As Need for Foreign Languages in School Grows, Access Continues to Shrink

foreign languages in schoolRecently, Katrina Griffin’s students took on a hot-button topic: Should parents control how much video games their children play? They debated the question at great length, making fierce, fact-based arguments, aimed at swaying their peers.

And they did it—in German.

Consider what you’ve heard about the slow death of foreign languages in schools, and what you may already have heard or read: the number of language students enrolled has been declining for years, as has the number of language teachers.

Now, consider what Griffin heard in her own classroom: “A pretty heated debate! And it was in the target language,” she says.

Griffin and other educators are showing how to reverse the decline of U.S. language instruction. They are making language interesting and relevant to students, while also teaching them the critical 21st-century skills—collaboration, communication, presentation, and yes, proficiency in a second (or third) language—that will make them must-hire and give-them-a-raise employees someday.

The facts are these: Just 22 percent of elementary and secondary students in the U.S. take language classes or programs, according a new report from the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. According to “The State of Languages in the U.S.: A Statistical Portrait,” among elementary schools, the percentage teaching language fell from 31 percent in 1997 to 25 percent in 2008, despite evidence that an early start provides an edge in acquiring language proficiency. Among middle schools, the percentage dropped from 75 to 58 percent.

Source: The State of Languages in the U.S.: A Statistical Portrait

In Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Vermont, New Hampshire and Wisconsin, more than 30 percent of K-12 students were enrolled in language. In Kentucky, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Arizona, Colorado, Montana, and Oregon, it was fewer than 13 percent.

This lack of support at the K12 level has led to declining enrollments in college, and declining levels of proficiency among American adults. And yet, the report also found that employers actually want workers who can speak another language.

“While English continues to be the lingua franca for world trade and diplomacy, there is an emerging consensus among leaders in business and politics, teachers, scientists, and community members that proficiency in English is not sufficient to meet the nation’s needs in a shrinking world,” the report’s authors write.

In Massachusetts a study found that online job ads seeking candidates who could speak a language other than English skyrocketed from 5,612 openings in 2010 to 14,561 in 2015. A similar study from New Jersey found that one in five job postings from some of the state’s largest employers—Bank of America, H&R Block, etc.—sought bilingual employees.

Meanwhile, the federal government also designates some languages as representing “critical needs” for national security. These currently include Chinese, Russian, Arabic, Korean, and Japanese.

Hallo? Guten Morgen!

Bucking the national trends, at Griffin’s school, North County High School in Anne Arundel County., Md., a diverse campus where about 42 percent of students are living below the federal poverty line and 43 percent are non-White, student enrollment in world languages continues to grow. Recently, additional teaching positions in the languages department have had to be added.

While English continues to be the lingua franca for world trade and diplomacy, there is an emerging consensus among leaders in business and politics, teachers, scientists, and community members that proficiency in English is not sufficient to meet the nation’s needs in a shrinking world”

Students want to take these classes, and it’s no mystery why. Griffin, chair of the language department and the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Language’s 2017 National Language Teacher of the Year, has tossed aside vocabulary memorization worksheets and verb-conjugation quizzes. Instead, with her leadership, language instruction has focused on actually using the language and practicing workplace skills.

Students read, write, and send emails in French, German, and Spanish. They also debate issues, like appropriate video game usage, write persuasive essays, work together on the Internet to research and write school-supply budgets and shopping lists, and discuss in groups meaningful, current questions like: Should new immigrants take on the culture of their new countries, or adhere to their cultural heritages? Their teachers don’t have the answers—their students do.

“What’s unique to our classroom is that it’s the only place where students are taught to communicate. In other classes, students may learn a lot of content, but they may not be learning to look people in the eye, to effectively communicate in spoken and written language,” says Griffin.

Her students rely on “authentic sources,” not textbooks, but the kinds of things their peers might pick up in Austria or Germany. During assessments, they might have to have a real conversation that interprets and incorporates those sources. It’s not like when Griffin started teaching, pre-home Internet, 16 years ago, and she was packing her vacation suitcases full of German magazines.

The students also are staying with languages longer, instead of the typical two to three years. Even though many of North County’s students don’t go to four-year colleges—many do go to two-year colleges, which don’t require language study for admission—they like what they’re learning. She and her colleagues teach every student “like they’re going to be proficient someday, and we tell them, ‘you just don’t know how useful this may be to you.’”

