In 2019, the OCTB corporate language training program took on a new direction: that of bringing student language exchanges to #foreign_language classes in K12 and K16. We envisioned high school and college students across the world teaching each other their native language, at the price of an app.
This vision is becoming a reality (click here to find out more), even more so now with the ongoing trend of virtual classrooms and E-Learning in K16 education.
The Current Problem
Most U.S. high schools require students to take at least 2 years of foreign language classes, and colleges always offer at least a few different language programs. However, these classes are mostly focused on theory, reading, grammar rules (all the boring stuff) and completely lack the one-on-one interaction in the language being learned. As a result, students are not able to speak the language they are learning even after two years of studying it. Some schools offer study abroad programs, but that is not within many schools's budget, and is obviously not possible now with coronavirus cancelling all student exchanges and study abroad trips.
Many foreign language teachers are looking for a more effective and personalized learning approach to bring to their classroom, and E-Learning tools in order to be prepared for an extended period of remote teaching.
The Future is here (with the solution)
Overcome the Barrier brings the experience of studying abroad directly into the classroom. Students are exposed to real-life language immersion IN their classroom at a fraction of the cost of hiring an extra teacher, and hence democratizes foreign language learning. Everyone will be able to afford to learn a foreign language, not only those who have enough money to go study abroad or those who are currently paying $20- $40 a lesson for a private language tutor. Additionally, the teacher training that the students will receive in order to teach their own language will be extremely useful for their university and job applications.
Furthermore, the exposure to world cultures will create lasting friendships for students worldwide, and help them become global citizens.
According to edweek.org Spanish represents 46% and French 23% of the foreign languages offered in US high schools right now. As more schools join our program we will conduct surveys to find out what additional languages they would like to offer, and expand our program to include countries where those Less Frequently Taught Languages are spoken.
So far, Fishburne Military School in Virginia and a public high school from the Morris Area District have joined our program for the English-Spanish language exchanges. On the Latin American side, we've had the Antigua International School participate, and several individual students from Peru and Argentina. Teachers and students are loving it. Listen to their testimonials here.
Why the reluctance to change?
So what's stopping schools from adopting this relatively obvious solution?
- Fear of Loosing Control
There is no denying that the educational system have always been reluctant to embrace change for fear of loosing control. Thankfully, a few brave teachers were determined to lead the way and innovate their teaching methods.
- Underestimating students' ability to teach their native language
Students are already teaching each other by collaborating on take home projects, interacting during and after school, and across social media. So why couldn't they help peers their age practice English? In fact, the can, and it's already happening. Moreover, the fact that these virtual language exchanges take place in the classroom minimizes the risk of inappropriate behavior, since there is a supervising teacher.
But what will be the actual teaching process and how can we promise the teacher that they will retain control and sustain accountability? Click here and find out.
- How we find the students abroad who reciprocate
Unfortunately, the Internet connection is not adequate in most schools abroad in order to implement the program on a school-level. So we've decided to reach out directly to the parents of high school and university students in Latin American countries and already have several students enrolled in the program this way.