By Lydia Kohler
On March 2, several hundred world language students will gather at the new Cathy and Don Jacobs Building at the University of Kentucky for the Kentucky World Language Association’s (KWLA) 2019 State Showcase and Competition.
This event is modeled after best practices in world language assessments, which allow students to show what they can do with language. It is open to late elementary, middle and high school students.
The showcase portion of the day will involve students being rated according to the proficiency levels from the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL). Each participant will take the ACTFL Assessment of Performance toward Proficiency in Languages listening and reading examinations and receive an official proficiency rating that can be reported on their high school transcripts. An individual interpersonal speaking assessment also will be given in person for each student in his or her language of study.
For the competition, students create a project that compares their culture with an aspect of the target language culture, which may take shape as an art piece, a construction model, a costume, or a tri-fold board showing their writing skills in their language of study. Students also may choose to submit a video of a dance, a dramatic monologue, a film, a poem recitation or a song, along with a written description of how the target culture is similar to and different from their own. Students do research ahead of time on a subject they love related to the target culture of their language of study to create the project.
Students can receive awards for first, second and third place projects among Novice and Intermediate students. Heritage Speakers of Spanish receive awards in their own category.
Students who participate in this event get to see how well they do speaking their language of study with a person other than their teacher. Virtually all students who attend want to return the following year to see how they have grown in their language study.
To complete the students’ schedule during the event, there are a variety of cultural and language lessons offered, including such things as a Chinese tea ceremony, Russian and American Sign Language lessons, German fairytales and songs, Spanish folktales and more. Students are able to interact with faculty and students at the host institution, as well as learn how their language of study can enhance their future career.
The showcase includes local businesses and organizations for which world language students are a vital part of their future workforce.
The guidelines, scoring rubrics and online registration form are available on the KWLA website. New this year is a brief video showing what students think about the showcase experience. Email questions to Lydia Kohler, showcase director, at email@example.com.
The cost of the event is $12 per student to cover administrative fees and awards. The registration deadline is midnight Feb. 15.
Lydia Kohler teaches French at George Rogers Clark High School and serves as the showcase director at the Kentucky World Language Association.