I do not want to leave the impression that the entire ACTFL conference was negative.  Not at all.

Just seeing so many world language teachers in one spot was heartening.  Many of them paid their own way.  They all wanted to get better at teaching.  They all wanted their students to become fluent.  I sensed very little of the “just show up and put in the face time” feeling that conference attenders often give off.

The networking was great.  I met so many wonderful, interesting teachers from all over the country.  Every single one that I met was excited about their students and wanted to reach them more effectively.  They all had good ideas and were open to more ideas.

Many of the materials were impressive and potentially valuable.  There are more and more novels and quality picture books available in every language .  The possibilities for CI are enormous.

The Chinese presence was also very obvious and welcome. Glad they were there.  Come on in, the water’s fine.  It looks like publishers are betting that Chinese will be bigger than any other foreign language soon because the big companies are all jockeying for position at the front of the publication pack.  Large swaths of the exhibit hall were seemingly dedicated to Chinese only.  There were so many Chinese exhibits and so many ethnic Chinese teachers that you would have thought we were in Beijing.  I frequently could not understand anything group conversations as I eavesdropped while walking down the hallways–a bit unnerving since I can always pick up at least bits of Spanish, French, German, and Russian as I walk by.  As a Spanish teacher, I had never felt like a minority at a language conference before.  Now I’m starting to think that if I want a full time job in five years I’d better learn some Chinese.