“I overheard my daughter talking with her friends in German.”
“A person came through the line when I was bagging groceries and didn’t understand the checker. I was able to help her because I spoke Spanish!”
“My granddaughter showed me how she can write in Chinese!”
Our students can be our best public relations advocates when they use the language they are learning to communicate with friends, family, and community members. Their confidence and joy in their skills grow with their ability to use the language. But do our students really know what “getting better at Spanish, German, Chinese..” means? They might measure whether they are “good at” a language by scores on tests that do not truly reflect their ability to communicate. Many students think that just “knowing more words” would make it more possible to say what they mean. The ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines describe how a student’s ability to communicate increases gradually over time and we need to share them with students, administrators, parents, and other stakeholders. With this vision of the process of language acquisition, our students are empowered to set goals, track their progress, and see their growing ability to speak and understand the language.
A quick Google image search of “World Language Proficiency” provides a wide range of visual resources like the one shown here that can be shared with students, posted in the classroom, or shared on a class website. When a student can say “I speak pretty well for a novice mid,” the message is confident, informed, and positive and relays the story of success in the world language classroom.