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Language Laboratory Initiative
When school doorsfor the 2004-2005 school year, Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School was the first high school in Montgomery County to offer students a highly interactive, state-of-the-art language learning system. The 32-person Language Lab in Building C houses high tech teacher and student workstations, complete with computer monitors, recording devices, headsets and software.
The language learning system is controlled from a central console or computer, with work stations at each student desk. From the central console or computer, the teacher controls what the students do and see. The students can listen to the teacher or to a recording (tape or CD). In addition, because the teacher computer is attached to the school network, there is access to DVDs or the Internet to listen to foreign language (or English) television and radio to work on listening comprehension.
With close to 90% of our students studying at least one foreign language and more than 100 ESOL students enrolled in English classes, B-CC students had little time to speak or be coached by their teacher for more than a few minutes during each class period. The Language Lab dramatically changed that. Students are able to practice self-recorded oral drills, engage in paired conversations, and hear voice playback, gaining greater confidence and linguistic fluency. Teachers are able to design more individualized lesson plans.
The Language Lab was truly a collaborative effort of many. Under the leadership of former Principal Katy Harvey, in the fall of 2003, teachers from the Foreign Language and ESOL departments identified the educational need, helped to research equipment options, and worked to ensure that the lab was designed to enhance B-CC’s language programs.
The B-CC High School Educational Foundation approved an initiative in November 2003 to raise the $75,000 needed to purchase the system (which includes all equipment, cabling, furniture, software, and in-school teacher training) at the end of the school year, for use beginning in the 2004-2005 school year.
B-CC parents spearheaded the fundraising campaign, and working with Foundation board members and community leaders, they organized a film festival, an "Antigues Road Show" and a summer beach book sale. Hundreds of B-CC parents, future parents, grandparents, friends, faculty, and alumni generously responded to the requests for individual donations. So did area foundations, businesses, realtors, and B-CC's student organizations.