Maine High School hires Rosetta Stone to teach foreign languages ​​to students

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Students are trained by Rosetta Stone programs.

— — When a high school in rural Maine couldn’t find a foreign language teacher, school administrators decided to use the funds to purchase a language-learning computer program at the place, the director told ABC News today.

“We didn’t want to transfer the kids to another school just for a foreign language,” Madison Area Memorial High School principal Jessica Ward told ABC News today.

Ward said the school placed an ad in the newspaper and received an application for the teaching job, but that person ended up accepting another job. Ward said she also contacted local universities and the state Department of Education, who informed her that they were experiencing a shortage of foreign language teachers.

The school had the option of using technology that allows students to virtually listen to another school’s lessons, but Ward said she was concerned that students might not get the “one-to-one help they need” .

The school’s guidance counselor then had the idea of ​​reaching out to Rosetta Stone, an interactive computer program for learning foreign languages. She used the allocated budget to hire a teacher to pay for Rosetta Stone licenses for students and to bring in an education technician to oversee the program.

Ward said the school board approved the program and it has been in place since the start of the school year. So far, “students seem to like it,” she noted.

“They can go at their own pace,” Ward said. They can choose from a myriad of foreign languages ​​instead of French and Spanish.

“We steered them towards French and Spanish because we hope to bring a teacher back eventually,” Ward said, but she added that some students still chose to take German, Russian and Japanese.

The state of Maine does not require foreign language courses to graduate from high school, according to Ward, but it encourages its students to take high school language courses because many universities want them.

Students are graded on their progress by an Education Technician who has been trained by Rosetta Stone and has access to all of the student’s accounts.

She said that although the program is going well so far, they are still hoping to hire a foreign language teacher. “I’m afraid they’re a bit lacking on the cultural side,” she admitted.

Jay Ketner, world language specialist for the Maine Department of Education, emphasized that language curriculum decisions are made at the local level, but stressed the importance of language learning for children. students.

“As Madison’s ultimate goal is to have a teacher for this position, Rosetta Stone provides access to initial exposure to foreign language learning,” Ketner told ABC News.

“Research shows that language learning provides multiple benefits for students moving straight into life and work, including increased cognitive development, more focused attention, better problem-solving skills when a solution is not forthcoming. is not evident, increased ingenuity when solving problems, better financial decision-making abilities in adulthood, and decreased rates of Alzheimer’s disease,” Ketner said.

Ketner said schools across the country are experiencing a shortage of foreign language teachers.

Tanya Mas, who works for Rosetta Stone’s K-12 department, told ABC News that the company has implemented Rosetta Stone programs in thousands of K-12 schools across the country.

“We don’t view our product as a teacher replacement,” Mas said.

“Similar to what you see in Maine, rural school districts are struggling to attract talent to their school districts,” Mas said, noting that school districts have started researching different methods of teaching languages, in particular following the nationwide language teacher. shortage.

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