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Rosetta Stone and online world language instruction for schools

Figuring out a way to bring world language to elementary schools in my district

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  1. My school district in Wisconsin had Spanish instruction at the elementary level until about 10 years ago when we had to cut it for budgetary reasons.  Whenever we have planning and feedback meetings with parents, the lack of world language is what we hear about the most.  I agree that it would be a key program to bring back.  Part of our district mission statement says that we are preparing citizens for a global society. Understanding the language is frequently an avenue for understanding the culture as a whole. If our students don't have at least a rudimentary knowledge of another language, then we can hardly say we are meeting the "global citizen" part of our mission.    I'm in the midst of reading the book Disrupting Class by Clayton Christensen and he shares the notion that online education may not always be perfect, but when it is the only option for a subject, it definitely is far superior to nothing at all.  That portion of the book then led me to think about computer-based language programs and how they might be a solution to bringing world language back to our district elementary schools, so I put the inquiry out to my Twitter people.  
  2. Not surprisingly, I quickly received some helpful and honest feedback.  
  3. Casey's point about students using it at home and during the summer is a good one to make.  The large benefit of computer based learning (CBL) is that its use is not tied to a location or time.  Use it whenever or wherever.  The amount of time needed to understand the content and skills will greatly vary from student to student.  
  4. When I put the message out, I was thinking about our English speaking students learning another language. I never thought about our ELL students using the same approach to improve their English skills.  Duh!  
  5. When I think about best practices in world language instruction with the use of connected technology, the fabulous Sylvia Duckworth is at the top of my list of people to turn to.  Check out the links she provided in her tweet below.  
  6. Finally I traded a few emails with a friend of mine who was a curriculum director for a K-8 STEM charter school in Minnesota.  They purchased a site license for Rosetta Stone for their new school.  

    Her response, "The software approach works well for some, okay for others and not so much for the rest (some just plain were not interested or struggled with the 'intuitive' learning process). The trouble is providing practice outside of the software. If there is a software that also provides safe online live conversations, that would be helpful, but probably spendy. Do you have any fluent teachers or staff? If you do and they can interject it into lunchroom, hallway or other times of the day, I think that can make a big difference. If it's an optional part of there day, then I think it is worth a try as some will love it. We only had a few parents sign up and can't speak to that really. Our teachers were too busy starting a new school, so they were not able to engage as would be ideal."

    So it looks like the jury is out on whether Rosetta Stone is the answer for world language at the elementary level right now. However, I imagine software of this type will only get better and very soon will be a viable solution for providing effective instruction for our younger students.  
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