The question we are seeking to answer is how can we best reform the American foreign language curriculum to adequately equip students to comfortably and effectively articulate a language other than English using modern findings and models of the neuroscience of language. After some revisions we have opted for our two-pronged approach where:
- We are start teaching our foreign language curriculum to younger, elementary school students to take advantage of their neural malleability in learning a new language and to allow students to benefit from the cognitive benefits that come from becoming bilingual at a young age; from then we would develop a curriculum more suitable for older students, and adapt the styles of learning as the students age, because their learning needs and styles will change.
- We would use a communicative-based immersion approach that, through strategies such as teaching math in a non-English language and requiring our pupils to have class conversations in the language that they are trying to learn, would best enable students to be able to have fluent and comfortable conversations in a non-English language when they leave the class. These materials will also change to be relevant for each age group, so that they will be real-life relatable situations and vocabulary.
For our paper prototype we have decided to write an outline of how we would propose this to congress to see the avenues we would need to take to get our curriculum passed and in schools. We will include a sample lesson or activity per each age group to demonstrate our philosophy for teaching students from different age groups. The specific age groups that we will be listing are:
- Kinder - 2nd
- 3rd - 5th
- 6th - 8th
- 9th - 12th
The samples in the prototype will include assignments shown below. Notice the key differences for what these assignments look like for the different age groups.
This mainly includes a natural progression from a focus on teaching students the very basics (in this example colors) to enable them to use their natural language propensity to build on that foundations through in-class communication.
Considering the example given for students in 6th through 8th grade, notice the shift now towards a bit more specialization in the grammar we are teaching. That being said, this would still be accompanied with in-class communication that focuses on giving students the opporotunity to practice what they are learning.
We are excited to flesh out everything in more detail in preparation for our poster presentation. Putting together all of our work that we have done so far this semester will be a great culmination and hopefully will turn out to be a nice starting point for actual work towards a reform of the current foreign language curriculum.