Overview of TEKS for LOTE

Overview of TEKS for LOTE is part of a five-part video series: Learning Languages Other Than English: A Texas Adventure, that was produced in response to teachers' requests for examples of what TEKS for LOTE implementation actually looks like. The videos are centered around scenes from LOTE classrooms across Texas and include interviews with students, teachers, parents, and administrators. This video provides an overview of the state standards and the guiding principles they reflect.

The Overview of TEKS for LOTE video study guide offers suggestions for how to use the videos in a variety of professional development contexts. It contains background information on the changes brought about in LOTE instruction as the TEKS for LOTE are implemented and individual workshop units focusing on the program goals highlighted in each video. Resources include worksheet masters, suggested activities, workshop facilitation tips, and supplemental reading lists for participants.

Part 1 of 2

Part 2 of 2

Transcript of this video

Overview of TEKS for LOTE (part 1 of 2)

Language and communication are at the heart of the human experience. Language enables us to connect with other people by sharing experiences and ideas, expressing concerns and opinions, and obtaining information and knowledge. [Student Speaking Spanish] But it is the ability to communicate in more than one language that increases our opportunities to understand other cultures and allows us to interact with other people within our borders and beyond, Toward that end, well over half a million Texas students, teachers, and language program administrators are involved in the adventure of learning and teaching a language other than English every year. For this legion of dedicated learners and teachers the vision is fixed. It is no longer enough just to learn about a language. The goal shared by educators and students is advanced proficiency--actually being able to speak and use a new language.

Dr. Carolyn Bukhair - Superintendent at Richardson ISD:
Our board of trustees has spent a little over two years in a visioning process, and they tried to envision what the graduate of the year 2020 would be like and what skills they would need, and they've brought in all kinds of noted authorities and experts in the area of global competitiveness, in the area technology, in the area of language acquisition, and without exception every one of them talked about the importance of students knowing a second language and being proficient in that language. So we feel that will be the symbol of a student that is a world-class prepared statement.

Luis Gonzales - Student at Communication Arts H.S.:
A lot of things they do, our teachers, is they'll create "games" in the classroom where you actually have to talk with a partner in a normal conversational tone. Well, they'll have activities where we'll be in groups and we'll just talk about different things happening in our lives, or they'll give us a specific topic to talk about, and we'll use that, and I think learning from those things, it does help us a lot when i go home, because it does help me out in the real world.

In order to achieve this vision of proficiency for language students, the Texas State Board of Education in 1997 adopted a set of guidelines referred to as the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills for Languages Other than English. These guidelines exist for the purpose of improving the quality of learning and teaching languages. The Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills for Languages Other than English or TEKS for LOTE, reflect high standards and high expectations for all students and present a positive challenge to teachers and school districts to deliver quality language instruction.

Renee Wooten - Teacher at Wichita Falls ISD:
One thing a particular that the administration has done for us is allowed us to have the TEKS for LOTE training, as well as the TEKS peer coaching and mentoring training, for several of the teachers in the district, and because of that it better equips the teachers to be able to go into the classroom and to be able, first of all, to implement the TEKS for LOTE and also to be able to feel comfortable about working together with one another and making some changes in the classroom that are really, really important according to the TEKS for LOTE, because they have the TEKS peer coaching and mentoring training.

Over the past ten years, research in language instruction has forced a change in the focus of the learning and teaching of languages other than English. Texas educators now agree to achieve advanced levels of proficiency, students need the opportunity to begin learning a second language at an earlier age, early elementary school if possible. Also, teaching methodology based on memorization of grammar and literature must be shifted to a more proficiency-based curriculum that focuses on speaking, listening, reading, writing, viewing, and showing. Successful Texas educators recognize the need for change.

Shari Harris - Teacher at Katy ISD:
I think the days of just memorizing little dialogues that would never have any application in the real world--those days are over I hope for everybody, and the kids come back to me. One of the cutest stories I have is a little girl who had the opportunity to travel to Spain with her parents, and she came back and she said, Ms. Harris, I got to go to Spain with my mom dad and--It works! It really works! I mean, they see that it really is stuff they can use out there in the real world.

