You are here

World Languages-Standards for Learning Languages

The Wisconsin standards for foreign language learning are based on an instructional program in languages other than English for all students beginning in kindergarten and continuing through 12th grade. These standards are not meant to reflect the status quo of language learning in Wisconsin, but are a bold statement of what parents and community members continue to request: a strong foreign language program beginning in the elementary grades. These standards do not neglect the teaching of basic language structures, but rather encourage the student to go beyond this knowledge to develop real-life uses for foreign languages. It is the role of parents, teachers, and community members alike to encourage and guide the development of these skills in our students as they strive to become responsible citizens.

The Wisconsin standards for foreign language learning reflect the latest research in the field of second language instruction as presented in Standards for Foreign Language Learning: Preparing for the 21st Century.1 This document, developed by leaders in second language education from across the United States, outlines standards for language learning. The Wisconsin content standards were adopted from this national document. The Wisconsin standards document adds performance standards that support each content standard. These were developed for students in Wisconsin by Wisconsin educators and citizens.

These standards are standards for all languages taught in Wisconsin schools, which at the time of printing include American Sign Language, Chinese, French, German, Hebrew, Japanese, Latin, Menominee, Norwegian, Ojibwe, Oneida, Russian, and Spanish. All of these languages have unique characteristics that may require some modifications in the standards to reflect their special traits. For example, Latin places a stronger emphasis on reading, while oral skills receive less emphasis. Non-Roman alphabet languages, such as Chinese, Japanese, and Russian, may require more time to develop reading and writing skills.

Five key words summarize the intent of these standards

  • COMMUNICATION: communicate in languages other than English
  • CULTURES: gain knowledge and understanding of other cultures
  • CONNECTIONS: connect with other disciplines and acquire information
  • COMPARISONS: develop insight into the nature of language and culture
  • COMMUNITIES: participate in multilingual communities at home and around the world

With communication and culture as the cornerstone for language learning, the goal is for all students to learn how, when, and why to say what to whom.

1Standards for Foreign Language Learning: Preparing for the 21st Century. (1995). Yonkers, NY: American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages.

Wisconsin's Model Academic Standards for Foreign Languages Available in three formats:

  1. On the Internet, you may download the entire document in PDF format.
  2. A new CD-ROM containing the entire set of 18 Wisconsin Model Academic Standards in Microsoft Word 6.0 format for both PC and Mac is also available. It sells for $39.95 plus shipping and handling.

For order information, please call (800) 243-8782, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m.-4:15 p.m.
Order via internet from:  Publication Sales.

For more information, contact:  

Pamela Delfosse or phone: (608) 267-9265
Fax: (608) 266-1965