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Linking the Standards for Learning Languages with the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts and Mathematics

CONTACT: Marty Abbott
703-894-2900, ext. 110

November 14, 2011, Alexandria, VA – The American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) announced today a process to revisit the National Standards for Foreign Language Learning to make explicit the link of the standards for learning languages with the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts and Mathematics and the Partnership for 21st Century Skills. ACTFL is working with the Standards Collaborative Board, which led the initial creation of national standards for learning languages, the National Association of District Supervisors of Foreign Languages (NADSFL), and the National Council of State Supervisors for Languages (NCSSFL) to revise the standards and embed them in the teaching of languages at all levels.  The National Standards redefined language learning around five goal areas that emphasize acquiring proficiency through real world use of another language: Communication, Cultures, Connections, Comparisons, and Communities. 

Barbara Mondloch, president of ACTFL, said that “the National Standards for Foreign Language Learning focused teaching and learning outcomes and began to impact curriculum, instruction, and assessment immediately upon their official release in 1996. Now, 15 years later, experiences of educators to implement the standards as well as other education initiatives suggest areas to revise or ‘refresh’ the standards so that they reflect over a decade of progress.”

The Common Core State Standards, a collaborative effort of the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) and the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices, created a common set of standards in English language arts and mathematics.  These standards, now adopted by over 40 states, identify the knowledge and skills students need to be college- and career-ready as they graduate high school.  

"The Common Core State Standards make clear that literacy is the responsibility of all disciplines. I applaud the efforts of ACTFL and its partnering world language organizations to identify explicit practices in learning languages that make a direct contribution to the development of literacy for all students,” said Gene Wilhoit, executive director of the Council of Chief State School Officers.

The Partnership for 21st Century Skills collaborated with ACTFL to develop the 21st Century Skills Map for World Languages that showcases learning activities incorporating such skills as collaboration, responsibility, media literacy, and technology for students at Novice, Intermediate, and Advanced levels in a second or third language.  These examples place language learning in real and motivating contexts for students, applying their growing proficiency to know how and when to say what to whom.

“It is no longer enough to communicate in only one language, access information from one source, or view an issue from a single perspective,” said Dane Linn, Director, Education Division, National Governors Association Center for Best Practices. “Exposure to a foreign language supports the development of the critical literacy skills outlined in the Common Core Standards as well as critical 21st century skills. These skills will better position students for success in their careers and communities.” 

The first step of the process to revisit the National Standards for Foreign Language Learning is a crosswalk of specific learning targets from beginning to advanced levels of language learning linked to the Common Core State Standards for English language arts. The working group to revisit the standards includes representation from ACTFL with district and state level supervisors of world languages.  The next step will be a refreshing of the sample progress indicators which describe what students will do to demonstrate achievement of the standards and to indicate growth in their proficiency from beginning to advanced levels.

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The American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) is the national non-profit leadership association representing over 12,000 educators of all languages from prekindergarten through postsecondary levels. Its mission is to provide vision, leadership and support for quality teaching and learning of languages. ACTFL assists its members, local schools and districts, state education agencies, and other organizations by providing professional development opportunities; serving as a liaison between organizations, government, and education; providing research and leadership on policy issues; and collaborating on projects to improve the effectiveness of language learning in the United States. (www.actfl.org)

1001 North Fairfax Street, Suite 200, Alexandria, VA  22314
Phone: 703-894-2900   Fax: 703-894-2905

Monday, November 14, 2011