ACTFL 2019 – Novels, FLES, and Seeing Old Friends

Wow, it’s been busy. I attended and presented at ACTFL the week before Thanksgiving and since then things have been going at a whirlwind pace towards Christmas break. I’ll talk more on how I plan to implement what I’ve learned at ACTFL in later posts – this post is all about the conference!


When going to conferences like ACTFL or SCOLT or any others, it’s always a good idea to have a theme that you want to learn more about. I learned that here and here. The only thing I would add is to keep notes about what you did the entire time, not just during the sessions. There is so much that happens at a conference that it’s easy to forget about seeing people and if you do remember seeing them, you might completely forgot what you talked about!

My focus this year was all about reading: presentations on literacy, class novels, and FVR. I have tried my hand at class novels and I am planning to implement an FVR program, so I wanted to learn anything and everything I possibly could about it. I went to sessions about novels by Niki Tottingham and learned about great pre-, during-, and post-reading activities to make sure that students will comprehend all the language in the book we read. I sat in the CI Posse booth for a while and talked with Josh Rooke about publishing books out of student-created stories and then having other classes review them and write blurbs for the covers. I learned about Readers’ Theater with Karen Rowan and Jason Fritze. I learned about strategies to personalize, dramatize, and youtube-ize content when teaching a novel from Elisabeth Hayles along with an eye opening look at How Easy is Easy when it comes to reading.

And all of that was the first day!

I spent Saturday and Sunday Networking with my pals at NNELL. It was great to see them all and hear from the 2019 TOTY, Rebecca Aubrey, during her presentation. These two days were less focused on learning about novels. I went to sessions about program models for FLES, strategies for providing comprehensible input (with la Maestra Loca!), making students’ language a lot less basic, using rejoinders in the classroom to give students more language to be able to use during class, and finally, on Sunday, a session on making the most of your comprehensible reader library for your FVR program.

All the sessions I went to were incredible and informative, but I got just as much out of the down time than I did the sessions. That’s the best thing about an enormous conference like ACTFL: there is always someone to talk to. I went to the conference by myself. As the only world language teacher in my school, it is up to me to be outgoing and force myself to talk to people. This was much harder at the beginning, especially at my first SCOLT conference a few years ago. But by forcing myself out of my comfort zone and striking up conversations with other language teachers, I have made some great connections. Thankfully, I was able to meet up with many of those people whom I had met in earlier conferences and we were able to catch up.

The community of language teachers who attend conferences like SCOLT and ACTFL are a warm and welcoming bunch. I was so happy to see them all and catch up-whether it’s people from my education like Paul; SCOLT friends like Bill, Stephanie, Erin, Meredith, Laura, Mark, and Yohanna; ACTFL friends like Germán and Danielle; friends I’ve made in online projects like Justin, Martina, Sara-Elizabeth, and Kaitlin; NNELL friends like Joelle, Dorie, Nathan, Kathleen; and everyone else I bumped into or met for the first time, it was wonderful to see you all!

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