World Language Department
From the department chairperson: Colm O’Callaghan (email)
As educators at the dawn of the 21st century, we are entrusted with the preparation of the citizens of a world unlike any their forbearers could have imagined. We must anticipate a future in which the pace and scope of change will create both opportunities and dangers. If we are to be our students’ guides to this present and future, then we, as they, must be flexible, open-minded adaptors and users of technologies.
While technology is a human creation, its current and predicted power is such that it seems at times to dwarf that of the individual. In such a context, the study and acquisition of language, perhaps the most uniquely human attribute of all, may serve several crucial mitigating functions:
- Respect for the power of the mind to create and express, through language, our history, humor, defiance, love, comfort and logic.
- The unique empathy for the speakers of the target language, and by extension for all peoples, that is gained through the acquisition of that language; its sayings, wisdom, humor, its sounds and traditions. As my professor, Pierre François, at SUNY New Paltz used to say; “It’s as though you have another soul.”
- The meta-cognitive awareness that our opinions, attitudes and reactions are shaped by the particular language and culture into which chance delivered us.
Among technology’s many capabilities is that of improving student achievement. A crucial aspect of our role is to ensure that the selection and application of instructional technology always remain grounded in certain immutable principles of education, among which are:
- clear, logical, and reasonable goals for each unit of study
- activities and assessments which evince rigor in the achievement of those goals
- feedback that is both timely and meaningful
- explicit connection of learned skills to the problems and challenges of life outside the classroom
- an atmosphere in which students are physically and emotionally safe, where they know that their progress is the clear purpose of their teachers’ efforts, and in which their responsibility for their progress is equally clear
Taking all this into consideration, the members of the North Salem World Language Department see it as our goal to guide students to the full development of a second language as a tool for maximizing their potential as ethical, self-reliant, and effective participants in shaping their future. Experience tells us, however, that we cannot achieve these goals alone. We recognize the critical role that parents and guardians play in the success of this endeavor. We appreciate your support and invite your participation in the process.
World Language Self Study
“We believe all children are primed to learn languages and they will rise to meet expectations when goals are appropriately set and conditions for learning are designed to foster achievement” (National Standards for F. L. Education Project, 1999).
We believe all children in World Language classrooms are capable of “ using language at the communicative level defined by course-specific rubrics and benchmarks with an awareness of cultural constraints on usage for that level of language, demonstrating awareness of how social conventions are reflected in the language(s) spoken in target language country(ies)” (Garrett, 2009).
World Language Action Plan 2009-2010 (PDF)
World Language Five Year Action Plan (PDF)
World Language Consultant Report (PDF)
Self Study (PDF)
Self Study Presentation (PDF)