NCSSFL-ACTFL Can-Do Statements: A Real Focus For Learning Modern Languages

Modern language teachers teach a modern language. But what do they teach?  How similar are modern language curriculums across the county, state, and nation? When students have two years of modern language, do they all have the same level of proficiency?  What does proficiency mean?

The previous ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines stated what teachers could expect of students in general terms for proficiency.  The new  NCSSFL-ACTFL Can-Do Statements clarify what being proficient means at each level (Novice, Intermediate, etc.) for speaking, listening, reading and writing.  These statements are worded in terms what the student can do.  The Can-Do Statements have very specific statements in terms of what the student can do such as at the Novice Mid level  “I can greet and leave people in a polite way”, “I can introduce myself and others”, “I can answer a variety of simple questions”, and  “I can ask some simple questions”

Now teachers can assess their curriculum and textbook  in terms of these  Can-Do Statements. The teachers will discover that the Can-Do Statements focus on real-world language such as asking for someone’s email  or rejecting an invitation.  Teachers can ask themselves, “How does my present classroom activity help my students to advance in the Can-Do statements?”

The teachers can set Can-Do goals for their students and the students can see their growth in the proficiencies.  Both students and teachers will realize that achieving various Can-Do statements is a  true reflection of proficiency as opposed to covering a unit in a textbook.

Do you use the Can-Do Statements with your students?

I have developed 5 Visual activities/games  for any modern language (no words) and have developed 28 Spanish activities for students to begin to express themselves in the modern language and to move toward spontaneous speaking.  I am develop activities based on the Can-Do Statements. Teacherspayteachers:  http://bit.ly/tpthtuttle

My ebook, 90 Mobile Learning Modern Language Activities, is available at http://bit.ly/90mlact.You 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.

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  http://bit.ly/tuttlebks

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Making Modern Language Long Vocabulary Lists into Meaningful Communication

Oftentimes a modern language teacher such as Miss Windber has to teach a long list of modern language vocabulary words such as forty food words to her students. Her students have great difficulty in learning forty words at once. She starts by dividing the food list into categories such as fruits, vegetables, meat, etc.

Miss Windberg prepares an important target language question about food for each  group of seven to nine words. As an illustration, she starts off with the question “What would you like to eat?” then she teaches seven to nine of the category words. After her students quickly practice identifying and saying these words, she has her students get into pairs. Each student asks his/her partner   in the modern language the first category question of “What would you like to eat?” four times. The partner replies with a different answer each time using “I would like to eat (the food)” or “I would not like to eat (the food)”. For the next set of seven to nine words, she introduces another food question such as “How is the ….?” and follows the same pattern. The long vocabulary list is broken into the smaller units and every time the students learn or review an important question for the topic. At the end of the vocabulary lesson, not only do they know the forty words but they can ask and answer questions about food in a mini-conversation.

How do you teach long list of vocabulary words?

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:  http://bit.ly/tpthtuttle

My ebook, 90 Mobile Learning Modern Language Activities, is available at http://bit.ly/90mlact.You 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.

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  http://bit.ly/tuttlebks

What Can Your Modern Language Students Do in Terms of Real-Life Communication?

As I prepare for my Spring semester,  I am asking myself for each chapter in the textbook “What can the students do after learning this unit?”  Unfortunately, the most common answer is to “talk about the topic” .  How real world is their learning? As  I think about the school chapter (classes, things in the school, parts of the classroom), I realize that the topic is one that relates to students but I wonder how often will they use these vocabulary words, phrases and questions outside of school?  How important is it to daily life outside of the school in the target language country?  Most modern language travel books do not even include school as a topic.

Maybe we should rethink the topics in textbooks to better prepare our students to actually be in another country.  What topics are truly important for students to be in a target language country? For example, NCSSFL-ACTFL  Can Do Statements include in the Novice Mid level “I can ask and understand how much something costs”.  When do your student learn “how much something costs” in your curriculum?  Mine occurs in the fifth or last chapter we cover.  How does that match up with what students would need to know if they were in another country? Let’s move from academic modern language to real world modern language for our students!

How does your textbook match up with real world modern language use?

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:  http://bit.ly/tpthtuttle

My ebook, 90 Mobile Learning Modern Language Activities, is available at http://bit.ly/90mlact.You 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.

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  http://bit.ly/tuttlebks