ACTFL Position Statements
The ACTFL Board of Directors periodically releases position statements that clarify and outline ACTFL's official stance on important issues in language education.
Class Size as a Factor Influencing Language Learning
May 22, 2021
It is evident that class size impacts a multitude of factors related to teacher efficacy and student success across all disciplines, including K-20 World Language education. Communication is at the core of the World-Readiness Standards and students are learning to interact with cultural competence, connect with other disciplines, and use the language to investigate and interact in order to participate in multilingual communities. Maintaining smaller class sizes has a positive effect on student achievement and satisfaction. High-leverage teaching practices are more effective when students are provided frequent opportunities to communicate in a learning environment that lowers the affective filter and provides timely feedback.
Remote Assessment for World Language Teaching and Learning
May 6, 2021
The COVID-19 pandemic has drawn attention to many ongoing inequities in education and has raised various challenges for assessing student progress in remote, in-person, and hybrid learning environments. Ensuring learners’ access to online learning and assessments remains a high priority. The myriad challenges of connecting to remote assessments and health, safety, and other considerations for in-person assessments show the complexity of assessment. At the same time, it is critical to recognize learners’ growth in proficiency and support their progress vis-à-vis attainment of the Seal of Biliteracy: equity demands that learners have access to assessment regardless of the setting in which their learning takes place.
ACTFL supports flexible approaches to access to language assessments that are consistent with ACTFL’s core values and reflect the local context and principles of effective learning. ACTFL advocates for the inclusion of all students in language learning and assessment. Therefore, we believe learners must have wide access to external assessments to ensure the representation of all students in their language learning journeys.
When in-person assessment is not a reasonable approach, ACTFL advocates for the use of non-school based assessments. While such assessments may pose difficulties for security and reliability, recent experience has demonstrated that alternate test forms, coupled with remote computer and human proctoring, can yield comparable, valid results that allow for the inclusion of more students than solely in-person assessment, recognize health and safety considerations, and provide opportunities for programs to monitor progress and attainment of language proficiency goals, most notably the Seal of Biliteracy. Test security and test taker authentication remain challenging; such issues present differently for in-person testing than for remote testing. However, approaches should reflect the importance of increasing participation and inclusion, rather than denying access based on perceived challenges to security and examinee authentication. The pandemic has shown how flexible, creative, and inclusive our field is; we should approach student assessment with the same flexibility, creativity, and inclusivity for the sake of our learners.
Approved by the ACTFL Board of Directors on May 22, 2021
Diversity and Inclusion In World Language Teaching & Learning
May 16, 2019
ACTFL values diversity and strives for inclusion across world language teaching and learning contexts. It is committed to continuous reflection and evaluation of its specific practices and initiatives to promote diversity and inclusion.
ACTFL believes strongly in equal access to world language study and equitable opportunities for all individuals to develop linguistic and cultural competence and pedagogical knowledge. No individual should experience marginalization of their contributions or talents because of their unique attributes. Among others, these attributes include age, belief system, disability status, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, gender expression, language identity, national origin, race, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, and any other visible or non-visible attributes.
The Role of Technology in Language Learning
May 19, 2017
ACTFL strongly recommends that a language educator be responsible for the planning, instruction, assessment, and facilitation of any language course, leveraging technology to support language learning. Language instruction is best guided by language educators rather than solely delivered via a computer program or by a non-content specialist.
Supporting the Study of World Languages and Computer Science
January 26, 2017
ACTFL advocates the study of both world languages and computer science. Both are essential skills in a world that is connected across borders and through technology. Both provide specific skills and a way of thinking; however, the perspectives and skills gained are not equivalent.
What is a World Language?
January 25, 2017
A world language is a form of communication, essential to the culture of a community, with a system of sounds, letters, symbols, and/or signs recognized and utilized by humans. A world language fulfills all the following criteria, distinguishing it from other forms of communication:
The Role of Language Learning in Valuing Diversity and Promoting Unity
November 21, 2016
Recognizing the current contentious climate in the U.S., the ACTFL believes it is uniquely positioned to help bridge the ideological gaps that divide our nation. We stand with our more than 13,000 members in asserting strongly that diversity and intercultural competence are qualities that must be embraced in the U.S. and throughout the world.
Demonstrating Educator Effectiveness and Documenting Student Growth Position Statement
November 21, 2015
The educator is the catalyst for developing learners’ language proficiency and global competence so that learners are prepared to interact and communicate successfully in the global community.
Global Competence Position Statement
August 23, 2014
The ability to communicate with respect and cultural understanding in more than one language is an essential element of global competence.* This competence is developed and demonstrated by investigating the world, recognizing and weighing perspectives, acquiring and applying disciplinary and interdisciplinary knowledge, communicating ideas, and taking action.
Languages as a Core Component of Education for All Students
May 19, 2013
The ACTFL Board’s Executive Committee with leadership of the National Association of District Supervisors of Foreign Languages (NADSFL) and the National Council of State Supervisors for Languages (NCSSFL) framed the elements of a position statement to describe how four major initiatives in education in the U.S. today connect with language learning.
July 29, 2012
- ACTFL supports collaborative research and publication because studies that are conducted across levels, languages and disciplines contribute to the development of theory and practice in Foreign Language Education.
- Jointly authored publications should be valued in decisions measuring scholarly production such as merit, tenure and promotion.
Diversity and Inclusion in Language Programs
July 29, 2012
ACTFL and its members are committed to developing and maintaining a teaching and learning environment that reflects the broad diversity of American society. We welcome teachers and students from diverse cultural, linguistic, and socio-economic backgrounds to language programs. We believe that all children should have the opportunity to learn other languages and support full access for all students to language programs. In this effort, ACTFL and its member organizations.
Teacher Recruitment and Retention
July 29, 2012
Recent studies indicate a current and prospective shortage of language teachers. The recruitment and retention of a highly qualified teaching force is essential. Recognizing the reported 50% attrition rate of teachers new to the profession, we support high quality professional development for experienced teachers and mentoring services for new teachers.
General Principles of Language Learning
July 29, 2012
As part of its mission and vision, the ACTFL provides guidance to the profession and to the general public regarding issues, policies, and best practices related to the teaching and learning of languages and cultures. ACTFL is a leading national voice among language educators and administrators and is guided by a responsibility to set standards and expectations that will result in high quality language programs.
Early Language Learning
July 29, 2012
Since research shows that an early language learning experience generally results in the development of native or near-native pronunciation and intonation, ACTFL recommends that students be provided the opportunity to learn a second language as early as possible in school.
Which Languages Schools Should Offer
July 29, 2012
ACTFL believes that the opportunity to learn any second language is more important than the specific language that is learned since research shows that generally learning a third or fourth language is facilitated after learning a second. The language offerings of a school or institution of higher education should reflect the needs and interests of the communities and students they serve, as well as national and international needs. Offering a variety of languages prepares students for future economic, diplomatic, educational, and personal endeavors.
Use of the Target Language in the Classroom
May 21, 2010
Research indicates that effective language instruction must provide significant levels of meaningful communication* and interactive feedback in the target language in order for students to develop language and cultural proficiency. The pivotal role of target-language interaction in language learning is emphasized in the K-16 Standards for Foreign Language Learning in the 21st Century.
Language Learning for Heritage and Native Speakers
May 21, 2010
ACTFL and its members encourage learning environments that support heritage and native speakers of languages other than English. It is critical that these students be able to continue to develop their heritage linguistic and cultural skills in order to become fully bilingual and biliterate in today’s global environment.