Dual Language SchoolsLA COSECHA: What Makes This Conference SO Special?

Author Photo: Wayne Thomas and Virginia Collier

Photo for: LA COSECHA: What Makes This Conference SO Special?

Wow, how do we even begin to describe the incredible energy, passion, sharing, networking, and high-level dialogue that happens at La Cosecha year after year!!! This annual national dual language education conference in November is filled with emotion and excitement as dual language educators from all regions of the U.S. and beyond gather together to get renewed, as we share best practices and knowledge of the research that informs our field. Teachers, parents, students, principals, central administrative staff, superintendents, school board members, state leaders, university professors, researchers, curriculum developers, book publishers, and policy makers from diverse backgrounds all gather together to learn from each other. This year, forty-one states, nine countries, and over nineteen sovereign tribal nations were represented among approximately 3,500 participants. This is a happy conference, because everyone attending is focused on implementing the premier, enrichment model of bilingual schooling.

To appreciate the magnitude of the conference, this year, each time slot held forty-four concurrent sessions, with many choices of topics for all attendees, including sessions on indigenous language preservation and revitalization, a strand on family and community partnerships, and a Student Leadership Institute at the National Hispanic Cultural Center. This has always been a conference for and by teachers, so that dual language teachers can attend lots of hands-on sessions to get ideas for their classrooms. Delicious lunches are efficiently served for all participants, with no extra fees charged. Nine pre-conference institutes provide in-depth knowledge of important topics in our field, taught at the level of university courses, with school visits as another opportunity for valuable insights. In the publishers’ exhibits at La Cosecha, the staff of DualLanguageSchools.org also conduct interviews with authors, which you can check out in the video section of this website. As we gather together in the downtown area of the mid-size city of Albuquerque (next year Santa Fe), all participants can cross paths with national experts and colleagues who share our passion.

This year we spoke at lively, large sessions on secondary dual language education and parent and community issues in dual language schooling. Our two collaborating publishers—Dual Language Education of New Mexico-Fuente Press and Velázquez Press—also sponsored a session about our five books and our five new videos in which we explain each of our books on dual language schooling, featuring explanations of the topics and figures and background information that led to our writing. Our videos were recorded this year at our farm in central Virginia, and Arthur Chou and David Rogers envisioned and guided the videotaping process. We encourage school districts to use the videos for professional development sessions with teachers and administrators, for book study groups, and for dialogue on details regarding implementation of dual language programs at all grade levels, PK-12. Our five books cover the following topics on dual language education: English learners, dual language implementation, administrators, an overview, and secondary. For educators, policy makers, and parents new to dual language, we recommend our overview book, Why Dual Language Schooling.

One more extraordinary experience at La Cosecha every year is the incredible celebration of the cultures of New Mexico, a unique state for its preservation of its indigenous and Latino (Hispanic?) roots. This includes musical experiences such as the annual peña on Thursday evening, where musicians gather together to spontaneously share music from all parts of the Americas; popular contemporary Latino bands for participants to dance the night away; and this year we experienced a pow wow, celebrating traditional drumming, chanting, and dancing of the New Mexico Pueblos. Throughout the conference program, music and drama experiences for teachers to take back to their classrooms are provided by popular artists and musicians. Student groups from local schools and pueblos share performances of their musical and dance heritages.

So next year, be sure to join us at this amazing national dual language gathering, taking place in Santa Fe, New Mexico, November 4-7, 2020. We’ll fill up the entire historic center of Santa Fe and celebrate our success with multilingual and multicultural schooling for all!