December 2008 Update
Fall 2008 Update
February 2008 Update
January 2008 Policy Update
Post Thanksgiving Update
MLJ Perspectives Panels: Institutionalizing Foreign Language Education
JNCL/NCLIS Executive Summary
House Appropriations Committee figures - International education and foreign languages studies
Report from the JNCL-NCLIS Legislative Day
Senate's "Lost in Translation" Hearing"
Standards-based Instruction: What's in it for my Students?
Foreign Language Left Behind?
Joint National Committee for Languages (JNCL) and
the National Council for Languages and International Studies (NCLIS) Executive Summary
December Policy Update
What is JNCL? What are they doing for the average FL Teacher?
The Joint National Committee on Languages (JNCL) is a non profit, member-based organization with the goal of educating the public about foreign and international language education. One of the main missions of the JNCL is to gather information about foreign language education and then send out this information and make it easily accessible to their sixty-five member organizations. This organization acts as a liaison between the international and foreign language communities and Congress, although it does not participate in any advocating.
The lobbying that occurs on behalf of JNCL’s members is performed by an associate organization called the National Council for Languages and International Study (NCLIS). The NCLIS advocates for foreign and international policies in Washington, DC, and has helped pass significant legislation such as the Higher Education Opportunity Act of this year, which appointed a Deputy Assistant Secretary for International and Foreign Language Education with in the Department of Education – for the first time.
According to JNCL-NCLIS Program Coordinator Ashley L. Lenker, some of the biggest problems currently facing JNCL are the time constraints surrounding legislative projects, a lack of available funding for foreign language projects and accurately translating the needs of language educators into concrete policy. An example of a current project that they are working on at JNCL-NCLIS to help foreign language educators is the re-authorization of “No Child Left Behind” to expand a foreign language assistance grant program from the elementary school to university levels.
While JNCL-NCLIS does not formally endorse any party candidates, they are now expecting that President-Elect Barack Obama will be more supportive of foreign language initiatives than past Presidents. Obama has been quoted saying that he believes “every child should learn two languages”, which could certainly be indicative of a sympathetic outlook on the subject. Whether this will translate into increased funding and executive support remains to be seen, but many are hopeful.
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Fall 2008 Update
See the article on "NATIONAL LANGUAGE POLICIES:
PRAGMATISM, PROCESS, AND PRODUCTS
February Policy Update
Senate Foreign Relations Committee Passes Study Abroad Bill
On February 13, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee passed the Senator Paul Simon Study Abroad Foundation Act, which would expand nearly fivefold the number of college students who participate in overseas education. The House of Representatives approved the bill last June. It was introduced by the late Rep. Tom Lantos, Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. The legislation creates a foundation whose goal is to send one million American students abroad each year within the next 10 years. Currently, only about 225,000 U.S. students study overseas annually. The bill would authorize an appropriation of $80-million annually for the foundation. The legislation now must pass the full Senate.
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January '08 Policy Update
Below is a downloadable file containing a comparison of the three foreign language partnership programs proposed as additions to the Foreign Language Partnership Program. One is from the House draft of the No Child Left Behind reauthorization, another from the Senate's draft. The third is the partnership piece of the America COMPETES legislation that was signed by President Bush in 2007.
Download Comparison File.
We hope that this will help you understand the similarities and differences in each piece. We look forward to your feedback regarding the programs' strengths and weaknesses, which we plan to compile and send to our legislative contacts.For more information, see www.languagepolicy.org
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Post Thanksgiving '07 Update
During the Thanksgiving recess, President Bush vetoed the House Labor/HHS/Education bill (H.R. 3043) that we updated you about in early November, stating in a message to Congress: This bill spends too much. It exceeds the reasonable and responsible levels for discretionary spending that I proposed to balance the budget by 2012. The Congress is on a path to spend $205 billion more over the next 5 years than I requested. This puts a balanced budget in jeopardy and risks future tax increases. This year, the Congress plans to overspend my budget by $22 billion, of which $10 billion is for increases in this bill. Health care, education, job training, and other goals can be achieved without this excessive spending if the Congress sets priorities. President Bush further asked Congress to send him a fiscally responsible bill that sets priorities (http://thomas.loc.gov). We will keep you posted as negotiations progress.
