Topic Thread

Introduce Yourself Here!

  • 1.  Introduce Yourself Here!

    Posted 03-10-2016 12:51
    Edited by Genevieve Borello 03-11-2016 13:09

    Welcome to the ACTFL Community!

    Our ACTFL community gets bigger every day. Many of you already know one another, while others are brand-new faces. For everyone new, and not-so-new, take a little time to introduce yourselves.

    Share your name, where you're from, what language(s) you teach, at what level, and why you believe language education is important.

    I'll start: I'm Genevieve, I'm the Membership Manager at ACTFL. I'm from Virginia and attended the University of South Florida in Tampa (Go Bulls!) One summer in college, I taught English in Costa Rica for to young adults, it was a learning experience for everyone! In college, I minored in Spanish and studied abroad in Salamanca, Spain. I think language education is important because it expands our horizons, exposes us to new cultures and traditions, and empowers us to learn a little more about the rest of the world. 

    Join the conversation - introduce yourself today and begin networking with your peers. I look forward to "meeting" many of you, learning more about you, and hearing the opportunities and challenges that you are facing.

    Genevieve Borello
    American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL)
    Membership Manager
    (703) 894-2900

  • 2.  RE: Introduce Yourself Here!

    Posted 03-11-2016 11:03

    Hi all,

    I'm Lisa Campo, ACTFL's new marketing & communications manager.

    In south Louisiana, I grew up in a family descended from Canary Islanders, who had assimilated by losing their original language and picking up some French sayings and words. As a result, I studied French all through elementary, high school & college, but still probably couldn't hold a full conversation in it. I love linguistics and learning about different dialects. I've also briefly studied Russian, Czech and my family's original language, Spanish. Eventually, I would like to have at least limited proficiency in Spanish so that I can reply when people assume I speak it!

    As you can tell, I'm close to my extended family, who all still live in Louisiana -- many of whom are teachers or administrators in my hometown, St. Bernard Parish. I'm a huge supporter of education, and, by proxy, language education. 

    I am excited to contribute to ACTFL's mission by helping Genevieve communicate our many benefits to you! I hope to speak to you all online and then at the conference in November.

    Please message me with any comments, questions, suggestions, et cetera.

    p.s. - if you're interested in learning more about the Canary Islands community in Louisiana, check out

    Lisa Campo
    ACTFL Marketing & Communications Manager
    (703) 894-2900 ext 119

  • 3.  RE: Introduce Yourself Here!

    Posted 07-15-2016 09:35
    Edited by Kristi Shaffer 07-15-2016 09:35

     I'm Kristi and I have taught high school Spanish in Dexter, Michigan for the past 13 years. I attended school at the University of Michigan and Eastern Michigan. I studied abroad in Seville, Spain from '96-97 and in Queretaro, Mexico in the summer of 2003. I also taught English to Korean junior high school students as a Fulbright English teaching assistant. Recently I have become more active as a teacher leader and enjoy presenting at language conferences. I also recently traveled to China in December of 2015 to train teachers who will instruct Michigan students in Mandarin. World Language is a core class and I know that all students can learn another language when we teach them with a communicative approach. I really appreciate all the work that ACTFL has done to write standards that have a basis in research and require students to do things with language rather than just talk about pieces of the language. My approach to teaching has completely changed for the better.

    Kristi Shaffer

  • 4.  RE: Introduce Yourself Here!

    Posted 11-04-2016 08:55

    Bonjour tout le monde.

    Hello, I'm Dan Teitelbaum and I have been teaching French since 1988 (do the math :-) ) I am currently working at Ravenscroft School in Raleigh, NC. For the previous 9 years I served as the Chair of the World Languages Department here and this year I am taking a much needed year off! Currently I teach first year, second year, second year honors and AP French. I have been an AP reader since 2006 and for the last two years I served as a table leader for the Cultural Comparison. 

    I earned my MA in French from American Univ. in DC and many years later earned an M. Ed. from NCSU here in Raleigh. 

    Our department's current overarching goal is proficiency based planning, instruction and assessment. We are striving to incorporate comprehensible input along with IPAs. If there are colleagues our there with successful suggestions, strategies and even trials/errors that you've learned from, I would love to hear from you. 

    Thanks, Genevieve, for the nudge to post. 


    Daniel Teitelbaum

  • 5.  RE: Introduce Yourself Here!

    Posted 11-05-2016 10:19

    Hi, I am a world language chair of Saint David's School in Manhattan, NY and last summer I taught a course for teachers who came to Spain on how to integrate authentic resources in planning for an IPA unit. I am happy to share materials from the course and outlines of units with you since I think they could very easily be adapted to French. One example that comes to mind is having students design a tour (brochure, video or poster) of their own town for visitors (in the target language ---including famous persons) after they study a model tour of a target culture site.

