PWCS World Language Curriculum

Alignment to National and State Standards

The PWCS world language curriculum is aligned to the Virginia Foreign Language Standards of Learning (VA SOLs) and our profession’s national standards called the World Readiness Standards. Please see the diagram here that shows this alignment for instruction in all languages K-12.  

Program Name: Foreign or World?

Please note that the profession has been in a transition in terms of whether a program is called foreign language or world language for about the last 15 years. Either term, foreign or world, may be used synonymously. The shift from foreign to world came about with the changing demographics and increased numbers of heritage speakers of many languages for generations where those languages are no longer considered foreign to many communities, even though English is still the official language of the US and schools, with the increased use of many languages throughout the globe due to the internet and social media, and due to the growing sense that globalization has increased the awareness of how people throughout the globe are interdependent and more knowledgeable about each other.

Virginia has been in a transition in that the Virginia Department of Education (VADOE) still uses foreign language for all historic documents or titles, but is shifting to using world languages whenever possible until the total official change is made, anticipated sometime in the near future. 

National Standards: World Readiness Standards for Learning Languages

All of the Virginia Foreign Language Standards of Learning 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 all of the national research-based documents that define the best practices in teaching and learning a foreign/world language today. The web site is:

The national standards originally created in 1996 and then recently 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. Although the original icon resembled the Olympic rings and were of equal size, researchers made clear that Communication was the main focus of all instruction and infusing the products, practices, and perspectives of the cultures, while integrating multi-disciplinary concepts, and making comparisons and contrasts to one’s own language/English, and 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 VADOE released the revised Virginia Standards of Learning for World Language in May of 2014. They are divided into four documents located on the state website:

  1. The Virginia World Language Standards of Learning: Modern Roman Alphabet World Languages
  2. The Virginia World Language Standards of Learning: Modern Non-Roman Alphabet World Languages
  3. The Virginia Standards of Learning for Latin
  4. The ASL (American Sign Language) Framework

The Modern Roman Alphabet Languages may include: French, German, Italian, Spanish, and others.

The Modern Non-Roman Alphabet Languages may include: Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Russian, and others.

PWCS Current Curriculum Documents and the Transition

The PWCS curriculum design for all content areas is based on a modified Understanding by Design unit 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 required to create a Pacing Guide at-a-Glance for each course, also.

The PWCS curriculum units correspond to three stages of instruction: content focus, evidence, and learning, but also, provide a section on peer-reviewed materials and differentiation strategies for all types of learners with links to specific scaffolds and research-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 on-going process in PWCS in order to improve the documents by ensuring that the most current resources and best practices are infused and that as many teachers as possible participate in this opportunity of professional growth.

Committees of world language teachers have been creating the curriculum units since the summer of 2014 and continue to do so as this Division process coincided with the revision of the State Foreign 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 11 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, and Understanding by Design articles and documents. Committees also benchmarked thematic world language units created in school divisions throughout the US.

World Language curriculum units are being created for the three 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 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 Native Speakers.

Since WL just adopted new textbooks for all languages in 2015-16 and the phase in implementation of these new materials may vary be school given the school-based funding, the curriculum units are flexible to accommodate both the old and new textbook materials. Schools tend to phase in buying the new materials a year at a time, but a few schools purchased all levels and are implementing them at one time. It is also understood that 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.

Curriculum units provide parents and students a user-friendly format to understand the content of every area of study as the template is the same Division-wide.  Feel free to communicate with WL Supervisor, Carol Bass, at 703.791.8706 or with any questions.

Virginia Department of Education Standards of Learning (SOL) 
On May 22, 2014, the Board of Education approved the revised Foreign Language Standards of Learning, See the revised documents below.
There are no Foreign Language SOL tests: the SOLs are the State Curriculum. 

Virginia Standards of Learning (Modern Foreign Language): ALL Languages.pdf