IIE Blog Opening Minds
IIE Blog Opening Minds

Idea 5: engage the foreign language learning community as an ally and partner

By: IIE on Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Foreign language teachers, associations, organizations and other parent groups that support language learning are natural allies. Many have established networks and are strong advocates for global awareness, international experience and study abroad.

  • Develop a toolkit specifically for K-12 foreign language teachers to share with students, parents and administrators.
  • Support the community’s efforts to establish foreign language requirements for high school completion, specifically taking classes to enhance cultural knowledge and speaking ability, not solely to reach targeted proficiency levels. 
  • Create straightforward language with supporting evidence and examples that links the value of study abroad and learning languages, and spread the word. 
  • Present at and sponsor sessions at conferences beyond international education, as well as write articles to be published in their magazines and newsletters, for example the American Council on The Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL), the National Network for Early Language Learning (NNELL) and other language-specific associations.
  • Encourage mentorships between foreign language faculty and atypical study abroad faculty such as engineering or math to develop creative study abroad courses tied to the curriculum.
  • Recognize and celebrate immersion programs such as International Baccalaureate and K-8 foreign language programs, enlist their support in preparing students to study abroad, and work to expand such programs across the United States.
  • Seek out corporate partnerships with commercial language products and services to fill in the gaps of student learning in secondary school and college, especially beyond French, Spanish, and German.
  • Create a certificate program at the college level to recognize students’ language capabilities without making it an official minor or major.
  • Present foreign language learning for parents to help them get over the fear of their children speaking languages they don’t.

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This blog entry summarizes Idea 5 of 11 “Big Ideas” brainstormed during IIE's Generation Study Abroad Think Tank event in March 2014. They are compiled in the IIE Green Paper, “What will it take to Double Study Abroad?”


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For more than nine decades, the Institute of International Education has been at the forefront of international education. The Opening Minds blog is IIE’s take on how this field continues to change. Here the Institute’s leaders will explore international educational exchange, global student mobility, institutional partnerships, international development, and other topics and trends that are shaping higher education around the world.

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