Episode 92 – Inviting You to Reflect with Parthena Draggett, AATSP President

Episode 92 - Inviting You to Reflect with Parthena Draggett, AATSP President 2
It's About Language, with Norah Jones
It's About Language, with Norah Jones
Episode 92 - Inviting You to Reflect with Parthena Draggett, AATSP President

“It’s part of a rich diversity of the Spanish and Portuguese-speaking worlds to bring those differences in our languages to light in the classroom. I would want my students to know all these different ways to say something, what is acceptable in all these different cultures. There isn’t one way. The language is so diverse, and it’s growing and living and breathing, and how wonderful to see all sides of it.”

Professional organizations are more needed now than ever.

In a volatile and challenging educational, in particular, collaboration through professional groups more than pays off any investment in time and membership. They provide resources, pin-point learning, and especially networking that can solve problems and provide the support of “fellow sufferers” — that turn out to re-invigorate the joy that has been there all along.

When I was in the classroom as a Spanish and French teacher, I made sure I joined the AATSP (and the French association, the AATF). The benefits for my professional work and balance were outstanding. But the part that really transformed my educational work was what was in it for my students.

Through the AATSP (and AATF), I engaged my students in contests of art and language that put them in contact with language students around the world and provided them evidence that it wasn’t just me saying that real speakers of Spanish (and French) existed: there are real people out there who really do speak and live these languages! And more!

Powerfully, my students were motivated to excellence by the honor societies sponsored by these associations. They and their families and friends came to the initiation ceremonies with full attention and great pride. Young adults learned to be leaders in a local chapter of a national organization and movement. Their connection and growing confidence were nurtured, and their engagement fueled our school’s and district’s language program growth.

Take a look. The invitation to you or to those educators you know is extended. You’re not alone.

AATSP Mission

Founded in 1917, the American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese (AATSP) is the oldest, largest, and most comprehensive language-specific professional association in the United States. Our nearly 10,000 members are educators from PreK-12 through graduate school who endorse our mission to promote, develop, and advance the teaching of Spanish and Portuguese worldwide.

Teaching and Learning Resources

The AATSP aims to provide a user-friendly and easy to navigate repository of relevant and  innovative materials that supports Portuguese and Spanish language educators. There are three Teaching and Learning Resources (TLR) sections:

  • Classroom resources organized by themes such as heritage languages, inclusivity, and languages & careers
  • AATSP materials that include podcasts, webinars, and pandemic-friendly resources
  • Professional development materials and other resources that explore unique pedagogies.

National Competitions

 The National Spanish Exam, National Spanish Challenge and National Portuguese Exam are motivational contests to recognize student achievements in the studies of

Spanish & Portuguese and to stimulate further interest in the teaching and learning of Spanish & Portuguese. 

Suite of National Exams Offered by the NSE

(PDF Comparison of Exams) • (PDF Exams Overview)

  • The National Spanish Exam (NSE) is an online, standardized assessment competition for Grades 6 -12, given voluntarily by about 4,000 middle and high school teachers throughout the United States, to measure performance (interpretive communication) and achievement of students who are studying Spanish as a second language. 
  • The National Portuguese Exam (NPE) is an online, standardized assessment competition for Grades 5-12, given voluntarily by middle and high school teachers throughout the United States, to measure achievement and performance (interpretive communication) of students who are studying Portuguese as a second language. 
  • The National Spanish Challenge (NSC) is an online, motivational contest for Grades 1-6, given voluntarily by elementary and middle school teachers to students who are studying Spanish as a second language.
  • The National Spanish Assessments (NSA) is an online, standardized assessment tool which tests both achievement and proficiency via computer-graded and rater-graded modules for students studying the Spanish language. The NSA is written from the same specifications and standards as the National Spanish Exam (NSE). Like the NSE, the NSA is a valid and reliable assessment of student achievement and proficiency. However, the NSA is not a contest. 

Spanish Honor Society

The Sociedad Honoraria Hispánica is a national organization. Each school has its own local chapter of SHH. These chapters are different than AATSP chapters, which are for teachers. A student is inducted into a local chapter at his or her school.

1. Become a current member of AATSP.

2. Read the SHH Bylaws to ensure your plans for the chapter fall within the national guidelines.

3. Complete a Charter Application.

a. Select your first choice for the name of your chapter. (Search this PDF to see names already in use within your state.) Each name must be unique within the state.

b. Pay the one-time $35 charter fee. You may pay by credit card or select the “Check/Money Order” option to create an invoice to mail with a check. Please allow 5-10 business days after payment and correct information are received for processing.

4. Create chapter bylaws; determine standards for membership. (See sample)

5. Begin organizing your new members:

a. Allow students to apply for membership or invite students who qualify

b. Select and invite members (collect membership dues)

c. Elect officers

6. Register new members online and submit $5 membership fee per initiate.

7. Hold your first induction ceremony. Scripts are available in EnglishSpanish and Portuguese.

Parthena’s Biography and Resource Links

Parthena Draggett has had a long career as a professional educator: 39 years teaching a wide variety of Spanish and French courses at the secondary and university levels, most recently at the Community School of Naples, Florida, where she also supervised Pre-K to 12 world languages. Prior to recruitment to the Community School of Naples, Parthena spent more than 30 years teaching in Ohio, the last 24 at Jackson High School in Massillon, Ohio, where she also served as Department Head and had founded the AP Spanish Language and Culture and the AP Spanish Literature and Culture programs.

