- World Language Programs
The ability to communicate with others is central to human nature. Throughout the ages, humans have been able to share information, interests, needs, and values over time and space and, thus, have influenced others by their actions and their words. In recent years, technology tools have brought the world closer and have erased many of the existing borders. As boundaries between countries are dissolving, the need for learning world languages has become a necessary component for linking with the rest of the world and for producing an enlightened citizenship able to function in today’s global marketplace.
The North Carolina World Language Essential Standards are based on a set of principles governing language education. These tenets are anchored in language education research and supported by practice. They are as follows:
- All students can learn and experience success in a second or world language.
- Any language can be used to teach academic content at any level or within any program.
- Language acquisition is a lifelong process. For optimum results, students should have the opportunity to engage in a long, articulated sequence of study.
- Language skills increase in the four areas (listening, speaking, reading, writing) as students build mastery or acquire proficiency in the world language.
- Students learn in various ways and acquire proficiency in a language at different rates based on:
- time devoted to language learning - both formal instructional hours and informal opportunities;
- access to language programs that offer an extended sequence of courses;
- intensity of language study - continuous and articulated, rather than interrupted;
- type of writing system (alphabet vs. character) used in the language being learned;
- their age, developmental level, motivation, etc.
- Students augment needed skills to be citizens of a global society by learning another language.
- Students develop insights into other cultures, as well as their own, when learning another language.
- Students make interdisciplinary connections when learning another language, because all other content areas can be incorporated into language lessons, reinforcing skills such as reading, writing, problem solving, hypothesizing, and so on.
- Proficiency reflects the students’ ability to communicate in a functional way with the new language and can be measured formatively, as with LinguaFolio, and summatively with tests designed for that purpose.
The North Carolina Basic Education Program (BEP), along with the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act reauthorizations, such as the 2002 No Child Left Behind legislation, present world languages as a core subject that every student should learn as part of a balanced curriculum. Internationally, most countries require all of their students to study one or more world languages, which parallels the North Carolina State Board of Education’s Future-Ready Students for the 21st Century goals.
The guiding mission of the North Carolina State Board of Education (SBE) is that every public school student will graduate from high school, globally competitive for work and postsecondary education and prepared for life in the 21st Century.
The first goal states that North Carolina public schools will produce globally competitive students in which “every student excels in rigorous and relevant core curriculum that reflects what students need to know and demonstrate in a global 21st Century environment, including a mastery of languages, an appreciation of the arts, and competencies in the use of technology.”
The Future-Ready graduate has 17 skills noted that are necessary for success, including the following that are developed in the study of world languages:
- Knowledgeable Global Citizen
Learning another language will build those skills, and, as a student builds proficiency in a language, other future-ready skills are also practiced and refined:
- Effective Communicator
- Proficient Reader
- Literate Consumer of Media
- Creative/Innovative and Critical Thinker
- Curious Researcher
- Strong Team Contributor
- Relationship Builder
Besides developing the skills listed above, the study of another language also leads to greater academic achievement overall, which is seen in higher scores on standardized tests (EOG and SAT scores in reading, writing and math); greater cognitive development in the areas of mental flexibility, creativity, divergent thinking and higher-order thinking skills; a broader English vocabulary; a better understanding of one’s own language and culture; and enhanced career opportunities in all 16 of the career clusters outlined in A Crisis of Relevance: How NC Must Innovate to Graduate All Students Career-and College-Ready.