In 1993, four professional organizations (American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages, American Association of Teachers of French, American Association of Teachers of German, and American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese) began development of national standards for foreign language learning. The organizations appointed a task force, representing a variety of languages, levels of instruction, program models, and geographic regions, to define the content standards -- what students should know and be able to do -- in foreign language education in grades K–12.
In 1996, with extensive input from the broader professional community, the task force published Standards for Foreign Language Learning: Preparing for the 21st Century. The document identifies five goal areas: Communication, Cultures, Connections, Comparisons, and Communities -- called the Five Cs. Each goal area contains two to three content standards that describe the knowledge and abilities all students should have by the end of high school. The standards are designed to inform state and local standards and curriculum frameworks of the recommended approaches and expectations for each school or district. In 1999, with help from seven additional professional organizations, the task force expanded the document to include language-specific standards. This became the Standards for Foreign Language Learning in the 21st Century.
The classrooms in the Teaching Foreign Languages K–12 library present examples of the National Standards for Foreign Language Learning in action. The Introduction page of each lesson's Web or print guide lists the standards addressed by that lesson -- those that are most evident in the lesson or that students in beginning language classes are taking first steps toward developing. Standards that are only briefly touched upon in a lesson are not listed for that lesson.
To learn more about the National Standards for Foreign Language Learning, view "Standards and the Five Cs." The video provides an introduction to and illustration of the goal areas and standards, using clips from classrooms in the Teaching Foreign Languages K–12 library. Use the Standards and the Five Cs Web or print guide to inspire group discussion and personal reflection as you view the video.
For purchasing information of the National Standards for Foreign Language Learning, go to General Resources.