Prior to the recess, the House Committee on Education and Labor marked up its version of the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act (H.R. 4137 College Opportunity and Affordability Act of 2007). Highlights of the Committees reauthorization bill include:
- Using a broad definition of critical foreign language in Title I
- Including foreign languages in 3 grant programs in Title II: Teacher Quality Partnership Grants, Recruiting Teachers with Math, Science, or Language Majors, Community Colleges as Partners in Teacher Education Grants
- Integrating Foreign Language Specialists in areas of National Need in Title IV
- Creating a new office/position in the Department of Education for an Assistant Secretary for International and Foreign Language Education
- Creating two new programs introduced by Rep. Rush Holt: Preparing for Early Foreign Language Instruction and Science and Technology Advanced Foreign Language Education Grant Program
Within Title VI:
- Authorizing new activities for grant funds of National Resource Centers: instructors of less commonly taught languages and projects that promote use of science and technology in coordination with foreign language proficiency, strengthening outreach to SEAs and LEAs
- Reinstating the eligibility of undergraduates for FLAS fellowships
- Undergraduate International Studies and Foreign Language program is amended to allow up to 10% of grant fund to be used toward programs which promote language proficiency and cultural knowledge in study abroad
- Adding provisions to include systematic data collection, analysis, and dissemination
- An amendment to create an International Higher Education Advisory Board was defeated.
For a more comprehensive look at this legislation, please visit this link. and download this PDF document.
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MLJ Perspectives Panels: Institutionalizing Foreign Language Education
Invitation to a series of panel discussions on the topic of "Representing Foreign Language Education at the Federal Level in the United States"
You are invited to attend a series of four moderated panel discussions that have been organized by Leo van Lier, Editor of The Modern Language Journal, and Heidi Byrnes, Associate Editor of Perspectives, in order to lay the ground work for Perspectives 92,4 (December 2008). The topic for that issue of Perspectives and the panels is: "Representing Foreign Language Education at the Federal Level in the United States. Open sessions will take place at the following conferences:
- ACTFL (San Antonio, Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center): Friday, Nov. 16, 2007. 3 5 p.m.
- MLA (Chicago, Sheraton Chicago Hotel and Towers): Saturday, Dec. 29, 2007. 8:30 9:45 a.m.
- Northeast Conference (New York, Marriott Marquis): Friday, March 28, 2008. 2 - 4 p.m.
- AAAL (Washington, Omni Shoreham): Sunday, March 30, 2008. 8:50 - 11:50 a.m.
Each panel features experts representing various constituencies and education policy experiences and interests. They are charged with imagining forms of institutionalization for foreign language education policy-making at the federal level of the U.S. that assure the development of encompassing, coherent, and long-term policies and practices. Following panelists brief opening statements, the sessions will feature a moderated discussion and seek commentary from attendees.
This initiative on the part of the MLJ responds to the following situation:
In the last few years diverse interested parties, including the government legislative side, the government user side, the business community, and the academic-professional side, have created documents that state well the problems in foreign language education in the United States and what needs and concerns urgently require attention. There is a high consensus on that score. In addition, numerous legislative proposals have been presented that address specific issues, most particularly those relating to concerns of national security and defense. Missing, however, are proposals for forms of institutionalization, structures, procedures, and processes that would assure for all of foreign language education a permanent place in educational policy making at the federal level in the United States.
- A set of Guiding Questions is intended to inform the discussions and help panelists prepare their proposals and remarks.
- General background information on needs in foreign language education includes ACTFL blueprint 2005; CED report on foreign languages, 2006; CED testimony, 2007; Senate FL hearings, 1-2007; Oleksak/ACTFL testimony, 2007; and MLJ Perspectives, 91, 2.
- Programmatically NOT structurally oriented legislative proposals are The National Security Education Act, and Rep. Rush Holt's Foreign Language Education Partnership Act, H.R.2111.
- Most appliable to the discussion are diverse proposals for possible forms of institutionalization. These are found in Sen. Akaka's FL Coordination Act; and the Executive Summary of Title VI and Fulbright-Hayes report, 2007).
In conjunction with the panels the following documents will be made available:
- Approximately one week in advance of each panel, outlines of proposals from each of the panelists: ACTFL panelists and proposals; MLA panelists and proposals; Northeast Conference panelists and proposals; AAAL panelists and proposals;
- Post-event summaries of the panel discussions: ACTFL panel summary; MLA panel summary; Northeast Conference panel summary; AAAL panel summary.
Perspectives 92,4 (Dec. 2008) will summarize and critically consider the four panel discussions and the main points raised at a one-day invited conference on the same topic that will take place at Georgetown University on April 2, 2008, immediately after the conclusion of AAAL (preliminary conference schedule).
For further information, contact Heidi Byrnes at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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JNCL/NCLIS Executive Summary
- The 110th Congress has passed and the President has signed into law the America COMPETES Act (America Creating Opportunities to Meaningfully Promote Excellence in Technology, Education and Science Act). The law is very broad in scope and creates programs in a number of federal agencies. In the Department of Education, it will increase the number of AP and IB programs dealing with math, science, and foreign languages, develop more math, science, and critical foreign language teachers, and create a new program of articulated critical foreign languages from elementary school through postsecondary education.
