Four New Jersey School Districts have recently been awarded federal funds through the Foreign Language Assistance Program (FLAP) totaling over $500,000 for the three-year grant period. The FLAP Program provides grants to establish, improve, or expand innovative foreign language programs for elementary and secondary school students.
A total of $12.9 million in grant monies was awarded to 22 states to help dramatically increase the number of Americans learning foreign languages deemed critical to national security and the global economy. The grants are intended to address the shortage of critical foreign language speakers by supporting new and expanded programs in grades K-12. Three of the four New Jersey districts receiving funding will implement programs in Mandarin Chinese.
The Fair Lawn Mandarin Chinese Program will begin in grade 5 in each of the district’s six elementary schools building on the strong K-5 French and Spanish program already in place. The new program will enable students to study Chinese and French or Chinese and Spanish through grade 8. The full implementation plan involves student engagement in language learning that targets proficiency throughout an articulated sequence and culminating in an Advanced Placement Chinese Program. Fair Lawn will partner with William Paterson University’s Asian Studies Department for cultural support and staff development throughout the duration of the grant. Classroom instruction will be further enhanced through participation in problem-based learning tasks with sister schools in China via International Education and Resource Network projects (iEARN).
The Northern Valley Regional High School District project will create a Chinese Language Program aligned with both national and state standards. While this program initially serves secondary students, the long-range goal is to expand the program to the elementary schools within the regional consortium. In addition, the district is launching an interdisciplinary Asian Studies program that will include the study of history, literature and art to enhance Chinese language instruction and the integration of international knowledge and skills into the curriculum.
Vernon Township Public Schools will begin language instruction in Mandarin Chinese in the 2007-08 school year in Kindergarten and in the ninth grade. The project calls for the eventual expansion of the program through the elementary, middle and high school grades. This initiative complements the district’s commitment to international education. Recently, 19 students spent three weeks in China learning about the Chinese language, culture and education system. The study tour has served as the official launch pad for an expanded program in international education in the district.
East Windsor will create a dual language immersion program in Spanish that includes a summer professional development institute for elementary teachers. Dual language immersion programs are instructional models that have a proven track record in fostering high achievement levels in English and in another language. By developing dual literacy through the teaching of academic content and skills, this program model contributes to building children’s ethnic self-esteem and cross cultural understanding. Children enrolled in dual language immersion programs often surpass their monolingual peers in tests of basic skills in English language arts and math while developing second language proficiency.
In addition to the districts that received federally funded awards, the Linden School District recently announced the receipt of $75,000 in funding from the Italian American Committee on Education for a significant expansion of their Italian program. The current program includes study abroad opportunities for students, professional development opportunities for teachers and has been well received by the community.