World Language Teachers Gather at Fall Conference
The annual fall conference of the Wisconsin Association for Language Teachers (WAFLT) is a vibrant gathering of some of the most dedicated teachers in the state. They meet for workshops and sessions on the first November weekend every year. About 1000 participants are expected at the Paper Valley Hotel in Appleton for WAFLT 2011. This is arguably the strongest teacher professional development conference in Wisconsin. The inspiring enthusiasm of attendees brings back new and seasoned teachers every year for meetings even on Friday evening and all day Saturday.
This is a true Wisconsin conference. Very few presenters come from other parts of the country, yet presentations are top notch and are often repeated at the regional and national levels. Wisconsin’s world language teachers take pride in sharing their teaching strategies and projects with others. This creates community, and it creates a solid foundation of professionalism.
World language teachers are often isolated in their school districts. Many schools are too small to employ several teachers for different languages which makes professional interaction and sharing difficult. They need the companionship and friendship of their peers.
This is a time to celebrate the success of Wisconsin world language teachers. Enrollment numbers are high at 54% of the student population. Teachers work hard at motivating and encouraging all students to study world languages and to study them for as long as possible. They know that a sequence of only two years of a world language cannot really achieve the proficiency levels that we associate with fluency in another language. Wisconsin’s world language teachers know that speaking another language is the key to understanding other cultures, that citizenship and employment opportunities are increasingly linked go global competence and proficiency in languages other than English. World language teachers go well beyond the call of duty to give their students opportunities of a lifetime: They take them abroad on student exchange programs, and they host students from other countries to bring the world to their often isolated school districts. They do this on weekends and evenings without additional pay or time off. And they do this during summer break: Not only do they give several weeks of their time, in most cases not only without pay but often even without the security of district liability insurance. If this sounds incredible to you, well, it is. It is incredible that Wisconsin’s world language teachers are that committed to the ultimate goal of educating globally competent students: to make this world a better place. It is also incredible that support for their dedicated work is not as strong as it should be.
Therefore, this week’s post on the Global Wisconsin blog is a big thank-you to all world language teachers in Wisconsin. You know where you can find them this weekend.