World Language study in St. Mary’s County Public Schools (SMCPS) advances student achievement through the curriculum design, implementation, and assessment for five languages (Spanish, French, Chinese, German, and Latin). Beginning as early as prekindergarten, World Language study should be available to all students since it promotes the development of skills necessary for success in the 21st century workplace. Through the communicative approach used to teach and learn a language, World Language study supports various learning styles and helps to build character and self esteem. Further, World Language study enhances the development of basic communication skills and higher order thinking skills. Students tend to develop a deeper understanding of their native language and an ability to use their native language with an increased level of accuracy when they are able to study a language different from their own.
A major focus in the teaching of a World Language is on building proficiency in the language at the student’s level of study, with an emphasis on encouraging students to take a risk and use the language. The emphasis on building proficiency creates an expectation that teachers give focused attention to what students “can do” in the language and the level at which they are able to use the language.
World Language study enhances global understanding and promotes goodwill and friendship, which is a direct result of an increased understanding and appreciation of the culture of individuals who speak a language that is different from one’s native language. Teaching students about culture is considered an important and integral part of our curriculum, because it promotes an increased sensitivity and a respect for people from diverse backgrounds whose language and customs are different. World Language study is a motivational tool that stimulates a desire for and joy of learning.
The World Language program seeks to prepare students, both linguistically and culturally, to communicate in a pluralistic American society as well as abroad. In doing so, students are encouraged to become proficient in at least one language other than English by the end of the high school experience.