The ACTFL National Language Teacher of the Year program is intended to elevate the status and the public profile of the language profession at the state, regional, and national levels by creating opportunities to recognize accomplished members of the language profession. First and foremost, this process is designed to involve all of the state, regional, and national organizations in promoting the language teaching profession. Second, it is intended to create as many media opportunities as possible to increase the visibility and importance of language learning with the media, policymakers, and the general public. The award also recognizes best practices and excellence in the teaching and learning of languages. All regional finalists are featured in the ACTFL Language Teacher Hall of Fame, located on the ACTFL website.


Candidates for state, regional, or national Language Teacher of the Year must be full-time world language Pre-K-12 teachers or Postsecondary instructors or professors. There is an expectation of teaching for at least two additional years.

Candidates nominated by state organizations or selected by regional organizations must meet the following requirements:

  • Candidates must spend at least 50% of their teaching duty in direct teaching of languages (with no more than half of the language teaching percentage being the teaching of English Language Learners).
  • Candidates cannot at the time of such nomination or selection be also nominated for a position on the ACTFL Board of Directors nor nominated for an award given by ACTFL for the year in which that candidate would be placed in eligibility for the ACTFL National Language Teacher of the Year.


The National Language Teacher of the Year process begins at the state level with the state language organizations selecting a candidate each year whose application is then submitted to the regional level. The finalist for each of the five regions then competes at the national level. The process outlined below at each level is designed to facilitate the development of the portfolio used in the evaluation process by suggesting certain items at each level of the process leading toward the complete portfolio required at the national level. This process is intended to incrementally add the required elements of the portfolio at each level to encourage broad participation while having sufficient evidence from candidates of their teaching accomplishments and ability to represent the language profession. ACTFL will supply the forms and samples needed so that candidates understand what is required at each level. In addition, there is a detailed explanation of the portfolio items on the ACTFL website.

I. State Level

Deadline: Fall of each year

State language associations may use any mechanism to select their state winner. States may choose to require a nomination process or permit self-nominations, or they may use their existing state teacher of the year process.

ACTFL recommends, however, that the state associations require the following elements selected from the comprehensive final ACTFL portfolio requirements to make its determination.

Following are the items that are recommended to be included in the state candidate’s portfolio submitted to each regional awards committee:

  1. One-page letter of recommendation from a supervisor
  2. One-page letter of recommendation from a colleague
  3. One-page letter of recommendation from a current or former parent or student
  4. Curriculum Vitae of no more than five (5) pages.
  5. Five-hundred-word personal statement on the value of learning languages and developing cultural competence for all learners.


Deadline to regional: Dec. 15 - Jan. 15 (Regions determine the deadline within this window based on their conference and awards committee schedule).

Once the state association has selected its candidate who will move forward to the regional level, the state association ensures that its candidate submits the portfolio with all the suggested items listed in the previous section and, in addition, includes the following:

  1. Nomination Cover Page (available on ACTFL website) completed by an officer of the state language association.
  2. Examples of Student Work (two individual examples, one page and one-sided only) that reflect the goals of the World Readiness Standards for Learning Languages (5C’s). These can be written examples or in a digital format.
  3. Reflection on the student work not to exceed 1,800 words total for both examples that provides a written reflection about these student examples and how they
    1. demonstrate current best practices of language teaching and learning, including the integration of the World Readiness Standards for Learning Languages (5 C’s)
    2. encourage the proficient use of the target language by the teacher and students;
    3. provide the effective use of feedback, including but not limited to rubrics.
  4. An interview process designed individually by each regional organization. It is recommended that a three- to five minute practice policy speech also occur either on site at the regional conference or through electronic means (No documentation regarding this interview is required in the portfolio submitted at the national level.)


Deadline to ACTFL: August 30

In addition to the items already mentioned, regions work with their finalists to ensure that their candidates submit their online portfolios for review to the national awards committee to ACTFL headquarters by the August 30th deadline. ACTFL will appoint the members of the Teacher of the Year Selection Committee. No committee members will be from the same state as any of the regional finalists.

The final portfolio includes all of the items suggested at the state and regional level with the addition of the following REQUIRED items:

  1. Classroom Video (a brief clear and concise snapshot from a unit that must include the teacher and must show teacher interacting with students in the target language) that is a continuous, non-edited 20-minute segment of a lesson in the actual classroom setting that
    • demonstrates the effective use of the target language both by the teacher and the students;
    • demonstrates a variety of instructional strategies that enhance the effectiveness of the lesson;
    • is filmed during the current academic year;
    • is not professionally produced
  2. Reflection on Classroom Video (a brief snapshot from a unit) (up to 1,350 words) that
    • describes the learning goals and targets of the lesson;
    • provides details about the activities and how these activities impacted student learning;
    • provides evidence of interpretive, interpersonal and presentational elements in that unit;
    • reflects on the effectiveness of the lesson, including the use of the target language in the video, as well as the next steps in the lesson.
  3. Response to Questions: Provide written reflections, not to exceed 900 words for each question (total 1,800 words maximum, responding to these two questions:
    • How do you engage and encourage students in language-related and culture-related activities beyond the classroom?
    • How do the samples of student work and the content of the classroom video reflect the teacher’s personal statement on the value of learning languages and developing cultural competence for all learners?
  4. Professional involvement documentation examples— including but not limited to certificates, newspaper articles, letters, links to videos (not to exceed 4 pages) — that
    1. demonstrates professional growth and involvement in professional organizations;
    2. provides evidence of a variety of leadership experiences, including advocacy.
  5. Reflection on Professional involvement documentation (not to exceed 1,350 words) that
    • describes and analyzes the significance and impact on you as a teacher;
    • describes and analyzes the significance and impact on student learning and on language learning in your school and/or district or state.

Also included in the portfolio: (Located on ACTFL website)

  1. Nomination Cover Page (available on the ACTFL website) completed by an officer of the regional language association.
  2. A professional photograph in electronic format.

The online submitted portfolio is not to exceed 30 pages. The required forms and photograph are not included in the page count.

ACTFL reserves the right to copy and use any of the portfolio contents for promotion of the award or for professional development.

IV. ACTFL Convention

During the ACTFL Convention there will be an interview. (Expenses are paid by ACTFL.) Included in this interview will be:

  1. A series of questions with possible topics such as: learning and teaching strategies, student achievement and student growth and professional involvement and growth.
  2. A three- to five-minute public policy speech that might be given to a civic group or other outside organization that addresses an issue of current importance to language learning and global competency in an interconnected 21st century world.

For questions regarding your state nomination, contact your regional organization:

  • Northeast Conference on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (NECTFL)
    Christopher Gwin, Executive Director
  • Southern Conference on Language Teaching (SCOLT)
    Leslie Baldwin, Executive Director (336) 422-6192
  • Central States Conference (CSC)
    Daryl Biallas, Executive Director
  • Pacific Northwest Council for Languages (PNCFL)
    Bridget Yaden, Executive Director (253) 535-8330
  • Southwest Conference on Language Teaching (SWCOLT)
    Jocelyn Raught, Executive Director