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Archived Information

World Languages
Curriculum Framework
Making Connections

World Languages Content

Connecting Strand

Lifelong learners use language to acquire new information and knowledge in other disciplines.

Where do World Languages teachers find opportunities for interdisciplinary connections?

Everywhere! As one teacher said, "When we view language as a means to learn, we can use it at any time, in any discipline, in any way!"

Have you ever invited native speakers into your classroom for an art, theatre, music, or dance demonstration? Or played games from another culture during elementary school recess, using authentic words and phrases? Or invited middle schoolers to sing for the elderly at a community center in a language other than English? Or provided European periodical articles about the effects of acid rain on Europe's forests? The Connecting Strand is about looking outside of the world language classroom and using the target language to connect with other disciplines. This strand asks teachers to look for opportunities to base some of their instructional program on what goes on in the other rooms of their schools.

A useful starting point for world language teachers to make interdisciplinary connections is to look at what kind of language functions are required to learn and teach the content of other disciplines. For example, when Kindergarten students talk at the math center about sorting blocks by shape and size, they need to know the names of the shapes and how to describe their size. They could do the same math activity in the target language, making a connection between World Languages and Mathematics. Similarly, a certain vocabulary and language structure are required of middle schoolers when they predict what will happen next in a story for English class, or explain the effects of acid rain in science, or follow instructions on how to chest-pass a basketball. And as high school students hypothesize what might happen in the future after a decade-long drought, criticize and peer-edit writing samples in English class, and express position in a debate about the importance of money, they could be communicating in a language other than English.

Another way teachers work together successfully in our schools to connect World Languages with the other disciplines is through content-based thematic units such as the Rainforest, the Immigrant Experience in the United States, or Dance around the World.

By looking for ways to match some of the learning and teaching experiences in the world language class with content or language functions used in other disciplines, students continue to develop skills in the target language while they reinforce what they've learned previously or while they acquire new information and knowledge.

During world language week, two high school teachers tried out a video-based interdisciplinary curriculum unit which promotes learning of Spanish by studying the Latin American rainforests. The Spanish teacher mentioned the unit to the science teacher, saying "Wouldn't it be interesting to try this, but where would the $150 come from to buy the materials?" Before the day was over, the science teacher brought good news back to her, "We've got the money! The principal is enthralled with the idea!"

For one week, they held their classes together. Tenth, eleventh, and twelfth grade Spanish classes provided language "expertise," while eighth grade earth science classes were the science "experts." The eighth graders, who had never studied a world language, learned quite a bit of language, and the Spanish students learned a great deal about the environmental issues around rainforest preservation while they strengthened their Spanish language skills and confidence to use them.

All agreed it was an enjoyable and challenging learning experience.

"We had to make some adaptations for our groups," said the Spanish teacher, "and we made some mistakes. This year we'll try it again and improve on what we did. We also have a social studies teacher who wants to get involved, because the video brings up issues of geography and indigenous American peoples. It could really elicit some great critical thinking on the part of students! My own background in science is awful," she added, "and I was worried about how I could teach a unit with a science teacher. But now I know I can -- and I learned so much in the process of trying!"


At the end of a PreK-4 sequence (Stage 1 proficiency)...

PreK-4 Learning Standards

Students will use selected words, phrases, and expressions with no major repeated patterns of error to:

  1. connect with other disciplines such as:
    • Arts
    • English Language Arts
    • Comprehensive Health
    • Mathematics
    • Science and Technology
    • Social Studies

Examples:

  • PreK-2: Students describe drawings of their family members. (connects with Arts, Social Studies)
  • PreK-2: Children identify rhyming sounds in a children's poem or song in the target language. (connects with English Language Arts)
  • 3-4: Learners compare and contrast healthy foods presented in a nutritional chart in health class with an authentic chart from the target culture. (connects with Comprehensive Health) *(A)
  • PreK-4: Learners play games from the target cultures using key words and phrases. (connects with Comprehensive Health and Physical Education) *(B)
  • 3-4: Learners categorize information such as sorting mammals from non-mammals (connects with Science and Technology), or they separate urban sights from rural ones (connects with Social Studies), or geometric shapes by name. (connects with Mathematics)

*How it Looks in the Classroom

*(A) Spanish students learn about nutrition by studying real food packaging or informational food charts from the target country and comparing these to their own. They find out how different meals in South American countries satisfy nutritional requirements. They look for the relation between geography and the foods regions produce. They compare food advertising in magazines from the target and home cultures.

*(B) Students learn children's games from the target culture and enjoy playing them at school. They learn the key words or phrases necessary to play the game (e.g., "Red Rover, Red Rover send Laura right over!") They compare these to games they play in their culture. They discuss questions such as, What makes a game a game? What's the difference between a game and a sport?


At the end of a PreK-8 sequence (Stage 2 proficiency)...