An enthusiastic AP and Pre-AP teacher, Parthena has regularly participated in the AP Spanish Language and Culture Reading, serving as a Table Leader. Parthena is the lead author of the AP Spanish Language and Culture textbook, Temas, published by Vista Higher Learning, as well as co-author of Thèmes and VHL’s AP Spanish and AP French exam preparation work texts. In addition, she has contributed as a writer and editor of materials for the College Board, served on the College Board AP Consultants’ Panel, has been a reviewer and contributing author of several other AP Spanish publications, and is the author of AP SPANISH LANGUAGE Quick Study Guide for Bar Charts, Inc.

Passionate about her work with both students and teachers in the quest for increased proficiency in language communication, Parthena was named “Ohio’s World Language Teacher of the Year” for 2015. She is also very proud to have been among the first teachers to earn National Board Certification in World Languages Other than English, in 2002. Although earning many awards and distinctions over the years, Parthena’s greatest professional achievement is to have inspired many of her students to become teachers, especially world language teachers.

Although retired from the classroom, Parthena values her ongoing work in academia, promoting world languages and cultures as an independent national and international consultant specializing in Vertical Alignment. She is a dedicated College Board AP Spanish Language and Culture consultant and serves as moderator for the AP Spanish Language and Culture Teacher Community.   She is also a Praxis II Spanish Language Chief Scoring Leader for ETS and enjoys continued work with Vista Higher Learning as both an author and a National Language and Literacy Consultant.

In addition, Parthena is currently President of the AATSP and a member of ACTFL, the Florida Foreign Language Association, and the Ohio Foreign Language Teachers Association. In addition, she regularly presents at world language conferences, such as AATSP, ACTFL, FFLA, OFLA, ICTFL, NECTFL, COFLT, FLANC, and the AP Annual Conference.

Parthena earned her B.A. in Spanish and French from University of Mount Union and her M.A. in Spanish and French Pedagogy and Applied Linguistics from Kent State University.

1. AATSP site. Make sure to check out the tabs at the top and explore features:  About us, Advocacy, Programs and Activities, Publications and Resources, Career Center, and more: https://www.aatsp.org/

2. The AATSP Salamanca Conference site Nuevos horizontes para la comunicación y la cultura ~  Novos horizontes para a comunicação e a cultura  ~ New Horizons for Communication and Culturehttps://www.aatsp.org/page/2023Conference

3. The ACTFL “Lead with Languages” page for Become a Language Teacher: https://www.leadwithlanguages.org/language-careers/become-a-language-teacher/

4. Also, the home page for “Lead with Languages” to explore languages and careers: https://www.leadwithlanguages.org/

Enjoy the podcast.

Podcast Resources

Episode 6: Bringing Language to Life: A Conversation with Parthena Draggett

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Its About Language | Episode 92 | Parthena Draggett

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Thank you for always focusing on the possibilities, opportunities and the power of language and what it can do for us individually - and collectively!

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Elizabeth Mack
Founder and CEO / Freestyle Languages


Yes, @NorahLulicJones definitely has the talent of "bringing out" the best in others or allowing them to showcase themselves in the best light! Thank you for directing the spotlight on others who have great stories and talents to share with others. 

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Your podcasts are exceptionally relevant and applicable, thought-provoking and insightful, easy-to-follow and enjoyable!  

Paul Sandrock
Senior Advisor for Language Learning Initiatives / ACTFL


You have an immense talent to draw the best from your participants. 

Richard Brecht


Norah knows how to LISTEN - she really "hears" the message - and the interview is richer because of it.  New questions come from the hearing. 

Terri Marlow

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0:00:05.2 Norah Jones: I’m really enjoying doing this reflection series. As you know, the idea of the reflection series is that I return to guests of mine from previous episodes that have gone into some kind of something new in their lives: New position, new opportunities, an award, and to be able to speak to them about how… What they’ve been doing over this two years or three years since I last spoke with them, what was happening in their lives that led to this particular moment. And Parthena Draggett, my guest for today, was a guest very early on in my podcasting moments, episode 6. And in it, as you listen again, or perhaps for the first time to episode 6, you will hear the energy that Parthena Draggett gives to the idea of the welcome of language and cultures in students’ lives and her dedication to making sure that all students are welcome.

0:01:04.7 Norah Jones: Indeed, one of the statements that Parthena made early on in podcast episode 6 was, the key question for her was, how can language come to life for learners? And she wanted that life to come about in two ways. First, she wanted to make sure that students felt that they were welcome to speak the language, to give it the try, to not try to be perfect, but to enter into the community of speakers, into the community of effort, which is really, when you come right down to it, all any of us can do every day in our native language, as well as any additional languages we may have learned or been brought up in. In addition, Parthena spoke in episode 6 about the perspectives and the importance of growing our understanding of how people think around the world, putting on new lenses.

