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Introduction to the Colorado World Languages Standards

"Standards for world languages learning: Preparing for the 21st century”


“Knowing how, when, and why to say what to whom.”

In the 21st century society, the study of more than one language is not only absolutely essential to the core curriculum, but also imperative to the economic growth and continued prosperity of the United States. Language and communication are essential to the human experience. “Knowing how, when, and why to say what to whom” are the words that encompass all the linguistic and social knowledge required for effective human-to-human interaction. Students must be linguistically and culturally equipped to communicate successfully in our multilingual, multicultural world. It is vital for students to develop and maintain proficiency in English and in at least one other language. Students from non-English speaking backgrounds must also have opportunities to develop proficiency in their first language.

Supporting this vision are four assumptions about language and culture, learners of language and culture, and language and culture education:

Competence in more than one language and culture enables people to:

  • Communicate with other people in other cultures in a variety of settings
  • Look beyond their customary borders
  • Develop insight into their own language and culture
  • Act with greater awareness of self, of other cultures, and their own relationship to those cultures
  • Gain direct access to additional bodies of knowledge
  • Participate more fully in the global community and workforce

All students can be successful language and culture learners, and they:

  • Must have access to language and culture study that is integrated into the entire school experience
  • Benefit from the development and maintenance of proficiency in more than one language
  • Learn in a variety of ways and settings
  • Acquire proficiency at varied rates

Language and culture education is part of the core curriculum, and it:

  • Is tied to program models that incorporate effective strategies, assessment procedures, and technologies
  • Reflects evolving standards at the national, state, and local levels
  • Develops and enhances basic communication skills and higher order thinking skills

All students will apply the language skills learned:

  • Within the school setting
  • At home, in the community, and abroad
  • To interpret global events from multicultural perspectives
  • To expand cross-cultural and intercultural understanding
  • For increased career opportunities
  • To become lifelong learners for personal enjoyment and enrichment

The Colorado Academic Standards for World Languages are based on these four assumptions. For these assumptions to be successful, the target language must be used most of the time. Acquisition of language occurs when students understand messages through listening, reading, and viewing. Students demonstrate acquisition through speaking and writing. The best environment for second language acquisition is one in which teachers use the target language instead of teaching about the target language. This environment sets the scene for students to better produce and use the language that will help them later to be prepared as multilingual global citizens.

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