Modern Language Proficiency – What does it mean?

What does proficiency mean in the modern language classroom? Proficiencies are defined either by the state curriculum such as the NYS checkpoint A, B, or C or by the ACTFL proficiency standards / NCSSFL-ACTFL Can-Do Statements.

Proficiencies do not refer to individual  activities such as  translating a word from English to the modern language nor doing a verb conjugation. A proficiency is not identifying the forms of a verb. A proficiency is not saying the names of  the family members in the modern language from a list of English words.  A proficiency is not pronouncing places. The ACTFL Can-Do statements do have a Grammar proficiency section. Grammar is integrated in meaningful ways such as Interpersonal Communication  Intermediate High- I can participate with ease and confidence in conversations on familiar topics..in various time frames.”

Proficiency refer to the student’s ability to communicate such as speaking  at the Interpersonal Communication Novice Mid level – “I can communicate basic information about myself and the people I know”  as the student says “something about the members of my family  and ask about someone’s family”. When students demonstrate this communication, they have shown a specific speaking proficiency. With the NCSSFL-ACTFL Can-Do Statements, students can see their achievements as they accomplish more  proficiencies. Since the Can-Do statements divide up the big level of Novice into three subcategories and each subcategory has numerous proficiencies, students can see progress as they go from Novice Low to Novice Mid to Novice High.

For our students to be proficient in the modern language, we will want to quickly move them from the low subskills of vocabulary and grammar to the proficiencies of language for communication. The more we have them use the modern language for real life purposes, the more proficient they become.

What do you mean by proficiency?

By early May, my book, tentatively titled,  Modern Language Proficiency: Can-Do Strategies will be published at Smashwords. It contains many strategies for developing  Can-Do proficiencies for speaking,  listening, reading and writing;it also has  sections on vocabulary, textbook and mobile; the major emphasis is on speaking. Each strategy contains a Can-Do statement and a sample activity.

To help your beginning and more advanced students move toward spontaneous speaking which students need as they climb the Can-Do statements. I have developed 5 Visual activities/games  for any modern language (no words) and have developed 28 Spanish activities for students.  I am developing activities based on the NCSSFL-ACTFL 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 and cultural 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

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

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