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position statements

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. This early language learning experience not only helps to develop native-like pronunciation but also promotes higher levels of proficiency if the student continues in a well-articulated sequence of language learning.

As part of its mission and vision, the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (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. 

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. 

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. 

The American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (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. By doing so, they will be well-positioned to live and work in an increasingly multilingual environment in the U.S. Native speakers (those raised in an environment using mainly a language other than English) and heri

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.

Maximum Class Size - 05/22/2010

This position statement, originally approved in 2010, is currently under revision by the ACTFL Board’s Professional Learning Committee, to better reflect today’s realities.

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