Author Event – Harriet Beecher Stowe Center

February 15, 2017 7-8:30 PM

Teja Arboleda
Mixed Feelings and In the Shadow of Race…Again

Dr. Bill Howe, also leading the discussion

Teja Arboleda, M.Ed. is a living example of diversity: Multiracial, multicultural and multiethnic, with a mixed family, having grown up in three countries, and having traveled around the globe. His personal and professional mission is to harness the power of diversity to create educational media and live events for a multicultural planet. He firmly believes that we don’t have to think outside of the box… because there is no box!

Multicultural educator Dr. Bill Howe joins the discussion. Dr. William (Bill) A. Howe provides training and consultation in multicultural education, culturally responsive education, diversity awareness and gender equity (Title IX). He is the former program manager for culturally responsive education, multicultural education, bullying & harassment, gender equity and civil rights at the Connecticut State Department of Education. He is also an adjunct professor of education at the University of Connecticut, Albertus Magnus College and Quinnipiac University. He is Past-Chair of the Connecticut Asian Pacific American Affairs Commission and Past President of the National Association for Multicultural Education (NAME).

Reservations:
https://64527.blackbaudhosting.com/…/Teja-Arboleda-Author-E…

 

Can We Really Measure Implicit Bias? Maybe Not

Source: http://www.chronicle.com/article/Can-We-Really-Measure-Implicit/238807

JANUARY 05, 2017

Jordin Isip for The Chronicle Review

Iharbor a moderate preference for white faces. You probably do, too: About 70 percent of people who take the race version of the Implicit Association Test show the same tendency — that is, they prefer faces with typically European-American features over those with African-American features. Since it first went online in 1998, millions have visited Harvard’s Project Implicit website, and the results have been cited in thousands of peer-reviewed papers. No other measure has been as influential in the conversation about unconscious bias.That influence extends well beyond the academy. The findings come up often in discussions of police shootings of black men, and the concept of implicit bias circulated widely after Hillary Clinton mentioned it during the presidential campaign . The test provides scientific grounding for the idea that unacknowledged prejudice often lurks just below society’s surface. “When we relax our active efforts to be egalitarian, our implicit biases can lead to discriminatory behavior,” according to the Project Implicit website, “so it is critical to be mindful of this possibility if we want to avoid prejudice and discrimination.”

In other words, beware your inner bigot.

But the link between unconscious bias, as measured by the test, and biased behavior has long been debated among scholars, and a new analysis casts doubt on the supposed connection.

Researchers from the University of Wisconsin at Madison, Harvard, and the University of Virginia examined 499 studies over 20 years involving 80,859 participants that used the IAT and other, similar measures. They discovered two things: One is that the correlation between implicit bias and discriminatory behavior appears weaker than previously thought. They also conclude that there is very little evidence that changes in implicit bias have anything to do with changes in a person’s behavior. These findings, they write, “produce a challenge for this area of research.”

That’s putting it mildly. “When you actually look at the evidence we collected, there’s not necessarily strong evidence for the conclusions people have drawn,” says Patrick Forscher, a co-author of the paper, which is currently under review at Psychological Bulletin. The finding that changes in implicit bias don’t lead to changes in behavior, Forscher says, “should be stunning.”

Hart Blanton was not stunned. For the last decade, Blanton, a professor of psychology at the University of Connecticut, has been arguing that the Implicit Association Test isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. In a 2013 meta-analysis of papers, Blanton and his co-authors declared that, despite its frequent characterization as a window into the unconscious, “the IAT provides little insight into who will discriminate against whom, and provides no more insight than explicit measures of bias.” (By “explicit measures” they mean simply asking people if they are biased against a particular group.)

read more ……….

To counter ‘Trump Effect,’ love must trump hate

SOURCE: The Philadelphia Tribune

  • Marian Wright Edelman

This is usually a season of familiar scenes in schools across the country, with holiday programs featuring messages of peace and goodwill to all. But this year many teachers and students have been seeing another story.

In the week since the election I have personally had to deal with the following issues:

Boys inappropriately grabbing and touching girls, even after they said no (this never happened until after the election).

White students telling their friends who are Hispanic or of color that their parents are going to be deported and that they would be thrown out of school.

