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The ACTFL Nelson Brooks Award for Excellence in the Teaching of Culture

The Nelson Brooks Award recognizes the contributions of a preeminent author and teacher whose work and writings changed the course of our profession. Although best remembered for his writings on the role of culture in foreign language education, his articles and books on the audiolingual approach to teaching foreign languages, published during the 1960s, contributed significantly to a movement that dramatically influenced second language instruction.

The Nelson Brooks Award was established in 1978 through the donation of $2,500 by Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Inc., as a memorial to Nelson Brooks. Beginning in 1995, the recipient receives a $500 cash award provided by ACTFL.

Criteria for Selection

  1. The recipient shall be a foreign language educator who has contributed significantly to the teaching of culture in the foreign language classroom.
  2. The impact of the contribution should have been felt over an extended period of time and have influenced large numbers of individuals.
  3. The recipient must be a current ACTFL member.

Procedures for the Nominating Organization

  1. Nominations may be made only by organizational members of ACTFL.
  2. Include the following items on the online submission form:
    1. Nominator and nominee information.
    2. Curriculum vitae of the candidate (length must not exceed 10 pages).
    3. Letters of support clearly explaining the rationale for the choice of this individual.
    4. Other documentation, e.g., copies of newspaper articles or other materials, if appropriate for the award.
  3. No member of the ACTFL Board of Directors or Officer may write a letter of support for any award nominee or actively shepherd the nomination of an award candidate.  If a dossier packet is resubmitted that contains a support letter written prior to the establishment of these guidelines, that letter will be removed from the packet by the Committee Chair.
  4. No member of the ACTFL Board of Directors, Officer, or contracted employee is eligible for nomination for any award while holding these positions.
  5. Letters of recommendation are to be sent to the person submitting the nomination so that they may be included in the complete nomination submission package.


  • Nominations submitted online on or before: May 29.
  • Copies of all documentation pertaining to the winner sent to the ACTFL Executive Director: September 1.
  • Copies of all documentation pertaining to finalist(s) returned to individual(s) who submitted them: September 1.
  • Brooks Award Chairperson submits a 200-word statement on why the recipient was chosen: September 30.
  • Winner submits 150-word acceptance remarks to be printed in Awards Ceremony Brochure: September 30.

For Selection Committee Members: Please visit the ACTFL Online Community for specific information.

Candidates will be judged using the following criteria:

  • Quality of published materials (articles, books, monographs, reviews, etc.) in the area of culture
  • Impact of published materials (articles, books, monographs, reviews, etc.) on the teaching of culture
  • Quality and number of workshops and presentations given on cultural topics at local, state, regional, and/or national/international level
  • Quality of state, national, or international leadership in the teaching of culture
  • Quality of instructional programs/curriculum development in the field of culture
  • Impact of instructional programs/curriculum development in the field of culture
  • Quality of the candidate’s service to the profession, particularly in regard to the teaching of culture
  • Support shown in the letters of recommendation
  • Impact of the candidate’s contributions has been felt over an extended period of time
  • Influence of candidate’s work on large numbers of individuals

Submit Online

Previous Recipients

2019: Gisela Hoecherl-Alden, Boston University (MA); 2018: Diana Ruggiero, University of Memphis; 2017: Karin Baumgartner, University of Utah; 2016: Paula Garrett-Rucks, Georgia State University; 2015: Stacey Weber-Fève, Iowa State University; 2014: No award given; 2013: Pennylyn Dykstra-Pruim, Calvin College, MI; 2012: Anne Lair, University of Utah; 2011: Paula Heusinkveld, Clemson University 2010: No award given; 2009: No award given; 2008: Renate Schulz, University of Arizona; 2007: David Alley, Georgia Southern University;  2006: Jayne Abrate, Southern Illinois University, Carbondale;  2005: Lori Langer de Ramirez, Herricks Public Schools, NY; 2004: Heidi Byrnes, Georgetown University, Washington, DC; 2003: Nancy Humbachs, Miami University, Oxford, OH; 2002: Vicki Galloway, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA; 2001: Mari  Haas, Teachers College, Columbia University, New York, NY; 2000: Myrna Delson-Karan, Fordham University, Bronx, NY; 1999: Marie-Christine Weidmann Koop, University of North Texas, Denton, TX; 1998: Ursula Meyer, Goethe-Institut, New York, NY; 1997: Irène Kraemer, Carthage College, Kenosha, WI; 1996: Oscar Ozete, University of Southern Indiana, Evansville, IN; 1995: Isabelle Kaplan, Bennington College, Bennington, VT; 1994: Thomas W. Alsop, Ben Davis High School, Indianapolis, IN; 1993: Wendy W. Allen, St. Olaf College, Northfield, MN; 1992: Bill Van Patten, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana-Champaign, IL; 1991: Jean- ­Pierre Berwald, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA; 1990: Toni Theisen, Thompson R2-5 School District, Loveland, CO; 1989: Michael D. Oates, University of Northern Iowa, Cedar Falls, IA; 1988: Claire J. Kramsch, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cam­bridge, MA; 1987: Gerhard Weiss, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN; 1986: Alice Mane Wolf, Ottawa High School, Ottawa, KS; 1985: John M. Darcey, West Hartford Public Schools, West Hartford, CT; 1984: Robert C. Lafayette, Indiana University, Bloomington, IL; 1983: Barbara Brown Johnson, Creighton Junior High School, Lakewood, CO; 1982: Odell M. Bjerkness and Alvin P. Traaseth, Concordia College, Moorhead, MN; 1981: Jacqueline Elliott, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN; 1980: Howard Lee Nostrand, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, and Laurence Wylie, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA; 1979: Genelle G. Morain, University of Georgia, Athens, GA.