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National Standards for Language Education
Looking to the Standards
The National Foreign Language Standards consider the benefits of starting language learning early by looking at the big picture. Here you'll find that picture broken down into the underlying principles of the standards and three assumptions about language and culture supporting the principles. Visit our Standards page for a graphic display of the five C's that form the framework for the standards.
The following statement of principles is the foundation for the standards:
Language and communication are 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 student 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.
Supporting this vision are three assumptions about language and culture, learners of language and culture, and language and culture education:
1. Competence in more than one language and culture enables people to
- communicate with other people in other cultures in a variety of settings,
- look beyond their customary borders,
- develop insight into their own language and culture,
- act with greater awareness of self, of other cultures, and their own relationship to those cultures,
- gain direct access to additional bodies of knowledge, and
- participate more fully in the global community and marketplace.
2. All students can be successful language and culture learners, and they
- must have access to language and culture study that is integrated into the entire school experience,
- benefit from the development and maintenance of proficiency in more than one language,
- learn in a variety of ways and settings, and
- acquire proficiency at varied rates.
3. Language and culture education is part of the core curriculum, and it
- is tied to program models that incorporate effective strategies, assessment procedures, and technologies,
- reflects evolving standards at the national, state, and local levels, and
- develops and enhances basic communication skills and higher order thinking skills.
In 1993, a coalition of four national language organizations:
received federal funding to develop standards for foreign language education, Grades K-12. This was the final subject area to receive federal support, and the first time the field came together to set long-sequence goals. The standards will boost the quality of foreign language study and call attention to its importance.
The National Standards in Foreign Language Education Project. (1996). "Standards for Foreign Language Learning: Preparing for the 21st Century." New York: The National Standards in Foreign Language Education Project.