0:02:04.8 Norah Jones: Today, we’re going to have a chance to listen to Parthena’s reflections on the ongoing experience of language education in the United States, yes, but also the growing need of the international experience of language learning and cultural understanding. Her new role is president of the American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese, the AATSP. In this role, she takes on the leadership of a strong team of those that have developed resources and opportunities for educators from kindergarten educators through college and adult for over 10,000 members of the AATSP. Her perspective on what she wants to continue to accomplish through the power of an organization that has such a strong impact on her personal professional life, and what it is that she sees as is the tagline for the upcoming conference for the AATSP for the summer of 2023, The New Horizons.

0:03:17.6 Norah Jones: What is on the horizon for how we work together as human beings in a global community? This conversation is about an educator and about education processes and resources and an organization in specific. However, no matter who you are that are listening, look at your own situation. What are the new horizons that you are facing in a global community? What are the ways that your workers, your institution members, your community enters into the conversation, not perfectly, but with the language, both the vocabulary, if you will, as well as the grammar, if you will, of your own situation such that the communication happens to open doors. And what perspective are you looking to have your workers, your members, your community, yourself have in the future? What’s coming up on your horizon? Let’s listen to very insightful, kind, and passionate presentation conversation with Parthena Draggett, now president of the AATSP.


0:04:51.3 Norah Jones: And it’s a great pleasure to be speaking again with my friend, colleague, and an amazing leader in the world of language education, Parthena Draggett. Hi, Parthena.

0:05:03.6 Parthena Draggett: Hi, Norah. Thank you so much for having me today.

0:05:06.8 Norah Jones: Well, it’s a delight to have you. And again, congratulations on your presidency of the American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese, the AATSP, beginning in 2023. How does it feel to be now in the presidency of this organization that’s played such a role in your life as a professional educator?

0:05:34.5 Parthena Draggett: Well, I can tell you that it’s a privilege. It is really a privilege. I served on the board once before, and it was a wonderful experience. But now I have the time to really put in to serve as president. And over the years, the AATSP, as you said, has been very important to me as an educator. There were so many doors that were open for my students because of it. And I guess I feel like, finally, I have time to put in to really have a role that will hopefully help other teachers to see the wonders of this great organization. I’m so excited. I’m excited for Salamanca and happy to be in this role to, I guess, represent all Spanish teachers no matter whether they’re pre-K up through graduate school. You know, I’m just happy to do what I can to make teaching Spanish and Portuguese and the cultures a wonderful experience for everybody.

0:06:31.0 Norah Jones: Now, that’s a beautiful sentiment, and I know that the folks are going to be jazzed by your leadership in this regard. And you mentioned about the number of programs or aspects of this particular organization. And not all of the listeners to this podcast are in world language education, or if they are, not all are aware of some of these associations of the different languages, including, in this case, the AATSP for Spanish and Portuguese. So reflecting on what you enjoyed and what you and your students benefited from, what are some of the areas that you’re like really excited now to make sure that folks that are in the AATSP and folks that maybe should be in the AATSP would know about? And again, if I might add again, those that are not familiar with professional organizations in general might realize that are available to them in their various areas of career and work?

0:07:41.3 Parthena Draggett: Well, when I honestly was teaching the higher levels of Spanish at my school that inspired me to join the AATSP, I always knew was there, but we didn’t have a chapter in Ohio, which we ended up reviving after I did this, and there was a whole group of us. I certainly don’t take responsibility. But there were opportunities for students, the Sociedad Honoraria Hispánica. I wanted kids to study Spanish longer. And when you have an opportunity like that, where you have an honor society, and part of that is they have to stay members or they have to keep studying Spanish to stay members. And then there are these opportunities that we kept finding wonderful projects for the students and get them into the community and make Spanish really matter to them because my Sociedad even taught firefighters how to speak Spanish so that… And the emergency medical people so that they could help people who couldn’t speak English when they got to accidents.

0:08:34.5 Parthena Draggett: What did that do for my students and their study of Spanish? Because I have a Sociedad and I was looking for opportunities, students said, well, geez, if I study Spanish longer and I get good at this, look at what I’m doing. I’m helping these grown-ups that can’t speak Spanish, these professional emergency medical technicians, I’m helping them to save a life, to ask questions, and to help these people that are in distress. That’s one example. With the Albricias student publication, the National Spanish exams, scholarships for students. I had students travel both from the NSA, the National Spanish exam, and from the Sociedad Honoraria Hispánica get scholarships for college. I mean all of this. Then I served on the board for the first time. And while I was on the board as the secondary rep, we finally started a secondary committee of the different reps for secondary ed. And then of course, Kelly Scheetz joined us for the Sociedad.

