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Upcoming Events!


NNELL Summer Institute

July 12-14, 2013

August 2013
NNELL Summer Institute in Glastonbury, CT
In partnership with the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) and Glastonbury Public Schools, the National Network for Early Language Learning (NNELL) hosted a Summer Institute in Glastonbury, CT from Friday, July 12th to Sunday, July 14th, 2013.

NNELL was pleased to welcome the presenters for the Summer Institute who spoke on a variety of topics in different sessions timely to foreign language learning in the 21st century. On Friday morning, an optional visit to the STARTALK summer program at Glastonbury High School was scheduled. Institute attendees had the opportunity to visit the program’s different languages and levels, which include Arabic, Chinese, and Russian for grades K-12. Attendees viewed firsthand the students working at each level in a complete immersion environment. STARTALK also conducted a program for teacher trainees in Russian and Chinese.

Friday afternoon, participants attended an advocacy workshop led by Tammy Dann, NNELL Early Language Learning Advocate, and Marcela Summerville, National Networking Coordinator for NNELL. This was a great opportunity for networking and for sharing ideas, resources and tools for world language advocacy. Marty Abbott, Executive Director of ACTFL, gave an update on the ACTFL initiatives related to the national Discover Languages advocacy campaign. Collaboration with colleagues and experts in world language instruction allowed for attendees to tailor the advocacy workshop to their own needs, as teachers, organizational leaders, policy makers, or program directors.

On Saturday, Terry Caccavale, World Language Specialist in Holliston, MA Public Schools, opened with a keynote address on the theme, Our Global Identities. Ms. Caccavale is an expert in the field and has served as a leader with NNELL. Paul Sandrock, Director of Education for ACTFL, presented a workshop titled “In Common: Early Language Learning at the Core” that focused on the alignment of the National Standards for Learning Languages with the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). Reading, writing, speaking, and listening and language are strands in the CCSS for English Language Arts, Literacy in History/Social Studies, and Science, each of which is represented in our foreign language classes as we strive towards proficiency. Paul Sandrock guided attendees through this Common Core Crosswalk and provided insight for foreign language teachers to move forward in integrating these standards in the 21st century.

On Saturday afternoon, Barbara Lindsey, an independent technology consultant for world languages, presented a range of projects that offer means for students to engage in 21st century skills in the foreign language classroom. Her session “Global Show and Tell: Finding and Participating in International Language Projects” enabled participants the opportunity to explore some related projects online and learn ways to use them in their classrooms.

Helena Curtain, leader in early foreign language education, and author of Languages and Children: Making the Match, led the Sunday morning session focusing on “What can we learn from the Common Core Standards in the Early Language Learning Classroom?” This session was another opportunity to engage participants in moving forward with the Common Core in our classrooms and to learn with each other and experts in the field to continually enhance, develop, and promote our foreign language programs.

To learn more about the event, visit the NNELL Summer Institute page to watch the keynote address. Summer Institute attendees can access the presentation information from the same page with the previously distributed special username and password. If you have questions about accessing this information, please contact NNELL Webmaster Ken Hughes.

Listen to the NNELL Summer Institute Keynote Speech
If you were unable to attend the NNELL/ACTFL Summer Institute in Glastonbury, Connecticut in July-- you can still listen to the timely and inspirational Keynote speech by Terry Caccavale, former NNELL President, from Massachusetts by clicking here.

Author: Kate Krotzer

NNELL Webinars 
A reminder to our members that all three of our NNELL webinars are still available for free on the NNELL website

Join the Advocacy Committee!
Tammy Dann, NNELL Advocacy Chair, is looking for people who teach languages other than Spanish and would be willing to submit links and write summaries about those links for the NNELL Newsworthy publication. If you would like to help, need more information, or would like to recommend another member, please contact Tammy Dann.

Advocacy Chair Vacancy 
The NNELL board is seeking a qualified individual to take over the responsibilities of Advocacy Chair beginning this fall. Please contact Tammy Dann, NNELL Advocacy Chair, at tdann@nnell.org for more information. 

Renew Your Membership 
We encourage you to renew your NNELL membership for the 2013-2014 school year so you don't miss you on all the great things NNELL has to offer.  