Julia Lozana - Teacher at Katy ISD:
I always have to rely on my own experiences in order to know what I want my kids to do, and my own experiences are early on in teaching, that we were teaching the kids to say statements there are really never said in real life, and so it came out that they were speaking Spanish but it wasn't it wasn't the kind of Spanish that would, it would be understood, but it would come across as an American speaking Spanish, and there's nothing wrong with that at all, but you want the kids to be a genuine and say things as naturally as they can. So every lesson you build into it ways that they are able to do that--to express themselves in natural language and to really communicate.

M.K. McChristian - LOTE Director at Richardson ISD:
We have a tremendous obligation to get our students prepared for the future, and it's an exciting time for each of us, but we have to move. If I was speaking directly to a teacher, I would say, "You're going to have to go back to school. You're going to have to go visit another country. You're going to have to bring your proficiency level up to where you're utilizing the language in the classroom and you're no longer talking about the language.

In formulating the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills for Languages Other than English, educators relied on a list of eight guiding principles. These principles steer educators toward the goal of advanced proficiency for students and serve as the foundation for the TEKS for LOTE. The first guiding principle suggests that all students should be provided the opportunity to learn a second language. In the past, courses in languages other than English were geared primarily toward college-bound students; however, given the opportunity all students are capable of, and can benefit from, learning other languages.

Nelda Durham de Hoyos - Assistant Principal at Katy ISD:
The importance of learning a language other than English has always been recognized for the student in the academic setting, but now we know that there are benefits for individuals and for communities as we converse together and interact together locally and globally and in business in social settings.

Acquiring a new language helps all students gain important thinking and reasoning skills. Learning the structural difference between languages requires mental flexibility and creative problem solving, In addition, students enhance their first language skills as they learn there second language. Students in a typical LOTE classroom are constantly using language, gaining practice working with partners and speaking in front of large groups. Finally, any student learning a language gains access to the culture associated with that language. The experience increases a student's awareness of self and others and can demonstrate the differences and similarities from one culture to the next. Guiding principle number two states that while all students can learn languages, it is critical that the instructional process match the students particular learning variables. These variables that can affect language acquisition include the age and developmental stage of the student, the general and linguistic knowledge each student brings to the classroom and emotional factors that may affect the student's ability to learn. For example, in San Antonio, teacher Joyce Ramos communicates with her first grade immersion students by utilizing an array of age-appropriate techniques and materials.

Dan Bolen - Assistant Principal at Alamo Heights ISD:
The teachers must use many strategies and techniques which help the students understand what they are trying to say to them. They have to use body language; they have to use pictures; they have to use kinesthetic clues; they have to use different types of visuals visual clues; they become actors or actresses; they conduct plays; they do whatever they need to do in order for the children to understand what they're trying to say to them.

At paschal high school in Fort Worth, were the Italian language program is just four years old, teacher Monica Maki deals with the challenge of having students from various proficiency levels in the same classroom.

Monica Marchi - Teacher at Fort Worth ISD:
What I do, I keep in mind, especially if it's an oral activity, I ask the hardest question to the higher levels. For example, Jenny is fourth year and an Natalia and Evelyn are third year, the other ones are second year. [Students speaking Italian] So I try to, even in the readings, I try to have, you know, the older students read the readings, and when we do easier readings, I have the younger students doing that even exams or test, I add more to the honors class, with the AP class, that's what I have been doing, so basically use different rubrics, keeping in mind you know the level of knowledge of the language itself.

Finally at Communications Arts High School in San Antonio, Spanish teacher Teresa Tattersall believes keeping her students involved and participating creates an environment where students can feel comfortable taking risks and making mistakes.

Teresa Tattersall - Teacher at Northside ISD:
I think students like the fact that they're involved. I think sometimes when you say we're going to learn this subject in terms of the teacher being the one who directs it, in many cases students are hesitant, because they feel like that they've lost a little bit of their own power in learning, and I think when you approach it from the fact of you're going to be the participant--in many cases you're going to decide what we're going to learn in class, they're going to feel more enthusiastic; they're going to want to be more creative, and if at the same time you compliment them for that, then they're going to be even more willing to produce in Spanish, or in any language.

