The World Languages content area of the Colorado Academic Standards contains four standards: Communication in Languages Other Than English, Knowledge and Understanding of Other Cultures, Connections with Other Disciplines and Information Acquisition, and Comparisons to Develop Insight into the Nature of Language and Culture. An important aspect of the World Languages standards, which are shared with the Colorado English Langue Proficiency standards, is that they define proficiency levels for different ranges of language acquisition. The ranges in the World Languages standards go from Novice-Low to Intermediate-Mid. Learning a foreign language is not explicitly addressed for children younger than kindergarten in the Guidelines, and so there is not a direct correlation between a domain in the Guidelines for children ages 3–5 years and the World Languages standards. However, many of the skills that grade school children develop when learning a foreign language are similar to skills developed by younger children who are learning English, either as a first or second language. These connections are described in the sections below.
Communication in Languages Other Than English
The first standard focuses on communicating effectively in more than one language in order to function in a variety of situations and for multiple purposes. This standard addresses children’s ability to communicate in a foreign language in real world contexts, including interpersonal, interpretive, and presentational modes. Interpersonal communication requires culturally appropriate listening, viewing, speaking, and writing. Interpretive communication requires children to listen, view, and read using knowledge of cultural products, practices, and perspectives. Presentational communication, which is used in formal contexts, requires children to use the language to present spoken or written information in culturally appropriate ways.
These skills mirror many of the skills that are important when children are learning English as a second language, and so similar material may be found for children ages 3–5 years in the English Language Development domain of the Guidelines. Content within the subdomain for Receptive English Language Skills relates to reading and listening skills in the World Languages standards. Content within the subdomain for Expressive English Language relates to writing and speaking skills in the World Languages standards. Similarly, the skills in this World Languages standard mirrors many of the skills that are important when children acquire a first language, so similar material may be found for children ages 3–5 years in the Language Development domain of the Guidelines.
Knowledge and Understanding of Other Cultures
The second standard addresses children’s familiarity with the culture of the language being learned and their awareness of how language and culture interact in society. This includes understanding the relationship among cultural products (e.g., art, food, music, sports), cultural practices (e.g., traditions, manners), and the perspectives that underlie these products and practices. Such understanding is also a goal when children are learning English as a second language, and so similar material may be found for children ages 3–5 years in the English Language Development domain of the Guidelines. Content related to this World Languages standard is found within the preschool subdomain Engagement in English Literacy Activities. The preschool content describes how children engage with books, storytelling, and songs presented in the language they are learning (English). These types of activities are similar to those that promote cultural understanding for older children who are learning a second language.
Connections with Other Disciplines and Information Acquisition
The third standard focuses on connecting with other disciplines and acquiring information and diverse perspectives in order to use the language in academic and career-related situations. Connections may be made in a variety of ways, including examining information from international sources. This World Languages standard is similar to the Receptive English Language skills in both the English Language Development domain and the Language Development domain of the Guidelines for children ages 3–5 years. Receptive language skills include reading and listening. To comprehend in either of those modes, children of all ages must make meaningful connections with the text.
Comparisons to Develop Insight into the Nature of Language and Culture
The final standard in the World Languages content area recognizes that the study of a second language fosters greater understanding of not only the language and culture being studied, but also of an individual’s own language and culture. Although there is not a direct connection to content in the Guidelines for children ages 3–5 years, children learning a second language at any age benefit by making comparisons. Such comparisons are part of the preschool English Language Development domain as students engage in English literacy activities and as children make connections between English words or phrases and their home language.