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.