HOME | Arts | Health | Language Arts | Math/Science | Social Studies | World Languages | Glossary
Standard A: A student should be able to communicate in two or more languages, one of which is English.
Rationale: Second language acquisition, K-12, is necessary for students to communicate effectively. Learning to communicate in two or more languages through the development of listening, speaking, reading, and writing skills enables students to understand, appreciate, and interact with other languages and cultures. Learning a second language makes students better learners.
A student who meets the content standard should:
EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE OF PEOPLES AND CULTURES
Standard B: A student should expand the student's knowledge of peoples and cultures through language study.
Rationale: An integral part of learning another language is experiencing the cultural environment in which it is used. By engaging in authentic experiences representative of the culture, students will gain knowledge in a hands-on way and acquire insights into how the members of the culture talk, think and act. This will expand their world views in terms of learning about another culture and will provide an opportunity for a better understanding of their own. Improved understanding of cultures will lead to students' increased confidence in their ability to deal with individual and societal differences.
A student who meets the content standard should:
PARTICIPATING IN COMMUNITY AND WORLD
Standard C: A student should possess the language skills and cultural knowledge necessary to participate successfully in multilingual communities and the international marketplace.
Rationale: All Alaskan students need a global perspective. To understand the global community, students must acquaint themselves with the languages and cultures of its peoples. Multilingualism enhances intellectual and social growth through the understanding of diverse peoples and cultures. It also enhances international relations and the ability to compete in the international market place.
A student who meets the content standard should:
|"Learning a foreign language not only reveals how other societies think and feel, what they ahave experienced and value, and how they express themselves, it also provides a cultural mirror in which we can more clearly see out own society" Chancellor Edward Lee Gorsuch|
Today's world languages teachers have language proficiency, or the ability to use language for purposeful communication, as a priority. At one time, world languages teachers emphasized reading and writing the language and relied upon fill-in-the-blank grammar exercises, memorization, translation, and rote learning. Now we are moving towards a proficiency-based curriculum because we recognize the value both of the process of teaching for communicative proficiency and of having our students graduate being able to use the languages they learn. Teaching for proficiency allows our students to experience the language in real ways; this experience of communication using other languages is what is unique about our discipline.
Man is a prisoner of his tongue.
World languages teachers also want to make language learning relevant to students' lives, by striving to make connections explicit. As in Betsy Andrew's classroom, learning world languages is connected to a student's home and family, peer relationships, and hobbies and interests. We make comparative connections between the learner's home culture(s) and the ones studied in our classrooms. Our classrooms connect to local and world events, to the arts, literature, and cultural traditions; in fact, to all other learning the student experiences in or out of school.
Essential Questions To Consider
What should our students know and be able to do in two or more languages?
What teaching and learning methods and approaches work best?
Who should study two or more languages?
How can we meet the needs of a diverse student population?
What programs and courses of study lead to attaining communicative proficiency?
What role does technology play in the world languages classroom?
These questions served as guidelines in the adoption of the following Guiding Principles.
Why are world languages important?
"Global village." "Global economy." "Information highway." To people living at the crossroads of the world, these phrases have special significance. What do they mean to teachers in Alaska? We learn what is happening in other parts of the world within moments of the event. What we learn from our TV screen, radio, or newspaper has an impact on the actions we take in many arenas; political, business, educational social, and interpersonal. As we become aware of what is happening in the world, we should understand our responsibilities and opportunities as citizens of the world. Knowing another language helps us understand and access world events because it brings us closer to the people and cultures of that language. In our society, knowing another language is an essential part of every student's education, not just for the many benefits it brings the individual, but for the important lessons it provides in local and global cross-cultural understanding.