    If you would like to know more about these projects and how we worked to design them I can discuss further. Please contact me offline at or let me know if you will be at ACTFL.

    Victoria Gilbert, Ed.D.
    Chair, Modern Languages

  • 6.  RE: Introduce Yourself Here!

    Posted 11-14-2016 10:58

    Hello everyone, My name is Benson Ulysse. I'm from Haiti and I will be part of the group that represent CAPPA-Sourds-Haiti, an organization that are working with people with auditory loss. I'm very excited to attend my first ACTFL convention.

    See you soon!

    Benson Ulysse
    ulysseub@yahoo.frLanguage Consultant

  • 7.  RE: Introduce Yourself Here!

    Posted 04-14-2017 16:13
    Hello everyone, I am Yang Ling in Chinese, but Ling Yang in English. Taught English in China and been teaching Chinese to adult learners here for more than 20 years!

    Love to share culture differences and similarities, especially through modern technology, with many apps to engage our students to discuss and share what they find interesting, either in contents or in content deliveries. I am learning from our students something new everyday!

    Love to read the comments and ideas posted here. This "individualized" platform is great!


  • 8.  RE: Introduce Yourself Here!

    Posted 01-11-2018 17:58
    Hola a todos!
    I'm Danielle Cloward, a grad student at East Stroudsburg University, and I'm also working towards my Spanish teaching certification. I first studied Spanish at BYU, completing the requirements for a minor in Spanish, but only finished my BGS in 2015. I'm working on my M. Secondary Ed. now, too. I  also studied in Sevilla for almost 6 months when my husband had an internship in the Provincial Archive there.
    I chose to go for my permanent teaching certification after being a long-term substitute for Spanish in 2016, and I've been working as a day-to-day sub with East Stroudsburg Area SD & Colonial IU20. I've also been a volunteer interpreter for Spanish for 17 years, and ASL for 7 years.
    I can't wait to learn more from all of you!

    Danielle Cloward

  • 9.  RE: Introduce Yourself Here!

    Posted 03-11-2016 12:30

    I'm Gina Covello. I founded Habla Language Services in San Jose, CA to bridge the communication gap between English and Spanish speakers. I teach and tutor English and Spanish at all levels including interpreter level. I offer Medical, Legal, Business and Conversational Spanish and small classes for children. We offer other services as well.

    I double majored in English Literature and Language & Culture Studies at the University of California and earned an MA in Hispanic Studies from the Monterey Institute of International Studies. I studied in Mexico and Chile and served in the US Peace Corps in Costa Rica. I also worked as an interpreter for the US Dept. of Justice. 

    I think language studies is important to learn about communicating with others and to understand other cultures and other ways of thinking. It also helps with brain development and understanding your native language better. I attended the ACTFL conference for the first time last year. I've been on these boards for a while though. 


    Gina Covello, MA

  • 10.  RE: Introduce Yourself Here!

    Posted 03-12-2016 09:09

    I am Kelly Ochoa. I teach AP Spanish at a small high school in south eastern Massachusetts. I spent 15 years teaching Spanish 1 at the middle school level and 3 years ago switched to being a high school Spanish teacher. I went to Union College in upstate NY and earned a BA in Latin American Studies. I then joined the Peace Corps and served in Honduras. After Peace Corps, I decided I wanted to teach and entered a Peace Corps Fellows program to get my teaching license. I graduated from Wichita State University in Wichita, KS with an MA in Curriculum and Instruction. I also taught for 3 years in the Wichita Public Schools for 3 years as a middle school teacher. Shortly after the birth of my twins, I moved back to Massachusetts to be closer to my family. I love teaching language and am very intrigued by the way in which our profession (language teaching) is evolving. I think the next few years we will see lots of new things in education due to technology. 

    Kelly Ochoa

  • 11.  RE: Introduce Yourself Here!

    Posted 11-23-2017 06:53
    Hola, hola!

    I am Sandra Perdomo and I am from Colombia (South America), living and teaching in Tanzania (Africa). I currently teach Spanish as a foreign language in MS and HS. However, I have taught ES before. As the world is becoming more interconnected, we need to make communication possible in different language. Thus, languages play an important role in making connections with the global community and their incorporation in the curriculum is an asset for every child's education. This way we can help prepare them for an interconnected world.
    I hope to learn new techniques, methods, etc, so that I can improve my teaching practices. I am very excited to read tons of stuff and implement in my classroom.
    Sandra Perdomo

    Sandra Perdomo

  • 12.  RE: Introduce Yourself Here!

    Posted 03-13-2016 11:36

    Aloha from Maui!

