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Language Software Cannot Replace Classroom Teaching

CONTACT: Steve Ackley

September 17, 2009, Alexandria, VA – In a statement released today, the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) strongly cautioned education administrators not to rely on alternative language learning methods that reduce the critical role of classroom teachers. 

The statement comes in the wake of reports that some budget-stressed schools are eliminating teacher positions in favor of computer software programs. ACTFL points to decades of research supporting the need for trained classroom professionals as the most effective way to provide the comprehensive, sequential and guided instruction that leads to effective communication in other languages. Such instruction, of course, may include the use of software and hardware deemed appropriate by the educator.

 “Certainly, we encourage anyone with an interest in exploring another language to get started,” said ACTFL Executive Director Bret Lovejoy. “But we recognize that there are different motives and ways to do it that deliver different results. An adult who wants to feel a bit more comfortable when traveling to another country might benefit from a few software-based lessons. But a student seeking to build a level of proficiency needs to be guided along the way with continual interaction with a trained instructor.”

Lovejoy further points out that there is no empirical evidence that computer-based instruction without teacher involvement yields the kind of proficiency that employers need in this increasingly global marketplace. “Like any other academic discipline, proper language learning requires a plan and it demands the skills of an experienced, dedicated guide.   If we move away from this approach with language study, will math, science and social studies be treated the same way in the future?”

The importance of following established teaching standards is a key element, according to ACTFL President Janine Erickson. “To prepare today's students to lead well in a globally-based culture, language study must be delivered using progressive, standards-based instruction geared toward developing language skills over a period of time.”

More than 12,000 language teachers and administrators of all languages at all levels hold membership in ACTFL. The association provides these members with a wide variety of professional development opportunities, including training and certification programs. The ACTFL annual convention offers more than 700 program sessions and workshops where members and experts in the field share their research, classroom experience and best practices.



Thursday, September 17, 2009