Bringing Global Cultures and World Languages into K-8 Classrooms

Project Director: Dr. Kathy Short (U Arizona). [In collaboration with Worlds of Words, U Arizona]

Description: The quickening pace of globalization has led to a context in which opportunities to succeed depend on global knowledge and skills and yet American students are often ignorant of world cultures, international issues, and foreign languages. Only 50% of U.S. high school students study any foreign language and most K-8 students have little or no opportunities to study a language other than English or learn about a culture different from that of the U.S.

By bringing an International Consultant and a Language and Culture Kit into K-8 schools to encourage language exploration, this project aims: 1) to make K-8 teachers more confident and comfortable with integrating a broader range of cultural and linguistic perspectives into their classrooms as well as become more familiar with the literature, instructional strategies and electronic resources by providing them with the support of an international consultant; 2) to introduce K-8 students to less commonly taught languages and cultures in order to encourage them to pursue these languages in high school and university context.

A series of on-site workshops/study groups will be conducted at requesting schools. K-8 teachers will be introduced to the kits and work with the international consultant on developing lesson plans for exploring language and culture in their classroom. Three language and culture kits in Mandarin Chinese, Japanese, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish will be added to the series which already include the Arabic and Korean language culture kits developed during the 2006-2010 grant cycle. Using existing professional literature, two Intercultural Competence assessments will be developed: one a quick assessment to be used with a kit and the other a more long-term assessment such as a portfolio. The assessments will be both for teachers and for students.

Find the materials at the Worlds of Words website.


Past Projects (2006-2010)

Introducing Children and Adolescents to the World

Creating Integrated Units that Invite Students into the Study of Cultures and Languages 

Project Director: Kathy Short (U Arizona) [In collaboration with the International Collection of Children’s and Adolescent Literature]

Description: Although courses on the less commonly taught languages are usually not available until high school or college, K-8 teachers can introduce students to these languages and cultures in order to create an interest in foreign language study and in LCTLs in particular. Children’s and adolescents’ literature is a resource that is particularly effective in engaging students in exploring diverse global perspectives and languages. The specific goal of this project was to offer workshops for K-8 teachers on Korean/South Korea in 2008 and on Arabic and the Middle East in 2009, co-taught by the project director and international graduate students from those regions. Teachers received background information on the country and language along with lists of resources, people, books and instruction in foreign language teaching strategies that can be used when neither the teacher nor the students speak the target language. After completing the workshop, teachers participated in study groups to support them in creating integrated units for their classrooms and they have access to related book kits. These book kits include fiction and nonfiction literature about that country or region written in English and in the relevant LCTL along with tape recordings and other resources. Teacher narratives about classroom experiences with these units will be published and will be available to future users of the book kits. A workshop manual along with lists of language resources and literature is available below.

You can download K-8-Language-and-Culture-Classroom-Teaching-Kit_2011