Thursday 14 Jan, 2016

EF and ACTFL Collaboratively Launch the “Teachers Crossing Borders” Tour Series

As more schools require that their language teachers teach in the target language in order to create a full immersion experience in the classroom, foreign language teachers are increasingly being asked to provide authentic examples of how that language is spoken today. This push to emphasize teaching in the target language has also put pressure on teachers to raise their own linguistic command.

To help address this growing need, the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) is collaborating with EF to pilot professional learning language experiences for teachers abroad. The series will focus on strengthening teachers’ language proficiency and cultural competence skills, and inspire them to foster their students’ global curiosity through language study. The first two Crossing Borders programs developed give educators the opportunity to travel to Madrid or Cuba.ACTFLBoth of these tours were created in collaboration with ACTFL to encourage teachers to have strong language and cultural immersion experiences. “We’re excited to push our members to explore the world through these new Teachers Crossing Borders Tours,” said Marty Abbott, Executive Director at ACTFL.

The immersion trip to Madrid is geared to Spanish teachers who want to improve their language proficiency. Wherever you are on the proficiency scale you’ll be able to improve your language skills and have the documentation to prove it! Additionally, an Oral Proficiency Interview (OPI), ACTFL’s certification tool and a globally standardized assessment of functional speaking ability, will be offered to teachers as they prepare to travel to Madrid. Through OPIs, teachers can identify specific areas of language proficiency to improve on as they travel, while also gauging their development abroad. Coupled with culturally rich experiences, such as school visits and workshops, they’ll return home ready to transform their foreign language curriculum. According to Linda Egantz, former ACTFL Language Teacher of the Year and current Chicago-based Spanish teacher, studying the OPI method was the single best thing she did in order to understand how to improve her students’ language proficiency.

The Professional Learning Trip to Cuba gives teachers a unique opportunity to discover the island’s rich culture and connect with local educators, artists and environmentalists. While there are certainly lots of opportunities for teachers to practice their language skills, this program is for anybody interested in exploring the country’s educational landscape. Teachers will meet with local educators at both the middle and high school levels, as well as meet with professors from the state university system. In addition, teachers will delve into Cuba’s cultural history, such as visiting the Hemingway House, the Bay of Pigs Museum, or the local jazz scene! This program is open to all ACTFL members, and there is no requirement to know Spanish or be a Spanish teacher.

“We are hoping that these language teachers will improve their language skills and become more confident teaching in the target language – Spanish in this case,” said George Stewart, Director of Education at EF Education First. “Towards those ends, they will become more conversant with current idiomatic phrases, socio-cultural trends – things like fashion, education and business – as well as become adept at using the OPI method to help their students become more conversationally fluent. Not only do these programs offer a powerful learning experience, they also represent a rare opportunity for each teacher to expand their own professional network among like-minded language teachers.”

Interested in learning more about this opportunity? Visit