Further, our own country, indeed our own state, is rich in ethnic and linguistic diversity. In certain rural school districts, such as Lower Kuskokwim, bilingual student enrollments currently exceed 80% of the total student population, the majority of those students speaking Central Yup'ik. In the urban districts more than 10% of the student population is enrolled in bilingual programs, and they speak any of dozens of 1st languages. Our demographics are continually changing. We must respond to the changing nature of our society. We do not have to travel abroad to encounter people of another language and culture. We are those people, and we interact daily with one another in the neighborhood, the clinic, the classroom, the store, the bank, the post office, the house of worship, the community hall. We can experience and appreciate diverse languages and cultures right here in our own communities, as well as in the more traditional ways, hearing others' stories, reading their literature or histories, or by traveling to other places. This is what we mean by exploring the cultures, both near and far, in the world language class. A multilingual populace is respectful of its pluralistic, cultural, and linguistic differences and capable of dialogue and cooperative interaction.
How does learning another language help the individual?
The process of learning an additional language brings intellectual benefits to the learner as it challenges a student to develop verbal, reasoning, and metacognitive skills. The development of verbal skills comes in a number of packages. World language learning involves and strengthens the skills of listening, speaking, reading, and writing which are transferable to all areas of the curriculum. As students develop a vocabulary in an additional language, they create and discover study habits and techniques for recalling what they have learned. They realize, for example, that they can remember canis and dormit because canine and dormitory are words they already know. They develop attentive listening skills and careful diction in order to hear and produce the new sounds of the new language. They learn to decode and decipher another writing system, skills which they can apply to developing literacy in the first language.
Students develop and practice reasoning and critical thinking skills in a classroom where communication is a goal. They ask and respond to questions, give and follow directions, categorize, find patterns, express and defend opinions, describe, hypothesize, summarize. From a first year level where a teacher gives the command, "Stand on one foot if you are wearing black shoes and a red shirt," to an advanced class where students compare transportation systems in the country studied and those in Alaska, the language class challenges and sculpts students' abilities to use these thinking skills.
When a learner says, "I just noticed that the color words always come after the clothing words in Spanish, but in English we put them before it!" or another says, "How come in Yup'ik a plural for two things is different from a plural for three or more?" she is making a metacognitive observation; that is, she is thinking about language and how languages work. She observes a grammatical construct, reflects on it, compares it to the one she acquired in her first language, draws a conclusion, and articulates her finding. This sort of metalinguistic reflection develops mental dexterity and language awareness which contribute to her intellectual growth in all areas of learning.
World language study expands an individual's knowledge base and enriches his life by opening up new worlds. Additional literature, expressing new knowledge bases, and ways of being, are accessible through language study. The young child discovers there are fables, myths, folk and fairy tales in the Japanese language she is learning; she roots for the tiny Momotaro as he goes to fight the evil spirit. The middle school student rediscovers the thrill of his favorite genres of science fiction and mystery in comics, books, and movies in his second language. The high school student empathizes with the painful shyness of Cyrano de Bergerac or examines Faust's obsessive quest for knowledge of the meaning of life. The adult learner reads a newspaper in Russian from Moscow to get another perspective on events taking place in the Caucasus. Classical paintings and sculptures, masks and icons reveal their beauty and meaning for the language learner. Music and dance from other cultures bring the language and its people alive. The literature and arts of this new culture enrich the learner's life from a perspective he could never have known without entering the world of another culture.
Language embodies the world view of a culture and is unique to the culture that created it. It reflects values and concepts that are deemed to be the most important by a culture. A language describes the culture it comes from.
Knowing more than one language is an increasingly desirable job skill. There are many career opportunities utilizing languages in the world. Such career opportunities should exist for all students. Locally, in the health professions, doctors, orderlies, nutritionists, and nurses in just about any hospital know the usefulness of more than one language. Global applications of the health professions include exciting careers in such fields as epidemiology and immunology. Other human service professions, such as mental health and social services, have similar applications at both the local and the global levels. Communications, tourism, journalism, engineering, marketing, fishing, international law, the airline industry, and commerce are just a few fields in which multilingualism is an advantage. There is a great demand for interpreters in Alaska and across the nation. Scientists with more than one language gain access to international research. Education and career possibilities open up for those whose English and vocabulary skills are expanded by knowledge of ancient languages. A student who has a specific professional or vocational skill and another language is a more attractive candidate for employment than an individual without such language skills.
