Book Endorsements

Dr. Marjorie Hall Haley

  •  ACTFL Board of Directors
  • Professor of Foreign/Second Language and ESL Education
  • Director of Foreign Language Teacher Licensure
  • Graduate School of Education
  • George Mason University, Fairfax, VA

“Irene Brouwer Konyndyk is a teachers’ teacher. She understands and demonstrates empathy for students who may have had limited prior access and/or success in a language learning environment. This book is a conduit for students, teachers, and teacher educators—a carefully guided path to making language learning not only possible, but meaningful and fun!

The ideas and strategies listed in this book are step by step and easy to follow. The book is appropriate for both pre and in-service teachers who may be struggling with understanding how to meet the needs of students who learn differently. The resources are rich and grounded in research. Teachers can pick this book up at any given chapter and find useful information for specific areas of concern they may be experiencing.

This book provides a wonderful resource to both novice and veteran teachers who are looking for easy-to-read suggestions provided by someone who has shared her wealth of teaching, learning, and living experiences.

Educators who respect their students’ own developmental learning skills and strategies will find Konyndyk’s book, Foreign Languages for Everyone, immensely rewarding.  Dr. Konyndyk gives us rich accounts and examples of ways to reach and teach students “where they are” when they come to us. She does not suggest that we force all students into a cookie cutter approach to learning and/or acquiring new languages.

Throughout the book, Dr. Konyndyk demonstrates a love of teaching and learning and her compassionate desire to make multilingualism available to all. Her work is kind, generous, and caring for both teacher and student. Her spirited defense of learner differences is admirable, as is Konyndyk’s defense of the interests of all language learners.”

Dr. Lynn E. Snyder  Ph.D., CCC-SLP

  •  Professor Emerita and Former Director of the Center for Language and Learning, University of Colorado at Boulder, Boulder, CO

“Professor Konyndyk has designed and implemented a successful MSL program in French, a language many colleagues considered too difficult for students with language learning difficulties. She also honed her pedagogical principles and tools,- broke new ground in metacognitive aspects of foreign language pedagogy, engaged students with learning difficulties in the process of learning a foreign language, and changed their minds about themselves as learners and what they could accomplish. This book represents a synthesis of Professor Konyndyk’s work in the classroom and in her discipline. In it, she shares a pedagogy that engages students who learn differently so that they can learn a foreign language and become independent self-teachers. This book debunks common misconceptions about students who struggle with foreign language learning and exposes the flawed reasoning about their abilities. It is well-titled; indeed, foreign languages are for everyone. Egalitarian, n’est-ce pas?

Much like the strong organization, structure and strategies that Professor Konyndyk advocates in her pedagogy, this book is well-organized and uses different forms of presentation. It also includes technology, and offers, via website, an interactive forum for foreign language instructors and special educators. This latter component is an important strength of this book. The inclusion of an interactive website and web-access to materials make it a growing, responsive and self-updating instructional tool, not a volume that can become dated over time.

From a practical perspective, this book presents a variety of ways in which to engage students in learning the vocabulary, syntax, morphology and culture of the language being taught. The learning strategies and foreign language teaching activities are described in sufficient detail, with a number and variety of examples that allow us to replicate the activities with ease and/or modify them with clear intention. At the same time, the book is not a cookbook of activity recipes to be followed slavishly. Rather, it also provides clear explanations of the educational and cognitive bases and rationale for these activities. This allows instructors to alter the activities to meet students’ needs without sacrificing the integrity of the learning process. In the fall of 2004, I had the opportunity to participate in some of these activities firsthand in one of Professor Konyndyk’s MSL classes. I can personally attest to an engaging, interactive, and enjoyable experience. I had no idea how much of my high school and college French could be reactivated after so many years!

One of the strongest contributions of this book, and perhaps one of Professor Konyndyk’s unique contributions to the literature, is her development of the metacognitive component for foreign language instruction. Its strength seems to lie in the ways in which she sensitizes students to their own learning strategies, her use of student journals, and her own learning perspective as she responds to them. She uses quotes taken from student journal entries throughout the book to support and/or illustrate specific points she makes, especially about their growing metacognitive awareness. I found the journal entries candid, transparent and balanced.  More importantly, her development of the student journal experience and the integral role it plays in student learning relays a strong message to both teachers and students about the students’ self-worth.

As I finished reading Foreign Languages for Everyone, I tried to see if I could identify the keys to Professor Konyndyk’s approach to foreign language learning. I found that two underlying operating principles seem to permeate the pedagogy described in this book, and, the very nature of Professor Konyndyk herself:  respect for students and their self-worth and the role of grace, or unmerited favor, in the learning process. These principles, obviously, reflect benchmarks of her faith. I must say that it edifies me, challenges me, encourages me, and fills me with gratitude that she has written this volume.

