Wednesday, October 31, 2012

MaFLA Fall Conference

Many of the World Language Department teachers attended the Massachusetts Foreign Language Association's Fall conference this past weekend, the most important professional development opportunity in our state. The highlights were many for the APS World Language team:

  • AHS Latin teacher, Rachel Kirtley, was awarded a New Teacher Commendation, one of only four teachers in the state.
  • AHS French teacher, Véronique Lahey, presented her first ever session at MaFLA, discussing the amazing Café Parisien that she developed for her French 4 classes.
  • New AHS Spanish teacher, Christina Toro, worked hard collecting signatures for a letter to DESE Commissioner Chester to support foreign language education in her role as MaFLA Advocacy Intern. She also presented two sessions, one on advocacy and another on her experiences during her summer exchange in Uruguay, funded through a state department grant.
  • World Language Director, Catherine Ritz, was nominated to the role of 2nd Vice President of MaFLA, after being a member of the Board of Directors for the past year. She also presented two sessions on technology, one of which focused on the use of iPods in the classroom, which were purchased through an Arlington Education Foundation grant last year.
  • All teachers had a chance to meet the Massachusetts Teacher of the Year, French teacher Kathy Turner from Sharon High School!
Of course, professional development can only be considered valuable if it is directly connected to student learning. That's why we will be using our next department meeting time to discuss how to apply what we learned in a broad and collaborative way. For example, AHS Spanish teachers Emmy Robinson and Sami Eladhari attended a workshop by the nationally known Zachary Jones on authentic resources. Using a team-based approach, we plan to work in groups to cultivate authentic resources--such as music, news articles, commercials, art, and more--and develop communicative activities to be used in all levels.

I'm proud that the World Language department here at AHS is home not only to teachers who are serious about professional development, but who are also leaders and at the forefront of foreign language teaching. Bravo!

Latin Teacher, Rachel Kirtley, receiving the New Teacher Commendation from MaFLA Past President, Nancy Mangari.
Spanish teachers, Emmy Robinson and Sami Eladhari, spoke with Zachary Zones during a session on authentic resources.

Spanish teacher, Tara Kfoury, and French/Spanish teacher, Anne Zachary, looked for new resources in the exhibits hall.

French teacher, Véronique Lahey, presenting on the Café Parisien.

Spanish teacher, Christina Toro, and World Language Director, Catherine Ritz, spoke with Massachusetts Teacher of the Year, French teacher Kathy Turner of Sharon High School.

Spanish teacher, Christina Toro, and World Language Director, Catherine Ritz, with MaFLA Advocacy Liaison and Past President, Dr. Nicole Sherf of Salem State University.

Monday, October 29, 2012

French Club Crêpe Party!

The French Club of Arlington High School held what will surely become an annual celebration... a crêpe party! Club members met in a cooking room at the high school and learned how to make authentic French crêpes. Nutella, strawberries, jam, and more were on hand as filling. As we say in French... miam, miam!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Elementary Language Survey

Arlington Public Schools recently formed a task force to explore an elementary foreign language program. We are exploring different options and different languages, and would appreciate your input as parents as we develop a proposal. Please take a few minutes to complete this survey.

If you have any questions, please contact me at

Thank you for your participation!

Catherine Ritz
Director of World Languages

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

New Language Lab @ AHS!

Language students at AHS were surprised to see some new technology when they got back to school this year! Over the summer, 31 new laptops were purchased and set up in what is now the Language Resource & Technology Center in the World Language wing. New headsets were also purchased making the sound quality on the machines top notch. The old language lab was near the main entrance of the school--a bit of a hike for teachers and students--and the computers were run down and difficult to use.

Teachers have begun bringing their classes into the lab to do listening and speaking activities, internet research, and individualized practice activities. With the purchase of the new lab, the district also funded a subscription to an online language lab software,, which allows teachers to create interactive speaking and listening exercises and have one-to-one conversations with students who may need additional practice.

There are still some technical kinks being worked out, but overall, everyone is very happy to have a new technology space housed in our department!

Friday, October 5, 2012

Announcing New Language Clubs @ AHS

We are proud to announce that three new language clubs are being launched this year! Ed Foley has been faculty adviser to the Latin Club for the past three years, but this year we will finally have a language club for each of the languages we offer!

Christina Toro will lead the Spanish Club at AHS, and is busy planning club activities, which will include restaurant outings, film nights, fiestas, and more!

Catherine Ritz will lead the French Club at AHS, which recently had its first planning meeting. The year will kick off with a crêpe party where students will make their own crêpes in the cooking room. Student leaders are planning events for National French Week, outings to theaters and French restaurants, and a bake sale for the holidays. The club FaceBook page is available at

Oliver Xu and Xiaqing Rotstein will lead the Mandarin Club at AHS, which already held a celebration for the Moon Festival.

Since we finally have language clubs for all four languages, the faculty advisers are brainstorming some inter-club competitions! Hopefully this spring we'll have some good competitions planned to see which language will reign victorious!!