Knowing another language makes good economic sense. Many of the people we interact with daily---clerks or patrons, managers or employees, doctors or patients, contractors or clients, teachers or students---use English as second (or third) language. Work relationships are enhanced, and therefore more effective, among people with more than one language whether in business or the public sector. Prospective employees for the village store or the international market are more valuable, thus more likely to get the job, if they know a language which will help the enterprise expand its clientele.
Our knowledge of another language is also important for our economic relationships with people around the world. Alaska can compete in international commerce when its job force is capable of competing in many areas, from the small export business to the multi-national corporation. We can no longer assume that business will be conducted in English, whether it is occurring here or in another nation. Those who would sell salmon in another country need to know the culture and the language of the people they hope to make their clientele. By making world languages instruction a priority in Alaska schools, we prepare our students for active roles in the economy of the twenty-first century.
How does world language study by all students help society?
Multilingualism expands our sense of community. By crossing cultural and linguistic boundaries to talk to one another, we gain respect for others' differences and learn about the similarities we share. In a community, each individual has his own needs, desires, and expectations; the work of communities to allow the individual to know and express his own needs and "self" and simultaneously to hear and value the needs of each other's members. When its members are able to do this, the community can work as a unit, hearing one another's perspectives, negotiating compromises, responding to each other's needs.
Our history has given us the legacy of a pluralistic society, with groups of vastly diverse ethnic, religious, historical, and cultural heritages. When each group listens carefully to understand the perspectives of other groups without losing sight of its own, it communicates through the connecting passageways of language and culture. The participation of all members is essential; when all voices are active in the dialogue, it is richer, fuller, more complete. Learning one another's languages is the single greatest step we can take to participate in this communal process of coming together from the pluralities into society, which at its root means companionship. Through language and communication, we arrive at E Pluribis Unam; Out of many, one.
Societal communication benefits us on the international level, as well. The United States' world policy, more than perhaps any other nation's, is shaped by its people. In order to make informed choices of policies and leadership, to be advocates or leaders of our own policies and exercise our role in a democracy, we need to be able to see and think outside the bounds of "one language, one culture." By understanding other peoples, friends and foes, we can build alliances with those we count as friends and bridge the chasms between ourselves and those who oppose us.
Language is our meeting place, the sea we all live in. when I watched my children learning to talk, I had the sense that they were not so much learning language as being claimed by it, taken into its arms as if it were another parent, and so it is. In the arms of language they will join the family of man. They will learn what has gone before, and they will learn what is left to be done. In language they will discover who they are. It is the common ground of our humanity.
Los Angeles Times Magazine
Alaska's World Languages Standards give us a clear goal. All students, whether learning disabled, physically challenged, hearing impaired, gifted, bilingual, at-risk, pre-school, elementary, middle, high school or adultÄ everybodyÄ can and should learn more than one language in the state of Alaska.
An exclusionary selection process for world languages study is unacceptable. All students should be able to access the benefits of learning another language by participating in a world languages program throughout their school careers.
What about the student with special needs in the world languages class?
Some students, because of being considered disabled, have historically been discouraged from taking a language. No student should be denied the benefits that acquiring more than one language can bring.
The process of learning another language provides an opportunity for all students to think in a different way, to learn to appreciate differences which exist among people. World languages teachers can best encourage such respectful attitudes if the students in our classrooms also represent the diverse backgrounds and experiences of the learners in our schools. Where once students might have been excluded for a world languages class, we now know that this practice was unfair both to those students and to their peers. Diverse learners in a classroom learn from working together that they have commonalties in their need for language as a tool of expression and communication.
