Salem State Well Represented at MaFLA’s Annual Conference
By Kristen Artinano, MAT/Spanish graduate
The Massachusetts Foreign Language Association held its 44th Annual Conference at the Sturbridge Host Hotel and Conference Center from October 27 to 29, 2011. Lisa Lilly, 2010 ACTFL Teacher of the year, kicked off the conference with her exhilarating opening session, Accentuate the Positive: Celebrate Language Teaching. It was a powerful message about spreading the word about foreign language learning within your classroom, district and beyond. Conference participants were free to choose from more than 100 sessions and workshops that piqued their interest and helped to meet their professional development needs. This year’s conference theme, “Languages Connect the World,” was one that inspired and re-energized all in attendance.
The conference drew nearly 900 language professionals from across the region, among them a host of professors as well as past and present MAT/Spanish students, many of whom presented at the conference. Dr. Nicole Sherf presented four sessions at the conference. She organized a double session panel for department chairs on Friday morning called Languages Connect the World and Chairs Connect Departments. She gave a session Friday afternoon with a friend, Daniel Bouvier of Monument Mountain Regional High School, called Advocacy Tools for Developing and Maintaining an Elementary Foreign Language Program and a final session on Saturday morning with MaFLA Past President and Salem State Lecturer Dr. Kathy Lopez Natale called Negotiating the Licensure Process.
Friday morning’s concurrent session offerings included a session by SalemState’s Dr. Fátima Serra along with MAT grads Mary Giordano, Katie Lyons and Alison Carigan presented a session entitled Oral Proficiency and Culture in the Spanish Classroom. Their presentation focused on how to use authentic resources to engage students when studying culture and diversity in the Spanish speaking world as well as how to provide strategies to increase students’ oral proficiency. The session was an overwhelming success and Dr. Serra shared, “our presentation was very well attended and we engaged the audience in a very dynamic discussion that continued even after the presentation concluded.”
Friday afternoon’s workshops and concurrent sessions also featured familiar faces from Salem State. Dr. Kenneth Reeds offered Cartoons and Art: Linking Language Students to a Larger World, a two-part workshop dealing with today’s need to address students of diverse backgrounds in the Spanish language classroom. Dr. Kristine Doll and grads Jennifer Quigly, Alba Santana, and Christina Berry presented recent research in the fields of culture, language acquisition and technology during their Friday afternoon session. Conference attendees had the opportunity to learn how to incorporate music into their language teaching at Dr. Jon Aske’s Friday afternoon session. Dr. Aske gave examples of level and language appropriate lyrics and technological tips on how to download songs and videos for easy classroom use. Also, on Saturday morning, MAT in Spanish graduate Sara Sansoucy presented a session called Connecting Upperclassmen to the Spanish Language Curriculum through Spanish Film centered on the curricular materials for an interesting cinema focused-class she created at Hamilton Wenham High School. Also on Saturday, Dr. Aske gave a second presentation on the use of English-Spanish cognates to promote language learning.
The exhibit hall drew large crowds as many took the time in between sessions to peruse the many high quality vendors in attendance. A particularly popular spot in the exhibit hall was the MaFLA Advocacy Booth. Former MaFLA President and Salem State Associate Professor, Dr. Nicole Sherf, served as the Advocacy Chair of the conference team and grads Christina Berry and Kristen Artinano worked with her as this year’s Advocacy interns to run the Advocacy Booth in the exhibit hall throughout the conference. The main goal of the Advocacy booth is to provide information to conference attendees about what they can do in their classroom, their school, their district and their communities to raise awareness of the importance of foreign language education and the necessity to solidify and develop strong language programs in our nation’s schools.
Languages do connect the world and Salem State’s MAT/Spanish teachers and grads helped to promote this important message through their attendance, their presentations and their advocacy. Stay tuned for information about next year’s conference with the new theme; “Foreign Languages: Our Global Lens.”
All the presentations given by Salem State University faculty and students are listed here: http://www.salemstate.edu/academics/schools/19247.php