Technology in the Early Language Learning Classroom
by Kennedy Schultz, Ph.D.
Founder, Explor-A-World LLC 
Much has been written about the advances in learning technologies and how digital tools can be incorporated into the language classroom. Networks of ‘connected educators’ share tips for best practices, helping others to learn from their own digital experiences. However, most of the available information (and research) has focused on the use of technology in middle school, high school, or university level classrooms. In an effort to learn more about the elementary school level, I developed a short survey in November 2012 to gauge the opinions of early language educators regarding the use of technology for early language learning. The survey was voluntary, and was promoted through ACTFL, NNELL, and Nanduti. It was designed to provide an initial glimpse at current practice. A total of 65 respondents teaching K-6 took the time to answer questions. (To view the actual survey, visit: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/BPGH29W) While the sample is small, it is hoped that the survey will generate interest and inquiry into the use of technology for early learners.
The goals of the survey were two-fold: first, to gather information on what technology is currently being used and what benefits teachers see from it; second, to discover what educators see as obstacles to technology use and adoption.

Current Technology
Overwhelmingly, 94% of respondents indicated that they currently use technology in the classroom. Technology can be a tool for both teachers and students. It can provide teachers with a wealth of resources that inform and inspire as they prepare for their class. Researching cultural topics or lesson plan ideas are just a couple of ways that teachers use technology for their own preparation. Based on the survey, the most frequent tool mentioned was YouTube videos (95%), followed closely by cultural websites (75%), Powerpoint (85%), and CDs, Smartboard, and on-line games such as Quia (71%). These tools allow teachers to incorporate authentic media from internet sources as well as present the material in a manner that is visually engaging and interactive (Powerpoint and Smartboard.) Teachers were least likely to use social media (6%) or Skype (14%) to aid in their language teaching.

Questions regarding the kinds of technology that students use did not vary greatly. On-line games (69%), YouTube and cultural websites (55% each) remained popular, as did presentation tools using Smartboard (46%) and Powerpoint (44%). Social media (2%) and Skype (7%) were again the least utilized tool among students.
These results show that early language educators value the kind of authentic materials that are accessible through digital tools, and tend to incorporate technology in preparation and presentations.

Benefits of Technology
Teachers felt strongly that using technology helped to create a multi-media learning atmosphere that is attractive to students, and engages students who are considered ‘digital natives.’ Nearly half of the respondent cited these two benefits as being most important. Only about a third of the respondents felt that technology enhanced student interaction and communication skills. Still fewer considered technology to be a ‘time-saver’ or felt that technology helped educators to maintain contact with parents.

Obstacles of Technology
While most teachers felt that tech tools were here to stay—whether we embrace them or not—about half of respondents felt that the major obstacles to adoption of technology in their own classrooms had to do with the availability of resources and the limited time they have to spend with students. Even the best digital tools can require some trial and error when finding the best way to implement them, and this can impact its effectiveness in the classroom, as one respondent noted, “Since I see my students for 50 minutes once every 6 days, it doesn't leave a lot of room for wasted efforts.”
Teachers felt that, overall, technology was supported by their administrators and parents. However, access to technology varied widely among respondents. Some worked at schools that were distributing iPads to every kindergartener; others lamented the fact that their language classroom was the only one in the school without a Smartboard. Questions about whether students are accessing tech tools outside of the classroom also impacted a teacher’s ability or desire to implement them during class. Students who engaged in on-line games and review websites such as Quia showed greater progress in language acquisition, according to one respondent. However, not all students have access to the same resources outside of the classroom, as one teacher noted, “Not all students’ computers at home are created equal.” Finding a balance between in-class technology and optional/at-home use was an issue noted by several instructors.

Summary of results
The survey revealed that early language educators do find some benefit to incorporating digital tools in their classrooms; however, limited time and resources often prevent them from exploring new tools or adapting existing curriculum to include more technology options. Most felt that technology helped students review material, access authentic cultural resources, and create engaging presentations, but the benefits in student-to-student interaction and communication were limited at this level.

While the results do not offer a definitive look at all early language classrooms, they do raise awareness of how technology can impact early learners. More studies will be needed to discover how to provide effective and efficient use of technology for young language learners. A longer version of this article will appear in Language Magazine in late summer and will include more interviews with educators. Would you like to share your experiences with technology for a future article on early language learning classrooms? If so, please contact the author at kennedy.schultz@gmail.com

National Network for Early Language Learning