Cheryl Johnson, OFLA Immediate Past President
Instructional Technologist for the Dept of Modern Languages, Denison University

We all know incredible world language teachers in our buildings and districts who are instilling in their students a love for languages and cultures different from their own. We may also know individuals who are great supporters of our world languages programs. Please help us to identify and recognize them by nominating these deserving educators and world language advocates for one of the 2022 OFLA Awards!

Each year OFLA seeks nominations in fourteen categories: eleven for OFLA members and three for non-OFLA members. The categories are listed below.

Please see this page for more information, including complete descriptions of award categories, and a nomination form. A nomination letter explaining why your nominee is deserving of the award is due by January 15, 2021.

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Kaleigh Baker, OFLA Executive Vice-President
Spanish Teacher, Butler High School

Kayleigh Baker

With so many schools making the decision to go remote or hybrid last year, many schools that decided to go in-person were very limited in the activities that they could do. In many Spanish classes, that included limitations celebrating and learning about the Day of the Dead.

If you are not familiar, Day of the Dead (or Día de los muertos), in summation, is a celebration of life through the building of altars, the decorating of tombstones/cemeteries, and remembering those that are no longer with us. In our classes, we should scaffold activities to allow both the activities and the information to progress with each level.  

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Beth Hanlon, OFLA Executive Recorder and Editor of The Cardinal
Spanish Teacher, Oberlin High School

We have all had those days when we need something quick, easy, and engaging for our students that requires little to no prep.  Here is a list of some of my “go tos!”  Please note that my descriptions are what I do in my class, which might be a variation of the original idea.  I am providing the source of the original idea for your reference.  

1) The Marker Game (Mis Clases Locas:

Materials needed: markers, list of questions (you can make these up on the spot)

Time needed: 10-20 minutes

This is a great review game!  You can divide your class into two teams to face off against each other, or you can divide them into pairs who only compete against each other.  I prefer the pairs and give them a Post It to keep track of their own points.  Each pair receives a marker that they put on the floor between them.  I read a statement about whatever we are currently working on in class.  If the statement is true, students want to be the first in their pair to grab the marker to earn a point.  If the statement is false, the goal is that students realize this and do not grab the marker.  If someone does grab it for a false statement, they lose a point.

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Marianela Serrano, OFLA Professional Development Chair
Spanish Teacher, Hathaway Brown School

Marianela Serrano

Below is the second part of my conversation with Dr. VanPatten. As I put together this final part of the conversation and after rereading the first part once more, I have gained a newly refreshed perspective for the beginning of this new school year. I hope you do too.

Editor’s Note:  Part 1 of the interview is available here: 

Q: Dr. VanPatten, where do you see the opportunities for the field of Second Language learning rising?

Dr. Bill VanPatten: The one that is always glanced over and missed, is the power they have to influence the nature of the materials they use. I do not think that teachers seize that opportunity.  They are, at best, reactive to what commercial publishers and people who produce materials give them.  Teachers have a lot of power that they do not think they have. They keep getting the same materials they get because those are the ones they ask for. I do not know how to get out of that cycle, but it is a huge opportunity for teachers.  That is to say: “I want different materials than the ones you are giving me.”

Let’s look at the teacher who is bound by grammar. What if that teacher had a set of materials that made sense to her that was not grammar-focused so that she could get her hands on it and go “You know,  I like doing this.” Because she is bound, she needs something to guide her. Maybe she is not the most creative person or has someone looking over her shoulder.  With a new set of materials that she can figure out how to use,  her teaching could be transformed and she can get away from what she did before because she has different materials to work with.

There are opportunities to get different materials from teachers.  That may be something that ACTFL, national organizations like AATSP, or local organizations like OFLA could do better.  They could help teachers get different materials and help them band together to push on publishers to get different materials.

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My Search for Cultural Content

Lisa Howie, OFLA Executive Treasurer
Spanish Teacher, Smithville High School

As the newly elected treasurer of OFLA, I thought I would be required to submit an article about finances and I thought, ¡Qué aburrido! So I decided to talk to you about something that has been consuming me the last few years. Disclaimer: I do not work for nor am I receiving any remuneration from the publisher.

