Useful Information

You can find useful information about our association here:


  • Constitution
    Access our constitution so you know how we operate, what our officer job descriptions are and if you are interested in running for a position or nominating someone, please reach out to anyone on the exec committee to let us know!


  • NYSAFLT Alphabet Soup (a list of acronyms that are important to our profession)- can be found under "Newsletters"






Article about punctuation in Spanish:


  • World Language Students Create a Class Blog

                In this article in The Language Educator, Grant Gearhart (Armstrong State University) says that blogging is “a powerful multimedia tool for promoting cultural connections with communities beyond the classroom… The very act of publishing a blog post embodies the goal of creating original content for a specific audience, but it does so through a widely accessible digital portal. As a result, the teacher ceases to be the definitive backstop for the author’s message, meaning the student will have to think more deeply about the writing, thus enhancing the overall authorial experience.” Blogging in a second language is especially helpful in getting students to consider how readers other than their teacher see their writing. The result: they work harder at catching errors and expressing themselves in the best possible way.

                Gearhart got his college Spanish class going on a blog and was thrilled by the result; students took over and he became the “guide on the side” quite early in the process. “Soon,” he says, “the students imagined the blog as something more than just a website for a class; they began to see it as a bridge between what they were learning in class and what was happening on our campus and in our community.” Promoted on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, the site became a place where other students could publish their writing. You can check out their mission-driven blog, “Building the Hispanic Voice at Armstrong,” at

    Here are Gearhart’s suggestions for starting a class blog at the middle or high school level:

    -   Choose a theme or identify a particular audience for the blog.

    -   Decide on a platform – perhaps WordPress, Squarespace, Weebly, or

    -   Identify roles and teams, organizing students by their strengths.

    -   In a large class, consider breaking it into teams and having each one do its own blog.

    -   Have everyone contribute some content – an essay, photo, interview, or something else.

    -   Focus on marketing, spreading the word to potential readers.

    How should students’ work on the blog be evaluated? Gearhart employed the same rubric he used for grading compositions and projects, explaining to students what needed to be polished or changed to reach a broader audience. Sometimes he graded blog posts and students made immediate changes. Other times he got students critiquing each others’ work. For younger students, he suggests breaking the project into smaller chunks and giving feedback at each stage.


    “Blogging to Build Digital Literacy and Community Awareness” by Grant Gearhart in The Language Educator, October/November 2016 (Vol. 11, #4, p. 36-39), no e-link available


Great article that validates studying a second language!



Other Important Organizations:

  • ALOUD (Orange- Ulster- Dutchess and Outlying Areas)

Please access their website for information about their workshops:

  • NECTFL (Northeast Conference on the Teaching of Foreign Languages)
  • NYSAFLT (New York State Association of Foreign Language Teachers)
  • ACTFL (American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages)



Public School teachers in New York State that have achieved tenure are eligible for the Albert Shanker scholarship to cover almost all of the costs of National Board Certification.
More information on funding for National Board Certification:
 for National Board Certification on-line at before applying for the Shanker Grant. Record the candidate identification number and make an extra confidental copy of your $500 payment.The candidate identification number will be needed for the Shanker Grant application. "The Box" containing your NBC materials will arrive about three weeks after applying to NBPTS. Do NOTthrow out the box. Your portfolio entries will be submitted in the box.
The Shanker Grant administered by the New York State Education Department will cover the $2,500 cost of NBC. To be eligible Albert Shanker Grant Candidates MUST 
(a) currently teach in a NYS public school 
(b) hold a valid New York State teaching certificate 
(c) hold tenure 
(d) hold a baccalaureate degree from an accredited college or university 
Remember to submit a copy of your proof of payment /NBPTS application with your Shanker Grant.

Sanford Lake is the New York State Education Department's (SED)Program Administrator of the Shanker Grant. You can contact him directly at: 
Office of Teaching Initiatives 
New York State Education Department 
5 North, Education Building, Albany, NY 12234 
Phone: (518) 473-9847 
Fax: (518) 473-0217 
After you complete the process the $500 payment will be refunded through SED (usually the March after submission).

See below for additional funding available for retake candidates and renewal candidates.

NYSUT has lobbied on behalf of teachers for continued support of the Albert Shanker Grant. We are grateful that Albert Shanker Grant provides equal access and opportunity to pursue National Board Certification to all eligle teachers in NYS. NYSUT has an Informational Bulletin about NBC.
For more information on National Board Certification in New York State, please visit
Here's something that I found on Twitter.


