Why world language learning is important and relevant to today’s K-12 learners? Eugene Gao Graduate T2T student, IUPUI Instructor – Professor Adriana MelnykBrandt February 16th, 2010
Why world language learning is important and relevant to today’s K-12 learners? Today’s world is called global village, which becomes smaller for us scychologically and visually due to the development of international cooperation, transportation, communication and high technologies, such as internet and telephone, etc comparing to hundred years ago. To better for our school students in US to take the big challenge worldwidely, we as educators have the responsibilty to encourage our students and school districts to have world languages, which are the tools for people to better communicate, connect, understand and respect.
Why world language learning is important and relevant to today’s K-12 learners (continue)? The ability to communicate in more than one language is an essential skill for our 21st century global society. Therefore, our administrators, parents and school boards need to continue adding the world language in our new core curriculum. We need to meet the national education goal set by the American Education Council (ACTFL), which requires that world language learning is an essential core subject in today’s education in the United States of America.
This is a good picture to explain to students why we need to better communicate, connect, understand and respect in this “small” world
Contents: What is the World language? World language education in USA Curriculum and teaching requirement of world languages in K-12 One of World Languages - Chinese Language References and note
1. What is the World language? A world language is a language spoken internationally, which is learned by many people as a second language. A world language is not only characterized by the number of its speakers (native or second language speakers), but also by its geographical distribution, and its use in international organizations and in diplomatic relations. [1-1]
But, there are over 4000 languages in the world. The most popular or important languages are those with which you can communicate with the most people in different countries. At the moment, the three languages that allow you to do this are English, Chinese and Spanish on the top of the list [see the recent chart on next page]. At the moment for science, entertainment, commerce and technology (...etc), English is the world language. In this respect, major world languages are dominated by languages of European origin for many years, until Chinese and other Asian languages taught in many countries recently. [1-2]
2. World language education in USA The importance of the world language learning is highly encouraged by US Department of Education for K-12 students, and also by American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL), which is the only national organization dedicated to the improvement and expansion of the teaching and learning of all languages at all levels of instruction throughout the U.S. [2-1]
This table for languages speaking in the world is based on the nation’s population
As the No Child Left Behind Act, many states like New Jersey ensure that all students learn a world language in a program designed to meet state standards. Districts should consider time allocations recommended by the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages at benchmark grade levels in the 2004 standards when implementing world languages programs. So, the No Child Left Behind Act’s definition of core academic subjects includes foreign languages in many states curriculum standard. Since foreign languages are identified as a core subject, there is a possibility that federal funds may be used in various ways to support world languages programs. Educators are currently exploring this with the USED, such as STARTALK, etc. [2-2] Indiana is one of states as Core Beliefs for World Language Education that all elementary to high school students should have access to high quality, ongoing and systematic world language instruction, and fortunately, the University of Indiana host the STARTALK program for high school students each summer for three years. [2-3]
3. Curriculum and teaching requirement of world languages in K-12 We are so happy to see that many schools from elementary to high schools encourage for strengthening foreign language programs as educators advocate that “Learning languages helps increase listening ability, memory, creativity and critical thinking - all of which are thinking processes that increase learning in general. In addition to developing thinking skills, foreign language study exposes children to other ways of looking at the world” [3-1] To those who consider foreign language study in elementary or upper schools a frill, most educators stress that foreign language education supports the core curriculum. When done right, foreign language instruction uses themes that support the school curriculum including math, science, social studies and language arts, etc. This enriches the learning process and appeals to students' various learning styles. [3-2]
Becoming fluent in foreign language takes years, although children tend to absorb foreign languages more easily than older students and adults. Educators in America emphasizes the importance of an uninterrupted sequence of foreign language study in grades K-12 to gain the level of proficiency needed to communicate with people around the world in other languages. Starting early can translate into an advantage in the work force, too. “The work force has an increased demand for people who can speak foreign languages at a sophisticated level. This is not limited to the corporate world. Employers are looking for mechanics, social workers and medical professionals, too. [3-2]
4. One of World Languages - Chinese Language I would like to choose Chinese language as a second language for my students specifically to indicate my points above since I am from China originally. Linguistically and culturally speaking all languages and dialects are equally important and we should cherish each and every one. But, Chinese has its specialty.
Mandarin Chinese will might become one of world languages because learning Chinese is widely spread around the world though its speech community is mostly centered in China. China’s quickly development in economy and many fields will increase in its important for trade, commerce, culture and others. [4-1] You can see many Chinese-studies program opening up all across elementary and high schools, universities in any continents, especially Europe and North America.
It is fun to learn a world language and the culture behind
Go! Learning a world Language! That is why I would strongly advocate the world language learning to today’s K-12 learners. If you, no matter K-12 student parents, and school district aducators, do not teach your students foreing language, your students will lose the challenge either for the international cooperation or the world peace making in the near future! Therefore, world languages are the tools for people to better communicate, connect, understand and respect living in the global village today.
5. References and note: [1-1] World language – Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_language [1-2] Anne-Marie De Mejía, Power, Prestige, and Bilingualism: International Perspectives on Elite Bilingual Education (2002), ISBN 185359590X [2-1] American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) http://www.actfl.org/i4a/pages/index.cfm?pageid=1 [2-2] New Jersey Department of Education http://www.state.nj.us/education/ [2-3] Indiana Department of Education and Education Standard http://dc.doe.in.gov/Standards/AcademicStandards/StandardSearch.aspx [3-1] Foreign language study important in elementary school http://www.wfu.edu/wfunews/2004/062404r.html [3-2] New Jersey Department of Education - World Languages K-12 Information Guide http://www.state.nj.us/education/aps/cccs/wl/guide.htm [4-1] Chinese Language Association of Secondary-Elementary Schools http://www.classk12.org/