Pre-Convention Workshops

Immerse yourself in one of the workshops!

Nov. 16, 2023, from 4:00 p.m. - 6:30 p.m. ET in the McCormick Place West in Chicago, IL

*In order to attend a pre-convention workshop, all attendees must be registered for at least one day of the convention (Friday, Saturday or Sunday) and pay the workshop fees. Registration for all pre-convention workshops closes on Friday, November 10, 2023.

Pre-convention workshops*Early Bird (7/12/23)Advance (10/25/23)Late (from 10/25/23-11/10/23)
Member & Non-member$115$115$145

W01 Proficiency-Based Instruction: Providing Input

In this workshop, the authors of ACTFL’s newest publication, Proficiency-Based Instruction: Input & Interaction in World Language Education, will break down the essentials of proficiency-based instruction, with a focus on providing comprehensible language input and using authentic resources that lead to engaging student interactions. The presenters will look closely at numerous strategies for providing comprehensible input and how to select authentic resources for different proficiency levels. They will also explore the Interactive Model, which provides a structure for lesson design that moves learners across the three Modes of Communication: Interpretive, Interpersonal, and Presentational. Using numerous classroom examples, and with time for hands-on practice and application, you will walk away from this workshop ready to teach for proficiency in the immersive and interactive classroom of the future.

Catherine Ritz, Boston University; Christina Toro, Arlington High School, MA.

Christina Ritz

Catherine Ritz, EdD is a Clinical Associate Professor and Director of World Language Education at Boston University’s Wheelock College of Education & Human Development. Prior to joining BU, Catherine taught French and Spanish at the secondary level for many years and holds National Board Certification in French. Catherine has served on the boards of MAFLA and NECTFL and was the AATF Vice President (2020-2022). She is the author of two books: “Leading Your World Language Program: Strategies for Design and Supervision, Even If You Don’t Speak the Language!” (Routledge, 2021) and “Proficiency-Based Instruction: Input & Interaction in World Language Education” (ACTFL, 2022) with Christina Toro.

Christina Toro

Christina Toro is a Spanish teacher and has taught at both public and private high schools for the past fifteen years. Since 2012, she has been a Spanish teacher at Arlington High School in Massachusetts. Christina is an AP Reader for the Spanish Language and Culture Exam. In addition to teaching, she has presented workshops at the state, regional, and national levels. She is currently on the board of MAFLA. Her interests include curriculum & teaching, Colombia, Latin America, virtual reality, and autism. She is the author of “Proficiency-Based Instruction: Input & Interaction in World Language Education” (ACTFL, 2022) with Catherine Ritz.

W02 Making ChatGPT a Friend, not a Foe, for Language Teaching and Learning

ChatGPT (Chat Generative Pre-trained Transformer), a software application used to conduct online conversations, has generated attention due to the level of detail in its responses and its ability to produce texts in multiple languages. Although ChatGPT has raised concerns among educators regarding its ethical use, language learners and teachers are calling attention to the software's potential as a tool for lesson planning and autonomous language learning.

In this interactive workshop the presenter will demonstrate how participants can use ChatGPT to enhance their lesson planning and their students' language learning. Participants will engage in several activities, including using ChatGPT to generate texts for different proficiency levels, make language quizzes, explain difficult language concepts, and empower students to take ownership of their language learning. The presenter will engage the group in discussion on how educators and learners can get the most out of ChatGPT while still adhering to ethical classroom practices.

Michele Back, University of Connecticut; Amanda J. Ramirez, Avon High School, IN

Michele Back

Michele Back, PhD is an Associate Professor of World Languages Education at the University of Connecticut’s Neag School of Education, where she works with teacher candidates in Spanish, French, and Chinese Language Education. Dr. Back’s research interests include language teacher development and professionalization; the cultivation of global citizenship; the intersections of race and discourse; and the role of translanguaging and multilingual ecology in transforming schools and other communities of practice. She has published articles in the Modern Language Journal, Foreign Language Annals, TESOL Quarterly, and the Journal of Language and Education, as well as the book Transcultural Performance: Negotiating Globalized Indigenous Identities (Palgrave, 2015). She currently serves on the ACTFL Board as an at-large higher education representative.

Amanda Ramirez

Amanda J. Ramirez teaches Japanese at Avon High School, west of Indianapolis, Indiana. She has served as president of the Association of Indiana Teachers of Japanese (AITJ) and as conference chair and president of the Indiana Foreign Language Teachers Association (IFLTA). She was named both the AITJ and IFLTA Secondary Teacher of Year in 2020. She received the Empowering Educator Award by Stand for Children Indiana for her work on equity and inclusion in Hoosier schools in 2019. She has served on committees to revise Indiana’s academic standards, as well as on committees for teacher licensure assessments in Japanese, ELL, Gifted Education, and the Principles of Teaching and Learning for all educators seeking licensure for grades 7-12. She currently serves as the 2023 conference chair for CSCTFL.

