'Global Competence' Key to Language Instruction: Studying Foreign Cultures Prepares Students for Interconnected World

By Rhor, Monica | District Administration, November 2014 | Go to article overview

'Global Competence' Key to Language Instruction: Studying Foreign Cultures Prepares Students for Interconnected World


Rhor, Monica, District Administration


Foreign language has become a necessity for "global competence"--the ability to use a language beyond the classroom, in the workforce and in social settings. The idea of global competence encompasses sensitivity, respect and understanding of other cultural perspectives. Today's foreign language standards emphasize the five Cs: communication, cultures, connections, comparisons and communities.

Global competence is the theme of the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages conference to be held November 21 to 23 in San Antonio, which will feature sessions on ways to strengthen the link between language and culture; strategies for using storytelling to sharpen language skills; and tips for creating global-centric classrooms by studying current events.

"Global competence is an essential component of all students' academic experience because it is central to one's preparation to live and be successful in our interconnected world," says ACTFL President Mary Lynn Redmond, a Wake Forest University professor who will present a session. "Reframing World Language Learning Within Global Competence Models."

Global competence in foreign language will help prepare students for jobs in everything from business and national security to health and science, she adds.

Authentic learning

Foreign language teachers are cultivating global competence by integrating authentic materials into class--a method facilitated by the wealth of resources available online, says ACTFL Executive Director Marty Abbott. For example, instead of using McDonald's menus translated into Spanish, educators can access authentic restaurant menus from countries where the language is spoken, and not just something that is translated from English.

Technology--another theme running through many of the sessions at the conference--also enables teachers to incorporate authentic learning, or, in other words, to teach skills and use materials culled from real life, says Abbott.

Digital storytelling, iPads and Google hangouts are all being integrated into foreign language instruction. One session, for example, highlights Brigham Young University's efforts to create online connections between native Spanish speakers and second- and third-semester students through videoconferencing. …

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