Friday, March 19, 2021

GWATFL Stands in Solidarity with the AAPI Community and Condemns Acts of Xenophobia and Violence

 Dear Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) friends,

Our hearts are with you after the increased incidents of bias, harassment, and violence in the community, including the recent incidents in Atlanta. 

GWATFL continues to stand in solidarity with our Asian heritage community and the AAPI community at large. As language professionals, it is our purpose to promote intercultural understanding and we commit ourselves to diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice in our classrooms and community.


Wednesday, June 3, 2020

GWATFL stands in solidarity with the Black community

The Greater Washington Association of Teachers of Foreign Languages (GWATFL) stands in solidarity with the Black community against violence, social injustice, and systemic racism. As an organization dedicated to global competence and social justice, we condemn prejudiced and hateful actions against Black citizens.  We advocate for equity and justice to end the long history of systemic racism in the United States of America.

As world language educators, we are instrumental in guiding our students, modeling compassion, tolerance and courage. It is our responsibility to hold each other accountable by challenging bias.

We lament for those whose lives were unjustly cut short due to police brutality and systemic racism, including George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, and countless others. To our Black GWATFL community and the Black community at large: we see you and we stand with you.

Luis Deocares, GWATFL President,  and the Board.

Thursday, March 12, 2020

GWATFL Spring Conference 2020 Cancelled

March 12, 2020
Dear GWATFL Community,

Due to the ongoing and increased challenges presented by COVID-19 and in accordance with health guidance from the CDC, WHO, and the state of emergency declared in Washington DC yesterday, the GWATFL Board has made the hard decision to cancel our 2020 GWATFL Spring Conference.  
GWATFL Board wants to reassure you that keeping our community protected and secure is our top priority. Registrants will receive their refund through Eventbrite.
We would like to recognize the hard work that our presenters and the GWATFL board have done to organize this conference.  In the meantime, the GWATFL Board is committed to continue planning the Fall 2020 conference on November 7th. Please mark your calendars!
Thank you for your support and patience as we move through this challenging time.
Luis Deocares  
GWATFL President and the Board

Sunday, March 1, 2020

Please help a NECTFL Mead Leadership Fellow winner

"Hello! My name is Michele Back and I am one of the NECTFL Mead Leadership Fellows for 2020-2021. As part of my project for this coming year I would like your assistance in completing a brief survey about any efforts you use or know about with respect to recruiting future world language teachers. Your responses will be completely anonymous, unless you decide that you would like to participate in the second stage of this project (and I hope you will!) Please feel free to contact me directly with any questions: Thank you for your participation!"
Click on the link below to begin the survey:

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Marcela Velikovsky, GWATFL Teacher of the Year 2020!

Congratulations to Marcela Velikovsky, GWATFL Teacher of the Year 2020!  

The Greater Washington Association of Teachers of Foreign Language is honored to name Marcela Velikovsky, GWATFL Teacher of the Year 2020! 

Ms. Velikovsky has impressive credentials and has demonstrated commitment to the language teaching profession. We appreciate her efforts to develop cultural competence, her work with Smithsonian Institution, and the many ways in which she shares her work  and expertise with other world language teachers.

Ms. Velikovsky is a Middle School Spanish Teacher at Bullis School, an independent school located in Potomac, Maryland, a suburb of Washington, D.C.

Good luck representing GWATFL at NECTFL 2020 in New York!


Luis Deocares
GWATFL President

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Best of GWATFL Spring, 2019: Ms. Yuching Chung

Best of GWATFL 19

Please join us in congratulating Ms. Yuching Chung, on being named
Best of GWATFL Spring, 2019 for her session
“Visible Thinking Routines in Language Classroom.”
Ms. Chung will represent us at the NECTFL’s conference 2020! 

Interview with Best of GWATFL2019 Yuching Chun, Mandaring Teacher at Whittle School and Studios  

Yuching switched her career from interpreting to teaching in 2008. Since then She has taught both Mandarin Chinese and Japanese as a world language teacher in Florida and California. Yuching became a 5TH Grade Mandarin-immersion classroom teacher at Washington Yu Ying PCS in DC after she moved to Virginia in 2015. She started a new job as a 5TH Grade classroom teacher (all subjects taught in English) and a world language teacher teaching Mandarin at Whittle School and Studios this fall 2019. Yuching enjoys inquiry and project-based learning and teaching.  

