Language, communication, and culture are the essence of all human interaction. They connect us locally, nationally, and globally, helping us to understand the world. We are no longer a program that teaches “foreign” languages; rather we are committed to the concept of “world” languages. The languages of our community are not foreign, as they represent the diverse backgrounds of our students. World Language teachers in Elmhurst CUSD #205 believe in placing these students at the center of our World Language classrooms, and are working to inspire and equip their students to be exemplary citizens of the global community. Elmhurst CUSD #205 is proud to offer a comprehensive, sequential, and uninterrupted world language program that provides opportunities for longevity in language learning to over 6,000 students in grades 3 through 12.
In order to address the national standards, world languages seek to develop students in five different areas: Communication, Culture, Connections, Comparisons, and Communities. Curriculum content, methods and assessments reflect the learning in these five areas:
World language students will converse in the target language and understand thoughts and ideas spoken by people of other cultures. They will provide information about themselves and others as well as interpret what others are saying or writing.
World language students will compare and contrast their own culture with another culture. They will demonstrate awareness and sensitivity to another way of life, other traditions, and other ideas that characterize this culture.
World language students will apply information and skills acquired in world language class to their studies in other classes. World language class reinforces, complements, and enhances other disciplines.
World language students will develop a more profound understanding of their own language by studying a world language. They will examine grammatical structures more closely and their relationship to meaning.
World language students will explore uses of world language outside of the class. Students will use language for personal enjoyment and enrichment, to promote greater understanding between diverse members of our community, to promote greater understanding and respect on an international level, and to eventually function on a global scale.
At the elementary level the World Language program follows the Foreign Language in the Elementary School (FLES) model. FLES is an approach to language learning that allows students to develop basic communicative skills in a language while reinforcing and enriching content in other disciplines. The goal of a FLES program is to acquire functional proficiency in listening, speaking, reading and writing the second language. FLES programs come in many different varieties ranging from programs where approximately 5% of the school day, as in District 205, is devoted to the second language, to programs where 50% of the day is devoted to the second language.
As a complement to literacy learning at the elementary level, the Elementary Spanish program provides an enriched learning experience for all students. In light of the literacy adoption of Reading Street, our FLES program is evolving to include content-based support of the concepts taught in the areas of Science, Math, Social Studies, Language Arts, Music, Art, and Physical Education. It both complements and reinforces the skills and knowledge base of the second through fifth grade elementary curriculum.
At the end of fifth grade, students may continue their Spanish studies or choose to study French. Eighty-five percent of students are enrolled in a world language class in the middle schools. Students with an IEP who are enrolled in a guided study class (including ELL guided study) and students enrolled in PLUS are the only students who are not enrolled in a World Language class.
The content of the sixth through eighth grade curriculum is equivalent to the first-year high school class. It is a core academic subject designed to prepare students to advance directly into a second-year World Language class as freshmen. Discovering French Bleu Nouveau and Exprèsate are the instructional materials that serve to support the curricula at the middle and high school levels.
The World Language program at York high school addresses the needs of those students interested in studying Chinese, French, Italian, and Spanish. As four year courses of study, Italian, French, and Spanish provide opportunities for students to develop a high level of proficiency in the target language. Teachers incorporate a variety of print and non-print materials including authentic target language sources.
Chinese, in its third year of implementation, is moving toward the four-year program of study already established in the other languages. The addition of Chinese provides students with a choice of studying a language deemed critical by the US government. Native Spanish speakers may choose to follow a sequence of study created to serve their specific needs by enrolling in Heritage Spanish. It is a course for those who already fluent in spoken Spanish. Through the study of Hispanic literature, history and geography, students refine their skills in reading, writing, and grammar.
During the course of World Language study, students go beyond learning to communicate in languages other than English. They gain understanding of other cultures and languages while formulating insights into their own language and culture. By participating in multicultural communities at home and around the world, students learn to value and respond to each others’ needs. Far from detracting from the rest of the curriculum, World Language study enhances and reinforces it, by providing opportunities for students to connect to all scholastic areas. With the exploration of the themes and issues that cross disciplinary lines, students compare and contrast languages and cultures allowing them to make connections to their own community and the outside world.
The College Board World Language Curriculum Framework (Gunterman, 2006) states: “The world language classroom is designed to facilitate genuine interaction with others, whether they are on another continent, across town, or within the neighborhood.” Illinois State Goal 28 restates this and mandates that students will use the target language to interact with confidence and fluency in oral and written contexts with native speakers and in authentic settings. The additional state goals call for students to use the target language to develop an understanding of the customs, arts, literature, history, and geography associated with the target language (Illinois StateGoal 29), and also, to make connections and reinforce knowledge and skills across multiple disciplines (Illinois State Goal 30). It is these principles that serve as the goals for the Elmhurst CUSD 205 World Language Program.