Students in the semester prior to student teaching as part of the course LAN 320 World Language Teaching in the K-12 Setting attended one day of the Illinois Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ICTFL) conference with hundreds of other State of Illinois World Languages teachers. This conference consists of two and half days of presentations, keynote speeches and opportunities for networking for professionals and pre-professionals. These French and Spanish teacher education majors attended sessions such as “Escape Room in WL Classrooms” which presented on how to incorporate educational escape rooms into the world language (WL) classroom using the target language, during which students answer questions both grammatical and cultural by following a variety of hints in order to open four different kinds of locks that lead to a treasure. Another popular session was “Students, Social Media, and Mental Health Awareness” which incorporated these issues into a thematic unit taught in the target language using an essential question such as “Does social media draw us together or push us apart?” or
“How does social media affect mental health and self-esteem?” Other presentations discussed strategies for using videos, music, and analysis of works of art in the classroom. A particularly well-attended session presented on rehabbing old textbook units into more meaningful learning experiences. For example, instead of introducing places around town that students frequent such as the town hall or the post office and having students practice directions to get around, approach the lesson by comparing towns across the world and discussing vocabulary relevant to your students using authentic sources (perhaps using GoogleMaps, Gapminder, and DollarStreet in the target language).
A special moment at the conference was when two LAN 320 students, seniors Landon Hartfield and Tiffany Bernardini, were presented the ICTFL Award for College Foreign Languages Teaching Majors. Congratulations!