While most junior high schools struggle to offer even two or three courses in foreign language instruction, Hampton Middle School in Alison Park, PA, offers its students twenty. It accomplishes this thanks to a cutting-edge, project-based curriculum and SurvivalPhrases.com, a member of the Innovative Language Learning family of websites.
Great teaching, of course, forms the core of the approach, but digital content makes it possible. Innovative teachers understand the power of blended learning, and SurvivalPhrases.com not only gives students access to native language instruction at a fraction of the cost of traditional classroom-based learning, but it puts them in control of how, when, and even why to study. Great blended learning content, when put in the hands of great teachers, creates a truly powerful combination.
"Without this website, we would have no ability to do this."
-Brandon Pickett: high school teacher
Most 8th graders never have a chance to study languages like Hindi and Swedish in school, but Hampton's series of 7.5-week courses give students the option to learn these or other languages while mastering the basics of the cultures and countries associated with them.
Click here to see a complete list of available languages!
Middle School curricula in the United States have traditionally focused on a core group of European languages, like Spanish and French, even as the world enters a new area of global cooperation and trade. Though globalization has increased the need for greater diversity in language instruction, local and national curricula, such as those set by the College Board and the Educational Testing Service, have been unable to keep up with the pace of change. Even Portuguese and Russian, important languages to the development of the 21st century global economy, fail to find representation in these national curriculum standards.
Hampton Middle School, however, uses SurvivalPhrases.com to set its students on a path free from such boundaries. Instead of being offered a small choice of European languages, students select from a set of options representing every continent on the globe. Setting language-learning goals enables students to reflect on their role as citizens of the world and on the contribution they are to make to it. Depriving students of this choice, then, also deprives them of a necessary skill, one that will become only more important as the students of today approach adulthood.
Hampton Middle School puts students in charge of their own learning, and SurvivalPhrases.com helps its teachers take themselves from the center of the classroom so that its students can take the lead. While teachers provide guidance and assessment, it's up to the students to work through the lessons on their own, complete related worksheets, and create their own recordings of the phrases and expressions they have mastered. At the end of the unit, students take responsibility not only for their own understanding, but for that of their peers, and prepare a business etiquette video incorporating the language they've learned.
Students ultimately learn skills, not only in language and culture, but in how to approach academic subjects of all kinds, and gain skills in independent learning to last them throughout their lifetimes.
Of course, schools have always had libraries and books students can use for research and to study with on their own. Digital learning tools like SurvivalPhrases.com, however, with its audio content and constantly up-to-date materials, can engage students in ways beyond the limitation of the library.
More importantly, with SurvivalPhrases.com, students also have access to an international faculty whose members come from countries all over the world. These teachers offer students the advantages of native pronunciation, natural expression, and cultural tips that only natives can give. By studying with SurvivalPhrases.com, students gain authentic perspectives and tools with which to navigate foreign societies.
Hiring teachers to cover individual student language interests remains impractical even today, but language sites like SurvivalPhrases.com and Innovative Language Learning's more in-depth language-learning sites, like JapanesePod101.com, make it all the more practical. Schools need only a laptop cart, as Hampton Middle School uses, or a computer lab, but lessons can even be set up for use at home.
SurvivalPhrases.com and Innovative Language Learning tools are great for mobile study, as well. It's easy to download or access the lessons from an iPad, iPhone, or smart phone of any kind. Instead of having to be in a classroom at a certain time, they can listen to these audio lessons at home, on their phones, or wherever they may go throughout the day, and review them as many times as they like.
Innovative Language Learning's tools engage its listeners on topics such as family, music, and sports, which young learners can especially relate to. Even as students move from basic to advanced material, they are constantly engaged by topics that are fun and appealing to the young and the young-at-heart.
Soon students will have even more languages to choose from as Innovative Language Learning expands its product offerings to include an ever larger catalogue of languages.
Click here to see a complete list of available languages!
Confident teachers who aren't afraid to embrace digital teaching tools -- rather than trying to keep them out of the classroom -- will be key leaders in the setting the stage, not only for their students' lives, but for the evolution of the education system as a whole. Innovative Language Learning seeks to partner with these leaders in developing new learning opportunities for a digital century.