ERIC Identifier: ED276307
Publication Date: 1985-10-00
Author: Herron, Carol A.
Source: ERIC Clearinghouse on
Languages and Linguistics Washington DC.
Foreign Language and International Studies High Schools. ERIC
Although most Language and International Studies High Schools (LISHS) are a
part of the public school system, they represent a departure from the tradition
of attendance by geographic location. Most have been established as magnet
schools, i.e., schools that reflect a central academic or vocational theme and
are organized to encourage students to attend school outside their own
neighborhood. LISHS usually stress voluntary enrollment, although they may
choose to direct their programs to special students, perhaps those with a
certain grade point average or those identified as gifted and talented.
Generally, the academic curriculum (of both public and private high schools)
emphasizes foreign languages, social sciences, and communications. The purpose
of all three curricular areas is to help students develop the competencies
necessary for effective participation in an international environment. The
development of a functional command of at least one modern foreign language is
the single element that distinguishes this kind of school from that of a regular
high school or one that stresses social science programs and offers foreign
language study as an elective. The absolute centrality of foreign language study
cannot be stressed enough. No successes in "international education" will make
up for failure in this area.
Students are expected to graduate with a functional competence of a foreign
language; the background papers to the 1979 President's Commission stressed that
during the LISHS experience, students and teachers are to use the foreign
language as the medium of instruction not only in the foreign language classroom
but also in the social science oriented courses. In addition to a first foreign
language that students study for a minimum of four years, a second foreign
language, preferably one of the less commonly taught languages (like Chinese,
Arabic, Japanese), is to be studied for at least two years.
In order to satisfy state graduation requirements, students also take courses
found in a traditional secondary school curriculum. Whenever possible, teachers
in these subject areas agree to stress global concerns. In home economics, for
example, students may prepare menus of Japanese foods. In a freshman English
course, students may learn how to write Japanese poetry, and in their art class,
calligraphy and brush painting will be included.
Field trips, independent study in cooperation with international agencies
located in the area, and cultural exchange programs usually round out the
curriculum. The focus of these experiences is that students are actively
encouraged and given the opportunity to live, work, and play in an environment
where they can use any achieved second or third language competency.
HOW ARE THESE SCHOOLS ORGANIZED?
Foreign language and international studies programs can be designed and
implemented on several models. One model involves one building in a single
school district. This school draws teachers, resources, and students from the
entire district (or, perhaps, the region) and is devoted exclusively to the
study of foreign languages and international studies. This model is used by both
public and private schools. A second model is a school-within-a-school. Due to
space limitations or budgetary restraints, a certain portion of a school can be
designated as a magnet school drawing students from the entire school district.
At the present time, the most prevalent magnet school model is the
school-within-a-school concept. An example of such an organization is the North
Fulton Center for International Studies in Atlanta, GA. The Center is located
within the walls of North Fulton High School (NFHS). Of the 500 students
enrolled at NFHS, approximately 200 are official participants in the Center. A
unique feature of this magnet school is its racial mixture and cultural
diversity: 52% of the students are black; 41% are white; and 7% are
foreign-born. Applicants are admitted to the Center in grades 9 and 10. Criteria
for admission are a reading score at grade level or above and a minimum
grade-point average of 2.5 in social sciences, language arts, and any foreign
language(s) studies. To remain enrolled in the Center, students must maintain an
overall 2.5 grade-point average.
HOW ARE THESE SCHOOLS FUNDED?
Dependence on federal support in the form of grants is not encouraged. The
National Seminar on the Implementation of International Schools, sponsored by
Exxon Education Foundation in 1980, strongly advocated that Language and
International Studies High Schools be developed through local resources, with
federal funds playing at most a temporary supporting role in the beginning. The
essential feature that will permit such schools to run at a relatively low
operating cost is that the community, as distinct from only the school district,
contributes its time and service. The assumption is that local industries and
institutions will provide their services and expertise at a very low cost, if
not free of charge, to an international high school. Indeed, the most effective
schools are built on local ethnic concern and private corporate support.
