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Early Foreign Language Programs that Work: Following the Models
Language Policy Update
Language and Education
This publication was prepared with funding from the National Library of Education, Office of Educational Research and Improvement, U.S. Department of Education, under contract no. ED-99-CO-0008. The opinions expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the positions or policies of NLE, OERI, or ED.
Early Foreign Language Programs that Work: Following the Models
Throughout the last decade, parents, teachers, policymakers, and others have grown more aware of the benefits of early language learning. Many states have passed or are considering legislation to require foreign language study at various grade levels. (Lewelling & Rennie, 1998). Long sequences of second language instruction, beginning in elementary school and moving through middle and high school, are beginning to take hold. According to a recent national survey of foreign language instruction in the United States, the inclusion of foreign language instruction in the school curriculum has increased significantly in both private and public elementary schools over the past 10 years (Rhodes & Branaman, 1999). Immersion programs that allow children to learn academic content such as mathematics or social studies in a foreign language are growing. National foreign language standards have been established and are being implemented across the country. National attention has begun to turn from whether children should learn languages to how best to teach them.
Those considering how to implement early foreign language programs often search for good models to follow. Many effective programs, led by dedicated professionals, exist throughout the United States. From among those programs, seven were selected for study by the Improving Foreign Language Instruction project of the Center for Applied Linguistics and the Northeast and Islands Regional Educational Laboratory at Brown University. These programs are described in a new book from ERIC/CLL: Lessons Learned: Model Early Foreign Language Programs, by Douglas F. Gilzow and Lucinda E. Branaman. (Ordering information for this book is provided at the end of this article.)
The seven programs were identified through a nomination and selection process informed by national standards for foreign language education and by research on effective language instruction for elementary and middle school students. The seven programs share the following characteristics:
- They are at least four years old.
- They are willing to share their curricula with others.
- Their student population reflects the diversity of the community.
- They enjoy the support of the community.
- Their curricula are based on the five Cs of the national foreign language standards-communication, cultures, connections, comparisons, and communities.
- They are evaluated regularly.
- They are meeting their stated goals.
- They are open to all students.
- There is communication and coordination among language and content area teachers.
- They provide articulation (i.e., coordination) from elementary to middle school and from middle school to high school.
The selected programs vary in how fully they exemplify any one of these attributes, but all have much to offer parents, teachers, and administrators searching for models to work with. These programs have confronted many challenges--budget limitations, skepticism from administrators, teacher shortages, lack of appropriate assessment instruments-and have found creative ways to deal with them.
Four qualities that have contributed to the success of the programs merit special attention:
- Flexibility. Flexibility in the face of unanticipated developments, such as funding cuts, is key to a program's ability to continue and to evolve.
- Teamwork. Foreign language professionals work closely with district superintendents, members of the board of education, school principals, regular classroom teachers, parents, and local universities, and others in the community.
- Leadership. One or two individuals with a vision of foreign language teaching and learning lead the program and inspire others.
- Commitment. A deep commitment to early language programs--building relationships, securing funding, and developing curricula specifically for young learners--is a requirement for success.
The seven programs are located in different regions of the country--the Northeast, the Mid-Atlantic, the Southeast, the Midwest, and the Northwest. They offer instruction in a range of languages, including Spanish, French, Japanese, and Russian, beginning as early as kindergarten and going through eighth grade. Some programs operate in a single school; others are district-wide. Brief profiles of the seven programs follow.
Andrew Jackson and Greenbelt Middle Schools, Prince George's County, Maryland
Andrew Jackson Middle School became the site of Prince George's County's first French immersion continuation program when the first students in the county's elementary school French immersion program graduated to middle school in 1993. The county's second middle school French immersion program was added in 1997 at Greenbelt Middle School. The middle school programs are partial immersion--most classes are taught in English, but two classes each day involve content-based French instruction. Major keys to success include widespread community support of the program, wise long-term planning for articulation from elementary to middle school, and deep commitment on the part of teachers.
