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Summer 2014
Table of Contents  

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 (

Download PDF to view responsibilities



Another Successful NNELL Summer Institute

On the second weekend of July, NNELL welcomed 30 participants from seven states to Glastonbury, CT for the 2014 NNELL Summer Institute. Well-known consultants and educator leaders in the field of early language education presented a variety of workshops on topics focused on advocacy, engaging young learners, integrating technology and promoting progress toward proficiency. The Summer Institute also provided ample networking opportunities to promote connections among colleagues across geographic regions.

Workshop documents are now available to participants of the NNELL Summer Institute while photos and videos are now available to all.

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NNELL President Joins Roundtable Discussion on the Benefits of Learning Languages

NNELL President, Rita A. Oleksak, recently attended a roundtable discussion in London hosted by the Guardian and British Academy in association with the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. The topic of discussion revolved around the question "Why learn a second language if everyone speaks English?" At the roundtable, Rita advocated for beginning language programs at the earliest possible level.

Key discussion points
In a globalized world, speaking only one language is no longer enough, delegates to the roundtable agreed. They argued strongly that more young people in Britain and America must be persuaded to become multilingual, for the sake of their nations' economic competitiveness, political success and security, not to mention personal educational benefit. But they acknowledged that when everyone seems to speak English it is not always an easy case to make, and that even British and Americans who do speak other languages because of a family background overseas sometimes fail to recognise the value their skill.

Read more about the roundtable discussion.

Please click the image above to see full details on how NNELL will be involved with the ACTFL Convention in 2014

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2014 MaFLA Annual Conference Awards

Thanks to the generosity of former MaFLA President, current NNELL President and 2014 Keynote Speaker Rita Oleksak, MaFLA will award five scholarships to cover MaFLA Registration for elementary teachers.

Criteria for Scholarship:

  1. Awardee must be a MaFLA member in good standing and a teacher of Pre K - 6.
  2. Awardee must be a full-time foreign language teacher in the state of Massachusetts.
  3. Awardee must write a 250 word typed statement on the topic of how foreign language conference attendance has impacted your teaching. The essays become the property of MaFLA and will be used in the Newsletter or on the Website.

Deadline for submission is September 1, 2014.
To submit your application, please visit the MaFLA Website.
Any questions? Contact Tiesa Graf: 

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The Science of Learning a New Language (And How to Use it)

The author contends that learning languages as an adult is not as difficult as popular opinion considers it to be, and she offers suggestions for doing so. The author cites Robert Bley-Vroman (the author of Linguistic Perspectives on Second Language Acquisition), who claims that adults approach learning a new language with an adult problem-solving process, rather than the way a child develops language for the first time. Adults with a strong motivation to learn another language tend to attain the highest proficiency levels. The author provides the following tips to adults who embark on a language learning adventure.

  1. Use spaced repetition, a proven memory technique. It involves reviewing each new word or phrase in spaced intervals. Initially the intervals will be closer together, several times a day and again the next day. After practicing the new words often, they should remain in long-term memory for days or weeks between reviews of them.
  2. Focus on learning new words before you go to sleep. While sleeping, new information is transferred to long-term memory in the brain. Be sure to review the words the following day.
  3. Study the language through interesting content. Once a basic vocabulary is developed, continue learning the language through reading articles, talking with people about a specific topic, or listening to some type of media, rather than just studying the grammar.
  4. Study in small chunks every day, rather than large chunks once or twice per week.
  5. When learning new words, learn them in conjunction with words you have already learned, because learning a lot of words at once is overwhelming for the brain.


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Younger Children May Benefit Most from World Language Education

As language enthusiasts, we all know the importance of second language instruction from an early age. Sometimes the issue is convincing constituents of the efficacy of an early childhood beginning to foreign language instruction. This video and print article offers a short, succinct summary of a rationale for early childhood language instruction, to support beginning a language program, supporting a current language program, or encouraging families the importance of seeking out extracurricular early childhood foreign language instruction. 

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What's Going On In There? How Babies' Brains Practice Speech

Patricia Kuhl, a leading brain researcher, studies speech development in babies. While it has long been known that babies and young children acquire language(s) more easily than adults, Kuhl's latest research provides neural evidence of why this is. In her study, babies who were 7 months or 12 months old were exposed to both English and Spanish language sounds and monitored to see how the speech-producing areas of the brain responded. At 7 months, babies' brains responded equally to both language sounds, but by 12 months, the babies with English-speaking parents were tuning out the Spanish sounds and focusing on their native language. Kuhl believes that these results represent two important findings. First, even though babies are not producing speech at such a young age, their brains are practicing how to produce speech, and can do so in several languages. Second, any kind of linguistic input babies receive helps them develop their own capacity to learn speech. So, talk to your babies, because they are listening! And if you speak more than one language--use both!

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Being Bilingual Keeps You Sharper As You Get Older

This article summarizes recent research that claims that being bilingual helps improve memory and other intellectual skills later in life. In this study, those who learned a second language (at any time during their lives) scored higher on tests of general intelligence and reading and verbal abilities. Scientists claim that learning a second language activates neurons in the executive functions of the brain that are responsible for skills such as reasoning, planning and organizing information.


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Website: is an online magazine for parents raising little global citizens. Centered around culture, tradition and language, the website feature articles on parenting around the world and raising multicultural and multilingual (also bicultural and bilingual) children. The website shares craft ideas for kids and recipes for different global holidays. Suggestions for several good books for kids with multicultural themes or that feature different cultures are also available on this website. The mission of is to foster greater understanding across cultures through the lens of parenting.  


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Website: Foreign Language Fun

Foreign Language Fun is a website designed by Diane, a French teacher and mom who loves languages. Her website shares useful information, tips, lessons, and introductions for young learners in French, Spanish Mandarin, Swahili, German, Japanese, American Sign Language and more.  

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Website: The Fruits Song in Chinese

The Fruits Song in Chinese is a website to teach children seven fruits by following this sing-along fruits song in Chinese: "1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 What do you like to eat most? Bananas, strawberries, watermelon, orange, apple, grape and pear".

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Website: Spanish Playground

Teach Spanish with songs, books, pictures, games, crafts, jokes and videos. Spanish games for young students and online activities make language learning fun and effective.

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App Review: Viaje al cuerpo humano

This free app is a way to practice the names of the bones and organs in the body in Spanish. Answer the question "Where is the _____" by tapping the corresponding organ or bone. Incorrect answers are buzzed and correct answers are applauded.

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App Review: Doodle Buddy

This free app gives teachers an alternative to white boards and markers. Users can write, paint, or stamp with their fingers in different colors on a variety of backgrounds.

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App Review: Euro: Pièce de monnaie

This app has seven interactive games for learning, counting, paying, making change, and associating with Euro coins. Twenty Euro centimes are rewarded to the player for each correct response, and children can use the money they earn to "buy" food in the store to eat later. The games are nice complements to other elementary school work with money and could be used from primary to upper elementary. The app costs $1.99.

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App Review: French Words for Kids

This App helps learn to pronounce and write French words. 240 word-picture-audio combinations are used to learn to spell and pronounce French words. Three levels of difficulty are available. Based on a spelling activity from the Montessori method using a movable alphabet includes cursive, lowercase and capital print. Cost $3.99

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  Thank you to NNELL members Janine Erickson, Tammy Dann, Kristel Saxton, Heather Hendry, Alice Charkes, Zhihong Li, Dr. Sally Hood, Dr. Kennedy Schultz and Veronica Guevara 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 Dorie Perigini.

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