Message from the President


Cheryl Johnson, OFLA President 2020-2021
Instructional Technologist for the Dept. of Modern Languages, Denison University

I would like to thank everyone who helped to make the 2021 OFLA Mini-Conference on April 23 and 24 a great success. We could not have done it without our fabulous presenters and all of our volunteers. They all deserve a HUGE thank you! And finally, thank you to all of you who attended the event! We really enjoyed seeing all of you online and sharing ideas with you.

Congratulations go to our raffle winners. Na Li and InSook Kim each won a 1-year unlimited teacher subscription to Voces Digital and can add an unlimited number of students to use the online platform as well. Elizabeth Blosser and Hui Chen each won 10 conversation credits (1 credit is good for 15 minutes of conversation) to Boomalang. I wish to thank these 2 vendors for providing us with these raffle items.

If you missed the event, you can register to get access to the video recordings of the presentations until May 31. After watching the recorded sessions you can request a contact hours certificate for your professional development.  Here is the link for registration: Happy watching 🙂

Finally I wish all of you a summer that will allow you to rest and recharge. You greatly deserve the down time.

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The National Museum of Language, Have You Heard of It?

Lesley Chapman

Lesley Chapman, OFLA Immediate Past President
French Teacher, Sycamore Community Schools

If you are anything like me, you were not aware that there is a museum dedicated to the appreciation of the world’s languages, their beauty, and what makes them unique. The idea for such a museum originated in College Park, MD, in 1971, when Dr. Amelia C. Murdoch helped organize a public language exhibit, sponsored by the National Security Agency (NSA). Dr. Murdoch’s dream was to eventually create a stand-alone museum dedicated to languages. By 1997, this idea grew into the National Museum of Language (NML), and a brick-and-mortar museum took shape in 2008. The NML went on to host exhibits celebrating language diversity, such as “Writing Language: Passing it On” and “ Emerging American Language in 1812.” 

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Why Does Your OFLA Membership Matter?

Lucas Hoffman, OFLA Executive Treasurer
French/Spanish Teacher, Sylvania High School

There are many reasons to join a non-profit organization, be they to connect with other like-minded professionals, to support other colleagues, or to advance the profession.  

During this past year, your membership dues have been just as important as ever.  Even though the way we connect as colleagues may look very different from a few years ago, OFLA still has the task of advocating for our profession at the local, state, and national levels.  Together, as an organization, OFLA has the network and the funding to make a larger impact that individual teachers likely can.  

So how does OFLA help advocate for our profession? Along with the very familiar opportunities to advocate for better world language teaching and learning (like our annual conference which should return next year!), OFLA has several other projects.  Do you know about any of them?

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Meet The Cardinal Editing Team!

The Faces Behind OFLA’s Newsletter

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

OFLA’s newsletter, The Cardinal, is published in the fall, winter, and spring of each school year.  The issues of the newsletter would not be possible without the behind-the-scenes dedication and hard work of the editing team.  They painstakingly comb through all of the articles in search of grammatical and spelling errors and to ensure the “flow” of the articles.

I would like to take this opportunity to spotlight them!  

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Putting Language in Context

Milton Alan Turner, OFLA Editor for Electronic Media
French Teacher, Saint Ignatius High School

As language teachers, we often emphasize the forms of a language (sounds and structures or vocabulary and grammar) or the meaning of words. However, the context in which these words and structures are used are often the key to correctly interpreting the meaning of utterances.  Pragmatics, which is the linguistic science of studying language in context and paying attention to who says what to whom and in which context, is a critical aspect of language instruction.

Words and sentences take on different meanings depending on who says them and why. State Farm Insurance several years ago created a series of commercials demonstrating the importance of context. These commercials featured two people using the exact same words in different contexts which as a result had entirely different meanings. You can watch one of these commercials, Jacked Up, on YouTube at  

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Professional Development


Marianela Serrano
Marianela Serrano

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

It is a wonderful and warm Monday here in Ohio, and I have the pleasure and honor to interview one of my heroes in the field of Second Language Acquisition, Dr. Bill VanPatten.

