Posted by: SSU Lingua Franca | April 28, 2017

A Model of Collaboration in Language Programming between Salem State University and Melrose High School

A Model of Collaboration in Language Programming between Salem State University and Melrose High School

by Nicole Sherf, Salem State University, and Kimberly Talbot, Melrose High School

The reality is that only a small percent of students have access to the ideal model of K-20 foreign language programming. Nationally, only about twenty percent of schools have any type of elementary foreign language programming and, by the college level, a great number of students start all over again, going back to the 101 level of programming to complete a language requirement. We all know that it takes time to develop language proficiency. A few years of language study in high school, which is the national norm, is not enough time to develop a functional level of proficiency that could benefit the student as a college- and career-readiness skill. In light of this current state of student involvement in programming, it seems more critical than ever that the various levels of programming from the elementary grades on through the college and graduate levels cooperate and collaborate to align practices, goals and outcomes.

This is exactly what is happening between the Department of Global Languages at Melrose High School and the Department of World Languages and Cultures at Salem State University. With the support and encouragement of our administration, a new conceptualization of foreign language programming that is based on the K-20 ideal is being forged. Although Melrose doesn’t actually begin foreign language programming at the elementary level yet, a variety of mutually beneficial collaborative efforts and programs have been established between one district and the local state university.

The cooperation began when several of the Melrose Spanish teachers received their Master of Arts in Teaching Spanish from Salem State University. Melrose then began to be a site for pre-practicum observation hours and student teaching for the prospective undergraduate teachers-in-training. Additionally, Melrose became an internship site for one of the required undergraduate community service courses; SPN 380 Peer Tutoring. In this course, undergraduate students in all concentrations of the Spanish Major create an internship project for the semester in which they teach or tutor the language that they are themselves learning.

This school year, Melrose began offering the SPN 351 Advanced Conversational Spanish course at the high school. It is supervised by the Salem State Department of World Languages and Cultures, and taught by the high school teachers for college credit to the high school students in place of the Advanced Placement class. It is an exciting experience for high school students to have the opportunity to receive actual college credits at the high school level, which may be more easily accepted and transferred when they go to college. Next year, the partnership will expand to offer the college credit for their Italian, French and German students.

It ends up being an incredible collaboration and cooperation opportunity for all involved! It is so exciting to have college BA students intern in the high school to help with classes, pre-service teachers observe and complete student teaching at the junior and senior high school, and high school faculty participate in the university graduate programming. High school students watch their teachers working with their graduate professors whose BA students are involved in supporting their learning.

Interestingly, both the college and high school departments are active participants in the Seal of Biliteracy Pilot in Massachusetts. (See the Advocacy Update on the Seal of Biliteracy for more information.) The inter-departmental collaborative effort is the most exciting part! Inter-level collaboration provides impactful programming and strong learner outcomes for all involved.

You can see the Wicked Local article on the Melrose/SSU collaboration here (

Nicole Sherf and Kim Talbot in the Exhibit Hall of ACTFL shortly before their presentation on the MA Seal Pilot.

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