While other countries require students to begin learning another language in childhood, the U.S. is at a distinct disadvantage as most American students have no language requirements until high school or beyond. The average US student enters the university with only basic skills in a second language.
The goal of The Language Flagship is to educate all Americans to learn foreign languages. We seek not only to graduate students at a professionally proficient level of language but also to “push the model” down to elementary, middle, and high schools so that students will enter college with an established and measurable skill in a second language. With these programs in place, Flagship programs can then integrate students into a more challenging and advanced curricula.
The Language Flagship views itself as a leader in the national effort to address language education. As a result, The Language Flagship supports efforts designed to model K–12 language curriculum development and implementation. Programs are led by Michigan State University, University of Oregon with the Portland Public Schools, and Brigham Young University in partnership with the Utah State Department of Education.
Ultimately, the goal is the development of K–12 language instruction programs that graduate high school students with an advanced level of competency and that allow Flagship programs to take them to the next level. Flagship is working closely with each of its Centers and programs to improve the flow of more highly proficient language graduates into the university.
The Language Flagship continues to invest in developing the Michigan State University Arabic K–12 curriculum, which has become the Arabic model of choice. School districts in Michigan, and across the country in major metropolitan areas including Chicago and Boston have adopted the curriculum and standards developed by Michigan State for their Arabic language instruction programs. This curriculum has been enhanced by a partnership with the Arabic StarTalk programs nationally, and collaboration with the federally funded Arabic K–12 program out of the National Capital Language Resource Center.
The University of Oregon and Portland Public Schools operate a K–16 Chinese Flagship Center. The goal of the Center is to develop a program of instruction for students that progresses from early learning through advanced proficiency levels in high school to superior levels in college. Project oversight and direction comes from the Center for Applied Second Language Studies at the University of Oregon.
Kindergarten through Fifth-Grade
Beginning in Kindergarten, students spend half of the school day learning language and content classes in English and half the day in their core foreign language. Students learn the language and culture as they study various core subjects through developmentally appropriate curriculum and instruction.
Middle School (Sixth through Eighth Grade)
Students in middle school continue their language learning and cultural skill development during daily social studies theme based classes and language arts classes. In continuing to move students towards a high level of functional proficiency the three year middle school experience culminates with an opportunity to participate in a two week academic trip to the country of study where students utilize their language and cultural skills to navigate day to day aspects of living and conduct research based on student centered inquiry projects.
High School (Ninth through Twelfth Grade)
PPS offers rigorous core academic courses in Mandarin along with advanced level Mandarin language courses. Both heritage and immersion students enroll in these courses with the targeted outcome of advanced skills in listening, speaking, reading and writing at the end of high school. At the World Institute at Franklin High School, students learn their core subjects in English supplemented by their native language. Students aiming to become a university level Flagship Scholar will be strongly encouraged to participate in special preparation courses both locally and in country along with community based language-learning experiences.
In September 2011, the Language Flagship launched a consortium effort led by Brigham Young University and the Utah State Department of Education to develop and improve K–12 Chinese language instruction. The new effort enlists leading K–12 experts, State Education Agencies in South Carolina and Oklahoma, Local Education Agencies in Arizona, California, Michigan, Mississippi, New York, Oregon and Wyoming, and Chinese Language Flagship Centers. The model to be developed includes full articulation for dual immersion programs in elementary schools, followed by enhanced language instruction in middle and high schools. The consortium will work on curricular standards, teacher training, and proficiency assessment issues.