Academic Support for AP, IB and World Languages

World Languages

Vision, Philosophy, and Goals

In Greenville County Schools, every student has the opportunity to acquire at least one world language through a sequential, articulated program of study. Every student should have the opportunity to begin the study of a second language in the early elementary grades and continue through the end of high school.

The climate in every world language classroom in Greenville County Schools will be one that encourages communication and high individual student achievement through student-centered, performance-based, and standards-driven instruction and assessment. Students will develop competency in another language commensurate to their development and length of study.

All students can achieve at high levels when they have many opportunities to learn in different ways and settings, and are able to acquire proficiency at varied rates.

We believe that…

  1. Language and cultural proficiency lead to communication. We want all students to communicate with other people in a variety of settings.
    • Every student will have the opportunity to study at least one world language and demonstrate the ability to communicate in that language.
    • All students will begin the study of a second language as early as possible.
  2. Language and cultural proficiency lead to understanding other cultures as well as tolerance and empathy for other people. We want our students look beyond themselves and their communities to recognize what is common to all human beings and to accept that people, with their differences, can also be right.
    • Students will demonstrate an ability to identify behavior that is common to all human beings.
    • Students will demonstrate an ability to act appropriately in another culture and language.
    • Students will demonstrate an understanding of cultural values that differ from their own
  3. Language and cultural proficiency lead to the development of higher order thinking skills. We want our students to develop insights into their own language and culture, compare them to the languages and cultures of others, and examine cultures through a language and a perspective other than their own.
    • Students will demonstrate the ability to analyze information in a second language.
    • Students will be able to compare similarities and differences between cultures and to express those differences in a second language.
    • Students will be able to express and defend a variety of points of view in a second language.
  4. Language and cultural proficiency lead to an interdisciplinary view of the curriculum. We want our students to students act with greater awareness of self, other cultures, and their own relationship to those cultures. We want every student to make interdisciplinary connections.
    • Students will gain direct access to additional bodies of knowledge and process information in a second language using current technology.
  5. Language and cultural proficiency allows students to pursue professional and personal interests with greater success and to fully participate in local, regional, and global communities.
    • Students will exit our school system equipped with the attitudes, skills, knowledge, and proficiency necessary to use a second language in their personal and professional endeavors, and in their studies at the postsecondary level.

-Adapted from Glastonbury, CT Schools

The World Language Curricular Design

The world language curriculum in Greenville County Schools is aligned with both the national and state standards. It is communicative-based, performance-driven, and organized around eight themes which incorporate real-life contexts and are assessed through a variety of strategies. These themes relate to our curriculum goals, have the potential for high-frequency language use, allow for natural and appropriate integration of culture, and reflect the interests of both students and teachers. The curriculum centers on what students can do with and in the language. Using the basic design of the Understanding by Design model, each unit is based on the assessment of the three modes of communication: interpretive, interpersonal, and presentational. It specifies the targeted outcomes and how students will achieve them.

The eight themes are reflected in the high school Levels 1-5 units. Same-language teachers develop language-specific versions in which they define the lexical content, support structures, suggested materials and resources, and interim assessments for each stage of the language learning continuum.

Heritage Language Learners

As Greenville County School District continues to experience significant growth in the population of heritage language learners, particularly Spanish speakers, our world language program recognizes and respects the languages and cultures of all heritage speakers in our world language classrooms. Schools and teachers strive to address these students’ unique needs and to provide heritage language learners with appropriate language experiences so that students not only maintain, but further develop the first language.

The district strives to place heritage language learners in world language courses where they will be challenged. In many cases, students will have sufficient language background to move beyond traditional world language sequence. Whenever possible, schools should offer language courses specifically designed to meet the needs of native speakers of the language. When heritage language learners and traditional world language learners are grouped in the same classroom, the curricular content will remain the same, but the performance tasks and assignments will differ. Instructional strategies and materials will also vary to accommodate the variety of language proficiency in the same classroom.

Combination World Language Courses

Based on enrollment numbers, upper-level courses often need to be combined. In these combination courses, themes will be rotated so that same instructional units are not repeated year after year. Course content and performance tasks will differ based on differences in language proficiency within the same classroom. 

