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Each session is approximately 1 hour long including Q&A

Bios and Session Abstracts

Plenary 1

Learning Language that Equips You for Ministry (Todd S)

Can the principles of effective language learning also apply to learning ministry language?  Discover this path of seven joyful and fruitful steps!

Todd S

Todd S has assisted language coaches and learners in Central Asia for 20 years. He disciples local believers, shares the gospel with the unreached, and trains international coworkers in these tasks.  


Workshop Session 1A

Communicative Pronunciation Teaching (Nora McNamara and Holly Baldwin)

Is it possible to improve pronunciation while still concentrating on real communication? Absolutely! Learn how in this workshop that will give you More Tools for Your Pronunciation Toolbox.

Nora McNamara

Nora McNamara, OneStory Coordinator of Language and Culture Acquisition and SIL senior language and culture learning consultant, is in an MA program at Indiana University in Second Language Studies. Many people think it’s too difficult, if not impossible to learn a new language. Nora helps overseas workers learn new languages so they have the confidence to immerse themselves in the culture of the people they are called to. She also teaches overseas workers how to tell accurate and engaging stories from the Bible. Follow her adventures at

Holly Baldwin

Holly Baldwin is an experienced language instructor, in both overseas settings and in the US. She has also specialized in pronunciation tutoring with college-aged students. She has her Bachelor’s degree in Linguistics from Ohio University, and is TEFL certified. Currently, she is pursuing her MA in TESOL from Indiana University and hopes to return to working with language learners of different backgrounds.

Workshop Session 1B

Getting Started with Language Coaching (Annie Miller)

In "Getting Started in Language Coaching," we will explore five areas essential to laying a strong foundation for both you as a coach and for the learners you will be working with: Learner-Centered coaching approach, Self-Directed Learning, Role Clarity, Staying on Track, and Maintaining Hope. We will look at practical steps we can take in these areas in light of what we know from research about adult second language acquisition in independent learning environments. 

Annie Miller

Annie Miller has served for the last 15 years in student ministry in a large Middle Eastern country, where she is now one of the directors of student ministry with her husband Curtis. She is passionate to help those on the field become competent and confident ministers of the gospel in the host language, and she has served as a language coach and language coaching coordinator in different capacities for the staff serving in her country. She recently completed her Masters in TESOL and Intercultural Communication from Wheaton College. Annie and Curtis have a son named Lukas who loves English grammar and learning French, and he considers himself proficient in many languages because he knows how to count to 10. 


Workshop Session 1C

Learning Language that Equips You for Ministry, Part 2 (Preston Fidler) 

Preston introduces us to two new resources for learning ministry language: 1) 1000 Cups of Tea Handbook and 2) Discover how these can help you and your coworkers practice “gospel fluency across cultures.”

Preston Fidler

Preston Fidler wrote 1000 Cups of Tea: Gospel Fluency Across Cultures (2020), 1000 Cups of Tea: Field Guide (2021), and recently launched as a troika of resources designed to help world Christians learn to fluently proclaim the gospel in the languages of the unreached. Preston has lived in Asia for over 40 years, received his MA in Linguistics in the US while engaging international communities with his local church, and has spent over 25 years learning languages, sharing the gospel, planting indigenous churches, and helping co-workers to engage in these tasks.


Plenary 2

Effective Language Learning Online (Thor Sawin)

Since so many of us are having to do more of our learning online, this talk will help remind us 1) briefly how language acquisition works, 2) how to create a balanced diet of online learning from among the tools and techniques at our disposal, and 3) what can motivate us to keep pursuing online learning.

Thor Sawin

Thor teaches linguistics, language acquisition, and intercultural multilingual communication at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies in Monterey, CA, as well as German at the Middlebury Language Schools. He primarily trains future language teachers and also future development workers.  His PhD in linguistics from the University of South Carolina focused on second language learning among cross-cultural workers in a Christian organization.  He has attended ICLL’s since 2010, and been on the planning committee for the 2016 and 2019 conferences.


Workshop Session 2A

What Does SLA research Tell Us about Learning More than One Language at a Time (Thor Sawin)

Many field workers find themselves in settings where knowing one language is not enough.  Their communities are multilingual, the people they know are multilingual, and many of the conversations in which they find themselves involve combinations of more than one language.  I argue that we don’t have to wait – indeed don’t have the luxury of waiting - to finish learning one language before starting another.  I will briefly present what researchers know about simultaneous language acquisition and how to devise a plan for learning more than one language at once.

Thor Sawin

Thor teaches linguistics, language acquisition, and intercultural multilingual communication at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies in Monterey, CA, as well as German at the Middlebury Language Schools. He primarily trains future language teachers and also future development workers.  His PhD in linguistics from the University of South Carolina focused on second language learning among cross-cultural workers in a Christian organization.  He has attended ICLL’s since 2010, and been on the planning committee for the 2016 and 2019 conferences.


Workshop Session 2B

Coaching for Coaches (Lauren C. Vitrano-Wilson)

This session will teach coaches some very practical methods and ideas to help you know how to connect with their learners more effectively. The COACH model will be discussed as well as other best practices for coaches. Ideas presented have flowed out of the presenter’s desire to help learners enjoy language and culture learning and for them to feel well-supported.

