Every Student Globally Competent, World Language Fluent

I spent the day in Orlando but not at DisneyWorld.  I joined a couple thousand teachers at ACTFL Convention & World Languages Expo.  It’s a pretty diverse group, but they gathered around the shared vision of global competence and fluency in several world languages for all young people.

A few weeks ago we published The Next Generation of World Language Learning, a paper sponsored by Rosetta Stone and co-authored with Moss Pike, the Middle School Dean of Faculty at the Harvard-Westlake School and a regional leader in Greek and Latin linguistics and pedagogy.

Cool tools.  Like Moss, the world language teachers I met at ACTFL use a variety of new tools to engage students and personalize learning.  About a third of the teachers I surveyed use Google docs for collaborative writing, peer review, and presentations. About the same number conduct vocab quizzes on Quizlet and other online flashcard tools.  About a fifth ask students to use Google Voice (or equivalent) to record oral assignments.

A large percentage of teachers used presentation tools including PowerPoint and Keynote, or web-based tools such as Prezi, Storybird and Glogster.  A handful of teachers ask students to record and edit videos.  (For a recap of all the tools that Moss and his colleagues use see Flipped Foreign Language).

Other cool stuff. Pearson’s digital Spanish offering Realidades embeds a lot of the features described above: voice over text, video demonstrations, uploadable content, quizzes, and oral response recordings.

The folks from ReLANpro are marketing their free+premium digital solution as BYOLL: Bring Your Own Language Lab (featured image).

And because so much quality content is free, WeSpeke is providing free access to their Skype-meets-Match.com language learning site with advertising support.

Middlebury Interactive (profiled in September) featured their interactive immersive environment.

7 Design principles.  In sync with the immersive and collaborative environments that ACTFL teachers described, our paper lays out design principles for next-gen world language learning:

  • Active immersion

  • Mobile learning

  • Student-centered collaboration

  • Game-based learning & augmented reality

  • Interdisciplinary work

  • Standards-based grading

  • Reorganization of physical space

With online and blended learning, all students should have K-12 access to world language learning–and it should be an expectation not an exception.

Flex model secondary schools–an online school featuring onsite supports–are a great way to offer a global studies academy where students are immersed on international studies and gain exposure to multiple languages.  I mentioned KM Global, a suburban Milwaukee school we visited and featured in September.

State policy recommendations. I asked ACTFL teachers to become policy advocates in their state and district.  The paper lays out six state policy recommendations:

  • Goal for global competence & proficiency in more than one language

  • Graduation requirement for language proficiency

  • On-demand tests in top 6 languages (grade 6-12)

  • Multiple providers authorized statewide

  • Free access to elementary world language resources

  • Portable funding for online courses (grade 6-12)

After spending the day with a bunch of tech savvy world language teachers, I drew three conclusions:

  1. World languages are a great place to lead and model standards-based grading and competency-based progressions;

  2. World languages (like AP courses and electives) provide a great reason for states and districts to add online learning options for secondary students;

  3. World language (and ELL) instruction is a great place to model a range of blended options from mostly online to augmented face-to-face.

  4. The toolset is good enough and list of model schools is long enough that all students should have K-12 access to world language learning–and it should be an expectation not an exception.

Pearson and Rosetta Stone are Getting Smart Advocacy Partners 

Tom Vander Ark

Tom Vander Ark is the CEO of Getting Smart. He has written or co-authored more than 50 books and papers including Getting Smart, Smart Cities, Smart Parents, Better Together, The Power of Place and Difference Making. He served as a public school superintendent and the first Executive Director of Education for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

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