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Preschool and Elementary Spanish and the Standards for Foreign Language Learning

The National Standards for Foreign Language Learning represent an important guide for the preschool and elementary Spanish teacher. These standards were first published in 1996 in the document, “Standards for Foreign Language Learning in the 21st Century.” The standards were developed out of a collaboration among the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) and numerous other national associations of foreign language teaching. The document they produced is thorough, well-written, and extremely relevant to all foreign language teaching. Essentially, the standards define the “what” (should students learn) of foreign language learning in American classrooms. The following is the statement of philosophy from the standards document:

Language and communication are at the heart of the human experience. The United States must educate students who are equipped linguistically and culturally to communicate
successfully in a pluralistic American society and abroad. This imperative envisions a future in which ALL students will develop and maintain proficiency in English and at least one other language, modern or classical. Children who come to school from no-English-speaking backgrounds should also have opportunities to develop further proficiencies in their first language.

Supporting this vision are three assumptions about language and culture, learner of language and culture, and language and culture education:

Competence in more than one language and culture enables people to

  • communicate with other people in other cultures in a variety of settings,
  • look beyond their customary borders,
  • develop insight into their own language and culture,
  • act with greater awareness of self, of other cultures, and their own relationship to those cultures,
  • gain direct access to additional bodies of knowledge, and
  • participate more fully in the global community and marketplace.

All students can be successful language and culture learners, and they

  • must have access to language and culture study that is integrated into the entire school experience,
  • benefit from the development and maintenance of proficiency in more than one language,
  • learn in a variety of ways and settings, and
  • acquire proficiency at varied rates.

Language and culture education is part of the core curriculum, and it

  • is tied to program models that incorporate effective strategies, assessment procedures, and technologies,
  • reflects evolving standards at the national, state, and local levels, and
  • develops and enhances basic communication skills and higher order thinking skills.


The Standards for Foreign Language Learning have guided us through the development of the Sonrisas curriculum. Even if you are not required to teach to the standards in your Spanish class, they can be an excellent resource for you as you think about what you need to be teaching to your students. Click here to download a PDF of the standards from the ACTFL website.

Sonrisas Spanish School creates, publishes, and sells preschool and elementary Spanish curriculum and Spanish music for children. The Sonrisas curriculum can be used to teach preschool, elementary, and home school Spanish. Currently, our Spanish language curriculum for kids is being used nationwide to teach Spanish to children.

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