MERLOT Conference 2009 – San Jose

2009 MERLOT International Conference: Tips for Language Educators

Posted in Conference Info, Session by janepmoore on June 15, 2009

As a language professional going to the  2009 MERLOT International Conference, I would definitely target sessions that highlight websites and technologies that would enhance the teaching of L2 listening, speaking, reading and writing. Additionally, I would be looking at concurrent sessions and workshops that emphasize multicultural themes and communication and collaborative activities that would get  students talking, interacting and using the target language. Perusing the program online, a few sessions that pique my interest so far are:

1. Frenchnology – The site that inspires this session,, uses popular You Tube music videos to teach French grammar  points .It is an engaging way to get students to observe language structures in an authentic context. The author writes about the videos: “Though they span the full spectrum of French and Francophone music, the songs are equally useful in displaying what the students consider to be “real French.” The authenticity and variety of material, in addition to the precision of the language lesson, maintains interest and achieves the pedagogical and cultural goals of using music to teach language. Although the examples will be in French, all language educators should be able to get some good ideas from this approach. (Friday, 11:30)

2. The Children of Argentina’s Disappeared- This session combines a social topic that many professors of Spanish cover in their courses with an instructional format that many language educators use with success, the webquest. MERLOT contains many award-winning webquests in its collections. This session promises to be a practical “how-to” session particularly useful for Spanish and other language teachers. (Friday, 11:30)

3. What Makes Them Talk- One of the big challenges for language courses online is getting students to interact with each other verbally and in asynchronous and synchronous discussion.  This session promises free classroom-tested materials online that make this practice easier. This seems like a must for language educators. (Friday, 5:30)

4. Voice Thread Workshop – This is an application that many language educators I know already use and that deserves much more attention. The MIC will have a hands-on workshop on Voice Thread, a tool that allows users “to comment on media (images, movies or documents) in voice, text or video.” It is free and extremely easy to use. (Saturday, 1:30)

5. A Collaborative Approach to Online Course Design- Who could not benefit from hearing about the challenges of putting foreign language courses online? This session will outline the experience of the University of Colorado at Boulder. It should provide good food for thought. (Saturday, 4:00)

6. Using Learning Objects in Foreign Language Teaching: Some Fresh Ideas. – These presenters promise a “customizable” language experience through the use of various types of learning objects. They will show how these will promote interaction and communication. (Saturday, 5:30)

7. MERLOT Chile Community Project- The Center for Innovation on Education of Technological University of Chile – INACAP is collaborating with CSU to build a MERLOT collection for native Spanish speakers. The site
will have learning materials available for anyone who visits the site. Language educators should find this very interesting. (Saturday, 5:30)

8. C’est la Seconde Vie- Teaching French Literature in Second Life is the topic of this session that will undoubtedly be interesting to language teachers in any language. (Sunday, 10:00)

9. Creating Culturally- Relevant OERS Across Cultures – Open Educational Resources are the focus of this session that highlights collaboration between CSU and India. This should be a very motivating look forward into a world where OERs provide access and opportunities for collaboration between teachers and learners worldwide. Language educators will play a crucial role in this work. (Sunday, 11:30 a.m.)

10. Networking with MERLOT World Languages throughout the conference- At any of the networking activities provided at the conference, MERLOT World Languages editorial board members will be there to meet fellow language educators. If you want to set up a meeting in advance, contact Laura Franklin at

Compiled by Laura Franklin, Professor of French, Northern Virginia Community Colleges and  Editor, MERLOT World Languages