haskins-riverwalkGrateful for both the professional opportunity and a break from the Chicago weather, we were excited to head to San Antonio, Texas, last month for four days of inspiration, learning, and battery-recharging at the annual conference of the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages.

We had the opportunity to attend pre-convention workshops and three days of mini-sessions focused on many different areas of language teaching. As teachers, we are well familiar with educational concepts such as flipped classrooms, cultural competency, can-do statements, and meaningful homework, and being able to focus on them with an eye to their implementation in language classrooms was invaluable.

Here are some highlights from our conference experience!

Inspirational Peers

In addition to Elvis, who is alive and well and living in San Antonio (or a particularly convincing doppelganger), we also met many accomplished language teachers and researchers from all levels and from countries around the world. It was wonderful to be able to put faces to the names of teachers whose blogs we admire and use, whose Pinterest ideas inspire us, and whose YouTube videos engage our students and crack us up.

We attended luncheons sponsored by the French and Spanish embassies, where we met leaders in the field of second-language acquisition and cultural advocacy. Neither of us won the free scholarship trips for international travel, but maybe next year!

actflClassroom Inspiration

The conference included an unbelievable amount of options for classes in tools and techniques to help and inspire us in our language teaching. For example, it was great to hear about our peers successfully integrating the concept of flipped classrooms into their world language classrooms, where it can be particularly useful. We left with vision and websites galore to help us continue incorporating these strategies into our teaching.


We met some great people and learned about some great travel opportunities that can enhance our own and other programs here at Morgan Park Academy. If you ever want to meet some extroverted talkers, you can definitely find them at a language conference! While browsing the exhibition hall, we were able to meet reps from some great educational companies and even take advantage of some of the fun displays.

Local Culture

Cuisine, mariachis and the River Walk were three of our favorite things about San Antonio. This culturally rich city is alive with amazing food, music, and the unique experience of navigating the beautiful San Antonio River Walk. We also were lucky to have the annual mariachi band competition for school-aged children at our convention site. It was so great to see these accomplished young musicians beautifully costumed and keeping their culture alive and well through this important co-curricular competition.

We are so grateful to have had this professional development opportunity! We only wish that we could have cloned ourselves so that we could have attended more presentations!

By Sarah Haskins and Gloria Ortiz

Ms. Haskins and Mrs. Ortiz teach French and Spanish, respectively, for Lower School and Middle School.