Columbus City Schools Streamline World Language Learning

District-wide adoption leads to increased student confidence and teacher success


  • A lack of centralized resources, requiring many hours of searching for and vetting authentic materials and resulting in inconsistency across district.Student from Colombus, OH sitting in a desk showing a copy of a T'es Branché? student book.

  • Limited access to meaningful professional development.

ClearLanguages Solutions 

  • ¡Qué chévere! 

  • T'es branché?

  • Amici d'Italia

  • Zhēn Bàng!

Language Is Limitless: The National Institute 

Populations Served: Grades 6–12


  • A single family of resources that meets the needs of multiple languages, grades, and proficiency levels.

  • A wide array of high-quality, authentic, and adaptable resources that reduce teacher workload.

  • Increase in students' presentational and interpersonal skills and confidence.

  • High-quality professional learning that provides implementation support and teacher inspiration.

With over 46,000 students, Columbus City Schools is one of Ohio's largest public school districts. The student population encompasses a wide range of socioeconomic and ethnic backgrounds, with students speaking nearly 95 languages and their families representing 104 countries.  

This is the story of how Columbus City Schools has met the diverse needs of teachers and students with our ClearLanguages solutions for Spanish, French, Italian, and Chinese.


A district with an ambition for change

Before adopting Carnegie Learning's ClearLanguages solutions in 2022, Columbus City Schools saw opportunities for growth within their world languages program. Teachers were spending many hours finding and creating authentic materials instead of utilizing a unified resource. Recognizing the need for improvement, their committee meticulously identified several key requirements for their dream world language solution.

According to Dawn Hasselbach, the World Languages Coordinator, "The solution had to align with the state standards, of course. We also wanted a solution that supported a communicative, acquisition-based approach to second language teaching."

But that’s not all. The school district’s wishlist also included:

  • Multiple languages: French and Spanish were the top priorities, but finding one solutions provider who offered courses in other languages, like Chinese and Italian, was a big plus.

  • All levels: They needed a program that could cater to students from middle school all the way up to those taking Advanced Placement (AP) courses.

  • Cohesive learning: Consistency across all levels was crucial. Ideally, the program would offer a blend of physical textbooks and digital components, creating a seamless learning experience from beginner to advanced.

The ClearLanguages offerings emerged as a solution that fulfilled all these wishes.

ClearLanguages: A comprehensive solution

In 2022, Columbus City Schools enhanced their world language programs by implementing four ClearLanguages solutions for grades 6-12:

  • ¡Qué chévere! (Spanish)

  • T'es branché? (French)

  • Amici d'Italia (Italian)

  • Zhēn Bàng! (Chinese)

Ms. Hasselbach has been delighted by the positive reactions she’s received among the district's nearly 90 language teachers.

Spanish teacher of 25 years, Chad Smith, enthusiastically states, "By far, this is probably the best textbook series, and I've taught out of three different sets. And this has the best listening activities for levels one through four–and we can even throw AP in there–that I've seen, as far as authentic language, the dialect, and the use of the vocabulary, the context that we are covering." 

The ClearLanguages solutions’ user-friendly platform and exceptional support have fostered widespread teacher adoption. Hasselbach proudly reports that 80-90% of teachers actively utilize ClearLanguages in some way, with over half using it daily or weekly. This enthusiastic embrace of ClearLanguages sets the stage for a profound impact on student learning throughout Columbus City Schools' world language classrooms.

Teachers reap the benefits of ClearLanguages solutions

Adaptable resources help teachers meet various student needs

ClearLanguages has transformed resource planning for Columbus City Schools' world language teachers by providing a wide array of print and digital materials that seamlessly adapt to suit individual classrooms and students' varied needs. This adaptability has been a significant advantage, particularly for teachers like French instructor Kelly Weinfurtner, who uses the materials for her combined-level classes.

"The materials are incredibly adaptable," she says. "We have a really heavy population. And so my ESL students really struggle to complete the entire reading portion of the IPA in the same amount of time as my English speakers. T'es branché? allows me to eliminate certain parts."

She adds, "My shelter site kids are getting it with one of the words; my stronger English speakers are getting it with the other three words you use to combine the sentences. It's been really nice to see that there's definitely something for these kids.”

Of course, even among English speakers, students have mixed proficiency levels. Ms. Weinfurtner comments, “It’s really easy to differentiate, to give extra resources to the kids who need it, especially those split level classes or just that one student who's really excelling. It's really easy to modify and differentiate in that respect.”

Spanish teacher Mr. Smith appreciates ¡Qué chévere!’s flexibility and adaptability. "If you are more of a paper-pusher teacher and don't want to be digital, you have that option. Or I can do more of a blended thing, and it is helpful for students who are out for multiple days—I can assign work digitally and not have to worry about the parents picking up the work."

ClearLanguages easily differentiable resources include iCulture, a curated library of continuously updated content; eReaders; ready-to-use Integrated Performance Assessments (IPAs); and more.

Solutions for teachers at all experience levels

ClearLanguages understands that teachers have varying levels of experience and needs. 

As a seasoned educator, Mr. Smith appreciates how ¡Qué chévere! has simplified his workload.

 “One thing I enjoy as a veteran teacher and what I appreciate about ¡Qué chévere! is that I’m not creating as many resources as I used to,” Mr. Smith says. “I feel like ClearLanguages resources do a very good job of fitting all the needs. Everything is online, so I don’t have to carry extra books home with me. ”

New teacher Faidhelene Derenoncourt is even more enthusiastic about the ClearLanguages French solution.

