East Lansing High School expands foreign language curriculum

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Kayla Effner

Marcy Sheldon has been teaching French at East Lansing High School for six years. She graduated from the University of Michigan-Dearborn and has been teaching for 12 years.

    After unanimous approval by the School Board, a sixth-year foreign language course will be offered at East Lansing High School this fall.

        Students at East Lansing High School begin learning French or Spanish in seventh grade and their course options are often exhausted by their junior year, explained Curriculum Director Glenn Mitcham.

        Mitcham outlined the lack of outside options for students. Lansing Community College does not offer courses more challenging than the advanced placement classes at the high school, and classes at Michigan State University are often too expensive.

        “Parents have been asking about options for seniors since 2014 … This will hopefully open up some avenues for students,” said French teacher Marcy Sheldon.

        French teacher Kimberly Floyd found a  solution at the Michigan World Language Conference. She was introduced to the curriculum for an advanced career-oriented foreign language course at Oakland Schools.

        The course is designed to fill the gap between high school and college and provide students with the tools to use their foreign language skills in the real world.

        “I think they will feel excited about not getting rusty,” Spanish teacher Jeffrey Lampi predicted.

        According to a survey by Floyd, Lampi was right. The results of the survey showed overwhelming support for the course, and there are plenty of juniors already gearing up to take Careers in Spanish next fall.

        The course will alternate between French and Spanish each year. Students will have the option to take the careers course either before or after AP.

Sheldon also emphasized the course design’s focus on longevity. Due to low numbers, the high school was unable to offer AP French this year, and administrators have a plan to ensure that doesn’t happen again.

        On top of alternating between French and Spanish, there will be a split AP and careers course in French years. Doing this will ensure that French students have access to the course despite having a smaller number enrollment  than Spanish.

Lampi, who is responsible for designing the curriculum over the summer, says there won’t be many major adjustments to what is being used by Oakland. The course will be divided into six units focusing on different career areas.

The units cover healthcare, law, business, tourism and hospitality, and information and technology. The final unit, Preparing for the Job Market, is a culmination of those five.

“I’m really excited about the idea that kids can actually put together a resume, portfolio or prepare for an interview in another language … They have an exit piece they can graduate with,” Lampi said.