Schools are focusing on foreign language proficiency so that students will gain practical knowledge of a foreign language as well as the technicalities of grammar and vocabulary.
In Williamson County Tennessee, the district will offer foreign language classes earlier, and provide professional development to teachers. They also will adopt testing that provides better measurement of language proficiency, according to WCS foreign language specialist Christie Gilliland.
“We’re moving away from the grammar and vocabulary focus to moving to what students are able to do with that language,” Gilliland said.
The new approach will include more project based learning. Students will create a gallery walk in a museum in the language they are studying, or perhaps a new app. This summer, teachers are working on methods and potential projects.
According to Gilliland, students are more likely to take an upper level class when they feel they are building true skills in communication. Currently, less than half the students continue into advanced level classes, regardless of the language.