- The Senate has passed its version of the Higher Education Amendments Act of 2007. The Senate bill contains provisions to very broadly define "critical foreign languages" in Title I, adds foreign languages to Title II, Teacher Quality Enhancement, and Title VII, Areas of National Need.
- In Title VI of HEA, Foreign Languages and International Education, the Senate has passed and the House is considering provisions that will increase outreach, provide undergraduate scholarships, improve study abroad, and increase minority participation. Previous provisions to create an International Education Advisory Board are not included.
- The National Research Council of the National Academies released their Congressional-mandated study of Title VI and the Fulbright-Hays Program. Generally concluding that these programs are doing a good job, NRC does make 12 recommendations for changes such as more study abroad, increased minority participation, finding a better way to measure language proficiency, becoming more transparent, improving data gathering, and, most importantly, these programs should be under the direction of an executive-level position that requires presidential appointment and Senate confirmation.
- Consistent with this last recommendation, legislation is being considered in both Houses to create an Assistant Secretary of International and Foreign Language Education in the Department of Education.
- Both the House and Senate have begun holding hearings and considering legislation to reauthorize Elementary and Secondary Education, including No Child Left Behind. Significant changes impacting foreign languages would include new provisions creating support for articulated K-12/13-16 programs, language partnerships, and loan forgiveness for language majors/teachers.
- HR 2111, the Foreign Language Partnership Program Act, has been introduced by Representative Rush Holt after extensive discussions with the language community. As part of the reauthorization of ESEA this bill may be considered as a Part II of the Foreign Language Assistance Act. The bill has been endorsed by over 70 international, language, and education associations.
- The House has passed and the Senate is actively considering the Senator Paul Simon Study Abroad Foundation Act consistent with the Report of the Commission on the Abraham Lincoln Study Abroad Fellowship Program to increase the number of American students that study abroad to one million.
- In January, the Senate held hearings on "Lost in Translation: A Review of the Federal Governments Efforts to Develop a Foreign Language Strategy". In part, the hearings were related to legislation in both chambers to create a National Language Coordination Council and Director to assess and develop strategies to address the nations language needs in national security, diplomacy, intelligence, economic competitiveness, education, and other areas.
- Considerable other legislation has been introduced such as the Shirley Chisholm U.S.-Caribbean Exchange Act to further educational exchanges between the nations of the Caribbean and U.S. schools; H.R. 1718, a bipartisan bill to provide teachers of foreign languages the same loan forgiveness as teachers of math and science up to $17,500 if they teach for five years; and H.R. 3275, the US-China Language Engagement Act which provides grants for the establishment, improvement, or expansion of Chinese language and cultural studies instruction for elementary school and secondary school students.
- Finally, both Houses and the Administration have finished their appropriation requests. The Presidents budget request for FY 2008 level funds Title VI/Fulbright-Hays at $105.175 million but requests increased funding of the Foreign Language Assistance Programs (FLAP) to $23.8 million. This request would eliminate a number of small programs such as Star Schools, Civic Education, Javits, and Technology. As part of the new National Security Language Initiative (NSLI), $24 million in new funds are requested for Advancing America Through Foreign Language (K-16) Partnerships, $5 million for a Language Teacher Corps, and $3 million for a Teacher to Teacher Initiative for summer sessions for foreign language teachers.
- Both the House and Senate would increase the Foreign Language Assistance Program to $26.8 million. Both Houses put back most of the programs the Administration would eliminate. Both ask for considerably increased funding for the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education. The House would provide an increase of almost $10 million (to $115.6 million) for International Education and Foreign Language Studies. The Senate provides $12 million for the Presidents NSLI Partnership Program.
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House Appropriations Committee figures
International education and foreign languages studies
Download the full figures for the Appropriations for Education Programs
Domestic programs --"The Committee recommends $100,341,000 for the domestic activities of the international education and foreign languages studies programs, which is $8,800,000 above the fiscal year 2007 appropriation and the budget request. The title VI programs include national resource centers, foreign language and area studies fellowships, undergraduate international studies and foreign language programs, international research and studies projects, business and international education projects, international business education centers, language resource centers, American overseas research centers, and technological innovation and cooperation for foreign information access.
The Committee places a high priority on restoring over the next several years budget cuts to the title VI programs, which serve national needs in foreign language training and areas studies. The bill includes $3,155,000 to increase the number of individuals receiving academic year foreign language and area studies fellowships by 100 to 1,026, and summer fellowships by 70 to 700--approximately a 10 percent increase over last year.
