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School Solutions                                             Page 48

 

World Languages Arrive

Online in Schools     

 

BY JOHN PESCE

 John Pesce

The leaders at the Herberger Young Scholars Academy, a philanthropically funded school for exceptionally gifted students in Arizona, had a growing need to meet. The school’s parents and students were eager for more language options, especially Chinese.

Unlike in many areas of the country, Herberger had access to a ready supply of Mandarin instructors due to its location on Arizona State University’s campus in Phoenix. However, the school not only wanted its students to learn Chinese but to learn in an experiential way using 21st-century communication tools — live virtual classrooms, e-portfolios, 3-D virtual worlds and other online collaboration applications more common to the business world.

So instead of hiring a teacher, the academy signed up for myLanguage360’s fully online, blended Mandarin courses, which met both its needs.

“Offering Mandarin is part of the Herberger Academy’s goal to incorporate global learning into the curriculum,” Kimberly Lansdowne, the academy’s executive director, told the ASU News website. “We also are a ‘paper-free’ school. Our entire curriculum is web-based, and content is pushed to students via iPad or laptops. By using a program like myLanguage360, our students are able to use 21st century technology skills while being environmentally conscious.”

A Blended Route
Our company, myLanguage360, a member of the AASA School Solutions Center, offers world languages programs that blend teacher-led live instruction with the latest technology to create an interactive and immersive educational experience. During their normal school day, students report to computer labs where they log on to meet with a certified teacher and classmates in real time in online classrooms. Using web cameras and headsets, they communicate face-to-face using live video and the latest social networking tools.

Students also perform all of their tests and quizzes online, as well as complete assignments and participate in discussion-board topics. They even take virtual field trips to China via the program’s 3-D environment that includes historic landmarks such as the Great Wall and Forbidden City. And, most importantly, because the courses are teacher-led, students are less likely to fall behind.

Herberger is not the typical myLangauge360 customer. The program has deep roots in public schools, where online options such as myLanguage360 can open up opportunities to all students across an entire district.

In the Socorro Independent School District in El Paso, Texas, students from all socioeconomic levels have the opportunity to learn Chinese with myLanguage360. In San Antonio, where the program has been in place since 2009, students across multiple middle schools meet online with their teacher twice a week. In fact, myLanguage360 currently works with more than 50 public school districts in 18 different states.

The program is designed to make expanding or adding world languages to a district’s course catalog easy and affordable, including synching to a school’s bell schedule and district calendar.

Energized Instructor
But the best feature of myLangage360 is its teachers. All are certified in the state in which they teach and have had at least five years of classroom and teaching experience.

“I have taught for both public schools and private companies, and myLanguage360 has by far the best program and curriculum in my experience,” says Joseph Liang, a 15-year teaching veteran who has taught for myLanguage360 since fall 2011.

John Pesce is CEO of myLanguage360 in Austin, Texas. E-mail: jpesce@mylanguage360.com.

 

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