Some considerations must be made for students with special needs in the world languages class. As with all learners, teachers of students with special needs should accommodate for differences in learning styles, rates of learning, and areas of relative strength or weakness. Consequently, teachers should assess individual progress, emphasizing the student's ability to convey a message, rather than focusing on the disability. The world languages discipline, by its very nature, assumes that learners are progressing at different rates and degrees of proficiency toward their goal of communication in the language.
Most world languages teachers will need to pursue professional development to learn strategies and techniques for supporting the learning of all students, in particular those with special needs. Such strategies should include:
What about the student who is hearing impaired in the world languages class?
Some particular considerations apply in the case of students who are hearing impaired:
People who have learned two very different cultures have the advantage of bicultural vision; like binoculat vision, bicultural vision allows people to see in depth: that is, they know that there are several ways to understand and utilize any situation.
Discovering the Alien: A workbook in Cultural Anthropology
What about the bilingual student in the world languages class?
Communicative proficiency in at least one language in addition to English, or bilingualism, is the goal of every world languages program. However, the term "bilingual" is often used loosely to mean students whose home or primary language is not English. While many students arrive at school with some level of proficiency in two languages, others may arrive knowing only one language or have underdeveloped skills in any language. Still others may be on the path to developing trilingualism.
In all of these cases (and in the many other possible situations of bilingualism), special considerations should apply for the student's study of a world language.
National Association of Elementary School Principals (1987), the National Governors' Association (1989), and the National Council of State Supervisors of Foreign Languages in a joint statement with the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (1990) have called for longer, uninterrupted sequences of language study.
Why early start?
Evidence is mounting from research over the last few decades that the elementary years are the best time to begin second language instruction, preferably before age ten. Advantages of beginning in pre-kindergarten include: the longer sequence of instruction can lead to attainment of higher proficiency levels for more students; starting before age ten allows development of awareness of and respect for cultural diversity; an early start enhances skill development in other areas such as reading and language, math, and cognitive processes.
Teaching world languages in elementary school offers a great opportunity to take advantage of how children think and learn at different stages in their development. Four-and five-year-olds delight in language and are eager to imitate the new sounds. As they learn about their world through dramatic play and physical activity, puppet shows, songs, stories, and games in a new language are received with pleasure. Six- and seven-year-olds gain literacy skills in their first language which are transferable to a new language. At this age, children are becoming aware of their place in the world, which makes them receptive and enthusiastic about learning about other cultures. During the middle years of childhood, eight-, nine- and ten-year-olds are in the process of developing their self concept. They are curious to learn about others and use these lessons to reflect on their own ways of behaving. They are able to think creatively and are intrigued by the new ways of expression available to them through a new language. An early start provides a strong foundation for building language skills which lead to communicative proficiency.
Starting a world languages program in early childhood sends a strong message about the value our society places on knowing another language and culture. For non-native speakers of English, an early start in their own language validates their heritage, language, and culture and sets the stage for a successful school experience. For all children, an early start enable them to view second language learning and the insights they acquire into another culture as normal and integral parts of their schooling that they will carry with them throughout life.
Longer sequence of instruction
Studies show that there is a direct correlation between the amount of time devoted to language study and the language proficiency which students attain. This finding is significant when we consider that the economic, political, and intercultural benefits of multilingualism in adult life, are usually attained when learners reach advanced levels of language skill and cultural understanding. Research also indicates that these goals will rarely be achieved under the conditions usually surrounding world languages learning in the United States (such as starting in eighth or ninth grade, and often starting over again at college level.)
Current research in second language acquisition indicates a need for two to three years for social language proficiency development and at least seven to ten years for advanced proficiency levels dealing with conceptual development through the target language in the content areas.
