancient Greek and Roman things, is I hope getting students excited about things that are difficult and delighted by things that are difficult and what language can do, and thinking about how it is that they’re using the ancient languages, but also of course, how English works and the fun stuff they’re doing, and these days why the things that people are excited about and maybe upset about have so much to do with the peculiarities of the English language, how we use it, and how much it means to us.
Hello, my name is Karina Prudencio. I live in Springfield, Virginia, and I’m here for the SCOLT conference, very excited. My title is Elementary Resource Teacher, I work for Fairfax County Public Schools. I have many reasons why I’m excited to be at this conference. I had the chance to connect with so many awesome colleagues, I learned so much I feel like I’m overwhelmed with so many good things to share, go back to my district and share with my teachers. I’m also excited to network and get to know so many important people in our profession. I think it’s been an encouraging event and I’m looking forward to continue coming every year starting from this year. What got me into the language profession? I can say many things. First, my mom was a teacher, so I think I’m following her steps. She taught elementary for 25 years until she retired.
We’re from Bolivia, so I’m bilingual, I speak Spanish and English. My mom was a big inspiration, and also my aunt because she taught the deaf and hard of hearing for many years, so I guess I’m just following their steps. I’m just very passionate about instilling the love of learning in my students and also sparking their curiosity, opening their eyes to the world. What’s my superpower? I guess it’s just that passion that I have to instill the lifelong learners to open their eyes to this world that has so much, and we can learn something new every day.
I’d like to thank my sponsors again. The Coalition of Community-Based Heritage Language Schools. The Coalition supports, guides, and promotes heritage language schools, programs, and organizations. I’d also like to thank Freestyle Languages, whose mission is to connect people through language using a fun, science-backed, and proven effective language learning approach, 100% online. Learn more and connect with both of these sponsors on my website, fluency.consulting. Connect with me there, too, to learn how sponsorship of this podcast can help meet your goals and grow your community.
Powerful personal stories, right? I hope that some resonated with you and that you felt yourself telling stories about your life. What I thought was interesting among many other things is that the attendees spoke over and over again about developing their personal skills and also opening awareness of connections around the world and throughout history. That is to say that language provides a clear sense there’s a reason to be alive. It helps to relieve fear. It gives confidence to say that we belong to a community and to accept other communities. And it gives confidence that grows and grows that we can make a positive impact on the world. That survival, belonging, impact is what language is all about. So, until next week, please use language to take care of yourself and those around you.