    My name is Jeenna Canche and I teach Spanish 2, 3, and 4 at Maui High School.  I have been teaching Spanish for ten years and I have also taught at Kihei Charter School and King Kekaulike High School.  I am very passionate about teaching and learning languages and I am especially interested in finding and testing teaching strategies that work and in finding ways to positively impact student self-efficacy and motivation in the classroom.  My passion for languages stems from my belief that learning languages opens doors that can change people's lives by providing opportunities and bringing people and cultures together.  Plus, it's just a lot of of fun!  :-)

    Jeenna Canche

  • 13.  RE: Introduce Yourself Here!

    Posted 03-14-2016 14:16

    Maria Spicer-Escalante
    maria.spicer@usu.eduAssociate Professor

  • 14.  RE: Introduce Yourself Here!

    Posted 03-14-2016 22:24


    My name is Paula Dimler. I teach Spanish at Cody High School in Cody, Wyoming. I actually am on schedule to retire this year but recently renewed membership with ACTFL because I really don't know what lies around the next bend. I am a former Peace Corps Volunteer in Ecuador, South America, where my husband and I both served and am also proud to have a daughter who served as a Volunteer in the Dominican Republic. I am a veteran teacher but have always been passionate about the Spanish language. On a personal note my daughter married into a Spanish speaking family and my grand-daughter is growing up bilingual. She lives right here in Cody and just turned 2 years old in March. I love to hear language explode from her and am fascinated how at present she uses English and Spanish vocabulary interchangeably. She is yet to have a filter for one language over the other. 

     I have been eyeing the scholarship opportunities for Spanish in Mexico, Chile and Guatemala. I have been involved in mission work in Guatemala with Living Waters of the World and would genuinely just like an opportunity for an intensive language experience abroad as I have had in previous experiences in my past. I do not know if the scholarship opportunities through ACTFL are a match for me, but I am hopeful.

    I wonder what others might contribute to this conversation.

    Paula Dimler

    Paula Dimler

  • 15.  RE: Introduce Yourself Here!

    Posted 03-16-2016 15:58

    Hello, I'm Pete Swanson and I'm the 2016 ACTFL President. This year has been a pleasure for me as I traveled to each of the regional conferences and met a lot of great people working hard on behalf of language teachers. I started my career as a Spanish teacher in the late 1980s teaching in Colorado and Wyoming. After 15 years in the classroom, I decided to pursue my doctorate.

    in 2006, I accepted a tenure track position at Georgia State University (GSU) in Atlanta. At GSU, I am the Coordinator of the FL Teacher Education Program and I work with some of the best colleagues in our profession. Each year we prepare highly qualified language teachers in five different languages. I am also the Director of Graduate Studies for our department. I teach undergraduate and graduate classes in a variety of areas such as pedagogy and assessment, technology integration, and research in second language to name a few. 

    As ACTFL President this year, we are focusing efforts on language teacher recruitment and retention. I've been writing about the language teacher shortage and the need to address teacher recruitment and retention in both Foreign Language Annals and The Language Educator. It's something that is close to my heart as we are advocating nationally for the Seal of Bliteracy and increased funding for world languages in the newly reauthorized Every Student Succeeds Act, formerly known as No Child Left Behind. I hope you will join the advocacy effort and let your legislators know about the virtues of language teaching and learning.  Finally, I hope to see you at the 2016 ACTFL Convention in Boston in November. It's ACTFL's 50th anniversary of the founding of the organization that is working daily to help language teachers and learners. 

    Pete Swanson

  • 16.  RE: Introduce Yourself Here!

    Posted 03-18-2016 09:31

    Hi Everyone!

    I am currently the Executive Director of ACTFL located in the Headquarters Office in Alexandria, Virginia.  We just started an office renovation to expand our offices a bit so we have a lot of dust right now.  But I invite any of our members to visit us when you are in the Washington, DC area!

    I started my career in Fairfax County Public Schools in Virginia and taught Spanish and Latin to high school students.  I also taught some classes at the elementary level and methods courses for teachers at the postsecondary level.  I have always missed the students but make it a point to visit classes and meet with teachers whenever I can.

    We are striving to be a pro-active and collaborative organization that meets the needs of our members and the profession at large so we welcome your participation in the community and your input regarding how ACTFL can better meet your needs.

    Hoping to see many of you in Boston!


    Marty Abbott
    mabbott@actfl.orgExecutive Director

  • 17.  RE: Introduce Yourself Here!

    Posted 04-04-2016 12:18

    Hi my name is Lizette Cherres and I am a graduate student at San Diego State University in the Spanish and Portuguese Department. I am a Teaching Associate and I currently teach two intermediate Spanish courses. Last year I taught introductory courses.

    I like to learn about different cultures. I am interested in social justice issues and I try to implement diversity and social justice talks in my class. For example, in power point presentations I like to put different pictures of people of diverse backgrounds. Also, there have been times when students say something that may offend someone else due to stereotypes in which I address the best way I can. However, I must admit, that having these conversations in Spanish is difficult.  

    I am excited to be part of this community and hope to learn from you all. 