0:09:39.9 Parthena Draggett: And then we had people from different areas that were involved. And what did we do? We start thinking about how do we bridge more of a connection between our different divisions in the AATSP? And we were particularly interested in our students go on to higher ed, right? So let’s establish, let’s find out what are some things we have in common. Let’s bridge some relationships and projects and things that we can share with higher ed. So we started this committee while I was on the board the last time. So now, going back on last year’s president-elect, oh my gosh, how that blossomed, because the people after me took it and just ran with it. And we have national teach Spanish, we have national teach Portuguese, we have… There are just so many things. And in the end, it makes all of us lift each other up in what we do in a more excited way to, in the end, affect our students and pass that love of language and culture that we have onto our students.

0:10:41.4 Parthena Draggett: It’s unbelievable to me how much. We have more focus now on pre-K or K through 6 also or K through 8 in addition, because we have always had the Sociedad Honoraria de la Amistad, which was for middle school kids, but we’re really looking at… We are looking so much more at let’s get at those beginner kids. We’re looking more heritage language. I mean, we’re just bringing it all together so that we are this great, wonderful, professional learning committee or community of K all the way up through graduate school. I would love the relationships that we’ve developed together and I think we just see how one of we are intertwined, enredados as we say in Spanish. We are all interconnected because all our students are the same in the end. So let’s work together and it’s just it has been a driving force in my life. AATSP is just wonderful and I don’t know what you’re going to ask me coming up, but I can’t wait to talk about Salamanca, but anyway.

0:11:46.5 Norah Jones: Well then, why is it that you’re excited to talk about Salamanca? Describe for our listeners what it is that’s happening in Salamanca.

0:11:53.6 Parthena Draggett: Well we are having our 105th, I believe, conference in Salamanca and it’s our Congreso, our yearly last year we were in Puerto Rico. Usually we only go abroad every other year, but because of the pandemic we had to skip the 2020 in Puerto Rico so we weren’t there last year, but we already right now as of February 1st have 620 registrants going to Salamanca. We have something really special happening. We are… We’ve just received the authorization to preview a film Mientras Dure la Guerra, which is about the Spanish Civil War and our attendees are going to get a chance to view that. We have all kinds of events going on before that conference starts in Salamanca, Spain and afterward including a symposium in Porto for Portuguese teachers or anybody who wants to learn Portuguese, but I shouldn’t even say that because it’s already full. You know city tours, whatever, but why Salamanca? Salamanca is… It’s like I guess I would say the Harvard of Spain.

0:12:57.5 Parthena Draggett: Salamanca is the learning center of Spain and so many of our great writers and many of our members have studied in Salamanca. So it just seems to be the perfect place for academia and collegiality and growth and seeing the beauty of Spain and all of that. And USAL the Universidad de Salamanca is offering really special courses for before and after and it’s just… And so what do teachers do? They say, oh boy, I’m going to have my summer vacation in Spain. I’m a member of the AATSP and get professional development at the same time. So it’s just a wonderful exciting thing and I’m privileged to be president during that and Sherry’s been long, our amazing executive director and María Carreira, our I guess, I would say in-training executive director because she will be taking over, are just doing a wonderful job as well as the National Office. There’s just so much happening.

0:13:54.1 Norah Jones: It’s so fascinating you have so many exciting things happening there simultaneously. You’ve talked about an area that I know that you as a professional educator and trainer take close to heart which is articulation, extended sequences of study for extended periods of time across levels and you have already mentioned about beginning early language education. I’m kind of going to tap on two things: The nature of helping the educational processes like that to grow and the role that you see for educators in general and the AATSP now as from the perspective of your presidency, that growth, and then making it even more broad that what it is that AATSP is demonstrating to other organizations, to businesses potentially, to institutions that they might consider as they think about directions to go to strengthen their work and their impact in the upcoming years?

0:15:10.7 Parthena Draggett: That’s a loaded question but it has a little… It just has so many wonderful things within it. As the AATSP we partner with a lot of different organizations, whether it be academia, whether it be publishing, whether it be initiatives, like there’s a… Or an organization Avant which does assessment, we partner with a lot of people and that’s all because we all have the same goal and that goal is making our students global citizens, making our students love knowing that it isn’t just one language that they can communicate and be part of this world in but more than one language. And the cultures, these great cultures, the diversity of the world. I’ve always said that you look at the 21 Spanish-speaking countries, all the Portuguese-speaking countries, all the different language-speaking countries of the world, it creates this beautiful tapestry and every stitch can show an amazing dimension of culture that it just enlightens you and it makes you feel warm and wonderful to understand.

0:16:17.9 Parthena Draggett: The lenses that all of us together give our students because our students, just like each of us, come to the table to the classroom to the world with their own lenses, with the way they see the world, what their experiences have been. We together are giving students so many other experiences, we’re sharing them with our students because we want them to open to broad… To be able to change those lenses and to gain an understanding of the perspectives of other lands. I’ve been an AP Spanish language and culture teacher for a long time, so going back to kind of the beginning of your question was about the different levels. If we can start teaching language earlier to our students and little by little be weaving in and spiraling the learning experience, our students will start to gain that global perspective earlier and that longer sequence of instruction, so that by the time they get to the year that maybe they’re trying to figure, well, what am I going to study after this, how are my language skills, how’s my proficiency.

