The World Languages department at Washington Academy of Languages (http://www.wal.org/wl/index.html) opened its first courses in 1984, a time when languages were mainly taught on university campuses. Twenty-four years ago, language study was certainly not in the forefront of people’s mind in Seattle (http://www.seattle.gov/); back then, one could graduate from high school without being exposed to foreign language instruction.
When Dr. Paul Schneider founded WAL in 1979, he had a vision to bring world cultures and languages to adults using modern language teaching pedagogy. The World Language program initially offered twelve different language classes. The class format designed by him in 1984 has been a model for other schools since then. Not only was he an innovative designer of language curriculum, he was and still is dedicated to education as a process of development and change. Twenty-nine years of existence is no small feat for an independent non-profit language school! And yes, hopefully, the situation has improved but the US has a long way to catch up with the rest of the world.
WAL didn’t wait for others, but constantly transformed, adapted and experimented with new pedagogical methods.
Such an energy and desire to remain updated, to create and think about new pedagogy, new material and new curriculum has to be celebrated. That is why I would like to dedicate this new adventure on the Internet, WAL’s blog, to Dr. Paul Schneider to whom I owe so much.