It’s Spring Conference time! As I prepare for this “transition” conference (discussing next year’s placements with parents and students), I’m reminded of how outstanding our school district’s World Languages Department is. Our fearless leader, Janice Gullickson, has worked tirelessly to keep World Languages alive and thriving in Anchorage. We have multiple K-12 partial immersion programs (Spanish, Japanese, Russian, German), Spanish and Chinese FLES programs, and multiple language offerings at all secondary schools (click here to see an overview). Today, in particular, I realized that I have been taking for granted one of Janice’s brainchilds.

In our district, students that take two years of a World Language in middle school (7th and 8th grade) AND continue their study for at least their 9th grade year are eligible to receive one bonus “incentive” credit on their high school transcript, as long as the student earns a C or better in level II of the language. This has an ENORMOUS impact on enrollment in my program. Parents and students alike are more eager to begin language study–since it is an elective here–and to continue it throughout their middle school career. Counselors are very hesitant to allow students to drop a World Language because of the benefit, and they will not make a schedule change without teacher consent and parent approval. Learn more about the incentive credit here. If students continue their language study and complete Level III, they receive a half-credit Social Studies exemption, since they will have theoretically learned a great amount of geography, history, and culture while studying a language.

If you are interested in learning more about how our department established the program, please let me know, and I can put you in contact with Janice!

3 replies on “Incentive Credit

  1. Wow! What a blessing Martina! I was wondering at what point during a student career would you consider them “fluent” or “bilingual”? Does it take full immersion to achieve that or is it possible with the right methods (CI) to get them there with only an hour of language a day?
    I would greatly appreciate your input since you are having such amazing results (the gold standard to shoot for?). Thanks!

    1. Oh goodness…I have no idea, honestly. I teach lower levels, so by the time that they are done with me–even after three years–I would not consider them fluent or bilingual. We have many great high school teachers in our district that are using CI and their students are achieving great things, and many teachers whose students achieve great things without CI. You’d have to ask them at what point their students reach fluency, if even in high school. I think that the great benefit to CI is that ANY student can be a successful language learner; not just students that are good at memorizing lists and rules. Schools with teachers using CI have higher retention rates between levels because students do not typically drop if they are experiencing success and enjoying their experience. I just read through my students’ desired placements for next year, and several of them wrote that they don’t want to continue language study in high school because I will no longer be their teacher. I’ll explain to them at conferences today, as I change their mind and get signatures from them and their parents, that the teachers at the two high schools that my students will attend both use storytelling, and they will feel just as valued and accepted in their classes as they do in mine. Isn’t that a great thing??

  2. Yes, it is: I believe honestly that CI is the best approach to languages. I “learned” English the traditional way and when we moved to the States I couldn’t understand a word (if only people had written to me instead!).
    Intuitively I acquired English by watching Sesame Street! My question was aiming at explaining to parents that ask how far their kids will be by the end of a determined amount of years, but I guess that too depends of the learner, right?
    I love your blog: all your resources are fabulous! Reading your posts inspires me to try to reach higher. Thanks, Martins for all your work!

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