Teacher’s Tool Tip #5: Using ACTFL Standards to Prioritize Interweaving Interculturality and Language Study

Teacher’s Tool Tip #5: Using ACTFL Standards to Prioritize Interweaving Interculturality and Language Study

Holly Morse

Now that we have established the priorities in your classroom as

  • 1.) make it a can-do classroom for all from day one;
  • 2.) create community in your classroom, a place where students can belong and become confident language learners; and
  • 3.) prioritize oral proficiency as the outcome for your students.

Let’s delve into some of the excellent ways that ACTFL guides world language teachers as to what constitutes best practices in our classrooms.

The 2017 NCSSFL-ACTFL Can-Do Statements Proficiency Benchmarks add interculturality, recommending that students investigate the products, practices, and perspectives of another culture and interact with others as an important part of their language experience.

Often culture programs are something extra that a teacher never finds time to integrate into the lesson plan. It feels like an add-on rather than an integral part of teaching another language as these proficiency guidelines indicate.

How to effectively integrate culture into the lesson plan

The secret to doing this successfully is wrapping in the ACTFL World Readiness Standards that prioritize the five C’s of language education: communication, cultures, connections, comparisons, and communities. Using these to guide your curriculum can lead to much more interesting studies for your language students as can adding in 21st century skills for the Gen Z language student.

Be sure to provide plenty of opportunities for your students to collaborate, make decisions, problem-solve, and engage in critical thinking. Students need to reflect on the practices, products, and perspectives of their own culture in comparison with other cultures where the target language is spoken.

Honestly, the best way for teachers to impart cultural knowledge and understanding to their students is for them to travel and experience other cultures first-hand in an effort to bring their own real-world knowledge and enthusiasm back to the classroom! Write grants, seek opportunities to travel with students and on your own. Make it your professional development priority to know the cultures of the target language! Then, find innovative ways to impart knowledge and invite intercultural inquiry.

Always have your students reflect on the what, how, and why of their own culture in comparison to another. There aren’t many companies that present culture well, weaving in the building blocks of oral proficiency that push students along the path to communicating with confidence. You might take a look at Wayside Publishing Company that has both language acquisition and interculturality interwoven in their updated texts for both French and Spanish, Entreculturas/Entrecultures.

Utilize culture programs

The most innovative and experiential program that I have seen for Elementary, Middle School, and Beginning High School students is Foreign Languages for Kids by Kids. Check out their exciting new “Aventura culturales” program that invites students to participate in cultural studies in an innovative, interactive way. You might even consider attending the FL4K Exhibitor’s workshop on Interculturality at ACTFL (virtual) on Saturday, November 20, 1:50 PM; or at least checking out the Exhibitor’s Booth online to watch a 10-minute showcase of the state-of-the-art culture program.

If you are looking for ways to make culture a more important part of learning a language for your students, start exploring how to commit to this important aspect of language teaching that prepares our students to be global citizens. Let’s open the door to the world for our students!

While you wait for next week’s teacher’s tool tip, check out our other blogs on language, and be sure to follow FL4K on social media through the links at the very bottom of this page so you don’t miss the next Tool Tip and other language fun!

Missed my past Tool Tips? You can read about the Can-Do classroomthe importance of building relationships with your students, and the Student-Centered Classroom on right now!

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