Hartford Public Schools, Middlebury Interactive Languages Partner to Transform English Language Learning

HARTFORD, CONN., Dec. 4, 2014 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Hartford (CT) Public Schools (HPS) and Middlebury Interactive Languages, the academic leader in K-12 world language education, have partnered on an innovative new program to transform the way the district supports its English Language Learners (ELL) and help more students prepare for college and career success. The program, which has been embraced by participating students and teachers, started this school year as a pilot for 300 students and includes components of blended learning, teacher professional development and summer English Language Development academies.

"We are taking a new approach to ELL education that embraces blended learning and academic language instruction," said Hartford Schools Superintendent Beth Schiavino-Narvaez. "The early response to the program from students and teachers has been encouraging, and the students have been energized to learn English and develop academic discourse, which is critical to language learning.

The first phase of the program began with the return of students this school year and reaches approximately 300 ELL students in grades four through eight at eight different schools: The Latino Studies Academy at Burns Elementary School, the Maria C. Sanchez Elementary School, M.D. Fox Elementary School, L.W. Batchelder Elementary School, Burr Elementary School, James H. Naylor Elementary School, the Expeditionary Learning Academy at Moylan School and the McDonough Expeditionary Learning School.

HPS teachers and staff worked over the summer with Middlebury Interactive's academic team to design and build blended learning curriculum modules specific to the needs of ELL students at those grade levels. The program will expand to reach more students of different English proficiency levels in the 2015-2016 school year.

Through this new partnership, Middlebury Interactive also provides teacher professional development on the use of new technologies and language learning practices, starting with 15 HPS teachers trained this year. District coaches, in partnership with Middlebury Interactive, created professional development specifically for ELL teachers to implement this innovative blended learning curriculum to support non-native speakers on the path to learning English and academic language. Middlebury Interactive will also provide ongoing program evaluation and technical support to HPS.

The participating ELL students have embraced the digital and project-based learning, according to Monica Quiñones, HPS Director of ELL Services. Students have even offered suggestions to improve the student experience, which Middlebury Interactive and HPS are working to address.

"Finding an effective solution to support the nation's 4.6 million non-native English speakers is a huge challenge for the education community as ELL threatens to become the next 'budget buster' for school districts across the country," said Middlebury Interactive Languages CEO Jane Swift. "We are pleased to partner with Hartford to create a comprehensive program that takes advantage of new learning tools and replicates our effective summer language academies to put more Hartford students on a path to future success."

The partnership began this summer with the district operating an ELL summer immersion academy that uses the curriculum and teacher professional development developed by Middlebury Interactive. The ELL summer academy is modeled after Middlebury-Monterey Language Academy (MMLA), an in-person world language immersion experience based on Middlebury Interactive's language pedagogy. A recent review of MMLA showed that more than 90 percent of participating students jumped at least one level on the American Teaching Foreign Languages (ACTFL) performance scale, which is roughly equal to a full year of traditional classroom language instruction.

Swift noted that last summer Middlebury Interactive worked with school districts in three Massachusetts cities to create summer ELL academies, which were met with praise from students, educators and parents. In addition to boosting the English skills of a diverse group of non-native English speakers, students learned about the culture of Greater Boston and experienced learning and staying at an area college.

About Middlebury Interactive Languages

Middlebury Interactive is the academic leader in language instruction for K-12 students. A joint venture between Middlebury College and K12 Inc., Middlebury Interactive provides access to superior language programs and prepares students with the skills and cultural understanding to compete in the 21st Century global marketplace. Middlebury Interactive programs translated to the digital and K-12 setting core principles of the immersive language pedagogy and teaching methodology used at Middlebury College's renowned Language Schools over the past 100 years. Middlebury Interactive also offers in-person language immersion summer academies, Middlebury-Monterey Language Academy, for middle and high school students.

CONTACT: Cort Boulanger Boulanger Public Affairs M 339.222.2442 E cortboulanger@gmail.comSource: Middlebury Interactive Languages