Tuesday, June 11, 2013

What Makes a Successful Language Program

Elisabeth Shovers, Program Coordinator, Global Language Project

Elisabeth Shovers, GLP's Program Coordinator
This year has been an exciting one of growth for GLP’s programs. Through experience and trial and error, we have learned a lot about what makes for a successful language program. We have found that at the end of the day it boils down to four specific components:

1. Motivated and effective teaching staff and volunteers
2. Providing trainings and one-on-one support to teaching staff
3. Having teaching tools and an age-appropriate curriculum
4. Maintaining a close relationship with the school or site where the language program is taking place 

Motivated, effective staff –The teaching staff determines the effectiveness of your program. Teachers’ motivation and dedication will determine how well they do in the classroom. It is important to hire individuals who are passionate about teaching language and culture.  We have found that the most passionate teachers lead their students to successful outcomes!

Trainings and Teacher Observations – It is critical to provide your staff professional development opportunities targeted to their individual needs. We lead three trainings a year that go over topics from Immersion Teaching to Differentiation. In addition, we are providing ongoing individualized mentorship and training to our instructors.

Appropriate Supplies and Curriculum – The right tools always make a difference, and this is definitely true with language teaching. We provide our teachers with a Teacher Tool Kit that includes materials such as a Magic Hat, chart-board, and toy microphone, which the teachers use to make their language teaching come to life. We also provide our language teachers with a standards aligned curriculum. I have personally seen what a difference having a strong base from which to teach has been for our teachers.

Collaboration between Language Program and the Site – Our language programs take place in public elementary schools, both during the school day and as before and after school programs. In order for our programs to become part of the school culture, we must maintain a close relationship with the school administration, teachers, parents, and other school personnel.  Through this collaboration, the whole school becomes invested in language learning.

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