Summer Institute 2019

Standards: The Tie that Binds Content, Culture, and Communication

June 22-23 | 2019 Rogers Park Montessori School | Chicago, Illinois

Thank you for Supporting our NNELL Summer Institute.

Registration is now closed. Check back next week for photos and information about the event! In case you are missing this year’s institute, plan on attending next year. Chicago awaits!

Join colleagues from around the country to share ideas and celebrate early language learning. We will be exploring the standards and tying them to YOUR curriculum in ways that will enhance proficiency, facilitate planning, and help you illustrate how early language supports the core curriculum.


Continental breakfast at school included in registration fee both days.


Deli sandwiches/salads included in registration fee at school both days.


Dinner Saturday included in registration fee; off site


Special Rate: 06-21-19 & 06-22-19 149.00 USD + tax

06-23-19 & 06-24-19 109.00 USD + tax

Free parking

Holiday Inn North Shore 5300 West Touhy Avenue, Skokie, IL 60077

Telephone: (847) 679-8900
(To receive special rate, please register by April 15, 2019)


Helena Curtain, Ph. D. is an internationally known expert on second language teaching methodology, curriculum development, and bilingual immersion education. Her special interest is in teaching language to young learners. She is the co-author of Languages and Learners: Making the Match, a book used in universities throughout the USA for preparing language teachers to work in grades K-8, now in its fifth edition. The book has also been translated into Chinese.

Dr. Curtain directed the English as a Second Language and World Language teacher preparation programs at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee for ten years. Previously she coordinated the foreign language and ESL programs grades K-12 in the Milwaukee Public Schools, and taught at the elementary, middle school and high school levels. In the Milwaukee Public Schools, she started three full immersion programs in German, Spanish and French and was one of the pioneers of the immersion movement in the United States. She has broad experience working with schools and school districts, consulting, teaching and conducting workshops throughout the United States and internationally in thirty-nine countries.

Helena will open our two-day workshop on Saturday morning with an inspirational keynote presentation and then work with us throughout the institute as we collaborate and develop our lessons and units of study. Be sure to bring your copy of Languages and Children or Languages and Learners for her to autograph!

Rebecca Aubrey, the 2019 ACTFL World Language Teacher of the year, teaches elementary Spanish in Ashford, Connecticut. Rebecca holds a BA in Human Ecology from College of the Atlantic, a MA in Political Science from the University of Connecticut and completed doctoral field research in Central and South America. With 20 years of experience teaching Latin American studies and 10 years in Spanish instruction, Rebecca is the Advocacy Coordinator for CT COLT, the Connecticut representative to NNELL, and serves on the Board of Education in Mansfield, Connecticut. Rebecca advocates for all students to have the opportunity to study another language and be prepared to live in a globalized world. She provides professional development for language teachers at local and national conferences on topics that include differentiation strategies, project-based learning, positive classroom management in the target language, and thematic planning. In her free time, Rebecca enjoys traveling to far off places, hiking up volcanoes, kayaking, and raising monarch caterpillars.

Rebecca will be our Sunday Keynote speaker and will be working with us throughout the 2- day workshop.

Ryan Rockaitis is in his twenty-first year teaching high school Spanish. He has taught all levels, from introductory courses to advanced placement. In addition to high school teaching, Ryan has taught elementary students at Spanish camp, collegiate courses, and an adult continuing education course. Ryan holds a B.S. Ed. in Secondary Education from Northwestern University; an M.A. in Spanish from California State University, Sacramento; an M.A. in Educational Leadership from Northeastern Illinois University; and ESL/Bilingual Certification from National Louis University. Ryan is an ACTFL-trained OPI tester and rater, a MOPI workshop trainer, and Quality Assurance Lead for the Spanish AAPPL assessment. Ryan frequently presents at ICTFL, CSCTFL, ACTFL, and AATSP conferences. In his presentations, including “Putting the FUN in Functions,” “50 Shades of Grades,” and “60 Treats for Your Bag of Tricks,” Ryan shares practical applications of the proficiency guidelines that teachers can implement immediately. He is an active member of NNELL, and currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Central States Conference on the Teaching of Foreign Languages and is President and Communications Chair for the Illinois Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages. Ryan mentors new and pre-service teachers as his school’s Mentoring Coordinator and through his summer work with the Golden Apple. He will be working on us as we explore ways to articulate our Early Language curriculum with our colleagues in high school. Ryan will also be the Spanish language MOPI trainer on June 24 and 24 for those who choose to stay.

