Standards are the topical organization of an academic content area. The four standards of world languages are:
- Communication in Languages Other Than English
- Knowledge and Understanding of Other Cultures
- Connections with Other Disciplines and Information Acquisition
- Comparisons to Develop Insight into the Nature of Language and Culture
The educated American of the 21st century needs to be conversant in at least one language in addition to his/her native language. Colorado’s continued leadership is going to rely heavily on its capacity to communicate across borders. Communication is the heart and soul of any culture, but learning another language builds a bridge that helps Americans relate to people of other nations and cultures. Students acquire the communication strategies that will aid them in participating in the global community.
In the 21st century students speak, read, view, and comprehend both spoken and written languages other than English to participate effectively in personal interactions with members of other cultures. Students interpret the concepts, ideas, and opinions expressed by members of these cultures through their media and literature. As students learn the languages and cultures that they may encounter in their personal lives and careers in the future, communication strategies that empower students include the ability to guess intelligently; to derive meaning from context; to understand, interpret, and produce gestures effectively; to ask for and provide clarification; to make and check hypotheses; to make inferences, predictions, and generalizations; to reflect on the nature of interaction; and to draw informed conclusions and maintain a healthy sense of humor, patience, and tenacity in the communication process. Language study helps students analyze important questions to extend learning beyond the classroom. Strong, confident communicative command in a language other than English gives students excellent skill and knowledge for success in the workforce of the 21st century.
Real-world communication occurs in a variety of ways. It may be interpersonal, in which culturally appropriate listening, reading, viewing, speaking, and writing occurs as a shared activity among language users. It may be interpretive, in which language users listen, view, and read using knowledge of cultural products, practices, and perspectives. It may be presentational, in which speaking and writing occur in culturally appropriate ways.
Prepared Graduate Competencies in the Communication in Languages Other Than English Standard are:
- Engage in conversations, provide and obtain information, express feelings and emotions, and exchange opinions (interpersonal mode)
- Understand and interpret written and spoken language on a variety of topics (interpretive mode)
- Present information, concepts, and ideas to an audience of listeners or readers on a variety of topics (presentational mode)
2. Knowledge and Understanding of Other Cultures
Today’s increasingly global society requires a better understanding of cultures. To communicate successfully in another language, students must not only develop facility with the language but they should also develop familiarity with the cultures that use the languages and an awareness of how language and culture interact in society. Only those who possess knowledge of both can then realize the unique and significant connections between the culture that is lived and the language that is spoken. Students apply this knowledge as they express and interpret events and ideas in a second language and reflect upon observations from other cultures. Through their analysis of various resources in the target language, students are able to obtain information on topics of personal and global interest. Second language study helps students formulate self-identity and develops their world view.
Culturally appropriate language use requires the understanding of the relationship between the products a culture produces, the practices that the culture manifests, and the perspectives that underlie these products and practices. Students must acquire the ability to interact appropriately with target culture members to communicate successfully. This category allows students to connect and compare languages and cultures. As students grow in their language development, they develop strategies for building relationships within the world community.
Prepared Graduate Competencies in the Knowledge and Understanding of Other Cultures Standard are:
- Demonstrate an understanding of the relationship between the practices and perspectives of the cultures studied
- Demonstrate an understanding of the relationship between the products and perspectives of the cultures studied
3. Connections with Other Disciplines and Information Acquisition
Learning is interdisciplinary. Students bring a wealth of experience and knowledge of the world around them to the language classroom. Connecting the foreign language curriculum to what students already know from other parts of their academic lives opens doors to information and experiences that can enrich their entire school and life experience. Examining authentic information available via technology widens the lens of a world language learner to include international sources. The connections that flow from other areas to the foreign language classroom can add unique experiences and insights into the rest of the school’s curriculum. Students use their developing language skills to pursue topics of personal interest, unrelated to the limits of academic life, and as a result nurture and strengthen their lifelong learning skills and lifelong language-using skills. As students engage in experiences where skills in another language and cross-cultural knowledge are needed, their intercultural understanding is heightened.
Prepared Graduate Competencies in the Connections with Other Disciplines and Information Acquisition Standard are:
- Reinforce and further knowledge of other disciplines through the foreign language
- Acquire information and recognize the distinctive viewpoints that are only available through the foreign language and its cultures
4. Comparisons to Develop Insight into the Nature of Language and Culture
The study of a language other than English (a second language) fosters the development of a greater understanding of not only the language and culture being studied, but of an individual’s own language and culture. The resulting linguistic and intercultural explorations expand a learner’s view of the world. Students gain insights into the nature of language in society in culturally appropriate ways. The study fosters an awareness of alternative views of other cultures by comparing the student’s own culture with another culture, including the relationship between accepted practices, products, and perspectives.
Prepared Graduate Competencies in the Comparisons to Develop Insight into the Nature of Language and Culture Standard are:
- Demonstrate understanding of the nature of language through comparisons of the language studied and their own
- Demonstrate understanding of the concept of culture through comparisons of the cultures studied and their own