Vail Daily letter: Wrong move with teachers
May 23, 2012
On behalf of the Colorado Congress of Foreign Language Teachers , we are writing this letter to express our sincere disappointment in Eagle County Schools’ decision to replace high-quality, dedicated world language teachers with a computer program.
Not only have the teachers who are being replaced been dedicated, award-winning employees, mentors and educators, but these teachers have also produced citizens close to being bilingual and an important part of our global society.
There is no computer program that adequately prepares students to communicate in interpersonal situations, only a teacher in a face-to-face class can do this.
We appreciate the difficulties facing Colorado districts with the reduction of state funding. The U.S. Department of State has identified learning a language and becoming bilingual as a necessary 21st century skill. To eliminate language programs and depend on a computer to teach phrases and not communication undermines our government and national security. It will put your students at a disadvantage in the global market and in college entrance.
Language learning is so much more than learning isolated skills. It is an essential learning for communication and incorporates learning about the culture, diversity, art, math, science and the history of various countries.
A part of the Colorado Academic Standards for World Languages is the teaching of culture, which is not just memorizing a map or cultural facts about different countries. Students need to demonstrate an understanding of the different cultural practices and products and their relationships with the perspectives of the cultures studied. No computer program can teach students how to approach communication with the understanding of all that represents a country and culture, only a teacher can do this.
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Our Colorado Academic Standards for World Language are focused on producing students who can effectively communicate in the chosen target language and be productive 21st century citizens. The standards state that students not only need to be able to interpret and present information in the target language, but to communicate interpersonally. This naturally occurs in classrooms with real human interaction.
How will your students get the quality opportunities to engage in conversations which allow them to provide and obtain information, express feelings and emotions, and express opinions? How will a computer program help them connect to the world?
As the organization that represents Colorado language teachers, we encourage you to reconsider your decision and support real world language education in the 21st century. Give your students the opportunity to compete and be successful in a global world.
Debbie Cody, Anna Crocker, Cristin Bleess
Executive Board, Colorado Congress of Foreign Language Teachers