Language-learning Online: How One School Cut Spending and Boosted Student Outcomes Posted by kristen on Mar 12, 2013 in education, Language Learning, schools, Trends, Uncategorized
It’s no secret that public school districts are strapped for cash. Budget shortfalls are commonplace, and administrators are looking for solutions to cut costs without compromising the educational experience. Recently, one school found a way to cut costs and improve student outcomes. East Kingston Elementary School, (EKES,) located in East Kingston, NH is saving money by revamping the way in which foreign languages are taught. EKES decided to run their foreign language courses online, using a combination of self-guided online courseware and live class sessions with real instructors via online classrooms. These classrooms are hosted by Transparent Connect, a virtual language school house and they replace a failing Rosetta Stone-based program the school had used in the past.
EKES students in 4th and 5th grade follow a “flipped classroom” model, in which they complete self-guided learning activities before meeting with a real instructor in a virtual classroom. This strategy familiarizes them with the material before each instructor-led class. Students arrive to the virtual classroom more confident and ready to communicate with the teacher and their classmates. The model helps students stay motivated and eager to learn. It also allows the school to run classes in less commonly taught languages, which would be difficult and costly to support using a traditional approach. The school chose to run classes in French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, and Vietnamese, and the program is facilitated by East Kingston’s Foreign Language Lead. This one instructor can be leveraged across more languages than she could instruct on her own, and it helps minimize the school’s costs.
In an ideal world, schools would receive the funding they need to hire excellent, full-time language instructors. Schools want to prepare students for 21st century jobs and lifestyles, but “out of the box” solutions like Rosetta Stone simply aren’t cutting it. Until schools get the funding they need, schools like East Kingston Elementary School will have to seek innovative ways of supporting students’ language goals.