St. Anne Pacelli Catholic School

Case Studies - St. Anne Pacelli

About St. Anne Pacelli Catholic School

Based in Columbus, Georgia, St. Anne Pacelli Catholic School's upper and lower schools were founded in 1952 and 1958, respectively. They are the only PK4-12 Catholic School serving southwestern Georgia. Their mission is to provide an excellent education in a faith-filled environment. Students participate in daily prayer and are challenged to become the best that they can become inside and outside the classroom. The student body is composed of students from many faiths, whose diversity strengthens their school.

Challenge

The student population of St. Anne Pacelli Catholic School, which is part of the Savannah, Georgia Diocese, is comprised of hundreds of students whose cultural heritage includes a strong relationship to a language other than English. In response to student and parent desires to include culture and language in their education, the Diocese began a heritage language project to help children of all ages learn and preserve their family language. Working with the Diocese, St. Anne Pacelli sought out a solution to help their 9th to 12th grade students connect with their heritage through its language.

The school decided that a software-based language-learning system focused on building students reading, writing, speaking, and listening skills in French, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian, Italian, and Japanese would provide the best opportunity to facilitate the new heritage language program. To meet their objectives, the software-based language--learning system needed to be:

  • Easy to implement
  • Flexible to meet teachers and students needs
  • Affordable

Solution

Starting in 2010, Transparent Language's language-learning software, Transparent Language Online (formerly known as Byki Online), was made available through the school's in-classroom language lab computers. Using Transparent Language Online, the teachers at St. Anne Pacelli are able to tailor individual vocabulary lists to each student's personal learning needs. The lists have been created in conjunction with grammar and vocabulary workbooks that the teachers were already using to supplement their curriculum.

Easy Implementation: The teachers remarked how quickly and easily they could implement Transparent Language Online into their curriculum, spending an average of 45 minutes per week preparing vocabulary lists using the system's authoring tools. Those lists were then assigned each week by sending a message to the class within Transparent Language Online, cutting out the need for assignment books or reminder e-mails. Students needed only to log in to the system to find their assignments and begin learning immediately.

Teachers could also track the progress of their students within the system, ensuring all students were completing the assignment and preparing for classroom instruction. Transparent Language Online's achievement testing also helps teachers evaluate the student's learning progress. The testing program can administer test or quizzes to students on any of the vocabulary or phrase material that they learn in the system. Students can take practice tests and when ready, print the final test results to submit to their teacher for a grade.

Flexibility: The language teachers were able to use Transparent Language Online for 4 different class levels in more than half a dozen languages. Lower-level courses used the built-in Byki vocabulary lessons for basic vocabulary acquisition, as well as additional custom-made lists to introduce the vocabulary of the current textbook chapter. Higher-level courses created vocabulary lists for more advanced topics, such as history and geography, or to introduce vocabulary in the current novel or film being covered in class. For students who learned faster, additional vocabulary lists were provided to match their abilities.

Language teacher Donna Carter quickly authored custom lists on tropical ecology for advanced Spanish students in preparation for a 3-week summer ecology program in Panama. With WiFi available at the research stations in Panama, students were easily able to refresh the vocabulary needed for basic survival in a foreign country, as well as research-specific vocabulary.

Affordability: Leveraging Transparent Language Online allowed St. Anne Pacelli Catholic School to offer more languages to more students without hiring full-time teachers in each language. For more popular languages, students used Transparent Language Online at home and met with a full-time instructor each day in school. For languages with smaller demand, the school was still able to meet student needs, splitting the time between using Transparent Language Online on the school's classroom computers and live instruction with a part-time teacher.

"We really rely on this product for our classes. We are a small school and it is a cost effective way to both teach and monitor vocabulary learning," notes Carter.

Results

Carter boasted, "The carryover we have seen with our students is amazing. We have seen improvements in our student's language retention, accents, and pronunciation."

The teachers at St. Anne Pacelli were able to observe immediate results and interest. For example, students using the Japanese materials in Transparent Language Online began writing sentences using Japanese Hiragana after only 2 weeks.

The school is particularly pleased with the easy list authoring and the voice recognition features. Teachers can easily create their own vocabulary lists and record the target language audio within the program's intuitive interface. Listening to the audio is integral to preparing students for pronunciation practice. The voice recognition activities allow the students to record their speech, word-for-word, within Transparent Language Online, offering them instant feedback and opportunities for pronunciation improvement.

"Our students are able to carry away what they learn in Transparent Language Online and start using it right away," said Carter. "With the students going back to quickly refresh the content that they have already learned, they are building a much stronger reinforcement of the material."