From Past to Present
This is actually my third Lincoln life. I lived in Lincoln as a child, return to Lincoln as a college student, and have recently moved back as an adult.
My experience with the World Language Standards has been similar. The standards were adopted in 1997 just as I was leaving to take my first teaching position in Oregon. I have returned to Nebraska at a time when the world language standards are scheduled for their first revision. Twenty years is a long time.
While time has changed some of the practices and beliefs of second language teaching, our core values have not altered. The 2017 World Language Teacher Survey results, the conversation at the Colloquium, and the conversation at the Standards Advisory Council reveal that we are still committed to effective communication, cultural competence, interdisciplinary connections, and language use within the community and using the second language to investigate, explain and reflect on the nature of language. I am inspired by how the Standards Advisory Committee was able, in two short and swelteringly hot days, to synthesize these core values with a clearer and higher level of expectation for student skill, an understanding of strategic thinking skills, and a reflection on the hyper connected world around us. Moving forward, I feel that these standards will reflect a stronger second language acquisition practice.
Why Learn A Second Language?
I was inspired to learn languages when my cousin Gina spent her junior year of high school in France. I loved hearing her stories about exploring Vierzon. Travel became my “why” to learning languages. Recently that same cousin asked how we address the justification and the promotion of world languages. Too often, she noted, languages are a requirement to knock out of the way in order to be admitted to college. This idea was confirmed at the World Language Colloquium in February. I asked world language leaders from around the state to answer the question ‘Why learn another language?’ as if they were high school students. The responses fell into three basic categories: job fun, and for college. I know that all of my Back to School presentations and parent materials emphasized that my class would satisfy a college requirement and save families money. We short change ourselves though in doing this. Why do we learn world languages? Language gives us the power to do everything else with exponential power because we have greater access to resources, an expanded vision, and a larger audience.