    Lizette Cherres
    etcherries24@gmail.comTeaching Associate

  • 18.  RE: Introduce Yourself Here!

    Posted 03-18-2016 10:06

    Hey Paula, 

    You should definitely look into the Spanish scholarships. While they are not administered through ACTFL, we reserve a certain number of spots for our members. The Celas Maya or IMAC scholarships would probably be best for you as some of the others are for newer teachers. The Celas Maya also offers this option if you aren't already certified by the Cervantes Institute: "winners of this scholarship have the option of changing one week of Spanish instruction to one week of DELE preparation"

    Glad you've joined us on the community!

    Lisa Campo
    ACTFL Marketing & Communications Manager
    (703) 894-2900 ext 119

  • 19.  RE: Introduce Yourself Here!

    Posted 03-16-2016 15:31

    Hi everyone!  I'm Bill Anderson.  I live on Long Island, New York.  I was a Spanish teacher for many years before becoming an administrator.  I'm the World Language supervisor in the Massapequa School District.  Learning language not only prepares our students to be globally competitive, but it helps them to become global citizens who understand the world.  Our job as teachers is to encourage them to love it.

    William Anderson
    K-12 Curriculum Associate for World Languages
    Massapequa School District

  • 20.  RE: Introduce Yourself Here!

    Posted 03-16-2016 16:35

    Thank you to everyone who has participated! It's been wonderful to learn more about everyone and see the passion everyone has for world languages. Thank you again for participating, we hope you enjoy our Community!

    Genevieve Borello
    American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL)
    Membership Manager
    (703) 894-2900

  • 21.  RE: Introduce Yourself Here!

    Posted 03-18-2016 16:07


    I’m Chris Cashman, and I teach Spanish for L2 learners and heritage speakers at a public fine arts high school in Chicago.  I appreciate the invitation to discuss challenges we are facing.  I’d like to throw a conundrum out there that I’ve hit in my teaching career recently – I’m in year six – and see if any of you can speak to it.   

    I have felt recently like there are clashes between my “linguist” self and “educator” self.  I sense that a few things that are said to be “best practices” in both realms seem mutually exclusive –as if the SLA people and the education experts aren’t talking to each other.  But maybe I’m wrong, so here goes my own interpretation of my problem: 

    The field of SLA tells me that grammar structures are acquired in stages, it takes a long time for them to emerge, learners make many mistakes before successfully producing them, and that repeated exposure over time is the key to vocabulary knowledge and production.  This translates into a teaching style that “teaches for proficiency” – allowing learners to make mistakes, exposing them to a variety of structures in comprehensible contexts over time, emphasizing frequently used vocab like “quiero” instead of “zanahoria”, etc etc. 

    The education experts say that we need daily and weekly “I can” statements, that units should have measurable objectives, that students should be able to observe what they have learned between the beginning and end of a unit, that rubric criteria should be specific, and that students should have a clear understanding of what they are being assessed on. 

    In case anyone is preparing an “Oh, do you know about TPRS?” type of response, please know that I taught for two years (2 ½ if you include student teaching) at a high school that did only TPRS, and I wasn’t too impressed with the results there – and that school has since moved on to incorporate more explicit teaching.  I’m now at a high school that teaches thematically, with specific grammatical benchmarks every unit, but we’re also a small department that is open-minded and willing to change and incorporate the best things that ultimately help students achieve language proficiency. 

    I know that 100’s of pages have been written about all of these issues I’ve listed above, but if any of you can speak to my conundrum, I’d love to hear how you educators have sorted this out!   I’m thinking about taking this issue to “Tea with BVP” some time.  

    Christopher Cashman
    Spanish 2-3, Spanish for Heritage Speakers

  • 22.  RE: Introduce Yourself Here!

    Posted 03-19-2016 13:03

    Hi Chris!

    Here's my take on your conundrum.  I think you're putting your energy into the wrong place.  You're wondering about "how" you should teach.  I suggest you should be putting your energy into how well the students are learning.  (Learning being defined, in this case, as indicated by the ACTFL Standards, Proficiency Levels, Rubrics developed to determine formative and summative assessments.)  You can track your students now as they move from Novice-Low, Novice-Mid, Novice-High, etc.

    If you usually teach by standing on your head in the middle of the classroom and spinning and your students are becoming proficient, keep spinning!  But, if students aren't becoming proficient, re-think the spinning thing.  ; - )

    As a former World Language Coordinator, I always told "my" teachers, I don't care "how" you teach, as long as the students are becoming proficient.  But, if they're not becoming proficient, change what your doing.

    Everything in your classroom should be driven by how proficient students are becoming in Communication.

    Try something, if it works, keep it and improve on it.  Try something else, if it works, add it to your toolbox.

    That's my take on it.



    [David] [Burrous]
    [World Languages Educational Consultant]