Here's a link to newspapers throughout the Latin America and Spain.   You can use these for reading comprehension activities, or to simply have students find and underline/hightlight specific verb tenses/cognates/vocabulary/etc.  I find this useful to encourage growth in the target language at any level.










Bullying Website in Italian:

Has videos and posters too.

7 Tips for the first week of Spanish class: Have a great start of the year!
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¡Viva la clase con Las Tres Señoras
7 Tips for the 1st week of school para la clase de español:
7 tips to keep to start your school year off right!
1. Teach in the target language. 
Set the tone on the first day by speaking only in Spanish. Even in Spanish I! My lesson for the first day of Spanish I is ¿Cómo te llamas?/Me llamo... and I give students Spanish names or let them choose their names.
2. Make name tags. Yes, even in high school.It's the fastest way for me and my students to learn each others' names. Take a piece of paper and fold it into thirds. Students write their Spanish names on one of the sides. Set the name tags on the desk in a triangle with the name facing out. Have the students bring the name tags to class for the first week or two, until everyone knows each others' Spanish names.
3. Keep the class interactive. I like to use an ice breaker Busca a alguien que... for Spanish II and above. It helps students get to know each other better and gets them up and moving. It's great when you see that the students needs a change of pace (especially for longer 80 minute classes!)
4.Give students a "Coping Card." To play: in partners, Help your students communicate in Spanish by giving them a paper to use in class with the most common classroom phrases. I allow them to use it at all times (except testing.) Eventually, they won't need to look at the paper at all.
5. Explain why the class is taught mainly in Spanish. On the first day of school, as the students walk through the door,  I give them a paper written in English that welcomes them to class and explains why I am going to speak mostly in Spanish during the class. It helps them to know what to expect and not freak out once class starts in Spanish.
6. Use a variety of activities. Songs, commercialscommunicative activities, games, Mix it up and give the students a variety to keep their interest and get them excited about coming to class.
7. End the week on a high note with a fun game! I make sure that I save 10 minutes at the end of the class on Friday for a game. I teach them the counting game of ¡Caramba! For Spanish classes that don't know the numbers yet, I play Cognate Challenge: a game where students must guess the English word (teléfono, telephone.) They hear the word in Spanish and must guess the English word. If the student is incorrect, they are out. They may join in again if they guess another word correctly that another students has answered incorrectly. I also play Ensalada rusa, a team word game.

// Technology Tidbits: Thoughts of a Cyber Hero

FlashSticks is an interesting new site/app for learning a foreign language.  The way this works is a user prints out a color coded (blue - masculine nouns, pink - feminine nouns, green - other words) flashcard and then hovers their mobile device over it.  A brief video pops up of a tutor showing how to pronounce the word.  Flashsticks are ideal for learning any number of languages such as: French, English, Spanish, and more.

I highly recommend checking out FlashSticks by clicking here!!!

Below is a brief demo...

For my Pinterest board on Foreign Language click here


An interesting article:


Learning to speak was the most remarkable thing you ever did. It wasn’t just the 50,000 words you had to master to become fluent or the fact that for the first six years of your life you learned about three new words per day. It was the tenses and the syntax and the entire scaffolding of grammar, not to mention the metaphors and allusions and the almost-but-not-quite synonyms.

But you accomplished it, and good for you. Now imagine doing it two or three times over — becoming bilingual, trilingual or more. The mind of the polyglot is a very particular thing, and scientists are only beginning to look closely at how acquiring a second language influences learning, behavior and the very structure of the brain itself. At a bilingualism conference last weekend convened by the Lycée Français de New York, where all students learn in both English and French, and the Cultural Services of the French Embassy, language experts gathered to explore where the science stands so far and where it’s heading next (disclosure: my children are LFNY students).

Humans are crude linguists from the moment of birth — and perhaps even in the womb — to the extent at least that we can hear spoken sounds and begin to recognize different combinations language sounds. At first, we don’t much care which of these phonemes from which languages we absorb, which makes sense since the brain has to be ready to learn any of the world’s thousands of languages depending on where we’re born.

“Before 9 months of age, a baby produces a babble made up of hundreds of phonemes from hundreds of languages,” said Elisabeth Cros, a speech therapist with the Ecole Internationale de New York. “Parents will react to the phonemes they recognize from their native tongues, which reinforces the baby’s use of those selected ones.”

Doubling down on a pair of languages rather than just one does take extra work, but it’s work young children are generally not aware they’re doing. Bilingual people of all ages are continually addressing what research psychologist Ellen Bialystok of Toronto’s York University calls the dog-chien dilemma, encountering an object, action or concept and instantaneously toggling between two different words to describe it. Such nimble decisionmaking ought to improve on-the-fly problem solving, and studies show that it does.

