Curriculum Information for Parents

To see the languages offered at NHPS, go here.

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Gone are the days of spending language classes conjugating verbs and translating sentences! Over the past twenty-five years, the world language field has changed dramatically. There is now a focus on students' ability to communicate in the real-world and interact with authentic texts and native speakers. There have been national standards in foreign language since 1999. These helped to define high-quality language curricula from PreK-16. The ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines, first published in 1986, have gone through numerous revisions to become the bar with which colleges, businesses, and public schools define “how well” someone knows a language. Assessment has shifted to a focus on authentic tasks, such as interpreting texts from the target culture, participating in spontaneous conversations, and producing written and spoken presentations meant for an audience. These shifts in thinking have informed the design of the new NHPS World Languages curricula. See a video about the World-Readiness Standards here:

What will students learn through the NHPS Curriculum Units?
The national Standards for Foreign Language Learning (1999) and the Connecticut World Languages Frameworks (2005) redefined the goals of world language programs beyond the mere reading, writing, and translation courses of the past. There are five major goal areas – the 5 C’s: Communication, Cultures, Connections to other Subject areas, Comparisons of Languages and Cultures, and Communities (the use of the language beyond the classroom). These are the areas in which students must be able to function in order to be truly proficient in a language.
Each of the new NHPS Curriculum units contain student objectives in each of the 5Cs.

Within the standards and in our curriculum units, communication is defined by three “modes of communication.” This helps teachers and students focus on building a range of skills (versus the reading and writing classes of old!). Interpretive communication is the ability to comprehend when listening, reading, or viewing. Interpersonal communication is used when speaking in person-person spontaneous situations (or even writing/texting in real-time situations). Presentational communication requires the skills used when preparing and presenting orally or in writing for an audience. A proficient speaker of a language must be proficient in all three modes. ALL of the new NHPS Curriculum units include student objectives and performance tasks for each "mode of communication."
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How do we measure “proficiency” in a language?g
In the United States, there are clear definitions of world language proficiency that can be used to assess student progress. These guidelines are established by the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL). The “ACTFL Proficiency Scale” defines language learning on a continuum from Novice to Distinguished, with each level divided further into low, mid, and high (ex. Novice-Mid). In the graphic to the right, you’ll notice that the breadth of what students are able to do with language in terms of topics and content increases as they move up the proficiency levels. In NHPS, we have defined our Proficiency Targets for each level of language study. See the chart below.
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NHPS Proficiency Targets
NHPS teachers set the proficiency targets below for each level of instruction. This is a huge shift from the grammar lists of the past! This means that teachers and students will focus on developing students' ability to use real-world communication skills.

The first column in the table is the minimum level we expect all students- who have not studied the language before- to achieve by the end of the level; however, the curriculum documents for each level are designed to help students reach the second column target – and some students may progress even further. Note that the progression through the Intermediate Level requires mastery of a number of skills, as well as the ability to “create” with language; therefore, it can take a few years to get through. See the ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines for definitions of each level.

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NHPS World Languages Department Curriculum
Click on this file to see a 6-12 Curriculum-At-A-Glance.

Learn more about New Haven Public Schools and our World Languages Program here.