A geographic and interculturalist blog on education, life, language, and study abroad by Bettina Hansel, Director of Intercultural Education and Research of AFS International
AFS and the Bilingual Brain
Learning a second language will most definitely contribute to the flexibility and resourcefulness of a young person’s brain. Therefore, not only will an AFS student gain the ability to communicate more efficiently in a 21st century intercultural world, but they will also benefit from a significant boost in brain power.
Global Competency and the Workplace: What’s Intercultural Learning Got to Do With It?
Given the economic rate of return on experiential learning through study abroad, AFS helps students gain critical 21st century skills that are highly coveted by the majority of colleges and employers. Examples of these global competencies are: civic and social action through community service, language skills, cross-cultural communication skills, cultural awareness, independence, leadership, maturity and flexibility. This blog post provides further reading on the indispensable link between intercultural learning, global competency and the workplace.
AFS Educational Goals
By offering exchange programs that are built around four key educational goals, AFS has given more than 400,000 individuals the tools to grow into responsible global citizens. These goals serve as the backbone for AFS programs, and help participants develop the knowledge and skills that are necessary to succeed in an increasingly globalized workforce.
College Advantage for AFS Students
Teachers and school administrators can give students an advantage in college applications by encouraging them to study abroad. Having an AFS school year, semester, summer or service program on their application will get attention. The experience demonstrates foreign language skills and a commitment to extracurricular activity, and, perhaps more importantly, it demonstrates independence and reliance. It show a readiness to succeed in a new setting and a ability to understand and communicate about international and intercultural issues.
The Growing Relevance of Study Abroad
So, why all the buzz about study abroad? The reasons are easy enough to ascertain. Studying abroad offers numerous life-changing benefits, including: increased maturity; greater independence; self-discovery; foreign language mastery; and most importantly, an openness and flexibility of the mind that helps participants explore new passions and opportunities.
Author Spotlight: Meet Amanda Ripley, author of “The Smartest Kids in the World (And How They Got That Way)"
AFS-USA is proud to announce Amanda Ripley’s new riveting book, The Smartest Kids in the World, which explores educational systems through the lens of three American exchange students from AFS and partner organizations, studying abroad in high schools in Finland, Korea, and Poland. Ripley follows their intercultural journeys so closely that her in-depth discoveries will give you rich food for thought. Her comparison of American education to world-leading systems reveals the utter necessity of cross-cultural exchange as an integral component of fostering global competency and 21st century skills in our schools and beyond. Here you will find our exclusive interview with Amanda Ripley, and Kim, one of the AFS students that she follows.
7 Skills Students Need for their Future
Dr. Tony Wagner, co-director of Harvard's Change Leadership Group has identified what he calls a "global achievement gap," which is the leap between what even our best schools are teaching, and the must-have skills of the future: * Critical thinking and problem-solving * Collaboration across networks and leading by influence * Agility and adaptability * Initiative and entrepreneurialism * Effective oral and written communication * Accessing and analyzing information * Curiosity and imagination
In Their Own Words: AFS Staff Impressions from the Asia Society's Partnership for Global Learning Conference
A nice mix of AFS-USA and AFS International staff attended - and presented at June’s premier global education conference, sponsored by the Asia Society's Partnership for Global Learning. This year's theme was "Pathways to Global Competence." We wanted to share our impressions, so that you could see how collaboration - a key 21st century educational skill, is being exhibited by our staff involved in intercultural learning and teacher professional development.
Global Education Resources
In each edition of Global Classroom, we highlight websites and resources that you and your students might find of interest. Here are our top picks for [the spring 2012] issue:
Intercultural Education in the Post-Primary School:Guidelines for Schools
The guidelines are designed to provide information for teachers and schools on ethnic and cultural diversity, racism and intercultural education as well as a practical resource that teachers can use in their everyday planning and teaching. It includes a range of exemplars based on classroom practice showing how to use an intercultural approach in a wide range of Junior Certificate subjects and a comprehensive resource list for teachers to access further information and teaching resources.
The National Imperative for Language Learning
Our students deserve an education that prepares them to be global citizens—and proficiency in at least one language other than English is a critical part of this preparation. Now is the time to make this critical investment in the future of American leadership, prosperity, and national security. Second-language learning not only enhances the global competitiveness of the United States and the global competence of individual American students, it also helps students to learn their first language more effectively and deeply, and gives them access to a larger palette of colors with which to paint their world.
Links to resources presented in the Spring 2011 AFS Global Classroom Newsletter