World Language Teachers’ Path to Proficiency

Dina Marsala, OFLA Editor of Electronic Media

We often talk so much about where our students are on their respective path to proficiency that we tend to forget that we are also following our own paths. No two teachers’ paths will be the same, just as no two students paths are the same. Sometimes our paths are aided by “mechanics” along the way and sometimes our paths are given detours and roadblocks. Some of us have jumped into a sports car and are at the head of the path, while others are content taking the scenic route by foot. Some are in the car making our way along only to run out of gas! No way is right or wrong as long as we are on this path together.

Here is how I see our path. Novice Low is the person that says “Sure I’ve seen it.” This person knows that something more exists but isn’t quite ready to take the path. This person needs our encouragement. Novice Mid is the person that can throw out buzzwords. They are getting excited about taking the trip but don’t necessarily know where to start or what to pack. They need you to be their “mechanic” and support them. Novice High is the person that says “I know what those buzz words mean!” This person has gone home and researched a little bit and is now intrigued on how to incorporate what they see. They are packed and ready to go.

Our Intermediate people are those who are currently working with proficiency. Intermediate Low people can see how they can apply new ideas to their classroom. They are the people who are asking questions in groups and seeking out workshops. These people are nervous to unpack and stay. Intermediate Mid people are making changes to incorporate new ideas into their lessons. They are changing the way they teach and finding success. They have decided to unpack that suitcase! Intermediate High is the person whose lessons are becoming more authentic and proficiency based. They are the people that others are beginning to turn to for advice. Our Intermediate High members are staying put.

Our Advanced group has driven straight down the path and are now helping others to follow their own path by offering workshops and training sessions. Our advanced group sometimes worries that they are on their own even though they have seen success with their students.

I invite you to be the “mechanics” of this organization. Each level needs a support system and each person has something to offer. Remember that any move that you can make along the Path to Proficiency will help the students of Ohio. Offer the encouragement to fellow members; answer their questions on the Facebook page or Google Listserv; attend workshops and conferences; share what you know and apply to present; but most of all, when you see fellow member on the side of the path, reach out and offer a hand.