WHAT UNUSUAL PROBLEMS EXIST?
While such schools do afford choices to students who have different learning
styles and interests, certain issues still need to be addressed. Staffing is a
particularly crucial problem in international high schools as it is difficult to
find faculty within a school district fluent enough in a second or third
language to teach their particular subject matter (for example, world history)
in the target language. In some cases, present faculty have to be retrained
and/or native speakers from the community sought.
The issue of elitism is often raised as magnet schools are sometimes equated
with selective schools. Yet, "selective" schools have contributed to public
education (e.g., the Bronx High School for Science, alma mater to three Nobel
Prize winners) and private education as well. Nevertheless, to avoid this issue,
some international high schools have adopted a two-pronged approach: students
choose between (1) preparing for and participating in a career-focused
internship with an international company abroad or in an urban American center
during the junior and senior years and (2) preparing for the International
Baccalaureate Examination during the last two years of school.
The International Baccalaureate Program (IBP) was developed and is sponsored
by a Swiss Foundation with headquarters in Geneva. The IBP offers standards of
achievement in subjects traditionally studied in the last years of high school,
leading to a diploma that is recognized by a large number of universities and
colleges in 35 countries for purposes of admission, course credit/advance
standing, advanced placement without credit, or a combination of these.
HOW MANY SUCH SCHOOLS ARE THERE?
As early as 1979, the President's Commission on Foreign Language and
International Studies made a series of recommendations, one of which called for
federal funding to develop 20 international high schools. These schools were to
serve as national models and to offer intensive foreign language and cultural
studies in addition to all regularly required courses. The primary purpose of
such schools was to increase foreign language competence and to promote an
international perspective in education. Today, of the more than 1,100 elementary
and secondary magnet schools in the more than 130 school districts, the National
Council on Foreign Languages and International Studies reports that 30 schools
are specifically designated as Foreign Language and International Studies High
Schools. In addition, there are several private schools with the same kinds of
goals. A list of these can be obtained from the Global Perspectives Information
Exchange Network. (See "Resources" list.)
The creation and maintenance of more language and international studies
schools will not come from national trends, college pressure, or other
impersonal forces, but from the intelligence, commitment, and interest of
educators, parents, and local leaders.
The success of the concept does not depend on federal capitation grants or
incentive funds. It builds on local ethnic concerns, world problems, and private
corporate support within a community.
Global Perspectives in Education, Inc., 218 East 18th St., New York, NY
International Baccalaureate of North America, 680 5th Ave., New York, NY
National Council on Foreign Languages and International Studies, 605 3rd
Ave., 17th Floor, New York, NY 10158.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Blank, R.K. "The Effects of Magnet Schools on the Quality of Education in
Urban School Districts." PHI DELTA KAPPAN 66(4) (1984):270-72.
Doyle, D.P., and M. Levine. "Magnet Schools and Quality in Public Education."
PHI DELTA KAPPAN 66(4) (1984):265-70.
Gilliam, D. "The Glenbrook Academy: One Response to International Studies
Imperatives." MODERN LANGUAGE JOURNAL 66(4) (1982):396-400
Herron, C. "A Community Supported Foreign Language High School: The North
Fulton Center for International Studies." MODERN LANGUAGE JOURNAL 67(2)
Lipshy, E. HIGH SCHOOLS FOR FOREIGN LANGUAGES AND INTERNATIONAL STUDIES.
President's Commission on Foreign Language and International Studies: Background
Papers and Studies. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office (Stock No.
017-080-02070-0). ED 179 117.
Presidentsy Commission on Foreign Languages and International Schools.
STRENGTH THROUGH WISDOM: A CRITIQUE OF U.S. CAPABILITY. 1979. ED 176 599.
Purves, A.C. (Ed.) NATIONAL SEMINAR ON THE IMPLEMENTATION OF INTERNATIONAL
SCHOOLS, PROCEEDINGS. Urbana, Illinois: University of Illinois Press, 1981.