Educators across the US are constantly updating their methods of teaching languages. Schools are offering more than the basic Spanish and French, and more focus is being placed on how and what students are learning in the classroom.

Language learning standards are usually divided into those for teaching classical languages such as Latin, ancient Greek, and ancient Hebrew, from those for teaching modern languages. A language is considered “modern” if it is still in use, with living, native speakers.

Language and culture are closely connected, and educators blend instruction on the products and practices related to the language and its users with language lessons. So, it makes sense that the standards also focus on these elements. Most state standards primarily use a framework focused on communication and culture.

Within the communication anchor standard, learners are expected to build skills in interpretative communication, interpersonal communication, and presentational communication. This anchor covers what educators traditionally understand as the four skills of language learning: speaking, listening, reading and writing.

The culture anchor standard has always been part of language learning, but it’s only recently been brought to the same level as the usual four skills. Learners are now expected to understand the hows and whys of the language and its users, and to hopefully get more usefulness from their language learning journey.

Let’s take a look at the world languages frameworks from the New York State Department of Education’s documentation for modern languages. (Note: the standards for classical languages is nearly identical.)

Anchor Standard: Communication
Learners communicate effectively in the target language in order to function in a variety of contexts and for multiple purposes.

Standard 1: Interpretive Communication
Learners understand, interpret, and analyze what is heard, read, received*, or viewed on a variety of topics, using a range of diverse texts, including authentic resources.

Standard 2: Interpersonal Communication
Learners interact and negotiate meaning in spontaneous, spoken, visual*, or written communication to exchange information and express feelings, preferences, and opinions.

Standard 3: Presentational Communication
Learners present information and ideas on a variety of topics adapted to various audiences of listeners, readers, or viewers* to describe, inform, narrate, explain, or persuade

Anchor Standard: Cultures

Learners use the target language to identify, describe, compare, and explain the practices, products, and perspectives of the cultures studied.

Standard 4: Relating Cultural Practices and Products to Perspectives
Learners use the target language to identify, describe, and explain the practices and products of the cultures studied as well as the cultural perspectives they suggest.

Standard 5: Cultural Comparisons
Learners use the target language to compare the products and practices of the cultures studied and their own.

*Denotes a term specific to American Sign Language