Assessment Philosophy and Practices

Greenville County School District’s world language assessment philosophy and practices are grounded in research-based, performance-driven and standards-driven models, including the Understanding by Design and Learning Focused models. Assessments are aligned with both the curriculum and instruction.

The Integrated Performance Assessment (IPA) is a key component of the district’s curriculum design. This assessment model allows world language teachers use to effectively assess students’ knowledge and skills in authentic contexts. The IPA replaces the traditional unit test. Integrated Performance Assessments should be standardized across the district among teachers who teach the same level. Performance tasks are multi-faceted, interrelated, and simulate real-world situations. Teachers create interim performance assessments that prepare students to meet the target goal established in the IPA and use rubrics to assess interpersonal and presentational tasks. Rubrics should reflect the ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines.

We believe that…

  • The primary purpose of assessment is to provide feedback that can improve teaching and learning. Teacher feedback takes a cyclical approach in which teachers share information with students regarding their performance as compared to the model performance.
  • Use of many different types of assessments is the best indicator of student learning.
  • Performance assessments facilitate articulation among language programs in the district and provide information to others about our students’ language proficiency.
  • Assessments guide teacher’s planning by providing the basis for backward design and set appropriate learning goals.
  • Quality assessments help teachers to evaluate their teaching and the curriculum, and guide the district’s curriculum development.
  • Assessment is an ongoing process which includes both formative and summative assessments. Assessments must be aligned with targeted standards, program goals, and instructional strategies.
  • Differentiated assessments should be used to accommodate students’ varying proficiency levels within the same classroom.
  • The district’s assessment system needs to be transparent so that every student knows in advance what the performance tasks are and the expected levels of achievement, what he or she can do in the language, and what more he or she needs to learn or to improve.

Grading Guidelines for High School Modern and Classical Languages

In addition to following the State Department of Education’s Uniform Grading Policy, each content area in Greenville County Schools has district grading guidelines. The guidelines for high school modern and classical languages reflect a balance across the three modes of communication (two in classical languages). Gathering assessment evidence of these three modes reminds teacher and students that all three are necessary to function and communicate in real-world situations.

Below are the grading guidelines:

Modern Languages

Criterion Weighting Minimum Assessments per Quarter
Major Assessments 60% 3
Interpretive Tasks 20%  
Interpersonal Tasks 20%  
Presentational Tasks 20%  
Minor Assessments 40% 12
Interpretive Tasks  10%  
Interpersonal Tasks 20%  
Presentational Tasks 10%  

 

Classical Languages

Criterion Weighting Minimum Assessments per Quarter
Major Assessments 60% 3
Interpretive Tasks 30%  
Presentational Tasks 30%  
Minor Assessments 40% 12
Interpretive Tasks  20%  
Presentational Tasks 20%  

 

In addition to internal assessments, Greenville County Schools also utilizes external assessment to measure students’ progress toward increasing language proficiency. All students enrolled in AP and IB world language courses are required to sit the corresponding exams in May of the year during which the course is taken.

Schools with a World Language Focus

At the elementary level, the district offers two types of world language programs: 

1) A daily 30-minute Spanish FLES (Foreign Language in the Elementary School) Program in grades 3-5 is currently available at six schools:  Blythe, Chandler Creek, Fork Shoals, Heritage, Sara Collins, and the Townes Center.

2) A partial French and Spanish immersion is available at Blythe Academy, a magnet school. Partial immersion students at Blythe spend 50% of the instructional day learning content (math, science, health) in either French or Spanish.  Please note that the only foreign language program available to magnet students is the partial immersion program.

All middle schools offer at least one world language and include Exploratory as well as Level I high school credit classes. To accommodate partial immersion students who exit Blythe’s program and other qualified students with a strong French or Spanish language background and demonstrated language proficiency, a French immersion transition course is available at Greenville Middle Academy and a Spanish immersion transition course is located at Hughes Academy.

All high schools offer multiple languages, including French, German, Latin, and Spanish. Many high schools offer AP language courses and four high schools offer IB language courses.

Deborah Carrero, K-12 World Language Consultant
(864) 355.4817