C Speak Project

About the Grant at AWL

Offered since the 80's — Rationale

Critical-Language Superior Proficiency by Ensuring Admission to K-16 Pathways

"In a global economy, foreign language instruction is an important part of  equipping our students to thrive in a rapidly changing, internationally competitive, culturally complex  world.”

Mary Ronan,
Cincinnati Public Schools Superintendent

On February 9, 2009, Cincinnati Public Schools Superintendent, Mary Ronan, proposed a Foreign Language Pathway to the School Board. Her proposal included building on the district’s current foreign language programs to create a seamless, systemic and sustainable pathway. It included three phases:

  1. Continue current elementary foreign languages through high school (All high schools should offer a foreign language)
  2. Expand foreign language experiences to more elementary schools
  3. Explore partnerships with higher education to create K-16 foreign language pathways

These phases are part of a long-term strategy to increase language offerings in CPS at both elementary and high schools due to the following:

  • Research indicates foreign language study improves performance in other subjects,
  • We are part of a global economy,
  • Our students need to be competitive in the world market, and
  • Natural and man-made threats have revealed the risks of monolingualism.

The Board approved the Superintendent’s proposal and the C SPEAK Project was born.

Purpose

The purpose of the C SPEAK Project is to strengthen and build on Cincinnati Public School's existing K-8 programs in Arabic, Chinese, Japanese and Russian in order to create a pathway through post-secondary education. This pathway will lead to students obtaining a proficiency level of superior as measured by the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) performance guidelines for K-12 learners. Through MyTomorrow techonolgy students are also able to utilize Rosetta Stone program

Progress

C SPEAK has made headway in extending learning opportunities for critical language students and teachers by:

  • Offering students unique summer opportunities
    • 3rd through 6th grade critical language summer immersion camp
    • 7th through 12th graders attending immersion camps at Concordia Language Villages in Minnesota
  • Providing critical language teachers professional development opportunities from recognized specialists in the field
  • Providing technology and other resources for critical language teachers and students
  • Providing norm-referenced student assessments
  • Developing K-8 critical language curriculum

Four Goals

  1. Increase the total number of students enrolled in critical language courses at the K-12 level by ensuring a K-16 pathway.
  2. Increase the number of students who attain high levels of proficiency in critical languages by 8th grade in preparation for advanced proficiency courses in high school.
  3. Increase students’ engagement and interaction with the targeted critical languages through the integration of technology.
  4. Increase the effectiveness of K-12 critical language teachers through focused professional development tailored to the identified needs of participants.

Assessment

An important aspect of the of the C SPEAK Project is identification and adoption of standardized assessments. The proper assessments will provide reliable data necessary to inform secondary and post-secondary schools of students’ proficiency levels. Identification of standardized proficiency levels allows for planning for appropriate instruction and credentialing.

Following are the instruments selected to date:

LinguaFolio Online - C SPEAK has adopted LinguaFolio Online as one form of evaluation for grades 3-12 critical foreign language students.

LinguaFolio is an online portfolio assessment tool. It allows our students the opportunity to collect and present evidence to demonstrate their communicative abilities. It also documents intercultural experiences and reflections that enhance language learning and cultural understanding. Students will continue to input data and evidence throughout their foreign language career. This will guide them in reflecting on the learning process and take responsibility for their own learning.

STAMP - In conjunction with LinguaFolio, the C SPEAK Project has identified norm-referenced standards-based assessment tools. AVANT’s STAMP tests will be administered to critical foreign language students as one means of establishing baseline data and determining progess in proficiency.

STAMP 4S is an online, 4-skill proficiency test for students in middle and high school. Reports at individual and group levels provide data to check progress, review programs and inform decisions around staff development and instructional planning.

STAMP 4Se is the online proficiency test for students in grades 3 through 6.

Assessment of Performance towards Proficiency in Languages (AAPPL) - Another solution under scrutiny is ACTFL’s Assessment of Performance towards Proficiency in Languages (AAPPL). This prototype of a non-intrusive assessment could provide students with an opportunity to demonstrate proficiency by putting them in authentic role-playing situations supported by full-motion video and sound.

Curriculum

The C SPEAK Project team has drafted a K-8 critical language curriculum map. Plans to finalize the document and fully implement it are underway for subsequent project years.

Curriculum design professionals from Miami University meet with the team on a regular basis to continue to flesh out thematic units and lesson plans to meet current national/state academic content standards.  

Ohio Foreign Language Academic Content Standards  

The C SPEAK Project adheres rigorously to the five areas identified in the Ohio Foreign Language Content Standards.*

The Ohio Department of Education web site provides PDF and Word files allowing a visitor to view the Foreign Language Academic Content Standards in three different layouts:

  1. Organized by standard,
  2. Organized by grade level, and
  3. Organized with the benchmarks and indicators aligned.

Communications - Communicate in languages other than English

Cultures - Gain knowledge and understanding of other cultures

Connections - Connect with other disciplines and acquire information

Comparisons - Develop insight into the nature of language and culture

Communities - Participate in multilingual communities and cultures at home and around the world

In order to successfully implement the C SPEAK Project critical language learning tools and  resources are available for critical language teachers and students. The C SPEAK Project has afforded CPS critical language teachers the opportunity to participate in a wide variety of professional development activities.

Partnerships

An important aspect of implementing the C SPEAK Project has been partnering with a wide variety of institutions and agencies.

The following have been instrumental in supporting the C SPEAK initiative:

The University of Cincinnati (UC)

  • Member Stakeholders Board
  • Provide Mandarin Chinese Graduate Teaching Assistant - assists w/Hughes online Chinese course
  • Working to establish dual enrollment and advanced placement

Cincinnati State Technical and Community College

  • Member Stakeholders Boar

Miami University of Ohio

  • Provide professional development for critical language teachers
  • Assist with critical languages curriculum development

Michigan State University – Confucius Institute

  • Provides "Chinese Your Way" online course for Hughes STEM HS students
  • Provides "Zon" - interactive Mandarin Chinese learning game

University of Oregon – Center for Applied Second Language Studies (CASLS)

  • Provides "LinguaFolio" - student self-assessment portfolio (on & off-line)
  • Provides "LinguaFolio" training

Concordia Language Villages

  • Provides professional development on foreign language immersion teaching strategies
  • Assists with making arrangements for students to attend Foreign Language Immersion Camp