The bill repeats language permitting up to one percent of the title VI/Fulbright-Hays funds provided to the Department to be used for program evaluation, national outreach, and information dissemination activities. The Committee urges that a portion of these funds be used to assist title VI grantees develop web portals to improve the dissemination of information produced under these programs to the public."
National Research Council Study --"The Committee notes that the National Research Council's recent study of title VI and Fulbright-Hays, entitled `International Education and Foreign Languages: Keys to Securing America's Future' found that these programs serve as the foundation for internationalization in higher education through research and teaching in a wide variety of areas and languages, and that they make a significant national contribution to the teaching and learning of less commonly taught languages in particular. The National Research Council concluded, however, that the Department has not made foreign language and cultures a priority. It also found a lack of strategic planning and coordination on international education and foreign languages within the Department and with other federal agencies.
"Accordingly, the Committee urges the Department to establish a coordinating group on international education and foreign language studies within the Department. The group should consist of high-ranking Department personnel as well as relevant planning, budget and program staff, and should regularly consult with the international education and foreign language community. The group should (1) develop a strategic vision and master plan for the Department's international education and foreign language programs from elementary through higher education; (2) develop and implement a plan for improving the coordination and articulation among all Department programs on international education and foreign languages; and (3) consult with other Federal agencies to determine and address national needs in international education and foreign language studies. In addition, the group should improve the International Resource Information System (IRIS) data reporting system to ensure that (1) the data collected contains performance outputs and outcomes that are relevant to program monitoring and improvement; and (2) the data system provides greater standardization, allows comparison across years and across programs, and provides information to all grantees and to the public. In addition, the Committee urges the Department to strengthen the title VI and Fulbright-Hays program staff and support systems as international education programs and responsibilities grow. The Committee directs the Department to submit a report to the House and Senate Committees on Appropriations by February 1, 2008 describing steps taken to address these management, program and staffing needs."
Overseas programs --"The Committee recommends $13,610,000 for the overseas programs in international education and foreign language studies authorized under the Mutual Educational and Cultural Exchange Act of 1961, popularly known as the Fulbright-Hays Act. This amount is $1,000,000 more than the fiscal year 2007 level and the budget request. Funding for these programs support group projects abroad, faculty research abroad, special bilateral projects, and doctoral dissertation research abroad. Fulbright-Hays provides an essential overseas component for research and training of Americans in foreign languages and international studies. Overseas immersion is critical to achieving high levels of foreign language proficiency. Additional funds are intended to increase the number of research and study abroad fellowships and group projects abroad in intermediate and advanced language training in strategic world areas, as well as expand curriculum development and summer seminars abroad for K-12 teachers."
Institute for international public policy. --"The Committee recommends $1,700,000 for the Institute for International Public Policy. This amount is $100,000 over the fiscal year 2007 level and the budget request. This program provides a grant to an eligible recipient to operate the Institute through sub-grantees chosen among minority serving institutions."
Advancing America through foreign language partnerships.--"The Committee recommends no funding for the advancing America through foreign language partnerships program, for which $24,000,000 was proposed in the budget request. The Committee believes that existing authority under the foreign language assistance program can be used to address the identified foreign language needs and has provided $3,000,000 for new pilots for this purpose."
Foreign language assistance grants --"The Committee recommends $26,780,000 for foreign language assistance grants, which is $3,000,000 more than the fiscal year 2007 funding level and $3,025,000 more than the budget request. The program supports competitive grants to school districts and States to increase the quality and quantity of elementary and secondary-level foreign language instruction in the United States.
"The bill provides that $3,000,000 shall be available for five-year grants to local educational agencies that would work in partnership with one or more institutions of higher education to establish or expand articulated programs of study in languages critical to U.S. national security. The programs would be designed to enable successful students, as they advance through college, to achieve a superior level of proficiency or professional working proficiency in critical need languages such as Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Russian, as well as the Indic, Iranian, and Turkic language families. The Committee encourages school districts applying for this funding to reach out to institutions and centers funded under the Department's International Education programs under Title VI of the Higher Education Act."
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Report from the Joint National Committee for Languages-National Council for Language and International Studies (JNCL-NCLIS) Legislative Day
On a warm, sunny spring morning, I walked across the grounds of the Capitol building, feeling downright patriotic. I was about to accompany language teachers, advocates and administrators as they learned yet another new language: The Language of Congress. I strode confidently through the metal detectors of the Russell Senate Office Building, feeling fully prepared for this challenge. After all, Im the worlds biggest language geek, language learning is what I do bestsurely I could handle a little government-speak.
