Pre-Conference Workshops
Thursday, October 26, 2023

Morning - 6-Hour Workshops

Workshop 1 -Leading with Culture Through Authentic Resources
Presenter:  Leslie Grahn

During this interactive workshop, participants will explore strategies for selecting authentic resources for both cultural and communicative value and design tasks around those resources with a focus on growth in interpretive, interpersonal, presentational and intercultural communication skills. Participants will create lesson sequences that integrate the modes of communication where students investigate cultural products, practices, and perspectives and interact through authentic scenarios in a culturally appropriate way. Time will be allotted for “design time” during which participants will design and plan for embedding cultural explorations into their lesson plans.

Leslie Grahn has twenty-seven years of language teaching experience at the middle and high school levels and twelve years of experience at the central office level, most recently as Coordinator of World Languages for the Howard County Public School System in Maryland. Leslie has been a course instructor on foreign language teaching methods and differentiated instruction, has led both curriculum and assessment development teams, and is a frequent presenter at state, regional, and national conferences, specializing in best practices. She curates and creates resources to support language teaching and learning and shares them through her website ( and on Pinterest (grahnforlang). She has experience in teacher and leadership development and leads training on instructional coaching, mentoring, leadership, and communication skills. Leslie is the co-author of The Keys toStrategies for Language Instruction and has served on the boards of NECTFL, NADSFL and ACTFL.

Workshop 2 - Program Design and Collaboration:  World Languages in the Age of Proficiency
Presenters:  Timothy Eagan & Nicole Sherf

 World languages are the least understood content area and the least funded in districts. In order to align programming with state and national standards, world language departments need to be strong advocates and effective collaborators. This workshop will outline rationale and steps for this important work. Topics addressed include: Designing curriculum, cultivating essential departmental resources, managing, effective meetings, and using data to help the department develop a voice, action steps and tools to build a strong foundation or continue the work on the path to proficiency.

Nicole Sherf is Professor and Secondary Education Coordinator in the Department of World Languages and Cultures at Salem State University.  She has more than 30 years of experience in teaching Spanish and in program coordination, first in K-12 and now to undergraduate and graduate students of Spanish and Spanish teachers in training.  She was a longtime Board member of the Massachusetts Foreign Language Association (MaFLA) where she served in a number of capacities including Conference Chair, President and Advocacy Coordinator.  She is on the Steering Committee of the Language Opportunity Coalition which advocated for the passage of the LOOK Act in November of 2017, and has been co-leading the MA Seal of Biliteracy Workgroup and Pilot since 2014.  She writes articles at the state and national level and presents sessions, workshops and professional development on a variety of topics related to foreign language teaching, assessment and programming at the district, state, regional and national level.

Tim Eagan been a language educator for over 30 years. He currently serves as department head for World Languages in the Wellesley Public Schools, grades 6 to 12, with primary responsibility for curriculum, budget, supervision and evaluation of 25 teachers at the 6 - 12 level and secondary supervision and evaluation responsibility of 7 teachers at the K - 5 level. Prior to Wellesley, he taught French, Spanish, and sometimes Latin at both middle and high school levels in several districts in Massachusetts. He holds a B.A. in French and Spanish and an M.A. from UMass Boston in Critical and Creative Thinking with a concentration in content-based language instruction and second language acquisition. At UMass, he was awarded the Critical and Creative Thinking Award for Academic Excellence. He serves on the executive board of NADSFL and was a member of the MAFLA board of directors for 15 years, serving as president in 2017. He is a frequent presenter at MaFLA, NECTFL, and ACTFL, and has been published in The Language Educator.

Workshop 3 - Machismo and Masculinities:  A Testimony and a Workshop Around Vulnerability, Positionality, and Identity
Presenter:  Abelardo Almazán-Vázquez

This workshop is an invitation to explore themes and curriculum materials where elements of machismo and toxic masculinity continue to be the norm and accepted "in the name of the target culture." How do we challenge these ideas? How do we design and build new paradigms around identity, maleness, and masculinity? How can a WL educator be a role model in having vulnerable and honest conversations about gendered roles and stereotypes associated with masculinity in target language cultures?

Abelardo Almazán-Vázquez is in his 12th year teaching Spanish, coaching an all-gender soccer team, teaching Latin Dances, and is now World Language Department Head at The Putney School. He pursued his Licenciatura in Teaching Spanish as a Second Language at Universidad Internacional UNINTER and his Master's degree in Latin American Studies at Cleveland State University. Native from Cuernavaca México. He has presented at various WL conferences, including "Best of Massachusetts" for MaFLA2018, co-founder of the MCTLC (Minnesota Council of Teaching Languages and Cultures) 2020 "BIPOC/Immigrant" strand, featured session presenter at the NECTFL 2021 Conference, the Keynote speaker for the GWATFL (The Greater Washington Association of Teachers of Foreign Language)  2021 Spring Conference, and the Keynote speaker for VFLA (Vermont Foreign Language Association) 2023 Spring Conference.

Workshop 4 - Teachers Taking the Lead
Presenters:  Beckie Bray Rankin,Jenni Kilmore, & Dr. Celia Chomón Zamora

This full day workshop will resource teachers to lead from the classroom. Beginning with understanding our vision and how to overcome the obstacles in our way, we will address the knowledge and skills needed to layer our leadership. Topics of interest will be explored from PD facilitation to growing our strengths as we explore our own spheres of influence and the impace we can have as our spheres expand.

