are a community of professional language teacher leaders committed to improving foreign language teaching and learning.
Our collaboration provides teachers with creative, standards-based lessons and classroom resources for a variety of World Languages, and promotes teachers' professional growth through
hands-on workshops, institutes and travel study programs.
The early history of COACH is connected to
so many acronyms it sounds like alphabet stew. Named in this spirit, COACH - Curriculum Organization
for Active Communication and Heterogeneity - began in 1986 as a regional
site of the California Foreign Language Project (CFLP), which itself was, at that time, an extension of the California International
Studies Project (CISP). This came at a time when the state was funding subject matter projects in major disciplines throughout
the state to support in-service teachers and develop teacher leaders, following the “trainer of trainers” model
of the California Writing Project (CWP). Subject Matter Projects (SMPs) were established in universities that partnered with
surrounding school districts to provide teachers with professional development workshops and summer leadership institutes
in specific disciplines. COACH was initially located in the Center for International Education (CIE) at California State University,
Long Beach (CSULB), as an extension of its CISP project, the Global Education Program of Southern California (GEPSCA). Suzanne
Charlton was the director of both projects and their traveling global resource library, the Southcoast International Resource
COACH prospered at CSULB, developing community support, an Advisory Board, and active Leadership
Teams of classroom leaders who, in turn, provided in-service training for teachers in their districts. Partnership districts
involved then included Long Beach Unified, Los Alamitos Unified, Huntington Beach High School District, ABC Unified, Saddleback
Valley Unified, Tustin Unified, and Garden Grove Unified. COACH offered 3-4 professional development days during the academic
year open to all foreign language teachers in the region and 1-2 week summer institutes for teacher leader development. COACH
also sponsored two travel study institutes in Costa Rica for Spanish teachers during this period, directed by Suzanne Charlton
and led by Leadership Team teachers Lloyd Emshoff, Joan Kirschenbaum, Polly Hodge, Cynthia Leathers, Gayle Trager and David
Changing political priorities at the state withdrew support from the CISP in 1991 and COACH, with the
help of Carol Booth Olson and the CWA center at UCI, moved to the University of California, Irvine, Department of Education.
The project continued to offer its services under the aegis of the CFLP there until, in 1997, politics again created a situation
where further state CFLP funding was denied to COACH. At that point, rather than folding, the Leadership Team resolved to
continue its services to local foreign language teachers as long as possible, relying solely on its registration fees and
its leaders’ good will. The Team also began work on a number of classroom resources for foreign language teachers that
they could sell to help support the project. The first team-authored book, Todo lo mío (All About Me) was a collaboration
that linked team member’s best practices and lesson plans with standards, multiple intelligences, and authentic assessments
organized around the subjects taught in first and second level language texts. Its French and German versions, Moi-même
and Alles über mich, were subsequently published, all with great success. COACH’s motto “Teachers
COACHing Teachers” was now providing practical, teacher-generated materials foreign language teachers could readily
use to enhance student learning. Soon PowerPoints on cultural, grammar and vocabulary topics or literacy review games were
also developed by the Team, and its original books were followed by comprehensive books for upper levels in Spanish and French:
Lenguaje para la vida I, II (Language for Life) and Le Français pour la Vie. These resources provide
the project with additional funds to continue offering professional development to regional foreign language teachers and
allow COACH leaders to pursue new dimensions of language teaching and learning in their own careers.
a professional home for its leaders and participants alike, and the flexibility and autonomy it enjoys as an independent project
has encouraged individual creativity, new language learning venues, and innovation. Many team leaders travel with their students
or encourage their students’ extracurricular learning through Cultural Participation and Research (CPR) projects. In
2000, COACH co-sponsored a five-week Fulbright Institute on Chilean culture and language for 35 teachers, led by Suzanne Charlton
and Polly Hodge, and virtual travel has become a favorite theme in many of the project’s workshops exploring technology.
The Team that began with its training focus on Communication-Based Instruction has since embraced Authentic Assessment, Outcome-Based
Instruction, Brain-Compatible Learning, Instructional Technologies, Teaching Proficiency through Reading and Storytelling
(TPRS) and writing stories for students. After 23 years, the COACH project continues to inspire us to learn and grow together,
so that learning foreign language is better for our students and teaching foreign language is better for our community.