Lauren C. Vitrano-Wilson

As a very young child, Lauren would “trail” anyone speaking a language other than English on the streets of NYC. She has never met a language she didn’t like. So, it is not surprising that as an adult she earned MAs in Teaching English & Spanish with a bilingual, multicultural education endorsement from the School for International Training in VT, USA. She has lived on 4 continents and came to faith in Jesus while speaking Spanish in South America. She is certified in Montessori education from CMTE/NY, and later went on to earn a certificate in applied linguistics from GIAL (now DIU) in Dallas where she taught a course in Language and Culture Acquisition (LACA) over many years. She has also taught LACA in Thailand and served as the Language & Culture Learning Coordinator for Wycliffe/SIL’s Mainland SE Asia group for 10 years. She is now a member of Horizons International, as well as the Family Connection Foundation located in Thailand. She continues to serve cross-cultural workers worldwide in many organizations as a coach. Lauren writes a free Language & Culture Learning Tip called Tip of the Tongue, which reaches over 1,000 people monthly.


Workshop Session 2C

Child Second Language Acquisition (Jane LeCroix)

A brief survey of language learning for children in a cross cultural context, including stories of her own journey raising kids overseas. Advice is practical and appropriate for those new to raising a family in an additional language, while also helpful for coaches who want to better support families in this process. Some of the advice is around learning Arabic, one of the most difficult languages for a native speaker of English to acquire. The primary purpose of the session is to encourage others that it is possible to learn a new language at any age, and a strong support structure will help towards that goal.

Jane LeCroix

Jane lived in the Middle East for 14 years and is now living in the Chicago area. Though she started out as an ESL teacher with Spanish as her second language, she now works with Arabic speakers. She completed her Masters in Teaching with a concentration in bilingual education in 2003. During her years overseas Jane taught in a number of local K-12 schools, and supported her husband who directed an Arabic language study program for adults in Christian service. They have three children with various levels of Arabic proficiency.
Together she and her husband supported many families in language learning and cultural acquisition. Jane now teaches middle school students who are recent immigrants from various Arabic speaking countries, while also studying towards her educational doctorate in interdisciplinary leadership. Her current research focuses on trauma informed education for adolescents who are learning English.


Workshop Session 3A

English Lessons for Newcomers (Kathrin Pope)

If refugees and other immigrants are going to integrate into their host culture, they need language. Why are the official language courses on offer inadequate for many of the immigrants? Could GPA be part of the solution? How was this put into practice in Germany and Switzerland? Update on the development of the corresponding materials for the English speaking world.

Kathrin Pope

Kathrin Pope was a Project advisor in a NT translation project in northern Benin (West Africa) 1984 – 1994. From 1995 to 2015 she was a mother, pre-field trainer and LL coach. Since 2015, she has been developing materials for volunteers who want to help refugees and other immigrants to learn the language of their host country and to integrate into the host culture. First in German, now in English. She also teaches workshops for these volunteers.


Workshop Session 3B

Emotions and their Impact on Language Learning (Jeff Brake)

Stress and emotions run very high while living abroad, especially during the critical first term when the bulk of language acquisition and culture adaptation need to take place to successfully root in a new culture.  Explore the neurological impact of emotions on learning and how helping learners cope with high stress will improve language learning and impact language acquisition and transition to the field.

Jeff Brake

Jeff received his B.A. in Linguistics with a specialization in Phonetics from the University of Michigan prior to studying Leadership and Counseling at Eastern Michigan University.  After working in academia for 15 years, Jeff moved to Central Asia as a cross-cultural messenger.  For 8 years, Jeff served as an English as a Second Language instructor while working in various ministries.  He is currently an adult facilitator with Mission Training International working alongside pre-field cross-cultural workers.  

Workshop Session 3C

Advocacy within a Mission Org for Language Learning Policy in a Rapidly Changing Missions World (Natalie Mullen Leisher and Lonna Dickerson)

In this session, Dr. Natalie Mullen Leisher and Dr. Lonna Dickerson will give a short overview about language policy and policies, talk about responsibilities of language coaches and stakeholders involved with language policies, and host a live Q&A session to answer your questions regarding policies—how to make changes, what good policies look like, advice regarding certain policies and learners and fields, etc.  

Natalie Mullen Leisher

Dr. Natalie Mullen Leisher is the director of the Institute for Cross-Cultural Training where she works with Christian non-profits and their workers who are learning and teaching languages all around the world. She was an ESL teacher to adults in university settings for over 10 years, specializing in listening, speaking, and pronunciation, and has lived and served in China and Spain. Her doctorate is in Education Policy and her research interests include language policy, multilingual populations, language justice and inclusion, internationalization of higher education, and second language acquisition.

Lonna Dickerson

Dr. Lonna Dickerson is the associate director of online learning and former director of ICCT.  With an M.A. in TESOL and a Ph.D. in second language acquisition, Dr. Dickerson has experience in the fields of phonology, language coaching,  and sociolinguistics. In particular, her professional interests include issues related to pre-field training for Christians who plan to learn new languages and cultures, on-field language and culture learning, and the development of materials for teaching English for Bible and theology.

Plenary 3

What Good Learner Coaching Means in 2021 (Panel)

Hear what five dedicated language and culture learning coaches have to say about what good coaching looks like in 2021.

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