Proficiency in World Languages more than just vocabulary

As Maine moves to a proficiency-based diploma, students will be required to demonstrate proficiency in content areas including World Languages.

World Languages are specific linguistic systems that involve not just vocabulary or “term sets,” but also reveal perspectives, expose cultures, allow students to interpret authentic cultural materials and engage in conversation in languages other than their own, and are organized and expressed through a structuring grammar and syntax.

The Maine Learning Results define languages as linguistic systems, not just different sets of vocabulary or technical terms, as implied through the elaboration of outlining the World Languages Standards and Performance Indicator Labels:

A. Communication

1. Interpersonal
2. Interpretive
3. Presentational
4. Language Comparisons

B. Cultures

1. Practices and Perspectives
2. Products and Perspectives
3. Comparisons with Own Culture

C. Connections

1. Knowledge of Other Learning Results Content Areas
2. Distinctive Viewpoints

D. Communities

Standard A outlines the grade span proficiencies for communication skills. As students learn the knowledge and skills outlined in Standards B, C and D, it is implied that they do so by developing and using communication skills learned in Standard A, as appropriate to their grade span. By the end of the grade span, students should be able to demonstrate their proficiency of the standards and performance indicators related to Standards B, C and D, using the communication skills learned in Standard A, as appropriate for the end of that grade span.

Many districts around the state are aligning instruction to meet these standards by offering students the opportunity to learn “commonly taught” world languages such as Spanish, German, French and Classical Languages. Others have opted to offer opportunities to students in “less commonly taught” languages, such as ASL, Arabic or Chinese. What is noteworthy is that each of these examples represents a world language in linguistic terms—as a system of language—where the 4 Cs are included and studied, and proficiency in Standards B, C and D can be demonstrated through skills acquired in Standard A.

As districts move forward with their individual planning and implementation for offering learning opportunities in World Languages, please feel free to contact Maine DOE World Languages Specialist Dr. Jay Ketner with questions or for assistance.