Language researchers often point to the famed Stroop test, which asks subjects to look at the word red, for example, which is presented in an ink of a different color, say blue. Then they are required to say aloud or identify on a computer the ink color. That requires an additional fraction of a second to accomplish than if both the word and ink color were the same. Everyone experiences that lag, but for bilinguals it’s measurably shorter. “Monolinguals always need more time,” Bialystok says. “It’s a lifelong advantage for bilinguals.”

Excelling on the Stroop test is hardly a marketable skill, but what it suggests about the brain is something else. Sean Lynch, headmaster of the LFNY, previously worked in a multilingual school in France in which all of the students spoke French and at least one of 12 other languages, including Japanese, Russian, Italian and Spanish. As is often the case with well-endowedschools, the students, on average, outperformed their age peers academically, and it’s impossible to determine how much of that is due to native skill and how much to the fact that they simply have access to better teachers, books and other resources. Still, Lynch observed that these students seemed to show a greater facility with skills that relied on interpreting symbolic representations, such as math or music.

Lynch also believes — albeit based primarily on his own observations — that multilingual kids may exhibit social empathy sooner than children who grow up speaking only one language, which makes developmental sense. The theory of mind — understanding that what’s in your head is not the same as what’s in other people’s heads — does not emerge in children until they’re about 3 years old. Prior to that, they assume that if, say, they know a secret you probably do too. There’s a kind of primal narcissism in this — a belief that their worldview is the universal one. Once they learn that’s not the case, self-centeredness falls away — at least a little — and the long process of true socialization begins. There’s nothing that accelerates the acquisition of that kind of other-awareness like the realization that even the very words you use to label the things in your world — dogtreebanana — are not the same ones everyone uses.

Preliminary imaging work suggests that the roots of this behavior may even be visible in the brain. Some studies, for example, have shown a thickening of the cortex in two brain regions — most importantly the left inferior parietal, which helps code for language and gesturing. Bialystok is not entirely sold on these studies, since she would expect the greatest differences to be in the frontal lobes, where higher functions such as planning, decisionmaking and other aspects of what’s known as executive control take place. Some of her own work has found an increase in white matter — the fatty sheathing that insulates nerves and improves their ability to communicate — in the frontal regions of bilinguals, suggesting denser signaling and complexity of functions in these areas. “Structural differences are where the new science is really unfolding,” she says. “That work will reveal a lot.”

Not every study out there finds benefits to bilingualism. Earlier this year, psychologists at Concordia University in Montreal studied 168 children ages 1 and 2 years old being raised by bilingual parents. In general, they found that the kids in the younger half of that cohort had smaller comprehension vocabularies — the number of words they appeared to understand — than kids being raised monolingual. The older half of the sample group had smaller production vocabularies — or words they could pronounce. This results, the researches believe, from parents mixing their languages when speaking to their kids, choosing the words they feel the children will have an easier time understanding or reproducing. That in turn leads to what linguists call code-switching — a commingling of tongues by the children that produces what Americans call Spanglish or Franglish when Spanish or French melded with English (this particular study produced more complex comminglings, since it included kids speaking German, Japanese and Farsi as well). However, Bialystok agrees that this is a short-term disadvantage of bilingualism, and says in most cases the kids catch up.

And when they do, language skills acquired early can pay late-life dividends. In one study, bilinguals experienced the onset of age-related dementia 4.1 years later than multilinguals, and full-blown Alzheimer’s 5.1 years later. “One school of thought says that any cognitive reserve — education, multilingualism, even playing Sudoku puzzles — strengthens the brain and helps it resist disease,” says Bialystok. “The other says that the brains of multilinguals experience the same level of disease as those of monolinguals, but they cope with it better. They function at a higher level than they would otherwise be able to function.”

In another 2013 study, this one from the University of Kentucky, bilingual and monolingual people in the 60- to 68-year-old age group underwent brain scans while performing a cognitive task that required them to switch back and forth among several different ideas. Both groups performed the task accurately, but bilinguals were faster as well as more metabolically economical in executing the cognitive mission, using less energy in the frontal cortex than the monolinguals.

The very fact that something as simple as working with puzzles or having once got a good education can improve brain function does prove that multilingualism is not the only path to staying cognitively healthy in your dotage. And plenty of monolinguals do perfectly well at acquiring empathy and social skills early in life. Still, there are roughly 6,500 spoken languages in the world. There must be a reason our brains come factory-loaded to learn more than just one.


5 Ways to Support Struggling Students in World Language Classes

Students with academic challenges benefit from these simple strategies as they develop confidence using the target language.

