The DC9 Metropolitan Urdu StarTalk Program will offer an exciting opportunity to 40 local elementary to high school students to improve their Urdu language skills and understanding of Urdu culture.  Students will improve their proficiency in Urdu language and culture through a curriculum based on the most current innovative and effective teaching methods.  The program will also strengthen students’ ties with the local and international Urdu community and it will help to disseminate information about fun, engaging, and effective teaching methods throughout the local community. Urdu is a language of great national importance yet it is still among the least commonly taught languages in the country.

Among 108 StarTalk student programs offered in 2011, only four offered Urdu, a low number especially when compared with the 63 Chinese, 24 Arabic, and 15 Hindi programs offered the same year.  The DC metropolitan area is home to a large, well-organized, and active Urdu-speaking community with a network of local heritage organizations already involved in preserving the language and culture.  With the support of StarTalk we will be able to consolidate and strengthen existing networks to focus on the goal of providing effective language instruction to the youngest generation.

We will also invite local school administrators to visit the program; we hope to establish a dialogue with local school officials and to demonstrate that there is a significant demand for Urdu in the area. The program will employ the theme “Journey Through Pakistan” to design and implement a meaningful and engaging theme-based curriculum.  Curriculum, instruction, and assessment will strongly evidence all of StarTalk’s best teaching practices.  The curriculum will be based on ACTFL’s National Standards and will incorporate all five goals under the “5 C’s” including all three modes of communication.  Instruction will integrate language, culture, and content, and students will improve their proficiency in all three areas by actively using their linguistic and cultural/content knowledge.  Classes will be facilitated exclusively in the target language, with instruction made comprehensible through modeling and demonstration using realia.

The curriculum will be backward planned so that instruction leads to concrete verifiable goals, and all levels of the curriculum—curriculum template, units, lessons, and activities—will relate the overarching theme.  Assessment will be integrated with instruction and will be performance based so as to include a variety of formative and summative methods that require meaningful and realistic use of the language.  Instruction and assessment will be differentiated so that they are appropriate to the range of incoming proficiencies and ages.  The program will incorporate technology in a manner that enhances instruction and extends learning opportunities. We look forward to having this opportunity to partner with StarTalk to promote Urdu in the DC metropolitan area and beyond.  We believe that we will be able to help accomplish this goal by offering a rich learning experience to our youth and in the process strengthening local networks and disseminating knowledge about effective teaching methods.