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May 2014
Table of Contents  

NNELL Summer Institute

July 11-13, 2014
Glastonbury, CT
Save The Date Info Here!

Become a NNELL State Representative

As a national organization, NNELL operates through a network of state representatives. You could help NNELL to continue with its mission by becoming a representative of your state. As a State Representative, you will serve as an advocate for early language learning, heighten public awareness of foreign languages in elementary and middle school education, serve as state representative for NNELL to your state language association and ensure that foreign languages in grades K-8 are recognized as a priority matter in your state. If you are interested in being more involved with NNELL and its advocacy efforts, please read the description for this position or contact NNELL's National Networking Coordinator, Marcela Summerville (

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NNELL Summer Institute

The NNELL Summer Institute is a great way for educators to come together in a casual and relaxed atmosphere to debrief the school year prior as well as pick up new and exciting ideas for the school year to come.

Won't you consider joining us in Glastonbury, CT in July?

Registration is NOW open!

Download complete details here

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Are Bilingual students more open-minded?

In a recent study out of Concordia University, researchers found that bilingual children prefer to interact with peers who speak their native language with a native accent. The study involved 44 children from Montreal between the ages of five and six. They were shown two faces on a computer screen while audio recordings were played for each face. One face read a phrase in the child's native accent, while the other read the same phrase in a foreign accent. Most children pointed to the face that used their native accent when prompted who they would prefer to have as a friend. The researchers claimed that children relate best to familiarity, that is, they prefer to interact with those most like themselves. The researchers recommended that parents teach their children that accent is a surface level human feature and should not be a factor in choosing with whom to interact.

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NNELL Member Spotlight:
Kathleen Priceman
Fourth Grade Spanish Immersion teacher

In each eNNELL News, NNELL would like to highlight the work our members do in their classrooms. We hope these submissions help inspire the work you do in your own classrooms! If you would like NNELL to feature a special project, lesson or event you have done in your own classroom in a future edition of eNNELL News, please send your submission to NNELL’s Executive Secretary, Dorie Perugini, at

  • Name of project/lesson/event: El Fran Fandango de Lincoln School, Oak Park School District 97
  • Grade level(s): K-5
  • Language(s): Spanish
  • Objective (Standards Addressed):
    • Standard 1.3: Students present information, concepts, and ideas to an audience of listeners or readers on a variety of topics.
    • Standard 2.1: Students demonstrate an understanding of the relationship between the practices and perspectives of the culture studied.
    • Standard 3.1: Students reinforce and further their knowledge of other disciplines through the foreign language.
    • Standard 4.2: Students demonstrate understanding of the concept of culture through comparisons of the cultures studied and their own.
    • Standard 5.2: Students show evidence of becoming life-long learners by using the language for personal enjoyment and enrichment.

Project/lesson/event description: Students use the Spanish language to learn one or two traditional or modern dances from regions where Spanish is spoken. To learn the dances, students use mass media to view the dances performed by a variety of other dancers. Teachers assist the students in exploring the roots and history of the dances. Teachers choreograph the dances or solicit outside assistance from parents or visiting artists. The grades K-5 Spanish Immersion students perform three shows at Lincoln School annually for their parents and peers who are not in the immersion program.

Oak Park Illinois has a history of embracing and promoting cultural and ethnic diversity. Each year on the first Saturday of May Oak Park Elementary School District 97 hosts an Ethnic Fest, a day filled with a wide variety of ethnic foods, music, arts and other activities that celebrates the diversity of other countries from around the world whose citizens have come to the village to call it home. For the past 16 years the Lincoln Elementary Spanish Immersion Dancers have been an important part of the entertainment at this community event.

Gran Fandango 2014

On May 1, 2 and 3, students of the Abraham Lincoln Elementary Spanish Immersion Program presented the 16th annual celebration of Latino dance, music, language and culture known as the Gran Fandango. This year over 120 students performed nine dances for fellow students, families and friends.

Seventeen years ago, when Kathleen Priceman began teaching first grade at Lincoln, it was also the first year of a new Arts program offered through the Oak Park Educational Foundation. The “Art Start Program” provided a guest artist for all first grade classes in the district. Ms. Priceman decided to ask the Foundation to provide a resident dancer to come to her Spanish Immersion classroom to teach her students dance using the target language. The students learned two Mexican dances which they performed for the second and third grade Spanish Immersion students. At that time there were only three Spanish Immersion classes, one class in grades 1-3.

