One of the questions I often wrestled with as a starting teacher was how to build a logical and developmentally sound curriculum. I’ve written a blog about it before, but return to this topic as I have since found new descriptors for language development that I thought would be interesting to share.
One set of new documents that I’ve found is a series of grade-leveled booklets in which various levels of language development are described for speaking, listening, reading and writing. An example of one such chart is shown here:
As you can see, these descriptors are still quite general, allowing the teacher to decide what vocabulary to teach in order to help their learners develop towards the next level.
Here, I’ve included links to the booklets with descriptors that the WIDA (World-class Instructional Design and Assessment) developed.
Besides this, WIDA also provides ready-made Can-do descriptor name charts, so teachers can fill in the names of their own children at the appropriate level, thus creating an overview of language goals to work towards. I’ve included links to these ready-made name lists here:
Some teachers may find it a bit daunting, however, to deal with these general descriptors. Is it possible to connect these descriptors with more concrete language behaviors? The answer is: yes. The American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) has put together just such a list of concrete language behaviors in their booklet “Can-do statements: Performance indicators for language learners” (2015)
In this booklet, one finds checklists of behaviors such as “I can say hello and goodbye,” or “I can ask who, what, when, and where questions.” This booklet is meant to be a self-assessment checklist, but can just as easily be used by teachers to assess their learners and decide what benchmark their learners have achieved. Besides this, the language skills are divided up into five categories: conversing (interacting), presenting (speaking), listening, reading, and writing. These categories correspond with the five categories employed by the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR), making it easier for teachers in Europe to use this document in their own work.
Moreover, the ACTFL has collaborated with sixteen language organizations around the world to define “world-readiness standards” for learning languages, and aligned their own benchmark levels with those of the CEFR. This alignment makes it easier for teachers around the world to use these documents in informing their own teaching.
So now my question remains, what do other teachers use in designing their curricula? What checklists, language level descriptors, or other standards do you use? Please let me know!
Important update to this blog entry: I have recently had my Digital Record of Pupil Progress (DRoPP) program updated. I have re-written it to include the descriptors from the ACTFL booklet, and the levels are divided up into A0 (pre-A1), A1, A2, and B1 levels for the five language skills areas: listening, presenting, conversing, reading, and writing. I am including the booklet of instruction here so you can look it through.
If you are interested in a trial use of DRoPP, please contact me here:
Links to the ACTFL documents cited: