World Language Education: Supporting This We Believe

By Moser, Kelly; Miller, Nicole C. | AMLE Magazine, August 2016 | Go to article overview

World Language Education: Supporting This We Believe


Moser, Kelly, Miller, Nicole C., AMLE Magazine


Helping young adolescents become fully functioning, self-actualized persons who are prepared for college, career, and the world, means giving them multiple opportunities to collaborate within and beyond the classroom and connect ideas across disciplines through problem solving and critical thinking.

One way to reach these ambitious goals is through world language education. Yet, according to the Center for Applied Linguistics (www.cal.org), world language instruction at the middle level is rapidly declining. In fact, for a variety of reasons, including lack of funding, shortage of teachers, and the view that world language is not important, only about 50% of all middle schools offer world language.

We argue that world language education is important to middle level education and supports the tenets advocated in This We Believe.

The Goals of World Language Education

The American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) has identified five goal areas of world language education-five Cs-that support students as they bring "a global competence to their future careers and experiences."

1. Communication: Communicate effectively in more than one language through interpersonal (spontaneous oral and written communication), presentational (planned one-way oral and written communication), and interpretive (reading, listening, and viewing) modes.

2. Cultu res: Interact with cultural competence and understanding through exploration of practices- perspectives and products- perspectives of various cultures.

3. Connections: Connect with other disciplines to acquire information and diverse perspectives.

4. Comparisons: Develop insight into the nature of language and culture through critical compare-contrast investigations.

5. Communities: Communicate and interact appropriately at home and around the world.

Connecting with This We Believe

The five Cs clearly support the major goals of middle level educators outlined in This We Believe:

Middle Level Education Goal #1:

Become actively aware of the larger world, asking significant and relevant questions about that world and wrestling with big ideas and questions for which there may not be one right answer. (Communication, Cultures, Connections, and Comparisons)

Through language instruction, learners become aware that they are a small part of a much larger world. By exploring big ideas they connect to multiple disciplines. For example, in a unit on healthy living, students examine: What is healthy living? How is my view of diet and exercise connected to where I live?

Through these essential questions, they can connect ideas to mathematics, science, and health (e.g., calories, exercise) and geography (e.g., location and food availability) through the language. They can use this knowledge to critically examine the impact of their own food choices and lifestyle on their own health.

They might investigate how MyPlate (www.choosemyplate. gov) is different from traditional food pyramids and how values may differ from country to country. They can compare and contrast the menus of fast food chains in other countries to identify the preferences of diverse people. They can use this new knowledge to think creatively about how they might create a new school lunch menu and how this menu might differ if they lived in a different country. They complete all of these activities through the medium of a world language.

Middle Level Education Goal #2:

Use digital tools to explore, communicate, and collaborate with the world and learn from the rich and varied resources available. (Communication and Communities)

In teaching world languages, middle level educators can leverage digital tools as ways for students to explore, communicate, and collaborate with the world. Tools such as Skype or Edmodo can help students connect with peers from other countries and extend their opportunities for relevant and engaging language-learning experiences. …

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