Preparing #LifeReady Students Through World Language

HCPSS built a World Language Program to equip every student with at least intermediate proficiency in a world language by the time they graduate high school. The HCPSS World Language Program focuses on building communicative skills, so students can enter today’s increasingly globalized world with in-demand, marketable skills and the cultural competency for college and careers.

Pro ficiency is possible through language immersion and continued study. World Language teachers strive to conduct their classes in the target language 90–100 percent of the time, creating a language– and culture-rich learning environment. To provide early and continued language learning, the school system recently began offering many of its students world language instruction in continuum from Pre-K through high school.

World language is offered to all Howard County public school students, whether they are English language learners, heritage speakers, gifted/talented level or in special education. To better serve the wide range of Howard County students, the World Language Program leverages the power of technology to support differentiated, extended and accessible learning.

Differentiated: Students in one class can learn simultaneously about the same themes at different levels of rigor, based on individual readiness. For example, middle school language teachers are implementing a model of blended learning called station rotation, with the support of dedicated World Language laptop carts. At the elementary level, this kind of flexible learning is enhanced with technology tools, such as BrightLink projectors that enable interactive whiteboard activities and classroom iPads used in learning centers.

Extended: All World Language students have online textbooks, enabling easy access to learning beyond the classroom and encouraging students to build proficiency on their own. Through HCPSS’ online learning management system, students can also access engaging homework assignments. The school system encourages all students to utilize their online language materials by providing computer access at after-school programs and during other school time.

Accessible: Technology provides better access to world language instruction for all students. Synchronous distance learning has enabled us to offer language classes not physically available in specific schools, such as Chinese and Advanced Placement courses, by blending both live online and face-to-face formats. Students have the required technology through a variety of ways: students can use their own devices since we’re a BYOD school system at the secondary level, students can receive loaner devices, and some classes meet in school computer labs.

The strength of our World Language Program is possible through our teachers, who have access to customized, high-quality professional development opportunities.

In the end, we want our students to graduate with skills that are résumé and career differentiators, but most importantly, with global perspectives, so they’re ready to take on this diverse and dynamic world regardless of where they are throughout their lives.

Read the original, full article published in Getting Smart.

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