C. S. Lewis once wrote “The task of the modern educator is not to cut down jungles, but to irrigate deserts.”  Many students with foreign language learning difficulties have had long histories of trudging in the desert trying to learn a second language, an experience for which their learning differences often leave them ill-equipped. Professor Konyndyk has developed a foreign language instructional pedagogy that makes their deserts bloom. I think that students, foreign language instructors, and special educators, alike, will find themselves grateful to her for this contribution.”

Dr. Elke Schneider

  • Assistant Professor, College of Education, Curriculum & Instruction,
  • Winthrop University, Rock Hill SC

This book is rich in meaningful, research-supported strategies and enriched by convincing student voices. Foreign language educators, those in training to enter the field, and tutors will find this book an invaluable resource to meet struggling students’ needs. A truly compassionate and experienced language specialist encourages us to integrate best practices that focus on each student’s success while teaching excellent coping strategies. A long awaited contribution to the field!”

Dr. Larry Vander Grift

  • Former Editor of The Canadian Modern Language Review
  • Professor Emeritus, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
  • Official Languages and Bilingualism Institute, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

“This teacher-friendly book offers a wide range of practical, research-based activities to help students with learning disabilities achieve success in foreign language learning. Based on many years of teaching experience with at-risk students, Professor Konyndyk offers teachers a collection of fruitful pedagogical activities and classroom procedures. Of particular strength is the emphasis on student metacognition; students are guided to reflect on their learning, discover how they can improve their learning and develop a stronger sense of self-efficacy.”

Dr. Anne Violin-Wigent

  • Past President of the Michigan World Language Association
  • Associate Professor of French
  • Michigan State University, E. Lansing, MI  49546

“Foreign Languages for Everyone is a must-have must-read for all language teachers and language teacher trainers.  We have struggled for too long without proper guidance: either anecdotes from colleagues or research articles that may have been too dry.  This book reconciles research and application through the description of activities and strategies informed by research and tested in class by the author.  This makes for a fascinating book where all language teachers, regardless of level and student population, can find something to reach all the students in their classes.”

Dr. Margot Steinhart

  • French Department, Northwestern University, Chicago, IL
  • 2009 Recipient of the ACTFL Florence Steiner Award for Leadership in Foreign Language Education K-12
  • Past President, American Association of Teachers of French
  • President, American Society of the French Academic Palms

“In her book,  Foreign Languages for Everyone: How I Learned to Teach Second Languages to Students with Learning Disabilities , Professor Konyndyk  encourages teachers to follow her on her own odyssey to provide support to students who thought they were incapable of ever being successful in a foreign language class.  Just as she tailors activities for students with learning disabilities to have them engage in metacognition to understand and to articulate how they learn, Konyndyk herself offers readers a metacognitive analysis of the various strategies and tactics in her pedagogical toolbox.  This meticulous approach takes the pre-service as well as the veteran teacher through lessons that value multisensory activities and organizational structures.  The author advocates for explicit and direct teaching, suggesting that the communicative approach that has been in vogue for several decades may not serve at-risk learners well.  Konyndyk’s work reflects ten years of teaching French classes she designed expressly for struggling second-language students in higher education, as well as more than 40 years of teaching foreign language students at the elementary through graduate school levels, including teacher education courses. 

 For the colleague who likes to consider theoretical and practical frameworks, Konyndyk balances both, with a clear focus on what teachers should do as they plan curricula, prepare materials, and teach a class of at-risk students.  While most teachers will probably encounter a scattering of at-risk students in a typical language class, rather than have an entire class of such students, the author promotes best practices that have a place in any foreign language class. Konyndyk’s approach, incorporating journal writing, is worthy of consideration, even for advanced-level or honors classes, for good students can also benefit from understanding how they learn best.

 Although the teacher is necessarily invested in the teaching and learning dynamic, students themselves have a substantial role to play in their own learning.  Konyndyk demonstrates how students assume responsibility through various course requirements at the same time as they experience incrementally a lowering of the affective filter and attain successful outcomes.  In true collegial spirit, Professor Irene Konyndyk invites collaboration by others to advance the profession’s understanding of how to teach any student a foreign language.  She has created a website where she offers examples of various resources that she uses and encourages contributions by other teachers.  Perhaps, the conversation on effective and efficient learning and best practices will continue as a result.”

 Dr. David Smith

  • Editor of the Journal of Christianity and Foreign Languages
  • Director of the Kuyers Institute
  • Professor of German, Calvin College

“Irene Konyndyk is a teacher who believes that every student can learn and who cares about every student’s learning. This book offers a guide to serving students who struggle with language learning that is both personal and practical, and in so doing points us toward becoming better teachers.”

Dr. Marcie Pyper

  • Professor of Spanish
  • Chair of Spanish Department
  • Calvin College, Grand Rapids, MI

“In this book, Irene Konyndyk shares a wealth of experience and insight on how all teachers of foreign language can support all students in being successful language learners.  Her practical and tried recommendations provide teachers with the essential tools to be able to join in this journey.”