Bay Point Elementary School, Pinellas County, Florida
All Bay Point students (Grades K-5) learn Spanish for 20 to 30 minutes each day. Language lessons are carefully linked to content instruction in other subjects, with the language taught in a meaningful context based on themes relevant to the children's interests and needs. Teachers use visuals, authentic materials, songs, and dramatizations that help children with different learning styles to learn in an enjoyable, positive environment. One of the most important factors in the program's success has been teamwork. The foreign language supervisor and teachers work together dynamically to bring a high level of expertise to the tasks of designing curricula, identifying materials, and developing an instruction plan that reinforces the regular elementary curriculum. The team has expanded to include regular classroom teachers, administrators, parents, students, and the community.
Ephesus Road Elementary School, Chapel Hill-Carrboro Public Schools, North Carolina
One of the fastest growing elementary schools in the district, Ephesus Road Elementary is a community-based neighborhood school in which all students (except those with multiple developmental delays) participate in the foreign language program. The school's student population reflects the diversity of the community, with over 30 native languages represented. Students participate in a content-enriched sequential foreign language program that was initiated district-wide in response to a state initiative. Strong commitment on the part of school staff and parents to the district's foreign language program, coupled with a strong relationship between the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the Ephesus program, have contributed to the program's success.
Glastonbury Public Schools, Connecticut
The Glastonbury Public School District's record of dedication to foreign language began in 1957. The foreign language program is implemented at all eight schools in the district. Spanish is taught to all students in Grades 1 through 5. When students reach sixth grade, they make a transition to a more formal, academic study of Spanish or begin studying French. Classes meet 20 minutes a day, two times a week, in Grade 1; approximately 20 minutes a day in Grades 2 through 6; and 45 minutes a day in Grades 7 through 12. In addition to Spanish and French, offerings in the Glastonbury district include Russian, Latin, and Japanese. Major strengths of the Glastonbury program include careful, well-considered articulation from kindergarten through Grade 12, and strong community support that is continually nurtured.
Larchmont Elementary School, Toledo Public Schools, Ohio
Larchmont is one of three Toledo elementary schools to offer foreign language study. Larchmont offers Spanish, another school offers French, and the third offers German. An excellent teaching staff, enjoyable and motivating classes, content-enriched language lessons, staff commitment at all levels within the school system, and a willingness to include all children in language classes are the major keys to success for Larchmont's Spanish FLES (foreign language in elementary school) program. The program focuses on communicative activities and developing a strong foundation for future language study. Elementary-level language courses are well articulated with middle school and high school continuation classes.
Richmond Elementary School, Portland Public Schools, Oregon Richmond Elementary School's Japanese language program, which extends from kindergarten through fifth grade, is part of an articulated sequence that continues through high school. Initiated in 1989 in kindergarten, the Japanese program began adding one grade each year, aiming to complete the sequence with a 12th-grade program in the 2001-2002 school year. The basic structure of the program involves teams of two teachers at each grade level, one offering instruction in English for half the day and the other teaching in Japanese for the other half. The two teachers plan together to integrate and reinforce content across the languages. Leadership and effective teamwork have brought a spirit of innovation to the program. Parent involvement is a notable key to Richmond's success. Parents have taken an unusually strong leadership role in supporting communication within the program, maintaining staff positions, and raising funds.
Springfield Public Schools, Massachusetts Students at all 32 elementary schools in the Springfield district are participating in content-enriched foreign language instruction. Every Springfield student in first through fifth grade spends 90 minutes per week in foreign language study. Apart from one school that offers only French, all Springfield elementary schools offer Spanish. Four schools offer both French and Spanish; three offer French, Spanish, and Chinese. These programs link to classes that continue in sixth through twelfth grades. This ambitious district-wide program has been successful in large part thanks to flexible school and district staff who recognize local realities and adapt to them. Springfield has used its limited funds creatively to support this well-organized program. Another key element of Springfield's success is the effective leadership and hard work of program administrators who have built teams and advocated for the program.
These schools and districts provide insights into the strengths of early foreign language programs and the challenges they face. Detailed descriptions of each of the seven programs can be found in the book on which this article is based: Lessons Learned: Model Early Foreign Language Programs, by Douglas F. Gilzow and Lucinda E. Branaman. The book can be ordered from Delta Systems Publishers or by calling 1-800-323-8270. (ISBN 1-887744-63-0, $18.95 + 10% shipping)
Lessons Learned is the first volume in ERIC/CLL's new Professional Practice Series. For information on the series and forthcoming titles, visit http://www.practiceseries.com.