Grades 5-8 Learning Standards

Students will use sentences and strings of sentences, and recombinations of words, phrases, and expressions, with frequency of errors proportionate to the complexity of the communicative task to:

  1. connect with at least two other disciplines such as:
    • Arts
    • English Language Arts
    • Comprehensive Health
    • Mathematics
    • Science and Technology
    • Social Studies

Examples

  • Students receive instruction in the target language to perform a dance from the target culture. (connects with Arts)
  • Learners infer and paraphrase in English "basic truths" implied in proverbs in home and target cultures. (connects with English Language Arts) *(A) (See How it Looks, below)
  • In groups, students compare and contrast how people spend their leisure time in the local and target cultures. (connects with Comprehensive Health)
  • Students graph and describe in writing favorite activities of peers in local and target cultures. (connects with Mathematics and English Language Arts)
  • Learners recognize classical language roots of scientific terms (homo sapiens, appendectomy, etc.). (connects with Science and Technology)
  • After studying authentic weather reports from different regions, students work in groups to predict weather conditions. (connects with Science and Technology) *(B) (See How it Looks, below)
  • Using the vocabulary of geography and map-making students create various kinds of maps of world regions (topographical, political) in the target language. (connects with Social Studies)

*How it Looks in the Classroom

*(A) Students learn a proverb each week in the language. They try to find an equivalent proverb in English, and discover why the language and symbols used may or may not be the same. The class creates a bilingual book of proverbs at the end of the year. (This activity is excellent for Adult Basic Education classes, as well.)

*(B) A middle school science teacher and language teacher plan a unit on weather. The language teacher devises a puzzle for groups to solve involving weather concepts and use of the language. She hands out a packet of weather reports she has copied from authentic periodicals from several regions using the language. The groups work to match the weather report to the correct region, using knowledge they are gaining in science about weather patterns. The students obtain information from the reports, reinforce and deepen what they have learned about weather patterns and geography, and broaden their vocabulary and competence in the language. They predict the weather for each region based on their findings for a certain day of the year and later check their predictions.


At the end of a PreK-10 sequence (Stage 3 proficiency)...

Grades 9-10 Learning Standards

Students will use sentences and strings of sentences, and paragraph-length messages with frequency of errors proportionate to the complexity of the communicative task to:

  1. connect with at least two other disciplines such as:
    • Arts
    • English Language Arts
    • Comprehensive Health
    • Mathematics
    • Science and Technology
    • Social Studies

Examples

  • Individuals research the life of an artist and write a paper. (connects with Arts, English Language Arts, Social Studies) *(A) (See How it Looks, below)
  • After viewing news reports from different cultures, or a signed vs. close-captioned newscast, students analyze the content of information presented and compare and contrast the newscaster's interpretation. (connects with English Language Arts)
  • Groups discuss the relationship between teen social patterns of interaction to gender-based roles in home and target cultures. (connects with Comprehensive Health)
  • Students identify, describe, compare, and classify geometric figures in the target language. (connects with Mathematics)
  • While observing the motion of a rolling ball, students describe the motion and the forces involved (momentum, friction). (connects with Science and Technology)
  • In groups, students compare primary sources about exploration of the "New World" in target language with those available in English. (connects with Social Studies)
  • Students apply language to specific uses. *(B) (See How it Looks, below)

*How it Looks in the Classroom

*(A) Students view classic art works displayed at the Louvre via CD/ROM in conjunction with an art history class. In French, they discuss the works and give their opinion of them. They write a paragraph describing a painting and see if their classmates can find the painting they described. They do a research paper on an artist of their choice. They discuss the relationship between historical events of the time and the subjects of the art work.

*(B) Vocational Education: Students plan a project that incorporates the language as a means for communication. In Child Care, for example, students write a children's story and "teach" it to the children. In Cosmetology, students demonstrate a hair cut, manicure, or facial in the target language. In Carpentry/ Trades Hall, partners pick a simple project to build (pipe fitting, welding, etc.) and explain the process using the target language, in order for the other partner to complete it.


At the end of a PreK-12 sequence (Stage 4 proficiency)...

Grades 11-12 Learning Standards

Students will use sentences, strings of sentences, paragraph-length, and essay-length messages, with some errors which don't interfere with meaning to:

  1. connect with at least two other disciplines such as:

    • Arts
    • English Language Arts
    • Comprehensive Health
    • Mathematics
    • Science and Technology
    • Social Studies

Examples

  • After reading a folktale, students write a script to adapt the folktale and put on a theatrical production for younger students. (connects with Arts, English Language Arts)
  • Individuals write an essay that draws conclusions about a fictional character from literature or popular culture (novels, TV, mythology). (connects with English Language Arts)
  • Groups read brochures and watch public service announcements to research substance abuse prevention strategies in the target culture. (connects with Comprehensive Health).
  • Based on data analysis from tables, charts, and graphs, learners make inferences and convincing arguments. (connects with Mathematics) *(A) (See How it Looks, below)
  • Individuals write down the procedures for conducting a scientific expiriment including hypothesizing the results. (connects with Science and Technology)
  • Students research and present alternative solutions to a political, social, or environmental problem in the target culture. (connects with Science and Technology / Social Studies)
  • Individuals write an analysis of coverage of an important current event in the media in the U.S.A. and in the target cultures. (connects with Social Studies) *(B) (See How it Looks, below)

*How it Looks in the Classroom

*(A) Students in an Adult Basic Education class are working on presenting data in, and analyzing data from tables, charts, and graphs. They continue the work in their ESL class by preparing oral presentations to support inferences with convincing arguments.

*(B) Students monitor the coverage of a political event through newspapers, TV, radio, political cartoons, and magazines to compare and contrast the perspective of the American version with the perspectives appearing in the target language. Using the target language, students gather data, synthesize, write reports, and debate the issues surrounding the event.






Last Updated: January 1, 1996
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