0:17:20.8 Parthena Draggett: They’re going to see that they have the proficiency to put together with any kind of a career to make a big difference in the world. And that’s the other thing that is so important about AATSP or any of the language organizations out there. We also house materials on our sites to help teachers to have the source or the resources, the materials that they need, lessons to share, and we try to support those teachers by giving them scholarships to go study. It’s really about our profession as a whole. Each of us is important in it. What can we do? That’s why I’m still doing this even though I’m now retired from the classroom. What can I do to help somebody else to love our profession as much as I have my entire life? Sometimes I wish I were still in the classroom. I miss it so tremendously, but I’ve got grandchildren, I want to be able to pick up and go see them.

0:18:13.7 Parthena Draggett: But that doesn’t mean that I have to separate myself from still mattering and still counting, and serving and that’s the way I look at it. I’m serving other teachers hopefully to have that love and appreciation for what we’ve accomplished. I mean I look at my students who are teaching world languages and I think that’s what I want. I want every teacher to be able to feel like look at what I passed on to you because we love it so much. I think we as educators do not come into teaching because of money, for financial gain, we come into it because we love our own experience of students of languages and cultures or anything, or you know? And we want to share it. That’s… It’s all about sharing and sharing goals and sharing the outcome that we can rejoice and celebrate, you know? It’s so joyous to see these kids love what they’re communicating and learning and being able to travel to other places and appreciate what they see and differences in culture.

0:19:16.0 Norah Jones: Thank you so much. You have brought up the perspective that you have from having been in the classroom and your writing and your training for these years and now being able to apply your energy in your quote unquote, here “retirement” for such a worthy cause. When you look at those that are coming into the educational enterprise as teachers, as leaders of teachers, what kind of new perspectives or new gifts or new contributions, however you wish to define that, are you seeing in those that are now beginning their educational careers?

0:20:10.4 Parthena Draggett: That’s an excellent question. Well, for one thing, they have had more experiences than we had. I’m dating myself old. When I was studying and before I came out into the classroom, they’ve had the benefit of great standards, of our profession to be very united, our content area to be very united with can do statements standards, the modes of communication, they’ve had all of that. But now there’s an added layer. We’re thinking a lot more about social emotional learning. We’re thinking a lot more of the diversity and inclusion bringing everybody in, who has been marginalized? Who hasn’t? We made learning accessible to all students, have all… I talk about AP, for instance. Have all students had the opportunity to get the kind of learning in their previous levels to really prepare them for that AP year?

0:21:02.6 Parthena Draggett: Well, all around us, wherever we live in all the communities in this country, we know that not all students have the same accessibility to learning. We’ve got to make sure that we’re leveling that playing field. And I think that the young people coming into the profession are much more conscious of that. It’s been brought to the forefront more and we’re doing that all these organizations. In AATSP, we’re making sure that we are having webinars and that we have materials and sessions that deal with all these things. We have 450 sessions and events going on in Salamanca. A lot of those sessions will have to do with these topics. So yes, it’s important the pedagogy, the teaching, the strategies, we don’t want to leave that behind. We definitely don’t want to leave that behind and because it’s important, it’s I guess the essence of what we do, but we also want to make sure that we bring that essence to everybody.

0:21:56.0 Parthena Draggett: And I think that the younger people are able to do that. I think that they’ve also had the benefit of technology. We all learned technology as we were teaching. I mean there weren’t even computers when I was thrown out there, you know? But they bring the benefit of doing, of being able to deal with teaching in all different ways. We, yes, we all teach online. We taught online. I taught online during the pandemic. We know that we have this opportunity to do that, but it’s also important to be in person, which is why I’m so excited about Salamanca to share. But our teachers coming out have a lot of different ways of reaching students. They know, they… It’s no longer just about PowerPoint.

0:22:36.2 Parthena Draggett: They’ve got Canva and they create these funny little, wonderful little characters to get to their students. They’re kind of closer to that generation of our students in who they are now. And I just think they’ve got this creativity that is amazing when it comes to visualizing and putting things in a visual respect for their students. They also know, they probably know that generation a little bit more and what kids might do, you know? But I just think overall, I think there’s more humanity. I’m not saying we weren’t, oh gosh, no, I don’t mean that we didn’t have that. It’s just it wasn’t focused on. I think a lot has happened in the decades since I started teaching that makes the social emotional learning and the diversity inclusion come forward more and what we need to be doing about it.

0:23:21.7 Norah Jones: Phenomenal, thank you. Such a good insight. And the title of this organization is American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese. Yet as you have mentioned, the 2023 convention is being held in Salamanca, Spain. And there are folks that are from the variety of Spanish speaking regions that come to this convention, I know. So for a moment, speak about that growth that I believe is in its infancy. We talk about international Englishes, for example. And there are international Spanishes as well. What kind of role does AATSP have both within and out that helps to connect these various international Spanishes? And what are some of the potential outcomes and impact from acknowledging that there are many different types of Spanish?