References And Resources
Curtain, H., & Pesola, C.A. (1994). Languages and Children: Making the Match (2nd ed.). White Plains, NY: Longman
Gilzow, D.F., & Branaman, L.E. (2000). Lessons Learned: Model Early Foreign Language Programs. McHenry, IL, and Washington, DC: Delta Systems and Center for Applied Linguistics.
Lewelling, V., and Rennie, J. (1998.) State Initiatives for Foreign Language Instruction. K–12 Foreign Language Education: The ERIC Review, 6 (1).
National Standards in Foreign Language Learning Project. (1999). Standards for Foreign Language Learning in the 21st Century including Chinese, Classical Languages, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish. Lawrence, KS: Allen Press.
Rhodes, N.C., & Branaman, L.E. (1999). Foreign Language Instruction in the United States: A National Survey of Elementary and Secondary Schools. McHenry, IL, and Washington, DC: Delta Systems and Center for Applied Linguistics. (http://www.delta-systems.com)
LANGUAGE POLICY UPDATE
On November 16, U.S. Secretary of Education Richard Riley spoke at a luncheon in Washington, DC to celebrate US International Education Week (November 13-17, 2000). In his address, the Secretary urged Americans to make “people-to-people connections”with other countries. During the question-and-answer period following the address, he endorsed the learning of foreign languages and reiterated his wish to see the number of dual language programs across the United States grow. Full text of his speech is available at http://www.ed.gov/Speeches/11-2000/001116.html.
During International Education Week, foreign ambassadors in the United States were invited to visit public schools or universities and U.S. ambassadors abroad were encouraged to visit schools in their host countries. More information about U.S. International Education Week will also be available at the Department of Education Web site, http://www.ed.gov, and at the State Department Web site at http://exchanges.state.gov/iep.
In each issue of ERIC/CLL Language Link, we feature one or more of the journals that we abstract and index for Current Index to Journals in Education (CIJE), the ERIC database's monthly index to education-related journals. In this issue, we profile Language Testing.
Language and Education
Language and Education (ISSN 0950-0782) publishes articles about language use and language teaching in education settings. Each issue also includes book reviews. This journal is published four times per year by Multilingual Matters Ltd. Recent articles include “Multilingual Classrooms, Standards and Quality: Three Children and a Lot of Bouncing Balls,” “Ways of Doing, Ways of Being: Language, Education and 'Working' Identities” (Vol. 14, No. 1); “Representing a Different Culture: Exercises on Point of View,” “Collaborative Knowledge Building: Preservice Teachers and Elementary Students Talking to Learn” (Vol. 4, No. 4); and “'Tell Me What You Do at School': A Comparison of Children's School Scripts in English First Language and French Immersion Second Language Kindergarten Programmes”(Vol. 13, No.3). To subscribe, contact Multilingual Matters Ltd, Frankfurt Lodge, Clevedon Hall, Victoria Road, Clevedon BS21 7HH, UK.
Search online for articles from this and other journals included in Current Index to Journals in Education at http://www.eric.ed.gov/searchdb/searchdb.html.
You can recognize journal abstracts in the ERIC database by their "EJ" prefix followed by a six-digit number. ERIC abstracts can be read at ERIC centers in libraries in the United States and overseas, as well as on the World Wide Web (http://www.eric.ed.gov/searchdb/searchdb.html). Subscriptions to the journals can be obtained from the publishers; individual articles from many journals are available through the following reprint services:
You may also wish to contact your local university or research library.
News from ERIC/CLL
Among the many new publications from ERIC/CLL are the first volume in our new Professional Practice Series, a new Resource Guide Online, a brochure, and three new digests.
Lessons Learned: Model Early Foreign Language Programs, by Douglas F. Gilzow and Lucinda E. Branaman, describes seven successful foreign language programs for students in Grades K–8 in Connecticut, Florida, Maryland, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Ohio, and Oregon. Contact Delta Systems for ordering information. (Telephone: 800-323-8270)
Our latest Resource Guides Online are Dialects in Education and Foreign Language Standards. Experts in both areas collaborated with ERIC/CLL to produce these guides to publications, Web sites, listservs, conferences, and other resources on the Web.
