Foreign Languages: Doors to Opportunity (Discussion Guide)

Foreign Languages: Doors to Opportunity (Disc
Description This guide accompanies the video (available separately), which is designed in two parts of approximately twelve minutes each. The first part is intended for use with middle and high school students of foreign languages. The second part is designed for K-12 educators, including teachers, guidance counselors, administrators, and parents. This Discussion Guide accompanies the video (available separately) and contains preview and postview activities to help educators in facilitating discussion of both parts of the video. PART 1: This part of the video begins with high school students expressing misconceptions about the value of foreign language study in their high school study plans. For each misconception, alternative perspectives are offered which highlight the changing need for knowledge of other languages and cultures in today's globally interdependent world. The focus then changes to the many different applications for foreign language study, from enrichment of students' understanding of, for example, music, science, and literature, to travel and study abroad, to exciting career opportunities made possible by more advanced knowledge of foreign language and culture. All reasons for language study are validated; the video is all-inclusive, but places emphasis on opportunities which require higher levels of proficiency, such as using knowledge of language and culture in combination with majors in business, engineering, law, etc. PART II: This part of the video begins by stressing the role of technology in redefining the need for language and culture education in America's schools. Due to swiftly changing technologies and high speed communications, as well as increasing global interdependence, there is a strategic need to produce better educated citizens of the world. Having established the value of foreign language study, the video then focuses on what teachers, parents, guidance counselors, and administrators can do to assist students to reach the goal of becoming better educated citizens of the world through the study of foreign language. Four steps to reach this goal are outlined:
  • Encourage ALL students to study a foreign language.
  • Design programs of instruction with realistic goals for local contexts.
  • Ensure continuity in language instruction.
  • Encourage students to persist in their study of a language.
Patricia Ryan Paulsell

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