Here's a sneak peek of IATLC president Danyelle Davis' article in the most recent edition of Lingo from our friends at PNCFL. Be sure to check out the rest of the articles, as well as Danyelle's favorite ACTFL hightlights, in the next edition of Lingo.
I’ve been the K-5 French teacher at Sage International School of Boise since it’s doors opened in 2010. That year my son Graeme was starting Kindergarten and my daughter Claire was a newborn. I was thrilled about the idea of building a K-5 language program, one that would give kids, my own included, an early start and would be the foundation of a K-12 French continuum.
Once a week language programs present their own unique challenges however. At a pace of one class per week with new students walking onto the dance floor at anytime (this is not dual-immersion afterall), how do you keep the music going for returning students, help new students hear the beat and inspire everyone to find their groove? It’s enough to leave you in a puddle on the floor when the lights come up.
These were the questions I was wrestling with when I attended my first state teachers’ conference for IATLC in 2015. There I met Dr. Kelly Arispe, professor at Boise State University. She was the keynote speaker that year. She challenged me to take my questions and research ideas to the next level, using my classroom as a lab to work out a model for K-5 language programs that might point the way for K-12 continuums in other districts. This November I presented my work to date, with Kelly Arispe, at the ACTFL Conference in Washington DC. The session was enthusiastically received by around 150 attendees, with lively discussion spilling out into the lobby afterward. It was thrilling to know that the work I am doing in my own classroom, my own ongoing experiment, might contribute in some way to the growth and stability of other K-12 language programs. I’ve provided links here to the presentation and an introduction by Dr. Arispe.
Introduction - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j5mFUHs5czI
Part 1 - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OY1KDh_KKhA
Part 2 - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3xdqLUwJX6k
Before I sign off, allow me one anecdote from ACTFL. Since the conference was in Washington DC this year, ACTFL organized an Advocacy Day for Languages on Capitol Hill. I happen to be the only person from Idaho, so when it came time for meetings with our legislators, off I went. Senator Risch was in meetings with the European Union that day, but he took time out to speak with me. During our conversation, he mentioned rather casually that, when the EU comes, they don’t need translators, because everyone on the EU delegation speaks English. I thought to myself, how convenient for the US, but how powerful for Europe. To connect with someone through their language, that is quite frankly a superpower. Other countries are equipping their children with this superpower as a matter of course. Why aren’t we?
I am convinced that K-5 language programs play an essential role in raising every child with the power of language proficiency. We cannot rely solely on dual-immersion and we cannot make students wait until high school or even junior high to begin language studies. Unbroken K-12 paths must be the standard and the norm.
As we enter 2020 I want to send a hearty thank you and cheers to all of you, my K-12 language teaching colleagues across the Northwest. You are doing a great thing, equipping the next generation with the superpower of biliteracy. I wish you all continued vision and renewed practical insight for the New Year!