Blog » Meeting diverse language needs across the school community

Meeting diverse language needs across the school community

Case Study: The Varnett Public School
Varnett Public School is an open-enrollment PreK-8 public charter district serving a diverse community in Houston, Texas. Their student body includes a high population of Emergent Bilingual (EB) English learners as well as students seeking opportunities to learn second (or third) languages. Varnett wanted a language program that could meet the needs of all students—as well as staff and parents. 
  • Location: Houston, Texas
  • Grades: PreK-8
  • Number of students: ~1,100
  • Number of campuses: 3
  • District characteristics: Tuition-free public charter district with a diverse student body; whole-school Title I programs for all campuses.  
  • Languages:
  • English
  • French
  • Spanish
  • Mandarin
The challenges


Varnett serves a growing number of EB students, with nearly 60% speaking Spanish at home. EB students have various levels of English proficiency; many newcomers speak little or no English when they arrive. English as a Second Language (ESL) teachers wanted a technology program to support their learning centers in the EB pull-out program and help prepare students for the Texas English Language Proficiency Assessment System (TELPAS). At the same time, Varnett realized that many parents in their community could benefit from a program that could help them build English proficiency. 

Varnett also wanted to offer second-language opportunities for students in their Gifted & Talented program, ALPHA (Advanced Learning Programs for High Achievers). With limited resources for world language instruction, they needed a program that would support independent learning for students. 

Varnett wanted a language program that would meet the needs of both English Learners and world language students while creating opportunities for parents in the community. 


Building a community of language learners


The solution


Rosetta Stone for Schools allows Varnett to meet the needs of everyone in their school community. They began with student licenses for their EB program in 2016. By 2022, they had expanded with enough licenses for all EB and ALPHA students, as well as additional licenses for staff members interested in learning a world language and parents interested in learning English alongside their children. Monique Thornton, the Elementary Math Content Specialist at Varnett, says, “Rosetta Stone for Schools aligns with two of our core values: student achievement and parent engagement.” 

Rosetta Stone allows students (along with parents and staff members) to work on language skills independently in an environment that mimics the way people learn language naturally. EB teachers use Rosetta Stone to complement direct English instruction and provide additional individualized practice for students. Critically, it supports all four language domains (speaking, listening, reading, and writing) and is aligned with the Texas English as a Second Language standards. Students can work through the program at their own pace and practice as much as they need to in order to achieve proficiency. Immediate feedback allows students to correct their errors and monitor their own progress. In addition to working on skills in the classroom, students and their parents can access the program from home on school-provided laptops or tablets or on their own mobile devices.