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Lincoln-Way District World Languages Departments Receive State Grant

Lincoln-Way District World Languages Departments receive state grant

The 2013-2014 school year has been a banner year for the Lincoln-Way High School District 210 World Languages Departments.

Lincoln-Way Central and West Department Chair Carollyn Mushro and Lincoln-Way East and North Department Chair Peg Bobber received word that District 210 has been awarded a grant from the Illinois Council for the Arts and Foreign Languages for the 2014-2015 school year.

The grant of $20,985 comes at a time when the grant monies will provide a variety of staff development and curricular improvements.

"We have been given the opportunity to gain educational resources that will positively impact our student achievement. A portion of the money will be used for technology for additional education enrichment in the classroom," noted Dr. R. Scott Tingley, Superintendent.

The goal of these improvements is to continue development of the new Mandarin Chinese program which started in the 2013-2014 school year and to assist students in attaining the new Illinois State Seal of Biliteracy Award. The Seal of Biliteracy requires students to demonstrate competency in both their native language and a foreign language as well as earning Advanced Placement credits in high school for college and university courses.

This past year, 87 students received the Seal of Biliteracy Award and approximately 125 students took the Advanced Placement Exams.

"We are looking to intensify student preparation and achievement on these language exams and to make language learning useful, practical, and skill focused for all students," commented Carollyn Mushro.

"We think with the further development of our teaching and assessment practices, we could increase this number dramatically," said Peg Bobber.

Language programs across the world have been shifting the focus of instruction from students learning about the language (memorizing vocabulary and grammar drills) to developing student proficiency in interpreting and interacting in the target language with the goal of being able to function in language situations. This makes language learning a usable and markable skill for students.

"Being awarded this grant is a culmination of certainly one of our most accomplished years for the World Language department. This grant shows that our language programs are recognized and valued statewide," noted Tim Reilly, Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum.

Mushro commented, "While we do feel as if we are making great strides in fostering a competitive world language curriculum, we know that providing teachers with ample resources and time in which to examine and implement necessary alterations will enhance the validity and vigor of these existing programs."

Bobber agreed, adding, "Ideally, an enhanced curricular structure would significally increase the number of students able to reach a functional proficiency level in another language."

Both department chairs agreed that focusing foreign language teaching and learning to what students can do with the language is extremely beneficial for students' future careers, travel and diversity. The grant will assist teachers in learning and implanting methods that produce proficient students.

"The grant is earmarked for benefiting students and teachers. We have already contacted two nationally known educators to come to Lincoln-Way schools to help our staff grow even further as language instructors. Our teachers take the latest research and strategies directly back into the classroom to our students," noted Reilly.

"Words can't sufficiently convey how ecstatic we feel to be selected to receive this grant. We can't think of better news to culminate what has been an amazing year for the World Languages Department after adding our Mandarin Chinese program and piloting the Seal of Biliteracy program," stated Mushro.

Lincoln-Way District 210 offers world language classes in French, German, Spanish, Latin, Mandarin Chinese and English as a second language.

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