The second and third grade students enjoyed the first graders’ performance so much they begged their teachers to teach them how to dance. So the next year all of the Spanish Immersion teachers worked with the Oak Park Education Foundation and each other to teach all the Spanish Immersion students eight dances. Parents and grandparents made costumes for the students and the tradition of dancing for the community the first week of May began.

Over the years hundreds of Lincoln students have learned not only Spanish language but dances from around the Spanish speaking world from their teachers and various guest artists who have worked with them. All of the costumes worn by the students have been sewn and assembled by families and teachers.

When the Spanish Immersion students leave Lincoln School after six years they are not only proficient in Spanish language but are able to perform at least eight Hispanic dances!!!

Ms. Priceman states that “students enter my classroom on the first day of school in August and ask when we will begin learning the dances for the Gran Fandango.” The annual dance performances have been a wonderful manner to showcase the progress that the students are making in the acquisition of their new language and culture.

Ms. Priceman states that “language teachers all know how difficult it is to show parents the gains that novice learners are making, when it takes years of comprehensible input before oral proficiency is apparent.” Each year our community gets to watch our students as they perform dances and sing lyrics which become increasingly more complex. “Parents of my fourth graders watch the first graders perform and reflect back upon their own child’s first grade dance. Those same parents are blown away when they see their fourth grader sing and dance reggaeton or a Puerto Rican Bomba like a native of Puerto Rico”! Our annual Gran Fandango is an amazing way to see, hear and feel the bilingual/bilingual and bicultural evolution of our students.

Seventeen years ago this amazing program started with one teacher, a guest artist and 26 students. Now the annual show has over a hundred dancers and is a day that the parents mark on their calendars months in advance. “The parents absolutely embrace the Gran Fandango. In addition to sewing and laundering hundreds of costumes (many classes perform more than one dance and need additional costumes) parents help teachers decorate the stage and assist with costume changes. After the performance parents serve a wonderful merienda for the hungry dancers.”

If you would like more information about how to start a celebration like this to enhance your students’ cultural and linguistic experience while showcasing your program feel free to contact Kathleen Priceman at


 1. El Xipe (Mexico): 3rd Grade
The third grade class will perform an Aztec Conchero dance from Mexico. The third graders will begin by honoring the four elements: agua, tierra, fuego and viento (water, earth, fire and wind). You will notice that they dance facing each of the four directions; north, south, east and west.

Conchero dancers are accompanied by a small guitar called a concha or “shell.” The guitar is made of the shell of an armadillo. Dancers traditionally wear dried seed pods sewn on leather bands around their ankles, so that they make music as they move their feet. Our third grade dancers will wear bells instead of shells. Listen for their rhythm as they dance.

2. Tixla (Mexico): Kindergarten
The kindergarten class will perform a dance that is actually a medley of mimetic dances from Guerrero, Mexico. “Mimetic dance” means to mimic or imitate. Our dancers will be imitating animal movements. Watch closely and see if you can identify some bulls, vultures, ducks, cats and iguanas on the dance floor.

3. Oye Mi Canto –Reggaetón (America Latina) :- 4th Grade
Our fourth graders are moving us into the 21 century with this modern reggaeton. The reggaeton originated as reggae music in Spanish in the country of Panamá. It moved quickly through the Spanish speaking world and it became known as Reggaeton in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. The fourth graders had great fun making up moves to this modern dance. We love it and we know you will too.

4. El Jarabe Tapatio (Mexico): 2nd Grade
Next our second graders will perform the traditional courting dance from Guadalajara, Jalisco , Mexico, the Jarabe Tapatio. Jarabe means sweet syrup. Maybe like syrup this dance will stick with you.

This dance is the “National Folk Dance of Mexico, ” and has been performed at every one of our 16 dance celebrations here at Lincoln School.

