WAFLT Hall of Fame
All the amazing teachers listed here have been recognized as the Wisconsin World Language Teacher of the Year. This recognition is intended to elevate the status of our profession by creating opportunities for recognizing the most accomplished members of our profession in the state.
2019 Brian Wopat, French Educator
Onalaska High School
Value of Language Learning & Cultural Competencies
In a world where collaboration among international communities is an essential part of our success as a country, learning languages and developing cultural competencies for all learners is imperative. Trade agreements are creating larger and more diverse global markets. Technology is making communication and interaction among people much easier. Yet, a deep understanding of other cultures and traditions is essential for those working to solve global issues.
At a time when social media provides easily accessible news and information from across the world, we have a responsibility to teach our students multi-literacy skills to help them identify reputable sources, foster the desire to search out sources from other perspectives, and synthesize the information to best know how it affects them and others. Furthermore, consider the added benefit of individuals accessing information firsthand in another language, automatically exposing them to different points of view and creating cross-cultural connections. These skills will allow our citizens and leaders to make informed decisions and take proper actions.
Long-term language study develops students’ interpersonal soft skills, a trait sought out by many employers. Additionally, it instills an appreciation for the similarities and differences of diverse people and perspectives when working toward solving complex problems. Lastly, it provides learners with a sense of responsibility to take action by bringing people from different communities together for a common purpose.
Achieving proficiency in another language allows students to seek out opportunities to travel, to participate in cultural and travel exchanges, as well as enrich themselves with art, history, and music in other languages. These actions will not only lead to a better understanding of others, but a deeper and more developed understanding of themselves, and their place as an American in the world.
I believe the challenges we face as humanity with climate change require an international effort. Developing students’ cultural competencies is a logical and necessary first step in establishing a generation of informed citizens who have a strong desire to take action. Add in the ability to communicate effectively in a language other than their own, and we will have nurtured a generation that desires to work with others to combat climate change. It is our duty to instill a sense of local, national, and global responsibility to protect our planet.
Our long-term commitment to language learning and developing cultural competencies needs to begin today. We live in a world where everyone has something to contribute, no matter their country or language of origin. I envision a time when the public is aware of and values the existence of multilingual community members. They will appreciate and embrace the dynamics of the similarities and differences with others from various communities in our pursuit for a better world.
Hortonville High School
Janesville School District
Milwaukee German Immersion School, Milwaukee, WI
West High School
Appleton North High School
Lisa Marie Showers,
Central HS in St. Paul MN/UW-River Falls, River Falls, WI
Mukwonago High School
Monroe High School
Japanese & French Educator
Lincoln High School
Clovis Grove Elementary School
2005 & 2006
Nicolet High School