Edgar Serrano knows the power of networking.

Erinn Holloway, Dr. Reyna Vergara and Edgar Serrano

For more than 13 years, Serrano worked to help build a furniture company in Tupelo into a multi-million dollar operation that did business throughout the world.

Serrano is building similar networks in his current role as executive director of the Mississippi Foreign Language Association (MFLA), whose mission is to encourage active interest and research in languages other than English as well as the advancement of the study and teaching of English in schools, college and universities in the state of Mississippi.

On Nov. 10-11, the MFLA will bring foreign language teachers and students from the state together at Mississippi University for Women for two days of connection, education, advocacy and more.

“The conference will provide a lot of professional development,” Serrano said. “It will offer a look at what is new in the education side and what can we learn. But another one of the powerful benefits of the conference is the ability to network with others.”

The conference is open to all foreign language and English as a Second Language (ESL) teachers in the state of Mississippi. Serrano said the agenda for the conference is still being finalized, but he said the conference will emphasize the power of language and connection and how teachers can use those things to help students forge pathways into so many careers.

Serrano, who is a lecturer of Spanish at the University of Mississippi, was president of the MFLA from 2016-18. He also is the president-elect for the National Network for Early Language Learning (NNELL). Since its founding in MFLA, Serrano said the MFLA has worked to break down barriers and to educate people about the importance of learning a foreign language.

“The conference will give attendees a chance to see everyone reaching for pathways and ways to continue with language education,” Serrano said. “It is crucial to speak multiple languages to strengthen our national security, diplomacy and more robust business relations. People forget that 75% of the world doesn’t speak English, and when they speak English how proficient are they?”

That is a powerful message for Serrano, who is originally from Mexico City. After he lost his job at the furniture company, he knew his language skills could help him forge a new path. His goal in bringing the MFLA’s annual conference to The W is to help build cultural awareness and a better understanding of the power of foreign languages to increase empathy.

“Having the conference at The W really means a lot because we need to show we are together as a unity of teachers to teach each other and to support each other,” Serrano said. “I cannot be more than thankful for what it is doing and opening its doors so teachers can get to know each other better. We can transform Mississippi together, and The W is part of that transformation.”

Registration is open. The cost is $50 for teachers and $25 for students. The conference will offer Continuing Education Units (CEUs) that teachers can use to renew their teaching certification.

To register for the conference or to get more information about the MFLA, go to: https://www.mflams.org/ and fill out the contact information at the bottom of the page. There also will be a free conference workshop “Embracing Differences in the Language Learning Classroom” Saturday, Nov. 11.

By clicking “Conferences” at the top of the page and going to “2023 Conference,” all language educators can submit proposals for the 2023 MFLA Conference by Sept. 1.

Also at https://www.mflams.org/, you can register to take part in The W’s Teaching Contest 2024 by scanning the QR code that appears at the left of the page. The contest will be an opportunity for Mississippi and Alabama students to engage in authentic learning while exploring teaching middle school or high school as a career option.

For more information about the benefits of attending the MFLA conference, please contact Dr. Reyna Vergara, assistant professor of Spanish at The W, at revergara@muw.edu, or Erinn Holloway, Spanish instructor at The W, at echolloway@muw.edu.

About The W

Located in historic Columbus, Mississippi, The W was founded in 1884 as the first state-supported college for women in the United States. Today, the university is home to 2,227 students in more than 70 majors and concentrations and has educated men for 40 years. The university is nationally recognized for low student debt, diversity and social mobility which empowers students to BE BOLD.

Be Bold. Tower with Blue.