5. Hernando’s Hideaway- Tango (Argentina) : 1st Grade
The first grade students will now present the Tango for your pleasure. The tango (from Latin tango, meaning "touch") is a partner dance that originated in the 1890s along the Rio de la Plata, the natural border between Uruguay Argentina, and soon spread to the rest of the world. Tango is a dance that has influences from European and African cultures.
Early tango was known as tango criollo. Today, there are many forms of tango. Among tango dancing circles, the authentic tango is considered to be the one closest to the form originally danced in Argentina, Chile, and Uruguay.
In 2009, UNESCO approved a joint proposal by Argentina and Uruguay to include the tango in the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage Lists.

We are excited to present the Tango for the first time in our Gran Fandango.

6. La Magalenha (Brazil) : 3rd grade

The third graders will now perform a Brazilian Samba dance. Samba is a lively, rhythmical dance that has been performed in Brazil since the late 19th Century. The lyrics are sung in Portuguese, the language of Brazil. You will see that although these moves are more than 200 years old, they are still popular today.

7. El Guateque (Vera Cruz, Mexico): 2nd Grade

The next dance is another dance that has been performed at every Gran Fandango or Cinco de Mayo in Lincoln School History. A “guateque” is a party! This is a courtship dance from Vera Cruz Mexico. The clothing is white since Vera Cruz is on the coast and very warm. You can hear the African musical influence of the marimbas.

Welcome the second graders as they perform “el Guateque.”

8. La Bomba/La Plena (Puerto Rico): 4th Grade

Next the fourth graders will perform a medley of two traditional Puerto Rican dances. The first dance, La Bomba, comes out of the musical traditions brought by enslaved Africans in the 17the Century. It is a very percussive dance and is often performed by one person dancing with a drum!

The second dance of the medley is La Plena. It is danced throughout the island of Puerto Rico. In this song it talks about how every town wants to take credit for originating the dance. They sing that even people in China and Japan claim that they danced it first….but in this song they say it came from the Barrio of San Anton.

9. Los Viejitos (Mexico) 5th Grade

Los Viejitos was not performed at the first Gran Fandango at Lincoln because at that time our Spanish Immersion program only went to fourth grade. The first time it was performed was 2001 and it was danced by our 6th graders. Yes, we used to have 6th graders here! In fact the sarapes that are worn by the dancers were sewn by one of the mom’s of one of the first students to complete our Spanish Immersion program back in 2001.

The dance of the Little Old Men is a traditional dance from Michoacan Mexico. It is a festive and comical dance that honors the fun and love of life at all ages. Part of the fun is knowing that under those costumes are boys and girls pretending to be grumpy old men.

Each year the fifth grade class adds their own steps and special flavor to the dance. If you’ve seen the dance before try to see how it is different this year.

Student Reflection:
Colette, third grader, wrote, "Gran Fandango means to me that we are honoring the people of this dance. My class is doing the Aztec dance and the Magalena. It always feels like I'm one of the people. The outfits for our dances are great. It makes me feel special. The dances are very cool. It takes work but it is worth it. I love the Gran Fandango."

Annika, third grader wrote," I like that before you learn the dance you learn about the culture. You also get to do a fun dance in front of your friends and family. After the show you get to have a fun party with foods such as churros, conchas de chocolatey vainilla, y horchata. It's the best."

Nati, third grader, "The Gran Fandango means so much because I can learn the culture and learn to dance. The Gran Fandango is when teachers teach kids to dance!"

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Note of Invitation to Participate in FLES Teachers’ Research Study

I am conducting a dissertation research study as part of the requirements of George Mason University’s Ph. D. in Education program. The purpose of the study is to explore FLES teachers’ attitudes and perceptions about assessment and assessment practices in the elementary foreign/world language classroom. I am asking only FLES teachers to participate in the study.

The study has two phases: phase one; a 15-25 minute online survey, phase two: a follow-up interview of approximately one hour (Skype®). Your participation is entirely voluntary in either phase of the study. The promise of strict confidentiality is assured in both the collection and reporting of the data. The research study is approved by the Office of Research Integrity and Assurance (ORIA) at George Mason University.