Guiding principle number three addresses a major goal of any LOTE program--advanced proficiency for students. Knowing more than one language and being proficient in its use has become an important, if not necessary, job skill in today's international economy. In addition, as students gain proficiency in a new language, they develop the skills and the desire to become life-long learners.

Dr. Tommy Reed - School Board Member at Garland ISD:
It used to be that to have fluency in a foreign language, it gave you a competitive edge. At this day and time, it enables you to be competitive, period. It's a necessity, it's not just an advantage.

Fran Maples - Language Coordinator at Garland ISD:
Being able to really be proficient in this language will give them an edge in the job market, and so that may be very important to the public, but as an educator, that's going to be "lagniappe" as our Cajun friends say. It's just going to be an advantage that they can apply, but it's not the most important advantage. The most important advantages are intrinsic, and they'll carry them with them even after they get that fabulous job, because they speak two languages.

As students work to acquire a second language, it has become apparent to educators that advanced proficiency is possible only one language programs begin early, preferably in elementary school. Experience has shown that developing advanced language proficiency requires an extended period of time so that students have the opportunities to speak and practice the language in meaningful communication. Students who begin their language study early have a far better chance of developing an advanced level of proficiency. [Teacher conversing with students in Spanish] At Cambridge Elementary in San Antonio, these first graders are learning Spanish from day one in one of the few full-language immersion programs in the state. They cover all the same subject says any other first grader in Texas, but totally in Spanish.

Joyce Ramos - Teacher at Alamo Heights ISD:
The children at this point are comprehending I'd say probably about eighty to ninety percent of what's being said. We've only been in school seventy-one days, but they just, they're comprehending just about everything. As far as spoken Spanish, they're asking basic questions as far as what's related to the content area. If they need to borrow a pencil or they need to go to the restroom, if they need a drink of water, just basic like survival type language. They probably after January--were going to try to get them to speak only Spanish after January. Parents who have recognized the need to start their children early in a language program are already pleased with the results.

Kreg Palko - Parent of student at Cambridge Elementary:
I think it's great. Gabby comes home and speaks Spanish, at times. Sometimes it can be a bit frustrating. The other day she was telling me to get something or another--a pencil or something--she said daddy, can you please get me that--I don't even know how to say pencil in Spanish--but, Im learning, but she was saying that, and I had to say "Please, say it in English, I don't know what you're talking about," and she was laughing. She thinks its funny that she knows something that I don't know, and we're all learning, because I have to sit down and help her with her homework, and my wife does the same. And, it's running off on her brother; he's listens, he's moving in, and he wants to know, and he's trying to learn, and he's guessing at what she's talking about. For us as a family its an exceptional thing. It's been really good for us.

For these students to reach the advanced levels of proficiency hoped for by parents, educators, and the students themselves, they must have the opportunity to continue language learning all the way through high school.

Dan Bolen - Assistant Principal at Alamo Heights ISD:
The vision that we have of our immersion program is based upon the program that we visited in Seattle, Washington, which essentially goes from first grade up through high school, so eventually we will have first, second, third, fourth, and fifth grade immersion classes on our campus. We will extend into the junior school where we will have sixth, seventh, and eighth, and then we will eventually extend into high school. It will not be a similar format in junior school and high school as we have here, but it will be a couple of subjects or a subject which is taught in Spanish specifically for immersion students.

Transcript of this video

Overview of TEKS for LOTE (part 2 of 2)

Dan Bolen, Assistant Principal
Before immersion students

In many schools around our state there are large groups of students who already have a background in the language other than English, being taught. These students are native speakers or heritage speakers. In Texas the vast majority of native speaking students, speak Spanish, whether born here or in another country.

All these students represent a valuable linguistic and cultural resource and their language skills should be expanded and strengthened.

Luis Gonzalez, Student
My sister was born in Mexico and a lot of my family speak Spanish. I was pretty much the only one who (growing up) I didn't learn as much Spanish as my as my brothers and sisters did.

So I can speak Spanish okay, but coming into Communications Arts it improved my Spanish a whole lot. It made me realize how important it was and I started speaking it a lot more at home. I realized that I needed to practice it, especially going into the, field that I wanted to go into, which is International Law. I have to know Spanish and speak it well.

