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 - Speaking Engagements

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.

Discover the latest in learning innovations

Sign up for our weekly newsletter.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. All fields are required.