Change Modern Language Reading Passages to Target Language Only

ACTFL’s 90% guideline push us to use the target language in the classroom.  However, that target language push seems to break down when it comes to a final and specifically, the reading passage on a final.  Many finals such as the former New York State Regents have a passage in the target language and then comprehension questions in English. The implication seems to be that the students cannot understand the new modern language enough to answer questions.

Even beginning students can answer questions in the target language about a reading passage. If students read a passage that states “Bob goes to the store for milk”, students can answer in the target language reading comprehension questions such as “Who goes to the store?” or  “Where does Bob go?”.  Students answer with the word directly taken from the passage.

Teacher can increase the difficulty of the reading comprehension by using synonyms so students do not answer  directly from the passage.  “Bob buys twelve apples and two carrots for four dollars”  A reading comprehension question might be “Which does he buy more of:  vegetable or fruit?” or “How much does he spend?”  Notice that in these questions the student has to know the synonym for the word in the passage.

An even harder level is that of inference where students have to use logic.  “Bob watches the TV weather and takes his umbrella to work.”   The weather will probably be A) snow  B) rain  C) cloudy  or D) windy. In the inference level, the student has to go beyond the literary meaning and make an assumption. People use an umbrella for protection from the rain.

Do you keep reading comprehension in the target language even at beginning levels?

My ebook, 90 Mobile Learning Modern Language Activities, is available at can instantly use these many communication activities in your classroom with even beginning students when only half the class has mobile devices. It can be downloaded as a pdf.

I have developed 5 Visual activities/games  for any modern language (no words) and have developed 27 Spanish activities for students to begin to express themselves in the modern language and to move toward spontaneous speaking Teacherspayteachers:

My three formative assessment books, Improving Foreign Language Speaking Through Formative Assessment, Formative Assessment: Responding to Your Students and Successful Student Writing Through Formative Assessment, are available at

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