A new brochure, Working Together to Create a Multilingual Society, is available from ERIC/CLL by sending an email message to email@example.com, or by contacting us at 1-800-276-9834. This brochure can also be ordered as part of an information packet for school board members that also includes our parent brochure, Why, How, and When Should My Child Learn a Second Language, and a brochure describing the seven model programs detailed in Lessons Learned: Model Early Foreign Language Programs.
ERIC/CLL has published the following new digests as part of a special project that also resulted in the paper What Teachers Need to Know about Language:
- What Elementary Teachers Need to Know About Language
- What Early Childhood Teachers Need to Know About Language
- Teaching Educators About Language
Print copies of these and other digests may be obtained from ERIC/CLL at 1-800-276-9834 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
News from the National Clearinghouse for ESL Literacy Education (NCLE)
Staff at the National Clearinghouse for ESL Literacy Education (NCLE) will be giving a number of presentations on issues in adult ESL at the upcoming Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) convention to be held in St. Louis, Missouri, February 28-March 3, 2000. Presentations will include “ESL in Adult Education,” “Empowering Children and Parents in Family Literacy,” “Issues in Adult ESL Practitioner Research,” “Facilitating Progress in Adults with Learning Disabilities,” “Adult English learners and the National Literacy Summit,” “Professional Development Resources for Adult ESL Practitioners,” “Low Proficiency Adults' Language Learning Strategies,” and “Development of the Adaptive Computer-Assisted Oral Interview.”NCLE staff will also be available at the Center for Applied Linguistics' (CAL) booth in the Exhibit Hall.
Civics Education for Adult English Language Learners is a new Q&A from NCLE that defines key terms, describes major events that have shaped civics education for immigrants, and discusses activities and approaches that integrate language learning with civics content.
NCLE staff are available to answer your questions at email@example.com or 202-362-0700.
News from ERIC and the U.S. Department of Education
Headlines and reports about education initiatives are continually added and updated at the Department of Education Web site, http://www.ed.gov. To make navigating the site as productive as possible, a slide show entitled An Orientation to the U.S. Department of Education's Web Site is now available.
The ERIC Annual Report 2000 is now available. To order a free paper copy, call ACCESS ERIC at 1-800-538-3742, or send an e-mail request to firstname.lastname@example.org. The 2000 report includes statistical and narrative highlights of ERIC's publications and products, Internet activities, special projects, and user surveys, as well as ERIC's budget for the 2000 fiscal year.
The ERIC Clearinghouse on Assessment and Evaluation (ERIC/AE) has worked with WorldLingo, Inc., to make the ERIC database accessible in languages other than English. Teachers, researchers, and other members of the public can search the ERIC database in German and Spanish at http://SearchERIC.org. Chinese and Japanese translations are expected to become available shortly.
The ERIC Clearinghouse on Reading, English, and Communication (ERIC/REC) has added a new category to the Great Web Resources section of its Web site. Literacy Education Resources: Early Childhood to High School contains links to more than 100 online information resources addressing literacy education in preschool through high school.
The ERIC Clearinghouse on Teaching and Teacher Education (ERIC/SP) has added a new section to its Web site. Online Publications offers full-text papers and reports that address topics relevant to teaching and teacher education, including technology, teacher education and recruitment, professional development, and standards and assessment.
New publications from ERIC/CLL's sister clearinghouses include Employability Skills: An Update from the ERIC Clearinghouse on Adult, Career, and Vocational Education (ERIC/ACVE); Five Strategies To Reduce Overrepresentation of Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Students in Special Education from the ERIC Clearinghouse on Disabilities and Gifted Education (ERIC/EC); School Health Education in a Multicultural Society from the ERIC Clearinghouse on Teaching and Teacher Education (ERIC/SP); and Women and Minority Faculty in the Academic Workplace: Recruitment, Retention, and Academic Culture from the ERIC Clearinghouse on Higher Education (ERIC/HE). To find links to these and other ERIC resources, visit http://www.eric.ed.gov/sites/barak.html.
The items above appeared in ERICNews, an electronic newsletter from ACCESS ERIC. To subscribe, send the command SUBSCRIBE ERICNEWS FIRSTNAME LASTNAME to email@example.com. More information about ERIC is reported in the ERIC Users' Interchange at http://www.eric.ed.gov/resources/inter/index.html.
