ERIC Identifier: ED301069
Publication Date: 1988-11-00
Author: Wilson, Jo Anne
Source: ERIC Clearinghouse on
Languages and Linguistics Washington DC.
Foreign Language Program Articulation: Building Bridges from
Elementary to Secondary School. ERIC Digest.
Foreign languages are currently enjoying attention unparalleled since the
heyday of the early 1960s. There is a renewed interest in and emphasis on
elementary school programs that are generally referred to under the broad
heading of Foreign Languages in the Elementary School, or FLES. The emphasis on
FLES in the 60s did not lead to the anticipated proliferation of second language
programs because of a lack of realistic program goals and adequate planning,
inattention to sound curricula and appropriate instructional materials, and
failure to place qualified teachers in FLES classrooms. It is crucial,
therefore, that current attention focus on these elements which are so vital to
successful FLES programs. Even with these elements carefully in place,
articulation remains a critical factor in the development of a successful K-12
WHAT IS FOREIGN LANGUAGE PROGRAM ARTICULATION?
educational practitioner, articulation is the process of providing a smooth and
logical transition from an elementary to a secondary program and ensuring
continuity from one FLES classroom to another. This kind of academic sequencing
provides opportunities for those students with both the interest and ability to
continue their elementary school language study at the secondary level.
Articulation can be viewed from two perspectives: horizontal and vertical.
"Horizontal articulation" focuses on outcomes, teaching strategies,
materials, and evaluation within a course level. If language instruction is
offered in more than one elementary school in a district, such instruction
should be based on a common curriculum. Teachers from different schools (or
classrooms) must address the same objectives at each course level, while
utilizing similar strategies and instructional materials.
"Vertical articulation" refers to the direction of the curriculum between
levels of schools (Lange, 1982). Successful articulation from elementary to
secondary programs requires continuous and open communication with teachers at
all levels. Thus, secondary programs must provide courses that are appropriate
to those students who began language study in elementary school. These students
should not be placed with beginners in a middle or junior high school. Most
current secondary foreign language programs are designed as entry level courses
for students with no previous language study. Secondary schools may need to
develop several program tracks to serve the needs of the elementary school
language learner. Some districts have found it practical to offer the
continuation of the elementary language in a specific secondary school within
Secondary school administrators need to be informed about the types of
elementary language programs in their district and to work with the language
teachers to accommodate those experienced learners who want to continue language
learning at the secondary level. Secondary school administrators also need to
work closely with the elementary administrators and teachers to develop a
program that will recognize the previous learning of the student and enable that
learning to become a foundation for continued language development. The major
responsibility for readjustment rests with the secondary schools, where
curriculum, methods, and instructional materials must be revised. Such revision
must accommodate language students who are drastically different from those who
have historically begun language study at the secondary level. Those secondary
teachers who have embraced a view of language learning as linear and
grammatically based must begin to recognize the value of the communicative
skills acquired by the elementary learner where emphasis has been primarily in
the skills of listening and speaking. The growing emphasis on teaching language
for communication at all levels, and the recognition of language learning as a
cyclical process during which the learner acquires needed skills in listening,
speaking, reading, and writing simultaneously, acknowledge the value of what
learners can do with the language as contrasted with what they know about the
ARE THERE SPECIFIC MODELS FOR FOREIGN LANGUAGE
The Ferndale, Michigan FLES program had been in place for nine
years when, in 1987, the district faced the question of what to do with the
growing number of FLES students entering secondary school. The existing middle
school language program was dropped, and the next entry point for beginning
language instruction was designated as grade 9. Students from all eight
elementary schools are now offered the option of continuing their second
language study in either one of the district's two middle schools.
Grades K-6: Sequential FLES
Grade 7: Secondary Level 2
Grade 8: Secondary Level 2 (continued)
Grades 9-12: Levels 3-6 For further information, contact: Lynne Haire,
Ferndale High School, 881 Pinecrest, Ferndale, MI 48220, Tel: 313-548-8600.
