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|Volume 26, No. 2||Spring 2003|
by Teresa J. Kennedy, University of Idaho
“To study another language and culture gives one the powerful key to successful communication: knowing how, when, and why, to say what to whom.” (National Standards in Foreign Language Education Project, 1996, p.11)
The national standards for foreign language education are organized around five main goal areas—communication, cultures, connections, comparisons, and communities—each of which contains two or three content standards. This article describes an international project that can be used by language teachers to incorporate the two content standards of the connections goal area into their teaching by integrating academic content instruction with second language instruction. According to the national standards, “Learning languages provides connections to additional bodies of knowledge that are unavailable to monolingual English speakers” (National Standards in Foreign Language Education Project, 1996, p. 27). The two standards of the connections goal challenge foreign language educators to insert a more interdisciplinary approach into their teaching:
Standard 3.1. Students reinforce and further their knowledge of other disciplines through the foreign language.
Standard 3.2. Students acquire information and recognize the distinctive viewpoints that are only available through the foreign language and its cultures.
These standards imply that the foreign language should be a medium of instruction for academic disciplines such as mathematics, science, and social studies. Using the foreign language as a vehicle for teaching and acquiring subject specific knowledge is an effective way of integrating language learning with content area instruction.
The integration of language and content instruction offers students the opportunity to continue their academic and cognitive development while improving their proficiency in a foreign language. Two common areas for integrating content with language study are mathematics and science.
Reilly (1988) describes the language of mathematics as having its own special vocabulary, syntax (sentence structure), semantic properties (truth conditions), and discourse (text) features. Instructional activities for math should promote language development through a natural, subconscious process that focuses on the concepts, processes, and applications of mathematics. These activities should build on students’ real-life experiences and prior knowledge and allow ample opportunities for social interaction. Lessons should utilize graphics, manipulatives, and other concrete materials that clarify and reinforce meaning.
Science, on the other hand, generally concentrates on concepts and relationships developed through observation, identification, description, experimental investigation, and theoretical explanation of natural phenomena. Students observe, classify, compare, measure, infer, predict, and find space and time relationships. The integration of mathematics and science into the language classroom provides a rich context for genuine language use. Moreover, such meaning-centered methods help students master science, mathematics, and language skills (Minicucci, Berman, McLeod, Nelson, & Woodworth, 1995).
The GLOBE program (Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment) provides an excellent means for language teachers to integrate science—and other subjects such as mathematics, technology, and social studies—into their instruction (Kennedy, 1999; Kennedy & Canney, 2000). GLOBE is a worldwide, hands-on, school-based science program that provides students the opportunity to learn by—
following identified GLOBE protocols to take scientifically valid environmental measurements of the atmosphere, bodies of water, and areas of land at or near their school.
reporting their data to the GLOBE data archive via the GLOBE Web site or email.
creating maps, graphs, and visualizations of data using free software tools available from the interactive GLOBE Web site, to analyze their data sets and make comparisons to data sets gathered by their peers.
collaborating with scientists and other GLOBE students around the world through inquiry-based research projects based on their local data collections.
publishing and disseminating their research at international expeditions and on the GLOBE website.
GLOBE participants include over a million students in more than 13,000 schools from more than 100 countries. GLOBE is an interagency program of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the U.S. Department of State. GLOBE students collect atmospheric, hydrologic, geologic, and biometric data from their school’s 90 x 90-meter study site in order to monitor conditions in their local community and make comparisons with other schools around the world. They report their data via the Internet to the GLOBE network, to scientists at NASA, and to other scientists around the world who incorporate GLOBE data with information received from satellites in order to verify or “ground truth” the information received from the satellite imagery. GLOBE students have reported data from over 9.3 million science measurements in the areas of atmosphere/climate, hydrology, soils, and land cover/biology.
GLOBE is the perfect standards-based venue for students to conduct science projects and compare their results with those of other GLOBE students around the world. The GLOBE program can bring virtually every classroom in a school together to work on a single project with other students and scientists on an international level. Although GLOBE’s primary focus is science, it also provides students of a second language with authentic opportunities to communicate in the language they are studying. Science serves as a focal point around which oral language and literacy can develop (Kennedy, 1999).
For example, teachers and their students can communicate with other GLOBE classrooms by clicking on the country of their choice on the world map found on the GLOBE Web site. With each click of the mouse, a more in-depth view of the country appears until finally, a representation of all the GLOBE-participating schools in that country is displayed, with a dot representing each school. By clicking on a dot for a particular school, students can examine the location of the school to make seasonal comparisons, view the school’s data (e.g., weather measurements such as temperature, cloud type, and cloud cover), and ask specific questions of their peers at that school. These interactions provide the perfect venue for authentic language use outside the language classroom, consistent with all five goal areas of the national foreign language standards. Extension activities could include watching a weather report in the target language and later creating weather forecasts that can be videotaped or presented in front of the class.
