World Language Standards


Preparing for the 21 st Century

“Language and communication are at the heart of the human experience. The United States must educate students who are linguistically and culturally equipped 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 backgrounds should also have opportunities to develop further proficiencies in their first language.”

(Statement of Philosophy: Standards for Foreign Language Learning)

As a result of the Bush Administration’s America 2000 education initiative continued under Goals 2000 in the Clinton Administration, a national committee defined content standards for foreign language instruction in American education. Pennsbury School District is proud to subscribe to these National Standards for Foreign Language Learning. The organizing principles of these national standards are often referred to as the “Five C’s” of Foreign Language Education. These “Five C’s” are communication, cultures, connections, comparisons, and communities . By aligning curriculum to these standards, Pennsbury offers a foreign language program that benefits all students with diverse purposes in acquiring multiple languages.

These standards are not a curriculum guide, but they suggest the types of curricular experiences needed to enable students to achieve the standards and support the ideal of extended sequences of study that begin at as early an age as possible and continue through high school and beyond. These standards reflect the best instructional practices for the teaching of a foreign language. These standards will be used in conjunction with state standards when adoption is completed.

v Communication is the essence of all language learning, be it through face-to-face contact, writing, or reading. The standards for communication in languages other than English exist as follows:

Standard 1.1: Students engage in conversations, provide and obtain information, express feelings and emotions, and exchange opinions.

This standard centers on interpersonal exchanges. Students are introduced to essential vocabulary and grammatical structures that will permit them to communicate effectively. Through this two-way, interactive means of communication, the clarification of meaning is possible. Examples include face-to-face or telephone communication, as well as written correspondence by letter, fax, or e-mail.

Standard 1.2: Students understand and interpret written and spoken language on a variety of topics.

Comprehension within this standard focuses on one-way listening and reading. As the ability to read may develop before the ability to understand spoken language delivered at a native pace, the subject content begins by reflecting students’ interests and background knowledge. As the sequence of study continues, students are exposed to novel situations. In this receptive form of communication, the direct clarification of meaning is not possible, as the creator of the communication is absent. Examples include listening to a radio broadcast, reading the newspaper, and watching a film.

Standard 1.3: Students present information, concepts, and ideas to an audience of listeners or readers on a variety of topics.

Formal presentations of information will follow a natural progression from learned patterns that reflect English to unique constructions that reflect authentic styles. Clarification of meaning is not possible in this one-way presentation to an audience. Examples include giving a speech, writing a story, and producing a newscast.

v Cultures allow students to appreciate and to experience the contexts in which the language occurs. This recognition is essential to understanding the sources of the languages. This understanding should promote international exchange and cooperation. The standards for cultures in languages other than English stand as follows:

Standard 2.1: Students demonstrate an understanding of the relationship between the practices and perspectives of the culture studied.

This standard helps students to know how they are expected to act when they are immersed in the cultural practices of the society that they are studying.

Standard 2.2: Students demonstrate an understanding of the relationship between the products and perspectives of the culture studied.

The products of a culture may be tangible, like a work of art, or intangible, like a system of government. These products reflect the beliefs and values of a culture; therefore, they are essential to the understanding of that culture.

v Connections encourage students to call upon previous knowledge from other disciplines to reinforce learning. In addition, the application of new understandings gleaned through language study to other subject areas will give the language learner a decided advantage over the monolingual English speaker. The standards for connections are stated as follows:

Standard 3.1 : Students reinforce and further their knowledge of other disciplines through the foreign language.

The knowledge acquired through the study of a foreign language is information that is applicable to many aspects of the learner’s life beyond the foreign language classroom.

Standard 3.2: Students acquire information and recognize the distinctive viewpoints that are only available through the foreign language and its cultures.

From beginning levels of language study, students are encouraged to turn to sources intended for native speakers to seek out content from primary sources, thus considerably increasing the amount of information available to them.

v Comparisons made between one’s own language and culture and that of a new language and culture require that the student entertain microscopic and telescopic views of his/her place in the world. The standards for comparisons are explained as follows:

Standard 4.1: Students demonstrate understanding of the nature of language through comparisons of the language studied and their own.

When studying the structure and use of a new language, the learner will compare and contrast this new language with English. Hence, the student will begin to understand how languages work in general. In doing this, he/she will gain a greater grasp of his/her native tongue.

Standard 4.2: Students recognize that cultures use different patterns of interaction and can apply this knowledge to their own culture.

The discovery of similarities and differences in perspectives, practices, and products among cultures allows students to generalize about cultural systems.

v Communities encourage students to become part of the multilingual environment that surrounds their homes and beckons them to see the world. The advantages of language learning become apparent outside of the classroom as the learner witnesses the rich quality of life that can be achieved in this multilingual world. The standards for communities are expressed as follows:

Standard 5.1: Students use the language both within and beyond the school setting.

In Pennsbury, students have the opportunities to participate in mini-lessons, in which they travel to elementary schools to introduce youngsters to a foreign language, and to travel and study abroad during the summer months.

Standard 5.2: Students show evidence of becoming lifelong learners by using the language for personal enjoyment and enrichment.

The appreciation of reading stories, watching television programs, listening to music, and viewing films in a foreign language is enhanced as students make a commitment to support a global view of society. The opportunities to incorporate this global view in leisure activities are as limitless as the imagination.

Works Cited

Heining-Boynton, Audrey L. “Selecting a Textbook Based on the Standards.” New York : McDougal Littell, 1999.

“National Standards in Foreign Language Education.” New York : American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages, Inc., 2000.

Standards Aligned Systems for PA