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Critical Language Projects Build Sister School Relationships

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Each year, TCLP participants and program alumni share language and culture among their schools and communities by designing and implementing projects supported by Critical Language Project (CLP) grants. These projects are diverse and make a wide impact on participants’ schools and communities in both the U.S. and their home countries. This past year, program alumni used CLPs to build sister school relationships, develop professional development workshops, and organize festivals and events that have garnered interest among students, parents, and community members.

The Round 17 CLP awardees include 2015-16 exchange teacher alumna Gu Zhen (Wright Elementary School, FL) who developed a workshop for sharing teaching methodologies and practices that she learned in the U.S. with fellow English as a Foreign Language teachers in China, 2018-19 mentor teachers Ivy Yiu (North Warren Regional High School, NJ) and John Pecoraro (Chariho High School, RI) who organized a student-led Taste of China festival and a Chinese art and culture field trip respectively, and 2018-19 exchange teachers Wang Ling (Chariho Regional High School, RI) and Kong Yanli (LaSalle Magnet Elementary, IL) who are building sister school partnerships and joint classroom projects.

Sister school partnerships are an excellent way to connect students with peers from other cultures. In addition to student exchange trips, virtual classroom exchanges also increase authentic language input in the classroom and provide students with the opportunity to learn about both language and culture.

Ms. Wang began her Sister Schools Project CLP by connecting students at her host school with students at her home school, No.1 High School of Liuyang, through regular virtual classroom exchanges. She also organized a virtual graduation party for seniors at both schools and an art exchange where both U.S. and Chinese students created thematic paintings. These activities have already impacted 65 U.S. students and 110 Chinese students. Additionally, following a virtual meeting, the Chariho Regional High School principal traveled to China in June to discuss the future of the sister school relationship with his counterpart at No.1 High School of Liuyang.

Ms. Kong worked to implement a similar Sister School CLP between her home school, Yichang Foreign Language Junior High School, which places emphasis on foreign language offerings, and Nettlehorst Elementary, a school in her host community. Ms. Kong laid the foundation for the sister school partnership by organizing pen pal letter exchanges between students at both schools as well as virtual classroom exchanges. The virtual exchanges are particularly beneficial to the students as an opportunity to practice oral communication skills. In the long term, both schools intend to provide travel opportunities for students to improve their language skills and experience U.S. and Chinese culture respectively.

Expand your reach and the impact of TCLP with your own Critical Language Project! To apply for a CLP grant, submit a completed application via https://ais.americancouncils.org/tclpgrants. Check here for example projects and please contact tclp@americancouncils.org with any questions. The next deadline to apply is November 30, 2019.