Awareness of and respect for cultural diversity
Attitudes around cultural acceptance and respect are often set by the time children reach age ten. In fact, studies show that these attitudes most often take root between ages four and eight. In "Languages and Children- Making the Match," Curtain and Pesola state that "The age of ten is a crucial time in the development of attitudes toward nations and groups perceived as 'other'." They cite research which suggests that because children reach an important stage of development at age ten, it is important that they begin language study before then, in order to tap into their openness to other ways of being before they begin to restrict their thinking to any one narrow view of people they view as different from them. They suggest that at this developmental stage, the child is in a process of moving from egocentricity to reciprocity, and it is a crucial time to introduce the vehicle of language to expand his or her intercultural views.
Enhancement of skill development in other areas
Lipton has shown that learners who have studied another language in elementary school score higher on standardized tests in other subjects such as reading, language arts, and math than those who have not. Foster and Reeves demonstrated that similar correlation exists for scores on other indicators of intellectual development, such as creativity, mental flexibility, divergent thinking, and higher order thinking skills. Piaget showed that when a learner comes upon an idea or an experience which does not fit with her previous conceptions, she experiences "cognitive dissonance". This conflict catalyzes new thinking, and the learner experiences cognitive change, or growth. Precisely because it is "foreign" to a learner's experience, language study "necessitates the acquisition of new learning strategies," says Fuchsen Learners who have equipped themselves with more strategies for learning have greater success across all areas of the curriculum.
What does communicative proficiency mean?
Communicative proficiency is the ability to use language for purposeful communication. A child says "I'm hungry" with a purpose in mind. A teenager writes a note to ask for the car keys, purposefully setting mood and tone. A Latin student reads a text to grasp its meaning. An American Sign Language (ASL) interpreter signs a storyteller's presentation to an audience of hearing impaired children. A professor lectures while students take notes at their seats. A student with cerebral palsy uses an augmented communication system to join a class discussion. An elder tells a story while cutting fish to help youngsters understand their way of life. A parent describes a child's symptoms to the doctor, who responds with directions for the parent to follow. Each of these tasks requires a certain amount of communicative proficiency, skill at listening, speaking, reading, or writing the language.
Why is communicative proficiency the goal?
How often have you heard someone exclaim, "You're a language teacher? I took four years of [any language], and I can't speak a single word!" Teachers in Alaska want to hear, instead, "You teach Spanish? ¡Me encanta el español!
Donde aprendió usted su español" Among world languages teachers there is a prevailing sense that, if we want to get this second type of response, we need to make changes in our language programs.
Our students need to learn that there are different ways of experiencing and perceiving the world as well as of communicating these ways. Only then will they be able to access a wider sphere of human experience and the richness of life, as well as new information provided by traditional and electronic means, to adapt more easily to their ever-changing world, to compete more competently for the world's finite resources, and to increase cultural understanding among peoples.
What are the characteristics of a proficiency-based language program?
A proficiency-based program looks at what students can do with the language, rather than at the number of chapters of a book "covered" or hours of "seat time" accumulated. Such a program also reflects how learners acquire language at different rates. This has implications for the scheduling and organization of courses, classroom instruction, and assessment.
Instruction in a proficiency-based program is functionally based. This means that rather than organizing lessons around grammatical concepts like "placement of double-object pronouns in commands, declarative and interrogative sentences," we organize our lessons around functional uses of language such as asking and answering questions, or following and giving directions, in meaningful contexts. For example, when the house and its furnishings make up a lesson's content, students learn language structures that enable them to give and seek factual information, and to identify and describe in the target language. "What is this?" "Where is it found?" "What does it look like?" "Where should I put this?" Prior to receiving explicit grammar instruction, students acquire these forms naturally in the context of talking about the house. The meaning and use of the phrases are emphasized over the correctness of their form. Eventually, students are able to reproduce the phrases in other contexts and use them correctly. It is the teacher, as facilitator, who provides additional opportunities for practicing the forms via activities such as a cooperative learning jigsaw in which one student becomes an "expert" about living rooms and then teaches it to his group, or students working in pairs visually reconstruct rooms following other pairs oral instructions.