What motivated you to teach?
The Love for children and passion for languages! 
What three words would your students use to describe you?
Funny, unique, caring.
Connecting with students is important in a classroom. How do you see this happening in your classes and how does that connection help you succeed with your lesson?
I greet students as soon as they come in with a genuine smile. I usually notice fresh/new haircuts and always compliment them. These things may seem superficial but the powerful message here is not only I see you but I notice you. When I see students struggle I don’t immediately offer my support, I ask "Are you okay?" and "Do you need help?".  It's important to respect students' needs and the time they require to process, student agency and struggles are important for learning. Nurturing and respectful relationships go both ways. 
What are three major expectations that you have for your students? 
Growth mindset, being respectful and caring to one another.  

In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges in teaching a world language? How do you face those challenges?

Challenge: Tailor the right resources and materials to different groups of students
Solution: Getting to know students individually and design different materials/games to meet students' interests and needs. This is time-consuming but really worth it!
How do you feel about being Best of GWATFL to represent us at NECTFL? What is your session about? I feel really honored and thankful. It motivates me to be a better teacher and present more in different conferences in the future. My session was about "Visible Thinking Routines in Language Classrooms."

If you have a thought that you would want to leave world language teachers with, what would it be?  
Be fearless and have fun with your students. Your love and passion for your language and culture is contagious. 

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Best of GWATFL 2018 presents at NECTFL and beyond!

Opportunity knocks...
By Vicky Masson and Marcela Velikovsky

A friend in college once told me, "When opportunity knocks, go for it!" She was right!

That is exactly what we - Marcela and Vicky - did in June 2018, when we got an email from the Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access (SCLDA) with an invitation to participate in the 2018 Smithsonian Virtual Teacher Curricula Creation Opportunity.

Our journey began
We created three collections in the Smithsonian Learning Lab platform (SLL) called “People, Place, and Time: How Art Reflects Culture.” A “collection” is like an interactive folder where you can organize a wide range of resources to develop a lesson or unit and keep them in one place. The Smithsonian Learning Lab has more than a million digital resources for you to discover, design your own student-centered lessons, create new collections or customize those already published, and share them with the world for others to use.

In each collection, we integrate museum resources into world languages across the curriculum and focus on the three modes of communication: interpretive, interpersonal, and presentational. This allows students to learn toward proficiency by using the language as a tool to learn about different topics. Because we both teach Spanish, our collections are based on resources that highlight Latinx history, art, and culture. As teachers, we strive to widen our students' worldviews, so we also include the Project Zero Global Thinking Routines and connections to the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Each collection started with one resource... and lots of questions! Fellow teachers know our brains get in full gear with a multitude of thoughts and questions that we ask ourselves when trying to develop the best lesson for our students. What is the purpose? What do students need to know? What are the outcomes? How do we make it relevant? What challenges might we face? What background knowledge do students need? Will they understand big concepts?                   

Our journey continued
Philippa, Marcela, and Vicky at 2018 GWATFL Fall Conference
Philippa, Marcela, and Vicky at 2018 GWATFL Fall Conference
In order to share our collections with local educators, we made our initial stop at GWATFL 2018 Fall Conference. We presented our work together with Philippa Rappoport from the SLL.

A surprise on the road
We were selected as Best of GWATFL! We were so thrilled! We would head to the Northeastern Conference for Teachers of Foreign Language (NECTFL) in New York, on February 7 - 9, 2019. This time, we presented with Tess Porter from the SLL.  

NECTFL 2019 - Tess, Marcela, and Vicky
NECTFL 2019 - Tess, Marcela, and Vicky
One more stop
We also presented at Project Zero (PZ) in Another Language at DC International, in Washington, DC. Teachers from bilingual schools, International Baccalaureate (IB) and immersion programs attended and brainstormed about our craft. It was fascinating to see these colleagues in action, collaborating and deeply engaged in rich discussions about art, culture, teaching, and Global Competence.

At PZ in Another Language, DC International: Participants at work
At PZ in Another Language, DC International: Participants at work
Ready to go on
Who knows where our journey will take us now? So far it’s been an incredibly enriching experience and we are ready to embark on our next adventure!

What will you do next time opportunity knocks on your door?