This blog was guest written by BHS World Language Teacher and P4C Steering Committee Member: Gissele Drpich
“In our interconnected age, the mission of cultivating foreign language skills has never been more vital” Barack Obama
This quote comes from the message that President Obama sent to the ACTFL (American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages) Annual Convention that I am so grateful to have been able to attend thanks to a grant from the Partnership for Change.
Organizations like ACTFL and the Partnership for Change are at the forefront of promoting understanding among communities and providing educators and administrators the resources and support needed to teach global citizens. For me, being a global citizen was taken for granted without reflecting on the skill set I have that makes me proficient in different cultures and languages. Reaching global competence is a mindset that we, world language teachers, can make sure that our students acquire as part of our foreign language classes. My big take away is that we need help change the community perception of foreign language education by advocating for the acquisition of cultural perspectives that learning another language provides. We need to shift from thinking that foreign languages are just parroting words, to an appreciation of the way language helps individuals understand culture. And, if individuals come to appreciate and understand their own culture this will enable understanding of other cultures and foster more acceptance.
Last year, I started my own learning journey on how to better my practice in order increase proficiency levels and help my students become globally competent. The resources, ideas, and tools provided during the conference empowered me as a Foreign Language Teacher to lead my professional growth towards the implementation of Proficiency Based Learning and to support the Burlington High School Graduate Expectations. I now begin to understand how to create lessons and units guided by Can-Do statements for students to work toward proficiency in all 3 modes of communication based on expanding the purpose for which the language is being used so they can communicate effectively in meaningful situations.
In order to sustain real world communication, we need to be able to go further than understanding the words; we need to be able to read social cues and get out of our comfort zone. Teaching a foreign language class based on meaningful communication and a growth mindset, instead of form, is much more relevant and easier to engage our students. It is the best time to be a world language teacher because we now have the technology to help us achieve communication without a high cost, which makes it more equitable and we can inspire a desire to explore for all. World language classes have been referred to as having the potential to become another graduate expectation class if we see them as a Global Study Class.