0:24:31.8 Parthena Draggett: Outstanding. Well, one thing for sure, when we know there are 21 Spanish speaking communities in the world, right? And we know that we have Portugal, Brazil and many other Portuguese speaking places in the world. We are recognizing more than ever, there was a time, you may remember it when we were first teaching. I was teaching in the ’70s, ’80s, ’90s. When we looked at things like, I remember this dirty word, Spangles, Spanglish was bad. You couldn’t have a mixture, you couldn’t, can’t have English words in there. My goodness, even many of our heritage speakers now have Spangles because they’re Spanish from whatever culture they originally, their families came from, has had influences of English. And it might not be unusual to hear a student use a word that maybe isn’t standard Spanish.

0:25:14.6 Parthena Draggett: So what, right? Because the important thing is that there’s communication going on, if that is what is recognized by that student in his household, we certainly is not our place to doubt, to criticize it or not accept it. On the other hand, sure, we can also share with the students, well, these are some other ways, there’s more of a standard way of communicating that is acceptable in more places in the world, but we aren’t… No estamos despreciando. We’re not showing an unappreciation, is that a word? Unappreciation, I don’t know. For your Spanish, that’s important to know. Trans-languaging is something very acceptable nowadays. You know, our title of our conference is Nuevos horizontes para la comunicación y la cultura, New Horizons for Communication and Culture.

0:26:01.5 Parthena Draggett: We need to recognize these new horizons. We need to realize there was a time and probably when I first graduated, where it was the Spanish of Spain that dominated. There was a time when the Spanish of Spain on the AP exam, they used voce or something, maybe it wouldn’t have been acceptable. We accept everything now. Anything that is, that is your way of communicating and you’re from that culture, that is… We need to recognize and not criticize that. Is there still a right or a wrong when it comes to grammar and vocabulary, that kind of thing? You know, yeah, we want things to be as correct as possible, but not to the degree that we say that is not right, that word is not recognized, not a part of the real academia or whatever the case may be, dictionary.

0:26:45.6 Parthena Draggett: No, we are much more inclusive of language, of different kinds of Spanish pronunciations, registers, vocabularies. We want to see also in materials that students use, we should be seeing all the Spanish-speaking world. People that look like they are from all the different countries. It’s very important, just like in our classroom, our classrooms are very diverse. Our materials, whatever we bring into our class need to be diverse as well. And AATSP stands behind that. Any kind of… The important thing is that we’re valuing every individual for his or her Spanish, for their Spanish, and making sure that wherever they come from, that they are never feeling that they aren’t saying something right. Bring that to the classroom, share it with the students.

0:27:34.1 Parthena Draggett: Let’s talk about that because once again, it’s part of a rich diversity of the Spanish and Portuguese-speaking worlds to bring those differences in our languages to light in the classroom. I would want my students to know all these different ways to say something, what is acceptable in all these different cultures. There isn’t one way. I mean, as an English speaker, I remember when I first heard the term lift, I thought, what is that? You know, oh, it’s an elevator. Oh, that’s great, that’s another way of saying it. The language is so diverse, and it’s growing and living and breathing, and how wonderful to see all sides of it. And AATSP has been doing quite a bit to recognize that, including position papers, like I said, webinars, especially when it comes to heritage, dual language, we want our students to have all of it. We do not want our students to see one-sided Spanish or Portuguese.

0:28:30.8 Norah Jones: What kind of promises and challenges does this bring in a classroom situation? What does AATSP do, clearly providing sessions and apparently webinars, resources, if I may assume? What are some of the ways that AATSP is going to be helping? Because this multiplicity of approaches, then I’m sure sounds like anyway, is a brand new challenge for many people that are in classrooms.

0:29:00.4 Parthena Draggett: And there are going to always be some teachers that have a hard time with it. I’ll be honest, I probably did it first because I was taught a very special… I remember when I didn’t… When I stopped seeing articles used with countries like El Perú or La Argentina, there were countries that always learned this article. I don’t hear that used anymore. I, okay, I’ll adjust to that. You know, accent marks, missing off words, whatever. We just need to adjust. And we need to be thinking about our students. We need to be thinking of giving them really the tools they’re going to need to be able to fit in wherever they go in the world. And that isn’t going to be just the Spanish of Argentina or Mexico or España or La República Dominicana or the Portuguese of Portugal versus Brazil. It’s all together. And María Carreira, who is our incoming, will be taking over for Sheri when Sheri retires in, I guess, July 1st.

