July 26, 2010
Contact:          Michelle Wade, (203) 946-8450  Cell – (203) 675-5132
District will Expand Chinese and Arabic Language and Culture Program
NEW HAVEN – Superintendent of New Haven Public Schools, Dr. Reginald Mayo announced today that New Haven has been awarded a five-year Federal FLAP (Foreign Language Assistance Program) grant totaling $1,277,202 for a Chinese and Arabic Culture and Language Program.  The grant, provided through the U.S. Department of Education, is intended to strengthen, expand, and enrich the teaching of critical languages essential for our nation’s international competitiveness. 
“We are extremely pleased to receive this grant”, said Dr. Reginald Mayo, Superintendent of Schools. “Our School Change Initiative is focused on ensuring that our students are well prepared to succeed in the new world market.  Providing them skills in these emerging languages and cultures will help them to be highly marketable in our global economy.”
New Haven Public Schools has the largest foreign language program in the state and offers Spanish, French, Italian, Latin, Arabic and Chinese serving 7,584 students in grades Kindergarten through 12th grade.  The Chinese and Arabic Language Programs were both started in 2007. 
According to the grant, New Haven will begin this September to expand the Chinese Language Program, currently in four elementary/middle schools and three high schools, by adding Level III courses, expanding the program to two additional middle schools and hiring two additional full-time teachers.  The Arabic Language Program will see the addition of one full-time and one part-time teacher as well as expansion into an additional middle school and high school.  The Arabic Program is currently in two elementary/middle schools and two high schools.  The district forecasts that by year four of the grant, school-year 2013-2014, they will reach the grant capacity with eight full-time Chinese teachers and six full-time Arabic teachers.  Ultimately, they plan to have Chinese or Arabic offered in eight high schools and six elementary/middle schools at the end of the five-year grant.  Over all, the number of students to be served by both programs combined will increase each year of the grant starting with 500 in the first year and reaching 950 in the 5th year. 
Dr. Karen deFur, Foreign Language Supervisor for New Haven Public Schools led the grant writing effort and truly believes in the value of this program.  “This grant offers our students the opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of the language, customs and people of another culture.  As our world becomes increasingly interconnected, our students’ future success may likely rely on an ability to understand other cultures and speak other languages.”
Dr. Mayo shared how enthusiastic he is about the parental involvement aspect of this grant. “We continue to encourage parents to get involved in their children’s education and this is a very unique model that I look forward to seeing more of.”  Part of the grant involves the design and implementation of a Saturday program where students and parents attend separate classes focused on the language program the child has chosen.  Parents will learn basic language skills and cultural aspects and there will be field trips that parents and students enjoy together.
New Haven joined with Yale University and the Connecticut State Department of Education in the grant process.  The mutual goal: to significantly impact the teaching of these critical foreign languages in New Haven. The programs will help strengthen the knowledge and pedagogy of current Chinese and Arabic teachers, support the process for heritage speakers of Arabic and Chinese to obtain teacher certification as highly qualified teachers, and will increase the number and quality of teachers in these two critical languages employed by the school district. The FLAP program will be initiated with existing district language teachers. The school district will work with the Connecticut State Department of Education’s Alternate Route to Certification program to create a larger pool of highly qualified Arabic and Chinese teachers to fill new positions.  Working with Yale University and heritage organizations in the community, teachers, parents, and student will have far-ranging access to the University’s rich cultural resources and language and cultural partnerships in the region, including summer immersion programs for students and professional development opportunities for teachers. Parents will be active partners in learning through the parent language and culture program.
“New Haven is the only school district in Connecticut to be awarded this 2010 grant”, stated Claudia Merson, the Director of Public School Partnerships at Yale University, “and Yale University is delighted to be a part of it.  As the world becomes more globalised, the importance of learning at least a second language cannot be overemphasized.  The Whitney and Betty MacMillan Center for International and Area Studies at Yale is the University's focal point for encouraging and coordinating teaching and research on international affairs, societies, and cultures around the world and will play a key role in this partnership with New Haven Public Schools and the Chinese and Arabic program.”
New Haven is the only school district in Connecticut to be awarded this 2010 grant.