School district reviews World Language offerings

  • By Kelly Sullivan
  • Tuesday, October 13, 2015 10:50pm
  • News

The Kenai Peninsula Borough School District is nearly finished revising its World Languages curriculum to align with national and state standards.

High school students will still have six options available to them inside the classroom and through distance learning programs, for skills that are becoming more relevant in the workplace and college admissions.

“Our school counselors do let high school students know that most often two years of the same world language is a requirement for admissions to a four-year college,” said Assistant Superintendent of Instruction John O’Brien. “However, it is not a high school graduation requirement.”

There are no plans to establish any language learning requirements, he said.

According to Board of Education policy, an assessment is required every seven years. The World Languages Committee met for the first time in April, beginning this round.

Languages are electives, and 4.5 elective credits needed to graduate, said Curriculum and Assessment Coordinator Melissa Linton. Spanish, French, Russian, and Sugt’sun, also known as the Chugach dialiect of Alutiiq, offered at Nanwalek School in Nanwalek, are offered at various sites based on student interest and the availability of qualified staff. In addition, the Distance Learning Program offers Italian, French, and Spanish, she said.

The next step is materials review, Linton said. The final draft will be submitted to the board for approval at an upcoming regularly scheduled meeting, where the public can weigh in on any part of the curriculum.

Linton said the school district follows standards set by the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages and the Alaska Department of Early Education and Development. She said national language specifications match up with the Partnership for 21st Century Learning.

The partnership, a national coalition of organizations, establishes educational frameworks to explain how in-the-classroom lessons relate to real-world scenarios.

Knowing another language makes graduating students more employable, and improves vocabulary and communication skills, Linton said. The school district includes Alaska’s ELA, Writing, Speaking, and Listening Standards as part of the curriculum, which establishes the comprehension of three modes of communication — interpersonal, interpretive and presentational, she said.

“The expectations for what students will learn will be the same for each language,” Linton said. “For example, Level 1 Spanish, French, and Russian will have similar learning targets, but of course with the nuances of each particular language.”

The board will have to approve the final revisions to the curriculum.

Reach Kelly Sullivan at kelly.sullivan@peninsulaclarion.com.

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