Reflecting on ACTFL 2022

The 2022 ACTFL Convention and Expo has come and gone and it was so great to see some old friends, and meet some internet friends for the first time!

I got into Boston Thursday afternoon so that I could go to the SIG (Special Interest Group) Chair meeting. It was nice to get to see some other SIG officers that I’ve only interacted with via Zoom over these past few years. The ACTFL Membership team, along with ACTFL president-elect LJ Randolph were at the meeting and they have some GREAT ideas on how to make the SIGs work better for members. I’m really excited to see where the SIGs will go, and how they will help educators grow in the coming years.

Below are the sessions I attended (or wish I could have attended) and a few notes about them.

“I still wonder…” Using an Inquiry-Based Model to Make Input Compelling (Grugan & Musser-Quist)

I was really excited for this session. Making input comprehensible can be hard, and making it compelling is even harder. The inquiry based model that the presenters talked about is the 5 ‘E’s that is often used in science classes. One of my main takeaways in how the 5Es could fit into a Comprehension-Based classroom is by using cliffhangers in stories, videos, conversations, and using inquiry as a pre-activity. Show a video or a set of images and have students wonder about what is going on. With a video, you could show it without sound and have students guess what the video is about, with a reading you could pull images and discuss the images before reading. All in all this reminded me to make sure to include hooks in lessons to get students engaged and wanting to find out what we are going to discuss.

This can be done: Materials for a Task-Based Curriculum (Fernández)

The idea of Task-Based Language Teaching (TBLT) has always intrigued me. What I always have trouble wrapping my head around with TBLT is what does it actually look like? My biggest takeaway is that tasks help us create purpose for classroom activities. A task should lead students to learn something NON-Linguistic. A powerful quote from Dr. Fernández was (paraphrasing) “I don’t go somewhere thinking I’m going to practice my L2, I go somewhere thinking I need to get something done and I have to use my L2 to do it”. Dr. Fernández uses English as an additional language, so when she is giving this presentation in English she’s not doing it to practice English, but rather to convey information to others.

The simplest form of a Task, I believe, is a decision making task. Where students get information (say we’re talking about circle of care, students may present information, and then make a decision based on their classmates’s presentations who in their circle of care they would like to meet. This presentation gave me a LOT to think about, and explained TBLT in a way that finally stuck with me.

ACTFL Comprehension-Based Communicative Language Teaching SIG Business Meeting (Langley, Bracey, Neubauer, Schweitzer, Cárdenas, featuring Wiechart, Fernández, and Bracey)

Reminder if you are an ACTFL member, you can join ALL the SIGs (but selfishly, make sure to join CCLT and partake in the forums :)) 

After we did the boring business meeting stuff we had a round table discussion with Teri Wiechart, Claudia Fernández, and John Bracey about the question “What IS CCLT?” The panelists had so many great things to say, and I wish we could have recorded it for the SIG. Our questions for the panel were “What does it mean to be Comprehension-Based?”; “What does it mean to teach communicatively?”; and “What does it look like to move from comprehension based activities to communicative activities?”

The biggest takeaway for me (Which could be it’s own blog post, really) was about WHY we need to have “Comprehension-Based” in front of “Communicative Language Teaching” because comprehension IS part of communication. This lead to an hour long discussion with Dr. Fernández later, but I think a consensus was that we emphasize comprehension because without input there is no output. So we do a lot of comprehension activities to get to the output activities.  

Simplifying for Equity (Holt)

I wasn’t able to attend this session, but this was one of the sessions that the CCLT SIG sponsored. Abbi was nice enough to share her presentation HERE

Music to my Ears: Infuse Joy & Inspire in your WL Classroom with Songs (Degadillo & Williamson)

I also wasn’t able to see this presentation because it was SO PACKED! This was also a CCLT SIG sponsored session.

ACTFL Sidebar: Why Is Teaching So Hard? (Epperson)

JJ Talked about student brain development in students and why behavior might sometimes be an issue, especially in these past few years of limited social growth.

Teacher’s Toolbox: Talk Read Talk Write Lesson Planning (Hlas)

This session was probably the one I took the most “do this on Monday” ideas from. It is based on the book Talk Read Talk Write by Nancy Motley.  Editing it for a CCLT classroom would take a little bit of work, but there are some great ideas. Essentially in TRTW there are 4 sessions in each class, the first talk.

Some ideas for the Talk sessions:
-Zoom in Zoom Out with a photo. Zoom in on part of a picture and talk about what students see, what they wonder, what they think the full picture is (Maybe use this in the Inquiry model?) 
-Ask a provocative question, could be any PQA question
– Select and defend a choice (Kind of like input bracketing [a coming soon post]).
-Post a question and have students guess what someone else answered.
-Tea Party (I REALLY like this one). You take words and phrases from a text, give each student a different word or phrase and they circulate the room saying how they connect with the word/phrase. THEN as a class, talk about all the phrases together and make predictions on what the reading could be about.

For reading, do any reading activities that you enjoy, check out Keith Toda’s reading strategies.
Speaking Two is supposed to go more in depth.
Writing is supposed to be students writing on their own but in a CCLT class, especially in early levels I think this could be shared writing/write and discuss.

Making Your Textbook Work for Your Proficiency-Based Goals (Fernández & Henshaw)

This session had GREAT ideas on how to make boring grammar drills meaningful. Thinking back to the task-based session, a lot of grammar drills can be made into decision making tasks. The presenters gave a LOT of ideas on how to make sure students have to actually focus on meaning and NOT just mechanics of drills.

Beyond Stories: Incorporating Authentic Resources into the CI Classroom (Madel)

I wish I could have seen this one, Rich has great ideas for bridging CCLT strategies to ‘authentic’ resources!

Representation and Multiculturalism in Comprehensible Input Readers (Neubauer, Perugini, Wesley)

I had to include this one as well even though I didn’t see it because it is such an important topic. I’m sure the presenters put it much more eloquently than I could, but just a reminder to all to read class materials with a critical eye, watching for anything that may exclude or ‘other’ any of your students.


I had so much fun and I cannot wait to see everyone at the next conference. And next year ACTFL is in Chicago so I can drive to see everyone!

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