Posted on

Comprehensible Cascadia in Portland OREGON is the Language Lovers conference

Get ready for a good time!

Comprehensible Cascadia is a small, intimate CI conference held in July in Portland, Oregon. WOW does it pack a punch! One of the strengths of the conference is the coherent vision among presenters. This is not a conference that will leave you unable to implement the strategies once you are back in the classroom. Each track is well-planned with a morning session in which you experience the methods as a student and an afternoon session in which you practice delivering the methods as a teacher.

This year there are two tracks: a track for teaching beginners through intermediate level students (roughly levels 1-3) and a track for teaching upper level students (roughly from level 3 through to AP, IB or level 5). Within the first track participants choose which lesser taught language they want to experience as a student: either Korean, Cherokee, ASL or Scottish-Gaelic. Participants experience learning a new language in the morning and then practice the techniques as a teacher in the afternoon (led by Tina Hargaden). The Upper level track learns CALP strategies in the morning with Tina Hargaden and practices and extends those strategies with me in the afternoon sessions.

Comprehensible Cascadia is the only CI Conference that has an ASL track. Last year I had the chance to observe Frederick Stamps teach ASL and, as a Spanish teacher, I was blown away by his technique and his ability to make himself comprehensible. In the past I have walked away from ASL demos with the sinking feeling that a sign language is really hard for me to learn, but Fred makes it effortless and fun.

Many people believe that Asian languages are particularly difficult to learn; I will be joining the morning sessions with Janet Kyung learning Korean and participating as moderator. Together we will demonstrate that there simply are no “difficult” languages, only difficult approaches to teaching a language. We are opting for the easy way full of laughter: we will follow the star sequence that includes co-creating visual characters (OWIs), Story-Creation, Write & Discuss, Visual Story Telling, Visual Culture, easy reading choices and plenty of active strategies that get you on your feet and processing the target language. The Korean language will be running through your dreams at night!

Wade Blevins will be leading the morning session in Cherokee. He was born in the small Cherokee community of Butler, Oklahoma and is a member of the Squirrel Ridge Ceremonial Grounds. For the past 11 years, Wade has worked for Cherokee Nation in the Education department helping with his tribe’s language revitalization efforts. Wade is an award winning Native artist and writer, having written 7 children’s books on Cherokee culture. He is also very involved in his tribe’s ceremonies and has served as a ceremonial singer and leader from an early age. Wade feels like CI techniques will be the key to helping his people pass their language down to the next generation. With the support of Cherokee Nation and other partners, Wade recently organized the IGNITE conference, the nation’s first CI conference specifically for Native language educators in June 2017.

Have you ever thought to yourself that you just do not have the energy to do CI all day every day? You need to experience Jason Bond’s unique approach to CI. Meditation and mindfulness is the foundation for Jason’s everyday life. Over the years, he deepened his practice on retreats at Samye Ling temple in Scotland and at Plum Village in France. Lately, he has trained as a meditation teacher under the guidance of Julian ‘Daizan’ Skinner, the first Englishman to become a Rinzai Zen master in Japan. Jason also became one of Daizan’s Zen students. This new direction is dedicated to helping others develop calm, stability, and focus – three invaluable qualities for any stage of the CI journey. Jason will be teaching the Scottish-Gaelic morning session.

We are bringing Pablo Pankun Román to Portland for his only appearance in the States this summer. Pablo is an amazing polyglot that you may know from his Dreaming Spanish videos. He learns his languages through pure CI approaches and will be leading a one day pre-conference Spanish class for teachers on Monday. Pablo has an entirely different approach to CI than that which is presented at the big conferences in the US, partly because his exposure to CI draws from his experiences in Japan and Thailand where the organic nature of language acquisition is emphasized. Throughout the week I plan on exploring the outer reaches of CI techniques with Pablo and contemplating how these techniques might translate to the context of US public schools.

Comprehensible Cascadia is the conference that pushes boundaries and explores new paths. And OMG Portland has good food!!! Come out to dinner and then join us at Ben Slavic’s place afterwards for evening coaching and great conversations.

Come join me for a week of language learning & teaching fun!

Leave a Reply