Margaret Jamison, Program Specialist
They bring to the school setting a real gift and that needs to be polished, both for themselves and to benefit us. We have a self-interest here too. So it's important to us that even though they may speak Spanish that we give them the opportunity to develop literacy skills, which are sometimes not present. To provide them some very positive things about their culture (they are our neighbors to the sound) and to provide tools for them to use to pursue whatever they would like to pursue when they leave school.

In states like Texas where Spanish is a commonly spoken language, limited resources may cause some communities to choose Spanish as the only language offered in a extended sequence, Elementary through High School. Still school district's should when eve possible find ways to offer students the opportunity to learn a verity of languages.

In Houston Yvette Heno describes the differences between Arabic and other more commonly taught languages.

Yvette Heno, Teacher
the glottal-stops, where the sound is coming from. The fact that there aren't that many vowels. This is very different for them, it seems harsh, at first to them, as speakers English or Spanish or maybe some other languages. Which are romance languages, which are very soft and the Arabic sounds harsh to them.

At Taylor High School in Katy there's only one teacher, but students have the opportunity to learn Japanese. Helen Nakamota says Japanese really isn't as difficult to learn as one might imagine. She wishes more students would give Japanese a try.

Helen Nakamota, Teacher
Conversation is very easy, Japanese language is centered around five vowels. Almost all these sounds ends with these five vowuels. You don't have to worry about hard consonants and so forth. So that is one aspect that makes it easy.

Learning languages other than English enlarges the base of knowledge available to a student. All students can add to their educational experienc by using another language for interdisciplinary connections within the school curriculum.

In teacher Jane McCurdy's Spanish for AP class at Lake Islands High School, in the Richardson Independent School District, students learn about the great works of art. A bit of history, a bit of geography, more than just Spanish language.

Jane McCurdy, Teacher
I'm a lover of the fine arts, so I think sometimes the kids love what the teacher loves, so I had the kids act out little segments of

(spoken in Spanish) "Servante La heta neow" and one little chapter of (spoken in Spanish) "Don Quixote" or the Miracle of Guadalupe so they learn a little bit of culture through drama, through art.

In addition students involved in load programs gain insight into other subject areas. Using their target language students might have the opportunity to enhance their computer and internet skills.

At Cinco Ranch High School outside Houston Heidi Kirby has heard German II students writing and sending emails and communicating with e-pals at a High School in Germany. They're using a second language to help reinforce a verity of technology skills.

(Student speaking in German language)

Learning about and experiencing other cultures isn't integral part of studying languages other than English. a LOTE discipline has grown to value and encompass a fuller more comprehensive understanding of culture.

Arun Precash, Teacher
When ever I have a lesson that I am giving I make sure that lesson has more than just learning. Because language is the portrayal of culture. That means, just by teaching language is not enough, if they are not aware of the culture.

Dan Bolen, Assistant Principal
The fact that they are learning another culture and another language and another perspective on things, I think will help them many ways to understand other people in our country. Especially given the fact that we are a country that is changing demographically.

I think it will help them in that respect and I also think it will help them to understand their own language and their own culture better if they know a second one quite well.

Traditional ways of exploring culturing includes studying famous people or historical events. But culture in language instruction today in Texas is generally understood to include examining how people perceive themselves and others. What local people in second language countries do, and what products or services these people use or provide.

MayDell Jenks, Teacher
Many times I would say okay today students, it's Friday and we are going to have a culture day. We are going to bring in food and we're goin to talk about the foods of that country but maybe there was in the connectivity, to real world experiences. And now I see where we are connecting culture, not only to the comparisons of how other people live, but also to comparisons of how we speak the language. So I see i very integrated.

The eight guiding principles serve as a foundation for the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) for Languages Other Than English (LOTE).

The text for LOTE are the standards that describe what all students should know and be able to do at different stages within the LOTE discipline. These standards are organized around five program goals. Often referred to by educators as the five C's. First and foremost is Communication, in LOTE classrooms, students are striving to speak a second language and communication is the vehicle language learners use to become proficient. The other four goals stem from the use of the target language in the classroom.

Students learn about the Culture associated with their second language and gain valuable insight into the people of that country or region.

Learning a second language students make connections with subject areas like history and art and to acquire information in the target language.

