Remembering to Take Care of Ourselves

An Open Letter to Ohio World Language Teachers

Maureen Gerber, OFLA Secondary Language Learning Committee Chair
French Teacher, World Language Department Head, Perrysburg High School

Dear Colleagues,

One thing that has struck me as I’ve begun school in our hybrid model this year is my students.

The students are incredible. They are eager. They are driven. They are grateful. And for the first time in my career, I see a true appreciation that they have for their teachers.

One student says “Thank you” after every class.

And so, as we navigate fall here in Ohio, whether our situation is full-time in-person learning, hybrid learning, or fully remote, I’m hoping that we can all take a moment to remember what makes our jobs so wonderful. That is, of course, our connection with our kids.

It has been and continues to be a tough time. Here are some ideas for self-care, more critical than ever in this unprecedented time.  

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Integrating Social Media into the Classroom

Kayleigh Baker

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

With so many schools making the decision to go remote, hybrid, or just hoping to stay open for a bit of time, it is necessary to find new and innovative ways to connect to our students. One such way is through the use of social media.

When we use social media in our daily lessons and make it a part of our units and curriculum, we are able to greatly enhance the teaching and learning that takes place while also building relationships with our students. We can streamline and facilitate the submission of assignments and assessments, and we are not wasting paper because it is all digital and we can grade it almost anywhere with internet access. We can also give immediate feedback via a video, tweet, or emoji. For assessments, a quick formative one is possible using Twitter for an exit ticket, or a summative one created around a fake Facebook profile. We can also keep in better touch with the parents & community of our district by posting weekly or daily updates on a professional account.

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Beginning Teachers


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

Megan Tussing, French Teacher

The OFLA Beginning Teacher Committee is working hard to connect with new teachers and to support them to become 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. Megan Tussing is a French teacher at Teays Valley High School in Ashville, Ohio. This is her first year teaching French.

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Around the State

Ryan Wertz

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

ODE/OFLA Summer Series of Virtual Meetups: “Let’s Get Ready for Fall”

The Ohio Department of Education collaborated with the Ohio Foreign Language Association from June 23 through August 5 to bring Ohio language educators a total of 15 professional learning opportunities to help prepare for the evolution to remote and hybrid learning this fall.  Almost 2000 educators took part in the series.  All materials, video recordings and transcripts of chatbox conversations can be found here. We will continue virtual meetups again beginning in October, once teachers have had a chance to settle into the new way of teaching.

The department also hosted a three-day learning series for all content areas, titled “Teaching in Times of Uncertainty”, which provided additional opportunities for professional learning for general education as well as world language-specific topics.

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AATSP Updates for Fall 2020

Jonathan Harris, Ohio Buckeye AATSP President
Spanish Teacher, St. Gabriel Consolidated School, Cincinnati

The Ohio Buckeye Chapter of the American Association for the Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese (AATSP) reports the following announcements for Fall 2020.

September 30 is National Teach Spanish Day. This year marks the second anniversary of AATSP’s celebration of this day. According to the press release provided by the National AATSP organization, “The purpose of National Teach Spanish Day 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. The AATSP encourages all Spanish teachers and American citizens to recognize the positive impact of Spanish language education in our country, to thank those who teach, and to find new ways to support multilingualism and multiculturalism in the United States of America.” Further information about activities involving National Teach Spanish Day can be found at

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Digital Challenges for English Learners

Derek Braun, TESOL/OFLA Liaison
Columbus City Schools, EL Science Teacher

As many districts have moved to remote learning or hybrid instruction, the challenges that existed for many English Learners have become even more significant and the disparity of access to education has become even greater.  English Learners often come from families of lower socioeconomic status that lead to experiencing additional challenges.  English learners often have a disproportionately more difficult time with access; either from lacking an adequate device or internet access, an appropriate space at home to study, and potentially suffering from the economic hardship of a family member losing a job. Continue reading

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Can I Teach a Foreign Language in the Online Environment?

Brian Hunter, University of Cincinnati Blue Ash College, Assistant Professor of Spanish
Sheri K. Barksdale, University of Cincinnati Blue Ash College, Assistant Professor of American Sign Language

Teaching a foreign language in an online environment is not an easy task. Language acquisition requires interaction, which is awkward at best in the world of Zoom learning. Most of us were in a traditional face-to-face learning environment before scrambling to remote teaching and learning mid-spring semester 2020. We eventually had to develop online distance delivered courses in either the synchronous or asynchronous formats.  Teachers had to make decisions and transitions quickly and efficiently. Below is a discussion of two approaches for remote teaching.  During the summer and fall 2020 semesters, one instructor taught American Sign Language (ASL) completely synchronously, then moved to a combination of synchronous and asynchronous, while the other taught Spanish courses completely asynchronously. 

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A Foreign Language: A Degree You Can Own in High School

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

The phone in the newsroom of the television station rang, it was an informant from the airport. Mick Jagger had arrived in the country incognito and, we had the news. The editor-in-chief did not think twice and gave the order to go immediately to the Mariscal Sucre airport in the city of Quito, Ecuador, and follow the famous singer’s trail. In the room, there was only one person who could carry out that mission, ME!

That was one of the many adventures that speaking English gave me, and it is well worth saying that this was not my profession or my university career. I was, I am, a journalist, who had learned English in school, and then perfected during a student exchange in Pennsylvania, my senior year in high school.

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Tips for Accessing Native Speakers At Our Fingertips

Lauren Racela, French Teacher
Milford Junior High School, Milford, Ohio

As many of us are learning, there are plenty of online resources for world language teachers. Sometimes, the key is actually paring down these resources to find the important ones that we can use. We also know that it’s crucial to provide our students with access to authentic resources, which is any text created by native speakers for native speakers. 

I teach French 1 to 8th graders and in my classroom, I show students as many native speakers as I can. This is critical because it’s a chance for students to hear diverse voices. I want my students to hear a variety of accents, nationalities, genders, and ages represented in their experience of French speakers. If their only experience of spoken French comes from me, a non-native speaker, then I’ve failed them. I want my students to understand that many types of people in the world speak French because it helps them grasp the diversity in this beautiful language. 

There are endless online authentic resources available in all world languages. There have been hundreds more uploaded in the time it took you to read this sentence. These resources come in the form of text posts, pictures, videos, and more. Where can we find them? On social media! 

For those of us who are not tech-savvy or who do not use social media, this may seem like a daunting task. It certainly does take some time to sift through and find quality authentic resources on social media. However, it’s worthwhile because these are small, digestible, high-motivation texts that are created to be eye-catching to our students’ generation. 

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Around the State

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


Thank You for a Job Done Extraordinarily Well during a Time of Great Adversity

The Ohio Department of Education would like to recognize the outstanding efforts of world language educators around the Buckeye State who have been working very hard to overcome tremendous challenges to provide their students with opportunities to continue learning and maintain their proficiency gains. Seemingly overnight, you have transformed yourselves from classroom teachers into blended learning facilitators, embracing new practices and technologies along the way with determination and grit. We are truly in awe of the amazing accomplishments you have made in just a short time, and when we proudly boast that Ohio has some of the best and the brightest our profession has to offer, we truly mean it! Thank you for your outstanding efforts in the face of tremendous uncertainty and challenge! Your students and their families are so very lucky to have you in their corner! Continue reading

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