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When we learn more than one language, we open doors to new ways of thinking and doing, believing and communicating, and through that process we learn more about ourselves. The world languages discipline is about making connections.
World languages? What happened to foreign languages?
Aleut, American Sign Language, Arabic, Chinese, English, French, German, Gwich'in, Hebrew, Inupiaq, Italian, Japanese, Laotian, Russian, Spanish, Tagalog, Tlingit, Vietnamese, Wolof, and Yup'ik are just some of the over one hundred languages used by the people of Alaska. We ascribe to the United Nations Draft Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.. Additionally, we connect with the ancient world through Greek and Latin, and we use their words in our daily language. The term foreign language is a misnomer. In this framework, we refer to the languages we teach as world languages to reflect the experience of the ancient cultures that preceded us, our own present multilingual populace, and our vision of a multilingual community for the twenty-first century. We rename our discipline in support of all languages and peoples of the world as equal citizens of the world community and acknowledge our responsibility to be able to communicate with the peoples of that world.
Each language is a different window to the world.
Languages Other Than English of Students in Alaska
taken from Alaska Department of Education & Early Development's Bilingual Education ProgramsLanguages of Students Survey, 1994 - 1995
The World Languages Standards Committee drafted standards in direct response to two essential facts: the State of Alaska is unique in its location in terms of global geography, and it is unique in the rich variety of languages, native and non-native, spoken within its extensive borders. The definition of second languages used to develop these standards is not limited to the European languages traditionally taught in American high schools. Instead, the standards are inclusive of all languages, based on the premise that learning a second language benefits the learner academically in his or her ability to access knowledge, to understated other peoples and cultures, and to compete economically.
The Alaska Standards for World Languages set a new goal for all districts that will greatly benefit Alaska's children. The World Language Standards support a K-12 sequence, such as already exists in all other content areas. Not only does research confirm that acquisition of a second language is far easier and more effective when undertaken at an early age, but the additional years of study, made possible by a start early in a child's educational career, permit development of much higher levels of proficiency. We strongly believe all children deserve the advantages of second language instruction.
The Alaska Standards for World Languages are intended for all children. They take into account the growing population of language minority children who are learning English as a second language. Further, they acknowledge the need for the development of an academic program, a program that fully integrates second language instruction with other content areas. This is paramount if students are to achieve significant improvement in programs that teach a second language through cognitively complex content taught through problem-solving and discovery learning in highly interactive classroom activities. All students will, indeed, learn a second language most effectively through content instruction and when afforded an extended, continuous, and uninterrupted time period in which to do so.
The Alaska Standards for World Languages are incremental. Students progress from the developmental stages of language and culture acquisition to the rewarding stages of applying new skills.
Betsy Andrew's 4th grade class, students are studying biology and characters of local animals for a class play. The teacher gives many ideas on the topic to write.
Teacher: "Andy, did you go duck hunting yesterday?"
Andy: "Ii-i, yes."
Teacher: "That's great! Did you go with your apa?"
Teacher: "Did you get lots of ducks?"
Andy: "Aaah, some."
Teacher: "How many did you get?"
Andy: "Aaah, I dunno."
Teacher: "You mean you went hunting for the first time and you don't remember how many you got?"
Andy: "I do. Aaah, but my apa said I'm not suppose to brag. And if I do, I won't be lucky next time."
Teacher: "I see, let's talk about those customs. They are more important than how many ducks you got!"
Andy: "Sure! My apa says that we should always be respectful of everything we hunt. And he says we should take good care of them and..."
Teacher: "Wait a minute, let's write these ideas on the board. You seem to know more than the number of ducks. Then you can get with your buddy to write a play of your hunting experience."
The class wanted to end the play with a feast and ceremonial dance. They went out to the community to invite elders to their school to teach.
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