Mingling with some other attendees over breakfast, I had a sudden realization. That morning, I had taken a short Metro ride, and a stroll through my old neighborhood to reach the Senate offices, but to several representatives from the Texas Foreign Language Association, I blurted out, "You came all the way from Texas, didnt you?!" Indeed, participants had come from all over the country, including California, Kansas, New Jersey, and many states in between, to speak with their representatives about legislation affecting foreign language teaching and learning in the U.S.
The meeting began with opening comments from Jayne Abrate, the JNCL/NCLIS President, and J. David Edwards, its Executive Director, preparing us for our first lesson in Congressional-speak. We were then treated to a string of visits from Senate staff members, who reviewed relevant legislation in a whirlwind of bill numbers, facts, figures, and dollar amounts that made my head spin. I learned the difference between appropriations and authorizations, and listened to the lively group, clearly already passionate about language learning, become informed and determined advocates for themselves, their students and their profession.
While I may not have been able to meet with representatives myself, I left with a deep respect for those who represented their colleagues by leaving lasting impressions and making personal contacts with lawmakers. They may not have been seasoned lobbyists, but each one of the participants that day had a firm understanding of why language education was important to them and should be important to the rest of the country. As one senators executive assistant said, most legislative staffers are just out of college; teachers are still intimidating figures of wisdom and authority. As the group members went their separate ways for individual appointments, Dr. Edwards wished them luck, reminding them that they are professional educators, and now was the time to do what they do besteducate members of Congress about how and why their vote impacts language education.
For more information about JNCL/NCLIS, pending legislation that matters to you, and on how you can influence U.S. language policy, visit http://www.languagepolicy.org.
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1. Recently introduced House study abroad bill
On March 12, 2007, Representatives Tom Lantos (D-Calif.) and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), Chairman and Ranking Member, respectively, of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, introduced the Senator Paul Simon Study Abroad Foundation Act of 2007, H.R. 1469. The legislation implements the recommendations from the Abraham Lincoln Commission's report Global Competence and National Needs: One Million Americans Studying Abroad.
A copy of the legislation is available in PDF format here http://www.nclrc.org/about_teaching/topics/related_docs/PaulSimonStudyAbroadHR1469.pdf
or you may find additional information by searching for H.R. 1469 at http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/D?d111:2:./temp/~bdXno1::|/bss/111search.html.|
2. A bill that was introduced by Rep. Dennis Moore (D-KS) and Rep.Christopher Shays (R-CT) called the Foreign Language Education Expansion Act, which would provide loan forgiveness for foreign language teachers in the same manner as it is currently granted to math and science teachers. The actual legislation was introduced Thursday, March 22; however, part of the bill is also included in the linked PDF file HERE.
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Senate's "Lost in Translation" Hearing"
Below are the links forthree articles of interest regarding last Thursday's hearing on "Lost in Translation: A Review of the Federal Government's Efforts to Develop a Foreign Language Strategy" held by theSenate Subcommittee on Oversight of Government Management, the Federal Workforce, and the District of Columbia of the
Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. Senator Daniel Akaka (Chairman) presided and Senator George Voinovich was also present.
To view details of the proceedings, please click HERE.
4646 40th Street NW
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Phone: (202) 966-8477
Fax: (202) 966-8310
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Standards-based Instruction: What's in it for my Students?
Marty Abbott is Director of High School Instruction for Fairfax County Public Schools in Fairfax, VA. Marty served on the Task Force that developed the National Foreign Language Standards as well as the ACTFL K-12 Performance Guidelines. Her leadership roles have included Chair of the Northeast Conference on the Teaching of Foreign Languages, President of the Foreign Language Association of Virginia, and Director of the Governor’s Latin Academy. She is currently serving as President of the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL).
Karen Singer is the Foreign Language Coordinator for Fairfax County Public Schools. Previously, she served as Department Chair and French teacher at Langley High School. Karen has incorporated the ideas presented in this article in seminars for beginning teachers and will be co-teaching a course on the standards-based foreign language class during the spring semester.
The word standards crops up in nearly any discussion of educational issues, particularly as related to the emphasis on accountability that permeates educational decision-making throughout our country. As states grapple with the many facets of the No Child Left Behind legislation, there remains a significant challenge for language educators not only to define standards-based education as it relates to language instruction but also to embrace it as an important path for our students as they develop their language proficiency.
The Standards for Foreign Language Learning for the 21st Century were published in 1996 amid historic consensus-reaching in our field about a visionary goal for language instruction in the United States. Since that time, every national initiative related to our field has embraced the five C's as outlined as goals in the standards document and we have moved forward in our profession using the Communication, Cultures, Connections, Comparisons, and Communities goal areas as an organizing principle. These initiatives have included new foreign language unit standards for the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) programs, standards for the National Board for Professional Teacher Standards (NBPTS), standards for beginning teachers developed by the Interstate New Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium (INTASC), and the format for the first foreign language National Assessment for Educational Progress (NAEP) exam which will be administered in the fall of 2004. In addition, most presenters at language conferences at the national, regional, and state levels, refer to the 5 C's, and usually without feeling the need to explain them to the audience.