White students going up to students of color who are total strangers and hurling racial remarks at them, such as, “Trump is going [to] throw you back over the wall, you know?” or “We can’t wait until you and the other brownies are gone”. . . — Middle school teacher, Indiana

We have had many students fighting, especially between the Latino and African-American population, as well as many more boys feeling superior to girls. I have had one male student grab a female student’s crotch and tell her that it’s legal for him to do that to her now . . . One of my students from last year who is Muslim has not worn her hijab since the election. — Elementary school teacher, Minnesota.

In over 15 years of teaching high school this is the first year that swastikas are appearing all over school furniture. — High school teacher, Washington state

We have worked really hard over the last 10 years to change our climate. The last year has nearly undone all of that work. It is disheartening. — High school teacher, Maryland

These were just a few of the responses to the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Teaching Tolerance Project’s online survey of more than 10,000 educators in the new report, “After Election Day, The Trump Effect: The Impact of the 2016 Presidential Election on Our Nation’s Schools.”

SPLC says: “Ninety percent reported that their school’s climate has been negatively affected, and 80 percent described heightened anxiety and concern among minority students worried about the impact of the election on their families . . . More than 2,500 said they knew of fights, threats, assaults and other incidents that could be traced directly to election rhetoric.”

The report echoed the findings of another SPLC survey taken earlier in the campaign season, and reinforced the sense many educators and parents have had for months of a rise in bullying and hate speech from children influenced by behavior they’ve been seeing in adults.

What can schools and teachers do right now to fight back against hate?

Linda Darling-Hammond is president of the Learning Policy Institute and a faculty director of the Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education at Stanford University. In a recent keynote speech at the National Association for Multicultural Education conference, she shared her recommendations, starting with a key first step:

“First, and most obviously, this is a moment both for explicit anti-racist teaching and anti-racist action in all public spaces. The ‘good news’ is that the explicitness and widespread public eruption of racist, sexist and hate speech of all kinds gives us a direct opportunity to bring anti-racist teaching out of the closet – to motivate schools and systems to adopt anti-racist curriculum, to pay attention to the tacit bigotry that is often under the surface in schools:

• To proactively ensure that the images and messages on the walls and in textbooks are multicultural and anti-racist.

• To get every teacher and administrator reading and using Teaching for Tolerance, Facing History, and other resources for equitable, anti-racist teaching.

• To ensure that the allocation of time, attention, and resources in schools attends equitably to all children – and that the divisions and segregation created by tracking and similar practices are challenged.

• To mobilize the resources of foundations and people of good will to tackle the festering issues that America has been dealing with since its inception – when slavery was legalized, African Americans were defined as 3/5s of a person, Native Americans were massacred and driven at gunpoint across the country in the Trail of Tears, and students of color were segregated by law — and later by redlining and other racist customs. It is time for Teach-Ins at every school.”

Darling-Hammond went on to explain that there is much more we also need to do to confront and change every strand of institutionalized racism and intolerance that are embedded in our schools in order to really create a more equitable and just education system and society. But explicitly teaching tolerance must be a building block right now. All children must know that adults expect them to understand the difference between right and wrong. Children who feel afraid at school must know that adults will help keep them safe. Children who are doing the bullying must know that adults will not allow the next generation to grow up steeped in more hate.

In his last Christmas sermon, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “The Christmas hope for peace and goodwill toward all men can no longer be dismissed as a kind of pious dream of some utopia. If we don’t have good will toward men in this world, we will destroy ourselves by the misuse of our own instruments and our own power . . .

“Love is understanding, creative, redemptive good will toward all men. And I think this is where we are, as a people, in our struggle for racial justice . . . We must never let up in our determination to remove every vestige of segregation and discrimination from our nation, but we shall not in the process relinquish our privilege to love. I’ve seen too much hate to want to hate, myself , and I’ve seen hate on the faces of too many sheriffs, too many white citizens’ councilors, and too many Klansmen of the South to want to hate, myself; and every time I see it, I say to myself, hate is too great a burden to bear,” he said.

Hate is a burden our children cannot and should never have to carry. And it is a deep blemish on what it means to be an American. Love must always trump hate.

Marian Wright Edelman is president of the Children’s Defense Fund. For more information, go to www.childrensdefense.org.