Beckie bagan her teaching career in 2007 as District Coordinator and French teacher at a charter network in Washington, DC after completing undergraduate studies at Boston University, where she earned a BA in French and a BS in Teaching Foreign Languages. After Beckie completed her MAEd in French Education at Wake Forest University (NC) in 2010, Beckie spent a year in West Africa leading and teaching French with a humanitarian homestay program. A French teacher at Lexington High School (MA) since her return, she coordinates the francophone exchange program. She is the Past President of MAFLA, President of the AATF Eastern Massachusetts Board, LILL Advocate Booster, and on the NECTFL board. Beckie has published and presented in numerous venues and loves to connect.


Jenni is a veteran world language teacher with a wide range of roles in education. As the Blended Learning Curriculum Coordinator in her last school district, she came out of 13 years as a classroom French teacher, both in the traditional and blended learning environments and working with students of all levels, K-16. She enjoys being involved in professional language organizations, serving on the board of local organizations for many years, most recently as Past President of the Arkansas Foreign Language Teachers Association (AFLTA). She is a member of the ACTFL’s Leadership Initiative for Language Learning (LILL) and a former AFLTA Teacher of the Year, both of which have had huge impacts on her leadership style and philosophies, self-reflection, and goal-setting.

Dr. Celia Chomón Zamora currently serves as ACTFL’s Director of Professional Learning and Certification. Dr. Zamora has served the language education community since 2005, where she has worked as a K-12 language teacher and administrator in public and private school settings, a postsecondary language program instructor, assistant director, Quality Assurance Senior
Manager, and researcher. The daughter of first-generation immigrants from Venezuela and Cuba, Dr. Zamora is a passionate advocate of heritage language learners.


Thursday Evening - 4-Hour Workshops

Workshop 5 - Thematic Units for Social Justice and Change
Presenter:  María Datel & Katia Marticorena

In this workshop, you will explore how to develop thematic unit plans that promote social justice while meeting academic standards. You will craft essential questions using global themes such as AP and UN goals to encourage critical thinking, develop can-do statements that focus on real-world contexts, and summative assessments to help students see the relevance of their learning. Come to explore practical strategies to empower students and promote equity, whether you're new to teaching social justice or an experienced educator, and share your expertise with us!

María Datel is a Master Lecturer at Boston University, where she serves as the overall coordinator for the Spanish Language Program, is a fellow in the Designing Anti Racism Curricula Fellowship Program, and co-organizes the Second-Language Learning and Disabilities Conference. She teaches courses in Spanish language, Spanish for heritage learners, and second language pedagogy. With research interests centered around anti-colonial pedagogies, she has devoted the past few years to creating a more inclusive and equitable Spanish-language classroom that is attentive to marginalized cultures, particularly those of Latin America. María has presented nationally and internationally on decolonization, antiracist teaching, and resources.

Katia Marticorena, originally from Lima-Peru, is the World Languages Director at Melrose Public Schools (MPS). Katia has over 10 years of school-based experience in teaching and leadership. Among others, she has been a MAFLA presenter, where she obtained in her first year of instruction the "New Teacher Commendation" award for excellence in the language teaching, and she is on the MAFLA Board of Directors. Katia is also a member of the World Language Frameworks Volunteer Implementation Team and has been supporting educators through the leadership of training webinars. Katia has been participating in the MPS Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Task Force, a working group focused on gathering feedback on equity and diversity efforts in the district and has been devoting her professional life to social justice in education


Workshop 6 - Level Up with Authentic Resources: Building a Growth-based Curriculum
Presenter:  Charlotte Gifford

Aiming for higher proficiency is key to growth, but how do we help students reach higher levels of functional ability? Consistent and effective use of authentic resources can be the means to the end! Too often, students stick at a given proficiency level, preferring to stay with the safe and easy. By focusing on students’ abilities, plus what they will need in order to perform at the next higher level, teachers and learners can leverage these motivating, high-interest resources to bridge that gap.
This interactive workshop offers concrete strategies to get students unstuck. Participants will analyze how to make best use of authentic resources, rendering them accessible at all proficiency levels. They will learn to build this target-and-support strategy into the curriculum, then brainstorm and develop a wide variety of techniques that move students up the proficiency scale. At the center of this approach is the wide variety of real-world texts (print, audio, video, and more) that are easily available. Moving beyond the use of purely interpretive tasks to demonstrate student comprehension of text, this approach engages learners in all three communicative modes with deepened cultural understanding. Participants will experience and learn concrete strategies for enhancing comprehensible input with authentic resources and for maintaining target language use at 90% plus, as well as assessment strategies that mirror instruction.

Charlotte Gifford is Professor of French and Spanish at Greenfield (MA) Community College. As dept. chair of WorldLanguages, she has worked extensively at GCC in curriculum and course (re)design, as well as student learning outcomes assessment. She holds a BA in French (Tufts), an MA in Spanish (Middlebury) and the DALF (Université Jean Monnet).
Charlotte is a Past President of the Massachusetts Foreign Language Association (MaFLA) and a Past Chair of the Northeast Conference on Teaching of Foreign Languages (NECTFL). She presents regularly at state, regional and national language conferences, most recently on the use of teaching for proficiency, Backward Design, authentic materials, social justice themes, performance assessment, teaching with film and common departmental assessments.