OFLA is the Ohio Foreign Language Association
What is today the Ohio Foreign Language Association (OFLA) was founded in 1962 as the Ohio Modern Language Teachers Association (OMLTA). Early in the 1960s, Leona Glenn, Ohio's Foreign Language Supervisor, was convinced that the state's foreign language teachers at all levels- elementary, secondary, and college- needed a professional forum that would have a pedagogical focus. At the time, the language-specific organizations at the state level were heavily oriented to literature-based meetings, with scant attention to classroom techniques. With the help of a number of key foreign language teachers around the state, Ms. Glenn established the new OMLTA with the idea that foreign language teachers as a whole have many methods in common, and as a united group, would be more visible and influential in furthering the interests of the profession.
Ms. Glenn served as the first president for the academic year 1962-63 to get things underway, but she quickly got others involved. She worked with OMLTA thereafter as advisor and willing helper for all sorts of tasks. Her tireless and energetic enthusiasm soon helped the fledgling OMLTA grow from a relatively few teachers meeting for a few hours on one day to a fully developed conference lasting two or three days by the end of the 1960s, with teachers from all parts of Ohio and beyond in attendance. She established the pattern of moving the conference each year to different locations in Ohio that still holds true today.
Even though teachers of the classical languages were included in OMLTA from the beginning, there were concerns over the "Modern" part of OMLTA's name, and the term "Teachers" was felt to be somewhat too limiting to reflect the foreign language professionals acting in other capacities. By 1986, there was a general consensus among members that a more inclusive name was desirable, and the Association changed from OMLTA to OFLA at the beginning of the 1986-87 academic year.
Each year from its founding, the Association has grown. OFLA is recognized today as one of the premier language organizations in the United States. It provides scholarships for students and teachers, promotes study abroad, holds regional workshops for professional development, provides information to the membership and the public at large with its series of publications, recognizes excellence through a series of awards, is proactive politically for keeping the legislature and the public aware of important issues affecting the study of foreign languages, and provides professional in-service training through its excellent annual conference, where leading foreign language instructors from around the state and nation present sessions on the latest developments and techniques.
OFLA has reorganized as an Association in recent years. As a result, the Vision and Mission of the Association represent the future goals of the organization. As academic content standards, transition from teacher certification to licensure, and the increased need for sound articulation at all levels of instruction become part of our reality, look for OFLA to use the strength of its organization and its two thousand members to lead the discussion of these very important issues.
A Note of Thanks
OFLA wishes to recognize the efforts of John M. Purcell, Professor Emeritus, Cleveland State University, for providing the historical information about OFLA.