News from Our Colleagues
The American Council on Immersion Education has published the Fall 2000 issue of its newsletter. Articles include: “Dual Language Immersion: Profile of Chicago's Early Childhood Program”, “Foreign Language Across the Curriculum An Immersion Option at the Post-Secondary Level,” “Burning Issues in Immersion Education: A Parent's Perspective,” and “Content-Based Language Teaching through Technology.”Copies of the ACIE Newsletter have been sent to all 162 ACIE members. If you would like to become a member of ACIE, membership information is available at http://carla.acad.umn.edu/acie.html.
The Center for Advanced Research on Language Acquisition (CARLA) at the University of Minnesota has published The Directory of North American Institutions of Higher Education that Offer Courses in the Less Commonly Taught Languages. Vol 1: Europe by Nancy Stenson, Louis Janus, John Skinner, Kim Nguyen, and Tung Nguyen. This is Number 16 in the CARLA Working Paper Series. The book is available from CARLA for $25.00 + shipping. More information about all of the CARLA working papers and an order form are available at: http://carla.acad.umn.edu/working-papers.html. For additional information about these and other CARLA projects, including the Content Based Language Teaching through Technology (CoBaLTT) project, visit the CARLA Web site at http://carla.acad.umn.edu.
The Center for Research on Education, Diversity & Excellence (CREDE) is pleased to announce the release of the revised and updated Directory of Two-Way Bilingual Immersion Programs in the United States. This directory contains detailed information on 248 programs in 23 states and the District of Columbia.
CREDE has also published the Directory of Secondary Newcomer Programs in the United States: Revised 2000, profiling 115 middle and high school newcomer programs across 196 sites in 29 states and the District of Columbia. It includes new programs as well as updated information about programs profiled in previous directories. The directory is available for $35.00, plus 10% shipping and handling (20% international orders), from CREDE. To order, send a check, money order, signed purchase order, or credit card (MasterCard or Visa) information to CAL/CREDE, 4646 40th Street NW, Washington, DC 20016. For questions on ordering, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 202-362-0700.
Also from CREDE is Research Brief #7, Improving Classroom Instruction and Student Learning for Resilient and Non-resilient English Language Learners, by Yolanda N. Padron, Hersh Waxman, Ann P. Brown, and Robert A. Powers. Highlighting findings from classroom observation and student and teacher interviews, this brief discusses individual and school processes that lead to and foster the educational resiliency and success of English language learners, including an effective instructional program proposed by the authors.
The Joint National Committee for Languages/National Council for Languages and International Studies offers legislative updates, federal notices, and information about professional development activities and grant and funding opportunities at http://www.languagepolicy.org/new.html.
NCBE Newsline is a bi-weekly online newsletter from the National Clearinghouse for Bilingual Education that offers legislative updates; Department of Education news; news from the regional laboratories; and information about awards, conferences, and job opportunities. To subscribe, send the message SUBSCRIBE NEWSLINE to email@example.com. Back issues can be read at http://www.ncela.gwu.edu/newsline/archive.htm#Past.
New NCBE publications include 1) Lessons from Research: What Is the Length of Time It Takes LEP Students to Acquire English and Succeed in an All-English Classroom?; 2)What are the Critical Issues in Wide-Scale Assessment of English Language Learners?; and 3) Non-Language Characteristics of Instructional Services for Language-Minority Students.
New publications from Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) include Internet for English Teaching, Technology-Enhanced Learning Environments, and Integrating the ESL Standards into Classroom Practice. Order from TESOL at http://www.tesol.org/pubs/index.html or 703-836-0774 (telephone), 703-836-7864 (fax).
The Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) Board Grants and Awards Committee invites applications for the TOEFL Grants and Awards program. Available awards include TOEFL Small Grants for Doctoral Research in Second/Foreign Language Assessment, TOEFL Outstanding Young Scholar Award, TOEFL Board Grants, TOEFL Partners in Excellence Award, Jacqueline A. Ross Dissertation Award, and TOEFL Policy Council Awards for International Participation at TESOL. For more information about any of these awards, including calls for proposals, eligibility requirements, submission procedures, application forms and timelines, visit the TOEFL Web site or contact the TOEFL Grants and Awards Program, TOEFL Program Office, ms 06-L, P.O. Box 6155, Princeton, New Jersey 08541 U.S.A. Telephone: (609) 683-2078; Fax: (609) 683-2090; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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