Daily Archives: March 4, 2014

Conferences: Why We Need to Care 5

Last weekend, I attended SALVI’s Biduum Virginianum. ¬†As we sat around dinner talking on Friday night, one of the participants mentioned that he was going to NECTFL in March. ¬†Another participant looked at him incredulously. ¬†“Do you teach another language too?” he asked. ¬†The NECTFL-goer shook his head no. ¬†“Then why,” asked the other participant, “would you go to a modern language conference?”
The truth is that Latin is not always accepted or even noticed by other foreign language teachers. ¬†Yes, it is starting to get better, and already has at some schools, but we are still, mostly, in our own game. ¬†Yes, it is important to go to the Classical conferences, such as CANE, but more Latin teachers need to start going to the Regional conferences, like NECTFL. ¬†But why? ¬†Why should we take time to go to a conference that doesn’t pertain directly to us, people ask. ¬†Here is my response to that:
Last year, I attended ACTFL in Orlando, Florida. ¬†Encouraged by the fact that Bob Patrick was the first ever Latin Teacher nominee for Language Teacher of the Year, Latin teachers turned out in force. ¬†As a result, there were more sessions that pertained directly to Latin. ¬†Teachers of other languages remarked over and over again, to each other, on Twitter, and to me directly, “Wow, there are a LOT of Latin teachers here.” ¬†We were noticed.
There are techniques we can learn from the Modern languages and there are techniques they can learn from us. ¬†TPRS, Whole Brain Teaching, Reading strategies, connecting across the languages, cool summer programs…the list goes on and on.
There are vendors who do not necessarily have products for Latin…yet. ¬†If we want cool products for Latin, too, we must visit the vendor tables and talk to the vendors, and show them that there is a need and a market for these products and how their products could be adapted for Latin.
Latin may be a bit strange to other teachers, who believe it to be “dead.” ¬†We need to make it come alive. ¬†We can do this by speaking it, and learning the “Modern Language Strategies” ¬†to demonstrate this to the Modern Language Teachers and our Administrations. ¬†(HINT: Many administrations get very excited when a Latin teacher asks to go to a Foreign Language conference and makes the argument that they want to learn more about language teaching! ¬†Often, you can score some money!)
Let me put this challenge to you: ¬†Go to a Foreign Language Conference. (NECTFL is in BOSTON this year–March 27-30!!) ¬†Take a serious look at the program and try, with an open mind, to attend one session about a teaching technique that is not specifically for Latin. ¬†If you do not come away with something useful, try another one. ¬†I can make this promise to you: ¬†You will go home with something interesting–whether you needed a reminder or it is totally new to you.
We Latin and Classics teachers may be the “odd” bunch, but we are by no means the ugly stepchildren. ¬†Getting everyone else to see that as well requires taking an interest in ALL language pedagogy and working with the other languages. ¬†We can just keep talking about how no one notices Latin and that we don’t have interesting products for Latin, or we can do something about it. ¬†It’s time to start changing everyone’s thoughts about Latin. ¬†So, Sodales, take up the challenge!