Saturday, December 22, 2012

ACTFL Lowers the Bar (in a good way)

I spent a bit of this morning reading through ACTFL's Performance Descriptors for Language Learners. Despite some red flags, such as the assumption that output should be a part of language learning from the earliest stages and the special nod to the special classical languages, the document has a lot to offer. More than its sister, anyway, describing the standards themselves.

The part I liked the most was the attempt to correct the all-to-common misunderstanding that "after four years of foreign language study in high school you should pretty much be able to be a spy."

For a snapshot, see pages 12:

and 13:

The last picture is pure gold. If you start learning a language in grade 9, your high school career won't even get you close to the "advanced" range. It's not supposed to, it's impossible, and there's no shame in that for students or teachers. So, in a good way, ACTFL lowers the bar, or rather acknowledges that the correct height is much lower than some would have it.

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