About six years ago, after having used the same TPRS materials for more than 10 years, I was kind of bored and wanted a change, for myself! I began looking for new CI materials, and I wanted something that included real cultural content and authentic materials. I looked around for a while until one day I saw an intriguing ad from Teacher’s Discovery in my inbox.

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Kirsten Halling, OFLA Public Relations and Advocacy Chair
Professor/Chair, Wright State University

World language teachers can easily recite the multitude of personal and professional benefits of language learning – stronger communication skills, better understanding of English grammar and syntax, the ability to think on your toes and creatively work within the constraints of limited vocabulary, heightened cultural awareness, improved memory function and brain flexibility, robust problem-solving skills, and the list goes on.

But can learning a language save your life? Of course, if you’re stuck in a foreign country and you need to communicate to eat and find shelter, knowing another language augments your chances for surviving and thriving. But what of those junior high and high school students who haven’t yet gone abroad? Can language learning help them navigate the tender years of self-discovery and doubt? Can learning about new cultures and different ways of thinking be a beacon of light in the darkness? For some children, the answer is clear, as evidenced by the following testimony from an Ohio French teacher. 

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Julia Thomas, OFLA Early Language Learning Chair
Spanish Teacher, Oberlin City School

One thing that a parent commented on last year during online teaching was how I taught my kindergarten students examples of respect and how to treat each other only using Spanish. The parent said that as their student watched me on screen and listened to me say things like, “Is it respectful to talk while the teacher talks?” and, “Is raising your hand respectful?” they could understand what I was saying and saw students respond positively, showing that they understood. 

That comment really stuck with me as I continued on through the year. The fact that, even over the Zoom platform, students could see, understand, and interact, was very encouraging to me. 

I want my students to love learning and to enjoy Spanish class. More than that, I want them to be kind, considerate, empathetic humans; therefore, I try to instill in my students the idea that they are kind and respectful, that they can make smart choices, and that they are cared for.

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Megan Brady, OFLA Beginning Teacher Committee Chair
Spanish Teacher, Northwest Local Schools

The OFLA Beginning Teacher Committee is working hard to connect with new teachers and to support them in becoming excellent, innovative, resourceful, and long-lasting world language teachers. Our goal is to provide a network of resources, strategies, and tools for new teachers. We want new teachers to know that they are not alone, and that OFLA is here to help them. To this end, we will be interviewing new teachers throughout the year and highlighting them in The Cardinal. Jamey Howie is a Spanish teacher at Canton Central Catholic High School in Canton, Ohio. This is his third year teaching Spanish.

  1. What is your favorite thing about being a teacher?

My favorite thing about being a teacher and a coach is building relationships with the students and seeing them grow as students and people. I really enjoy helping students build the confidence to try something they haven’t done before in the classroom and on the court, supporting them when they fall short, and celebrating with them when they do eventually succeed.

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As remote learning ends, classroom technology is here to stay!

Lauren Racela, OFLA Technology Integration Committee Chair
French Teacher, Milford High School 

As we jump into a new school year, many of us are grateful to be back in a face-to-face school environment. After a variety of different remote and hybrid environments, many teachers are reflecting on a few of their favorite technology pieces from last school year that they can keep in their plans for this year. For this article, I consulted with the members of the Technology Integration Committee to compile a list of technology supports we are carrying over from last year into this school year. 

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New Program Provides Continuation of Immersion Pathway

Marcia Davis, OFLA Secondary Language Learning Chair
World Language Middle School, Columbus City Schools

On August 26, 2021, Columbus City Schools welcomed 325 students to World Language Middle School or WLMS, as this brand new language school opened in the freshly renovated former Dominion Middle School building in Clintonville.

Guided by the principles of academic rigor and inclusivity, WLMS continues and enriches the immersion pathway by bringing together a multilingual community of leaders. Our global educational environment will advance knowledge, critical thinking, and cultural awareness in all students.

This brand-new program is affectionately known as THE MOVEMENT! Our goal is to continue and enrich the immersion pathway through which students from our feeder elementary schools, Columbus Spanish Immersion Academy, Ecole Kenwood French Immersion Academy, and our English language learner newcomers from Columbus Global Academy, can continue to learn and grow as we advance knowledge, critical thinking, and cultural awareness in all students as we build a multilingual community of leaders.

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