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 heritage speakers (those raised in an environment where the language was most likely spoken in the home) benefit from instruction that draws on and enhances their native or heritage language skills and cultural knowledge.
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. ACTFL therefore recommends that language educators and their students use the target language as exclusively as possible (90% plus) at all levels of instruction during instructional time and, when feasible, beyond the classroom. In classrooms that feature maximum target-language use, instructors use a variety of strategies to facilitate comprehension and support meaning making.
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 Support a teaching and learning environment where diversity is appreciated and respected Advocate diverse language learning opportunities for all socio-economic levels in urban, suburban, and rural communities Work to develop, support, promote and enhance the language skills of Native American and heritage language learners Initiate and support efforts to recruit and retain a diverse teaching force in the language profession Work to ensure that the organization’s structure, services, professional development, and policies address the needs of our diverse profession Promote awareness and differentiation of language instruction to accommodate students’ diverse learning styles; exceptional learning needs; cultural, ethnic, and linguistic backgrounds; and personal interests and goals Encourage the selection and use of instructional materials that integrate multicultural and diverse perspectives throughout the curriculum
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.