Designing K-12 Language Learning Pathways

The What

The Designing K-12 Language Learning Pathways resource guide provides complexes and schools with 1) information on the options to build language programs; and 2) tools and processes to plan for and implement new language courses and K-12 pathways.

The Hawai‘i State Department of Education (Department) envisions all Hawai‘i public schools embrace, promote, and perpetuate multilingualism and multiculturalism to support learners, families, and communities.

Multilingualism recognizes the value of learning multiple languages and perspectives, whether from students' homes or around the world. Multilingualism creates learning environments that draw from the rich linguistic diversity and cultural strengths of Hawai‘i’s students.

Multilingual learners are “children and youth who are, or have been, consistently exposed to multiple languages. It includes students known as English Language Learners or dual language learners; heritage language learners; and students who speak varieties of English or indigenous languages” (WIDA, 2019). Multilingual learners at our schools represent a diverse range of knowledge and experiences, as demonstrated in the Multilingual Student video, in the Multilingualism video, and through the examples listed below.

Who Are Our Multilingual Learners? 

Please click on the down arrows to learn about their stories.

Nani, Grade 1

Kaiapuni Student

Nani lives in Hilo with her parents, grandparents, and older sister. She and her sister have been attending Kaiapuni schools since pre-kindergarten. Her mom is learning ‘ōlelo Hawai‘i while her dad and other family members speak ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi. Nani dances the hula and loves going fishing with her grandpa, dad, and cousins. Nani also speaks English, especially with extended family, at church, and with her Scouts troop. Nani’s family is very involved in her education and often volunteers for class field trips and school events. At school, Nani enjoys science and math classes, where she gets to write and talk about her favorite plants and animals. She wants to be a scientist when she grows up.

(Image Source: Canva Pro)

Kekoa, Grade 3 

Deaf; English Learner

Kekoa is from Wai‘anae and attends Hawai‘i School for the Deaf and the Blind (HSDB). He has three older brothers, two of whom are also deaf. Kekoa was born deaf. He uses American Sign Language (ASL) to communicate with his family and at school. Both of his parents are hearing and have taken ASL classes at HSDB. This year, Kekoa has been struggling with English reading comprehension and decoding. However, he is not struggling to comprehend and acquire information and knowledge when presented in ASL. Like many third graders, Kekoa likes anime and even enjoys acting out skits with his friends as his favorite characters. He also loves baseball and dreams of playing in high school and college. 

(Image Source: Canva Pro)

Francis, Grade 7 

English Learner

Francis lives in Kalihi and arrived in Hawaiʻi from the Philippines last year. He speaks Ilokano with his family and knows some Tagalog. He knew no English when he arrived and has been slowly building his skills. Francis had inconsistent schooling before arriving in Hawaiʻi, so he has also been learning the routines of being a student. He attends school regularly and is diligent in completing his assignments. Francis likes to read graphic novels and has started to write stories with simple sentences. He is talkative with his classmates and will speak up in class when given the opportunity to talk with a partner or small group first. Francis’s family is also dedicated to his education – his mother attends parent meetings and asks questions with the help of a translator. Francis also enjoys soccer and is learning to fix bicycles with friends at a youth program in his neighborhood. 

(Image Source: Canva Pro)

Jennifer, Grade 10

World Languages Learner

Jennifer is from Kahului and lives with her parents, older brother, and younger sister. She speaks English as her first language and is in her second year of Spanish. So far, Jennifer can ask and answer simple questions in Spanish, write and read brief texts, and give short presentations to her classmates. She has also been following Spanish-speaking social media influencers, especially those that cook and share recipes. Jennifer was diagnosed with dyslexia in grade 2 and has been receiving accommodations. Outside of school, Jennifer enjoys surfing and baking. Her major goal is to study abroad in Spain.

(Image Source: Canva Pro)

The Why

There is a large body of research that shows second language acquisition as benefiting cognitive development, academic achievement, and development of positive attitudes toward cultural diversity (American Academy of Arts & Sciences, 2017). Studies consistently show that when students’ identities, histories, cultures, and languages are included in a meaningful and equitable way, they are better able to learn and succeed in school and beyond. Increasing and nurturing multilingualism will provide advantages for students, notably a foundation for personal enrichment, scholastic achievement, social engagement, and economic opportunities. Learning more than one language opens new doors, expands opportunities to learn, and provides students with another view of one’s native language and culture. 

Theory of Action:  

Hawai‘i State Board of Education policies related to multilingualism are highlighted below:

The How

The Designing K-12 Language Learning Pathways resource guide provides the following tools and processes for complexes and schools to plan for and implement new language courses and K-12 pathways: 

LDR Designing K-12 Language Learning Pathways Resource Guide.pdf

Please click on the image to the left to access the Designing K-12 Language Learning Pathways resource guide as a whole document.

The resource guide is created in response to input from the Multilingualism Policy Advisory Committee to support policy implementation by creating a centralized resource bank for complexes and schools to create multilingual pathways. The document is created with input and feedback from the Multilingualism Policy Advisory Committee, Multilingualism Task Force, Office of Hawaiian Education, and Office of Student Support Services (Deaf Education and English Learner Program). The Region 19 Comprehensive Center provided technical assistance with the creation of the document.