0:29:52.5 Parthena Draggett: I remember her giving her keynote in Puerto Rico at the AATSP conference last summer. One thing that I really appreciated, and it stuck with me, and I found her at ACTFL to tell her how important this was, how it impacted me was, let’s stop labeling each other, what kind of speaker you are. You’re a native speaker. You’re not a native speaker. You’re a heritage speaker. We’re all Spanish speakers. We are all Spanish speakers. I’m a non-native speaker. I’m sure there are many people who have heard my accent, and they say, oh, she has an American accent when she speaks Spanish. I can’t get rid of that any more than they get rid of their accent when they speak English in the United States. That doesn’t mean that I can’t speak Spanish. I just speak it a little differently. And I love that María Carreira said that. It kind of was a very unifying thing to think we are all speakers of, whether it’s Spanish, Portuguese, French, whatever.

0:30:41.0 Parthena Draggett: We are speaking it. We’re communicating it. As long as somebody is understanding it, that’s wonderful. Of course, I want to backtrack a little bit because we are going to have, we have things like high stakes exams, like AP exams, for instance, where we want our students to have everything as correct as possible. There is a standard of grammar and that kind of thing but not the standard of Spanish. Do you know what I mean? The words, the words, what is acceptable. But what I was going to say about that is, we look, if you look at how AP exams were graded years ago, we even had error correction and fill in the blanks of something. One letter was often a verb. Oh my gosh, wrong. None of that exists anymore. It’s about communications, the message. If there’s interference, the message isn’t being understood. Well, sure, then we’re going to look at that scoring guideline, take something off.

0:31:34.1 Parthena Draggett: What I’m trying to say is it’s about communication. Communication and culture, it’s all about that. And that’s what we need to put our focus, on communication and culture and accept the diversity that that can take place in many different ways. And I think that that is harder for older teachers, maybe. Maybe it’s harder for teachers who come from a particular culture where they think this is the only way to say something. But that’s not the message that we’re giving at the AATSP. And certainly not the message I’m sure is being given in university classrooms or in our secondary classrooms, even our lower level classrooms in our classrooms nowadays. It’s all about, wow, this is the way you say it, how interesting that is. And how wonderful that is that now I know that word as well.

0:32:23.2 Norah Jones: It sounds like when those that are in the classrooms now that are experiencing that welcome, that diversity message, when they go out into the world, their expectation of diversity and their acceptance of diversity, and I do mean from a linguistic point of view as well as from a cultural point of view, will be enhanced such that their definition of communication will have gone in the direction that you have just stated. If we can communicate, it’s by definition good communication. What kind of impact will that have, do you think, on education in general? Not only education in the classroom of language learners, but in education and the way that the upcoming generations of adults might think.

0:33:23.5 Parthena Draggett: Well, I like to have it be in my way of thinking and I guess my vision would be it’s life. We will be better participants in life when we can communicate and recognize that we can communicate with more people and we can honor more people and honor their diversity, honor where they’re from and the languages that they speak. I come from a diverse background myself, half of me is Greek and half of me is Lebanese and I grew up hearing both of those languages and, for me, I know I’ve said this to you before when we’ve spoken Norah, languages are not foreign, languages were just a way to communicate, which I think is why I loved, as you know I have a master’s degree in French and Spanish, pedagogy in applied linguistics. But all languages just were communication to me and how wonderful it’s been in my life when I’ve been able to communicate with more people wherever I’ve gone.

0:34:13.4 Parthena Draggett: And I have to say, when I have been able to communicate, when I went to China or Russia and I was a bit challenged, that was hard for me. I was like, wait a minute, I want to be able to jump into this conversation. I could certainly appreciate the culture but I honestly couldn’t communicate and I didn’t like the way that felt. I want our students to have that comfort of being able to communicate and even if they can’t say a whole bunch, go to the different parts of the world and be part of the culture and the people and their products and their practices and celebrations and in the end to gain that perspective of who they are. I might not have that same perspective but I can certainly look at them and how they think about different things and read in their newspapers or look at their TV or experience their traditions and their customs and celebrations and I can appreciate it and honor it and respect it.

0:35:10.2 Parthena Draggett: Language communication and understanding of culture and interculturality to me is all about respecting. Respecting the diversity of who we are, what we each bring to the table and what we share that is the same and it’s different because we share with each other our differences too that helps one another grow. And to me, that’s what it’s all about. And our students coming out of the classroom today having these new perspectives enhanced more in the classroom and acceptances and making sure that we bring everybody in and nobody is marginalized, and finding a way to make every student count and know his or her importance, they’ll take that away with them and feel the same way about the world and everybody that they meet in life, that everybody counts, everybody’s important. And I can’t think of anything more important than that.

0:36:05.5 Norah Jones: That’s succinctly and beautifully put. And when I look at the title of the upcoming conference in Salamanca 2023, New Horizons, you’ve talked a lot here beautifully about the dawn that’s coming over so many classrooms, so many lives of educators and certainly the lives of students. What are… What else is across that horizon for our young people and for the role of AATSP and language educators? What’s not yet peaking over that horizon that’s going to happen next?