Flint, Michigan's French FLES is offered in three of the district's thirty
elementary schools. These schools are designated magnet schools. Students who
continue their study of French at the middle school level choose a designated
magnet middle school. Sixth grade students apply for admission with the
prerequisite of at least three years of instruction in one of the three
elementary programs and/or the recommendation of their teacher. Students who
complete the two-year middle school sequence are then offered the option of
entering a second year French class in any one of the district's comprehensive
Grades K-6: Sequential FLES instruction
Grade 7: Secondary Level 1
Grade 8: Secondary Level 1 (continued)
Grades 9-12: Levels 2-5
For further information, contact: Barbara Young, Cody Elementary Academy,
3201 Fenton Rd., Flint, MI 48507, Tel: 313-767-1565.
A number of programs are reviewed in the National Commission Report prepared
by the American Association of Teachers of French (Lipton, Rhodes, and Curtain,
1985). Each model reviewed indicates specific articulation sequencing. The most
successful examples of elementary to secondary articulation come from those
districts where the language programs are based in magnet schools. In
Cincinnati, Ohio, students from the partial immersion programs in grades 6-8
attend a middle school bilingual academy. In Milwaukee, Wisconsin, students from
the immersion elementary schools attend an immersion middle school.
HOW CAN FOREIGN LANGUAGE ARTICULATION BE
Successful articulation between elementary and secondary schools
occurs with ongoing communication and cooperation on the part of foreign
language teachers at all levels (Pesola, 1988). The ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines
have considerable value as a starting point for the dialogue necessary to open
and maintain communication. The proficiency levels defined in the guidelines do
not refer to the number of years of study or instructional time. The categories
describe levels of performance that the learner has attained regardless of time
spent studying the language.
Well-articulated programs will become a reality when teachers and
administrators at all levels realistically face the issues involved. No FLES
program should be started without consideration of the options open to those
students who want to continue at the secondary level. At the outset, both
elementary and secondary staff need to be involved in any planning committee.
Such planning should set realistic program goals and develop a sound curriculum.
Administrators, teachers, and parents need to be informed of all stages in
planning. Such information must be provided in a timely fashion by holding open
discussion meetings to clarify the desired goals of the program and to seek
input from all concerned. With program goals and curriculum in place, and with
qualified teachers in the classroom, a well-articulated sequential program has
the potential to produce language learners able to communicate effectively in a
The goal of language learning should be communicative competence. Language
proponents must also be honest about the length of time needed to acquire that
competence. Real language acquisition occurs only after years of study and
effort. A well-articulated K-12 program can have a lasting effect and can
produce individuals who are culturally and linguistically prepared to live in
the 21st century.
Lange, D. (1982). The problem of articulation.
In Higgs, Theodore V. (Ed.) (1982). "Curriculum, competence, and the foreign language teacher: The ACTFL Foreign Language Education Series 13," Lincolnwood, IL: National Textbook Co. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED 210 914).
Lipton, G., Rhodes, N., & Curtain, H. (Eds). (1985). "The many faces of foreign language in the elementary school: FLES, FLEX, and Immersion." Champaign, IL: FLES Commission Report to AATF. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED 264 727).
Pesola, C. A. (1988). Articulation for elementary school foreign language programs: Challenges and opportunities. In "Shaping the future of foreign language. Report of Central States Conference on the Teaching of Foreign Languages." Lincolnwood, IL: National Textbook Co. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED 292 333).
FOR FURTHER READING
American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (1986). "ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines." Hastings-on-Hudson, NY.
Curtain, H. & Pesola, C. A. (1988). "Language and children---Making the
match. Foreign language instruction in the elementary school." Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.
Lange, D. L. (1988). Articulation: A resolvable problem? In Lalande, John F. II, Ed. "Shaping the future of language education: FLES, articulation, and proficiency. Report of Central States Conference on the Teaching of Foreign Languages." (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED 292 334).
Lipton, G. (1988). "Elementary Foreign Language Programs." Lincolnwood, IL: National Textbook Co.
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