In this way students learn to negotiate meaning in order to comprehend and communicate in the target language. Grammar is used to instruct students in order for them to monitor and self correct their productive language skills. While teachers should not ignore grammar, neither should they use it as the basis for language instruction. When they do, rather than giving explicit explanations, teachers and students work together to explain the grammatical role as they see or hear it used.
Proficiency-based programs assess proficiency in addition to accuracy. There is an adage among education reformers: "Teach what you value, and assess what you teach." Since we value the ability to get a message across in the target language, or to negotiate meaning between two people, we should include open-ended sections in tests to assess these skills. If every item on a test evaluates accuracy (spelling, grammar, structural correctness), that test does not give the student the chance to demonstrates his skill at negotiating meaning. Proficiency testing is personalized; it asks the learner to use higher order thinking skills, and it provides opportunities to demonstrate practical skills.
A human language is a system of remarkable complexity. A normal child acquires this knowledge as a mirror of the mind in a deep and significant sense. it is a product of human intelligence, created anew in each individual by operations that lie beyond the reach of will or consciousness.
How do we develop communicative proficiency?
For centuries, language teaching has been based on the assumption that learning a language meant learning a finite set of "content," which consisted of the vocabulary and the grammar rules of the language. Over the last several decades, however, most teachers and researchers have come to agree that learning to use a language for communicating is a far more complex process than the memorization of words and grammar rules. In fact, research is moving us toward teaching and learning methods which would allow students to acquire language more naturally, much in the way they learned their first language.
A three-year-old child in the process of acquiring her first language listens, speaks, plays, asks, repeats, refines, self-corrects, tries new combinations of sounds and words. She acquires the language without so much as a ten-minute lesson on grammar or syntax. It is as if she is innately "programmed" to learn any and all languages she is exposed to. When we play to this innate ability in our students and allow time for careful and continuous practice, how different an experience the world language class becomes!
Researchers make a distinction between acquired language, such as that of the three-year old, and learned language, such as that we gain from a textbook or a grammar exercise. There is some evidence that language we have learned by the natural acquisition process is language we can recall and produce when we need it. Learned language, this school of thought says, is not available for recall and production until we have practiced it to the point that it has been acquired. If we want students to be able to produce and use the language, then we should foster a near-natural acquisition process in our classrooms.
Some say this is more easily done at the elementary level than at the secondary level. Younger learners, they maintain, are more inquisitive, more imitative, and more able to learn language through games, songs, and interaction with one another. Yet who would argue that a fifteen-year-old is not playful or inquisitive? Given the right environment, motivation, and opportunities for practice, even adults can lower inhibitions and sing, play, discuss, and communicate meaningfully in their new language, in ways which approximate the way they learned the first one.
However, most teachers would agree that it is unfair to ask an older learner to acquire his second language entirely in the natural way. Learning can be expedited by using the skills he has developed with age, such as reading, writing, and grammatical knowledge of his first language. These skills can most certainly help move the learner along the path to communicative proficiency, but only if he has the chance to use them for meaningful communication, rather than rote memorization and repetitive drill practice.
By making our classrooms centers for communicative teaching and learning, we recreate (approximately) the safety and motivational ambiance of childhood language acquisition. We do this by making our classrooms places for students to explore and practice the language freely, to use it for communication (however halting and awkward at first), to take risks in the safety of knowing they will be rewarded for doing so. We model the skills we want our students to acquire, using grammar structures in their natural context, and we structure opportunities for students to practice them. We support them in their attempts to express ideas in their new language. We correct students' utterances by echoing them correctly rather than by hindering their efforts to communicate with long grammatical explanations at inappropriate moments. ("She teached me to tie my shoe." "Oh! That's great! She taught you to tie your shoe!") And we give instruction in grammaticality through a variety of modes, such as direct instruction, computer software, written feedback, peer editing, peer speech and listening feedback, language lab exercises, opportunities to hear and imitate grammatically correct speech. In such a classroom, grammar is not the main focus of learning; it is one of the many ways we can assist learners in the complex process of gaining proficiency in a language.
