Texas: Rosetta Stone in the Classroom
francis.hult at utsa.edu
Mon Apr 20 17:47:35 UTC 2009
Schools face teacher shortage, language barriers with computer program
The sound of little voices broke the silence in the classroom.
"Los niÃ±os escriben," said the voice in the headphones
"Los niÃ±os escriben," repeated 7-year-old Alanna Lewis.
For about 300 kindergarten and first grade students at Sam Houston Elementary School in Port Arthur, there's a new language teacher in town. And it's not a certified educator.
The Port Arthur school district recently purchased the Rosetta Stone language -learning program to use at three of their campuses, Dowling and Houston elementary schools and Woodrow Wilson Technology Theme School.
The software, which uses pictures, sound and feedback to offer students a self-paced learning program, allows the district to expand its language instruction even when it does not have the teaching staff to do so, said Morcease Beasley, Port Arthur's deputy superintendent for curriculum, instruction and school leadership.
"Our goal is to help our students be bilingual even before they can get to the organized courses," Beasley said by phone.
Port Arthur is one of several school districts locally that are using the software program in their schools. For some it's a way to deal with the ever present challenge of finding and keeping certain foreign language teachers. For others it's a way to expand their language programs and offerings without adding to the budget.
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