GLOBE also conducts periodic Web chats in participating countries. These provide opportunities for spontaneous communication in the target language, helping students develop conversational skills that will enable them to discuss and further their collaborative research. For example, one Web chat that was conducted in Spanish featured Professor Juan Carlos Fallas Sojo, a meteorologist and university professor at the University of Costa Rica. The discussion centered on El Niño and its effects, particularly in Central America. Students from many different schools in both South America and the United States participated. Many different dialects of Spanish were used, exposing students to a broad learning community.
The GLOBE Teachers’ Guide, as well as materials such as cloud and soil charts, instructional slides, and Web pages, provide language teachers with content curriculum that can be incorporated into their classrooms. Because GLOBE partners represent over half the countries in the world, with schools on every continent, in every time zone, and representing virtually every type of biome, the program naturally provides many resources for language teachers. Authentic materials ready for classroom implementation are available in all six United Nations’ languages (Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian, and Spanish), and at least part of the GLOBE Teacher’s Guide is now available in Dutch, German, Greek, Hebrew, Japanese, and Thai, with many other materials becoming available in other languages through GLOBE’s international partners. GLOBE students are introduced to other languages and cultures as they engage in authentic projects and meaningful discussions with one another, with students in other countries, and with world experts in the disciplines they are studying.
GLOBE provides language teachers with a vehicle for integrating a wide range of disciplines, such as the arts and humanities, music, photography, and language arts. Art skills may be developed as students work with contour maps, draw landscape diagrams, and study soil colors. “The Sound of GLOBE,” a compact disc featuring music written and performed by GLOBE participants from all over the world, is a wonderful addition to the music classroom. Students learn about photography as they take pictures of their local study sites and describe the pictures in written as well as conversational settings. GLOBE story books provide elementary students with a connection to many of the science protocol areas targeted by the program, while the GLOBE Teacher’s Guide provides content information for rich reading activities at the secondary level. Descriptive and technical report writing about inquiry projects helps students hone their writing skills, and incorporating GLOBE into projects that require independent research on different countries affords students opportunities to gain in-depth cultural understanding and to build global collaborations. The GLOBE program also supports the multicultural study of social studies and geography by providing students with hands-on experience in basic geography skills such as understanding latitude, longitude, scale, map elements, and spatial analysis. All the experiences described above promote rich conversational activities in the language classroom.
GLOBE can be an effective tool for working with students who are learning English as a second language (Kennedy, 2001). When conducted in English, GLOBE activities can facilitate English language acquisition by serving as content-based lessons that incorporate the ESL Standards for Pre-K–12 Students (Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages, 1997). In addition, GLOBE provides English language learners with the opportunity to participate in challenging science projects in their native language with little or no extra preparation on the part of the teacher, because materials ready for classroom use are available in many different languages. With GLOBE, English language learners (ELLs) can assume leadership positions in discussions and Internet exchanges with students from countries where their native language is spoken. GLOBE materials provide a means to create an enriched science program that actively includes all students regardless of their first language, enhance the academic achievements of the entire student body, integrate literacy skills in reading and writing with scientific inquiry, and provide ELLs the opportunity to learn the grade-level curriculum. The international link to other countries also provides a means for family members who speak little or no English to become involved in their child’s education.
The 2003 revised GLOBE Teacher’s Guide contains an expanded implementation section that provides teachers with additional sample lessons, unit plans, and pedagogical hints for using GLOBE in the classroom. It includes a specific section regarding the use of GLOBE in foreign language and ESL classrooms as a means of promoting global education and literacy development while reinforcing skill development in math, science, social studies, and technology.
GLOBE provides authentic, life-centered curricula and opportunities for students in a variety of situations:
inclusive classrooms where students with special needs may have a broad range of abilities and learning styles
cross-age tutoring programs
after-school clubs and community service-learning projects (Kennedy & Pedras, 2003)
GLOBE allows teachers to collaborate across disciplines, provides students with an integrated view of their own learning, and enables students to see interconnections among the various subjects they study. GLOBE allows teachers to put the concepts of authentic learning, student-scientist partnerships, scientific inquiry, and standards-based pedagogy into practice on an unprecedented scale. Students behave as scientists and mathematicians while communicating in the language they are studying and connecting all the content disciplines in the school.
Integrated language and content instruction offers a means by which students can continue their academic or cognitive development while they are developing a fuller proficiency in a second language. An approach that integrates second language instruction with the content of other curricular subjects has been shown to assist classroom teachers in reinforcing designated content areas and to ensure that second language instruction is meaningful to the students (Armstrong & Rogers, 1997; Curtain & Pesola, 1994; Krashen, 1997).
