The King Charter School guiding principles are based on two well-accepted and researched documents: Guiding Principles for Learning in the 21st Century, developed by UNESCO (2017), and The American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages Guiding Principles. What follows are direct quotations of these principles that King Charter School is committed to following.
Principles from Guiding Principles for Learning in the 21st Century include the following direct quotations:
Academic honesty: We give students the technical means, an understanding of the concepts and the ethical foundation to conduct research with confidence. (p.9)
Information literacy: Students should be able to use information creatively, ethically and critically. (p.11)
Critical thinking: Students need to learn how to become critical thinkers. (p.13)
Creativity: Students should be taught the skills of creative thinking. (p.15)
STEM learning: The learning of science, technology and mathematics should be integrated using the principles of engineering. (p.19)
Concepts-focused learning: Concepts are fundamental in learning. (p.21)
Health and mindfulness: Students should be encouraged to be physically, mentally, emotionally and socially alert, and ready to adopt new solutions for new experiences. (p.25)
Service learning: Students should participate in service learning for their personal growth and as a contribution to society. (p.29)
Learning support: Students should be taught to understand how learning happens and how they themselves can learn. (p.33)
Assessment: What students know and can do should be assessed through a range of techniques. (p.35)
Our students becoming trilingual is aligned with the guiding principles of The American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages. What follows are excerpts of these principles:
Benefits of Language Learning: “We believe that all students should learn or maintain at least one world language in addition to English. Therefore, language learning should be a central part of any curriculum. In the 21st Century knowing a second language is not only beneficial, but necessary for success in life. The continual globalization of the world’s economy is bringing diverse cultures and communities into more frequent contact with each other. The ease of global travel and the internet have collapsed the barrier of distance that once kept the world’s communities separate. From the corporate marketplace to the individual consumer, from the pre-schools to universities, from the beach vacationer to the global jet set, the world community has become integrated and interdependent. Institutions of higher learning are scrutinizing applicants to identify future world leaders. Employers and businesses are seeking applicants who can navigate the modern global economy. It is through learning another language that students can develop both these skill sets. Learning another language also provides many other benefits including greater academic achievement, greater cognitive development, and more positive attitudes towards other languages and cultures. Simply put, language learning is necessary for students to effectively function in the modern global marketplace.
In addition to meeting the needs of future students, language learning has been shown to greatly enhance student performance across the curriculum. Language learning has been shown to improve a student’s cognitive function, including, but not limited to:
Enhanced Problem Solving Skills
Improved Verbal and Spatial Abilities
Improved Memory Function (long & short-term)
Enhanced Creative Thinking Capacity
More Flexible and Creative Thinking
Improved Attitude Toward the Target Language and Culture
These cognitive benefits of language learning have been shown to enhance student performance, producing:
Higher standardized testing scores
Higher reading achievement
Expanded student vocabulary in native language (English)
Higher academic performance at the college level”
Literacy in Language Learning: “Literacy skills can be developed across the curriculum, as evidenced by the World Readiness Standards for Learning Languages and how literacy is described in each state’s standards. “Second language learners use a variety of strategies acquired in their first language to construct meaning in the second language. Improving performance in the Interpretive Mode is not just about accessing more complex texts, rather it is through consciously using a wider variety of strategies to understand what is heard, read, or viewed, including top-down strategies (using background knowledge and context clues to figure out the meaning) as well as bottom-up strategies (discriminating between sounds and letters or recognizing characters, recognizing word-order patterns, analyzing sentence structure, examining parts of words to try to decipher meaning)” (National Standards Collaborative Board, 2015). Literacy development in one language supports literacy development in the second or subsequent languages learned. Knowledge and skills from a learner’s first language are used and reinforced, deepened, and expanded upon when a learner is engaged in second language literacy tasks.”
Articulated Sequences in Language Learning: “Research has shown that developing an Advanced level of Proficiency takes time. In order for students to reach the Advanced Level they need to begin study as early as possible. Many programs have begun offering world language study in elementary schools. However, the programs vary widely in time and frequency. While some progress has been made, most students do not begin study until middle school or even high school and then only study for one-two years. Research has shown that students who begin language learning early have a distinct advantage and develop a higher level of proficiency. Thus, the development of longer sequences of study will provide more opportunities for learning languages and their cultures.”
Use of Target Language in Language Learning: “Second Language Acquisition research has shown that learners need as much exposure as possible to the target language for acquisition to occur. Learners need to be actively engaged with the target language. Just like learning to ride a bike or any other important skill, learning is best achieved by doing. For many learners, the precious minutes in our classrooms are the only opportunity in their day to experience the target language. We must maximize this exposure by providing a language-rich environment that prepares them for success in the real-world. Likewise, if the goal is for learners to have the proficiency to survive and thrive in the target culture, whether it be in our neighborhoods or across the ocean, then authentic target language experiences and materials must be provided.
Learners can only acquire (internalize) language when they hear large quantities of input that the teacher provides orally that is interesting, a little beyond students’ current level of competence (i + 1), and not grammatically sequenced. (Krashen, 1982) Note that the i refers to the current competence of the learner and the +1 represents the next level of competence beyond where the learner is now.
Students acquire language through meaning-making with others (like solving a puzzle). (Vygotsky, 1986)
When learners hear large amounts of comprehensible input and they are engaged in meaning-making, they understand and retain what they hear and they use it to form their own messages. (Long, 1981; Swain, 1995)”
Use of Authentic Texts in Language Learning: “Authentic materials provide real-life examples of language used in everyday situations. They can be used to add more interest for the learner. They can serve as a reminder to learners that there is an entire population who use the target language in their everyday lives. Authentic materials can provide information about the target culture and provide that culture’s perspective on an issue or event. The rich language found in authentic materials provides a source of input language learners need for acquisition.”
Teaching Grammar as Concepts in Meaningful Contexts in Language Learning: “Grammar is an important element of communication, but research shows that explicit teaching of grammar has little effect on people’s language acquisition, comprehension, or writing abilities. Traditional approaches to grammar instruction that emphasize direct grammar instruction often encourage memorized, rehearsed use of language. Additionally, many methods do not require students to understand meaning in an authentic context, i.e., how grammar is actually used in communication. Thinking of grammar in terms of concepts, that is, what is the purpose of using a specific form, what is the meaning expressed through that form, will broaden learners’ understanding and use of the target language.
Research on human memory tells us that language acquisition is dependent upon two kinds of long-term memory: procedural and declarative. Procedural memory shows what a learner acquires naturally with automatic processing, through repetition and practice, as evidenced by the learning of one’s native language. Declarative memory is recollection of facts and information that a learner has acquired and stored explicitly. In order to be most effective, it is important that language development is stored in both memory systems; learners should be expected to learn grammar implicitly through target language use and explicitly through the discovery of grammatical rules through use in meaningful examples.”