As one of the most diverse states in the United States, New Jersey encompasses a multicultural, global citizenry. In all regions, there are people speaking and interacting with others in different languages; there are street signs in several languages and international enterprises conducting business in English and in a multitude of other languages. The New Jersey Department of Education, whose mission is to equip students with necessary knowledge, skills, and attitudes to participate successfully in the 21st century, embraces the state’s multiculturalism and diversity, including the acquisition of diverse languages and cultures.
2020 New Jersey Student Learning Standards for
Intent and Spirit
The study of world languages benefits all students by fostering academic success, cognitive flexibility, increased access to information from other content areas, employment opportunities, and the ability to function more effectively with understanding and respect in all environments encountered in their lives. To meet the high school graduation requirement (N.J.A.C. 6A: 8:5.1), the New Jersey Student Learning Standards — World Languages (NJSLS-WL) promotes an acquisition process that is research-based, spiraling and recursive, and aligned to appropriate proficiency targets that are designed to ultimately enable learners to attain Novice High proficiency level or higher, which is a requirement for high school graduation. All students have regular, sequential instruction in one or more world languages beginning in kindergarten and continuing at least through the freshman year of high school. Further, N.J.A.C. 6A:8-5.1(b)4 directs districts to actively encourage all students who otherwise meet the current year requirement for high school graduation to continue their study of a second language through high school in order to reach higher proficiency levels. Opportunities to develop higher levels of proficiency should be based on personal and career interests.
World languages education provides learners with the essential language skills and cultural understandings in languages other than English necessary to live and work in a global, culturally diverse world.
An education in world languages fosters a population that:
- Cultivates communication and cultural understanding in more than one language with the levels of language proficiency that are required to function in a variety of occupations and careers in the contemporary workplace;
- Exhibits attitudes, values, and skills that indicate a positive disposition and understanding of cultural differences and that enhances cross-cultural communication;
- Participates in local and global communities with people who speak languages other than English to address social justice issues and other global problems; and
- Values language learning for its long-term worth in advancing personal, work-related, and/or financial success in our increasingly interconnected world.
Unlike other content areas, the NJSLS-WL is benchmarked by proficiency levels as shown below. The NJSLS-WL is sequentially organized as a continuum toward higher levels of proficiency. Each proficiency level benchmark includes grade bands: K-2, 3-5, 6-8, and 9-12.
- Novice Low: Students communicate using words and phrases that are memorized and practiced when talking about very familiar topics related to self, family, friends, school and home.
- Novice Mid: Students communicate using memorized words and some phrases to talk about familiar topics related to school, home, and the community.
- Novice High: Students communicate using words, lists, and simple sentences to ask and answer questions, to handle simple transactions related to everyday life, and to talk about subject matter studied in other classes.
- Intermediate Low: Students communicate using simple sentences to ask and answer questions, to handle simple transactions related to everyday life, and to talk about subject matter studied in other classes.
- Intermediate Mid: Students communicate using strings of sentences to ask and answer questions, to handle simple transactions related to everyday life, and to talk about subject matter studied in other classes.
- Intermediate High: Students communicate using connected sentences and paragraphs to handle complicated situations on a wide-range of topics.
- Advanced Low: Students communicate using paragraph-level discourse to handle complicated situations on a wide-range of topics.
Each proficiency level features the modes of communication, which represent the three core standards of World Languages.
- Interpretive Mode of Communication: In the Interpretive mode of communication, students demonstrate understanding of spoken and written communication within appropriate cultural contexts. Examples of this kind of one-way reading or listening include cultural interpretations of printed texts, videos, online texts, movies, radio and television broadcasts, and speeches. Beyond the Novice level, “interpretation” differs from “comprehension” because it implies the ability to read or listen “between the lines” and “beyond the lines.”
- Interpersonal Mode of Communication: In the Interpersonal mode of communication, students engage in direct oral and/or written communication with others. Examples of this “two-way” communication include conversing face-to-face, participating in online discussions or videoconferences, instant messaging and text messaging, and exchanging personal letters or e-mail messages.
- Presentational Mode of Communication: In the Presentational mode of communication, students present, orally and/or in writing, information, concepts and ideas to an audience of listeners or readers with whom there is no immediate interaction. Examples of this one-to-many mode of communication include a presentation to a group, posting an online video or webpage, creating and posting a podcast or videocast, and writing an article for a newspaper.
The modes of communication are explicated by core ideas and performance expectations — describing what students can do with the language they are learning at the targeted proficiency level. The intercultural statements build upon the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) statements for Intercultural Communication (Moeller & Yu, 2015). These statements underscore the intricate relationship between language and culture for establishing effective and positive relationships across cultural boundaries.
The practices are the skills that individuals who leverage their ability to speak multiple languages in their careers use on a regular basis. Because the purpose of World Languages is to provide students with the essential language skills and cultural understandings in languages other than English, many of the practices can be applied to daily life. These practices establish a strong link between communication and culture, which is applied when making connections and comparisons and in using language to function as part of local and global communities. Curriculum writers and educators will want to consider how they can design learning experiences that will enable their students to develop these skills in conjunction with the skills reflected in the core ideas and performance expectations (ACTFL, 2012).
Communicate effectively in more than one language in order to function in a variety of situations and for multiple purposes.
Learners use the language to investigate, explain, and reflect on the relationship between the practices and perspectives, as well as the products and perspectives, of the cultures studied.
Learners use the language to investigate, explain, and reflect on the nature of language through comparisons of the language and cultures studied and their own.
Develop insight into the nature of language and culture in order to interact with cultural competence.
Learners use the language both within and beyond the classroom to interact and collaborate in their community and the globalized world. Learners set goals and reflect on their progress in using languages for enjoyment, enrichment, and advancement.
- Center for Applied Linguistics provides research, instructional materials, professional development and resources related to language and culture.
- Fulbright Teacher and Administrator Exchange Program has a variety of opportunities for educators to bring international perspectives into their classrooms by participating in programs of varied duration.
- National Board Certification in World Languages Other than English contains information and resources to obtain National Board Certification.
- National Foreign Language Resource Centers includes 16 resources centers around the United States focusing on language learning and teaching materials, professional development and research on language learning.
- Northeast Conference on the Teaching of Foreign Language (NECTFL) provides professional development for world language educators.
- STARTALK offers tuition-free language learning courses for students, professional development opportunities for teachers in critical need languages, and free resources for teachers of all languages.
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