0:36:58.0 Parthena Draggett: We need to grow more educators, more world language and culture educators. There’s a great need. And my call would be, and this is something that I’m hoping to be able to bring out more this year as I’m president of AATSP, let’s start in our classrooms. Let’s look at our students that show a promise, think they might like to be a teacher and let’s hold their hands and take them, let’s take them to a conference. If I… When I lived in Ohio, I took students to the OFLA conference that wanted to be teachers. Let’s do that more. Let’s show them what we love about it and share that love and hopefully grow some teachers because we need more teachers of world languages. I think world languages are more important now than ever. And I believe there is no better time than right now to be a world language educator. There is no better time. As I mentioned before, we have standards. We have things that ties together.

0:37:47.4 Parthena Draggett: We have like practices that we’re looking at vertical alignment. We think about it as a sequence of instruction. We look at it helping students to grow their proficiency and go up the ACTFL proficiency scale and that interculturality. I mean, we’ve got all this that ties us together at whatever level we teach. There is no better time. Let’s share some of that beauty with our students. Why have we loved being educators? I know ACTFL has the Lead with Languages Initiative. I would like to think that all of us in our own classrooms could be ambassadors for that because you were saying what’s next for our students. It isn’t just about studying language and culture. It’s thinking about ways to use what they’ve learned in the classroom with language and culture for the betterment of other people’s lives. So they’re going to take that language and culture of their growth to whatever profession.

0:38:40.7 Parthena Draggett: Whether it’s serving the community as a law enforcement person, whether it’s being a teacher, whether it’s being a doctor or a nurse in a hospital, whether it’s working in sociology, whether it’s working in… Babysitting children, working in… Being in a church. My students volunteered helping… To help children that were newcomers to this country with their homework, for instance, but somehow they can affect other people’s lives if they can communicate with everybody. And that’s what I would like to see, but we need many more teachers teaching language and culture or teachers in general out there that care about kids, helping make students’ lives positive so that when they leave school, they can pass that positive feeling on what they’ve learned onto others and use it in communities to be better community members, to make a difference, to be a part of things, to feel that they really have a part to play in this great world we live in.

0:39:42.8 Norah Jones: May that happen indeed. Educators play the role of holding the hand of the next generation and bringing them into the light, speaking about New Horizons. As we finish up today, my dear friend and colleague, Parthena, what else do you not want to have us leave today on the table? On behalf of AATSP or yourself or both, what is it that you want to be sure that the listeners receive from our conversation today?

0:40:17.2 Parthena Draggett: Well, I think it would be that where you’ve spent your life, where you’ve dedicated your life, where you have participated, contributed. It’s funny, when you retire, it doesn’t like, it’s not put behind you. You find more ways, new ways to grow and to share what you love with others. I know there are people that maybe can just retire. I just can’t be one of those people, but I know that, for instance, any of you that might be retirees, there’s a new initiative, a new, I guess I would say SIG, a special interest group in AATSP for retired educators that want to still be involved. And I’d say for mentoring possibilities, maybe tutoring, look for great things to come because that is going to be coming. And it’s something that’s going to be… Meet for the first time in Salamanca.

0:41:05.7 Parthena Draggett: But I guess that I’m just, I’m speaking in general, whether you’re a teacher or not out there, if you love and have passion for what you’ve done, you can keep having that passion and have time to go play pickleball with your grandchildren or whatever, we can keep being contributing wonderful, passionate people about our careers, even when we, I’m going to say with comillas, what’s the word, quotation marks, “we retire”. Because I don’t know that retirement’s always there for all of us and I don’t want to ever feel that I just put it all aside. Because I’ve worked too long, too many years, and loved it so much. And honestly, when I say work, that’s facetious because I would always look at my school building and this is a true story.

0:41:49.5 Parthena Draggett: When I parked my car and I couldn’t wait to get in there, couldn’t wait to get in there and see what I could do that day what could I do? How can I inspire my students? Keep inspiring, that’s what I would like to say. Keep inspiring, affecting, participating, contributing. And we’re always going to be happy, you know? We’re always going to be happy. And know that whatever you do, and if it is that you’re happy or just sitting and reading a book, that’s okay, too. But know that whatever you do that makes you happy, keep doing it, whatever that is. Because that’s where I am right now in my career. I’m still contributing and being a part of things because it makes me happy, I love it.

0:42:29.2 Norah Jones: Thank you, my friend. Thank you so much for this wonderful conversation. Best wishes to you in your position as president. And I know that you’re inspiring a large group of people that are engaged in the mission of AATSP. So as you continue your work right now and preparations, especially for such a powerful convention, but all the resources and all the work that goes on all the time, may you receive the warmest wishes and a lot of support. And here’s hoping that folks will recognize the importance of that and other professional organizations to make things possible. Thanks again.

0:43:03.0 Parthena Draggett: You’re so very welcome, Norah. And thank you so much for having me today. It’s been a great honor. And to all the people out there, thank you for listening.


0:43:11.8 Norah Jones: I hope you enjoyed this podcast with guest Parthena Draggett. Do listen again to her episode six, if you have an opportunity, and think in your own life, where are the new horizons for you? Where are the new perspectives for those that are in your sphere of influence? And how do you and those that you care about and work with enter into the conversation using the language skills that they have and that they can grow into? Until next time, take care. [music]

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