District takes important step to bring foreign language to middle schools, move hinges on key element

Over the past couple of years, Snoqualmie Valley School District ‘Thoughtstream’ online parent survey results have shown a strong desire to bring world languages to SVSD middle schools.  In fact, it is a move that has been discussed since the district transitioned from three to two middle schools in 2012.

It appears the district is moving closer to offering foreign language courses to its 6th – 8th grade students, possibly expanding the elective programs at Chief Kanim and Twin Falls Middle Schools.

SVSD Director of Instructional Support and Secondary Education Ruth Moen said for the past year and a half a committee has been examining a potential World Language K-8 program, including reviewing research, other district’s programs, best practices, college prep programs and current SVSD world language programs. They also further surveyed students and parents.

Through the review and research process, the committee developed a mission statement for SVSD’s World Language Program: “To provide a pathway towards 21st century global citizenship by building cultural competence and World Language opportunities to gain exposure and/or proficiency in another language.”

The committee is now in implementation planning mode, where new things are coming to light when it comes to teaching foreign language these days: finding teachers isn’t always easy.

Moen said via email, “Along with the research and actual recruiting experiences, we found out there are very few world language teachers in preparatory programs. It is rare to even get one candidate looking for a position at the various career fairs.”

This month, though, the district took a first step toward finding middle school world language teachers  – opening a job posting to see if there are possible teaching candidates. But as the high school also has an open world language teaching position, it has first priority if interested teachers are identified.

The committee is still is working to hone in on what a middle school world language program could look like. Examples of options include an exploratory of a language for multiple grades or an 8th grade elective that could support a high school credit.

Moen said via email, “A viable [teaching ] candidate is the key to implementing a program.” If a candidate surfaces, Moen said the district will pursue ways to integrate world languages into the middle school elective program, possibly sharing a position between the two middle schools.





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