Report of the CANE Representative to the Northeast Conference on the Teaching of Foreign Languages
by Dr. Madelyn G. Torchin, Tufts University, Program Supervisor, Classics
The 64th Annual Northeast Conference on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (NECTFL) was held at the New York Hilton Midtown on February 8-10, 2018. Approximately 1400 educators from across the 13 states of the NECTFL region and Greater Washington participated in the 16 workshops and 284 sixty-minute sessions, centered on the theme, “Unleashing the POW-er of Proficiency.” For classicists, the conference theme became, indeed, the “POW-er of Collaboration.” Participants left intent on continuing dialogue both in meet-ups and social media; everyone was encouraged to offer sessions and workshops at conferences, especially NECTFL and ACTFL.
The collaborative thread underscoring the three days of meetings was introduced by the three-hour workshop, “Creating Confidence through Comprehensible Input for the Classics Classroom,” led by Maureen Lamb, Kingswood Oxford School, West Hartford, CT; John Bracey, Weston Middle School, Weston, MA; and Lindsay Sears-Tam, Greenwich Academy, Greenwich, CT. Presenters reviewed how to create comprehensible input for students, how to implement this instructional strategy, and what assessments and activities have worked well for them using comprehensible input.
In her session, “Fostering a Love of Latin in the AP Curriculum,” Elizabeth Solomon from St. John’s Preparatory School, Danvers, MA, provided a unique system for studying every line of the AP syllabus, from Caesar to Vergil and shared examples of her students’ projects. Her “mark-up method” incorporates rich and deep analysis of the text as it simultaneously amplifies students’ enjoyment of the material. “Culture without Bounds,” presented by Martha Altieri, Virginia Blasi, and Donna Gerard, explored the interculturality aspects of the Cambridge Latin Course and offered insights and practical pedagogical suggestions.
Sherwin Little and Mary English, Executive Director of the American Classical League and Montclair State University, Montclair, NJ, respectively, examined the new framework of Standards for Classical Language Learning with a focus on its components and terminology, in particular Communications. Participants explored assessment strategies as part of the Standards-Based curriculum, including proficiency, performance, and achievement. A rich and full discussion ensued.
The final session for classicists showcased the Mead Project: Creating Classical Connections. Maureen Lamb, a MEAD Fellow for 2017, created a hub website, for sharing resources for teaching, professional development opportunities, and connecting teachers of Latin and Greek for support. Attendees enthusiastically received this new resource and exchanged ideas about valuable resources and ways to use those currently available for Classics teachers and how to expand Maureen’s plan to cover all New England Classics programs and resources. Ultimately, a mentoring program for early career Classics teachers will be put into place.
In sum, the collaborative spirit of the Classics at NECTFL inspired and energized participants. While NECTFL’S offerings in pedagogy and other languages made this a valuable contribution for CANE members, one of its greatest benefits was bringing together a diverse group of strong, critical thinkers and providing opportunities for the lively exchange of creative ideas and solutions for advancing our profession.