Sunday, November 20, 2011

my ACTFL handout on language teaching at home!

love and languages for my little ones
If you're  interested, you can download the handout from my recent presentation at the ACTFL convention (American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages) here.  (You have to register to become a member of the ACTFL Online Community first.)

Here's the blurb:

Language Teaching at Home: Strategies, Challenges, and Resources

You teach a world language at school--but at home, do you speak English with your family? This session will explore how, when, and why to share a second language with your children, examining concerns, challenges, and recommended activities. The presenter will provide an annotated list of resources for parents.

Rather than lecturing about bilingualism to a group of language teachers who probably know more about the topic than I do, I asked the participants to introduce themselves and explain their experience with raising children with more than one language.

And what a variety of backgrounds and experiences!  Everything from a single mom speaking Spanish and Hebrew with her toddler to an American planning to move to Benin with her trilingual African husband; from parents with teens and parents with babies to future parents; from parents who are curious about teaching their kids a second language to parents who are despairing that their school-age children have turned their backs on their second languages to parents wondering whether they can use a second language with their children with learning disabilities or developmental delays.

I only wish I had all the answers!  Fortunately, websites such as Multilingual Living exist and I was able to direct people to wonderful websites and resources like those listed the sidebar on my blog.  Go visit them already!

After hearing each attendee's stories, we broke up into four smaller groups to discuss our specific situations and suggest ideas: parents beginning this bilingual adventure; non-native-speaking parents using Spanish with their families; parents with older children; and those using three or more languages in their family.

I so enjoyed being among a group of 30+ teachers who wanted to share and strategize and commiserate! I came home with a revived interest in adding more resources and reviews and advice to this blog and a determination to read more books on bilingualism, plus the support and encouragement of my peers as Griffin, Gwyneth, and I continue on en francais.

Next up, if all goes well: A similar submission for AATF (American Association of Teachers of French) in Chicago in 2012. focused just on French!


  1. WOW! This is fantastic! I can't believe you were able to go after all you went through in the week!! I'm greatly impressed!!
    And I'm pretty jealous, too. After having been forced to go to so many conferences as a grad student, I have stayed away for quite some time now. But you remind me how amazing it can be to share ideas with people at these events. Your session sounds fantastic. Wish I lived closer to Denver ;) I'll be downloading your presentation, too.
    I've been away from blogging for a bit, but it's nice to be back reading old posts!
    I hope Gwyneth is feeling better and adjusting to daycare!
    Kate :)

  2. @Kate--Thanks! And get this...a writer from The Language Educator (one of ACTFL's journals) interviewed me last week because of my presentation, and she'll be using some of my ideas and quotes in an article!

    Gwyneth recovered quickly from the projectile vomiting sessions (bounced back better than I did, in fact, in between the loss of sleep and the copious laundry). She still resists taking the bottle at home and at daycare, but the pediatrician authorized us to start giving her rice cereal mixed with my milk, so I don't have to worry about her starving herself while I'm at work.

    I just now glanced over your blog and will have to return to catch up more when there's more time, but can't wait to read more about your German storytimes and your Europe trip. (I'm envious!)

    Bon voyage,