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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Rock Hill Foreign Language Program Makes National Magazine

Lynn Fulton sends in this information: "In it’s April edition, The Language Educator (a national language magazine published by the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages) highlighted unique programs schools and districts around the country have created and use to promote language learning and inform their communities about the importance a second language plays in each of our daily lives. Rock Hill ’s Mailbox Banner Campaign was among the four programs highlighted. This campaign is one of the ways we celebrate Discover Languages month each February.

With a subscription base of more than 12,000 educators, I am proud that a program now in it’s third year, has been recognized as innovative and shared with so many people around the country and the world. I hope you will take the time to read the article below – visit The Language Educator website at "

do you inform a community about the importance of language learning quickly and easily? Through a “Mailbox Banner” Campaign!

The cornerstone activity during Discover Languages Month in Rock Hill School District in Rock Hill, SC is such a campaign. It began last year when the number of schools implementing the district FLES [Foreign Language in the Elementary Schools] program grew from five to 12. We saw a need to show the community just how many students were studying another language at school since the program expansion had happened quietly and without much promotion in the community. Remembering a photo in the 2005: The Year of Languages photo gallery of other students highlighting the languages they were learning was the inspiration—and we thought it was the perfect vehicle to spread the word about the elementary language program.

This year, with the program established in all 17 elementary schools, more than 5,000 third, fourth, and fifth grade students took home brightly colored banners and hung them on their mailboxes, front doors, or front windows. The banners proclaim that “A student learning [French/German/Spanish] lives here!” We approached an office supply store and were successful in getting them to donate the paper for the banners, then we used another source to copy the banners.

The students pictured here, fifth graders from Richmond Drive Elementary School, have been hanging up these banners for three years now and are excited when the banners go home each year. While designed to only stay up through the month of February, many students continue to display them as the school year continues.

But the campaign was not limited to just students. Faculty and staff at all the elementary schools also received banners to take home and post as well, telling the community that students in their schools are learning another language. We anticipate that next year the program will also expand to involve all middle and high school language students—further emphasizing the importance of language learning in the district.

Lynn Fulton-Archer is president of the Southern Conference on Language Teaching (SCOLT) and world language specialist at Richmond Drive Elementary School in Rock Hill, SC.

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