Yet, despite the overwhelming acceptance within our field of the student standards, the fact remains that standards-based instruction and assessments are not the norm in language classrooms around the country and the accountability, that now characterizes educational reform efforts nationwide, continues to elude language instruction.
Why should language teachers who do not have a standards-based curriculum be taking matters into their own hands? For the sake of their students!
We would like to posit some considerations for teachers regarding the rationale for developing a standards-based approach to teaching and the benefits this holds for students.
In the introduction to the standards document, communication is defined as knowing "how, when, and why to say what to whom." Because the three modes (interpersonal, interpretive, and presentational) describe real life communication, the use of these modes for long range and short range curriculum planning is important. While many language classrooms have extensive "oral activities," teachers need to ask themselves whether or not these activities lead to students' ability to interact independently. If each student knows or has the same information, then the activity is more likely a skill-building one rather than a skill-using one. In order for real communication to take place, students need to have a PURPOSE for the communication and an INFORMATION GAP. Likewise, in building students' proficiency in the other two modes, it is important to make sure that students are being asked to interpret what they read or hear or make oral or written presentations that take into account their audience. By always returning to the fundamental definition of communication, teachers can check whether they are planning a standards-based lesson for students. Likewise, teachers of classical languages can ask the fundamental question of whether or not the activity is building students' ability to read the language independently.
A standards-based approach to the teaching of culture is one that includes student understanding of the perspectives, practices, and products of the target language culture(s). Since culture has not always been taught in this way, it may be challenging for teachers to explain the relationships among the "three P's." When planning curriculum, it may be necessary to include some overarching perspectives that you want students to understand at each level of instruction and then think about the related practices and products associated with that perspective. Understanding the spiraling nature of learning, these can be reintroduced throughout the year and at various levels so that student understanding is developed in increasing depths of comprehension. The important thing to remember is that student understanding of culture is not complete at simply the products or practices level. The full understanding takes place when they are able to associate those products and practices with a perspective.
The Connections goal remains elusive in many curricula as well. While most people agree that it's a good idea to make those interdisciplinary connections, few coherent examples are evident except at the elementary level when the immersion or content-based model is used. One aspect that may help more classrooms include the connections goal is for teachers to provide opportunities for students to gain the information in the target language in areas where they have an interest. By allowing students to pursue their interests related to other subjects, but do it in the target language, builds on their own personal interest in a subject, and avoids the teacher having to be the "expert" in all other subjects.
When the Cultures goal is systematically integrated into instruction, the Comparisons goal of insight into one's own culture happens quite naturally. When students understand the perspectives associated with other cultures, they begin to question the corresponding perspective from their own culture. Sometimes they discover a striking similarity and at other times a very different perspective. Developing this ability in our students has been overlooked among educators, but this ability is becoming increasingly critical for our students as they learn to live and work in a global society. Likewise, it is critical for our students' understanding of their native language that teachers highlight target language elements that are similar or different from their native language. In both of these areas of the comparisons goal, the vital aspect is that teachers are teaching students HOW to develop this insight so that they will continue to do this on their own long after they leave the classroom.
Finally, curriculum that encourages, motivates, and rewards students for applying their linguistic and cultural knowledge beyond the classroom is at the very heart of language instruction. Teachers will find that this aspect of instruction will become increasingly easier as Internet access in schools becomes more common. Putting students in touch with the world is our business and the opportunities abound.
Focusing on the standards will provide the goals for our language programs nationwide that were envisioned when the student standards were developed. They provide for developing students' functional ability in the language, cultural competence, an understanding of content in other disciplines through the target language, insight into students' own language and culture and, finally, an application of that language and cultural competence in the real world. A response to the question, "What's in it for my students?" would have to include a heightened sense of engagement, the potential for the increased self-confidence and independence that come from applying critical thinking skills at all levels of language learning and a greater likelihood of being a life-long learner of foreign languages. In short, a firm foundation for becoming a global citizen.
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Foreign Language Left Behind?
As we were going to press, a statement was issued by Education Secretary, Rodney Paige, clarifying the inclusion of foreign languages as a core academic subject in the No Child Left Behind Act, and the hiring of "highly qualified teachers" to teach these core subjects.
There is a danger that, in many school districts around the country, the attempt to comply with the No Child Left Behind Act of the U.S. Department of Education, is depleting the resources of foreign language programs in the public schools. David Edwards of the Joint National Council on Languages (JNCL), whose job it is to represent the interests of the foreign language community to the U.S. government, says there is a "disaster waiting to happen" if we do not work as a community to intervene before the damage is done.