W03 Planting Seeds to Bear Fruit: Leveraging the AAPPL in your Classroom

Whether you already administer the AAPPL assessment or are considering its implementation, this workshop will provide strategies for leveraging assessment data to energize instruction and motivate students. After briefly reviewing the major proficiency levels that are assessed on the AAPPL and providing an overview of the assessment format for each mode, the presenter will focus on the seeds that can be planted in daily classroom activities that will lead to greater proficiency. How can teachers best prepare their learners to show what they CAN DO with the language? How can the AAPPL inform curriculum planning, formative assessment, and summative assessment in a language class? How can AAPPL data be used to create long-term programmatic goals and to motivate students to create and achieve their own personalized language goals? Many classroom examples will be shared that can be modified for all levels in all languages.

Presenter: Ryan Rockaitis, Deerfield High School

Ryan Rockaitis

Ryan Rockaitis is a Spanish teacher and Mentoring and Professional Development Coordinator at Deerfield High School in Deerfield, IL. His areas of interest include culturally responsive teaching, cooperative learning, and language proficiency assessment. Ryan has presented several workshops for ACTFL, including the AAPPL Familiarization workshop, the OPI Familiarization workshop, and the MOPI workshop. Ryan serves as Senior QA Advisor for the AAPPL assessment, is a rater for the AP Spanish Language and Culture Exam and is a mentor for new and pre-service teachers through the Golden Apple Foundation of Illinois. Ryan has served on the board of directors of CSCTFL and as president of ICTFL in Illinois. Ryan holds a bachelor's degree in secondary education from Northwestern University, a master's degree in Spanish from California State University, Sacramento, a master's degree in educational leadership and a special education endorsement from Northeastern Illinois University, and an ESL/bilingual endorsement from National Louis University. Ryan is currently a doctoral student at the University of Illinois, studying Education Policy, Organization and Leadership with a concentration in Diversity and Equity in Education. In his free time, Ryan loves to travel, run along the Chicago lakeshore, and spend time with his husband and rescue pups.

W04 Anti-racist, Equity-minded, and Inclusive Language Teaching Practices

How can different groups of minoritized students authentically and effectively participate in language learning and how can educators contribute to their success? Anti-Black racism and other types of inequity in world language classrooms will be examined during this workshop. Participants are encouraged to bring instructional materials (e.g., lesson plans, textbooks, online learning platforms) to critically examine how these can be used to advance antiracist perspectives and practices of equity-mindedness and inclusivity critical to making changes needed to promote success for all minoritized students.  You will learn how to modify materials and practices to be antiracist, equity-minded, and inclusive.

Presenter: Uju Anya
, Carnegie Mellon University

Uju Anya

Uju Anya, PhD is associate professor of second language acquisition in the Department of Modern Languages at Carnegie Mellon University. She specializes in applied linguistics, sociolinguistics, critical discourse studies, and language teaching with particular focus on race, gender, sexual, and social class identities in the world language classroom. Her other research interests include applied linguistics as a practice of social justice and translanguaging in world language pedagogy. Dr. Anya’s most recent publications are the article “African Americans in world language study: The forged path and future directions,” published in the 40th anniversary issue of the Annual Review of Applied Linguistics (2020), and her book Racialized identities in second language learning: Speaking blackness in Brazil (Routledge 2017), winner of the 2019 American Association for Applied Linguistics First Book Award recognizing a scholar whose first book represents outstanding work that makes an exceptional contribution to the field. Her upcoming article in the Applied Linguistics special issue on social justice introduces a critical race pedagogy for more effective and inclusive world language teaching.

W05 Making it Meaty and Making it Manageable: Transforming Early Language Learning Through Thematic Units

Deciding what to teach and how to teach it is a major struggle for early language educators who are often without a textbook or curriculum to follow, and who juggle many classes and grades, with limited time. Thematic planning can free the language teacher from these limitations and lead to lessons that are developmentally appropriate, cognitively, and emotionally engaging, and respond to the diverse needs of our learners. Well-planned standards-based thematic units can also help leverage the limited time we have to lay the foundation for the pathway towards proficiency for our young learners. This workshop will help participants learn how to transform their existing teaching resources into thematic units. Participants will be provided with a unit planning template to help brainstorm and begin to develop a thematic unit. While this workshop is specifically designed for early language educators, the methods and unit planning skills are applicable to teachers of all levels.

Presenters: Rebecca Aubrey
, University of Connecticut; Helena Curtain, Consultant

Rebecca Aubrey

Rebecca Aubrey received her B.A. in Human Ecology from College of the Atlantic, and M.A. in Political Science from the University of Connecticut. She has over 20 years of teaching experience at the college level, and 15 years of experience teaching Spanish in grades K-8. Rebecca has presented broadly on topics like differentiation, target language use, and language proficiency. She is the 2019 ACTFL National Teacher of the Year, and currently serves as President of CT COLT, Executive Secretary for NNELL, and the PreK-8 representative to the AATSP Board of Directors. Rebecca is passionate about exploring the cultural and linguistic diversity of our world, and equally passionate about empowering students to do the same.

Helena Curtain

Helena Curtain, PhD is an internationally known expert and consultant on world language teaching methodology, curriculum development, and bilingual education. She is co-author of Languages and Learners: Making the Match (Pearson, 2016), a resource for teacher education. She has received several national and regional awards and has authored numerous articles dealing with language instruction. She works with schools, districts, and universities, teaching and conducting workshops throughout the United States and internationally in forty countries Her passion is working with language teachers in empowering learners on the path to language proficiency.