Students gain exposure at the annual foreign language conference 

NIU foreign language students recently gained exposure to a professional audience during the annual conference for the Illinois Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ICTFL) at the Tinley Park Convention Center.

Sixteen NIU students were honored and recognized at a luncheon, and then received partial scholarships to attend the conference, which this year was titled, “Explore the Core, the World Language Core:  Motivate, Measure, Maximize.” The students also became members of the professional organization.

“We feel that it is valuable for the teacher candidates to be among their future colleagues, receive training from those in the field and network with other teachers,” said Kathy Kuschman, assistant director of Teacher Licensure. “It also encourages future professional development and membership in professional organizations.”

The goals of ICTFL are for all Illinois students to be proficient in a second language, to offer support and guidance to all those who educate students learning a second language and to find and support new ways to incorporate second language learning in students and education.

Also attending from NIU with the students were: Dr. Katharina Barbe (Foreign Language Department chair), Dr. Jessamine Cooke-Plagwitz (director of Undergraduate Studies), Dr. Karen Lichtman (assistant professor of Spanish Linguistics and director of Teacher Licensure), Kuschman, Peggy Durbala (former assistant director of Teacher Licensure), and program alumni Sandra Gonzalez and Allison Packard.

“It was really beneficial to be able to see what foreign language teachers found to be important for their instructional methods,” said Alli Carroll, a student who attended the conference. “It was also neat to see the methods we have been learning in class are current issues in the teaching world.”

Irina Jelnov said she particularly enjoyed a session on collaborating with other teachers for ideas about how to successfully engage students, rather than reinventing the wheel as a new classroom teacher.

“This session was essentially exactly what I was looking for, needed and expected to see at the conference,” she said. “I got concrete ideas on how to engage students using the target language in a meaningful way.”

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