Ryan Wertz and Kathy Shelton, World Language Consultants, Ohio Department of Education

As autumn in Ohio gets underway, we are grateful for everyone’s efforts to keep classrooms up and running as the pandemic continues to challenge our collective ability to educate students. This moment in time continues to present myriad challenges to educators and learners alike.  We admire your perseverance, and we laud your continuing efforts on behalf of your students.  We have heard so many heartwarming stories of success and triumph over adversity these past several months. Recently, we were able to get out and visit a few Ohio schools – our first such visits since Fall 2020.  When you are an educator who no longer works in a classroom setting – or even in an office setting with other educators, visits like these are really good for the soul as they reaffirm all the great things that are happening in world language classes around the state. We are so proud of your recent accomplishments, and we encourage you to keep up the fight on behalf of Ohio’s K-12 learners!

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Alondra Pacheco, Ohio Buckeye AATSP President 

Spanish Teacher, University School, Hunting Valley

AATSP’s 103 Annual Conference this past July in Atlanta was a resounding success. The conference gave educators from the United States a chance to meet and reenergize for the new school year. We look forward to our 104th Annual Conference in Puerto Rico 2022. The conference theme, Valorando nuestras raíces y construyendo nuestro futuro / Valorizando nossas raízes e construindo nosso futuro, encourages us to embrace our roots as we build our future. The deadline to submit a conference proposal is October 15.

The National Spanish Examinations is celebrating student achievement with a special Shout Out. Nominations are accepted for our student spotlight and winners receive a special prize from the NSE office.
National Teach Spanish Week took place Sunday, September 26- Sunday, October 3rd. The purpose of National Teach Spanish Week (NTSW) is to promote the teaching of Spanish as a profession, to call attention to the current Spanish teacher shortage nationwide, and to emphasize the importance of Spanish as a world language. In recognition of National Teach Spanish Week, the AATSP will be giving away free First-Year Memberships. These memberships will be good for the rest of 2021 and all of 2022.

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(Or saving a world language program generally)

Dr. Roger Anderson
Assistant Professor of International Languages & Cultures, Central State University

Last week, Dr. Benjamin Rifkin -professor of Russian at Hofstra University- gave an insightful talk to participants and members of the ACTFL SIG on Less Commonly Taught Languages (LCTL’s).  His points were particularly astute because of his experience as an avid Russian linguist and instructor, as well as an administrator in higher ed previously.  Find his bio here:

The talk was highly informative for LCTL educators in institutions of higher education, but with recent legislative moves to devalue world language education, Ohio educators of all languages- commonly and less commonly taught- should pay attention, in K-12 and higher education alike.  Moreover, the Chronicle of Higher Education and the Modern Language Association reported that 650 world language programs ended in institutions in only three years, between 2013-2016.  These are terrifying numbers. Language programs cannot afford to be low-hanging fruit because low hanging-fruit will get cut.

What follows is a very brief summary of some key points he offered.  Attendees of the ACTFL 2021 Conference will be able to hear Dr. Rifkin speak on these issues and interact with him in a “simulive” session.  He graciously allowed me to summarize some of his points with fellow OFLA members. 

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The Founding of Ohio’s “City of the Gauls”

Dr. Roger Anderson, Central State University, Assistant Professor of International Languages & Cultures

Ohio history is full of neat stories with French connections.  Ohio’s French instructors can draw from this heritage, or at least be aware of how modern Ohio has been influenced by French-speaking peoples.

Gallipolis (pronounced by locals as “ga-la-poh-LEES”) is a village on the Ohio River town with picturesque views and a very unique history.  Even its name, and the name of its county, “Galia,” evoke its French origins (remembering that ‘Gaul’ was the Roman name for France).  It is a story with particular resonance in today’s era of scammers and less-than-honest marketers. 

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Alexis Blum, Spanish Teacher, Minster High School

Welcome back to school, OFLA! It felt like this summer flew by and August came and went before I had the chance to even think about school. If you’re anything like me, the start of this school year seemed to come very quickly and has been fast and furious ever since. The past two school years have had teachers across the country questioning their practices and changing their approach to almost everything in their classrooms. One thing that has kept me grounded in my classroom was establishing and maintaining classroom routines. By setting and maintaining my classroom routine, I also clearly communicate expectations for each student. 

