As the new academic year gets underway many of us take a look at the past as we design what we will do in the future. How will we improve that lesson from last year? Did our students reach the expected outcomes? What can be done differently? How are national and state trends impacting instruction?
At this time WAFLT is also preparing for another conference. This year’s theme is Mapping the way to a Multiliterate Wisconsin. Don’t forget to register… With the GEAC and the Seal of Biliteracy accompanied by our new state standards, how can we do it all? How do we help our students to be multi-literate and convince the people around us of its importance?
Many of us concentrate on sharing the target culture with our students in an effort to excite them and connect them to the language they are learning. I’d like to suggest that the excitement and connection doesn’t have to stop with just the target culture. Is there a reason a student of German who is learning to talk about climate change can’t practice that language in the context of discussing the Amazon, looking at images and videos of a jungle that they never before considered? Might that inspire a student to help? This is how we build true multi-literate students. It doesn’t have to just be the target culture of you class and ones own. It can be multiple cultures.
There are a couple of ways at this time of year in particular that WAFLT can help you to guide your students in thinking beyond their own culture and the target culture of your classroom.
Josh Legreve, Green Lake Spanish educator and multiliteracy advocate, states, “I look forward to having the conversation with students about why languages matter and why it is important to learn about other cultures and communities. To me, this is a pivotal portion of my work as a teacher advocate; it is these students that will be the future policy makers and parents that will have massive influence on the future of education. Thus, anything we can do to instill in our students the necessity of language learning and cultural understanding in our modern world is indispensable advocacy on our part.”
There are a couple of ways that WAFLT helps you build these roads to a multi-literate Wisconsin. The annual WAFLT postcard contest, submissions due Oct. 4, is a low-tech, easy to implement contest that provides a concrete way to facilitate discussion with students on the importance of understanding the cultures and languages of others. Josh suggests that regardless of language level “we start the lesson with a conversation on why we are studying a language.” This year the contest theme is Mapping the Way to a Multiliterate Wisconsin. Details on how your students can participate are available at waflt.org/public-relations/postcard-contest/ along with all the release forms and requirements).
WAFLT also offers a more high-tech version of this contest – the WAFLT video contest. Based on the same theme as the postcard contest, the video contest asks students to collaboratively work together to create a 2-minute video promoting language learning and showing its benefits.
Are you wondering how to get started, what does that lesson plan look like? Josh shared his approach with us last year in High Tech/Low Tech: Talking Advocacy with Your Students post. His students now ask about the contests each year as it is something they have come to enjoy. For you, it’s part of working smarter not harder. Let your students awaken your community on the importance of multi-cultural understanding. We all know there is much to lose by being mono-literate rather than multi-literate. Let’s have our students help get the word out.
I highly encourage all WAFLT members to take part in one or both of these contests to guide the discussion on the necessity of understanding the cultures and languages of others. Start making it a part of all your lessons in both big and small ways that your students are introduced to world cultures not just the target culture.