Background of the Act
The No Child Left Behind Act (2001) was designed to ensure that all our children are provided with a good education, and to hold schools accountable for the education the students receive. Accountability is determined by the establishment of standards for learning in specific subject areas. Students' performance on tests based on these standards determines the evaluation of the schools' quality. This evaluation has serious repercussions for the schools. Districts and schools that fail to make adequate yearly progress toward state proficiency goals for their students will first be targeted for assistance, then be subject to corrective action and ultimately, restructuring.
The No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act lists a number of subjects as "core academic subjects." These include "English, reading or language arts, mathematics, science, foreign languages, civics and government, economics, arts, history, and geography." Beyond being listed as a core subject, there is little specific mention of foreign language education in the NCLB. The focus is on student performance in language arts and in math. The Act requires that states oversee the administration of testing of students beginning in grade 3 in language arts and math.
Impact of the Act on Foreign Language Programs
There is mounting evidence that the impact of NCLB, including high stakes testing in reading and mathematics, has resulted in a number of state and district boards concentrating their efforts and resources in the subject areas to be tested to the detriment of other subjects, such as foreign languages.
Pam Kolega, Foreign Language State Supervisor for Pennsylvania, reports that she sees evidence of a negative impact of the NCLB in her state. According to her figures, the number of students studying foreign languages in the Pennsylvania public schools has decreased for the first time in 12 years since the passing of the Act . Ms Kolega attributes this decrease to districts cutting exploratory language programs and to guidance counselors advising students to enroll in remedial reading and math instead of foreign language. While Ms Kolega empathizes with the schools' desire to comply with the No Child Left Behind Act, she feels this should not be done at the expense of foreign languages.
Impact of the Act on Teacher Qualifications
Because foreign language is a "core subject," foreign language teachers are subject to the No Child Left Behind requirements for Highly Qualified Teachers . This legislation requires that "states must develop plans with annual measurable objectives that will ensure that all teachers of core academic subjects are highly qualified, which means
a. " that they have state certification (which may be alternative state certification), b. hold a bachelors' degree, c. and have demonstrated subject area competency."
-All new hires in Title 1 programs after the start of the 2002-2003 school year must meet these requirements, -All existing teachers must meet these requirements by the end of the 2005-2006 school year, and -School districts must use at least 5% of their Title 1 funds for professional development to help teachers of core subjects become highly qualified.
Some school districts have found it difficult to meet the requirements for foreign language teachers for in elementary schools in 2002-2003 because new hires must already have state certification. It is important that all foreign language teachers understand they must meet these requirements by 2005-2006.
What You Can Do to Keep Foreign Language Teaching Growing in the Schools
1. Explain the exact status of foreign language teaching in the No Child Left Behind Act - foreign language is a core subject. A number of foreign language state and district supervisors have reported that their boards do not understand that foreign language is one of the core subjects in the No Child Left Behind legislation. Title IX - General Provisions, Part A - Definitions, Number 11 clearly states that foreign language is a core subject. This means that foreign language teachers are subject to the same requirements for "highly qualified teachers" as all other core subject teachers, and can expect to have a portion of Title 1 funds devoted to their professional development to meet these requirements by 2005-2006.
2. It is important to remind state, district and school boards that the U.S. Department of Education has made foreign language education a national educational priority. U.S. Secretary of Education, Rodney Paige, in a speech to the States Institute on International Education in the Schools, November, 2002, said:
"But we are ever mindful of the lessons of September 11th that taught us that all future measures of a rigorous K-12 education must include a solid grounding in other cultures, other languages, and other histories. In other words, we need to put the 'world' back into 'world-class' education."
3. Remember that there is a "washback" effect in literacy achievement from foreign language study to language arts. So, in effect, foreign language study adds to students' learning in language arts and English.
Christine Brown, past president of the American Council of Foreign Language Teachers (ACTFL), explains that the mind is not like a pie, with one segment devoted to native language literacy, another to math, and another to foreign language. Rather, skills are transferred across subject areas and reinforced in different disciplines. Literacy skills learned in foreign language study, especially for young students acquiring literacy, can reinforce emerging literacy skills in their native language and even provide students with deeper cognitive and metacognitive understandings of how language works and its relation to literacy. Ms. Brown reports that in her district, Glastonbury, Connecticut, the foreign language teachers work directly with the language arts and social studies teachers to ensure that the foreign language curriculum supports and enhances the students' overall literacy skills. They call this the "triple helix of curricular articulation," and it works. Their elementary students' language arts skills are among the highest in the country, while every elementary student in the district studies a foreign language as a core course.
