Board of Education approves digital program for world languages

  • By Kelly Sullivan
  • Tuesday, December 8, 2015 10:34pm
  • News

The teaching of world languages in local classrooms is taking a digital turn.

Kenai Peninsula Borough School District students enrolled in Spanish, French, Russian or Sugt’stun will be leaving physical materials behind and adopting electronic resources for language learning next year. The Board of Education approved the purchase of the Vermont-based Middlebury Interactive Languages digital learning program Monday.

“It is such a well rounded program in so many ways,” said Curriculum and Assessment Coordinator Melissa Linton. “Teachers have been very supportive from feedback I have gotten, and they are ready to roll.”

The program was chosen and recommended by the school district’s World Languages Committee, which has been completing the board policy-required seven-year review process.

Middlebury also expands the number of students world language curriculum will reach.

In the school district, world languages are considered electives, and not required to graduate, but are a requirement for admissions into most four-year universities, said Assistant Superintendent of Instruction John O’Brien in a previous Clarion interview. The school district does not have plans to change the current requirements, he said.

Educators working with sixth- through twelfth-graders will be able to use the new materials, Linton said. Right now though, the majority of middle school students taking language courses do not receive language credits, she said. They are usually 6-8 week courses and apply to other electives.

The program also falls in line with the board’s initiative to implement blended learning, or the mixing mediums for academic purposes, through the annual instructional review process, which includes math and English among others.

“We are looking at going in a different direction when it comes to world language delivery,” O’Brien said. “We are going to expand current languages, and fit nicely into digital technology initiative.”

O’Brien said program saves a significant amount of money per student, but numbers are not yet available. The materials are also up to date, more so than any of the physical materials the committee was considering, he said.

In fact, the competitor textbook was already seven years old, O’Brien said. Middlebury content is revised every year to include current events and new videos, O’Brien said.

“It is always 100 percent fresh,” O’Brien said.

A date has not been set for implementation, Linton said. The school district still has to purchase the program and “teachers will need introductory professional development,” she said.

The committee had to ensure that any chosen materials followed standards set by both the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages and the Alaska Department of Early Education and Development, which Middlebury accomplishes.

Middlebury also offers support with professional development for educators, Linton said. It can be easily integrated into what teachers are already doing, she said.

“It has an abundance of vocabulary and practice activities,” Linton said. “What I really found that just blew me away were the cultural aspects that our students don’t have. Our students don’t have a lot of opportunities to take trips Mexico and Miami to see the language in real life.”


Reach Kelly Sullivan at

More in News

Man wanted in relation to Amber Alert arrested; missing teenager found

A Fairbanks man wanted in connection to an Amber Alert was arrested… Continue reading

School district extends meal program deadline amid confusion

Credit for breakfast and lunch meals will be provided as needed to… Continue reading

U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski speaks at the Kenai Classic Roundtable at Kenai Peninsula College on Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2022 near Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Bycatch stirs debate at fisheries roundtable

Bycatch was the issue du jour at Wednesday’s annual Kenai Classic Roundtable… Continue reading

Kenai Peninsula College Director Cheryl Siemers in her office on Aug. 18, 2022 in Soldotna, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
KPC to welcome back community with open house

One week before the start of the fall semester, Kenai Peninsula College… Continue reading

National Weather Service radar for the Kenai Peninsula and Southcentral Alaska on Aug. 17, 2022. (Screenshot)
Rain, rain and more rain

Low pressure systems drive wet conditions in Southcentral

Sockeye salmon return to Steep Creek to spawn. Alaska’s overall commercial salmon harvest across all species is currently up 15% from 2021 (2020 for pinks) with Bristol Bay and the Prince William Sound largely carrying the weight while other regions lag, according to data from the most recent Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute weekly salmon harvest update. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire)
Statewide salmon harvest on the upswing compared to last year

Bristol Bay and Prince William Sound are mainly pulling the weight

Jake Dye / Peninsula Clarion
Congressional candidate Mary Peltola responds to a question during a forum at the Kenai Visitor Center on Aug. 3 in Kenai . Early Wednesday, Peltola had earned 38.4% of first-choice votes in a race that will determine who fills Alaska’s lone U.S. House seat until January.
Mary Peltola responds to a question during a forum at the Kenai Visitor Center on Aug. 3, 2022, in Kenai, Alaska. (Peninsula Clarion/Jake Dye)
Democratic candidate Peltola leads U.S. House race early, but Palin may win in final count

Former governor and Republican U.S. House candidate Sarah Palin stands to benefit from ranked choice voting

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
COVID hospitalizations on the rise

86 patients were hospitalized with 10 patients on ventilators

Most Read