Finding Local Opportunities for Students to Broaden their Worldview and Create Empathy

Why it is Important to Leave the Classroom and Learn Through Interactions

Meredith Blackmore, Sycamore High School

To quote a student of mine:

“It is one thing to learn about immigration in textbooks and read about statistics and numbers that accompany the ever prevalent issue. However, to understand that a personal story goes with each and every individual who tries to come to the United States completely changes one’s perspective. I am more interested in learning about the people and their lives than numbers and facts that go right over my head. When you talk to someone about what they have experienced, it makes everything you have learned so much more real.”

This reflection demonstrates how a unit idea to promote communicative and cultural competency evolved into an extraordinary lesson in empathy. Continue reading

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AATF Ohio Updates

Nicole Hanlon, AATF Representative

Bonne rentrée à tout le monde! Fall is in the air and that means the time is quickly approaching for our annual French Immersion Weekend at Mohican State Park! This year’s weekend will take place October 27-29 at Mohican. Join us for French cuisine, hiking, relaxation, and networking. Attending the event will also get you a few CEU hours for licensure. For more information, check out the page at the AATF-Ohio website:

Also, Ohio French teachers should take a look at the new collaborative spaces sponsored by AATF National! Visit the AATF wiki at or the IEProfs USA site for access to French resources and ideas!

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Staying One Step Ahead: Becoming A Proficient 21st Century World Language Teacher

Debbie Varga, OFLA Public Relations and Advocacy Chair

I have been reflecting quite a bit this school year on what an effective 21st-century world language teacher entails. Many things keep crossing my mind: the use of technology, student engagement and focus, global citizenship, and authentic formative assessment. I have come to the realization that what I did 20+ years ago does not work for today’s students. I constantly need to keep one step ahead so that my class can be a place for meaningful learning. Here are my reflections on some challenges and small victories that will hopefully lead to big outcomes. Continue reading

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Beginning of the Year Advice and Resources for New Teachers

Nicole Hanlon, OFLA Beginning Teachers’ Chair

The start of a new year is always full of feeling: excitement, nerves, anxiety, and motivation – and sometimes just a feeling of being plain overwhelmed. As a newish teacher myself (this is Year 4), I still very much remember the stress and confusion I felt during my first year as I was learning to navigate the classroom and all of its responsibilities. In an effort to help those who are also entering the profession, here are some resources and tips that really helped me to get through the first few years (and can even help veteran teachers as well!) Continue reading

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Student Travel is Advocacy in Action!

Lisa Sobb, OFLA Secondary Language Learning Committee Chair
Spanish Teacher, Sylvania Schools

To me, nothing can compare to the look on students’ faces when they use their language for the first time with a native speaker and are understood. It’s like a whole new world has opened when they realize that what we’re learning in class isn’t just some secret code that I’ve made up; it’s a real language that real people use to communicate! Many teachers bring guest speakers to our classrooms for a day to interact with students, but have you ever considered going a step further and taking students abroad? Continue reading

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Revisiting Vygotsky: TPRS in the Primary Grades

Jonathan Harris, Executive Recorder and Editor of the Cardinal
Spanish Teacher, St. Gabriel Consolidated School, Cincinnati

As a teacher of younger learners, I am on the lookout for research and theories to assist me in the classroom. Sometimes, this involves learning and/or re-learning something from long ago. As a teacher that uses TPR (Total Physical Response), and in re-visiting why I use this method, I found these two quotes. “The TPR (Total Physical Response) teaching method is a continuous application of Vygotsky’s Scaffolding Strategy, which is defined as the teacher demonstrating the meaning of the new word and gradually withdrawing assistance as the new word is learned (Cantoni 1999:54).” Lev Vygotsky developed this strategy and it relates to his concept of the zone of proximal development, defined as “The distance between the actual developmental level as determined by independent problem solving and the level of potential development as determined through problem solving under adult guidance or in collaboration with more capable peers (Vygotsky 1978:84).” Continue reading

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