What is the developmental progression of gaining proficiency?
Learners come to us in many different stages of learning and/or acquiring both their first language and the one we will be teaching them in the world languages classrooms. One learner may begin his study of Russian in the ninth grade, after completing a K-8 sequence in Inupiat, and learn mainly through cognitive processes, like the study of the language's structure and grammar. Another may begin in pre-school and learn to play freeze-tag in the language long before anyone tries to teach him what a noun or an adjective is. An adult learner in an English as a second language (ESL) class may excel in reading yet struggle with speaking. Her eight-year-old child may sound like a native-born English speaker, yet may not have achieved the reading and writing skills needed to succeed in English-only classes. How can we describe a developmental process in second language learning, when our learners come from such diverse situations? Mindful of these specific differences and needs, we can only attempt to describe in very general terms the stages through which our students progress as they learn to communicate in another language.
Listening (receptive) skills develop first, as learners begin to distinguish the sounds of the new language, and recognize single words, then words within phrases, then entire phrases. As their listening skills grow, they begin trying to speak (or express) these words and phrases, moving from single word utterances to longer, more complex ones. Reading and writing skills also begin with single concrete words such as nouns and verbs; after more complex structures begin to occur in speech, these become goals for reading and writing. The step toward more complexity can only be made when learners begin to express original thoughts by combining learned elements. Generally, a student's receptive skills (listening, reading) will be ahead of his expressive skills (speaking, writing). We can infer, then, that the more a learner practices these receptive skills, the sooner they will become part of his expressive repertoire. This is the strongest argument we have for total immersion in the language in our classrooms. Given the limited number of contact time we have with our students, it is essential that we maximize by using the target language in our classrooms. Using the target language as the language of instruction, we avoid code switching and concurrent translation. This can be done effectively by using a variety of strategies of sheltered language, language experience, negotiation of meaning, reliable visuals, hands-on activities, total physical response, and more.
As students' reasoning and thinking skills develop, the metacognitive processes involved in language learning can become part of the explicit curriculum in our classrooms. By middle school to early high school, as students begin to reach what Piaget called the stage of formal operations, they can think about abstract structures such as the grammar, syntax, and morphology of language, and how these can be of use in learning one or more languages. As students progress through a world languages program, learners can use the language for the same purposes as they use their first language: for socializing, taking a history class in the language, or reading for enjoyment or for information - although they may do so at a lower level of proficiency than in their first language.
How do these learning skills spiral through the learning process?
Language learners continually strive to gain communicative proficiency while making connections to their own lives and experiences. Gaining communicative proficiency is a spiraling process. That is, the knowledge and skills a learner gains or practices at one stage in the process will recur as challenges to be met again and again in increasingly sophisticated ways through all stages of learning. When we say that a skill spirals through the curriculum, we mean that it may be introduced at a certain point, but we certainly do not expect it to be "learned" after one three-week unit on that skill. Gaining communicative proficiency is a process that requires repeated exposure and opportunities to practice new skills, to receive feedback, and to use the skills in increasingly sophisticated contexts.
How long does the learning process take?
It is important to note that learning (another) language takes time. Studies by researchers Collier and Genessee show that students require three to five years for basic communication skills and seven to ten years for Cognitive Academic Language Proficiency (CALP).
Communicative and writing skills depend on the language. Students can begin studying languages such as Chinese, Japanese, and Russian, which do not use the Roman alphabet, early in their education and can progress in communicative skills in the same manner as in more commonly taught languages. However, these languages are considered to be of a higher degree of difficulty for speakers of English, and progress may be slower, or more contact hours will be necessary for the same progress to occur.
For men and women are not only themselves; they are also the region in which they were born, the city, apartment or farm in which they learned to walk, the games they played as children, the old wives' tales they overheard, the food they ate, the schools they attended, the sports they followed, the poems they read and the God they believe.
W. Somerset Maugham
The Razor's Edge
Previous Section Table of Contents Next Page