Why should I attend a language conference?

For language teachers—or really for teachers of any subject—it may often feel like you are tucked away in a silo, toiling away alone day after day. Attending a language conference can remind you why you chose this profession in the first place and connect you with hundreds (or in the case of ACTFL, thousands) of like-minded educators.  You will walk away with not only professional growth, but also with lifelong friends. 

If you teach a less common language, attending ACTFL is especially crucial: it’s a rare moment to meet teachers like yourself, learn about the newest research and thought on issues of interest, and recognize connections with teachers of other languages. 

The exhibit halls at conferences, no matter the size, are always filled with resources: online learning, textbooks, readers, films, manipulatives, games, travel and study abroad information. Learn about other career opportunities in language related fields and chances to pursue certificates and degrees and encounter vendors from overseas and embassy staff. Conferences are also a great place to learn about and get involved with national organizations supporting your work: AATF, AATSP, AATG, NFLC, CARLA, and more. 

You will return home with a tote bag of freebies along with the energy and tools to point your instructional practice toward teaching for student proficiency. 

Here is how to make your case for attending a conference: 

  1. Go to your principal with a plan, including specifics: “I have really been focusing on XYZ this year with my students. I’d love to go to ACTFL to attend sessions such as XYZ on the topic to continue to improve in that area to best help my students.” 
  2. Have details ready: “The registration is due on XYZ and costs $XYZ. I would appreciate it if I could get support to attend by being able to use professional development days and have my registration paid for. I am able to pay for my transportation and lodging.” 
  3. Explain how you will share your newly gained knowledge from the conference with your colleagues at PLC/department meetings when you return. 

For more ideas on how to make your case and for a sample letter, visit the ACTFL website.

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