Valerie Shull teaches Spanish for elementary and middle school children at Rogers Park Montessori School, where she’s been on staff for more than twenty years.  During her time at RPMS she’s worked with children ages six to fourteen. The rubber hits the road in her proficiency-focused program during her school’s annual 8th grade travel/homestay trip to Costa Rica, which is recognized by ACTFL’s Global Engagement Initiative.  Valerie is passionate about working toward language proficiency with children, improving her own practice and supporting teachers in their journey. She is a veteran presenter at ACTFL, ICTFL, Central States Conference, and most recently at the America Montessori Society annual conference. Valerie is the Illinois NNELL representative, has served on ICTFL committees and is active with the Lake Michigan Association of Independent Schools world language group. She’s also part of the #earlylang chat moderator team–where she can be found as @windycitysenora.

Denise Clivaz and Elizabeth Roberts teach K-8 French at the Avery Coonley School in Downers Grove.  Their school has a rich history of teaching French at the elementary level; their early-start, long-sequence French program was started in the 1940s. Denise has been teaching at Avery Coonley for 25 years, and Elizabeth joined her there 15 years ago. Together they have developed the REAL LANGUAGE right away programs, a unique communicative approach for beginner language students.  Denise and Elizabeth try to capitalize on the early start of their program by focusing on oral communication and striving to give their students every opportunity to communicate in the target language. They have presented at numerous state, regional, and national conferences.  It is never too early to get students speaking in the target language! This will be a collaborative session; participants will discuss their challenges and successes in fostering interpersonal communication with young learners. Participants will also explore creating a safe place for students to interact in the target language. Come away with ideas for setting up engaging partner activities that are adaptable to any unit and will allow students to practice language in a meaningful context. These activities will put students on the pathway to ownership of targeted vocabulary, structures, and useful expressions.

Kathleen Priceman holds a BA in Spanish Education from the State University of New York at Albany and a M.Ed. in Instructional Leadership from the University of Illinois at Chicago. She has more than 30 years of experience teaching, designing curriculum and writing grants for ESL, SSL, Bilingual Ed. and Spanish Immersion programs. She was selected to

be the 2014 Illinois Foreign Language Teacher of the Year in recognition of her efforts to promote language learning and expertise in instruction. She is the current president of NNELL and has served as president of ICTFL. She is committed member of AATSP, ACTFL, NABE, Central States Conference, and IAMME.

After returning to Spain in 2001 on a scholarship awarded by the Embassy of Spain, she was inspired to create opportunities for families and other educators to experience the richness of being immersed and living in another culture. Each July she returns to Salamanca Spain where she lives and teaches graduate courses in Spanish Language and Culture for Educators.

Her years as an immersion teacher have given her insight into building content-based language lessons as well as tying those lessons to the myriad standards that educators are expected address (CCSS, WIDA,WRS, etc.).

2019 MOPI Workshop | Hosted by ICTFL-NNELL

Learn about Novice to Intermediate Language Proficiency in this 2-day Workshop

Extend your stay and expand your knowledge and expertise!

June 24-25, 2018 — 8:00am – 4:30pm
Roger Park Montessori School
1800 W. Balmoral Ave., Chicago, IL  60640

The Modified Oral Proficiency Workshop (MOPI) is a two-day workshop introducing the oral proficiency levels of Novice and Intermediate. You will learn about the characteristics of Novice and Intermediate speakers and learn techniques to conduct interviews and determine levels. Each participate will have the opportunity to practice an interview.  As a result of these professional development experiences, educators are better able to:

  • apply key principles of teaching and testing for proficiency to curriculum, instruction, and assessment
  • establish program goals in terms of performance outcomes
  • determine student placement, progress, and performance
  • articulate within and across language programs

Workshops will be offered in English with examples provided in the languages you teach. Should demand warrant, a Spanish-focused workshop will be offered.   The $500 registration fee covers the professional learning, all materials, breakfast, snacks and lunches. A district who wishes to send a team of five or more will receive a discount on registrations fees.   Please contact for more information. Online registration for this event is not possible. Mail Registration (download form, send check) is due by May 1, 2019.