Can a foreign language be taught using a progressive education approach? Per the full-day workshop I had the pleasure to attend at The School @ Columbia University on last Thursday, yes, it can. The workshop focused on grades K-8.
So, what, exactly, is the progressive element? Using an integrated curriculum model.
Some other key dimensions:
*focus on culture
*application of language functions
*teaching of grammar from whole to part
*a detailed unit plan following the principles of backwards design
*summative assessment via project
As I said to my Dear Mom, the aforementioned approach is a great way to excite and motivate students in the learning of a foreign language. While the teaching of vocabulary and grammar structures remain an integral component, the teaching of culture assumes a more prominent position in the unit plan.
As I plan the units I will teach next year to my seventh and eighth graders, I will utilize the above structure. I think it will foster a new level of engagement for them.
One of the single best books I have purchased on K-8 foreign language teaching is Languages and Children: Making the Match. My copy is ancient, from 1996. However, there is a much newer edition available.