The Massachusetts Foreign Language Association (MaFLA) held its 2019 Core Practices Institute at the Fenway Campus this past Friday and Saturday (March 15-16, 2019). Dr. Catherine Ritz, who directs Wheelock’s program in Modern Foreign Language Education, has been involved with the MaFLA for the past nine years, and she was instrumental in bringing the event to Boston University. This is the second year the the Core Practices Institute was hosted at BU, which is when Ritz joined the faculty.
“I think it’s really been a nice way to provide a service to foreign language teachers in and around the Boston area” says Ritz. The Institute drew 120 attendees on Friday and another 80 on Saturday. The event was open to foreign language teachers of any language; attendees included teachers of French, Spanish, German, Mandarin, Italian, Arabic, and several others. The event also attracted faculty from BU College of Arts of Sciences’ foreign language departments, as well as foreign language department heads from many local school districts in Massachusetts, including the Director of World Languages for Boston Public Schools.
The Institute featured workshops facilitated by veteran foreign language educators Leslie Grahn and Joshua Cabral. Grahn focused on shifting practice away from grammar-based methods, and about incorporating some focus on grammar with more meaningful, content-based instruction. She also examined how teachers develop and tier tasks for learners at different proficiency levels, considering what students can do creatively with language and how to develop tasks that would develop their proficiency at various levels. Cabral’s workshops focused on elementary and middle-level proficiency development.
Read more about the event on the MaFLA website here.
– Grace Hagerty