By comparing their second language to their first language, students develop insight into the nature and formulation of all languages.

Finally students are encouraged to take their second language out into the community, to use it with neighbors, here at home or in communities abroad.

It is the acceptance of and implementation of these five program goals or five C's into daily lesson plans that Texas educators believe is a key to advanced proficiency for language learners. I thank that it's important that we started to focus on the five C's, because I really think that is where language teaching needs to go. It's always been near and dear to my heart to run a class room that way. It's good to see validation that is through the research. That is exactly what's been found to be successful, and to share that with all teachers and encourage that in everybody. I'm very happy to see that.

Robert Swope, Teacher
TeacherI think the five C's have really made it for students, when I teach it to them they say Oh, yes that's right, that's cool, or we compare, Germans really do that, or students do that. I think they were really begin to see communication. I do want them to leave talking, culture. They go get a job in the real world and they know the culture of that country. So I feel the five C's connecting.

Heidi Kerby, Teacher
I think people, everyday people, students, are able to relate better to those and it's made teaching a lot more, I think, in a way easier. I feel they're more easier to relate to.

Of the five program goals, communication skills are recognized as the primary focus of successful language learners. Being able to really speak and communicate in the target language, is what it's all about.

Ginger Cline, Teacher
I believe really strongly that most of the reason that students sign up to take language is because they want to speak, they want to understand, they want to have conversations, they want to feel comfortable in situations where that language is being used. They don't really want to go out of here and say - I can conjugate four hundred verbs...

I know all the twenty ten's or whatever. I know exactly where to put every accent, although those things are important.

Shari Harris, Teacher
I told them my goal in life is to never have one of them come back to an open house and tell me I took two years or three years of High School Spanish and I can't speak a word, because I said you will not leave my classroom not speaking a word, you will speak some Spanish.

Aurora hansisTeacher
They have to have time and they have to have the encouragement and they have to not be afraid of making mistakes. If they want to be perfect then they just go back, but if they except that...

I think it's good for them to hear me speak English every once in a while, because I have an accent. So oh well and I tell them well look at me, I have been here how many years and I still have an accent, but I can communicate. So they go beyond that fear and they go ahead and use that language.

So the adventure of learning and teaching language other than English continues for students teachers and school administrators all across the state of Texas.

Working together the goal of advanced proficiency for language learners in Texas public schools, now appears within reach and the lessons learned by all involved are proving to be invaluable.

David Kleinbeck, Teacher
Some how or another some place along the way, somebody understood that in two or three years you can learn another language. It's not that way It's a long process, it's a process that the longer you're with it the better you get. It's as simple as that. It is not something that's going to happen in a two year period, or you're going to automatically become German speaker, French speaker, or Spanish speaker. It just doesn't happen.

Many of us have taken foreign languages through out the years because it was a requirement to get into a college and certainly that that requirement still exists today. However the emphasis is so much greater.

Being able to use a foreign language in the world today because of the businesses and opportunities that we have to interact over the internet and through other vehicles of communication with other countries. So students I think are coming into the classroom and seeing it as a life skill, that they're learning not just as something that they're learning to memorize and walk away from and forget.

James Buchanan, Principal Teacher
When we established our school we said that in order to be a leader in the twenty-first century one needs to be able to write well, to speak well, to use visual language, and technology, and to be able to use another language and anyone who understands the global economy and the changes that technology has made in all of our lives. Particularly for our students how their lives are going to be so different.

It's absolutely essential that someone be able to use another language besides English.

Jennifer Borden, Student
I've been doing Spanish for three years and I chose it because we live in Texas and everyday we associate with people who speak Spanish and it helps you communicate with them better and you can relate with them better and if you know their culture you'll get to know each other well.

Bill Lawson, Principal
The messages we get back from our kids who have a strong proficiency in a secon and third language, once they get away to college they are doing very well.

Thank you for watching Learning Languages Other Than English, a Texas Adventure.

For more information about any of the topics discussed or to contact any of the individuals who helped in the production of this video.

Please visit the Languages Other Than English Center for Educator development website www.sedl.org/loteced or contact LOTE CED director Lillian King Meidlinger at telephone number: 1-800-476-6861 or contact Texas Education Agency 1-512-936-2444.