Examples of Diamond Poems written by heritage speakers
Tasks, Skills, and Connections:
CSCTFL Features Multiple Approaches
To the Teaching of Foreign Languages.
By Freddie A. Bowles
I was fortunate to be one of over 900 foreign language teachers and educators who gathered in Columbus, Ohio, a couple of weeks ago for the 45th annual Central States Conference on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (CSCTFL). Our theme, “MultiTasks, MultiSkills, MultiConnections,” highlighted our focus on the role of languages in a global society.
The 2013 conference, hosted by the Ohio Foreign Language Association (OFLA) for the fifth time, welcomed attendees from 17 member states on Thursday, March 14, with several special events, including the Leadership Program, the Conference Workshop/Extension Workshop (CW/EW), and several workshops. Participants were encouraged to "unlock the gateway to communication" in pursuit of language proficiency for their students.
The Leadership Program is based on a two-way, peer-mentoring model to develop emerging leaders in the field of foreign language education. Applicants design a project to implement in their own states and then meet at CSCTFL to exchange ideas and receive advice from previous graduates.
Making Standards Work
This year’s CW/EW topic, “Making Standards Based Grading Work in Your World Language Classroom,” brought together 25 educators for specialized training in effective ways to assess student knowledge and ability. Designed to address recent trends in foreign language teaching, the annual CW/EW program encourages participants to share what they’ve learned with other educators in their home states through presentations at the state and local levels.
Thirty-two workshops gave participants three-to-six hours of intensive professional development on topics such as technology, oral proficiency, and project-based learning.
Governance bodies also met on Thursday beginning with the Delegates Assembly. Delegates from each member state met to network, discuss policies and issues, and share information about world language education from the national to the state level. I served as a delegate for Arkansas.
Policy Issues and Ice Cream
CSCTFL board members Lisa Lilley and Jill Woerner opened the meeting with introductions and an overview of the agenda. Executive members Marty Abbott and Jamie Bernstein from the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Language (ACTFL) and Bill Rivers from the Joint National Committee for Languages-National Council for Languages and International Studies (JNCL-NCLIS) provided the Assembly with an update on policy issues on the national level. The traditional ice cream sundae break divided the session perfectly with time to savor the dessert and reconnect with friends. Lisa and Jill then divided us into groups to discuss issues at the regional and state levels.
After the Delegate Assembly, the general business meeting was conducted by the Advisory Council. Since I’m also on the Advisory Council, this gave me a chance to visit with more colleagues as we chatted and noshed on delectables “to whet” our appetites for more governance commitments. The first day of the conference ended with a wine and cheese gala in the Exhibitors Hall, where attendees met the exhibitors and perused the latest publications and resources available to the profession.
On Friday and Saturday, participants chose from 187 concurrent sessions beginning at 7:45 a.m. and running until 5 p.m. each day. Many sessions were offered in the target language as well as in English, and each focused on a central theme, including "Activities and Strategies," "Technology," "Culture," "Content Areas," and "Advocacy." Audiences ranged from K-12 teachers to college and university instructors and professors. The two days kept me busy as a presenter and co-presenter as well as an attendee for sessions that pertained to my own professional development.
Crossing Borders to Increase Literacy
Cruzando Fronteras, the first presentation, came early Friday. Voted the “Best of Arkansas” at the 2012 Arkansas Foreign Language Teachers Association state conference in Hot Springs, Cruzando Fronteras (Crossing Borders) is the title of a project created by me and Jessica Sliger, who teaches Spanish for Native Speakers at Rogers High School in northwest Arkansas. The goal of the project is to increase literacy in English and Spanish for heritage speakers of Spanish. Jessica was unable to attend the conference, so we decided that her mentee (and my student in the Master of Arts in Teaching program), Rachel Story, would represent Jessica at the conference.
Rachel arrived Thursday evening, giving us just enough time to rehearse the presentation for the 7:45 a.m. time slot on Friday morning. A dedicated group of teachers arrived early for the presentation. During our group discussion, we learned that northwest Arkansas is fortunate to have classes dedicated to teaching Spanish to heritage speakers of the language. It's not part of the curriculum in many other school districts in the region.
The Awards Ceremony and the Keynote Address brought together all of the conference attendees for an inspiring meeting at the Columbus Convention Center. Fortunately, a crosswalk from the hotel to the Center shielded participants from the biting cold winds of lingering winter in Ohio. After honoring several members as recipients of the Simon Award, The Founders Award, and the Teacher of the Year award, the keynote speaker, Terry Caccavale, shared her approach to building community in the foreign language classroom by focusing on identity and culture. “I don’t teach French. I teach LIFE in French,” she said, summing up her perspective on our role as language educators. Her quote sums up the role of all teachers. Our content areas are a means to teaching our students about a right way to live, to be au courant, and to be “college and career ready” in our classrooms, schools, and campuses.
The 21st Century Skills Map
My second presentation, Implementing the 21st Century Skills Map in the Foreign Language Classroom, was co-presented with my colleague from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, Susanne M. Wagner. Susanne and I observed novice German teachers in beginning-level German classes to see how their instructional strategies reflect the 4Cs of the Framework for 21st Century Learning created by the Partnership for 21st Century Skills: Creativity, Collaboration, Critical Thinking, and Communication. Information about the "P21" skills can be found at www.p21.org.
My last presentation on the last day of the conference at the penultimate hour of 2:45 p.m. on Saturday brought together a dedicated group of poetry aficionados for Poetry: Multiple Pathways for Building Community, Crossing Cultures, and Acquiring Language. The audience was so receptive that many stayed to view the slide show from the Best of Arkansas presentation. (It’s included in the links section, too.)
Heartened by the warm reception for my presentation, I joined one of my colleagues to attend the last session of the conference, Staying in the Target Language: 90%. The presenter, Chris Roberts, was engaging, knowledgeable, and delightful as he demonstrated how to use the target language for instruction and communication at any level of instruction.
Rachel Story and Freddie Bowles at Columbus
Cruzando Fronteras: Increasing Heritage Language Student Engagement through Literacy
presentation slideshow (.pptx)
Poetry: Multiple Pathways for Building Community, Crossing Cultures, and Acquiring Language
presentation slideshow (.pptx)
Handout for Cruzando Fronteras
a how-to doc for organizing a poetry slam (.docx)
Essays and Reports
by Dr. Bowles
of Teacher Educators
on the Teaching
of Foreign Languages
of Less Commonly
of Teachers of French
of Teachers of German
of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese
Photo of the Week
University of Arkansas
Curriculum and Instruction
Teachers of English
of Other Languages
of Other Cultures
Theory of Instruction