The GLOBE Program provides the opportunity for this kind of instruction by weaving interdisciplinary lessons into everyday classroom teaching. Other programs that successfully integrate content with language study are the Aconcagua Project, which incorporates geography, math, science, technology and language into learning objectives (Leloup & Ponterio, 1998), and NASA’s CERES S’COOL International Project (Students’ Cloud Observations On-Line), available in English, French, German, and Spanish. S’COOL, a partner of the GLOBE program, facilitates ground-truthing activities that allow students to compare surface- and space-based observations to learn more about clouds and climate.
All GLOBE activities are conducted under the guidance of GLOBE-trained teachers. The first step in becoming a GLOBE teacher in your school is to attend a training workshop in your state. Schedules for workshops and registration forms are available on the GLOBE homepage.
For a listing of other NASA programs that provide free materials in other languages, visit www.uidaho.edu/ed/nasa_rerc, where an updated version of the document “NASA Materials in Spanish” (Kennedy, 2003), listing more than 50 programs and resources in Spanish and other languages, can be accessed. Click on the link Materials in Other Languages. In addition, the Web site offers many lessons that have been translated and enhanced from NASA Explores, which provides free weekly K–12 educational articles and lesson plans on current NASA projects that can be accessed through an internal search engine. Printable and downloadable, these supplemental curriculum resources meet national educational standards in science (NSTA), mathematics (NCTM), technology (ISTE, ITEA), and geography (NGS).
Also, NASA’s Educator Resource Center Network (ERCN) serves as a clearinghouse for free educational resources for classroom teachers that are ideal supplements for content-based language instruction. Visit NASA’s ERCN Website to find a complete listing of all Educator Resource Centers by state as well as those located on or near NASA Field Centers or at planetariums, museums, colleges, universities, and other non-profit organizations around the United States. You can contact any of these locations to obtain free NASA materials for your classroom.
Dr. Teresa Kennedy, Assistant Professor of Foreign Language/Bilingual Education at the University of Idaho, has been working with the NASA Education Team since 1997 and is presently serving a 1-year special assignment to GLOBE headquarters as the Deputy Chief Educator and Assistant Director of U.S. Partnerships for the International GLOBE Program.
Armstrong, P. W., & Rogers, J. D. (1997). Basic skills revisited: The effects of foreign language instruction on reading, math, and language arts. Learning Languages, 2(3), 20-31.
Curtain, H., & Pesola, C. A. B. (1994). Languages and children: Making the match. White Plains, NY: Longman.
Kennedy, T. J. (1999, Spring). GLOBE integrates mathematics, science, social studies, and technology into the foreign language classroom. Learning Languages, 4(3), 23-25.
Kennedy, T. J. (2001). Preparing teachers for educating linguistically diverse students. Northwest Passage: NWATE Journal of Education Practices, 1(1), 51-55.
Kennedy, T. J. (2003, Winter). NASA resources in Spanish. The Universe in the Classroom, 60. Retrieved June 13, 2003, from http://www.astrosociety.org/education/publications/tnl/60/spanish.html
Kennedy, T. J., & Canney, G. (2000). Collaborating across language, age, and geographic borders. In K. Risko & K. Bromley (Eds.), Collaboration for diverse learners: Viewpoints and practices (310-329). Newark, DE: International Reading Association.
Kennedy, T. J., & Pedras, M. J. (in press). Service-learning: The missing link to language study, preservice education and building community. In J. Hellebrandt, J. Arries, L. Varona, & C. Klein, Eds.), JUNTOS: Community partnerships in Spanish and Portuguese (AATSP Professional Development Handbook Series, Vol. 5). Boston: Heinle.
Krashen, S. (1997). Foreign language education the easy way. Culver City, CA: Language Education Associates.
Leloup, J., & Ponterio, R. (1998). Meeting the national standards: Now what do I do? (ERIC Digest). Washington, DC: ERIC Clearinghouse on Languages and Linguistics. Retrieved June 13, 2003, from http://www.ericfacility.net/ericdigests/ed425657.html
Minicucci, C., Berman, B. M., McLeod, B., Nelson, B., & Woodworth, K. (1995). School reform and student diversity. Phi Delta Kappan, 77, 77-80.
National Standards in Foreign Language Education Project. (1996). Standards for foreign language learning: Preparing for the 21st century. Yonkers, NY: Author.
Reilly, T. (1988). ESL through content area instruction (ERIC Digest). Washington, DC: ERIC Clearinghouse on Languages and Linguistics. Retrieved June 13, 2003, from http://ericadr.piccard.csc.com/extra/ericdigests/ed296572.html
Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages. (1997). ESL standards for pre-K–12 Students. Alexandria, VA: Author.
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