Dr. VanPatten is now a talented fiction writer who also spent several years in academia and in the classroom teaching a second language. Most recently he was a Professor of Spanish and Second Language Acquisition at Michigan State University.  He also taught and researched at the University of Illinois at both the Chicago and Urbana-Champaign campuses, as well as at Texas Tech. Dr. VanPatten focused on the expanding of SLA and developing the theory of Input Processing, which also led to substantial work in both processing itself and in processing instruction. He is a pioneer in his field and continues to educate about the importance of Second Language Acquisition to educators.

In our conversation, I asked him about the future of language teachers. His responses gave me much to ponder about as we begin to move forward into a more hybrid world.

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Moving Forward in Advocacy

Angela Gardner, OFLA Public Relations and Advocacy Chair
Spanish Teacher, Ross High School

The theme of our mini-conference this year was “Moving forward,” and it seems fitting in timing for our membership and organization. In order to move forward, we must look ahead and into the future, anticipating the changes we hope to initiate, as well as the challenges and barriers that we may have to face. 

During the conference, Milton Alan Turner shared a video as a part of his presentation on social justice that asked us to consider not the how, but the why, we should take action. In the video, a speaker prompts an audience member to sing “Amazing grace,” and he does so, beautifully. But then, the speaker provides a context–a reason why the singer might be performing the song and asks him to sing it again, and the performance goes from beautiful to turning into a moving, emotional experience. 

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Keeping Up with the Times

Julia Thomas, OFLA Early Language Chair
Spanish Teacher, Oberlin City Schools

When I was in elementary school, I would ask my mom to let me use her iMac so that I could play JumpStart games that came on a CD-ROM. Twenty years later, I see my elementary school students ask to watch these 15-60 second videos coupled with a pop song on a telephone that gets its signal from outer space! Yes, I am talking about the famous TikTok. Maybe you cringe or maybe you smile at the mention. I myself had said that I would never get on TikTok and that it was just one more social media platform that I did not need. Then came pandemic teaching. 

It started one day while I was teaching a virtual lesson about food to first graders. The lesson went wonderfully; students were engaged, producing in the target language, and they absolutely adored the “food song” that I always introduce when we discover how to say “I like” and “I don’t like”. But at the end of the class, a student who had been rather quiet throughout the lesson started singing, “Chicken wing, chicken wing, hot dog and baloney” and then about three more students joined her chorus, singing “Chicken and macaroni–chillin’ with my homies”. After the class ended, my student teaching assistant (a college student who is much more knowledgeable about trends) informed me that they were singing an extremely popular TikTok song and wondered how we could incorporate their interest in TikTok into the next class. She had noted that another student was wearing a TikTok sweatshirt and was dancing as the song was being sung. I honestly had no clue of what to do next. As we all have been or maybe still are, I was exhausted and burnt out. There were no creative juices flowing. Thankfully, I work with a group of college students who had a plethora of ideas, the most obvious of which being, “Let’s make our own TikToks in Spanish!” 

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2021 OFLA Teachers Grant Recipient

Na Li, OFLA Scholarship Committee Chair
Chinese Teacher, Columbus Academy

Jessica Rhoades

Congratulations to Jessica Rhoades for being chosen as the recipient of the 2021 OFLA Teachers Grant! Jessica Rhoades is a Spanish teacher at Central Crossing High School in the District of South-Western City Schools. She will use the grant to purchase Spanish readers to further improve her students’ reading skills. We look forward to her sharing her experience in an upcoming edition of the Cardinal and at a future OFLA conference. 

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End of School Year Engagement

Kayleigh Baker

Kaleigh Baker, OFLA Technology Integration Chair
Spanish Teacher, Butler High School

We have almost crossed the finish line in what has proven to be a marathon of a school year. Across the state, schools have been through a variety of plans to continue educating our students. If you returned to in-person learning, you might still be getting to know your students. If you are still remote or hybrid, you are probably a pro at Zoom and digital activities. As the end of the year approaches, no matter what plan you are teaching under, you need to start considering how to wrap up the school year.

At the end of April, I attended the OFLA Mini-Conference and it was inspiring and invigorating. Listening to fellow educators share their experiences and plans as well as Laura Terrill’s keynote speech got me thinking about how to wrap up and end this wild ride of a school year. In my lower-level classes, I decided on the future tense, and in my upper levels, I chose a travel unit for my Spanish 3’s and an autobiography for my Spanish 4/AP students. These units are fun and engaging and will set me up for success in the fall because I can pick up where I left off!

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