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:

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.

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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