Last week I was invited down to the Times Center in Times Square to cover the 2nd Annual My Dream Speaks Benefit Reception honoring the Morrison Foerster law firm for its contributions toward helping mentor and maintain the Global Language Project. Honorary Host Committee members included Michael Armstrong, Vice President and General Manager of BET, Fashion Editor/Stylist Kithe Brewster and Political Activist Clyde Williams, among several others.
The affair was hosted by the lovely Cynthia Bailey of “Real Housewives of Atlanta” with music provided by Les Nubians. So, what exactly is the Global Language Project? Well, I’m glad you asked. I had the chance to speak with founder Angela Jackson, who explains the impetus behind the project.
“I’m actually the founder of the Global Language Project,” said Angela. “I founded the company in 2009 and it was really based on my experience working internationally. I felt like it was really important for kids to have a second language. I literally traveled all over the world because of my job. When I would come back to volunteer at the schools in Harlem, where I live, I found that they were really focused on test taking. I think test taking is important, but I felt like it was also very important that they be able to have conversations with other people.”
“When I worked internationally most of my colleagues spoke two or three languages,” she continued. “Then, when they would invite me to their homes and introduce me to their children, all of them spoke two or three languages. That will really help their upward mobility. They were able to literally spin the globe and decide where they were going to live and work and have a second or third language skill gave them that opportunity.”
Based in Harlem, New York, the GLP began as an after-school program but now finds a home in several public schools Brooklyn and Manhattan, serving over 200 students.
“Often times, when kids are living in poverty, their world is just a five block radius. So, part of the Global Language Project is to teach them that the world is bigger than that five blocks and that they have the potential to be whatever they want in this world.”
“With GLP we start with children when they’re five years old. Kids before the age of six are hardwired to learn three languages. So, it’s very easy for them. What happens when people learn a second language it makes them stronger in their native language. What we found is, by teaching them a second language, is they’re doing better on their standardized tests.”
GLP enhances its language study program through partnerships with the local community and top-level universities, consistently improving our objectives.
These partnerships include:
The Neighborhood Language Partnership: A partnership with local, multilingual businesses, helping students practice the languages they are learning through field trips, presentations and donations of materials.
Research, Metrics and Evaluation Study: A partnership with New York University evaluating the key areas of GLP’s work in language acquisition: comprehension, communication abilities, writing and success against district, state and national language-learning standards.
“We’ve partnered with the entertainment and fashion world and those are two industries that know the importance of international travel is to the world market place.”
“We’ve already graduated our first class and just started an alumni program. We’re doing programs where they’re studying Chinese and they’re studying Spanish These language classes are taught at an early age in private school. So, young children in the nation’s elite schools are already getting them. Only people who can afford those schools are getting their children those early skills. Normally, kids don’t get a second language course until they are around 13 years old in public schools. We’re trying to change that.”
For more information on the Global Language Project log on to www.globallanguageproject.org.