We live in the age of state testing. For those teachers who are in public schools, there is a need and expectation that all subject teachers attend to the literacy needs of students. Traditionally, the level of foreign language in the middle school (and even high school) has not been sophisticated enough to contribute to the language arts framework.
Janel Paquin, the Past-President of the Massachusetts Foreign Language Association (MaFLA), recently addressed the literacy issue during the Association’s Summer Immersion Institute. She became aware, while doing advocacy work in Washington, that foreign language classes must contribute to the literacy needs of students so that the departments are valued, respected, and funded.
We hear about foreign language programs and individual languages being cut on a regular basis these days. One way of defending language programs to the wider school community is to emphasize reading and writing in the language classroom and making others aware of how this contributes to Language Arts curricula (while still focusing on speaking and listening of course).