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Apr 12, 2023 Lexicon

World-Readiness Standards: A Guide for Language Learners and Educators

The ability to communicate in multiple languages has become increasingly important in today’s interconnected world. The American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) recognized this need and collaborated with 16 other language organizations to create the World-Readiness Standards for Learning Languages. The purpose of these standards is to guide language learners and educators to communicate effectively and interact with global competence while participating in communities locally and globally.

The World-Readiness Standards were recently modified to focus on literacy, real-world applications of language, and 21st century skills. These standards provide a roadmap for language learners to acquire the necessary knowledge and abilities to become world-ready educated citizens. They are organized around five goal areas, also known as the Five C’s: Communication, Cultures, Connections, Comparisons, and Communities.

The 5 C’s of Language Learning

The Communication goal is divided into three content standards, each describing a different mode or purpose of communication. The Interpersonal mode emphasizes interacting with others and negotiating meaning. The Interpretive mode emphasizes understanding and analyzing what is heard, read, or viewed. The Presentational mode emphasizes creating messages to inform, explain, persuade, or narrate. Each mode addresses how learners speak, write, listen, view, and use media anytime, anywhere, with anyone.

The World-Readiness Standards also include sample performance indicators that allow students and teachers to reflect on and track progress in all three modes of communication using “Can-Do” statements. These statements describe real-life applications of language, showing what learners can do at each stage from novice to intermediate to advanced.

The other four C’s outline what students do with the language and how they utilize it in a wide variety of contexts. In the Cultures and Comparisons content standards, students use the target language to investigate, explain, and reflect on aspects of language and how cultural perspectives influence our practices and products. In the Connections content standards, students build critical thinking and problem-solving skills and also access and evaluate diverse perspectives. In the Communities content standards, students use the language within and beyond the classroom as well as set goals and reflect on their progress.

Sample Progress Indicators and Benefits of World-Readiness Standards

The World-Readiness Standards also include sample progress indicators that are specific to student age and language level, acknowledging that learners’ cognitive and maturity levels may not match their language abilities. This means that even though learners at the same proficiency level have similar language abilities, the tasks they perform with the language change based on their age, experience, and interests.

To have another language is to possess a second soul.

  • Charlemagne

Combined, the World-Readiness Standards show us what learners should know, be able to do, and how well they can do it. They help learners understand their growing ability to communicate effectively and interact with global competence. Additionally, they provide language educators at all levels with a clear roadmap to follow in order to guide their students to a place of world readiness.

Achieving Global Competence through the World-Readiness Standards

At the core of human experience lies language and communication. It’s imperative that the US education system equips students with linguistic and cultural proficiency to communicate effectively in a diverse society and beyond. This includes proficiency in English and at least one other language, and students from non-English backgrounds should have opportunities to develop further proficiencies in their first language.

The World-Readiness Standards are an essential tool for language learners and educators who aim to develop global competence and become world-ready citizens. By following the Five C’s and utilizing the performance and progress indicators, language learners can develop their abilities to communicate effectively and interact with people from diverse cultural backgrounds. With this knowledge, they can participate in local and global communities with confidence and success.

To learn more, view a summary of the World-readiness standards for learning languages.