By Adrienne Gonzales, PhD, Foreign Language Pedagogy & Technology Specialist at University of Denver, CO.
The 2013 American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages Convention and Expo was held in Orlando, Florida, November 22-24. The convention hosted over 250 exhibitors and 700 professional development opportunities for language teacher and administrators. This year’s theme was “New Spaces, New Realities: Learning Any Time, Any Place.” Throughout the convention, presenters showcased their innovative use of tablets, social networking sites, and a host of other technologies as tools for facilitating language teaching and learning. Sessions took the form of workshops, roundtable discussions, meetings,and digital poster presentations. Slides and handouts from these sessions are available on the ACTFL website.
The Opening General Session honored the regional finalists for best teacher of the year and named the winner, Linda Egnatz, a Spanish language teacher from Lincoln-Way Community High School in Frankfort, IL. Congratulations, Linda!
The Opening General Session also highlighted Keynote Speaker Tony Wagner, the innovation education fellow at Harvard University’s Technology & Entrepreneurship Center. His talk, “Creating Innovators with Passion, Play and Purpose,” was an inspiring call to action for educators to rethink the way we teach and to consider what skills our students really need to succeed: innovation, adaptability, collaboration, and initiative. The presentation set the tone for the weekend, which was filled with enthusiasm and idea sharing.
This year’s convention also featured a session about the American Association for Applied Linguistics (AAAL), which highlighted some of the research presented at AAAL’s 2013 conference. Representatives from AAAL discussed the importance of strengthening the connection between AAAL and ACTFL in order to promote dialogue between language education researchers and practitioners. The session highlighted research being done at all levels of language education and explored topics such as dynamic assessment and cultural awareness.
This year, in an effort to promote and recognize teachers’ professional development efforts, ACTFL partnered with the Center for Open Educational Resources and Language Learning from the University of Texas at Austin to create a Digital Badges initiative. 613 convention goers registered to earn ACTFL’s first digital badge: the ACTFL 2013 Convention Networker badge. You can visit the ACTFL Digital Badges website to learn more about digital badges and search the 2013 convention network.
Next year’s ACTFL Convention and Expo theme is “Reaching Global Competence”. It will be held Nov. 21-23 in San Antonio, Texas at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center. The Call for Proposals is now open, and submissions are due January 15, 2014.