These Guiding Principles for Language Learning inform not just educators and learners but also all stakeholders, including parents, administrators, governing bodies/boards, legislators, and the community at large. This initial set of statements comes from the position statements previously approved by the ACTFL Board; it is not a finite or fixed list. It is intended that this set of statements will evolve and continue to grow as new topics emerge and to reflect new realities in the diversity of learners and learning situations. These statements respond to the challenge to identify what is effective in language learning and provide guidance to educators and learners alike. ACTFL welcomes ongoing discussion to update and refine these statements, informed by new research and experiences.
These Guiding Principles for Language Learning provide the means to shape discussion to answer questions that arise about specific practices, policies, or programs. Professional learning communities or networks (including language departments, online communities, and formal or informal groups) will use these statements to explore their practices for language instruction and assessment. Non-educators (including parents, board members, and administrators) will use these statements as a description of what to observe in classrooms at any level, providing a set of criteria for discussing what is effective for language learning.
Each statement follows the format of answering four questions:
- What? Identifies the belief and briefly describes it.
- Why? Explains a rationale behind the statement, a brief overview to frame the belief.
- How? Describes strategies for acting on this belief, implementing the practice in instructional settings, and using this guiding principle in supporting learners.
- Find Out More: Provides specific references for underlying research, additional resources, and applications.
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. Global competence is fundamental to the experience of learning languages whether in classrooms, through virtual connections, or via everyday experiences. Language learning contributes an important means to communicate and interact in order to participate in multilingual communities at home and around the world. This interaction develops the disposition to explore the perspectives behind the products and practices of a culture and to value such intercultural experiences.