Critical Language Projects Share Language and Culture and Foster Sister School Relationships

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Every year, TCLP teachers and alumni complete remarkable achievements with the support of Critical Language Project (CLP) Grants. The past two rounds of CLP awards (Rounds 18 and 19) have been no exception. Teachers have managed to conduct projects that have strengthened their host school’s language programs and sister school relationships even though schools have been forced to conduct classes online and many events have been postponed.

Every year, exchange teachers’ and mentors work together to celebrate cultural holidays from their home countries in their U.S. schools. This year, Liang Min (Western High School, FL) and Li Haining (Inglemoor High School, WA) used CLP grants to fund Chinese New Year celebrations in their schools. Events such as these have a wide impact in their schools and communities and can help to strengthen support for continuing language programs by demonstrating to the parents and the wider educational community what students are learning in the classroom.

Field trips are another popular category of CLP grants that can be especially beneficial for students in communities with limited exposure to the cultures of their exchange teacher. Amany Malek (Leicester Middle School, MA) and Manal Salem (Nicotra Early College Preparatory Charter School, NY) both received grants to help them show their students the diversity of cultures just beyond their schools. Each project incorporates a strong element of language to build interest among new learners and help them make connections between what they learn in the classroom and how it can be applied in their communities.

Sister school relationships can often be challenging to develop due to obstacles such as time differences and students’ shyness to talk with their peers in another language, but Cai Qi (Memphis Business Academy, TN) sought to overcome these factors though her CLP project. She and her mentor teacher helped their students to create a culture box of items they could send to Ms. Cai’s students in China, while they prepared a box to send to the United States. This exchange not only gave students a chance to learn more about their peers, but gave them something to talk about as they began to get to know one another.

If you are feeling inspired by these great stories, remember that you can expand your reach and the impact of TCLP with your own Critical Language Project! Although not featured this round, professional development projects can also have a wide-reaching impact. The next deadline to apply is November 30, 2020. Check www.tclprogram.org for how to apply and example projects!