News & Updates From AWLA

Awards & Recognitions

Descriptions and criteria for each award may be found online at Awards and Recognitions

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  • 30 Jul 2020 1:48 PM | Malinda O'Leary (Administrator)

    Summer Summit: Connecting in New Ways! 

    July 6-10, 2020

    Over 300 participants recently attended the first ever virtual NNELL Summer Summit. With five days of professional development offered, attendees were able to listen to amazing presentations and to interact in break-out groups and social functions

    Presenters included 2019 ACTFL Teacher of the year , Rebecca Aubrey, and 2020 ACTFL Teacher of the Year, Rebecca Blouwolff, Julie Speno of Mundo de Pepita, and Helena Curtain, co-author of Languages and Children:Making the Match, New Languages for Young Learners. 

    Some of the topics touched on during the Summit: How can teachers address issues of social injustice? How does setting and using language target goals increase proficiency? What are some advantages of using proficiency based classroom centers and activities? How can teachers create a deep and rich curriculum using themes rather than topics? How can teachers stay connected with students during distance learning? What are 

    authentic assessment tools and why should teachers use them? How to reach diverse learners using researched based strategies? 

    The sessions are all available to view for members of NNELL on the “Members Only” section of the NNELL website. To join NNELL go to Individual memberships are $30 and are good until August 31st, 2021 

    A few words from our NNELL Liaison, Joelle Jones....

    The NNELL summer conference has become my favorite conference to attend. Even though the format was different this year it was still a really excellent, worthwhile experience. The NNELL board members stepped up and made the best of a difficult situation. The usual attendance for the Summer Institute is around 60 teachers. This year over 300 teachers attended! 

    As I reflected on my takeaways from the conference, I realized that they were the same takeaways I have from when I have attended an in-person conference. For me, networking with the other teachers is the number one biggest plus about attending a conference. Speaking with other language teachers who “get” my passion for language learning is so encouraging to me. After each session during the Summer Summit we went to break out rooms in our Zoom sessions to share ideas and discuss questions from the session. It was so good to talk and to share ideas with other teachers from across the country. It reminded me that I am not in this alone and that educators everywhere are struggling with the issues and difficulties caused by COVID-19. 

    My newest favorite saying is “Iron sharpens iron”. Not only do other teachers encourage and inspire me they challenge me! Listening to the presenters speak about what I call “Big Questions”, I found myself asking how I can address issues of social injustice, environmental concerns, and the myriad of other challenges that will be faced by my students as they grow into adults. During the conference I was challenged by my fellow educators to get out of my comfort zone and to become an educator that explores these challenges with my students. It’s not easy nor is it particularly comfortable but I think opening a dialog with our students about the struggles they will be facing as adults is imperative. 

    If you teach world languages to students in Pre-K through eighth grades I would highly recommend joining NNELL. It’s been a game changer for me. 

  • 28 May 2020 11:32 AM | Malinda O'Leary (Administrator)

    Your classroom GPS: How to move students from novice to intermediate proficiency

    In this webinar, you will learn a step-by-step approach to motivate and support learners as they move to higher levels of proficiency. You will discover how to teach grammar as a concept, engage students by connecting their interests to tangible can-do and standards-based goals and grading, and to increase motivation and excitement. You will also discover classroom activities and assessments that enable learners to actively take charge of their own developing proficiency.

    Presented by Linda Egnatz, 2014 ACTFL Teacher or the Year, Global Seal of Biliteracy Executive Director

    Register at!
  • 28 May 2020 11:15 AM | Malinda O'Leary (Administrator)

    Look what ACTFL TOY Noah Geisel says about AWLA PD this summer! We invite anyone around the world to join for just $25 and get all of our amazing workshops for free! 

  • 12 May 2020 10:55 AM | Malinda O'Leary (Administrator)

    While seasoned teachers and professors are the backbone of the AATSP, the future belongs to our first-year members! We want to encourage new teachers and graduate students planning to become Spanish and Portuguese teachers to join us during the pandemic. Therefore, we are offering 400 free first-year memberships for 2020 (good thru December 31)! To qualify for this offer, you must never have been a past member of the AATSP. The free first-year memberships (a $45 value) will be awarded on a first come first served basis beginning on Friday, May 15 until we reach 400 new first year members.

    Simply visit our website, click JOIN, and fill out the membership application. At check out, type the following code: 400MEMBERS. When we reach 400 new first-year members, the code will no longer be valid.

    To find out more about our membership benefits, click here

    Please let your friends and colleagues who are not members know about this opportunity fast because it won’t last!

  • 07 May 2020 1:25 PM | Malinda O'Leary (Administrator)

  • 07 May 2020 1:17 PM | Malinda O'Leary (Administrator)

    The AWLA Board met through Zoom for the annual executive meeting!   Be on the lookout for ways that you can be supported during this time and to meet our newest board members!

    AWLA meeting minutes can be found here. You must be logged in to view Member Business.

  • 15 Jan 2020 3:47 PM | Elizabeth Conner (Administrator)
    For the past four years, AWLA representatives have been attending the JNCL-NCLIS Advocacy Day in Washington, D.C. During this two-day event, we are able to meet with representatives from the offices of our elected officials. During the short meetings, we report on the state of languages in Alabama, which includes sharing some success stories about you and what you’re doing in the classroom! Most recently, during ACTFL in November, numerous AWLA board members met with these offices and asked our elected officials to better support funding for world languages. The reception this year, and over the past four years, has been very positive!


    During the last Advocacy Day, a representative from another state mentioned an idea that may make a huge impact on world language education in Alabama…. inviting our elected officials to our classrooms to see what it is that we do! When we brought this up to our elected officials, they were excited at the possibility of the elected official themselves or a representative from their local office coming to the classroom and see a live course!

    This is where you come in! Using this site ( find the contact information for your state and federal elected officials. Send them an email and also call to invite someone from their office, or the official themselves, to a class! Whenever they agree to come, plan a day in your class where you do something that gives them a good idea of what is like to be a student in a language class! Maybe it’s a day when you plan to be a breakout or when the students are presenting on careers in their language. Use this time as a chance to show our officials the impact you’re making on our students who are the future of Alabama!

    Nick Gossett, Advocacy Chair

  • 09 Jan 2020 3:37 PM | Elizabeth Conner (Administrator)

    In her own words....

    After attending ACTFL 2018, I decided to take the challenge and test my one Spanish 4 student for the Global Seal of Biliteracy (the Seal).  She had the English score needed in the ACT, so my challenge was to see if she could achieve the score in Spanish.  There are many ways to demonstrate achievement, but I choose AAPPL testing.  To qualify for the Seal, she needed to take Form B of the AAPPL test and achieve the Intermediate 4, Intermediate 5 or Advanced 1 level in all four parts:  Interpretive Listening (IL), Interpretive Reading (IR), Interpersonal Listening and Speaking (ILS), and Presentational Writing (PW).  

    The testing cost $20, but since I am at a private school, the school paid for it.  So, there was no issue with funding or a lengthy process to receive funding.  It is a reasonable price.  Also, results for the IL and IR were virtually instant.  The ILS and PW took a few weeks.  

    The value of earning this distinction is high for university level and in the workplace.  The trend in the industry is to use this common language for assessment and help place students and workers accurately based on their language knowledge.  

    I highly encourage every teacher to work towards having his/ her student earn the Global Seal of Biliteracy and be recognized for reading, writing, speaking and listening proficiency.

    Some links to help:

    Rhea Grate 

    Saint James School

    Montgomery, AL

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