January 9, 2020
Spanish teacher pointing at Spanish words at the front of a classroom
Marmaduke St. John / Alamy Stock Photo

It is unsurprising that students who face academic challenges may feel overwhelmed in world language classrooms, which require all learners to leave their comfort zones and embrace something new. Those who grapple with processing issues or memory weaknesses require additional assistance in order to successfully acquire a new language. However, this additional assistance should not mean resorting to English—it is possible to maintain the target language while meeting all students’ needs.

As the Virginia Department of Education outlines in the informative guide Supporting World Language Learning for Students With Disabilities, it is critical to note that “students who underperform in a classroom often experience challenges handling information at one of three stages of the process—perception, processing, expression—or any combination of the three” (p. 17; I’ll refer to this guide several times below, providing page numbers for ease of reference since it’s 91 pages long).

In the context of world language courses, perception taps into reading and listening comprehension. Students who encounter difficulties with perception often struggle to “assign meaning to audio and visual stimuli” (p. 19). Processing involves all four communicative domains: speaking, writing, listening, and reading. Students with recall or memory issues often struggle with processing, as they are unable to “decipher, organize, and store previous and current stimuli” (p. 20). Processing difficulties often lead to challenges with expression, and a student who struggles with processing the language might also have difficulty expressing themselves in oral or written form.

I’d like to share some ways that I use research-based strategies to assist students who struggle with the perception, processing, or expression of the target language. Each of these strategies encourages and promotes maximum use of the target language.

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1. Incorporate images: Images aid comprehension because they “allow students to expand their language skills by attaching the word to a more concrete representation” (p. 35). In my Spanish classes, I provide an abundance of pictures of real people, places, or items, which allows me to infuse the target culture and is more engaging for students than working solely with texts.

For example, when teaching about foods, I include images of open-air markets in Spanish-speaking countries and point out and name different fruits, meats, fish, and vegetables, which exposes students to the target culture. And when presenting new vocabulary, I always display images to accompany the new words, aiding students’ ability to grasp the meaning of the word without using English.

Allowing students to draw out words on paper or digitally is another fun way to include images, and it gives students the reins to express themselves as they learn. Students can demonstrate their comprehension of an audio or text by drawing a detailed image, and then tell what they drew aloud or in writing.

2. Provide sentence starters or a word wall: Asking and answering questions in the target language requires repeated practice—and builds confidence. Often times, starting off a sentence for students in the target language when you ask them to speak or write is just what they need, especially if they struggle with their oral or written expression in the target language.

Creating a word wall with sentence starters to help with common questions such as, “May I use the bathroom / go for a drink?” or “How do I say this word in Spanish?” or “Repeat, please!” is another way to incorporate sentence starters. You can display posters to create a word wall with the sentence starters you feel are most relevant to your class. The Virginia Department of Education guide suggests focusing on a particular sentence starter for several days to give students repeated practice.

3. Follow routines: Repetition is necessary for students to successfully acquire a language. For those who struggle with perception, processing, or expression in the language, a set daily routine helps to maintain consistency and aids comprehension. The Virginia guide says, “For students to really integrate a word/expression into their own language, it is generally accepted that the student needs to be exposed to the term at least 30 times” (p. 37), and that’s easier to track if you have set routines. Routines give students practice as they perceive, process, and express themselves in the new language.

Each day, I follow the same routine with my Spanish I courses. Our daily warm-up activity consists of writing out and reciting the date and weather in Spanish, along with another review-based task (typically practicing on Quizlet or answering open-ended questions). This ensures that students are thinking in the target language and using it from the moment they step into the classroom. Repeating the date, weather, and some basic questions each day also helps build confidence over time. Students are never confused or lost when they walk in because they know what to expect.

4. Act it out: Rather than drilling students on new chunks of vocabulary, make language learning more active by incorporating gestures. When teaching about hobbies or interests, for example, act them out—when reciting the verb “to run” or “to draw” aloud, perform those actions. Allow students to make gestures along with you.

Implementing physical response strategies serves as additional reinforcement to build students’ comprehension of oral or written language. Try playing charades, with one student acting out a word or phrase and the others guessing what it is in the target language.

5. Consider wait time: Students may need more time than you may think to formulate responses. Allow them to process a piece information first by waiting for several seconds before asking for answers: “Generally, students learning a foreign language need between 18 and 30 seconds (or more) to process the target language before being called on to respond to questions in class or in writing” (p. 34). Waiting for up to 30 seconds before calling on students will give everyone a chance to feel successful and participate. Likewise, posing a question and allowing students to turn and talk before speaking to the whole class will assist them in building the confidence they need.

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