spaceCenter for Advanced Research on Language Acquisition (CARLA)

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National Foreign Language Standards

The national foreign language standards, unveiled in 1996, offer eleven standards organized under five goal areas. The standards describe what students should know and be able to do with language.

Statement of Philosophy (from the ACTFL National Standards publication, p. 7)
"Language and communication are at the heart of the human experience. The United States must educate students who are equipped linguistically and culturally to communicate successfully in a pluralistic American society and abroad. This imperative envisions a future in which all students will develop and maintain proficiency in English and at least one other language, modern or classical. Children who come to school from non-English speaking backgrounds should also have opportunities to develop further proficiencies in their first language. "

Why should language teachers learn about the national foreign language standards?

(Quotes from the ACTFL National Standards publication)

"Standards are intended to serve as a gauge for excellence as states and local districts carry out their responsibilities for curriculum in the schools." (p. 95)

"Informed teachers will recognize within the standards the work that has preceded this initiative under rubrics of proficiency-oriented or communication-based instruction, as well as the broadening of the teaching of target cultures to encompass lifestyle and civilization." (p. 95)

"[The standards] are intended to serve as a model to state and local policy makers and curriculum developers as they reconsider the role of foreign languages in their schools." (p. 95)

"The standards require a much broader definition of the content of the language classroom, one in which students are given ample opportunities to explore, develop, and use communication strategies, learning strategies, and critical thinking skills, as well as the appropriate elements of the language system and culture." (p. 97)

"We hope that those who use this document to modify or change fundamentally the way they look at language learning will see these standards as a starting point for more clearly defining what students should know and be able to do as a result of language study." (p. 65)


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