When I talk about classroom routine, I’m talking about the general outline and flow to my lesson. Every day, I greet my students at the door and they must give me a password to come in. The password, usually something related to class but sometimes just for fun, is established every Monday, and they repeat it for the entire week. If I’m not standing at the door, my students wait for me. This routine is established in the first week of school, and my students know that I hold them accountable to this routine. It is also nice because my students hold me accountable to this as well, calling to me if I’m not at the door, or bombarding me with passwords when I do get to the door. This has become such a common practice in my room that older students will shout out old passwords as they walk by in an attempt to help their younger friends or joke with their classmates about knowing (or not knowing!) the password. 

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Teaching for social purposes

Paulina Montaldo, Ursuline High School Spanish teacher.  Youngstown State University Adjunct Faculty

With the celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month, students compare and contrast so many differences among the Spanish-speaking countries. Although they all speak the same language the diversity in the culture only enriches each other by making them so unique and equal at the same time.

The differences between every single Hispanic country and every country around the world can separate us, create controversy or conflict, but at the same time, for us, foreign language teachers can be a valuable tool to create a more just, tolerant, and respectful world.

When our students register in our classes and decide to study a foreign language, most of them due to a requirement, they must leave our classroom with a more open and tolerant mindset that understands that diversity only enriches them and makes them a better person, a citizen of the world.

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While LEP (limited English proficiency) students who lack bilingual programs struggle, native English speakers also miss out. Our students can help repackage and win this decades-long debate, putting the pro-monolingual attitude behind us. 

Katherine O’Keeffe-Swank, Spanish Teacher, Wickliffe High School with Emily Krizner, AP Spanish student

There is no better time than now to promote the undeniable benefits of increasing Bilingual Education programs in public schools: it’s the fifth anniversary of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), and the U.S. Department of Education is holding its ongoing Equity Summit Series. 

Not to mention…the pandemic has accentuated the need.

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María I. Ortiz, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Educator of Spanish, University of Cincinnati


Inquiry-Based Learning was the pedagogical framework integrated to gear students into research, in order to effectively achieve a more sophisticated proficiency level, contextualized within the cultural background of the language as the frame for exploration, inquiry, study, and learning for a Composition and Conversation Intermediate Spanish course. Planning and development of this pedagogical application will be shared on this short paper.

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The Benefits of Bilingual Learning

Hannah Reese, Ecole Kenwood French Immersion Elementary School 

About two-thirds of the people on earth are bilingual. It is common for many children around the world to learn two languages simultaneously. Yet, in the United States, bilingualism is not the norm. For families deciding if bilingual education is right for their child, they must ask some tough questions. They may be wondering, “Will learning two languages put my child behind?” and “How will it impact their future?” Researched extensively in relation to childhood development, bilingualism has been found to benefit children in long-lasting ways. Benefits of bilingualism include heightened linguistic awareness, cognitive flexibility, and improved executive functioning.

To begin, bilingualism is known to heighten linguistic awareness in children. As described by the University of Washington’s Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences (2016), “Learning two languages enhances children’s awareness of the different properties and structures of language. This linguistic awareness also makes learning a third language much easier” (p. 8). Bilingual children are better equipped to process the sounds of multiple languages. Additionally, learning another language alongside English does not slow their rate of English development.  At birth, a baby can differentiate between all 800 sounds of the world’s languages. A monolingual baby begins to lose this ability as they specialize in the 40 or so sounds of their native language. Meanwhile, bilingual babies become specialized in the sounds of both their native languages (Ramirez, 2016, p. 2). Therefore, a child learning two languages at once processes two distinct sets of phonemes simultaneously. In fact, “they have an extended sensitive period… Compared to monolinguals, bilinguals recognize foreign language sounds for longer” (Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences, 2016, p. 7). A bilingual child’s brain becomes wired to comprehend more language sounds and structures than a monolingual child’s brain, heightening their linguistic awareness overall.

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Using Readers in the World Language Classroom

Jessica Rhoades, South-Western City Schools

One of the hardest things about teaching is there is always more. There are always more ideas you could implement, more activities you could add to a unit and more things you could purchase to improve your classroom. As building funds are often limited and rarely stretch to cover our whole teacher wishlists, I am incredibly grateful to have won the OFLA grant this past spring to help me accomplish my more. Here is how I plan to spend the grant money: 

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