Fulbright-Hayes Group Project Colombia

A Study In Travel And Virtual Exchange

Kelli Repphun
8th Grade Spanish Teacher, Jackson Local Schools

This past year, I participated in a Fulbright-Hays Group Project where myself, along with other area teachers and aspiring Spanish teachers, completed pre- and post-departure seminars surrounding a four-week trip abroad to Cali, Colombia. The purpose of this project was to foster our Spanish language proficiency, increase cultural awareness and knowledge of Colombian culture and intercultural competence, while examining social justice issues through virtual exchange sessions with Colombian teachers before traveling abroad. Once we returned, we continued to meet virtually with our coordinating Colombian teachers, completed follow-up assessments, and created a dissemination plan. In all, we embarked on this project to foster relationships to facilitate virtual exchange sessions for our Spanish students,which allows me to share this experience with you. 

As world language teachers know, traveling abroad can open a student’s eyes to a world they never knew existed while immersed in the language and culture. But what if traveling abroad is not a feasible option? Not only does travel abroad promote authentic language learning, but travel provides opportunities for educators to enhance teaching practices by providing first-hand accounts of what it is like to experience another’s culture as well as creating space to look inward and reflect on one’s own culture. Unfortunately, traveling is expensive and not always feasible for our students. Knowing this, my colleagues and I focused our time in Colombia combating these barriers by forming relationships with educators in both public and private institutions residing in the city of Cali, Colombia during our four-week experience. During each school visit, we met with administrators, educators, and students teaching and studying the English language at different skill levels and grades. It turns out, they, too, are interested in providing real-world opportunities for students to interact in the target language with native speakers. Thus virtual exchanges were born. 

So what do these virtual exchanges look like?

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Language Advocacy – Reconnecting with Goals and Partners to Recharge Our Advocacy

Kathleen Stein Smith, Fairleigh Dickinson University, Metropolitan Campus 


The COVID pandemic disrupted education and learning at all levels, impacting students everywhere. In addition, already-existing challenges to language learning have only become worse. Advocacy is needed more than ever before, and we can all be advocates individually and through our professional associations.  We need to reconnect with advocacy and with potential partners in our schools, our communities, and beyond, and to re-envision the advocacy goal of expanding access to languages for all interested students. Framed by our communities and our goals, we need to recharge our strategies and methods with the newest data and technologies to empower all our students with the skills needed in an increasingly multilingual society and world. This article is based on the author’s session at the OFLA 2022 conference.

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My Daily Pedagogical Practice

Debbie Varga, Spanish Teacher
Revere Local Schools

Within the last five years or so, I brainstormed a mind map of what areas I should target for my unit and daily lesson planning. I named what I came up with “My Daily Pedagogical Practice”.  I include ten sub-topics: 

  1. global connections,
  2. scaffolded #authres (authentic resource/s),
  3. daily blended mini-lessons (small-group instruction in a station format),
  4. question/answer layering in the AAPPL format (more than one question asked at a time, for example at the novice level: ¿Cuántos años tienes? ¿Cuándo es tu cumpleaños?),
  5. literacy and input-enhancement,
  6. 3Ps (products, practices, perspectives),
  7. 3 modes of communication (interpretive, interpersonal, presentational),
  8. culture leads, grammar and vocabulary in context (content-based instruction),
  9. AP themes (at a preAP level), and
  10. interculturality.  
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Letter from the President

Mark W. Himmelein, OFLA President
Professor of German, University of Mount Union

Although we are already several weeks into the new school year, allow me to welcome all OFLA members back and to extend my best wishes for this academic year to each of you! By now I suspect that most of us are well into the swing of teaching our classes, grading, advising our language clubs, and attending meetings. The relaxing days of last summer seem like a distant memory to me, and the holiday break in December is just too far off to even imagine. But we are language educators, and we persevere. Let’s make this new school year a productive one for ourselves, for our students, and for OFLA!

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OFLA / CSCTFL Joint Conference: March 9 – 11, 2023

For more information, head to www.csctfl.org!

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Would You Like to be a Part of OFLA?

Kaleigh Baker, OFLA President Elect
Spanish Teacher, Butler High School

Kayleigh Baker

Being a member of OFLA has been a fantastic experience for me and I am so glad that I took the leap to be more involved. Joining the OFLA board is a wonderful opportunity to build relationships with others in the profession and stay up to date with what is happening throughout the state and country!

I am working on the slate for the 2023 election, but wanted to share what positions are available. If you are interested in running or want to join a committee, please do not hesitate to reach out! We would love to have you!

Once the slate is completed, we will publish information about the candidates. Voting will be open to every Professional member of the organization. 

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Megan Brady

Megan Brady, OFLA Executive Vice President
Spanish Teacher, Northwest High School

With more and more newcomers in the US, it seems that our schools are seeing more and more English Language Learners (ELLs) than ever before. In many districts, there is no support readily available, and therefore the administration is relying heavily on world language teachers to fill in some of the missing gaps. While we are already typically bombarded with a full schedule (many of us having 3+ preps), naturally most of us want to help. But, what are we supposed to do? Where do we even begin?

I want to share a few tips that I have given my district administration to pass on to the teachers who are working with ELLs. While everyone’s situation is different, I think it is important to remember a few of these things which will prove to be fairly universal across different countries/populations. I am passing them on to my fellow world language teachers in hopes of lightening your load, while giving valuable feedback to offer fellow colleagues and administration who may be needing some insight. While this information may seem obvious to us, it is often not to our colleagues who don’t have much experience outside the US or with students coming from abroad.

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News from the Treasurer’s Office

Lisa Howie, OFLA Executive Treasurer 
Spanish Teacher, Smithville High School

I thought I would take this opportunity to update you on what has been happening in the Treasurer’s office. When I took over the position last Julyl I had some specific goals. While it has taken me longer than I thought it would, I have accomplished several of those goals.

A big shout out to Lucas Hoffman, the former treasurer, for training me and preparing me for this position. I still call and text him regularly for help. As we were working towards a smooth transition several needs came to the forefront.

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Do You Write & Discuss?

How I love and use this teaching strategy!

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

Write & Discuss is one of my favorite teaching strategies that I never tire of and I am always looking for new approaches to.  Do you Write & Discuss?  You should give it a try!

What is Write & Discuss (W&D)?

In a nutshell, W&D is a summary co-constructed between a teacher and students in the target language about content from class.  The teacher leads the discussion by asking questions and clarifying student responses while simultaneously writing the summary on the board, in a Google Doc, etc., for the class based on student responses.  

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Advocacy as an Act of Interpersonal Communication and Social Justice

Milton Alan Turner, OFLA Editor of Electronic Media
French and Spanish Teacher, Saint Ignatius High School

Starting in September, ACTFL and the Joint National Committee for Languages-National Council for Language and International Studies (JNCL-NCLIS) co-sponsored the Articulating Change webinar series. Each of the four webinars will focus on one aspect of communication as an act of advocacy. I was honored to participate in the first webinar of the series as the featured educator on Advocacy as an Act of Interpersonal Communication. I spoke about the intersection of interpersonal communication and social justice and how we can incorporate principles of social justice in our interpersonal communicative tasks at all proficiency levels.

As opposed to Presentational Communication where one is talking to or at someone else, Interpersonal Communication is talking with someone else. Interpersonal Communication requires 1) listening to one another, 2) negotiating and interpreting meaning, and 3) arriving at an understanding. Interpersonal Communication: 

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