It's somewhat heartening that the common core proficiency standards are based on the ACTFL proficiency standards, so they are not completely out of touch with research in our field. Below is a nice visual from the NCDPI document to show about how far we should expect students to be at each level:
|from "NORTH CAROLINA WORLD LANGUAGE ESSENTIAL STANDARDS: CLASSICAL LANGUAGES, DUAL & HERITAGE LANGUAGES, MODERN LANGUAGES." North Carolina Department of Public Instruction.|
Basically: students should achieve Novice Mid by the end of their first year in everything except presentational speaking, then move up a sub-level each year in everything.
Strangely, the standards are broken down into only 3 strands: CLL (Connections to Language & Literacy), COD (Connections to Other Disciplines), and CMT (Communities), and each of those is broken down into the SAME FOUR standards:
- Engage in interpersonal communication
- Understand words and concepts (interpretive)
- Present to an audience in the language (presentational)
- Compare student culture and target culture
What you'll find is that the standards ARE differentiated by the Clarifying Objectives, which, though often repetitive, are more specific than previous NC standards. Each standard gives specific subgroups that should be covered.
For example, Novice Low-Connections to Language & Literacy 1.1 (NL.CLL.1.1) suggests "needs, preferences, and feelings," much like. That is, you still teach kids to say "Me gusta, no me gusta" and "¿Cómo estás?" first thing.
So as near I can figure it, here is what you need to cover at the Novice levels (ie Spanish I and II):
CLL: memorize phrases, questions, greetings/courtesy (see Linguafolio Novice Low); recite
COD: vocabulary--weather, dates, class/school stuff
CMT: target culture traditions, arts, sports, games, media--IDENTIFY
CLL: likes/dislikes, emotions, routine and "surroundings"; context clues; recite
COD: class/school/academic "environment" (objects) and questions/commands,
CMT: target culture traditions, arts, sports, games, media--DESCRIBE (words and phrases)
CLL: "familiar topics"; recite AND act out
COD: topics/simple processes/common themes of other disciplines
CMT: target culture traditions, arts, sports, games, media--DESCRIBE, COMPARE (simple phrases, short sentences; key characteristics); conversations about family, friends, activities
Of course there are a lot of other things you have to work in along the way, like identifying/understanding/using cognates and loan words and presenting information to an audience, figuring out how the culture's products, practices, and perspectives change the world. You know, the usual.
All in all, I think the Common Core Essential Standards for World Languages are pretty much as doable as the state standards they replaced--at least here (I still resent being the only discipline that is REQUIRED to stage school-wide and/or community-wide activities as part of our curriculum). At the same time, they're more descriptive, enough to kind of keep a department or district on the same page--without a mandated lock-step verb form by verb form pacing guide.
It's a lot to digest, but you'll be happy to know that the aftertaste is pretty tolerable.