To participate in the survey:

  • Step 1 – Click on the link to the survey:

  • Step 2 – Follow instructions, clicking “next” at the bottom of every screen

  • Step 3 – Remember to click “done” at the end of the survey when you are finished

The results from this study have the potential to benefit FLES teachers and language teachers in general, as well as educational administrators, policy makers , and other stakeholders by proposing ways of improving current assessment practices taking place in L2 elementary classrooms.

Thank you in advance for your time and willingness to share your assessment beliefs and practices. This study could not be completed without your help. Should you have any questions about this study, contact me at 703-867-3074 or via email at


Olga I. Corretjer, PhD candidate
George Mason University
Fairfax, VA 22030

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Advocates Seek More Focus on Learning Foreign Languages: Issue billed as critical to competing in global economy

Educators, researchers, business leaders, and representatives from federal and state governments from the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia recently gathered at a conference at the University of Maryland College Park to discuss the increasing need for the study of foreign languages in English-speaking countries and to analyze strategies for doing so. William P. Rivers, the executive director of the Joint National Committee for Languages-National Council for Language and International Studies, a Washington-based nonprofit that advocates for language and international education was quoted as saying, "Language is the oil of the 21st century." According to 2010 U.S. Census data, 10 percent of native-born U.S. citizens said they felt comfortable conversing in a language other than English, in contrast to 53 percent of Europeans. A public-awareness campaign from the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) will focus on communicating the importance of language education to students and parents. The campaign will include a website that will provide parents and students, policymakers, and school administrators with information on the importance of learning a second language and how and where students can pursue language study, public-service announcements that will be broadcast on television and radio, partnering with role-model celebrities and athletes to help spread the word and encourage foreign-language learning. Another strategy that was promoted at the forum is the development of language-immersion programs that are becoming increasingly popular. Recently, governors of Delaware and Utah created statewide initiatives to make immersion programs more widespread. Leaders at the conference also discussed that foreign language instruction should be as much a priority as STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics), which is the current emphasis in education at this time.

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"Language Is Our Music: The Natural Way to Multilingualism"

This article is a review of the book by the same title written by Yo Sakakibara, presenting a look at Chapter Two of the book, which provides the reader with a series of anecdotes about children’s language acquisition. For educators and parents looking for research and support of multilingual programs and children, "Language is Our Music: The Natural Way to Multilingualism," holds much promise. It is especially helpful for support of early childhood language programs, in which educators and parents may encounter many questions about an immersion approach to teaching the target language, especially for constituents who are not multilingual.
It focuses on European and Asian stories of children and situations in which children seamlessly wend in and out of multilingual interactions with other children and adults. The thesis of this book promotes the idea that language learning for young children is easy and natural noting that language learning is context-based, constructivist, and hands-on.


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"A Global View: The Adventure of Kid-Friendly Foreign Films"

Finding short films that introduce world culture to children can be challenging. Kid-friendly films are not always readily available, and the subject matter can be challenging for the younger set. In this article, the author describes six kid-friendly foreign films that are accessible on-line or available for purchase on Amazon. The article provides a short description of the film as well as suggested activities that engage young viewers in reflecting on the cultural differences (or similarities) they see. Rather than simply play the French soundtrack on Nemo, try out these culturally rich films for kids.

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Website: Mandarin For Kids - Learn Your Colors by Basho

This website teaches eight colors in Mandarin. The fresh music and catchy beats gets children laughing, dancing, and learning.

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Website: What is trending on YouTube in specific countries?

Here is a good way to find videos in the target language for current happenings around the world.  


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App Review: GeoExpert Lite

The free part of this app allows users to practice learning about a few countries, capitals and flags for North America, South America, Europe and Africa. Users tap a continent, and then choose to study or play. When studying, information about the capital, country area, population, density and flag are provided.

The app can be accessed in English, Bokmål, Norwegian, Catalan, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hungarian, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Simplified Chinese, Slovak, Spanish, Swedish, Traditional Chinese, and Turkish.

The full version is available for $4.99.

  Thank you to Janine Erickson, Tammy Dann, Kristel Saxton, Heather Hendry, Zhihong Li, Alice Charkes, Veronica Guevara, Sally Hood and Kennedy Schultz for their contributions to this publication.

If you would like to share an interesting article, app, or teaching tool with the NNELL community in our next eNNELL News edition, please contact Dori Perigini.

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