Standard of Learning logo

PWCS World Language Curriculum, K-12 Overview
Alignment to National and State Standards

The PWCS world language curriculum K-12 is aligned to the Virginia World Language Standards of Learning (VA SOLs) and our profession’s national standards called the World-Readiness Standards.

National Standards: World-Readiness Standards for Learning Languages

All of the Virginia World Language Standards of Learning (SOLs) are based on our national standards, called the World-Readiness Standards for Learning Languages produced by the national organization called ACTFL (American Association on the Council of Teaching Foreign Languages); the website houses these national standards and all of the subsequent support documents which provide the profession more specific instructional supports that define how to align the goals, learning targets, student activities, instructional strategies, resources, and performance assessments. ACTFL Core Practices define the six most important instructional practices that all world language teachers are recommended to include in teaching students in K-12 programs in order to meet our national, state, and local curriculum goals. A visual of these Core Practices is shared with all PWCS world language teachers and administrators and used as the framework upon which all professional learning is aligned.

The national standards which were originally created in 1996 and then revised in 2013, identified five goals, referred to as the 5 Cs: Communication, Cultures, Connections, Comparisons, and Communities as the foundation of all language programs in the US, K through grade 12. Although the original icon resembled the Olympic rings and were of equal size, researchers made clear that Communication was the main goal of all instruction through three modes: interpretive (listening and reading), interpersonal (speaking and writing), and presentational (speaking and writing). In PWCS world language teachers identified this goal as the power standard, or most important one to teach. The next most important supporting goal is Cultures which requires the integration of the products, practices, and perspectives of the cultures represented by the speakers of the studied or target language. Then the other three C standards; Connections, Comparisons, and Communities are additional supporting standards which require the integration of multi-disciplinary concepts such as the Arts, history, STEM, sports, literature, among other content areas, making comparisons and contrasts to one’s own language/English, and to be prepared to use the language learning beyond the classroom into the immediate and broader global community.

World Language Standards of Learning for Virginia

The Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) released the revised Virginia Standards of Learning (SOL) for World Languages in March of 2021. They are divided into three main language clusters and then have three additional new sections listed below and all located on the VDOE website with supporting documents that will continue to be added in the near future. There are NO language-specific state world language standards. Check the state website for more information and supporting documents: VDOE World Language Standards of Learning.

The new revised state standards of 2021 include the following main world language programs in this order:

  1. Modern World Languages (Including Roman and Non-Roman Alphabet World Languages)
  2. Classical Languages
  3. Visual Languages
  4. Heritage Language Programs
  5. Dual Language Immersion Programs K-12
  6. Elementary FLES (Foreign Language in the Elementary Schools)
  • The Modern Languages may include: Roman alphabet languages such as: French, German, Italian, Spanish, and others; and Non-Roman alphabet languages such as: Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Russian, and others.
  • The Classical Languages may include Ancient Greek and Latin. 
  • The Visual Languages may include American Sign Language and other visual languages of other countries.
  • Heritage Language Programs are sometimes known as Fluent Speakers or Native Speakers Programs
  • Dual Language Immersion Programs may also include one-way immersion programs.
  • Elementary FLES is the umbrella term used to identify elementary programs that are called sequential, content-related and/or exploratory elementary programs.

All local school division curriculum must be aligned to the state SOL.

The VDOE does NOT have a state world language exam and has no plans to create one. 

Local school divisions are recommended to create local common benchmark assessments and to use external nationally endorsed assessments such as the AAPPL (ACTFL Assessment of Performance towards Proficiency), STAMP (Standards-based Measurement of Proficiency), AP (Advanced Placement), IB (International Baccalaureate), Cambridge, and others for progress monitoring.

PWCS Current Curriculum Documents 

The PWCS curriculum design for all content areas is based on a modified Understanding by Design (UbD) unit organization created originally by renowned researchers Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe. After a few years of professional training on curriculum unit design, especially in the Office of Student Learning, PWCS implemented Division-wide units in 2015-16 for all content areas K-12. All content areas were also required to create a Pacing Guide at-a-Glance for each course.

The PWCS curriculum units correspond to three stages of instruction: outcomes (the content focus), evidence (performance assessments), and learning experiences. Within the learning experiences, there is a section on peer-reviewed materials which include the Division adopted textbook materials as a key, but not only, resource for consistency. All units also include differentiation strategies for all types of learners with links to specific scaffolds and research-based best practices to ensure the success of all students’ access to the curriculum. Specific notes about how to differentiate for English learners at various levels of English proficiency and which of the WIDA Standards correlate to each unit is also infused.

Curriculum units were created by committees of teachers through a multi-year process to include collaboration with Special Education, English learner, and Gifted educators. Curriculum creation and revision is an ongoing process in PWCS in order to improve the documents by ensuring that the most current resources and best practices are embedded and that as many teachers as possible participate in this opportunity of professional growth.

Committees of world language teachers have been creating and revising the curriculum units since the summer of 2014 and continue to do so as this Division process coincided with the revision of the State World Language SOLs in 2014 and our own textbook adoption process in 2015-16. World Languages used the 2014-16 time to increase the knowledge of all WL teachers to the state revisions and the current best practices and newly adopted resources in the 10 languages that are offered Division-wide.

All teachers on the curriculum creation committees were required to read the latest research best practices about thematic unit design, best teaching and learning practices like in TELL (Teaching for Effective Language Learning) and Understanding by Design articles and documents about curriculum design. Committees also benchmarked thematic world language units created in school divisions throughout the US.

World Language curriculum units are being created with priority for the main levels of study of the basic program, Levels 1-3 offered in middle and high schools. Given that the number of teachers for each language Division-wide varies from one to 100, the larger language teams are further along with the curriculum creation than the singleton languages such as Arabic, Korean, Russian, and the other smaller teams such as ASL, German, Italian, Latin, and even Spanish for Fluent Speakers.

Since World Language just adopted new textbooks for all languages in 2015-16 and the phase of these new materials may vary by school given the school-based funding, the curriculum units are flexible to accommodate both the old and new textbook materials. Schools typically phase-in buying the new materials one year at a time, but a few schools purchased all levels and implemented them at one time. The curriculum allows, and teachers are encouraged, to identify and use authentic, current materials in addition to the key parts and merits of the adopted materials. It is also understood that the first draft of the curriculum units will be revisited at the end of the school year for revisions based on the feedback of all teachers, not only in pacing, but in every area to improve them on an annual basis.

Curriculum units are for the use of teachers only as they include assessment items and lesson planning tools. However, the Pacing Guides, upon which the curriculum units are based, show a year at-a-glance and what students will be able to do in the world language and provide a user-friendly format for all languages and levels 1-3 and identify/list the main content within each of the four marking periods.