T’es branché? has been a lifesaver, I have to say, as a new teacher,” Ms. Derenoncourt states. " I use it on a daily basis, every period. I teach five periods, and all five periods are different levels. T'es branché? is like a Bible to me."

Students build confidence with ClearLanguages

Listening, speaking, and real fluency

Sometimes, diving right in is the best way to learn a language. However, for many students, that first dive feels daunting. How do you build the confidence to speak in a new language? ClearLanguages provides a supportive structure.

“The biggest thing that's helped me with my speaking confidence is the Carnegie Learning listening activities and the work,” shares Brenda, who is learning Spanish with ¡Qué chévere! “I wasn't that confident at first because I wasn't really speaking that much. Having something stated there as an assignment makes it easier. Also, with listening activities, I can practice and try to copy what they say or their sound.”

This focused approach doesn't happen by accident. It's bolstered by IPAs woven throughout each course.

Spanish teacher Lisseth Espinoza noticed the following results: “Definitely, I have seen student improvement. Just by the practice. By practicing over and over with the same vocabulary in different forms, then listening, having to write it and use it verbally, I think, brings confidence to students. And as they practice, they feel more comfortable.”

Authentic resources foster cultural understanding and language skills

ClearLanguages resources don't just build student confidence—they also immerse students in authentic cultural experiences.

Mr. Smith highlights the value of dialect exposure: "What I like about the ¡Qué chévere! resources and the textbook series is that they’re very authentic. I love that there are different dialects presented to students. So we're not just using one set of speakers. You actually hear the regionalism in every unit."  

ClearLanguages also prioritizes country-specific themes, offering a deeper cultural dive than broad textbook topics.

Mr. Smith says, "I like the richness and culture. I like how countries are featured in the unit instead of just doing something generic like our previous textbook series."

Ms. Feidhelene also values the exposure to different French dialects.

"I'm originally from Haiti, so some of the French-speaking culture I know, but some I don't,” shares Ms. Feidhelene. “I love the videos and the listening activities in iCulture. These are extremely helpful and key in learning a language. You have to be able to listen to a native speaker and apply it. So when the student gets to hear someone other than me speaking French in their native language, it helps them with the pronunciation, and I just reinforce it.”

Beyond words and grammar

ClearLanguages solutions are designed to help students become truly fluent and culturally competent. Learning a language takes more than memorizing vocabulary or grammar rules. With iCulture's videos and ClearLanguages, students see the nuances of conversations in the real world.

Spanish student Brenda appreciates this exposure to the culture by way of listening. “Listening to the activities really helps,” she says. “Instead of just seeing it on paper, we actually know how actual Spanish speakers speak. That's difficult, you know, because our accents are different than theirs. It's very helpful to see what the speaking patterns are.” 

Sam, a French student, concurs. "We've watched a lot of the iCulture videos. I think they really help with showing how a conversation is formed. So instead of just having these sentences, it shows you how to actually say them in a conversation. We’ve watched a lot of different videos with different situations, and they show you what you're supposed to respond with or what you can say in a conversation about anything."

By combining focused listening, regular assessments, and immersive iCulture videos, ClearLanguages gives the framework to develop real-life fluency in the language they're learning.

Teachers improve continuously with Professional Learning Services

Comprehensive implementation support

Columbus City Schools’ ClearLanguages experience has extended beyond the resources at teachers’ fingertips. The implementation support provided by Carnegie Learning’s Professional Learning team has laid the groundwork for teacher success. One service that the district has enjoyed is Cognitive Coaching℠, a formal, research-based model focused on improving practice through structured conversations and reflection tools.

Ms. Hasselbach recounts the story of how a standout teacher grew her capacity with coaching: “This particular teacher wasn’t sure how all the chapters were aligning. She worked with our coach Linnea on several planning sessions, and now she is full-on. She loves the product. She went to TNI last year and observed one of the demo lessons that the representative from Carnegie Learning shared with us, and then she and Linnea re-enacted it for the entire district. And that was really exciting to see how she’s come full circle.”

A transformative experience at The National Institutes (TNI) 

In a concerted effort to further invest in their teachers' professional development, Columbus City Schools sent seven teachers and Ms. Hasselbach to The World Language Experience at TNI. This annual event marked a significant first for the district, offering invaluable learning opportunities.

"What I enjoyed best about TNI was the fellowship of world language teachers coming together to learn from each other," said Ms. Hasselbach. "To see examples of high-level teaching strategies and best practices, the focus on student learning–all of this was inspiring. And our teachers left feeling excited, refreshed, ready to take some of these practices they saw and learned at TNI and implement them into their own classrooms."

Ms. Weinfurtner also speaks fondly of TNI: "I just loved the conversations that we were having at TNI. It was nice to have a space to talk about the communicative style of teaching, incorporating standards, different ways to assess, and piecing all of that together with teachers from other places rather than someone telling me I had to. It was nice to hear what's working in other classrooms, how they're doing particular strategies. I got great ideas."

Empowering language learning for all

Columbus City Schools have empowered their teachers, cultivated students’ love for language learning, and prepared them for success in a globalized world. 

And just like learning a language, implementation success is all about connection and relationships. That’s why this ClearLanguages story centers on a true partnership.

Ms. Hasselbach says, “I could not be more impressed by the level of support we’ve received from Carnegie Learning. Whatever product you have, if you don’t have the support for our teachers to actually implement it and to use it, it’s not going to work as well. The support has been phenomenal and I could not be more happy."

We are just as impressed by Columbus City Schools’ world language team–we can’t wait to see what they accomplish next!

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