Vitanza becomes new Head of World Languages Department

Vitanza works with students in her class. Staff photographer Fiona ’20.

After ten years of teaching at Marlborough, Elizabeth Vitanza is taking on the role of Head of the World Languages Department. Her main goal is to focus on proficiency. Having taught French 1A, French 1B, French III Honors and Honors French Literature and Film, she feels she is more than qualified for her new role.

“I’ve been here long enough that I know how things work, and Dr. Reinholtz and I work really closely together. And our department’s really cohesive, so we’re working all together, and I’m comfortable leading them,” she said.

Her colleagues and students agree.

“It think it’s a decision that makes a lot of sense,” French Instructor David Sainsily said. “I adhere to her vision and am rooting for her to win.”

“I think she’s very capable,” Zoe ’19 said. “Her focuses in language teaching are on a better track than just having us do busy work. She really emphasises writing and a lot of stuff working towards proficiency like comprehension and speaking. The goal of language learning is understanding how to communicate.”

Though she has spent less than a month in this position, Vitanza has ideas that she believes will help improve the curricula within the department.

“What we’re talking about is really focusing on proficiency and really defining that for students and for parents,” Vitanza said.

She wants to make sure that students can determine their level of proficiency, rather than assuming their skills based on the amount of years they’ve taken the language.

She also hopes for students to learn that not everyone will progress at the same rate for every language because every language is different.

“Proficiency gains in Mandarin are going to be a lot slower and steadier than they might be in Spanish or French.” she said. “I think if we make the concept of proficiency in a language clearer, which we already started to do last year, students will better understand their progress and have clearer expectations for what they may achieve in their language courses over the four to six years they spend studying it.”

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