4. Work at state and regional levels to support foreign language study. Teachers, administrators, and parents need to work together to ensure that foreign language instruction is not weakened by the No Child Left Behind Act, but rather used to strengthen the important goals of this legislation.
To access the No Child Left Behind Act in PDF format, click here
For an easy-to-understand explanation of the Act, click here (PDF)
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Joint National Committee for Languages (JNCL) and the National Council for Languages and International Studies (NCLIS) Executive Summary
- On January 5, 2006, the U.S. President announced the National Security Language Initiative (NSLI). This $114 million program has fourteen components intended to “expand the number of Americans mastering critical need languages” starting at an earlier age; “increase the number of advanced-level speakers of foreign languages”; and “increase the number of foreign language teachers and the resources for them”.
- In December, Congress finally passed the last of the appropriations bills. In the Department of Education, all programs experienced a one percent across-the board cut. For example, International Education and Foreign Language Studies went from $106.8 million to $105.7 million. A number of programs that were zero-funded by the President and/or the House such as Star Schools, Javits, and Civic Education were preserved but their funding was significantly decreased. One of only a few programs to receive an increase was the Foreign Language Assistance Program (FLAP) which went from $17.8 million to $21.7 million.
- Elsewhere, the National Security Education Program (NSEP) was continued at $16 million. The National Endowment for the Humanities increased from $138.0 million to $143.1 million. In the State Department, Education and Cultural Affairs Programs grew from $360.7 million to 437.1 million. Programs with decreased funding include Assistance for Eastern European and Baltic States (SEED) ($393.4 million to $361.0 million) and Assistance for the Independent States of the Former Soviet Union (FSA) ($555.5 million to $514 million).
- Section 8003 of the Budget Reconciliation Act now includes foreign languages as eligible for Academic Competitiveness Grants in Higher Education.
- In the final days of the First Session of the 109th Congress, Rep. Rush Holt introduced two bills: H.R. 4630 amending the David L. Boren National Security Education Program to allow scholarship and fellowship recipients to work in the field of education if no position is available in the Federal government; H.R. 4629, the “K-16 Critical Foreign Language Pipeline Act” creating five new programs in NSEP.
- The Senate has passed its reauthorization of Higher Education, S. 1614, the Higher Education Amendments Act of 2005 strengthening outreach, study abroad, IIPP, and making undergraduates eligible for FLAS fellowships. It contains no Advisory Board for Title VI, but it does refer a number of times to reflecting “diverse and balanced perspectives” and generating “debate on world regions and international affairs.”
- S. 1614 also includes foreign languages in Title IV, Financial Assistance, as well as Title II, Teacher Preparation and Title VII, Graduate and Postsecondary Improvement Programs as a “high-need academic subject area”.
- The House Education Committee has passed H.R. 609, the College Access and Opportunity Act of 2005. This bill makes a number of improvements to Title VI such as increased outreach, greater opportunities to study abroad, and it expands the Institute for International Public Policy (IIPP). However, H.R. 609 retains a revised and softened, but nonetheless, an expensive and unnecessary Advisory Board.
- Of note, H.R. 609 includes foreign languages in Title IV, Financial Assistance, as an Area of National Need. Under these new provisions, foreign language students are eligible for loan forgiveness if they go to work for the federal government or go into elementary or secondary education teaching.
- The Senate Appropriations bill contains report language for FLAP that recommends providing increased funding for a new grant competition to “school districts with poverty rates of 15 percent or more, to help the highest-need elementary schools within such districts establish foreign language instruction programs.”
- The National Security Education Program (NSEP) will provide $8 million for undergraduate scholarships and graduate fellowships. Additional funding has been appropriated for the Flagship programs, the K-16 Chinese Flagship Initiative, and an English Heritage Language Speakers Initiative.
- A companion bill to Senator Akaka’s the National Foreign Language Coordination Act, S. 1089, was introduced in the House by Rep. Brian Baird (D-WA) as H.R. 4196, to establish a National Foreign Language Coordination Council.
- The Abraham Lincoln Commission released their report, Global Competence and National Needs: One Million Americans Studying Abroad, on November 15, 2005. It recommended that fellowships and scholarships be awarded to Institutions of Higher Education and to students for study abroad. They recommended funding of $50 million in FY 2007 increasing to $125 million by FY 2011.
- S. 1376, Teaching Geography is Fundamental was introduced this summer by Senator Thad Cochran and five co-sponsors. The bill “expands geography literacy among kindergarten through 12th grade students by improving their teachers’ professional development…”
- A 12-point policy statement, Languages in the National Interest, was finalized and distributed to our members, government agencies, congressional contacts, and other interested and appropriate parties.
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