Featured Talks & Speakers

Be the One: Cultivating an Inclusive Classroom

Sponsored by Marist College’s Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program

Language teachers are in a unique, though precarious, position to address issues related to gender and inclusivity in their classrooms. Language teachers must grapple with gendered language from the very first day of class as they use masculine or feminine nouns and adjectives to address and describe their students. This can create a minefield of gendered language that can act as emotional triggers for vulnerable student populations. Transgender and non-binary students are often at an increased risk of bullying, self-harm, substance abuse, and suicide. Emotional triggers can include the use of dead names and incorrect pronouns in any language, but the nature of a world-language classroom adds an additional level of grammatical and cultural complexity to making all students feel comfortable. As teachers, our goal should be to not only teach the nuts and bolts of language to our students, but also to be there for them. Attendees will hear the presenter’s personal anecdotes, including about hate crimes and her burgeoning awareness of issues related to transgender and non-binary youth, while hearing the hard facts and research related transgender youth as well as research on how gender affects our perception of the world. Attendees will also hear practical classroom activities and suggestions to take back to their own schools or universities so they can continue to cultivate a climate that welcomes and accepts all students.  


The idea of moving forward—Avanti—was embraced in the early 20th century on both sides of the political spectrum.  The socialist incitement to surpass bourgeois values was captured in the title of the party’s newspaper, born in the late 19th century (the title of this presentation as well).  The futurists, politically right-leaning but certainly not artistically conservative, made forward motion and dynamism the central tenets of their aesthetic.

In our profession, we hear “Italian is declining.”  “Students are gravitating towards STEM.”  “Italian is losing students to (fill in the blank here: Mandarin?).” Italian teachers have seen this happen before, but is the situation different this time? Will Italian recover?  An AATI member throughout her professional career, Clara Orban will reflect on the profession as it currently stands.  Together, we will explore ways to increase enthusiasm in language learning and how we could make interest in all things Italian translate into increased enrollments.  Some of the questions we can ask: What factors hold us back? What new strategies could propel us forward? And most of all perhaps, what are we doing to create a fun environment for our  students so they want to stay in our classes? 

Esploriamo insieme come possiamo andare sempre più “avanti.”



Rachel Cunning

Loveland Classical Schools


Clara Orban

DePaul University