The Massachusetts Foreign Languages Curriculum Framework applies to the study of modern and classical languages.
When we embark on the study of a language not our own, we are initiating a learning adventure which, over and above the invaluable acquisition of another language, can confer upon us multiple educational benefits, capable of exerting a profound influence on our perceptions of the world around us and of permanently enriching and enlarging our appreciation and understanding of ourselves and of others. Language learning is never just about words. Language is the medium in which human beings think and by which they express what they have thought. The study of language-any language- is therefore the study of everything that pertains to human nature, as humans understand it.
I. All students should become proficient in at least one language in addition to English by the time they graduate from high school. Students who select modem languages should be able to speak, read, write, and understand the foreign language they study.
II Language acquisition is a lifelong process. Foreign language programs should begin in elementary school, since language acquisition is more easily accomplished at a young age, and continue beyond grade twelve.
111. Effective foreign language programs integrate the study of language with the study of culture, which includes daily life, history, literature, visual and performing arts, mathematics, and science. In this way, foreign language programs create natural links to all other disciplines
Students gain knowledge and understanding of other cultures.
PreK-12 STANDARD 4 Cultures
Students will demonstrate an understanding of the traditions, perspectives, practices, and products of the culture studied, including human commonalities as reflected in history, literature, and the visual and performing arts.
Students develop insight into the nature of language and culture by comparing their own anguage and culture with another.
PreK-12 STANDARD 5 Linguistic Comparisons
Students will demonstrate an understanding of the nature of language through comparison of the language studied with their own.
PreK-12 STANDARD 6 Cultural Comparisons
Students will demonstrare an understanding of the concept of culture through comparison of the target culture with their own.
When we embark on the study of a language not our own, we are initiating a learning adventure which, over and above the invaluable acquisition of another language, can confer upon us multiple educational benefits, capable of exerting a profound influence on our perceptions of the world around us and of permanently enriching and enlarging our appreciation and understanding of ourselves and of others. Language learning is never just about words. Language is the medium in which human beings think and by which they express what they have thought. The study of language-any language-is therefore the study of everything that pertains to human nature, as humans understand it.
The educational benefits of language learning manifest themselves as early as the first weeks of instruction. As students learn the foundation elements of any language -- the underlying system of symbols (i.e. words) that denominate the most common objects and the most common actions observable in their own world -- they broaden their outlook by noting that their own language also has similar fundamental elements, which serve the identical function: to name and descrihe the world around them. That observation encourages students to compare the two languages, thus learning about the nature of all language.
At the same time, the teacher can help students notice that the language they are studying often depicts familiar things in a startlingly different way from their own language. That observation. in turn, engenders the awareness that every language embodies a unique way of perceiving reality, so that each language is also different from all other languages. Pondering the differences among languages, students of a second language recognize that, by learning a new way of perceiving and understanding reality, they are, in fact, expanding their own vision of the world and their personal insight into the varieties of human conduct and human communities.
When authentic materials in a second language are integrated into language study at all levels, the benefits to students increase dramatically. Students improve their skills in the principal uses of language: speaking, reading, writing, and understanding--skills transferable to their native language and to other disciplines. Early exposure to foreign language study can have a positive effect on students' intellectual growth, enriching and enhancing their mental development, with positive effects on student performance across the curriculum.
The collateral benefits of second language learning are most substantial and most enduring for students who pursue their language to a high level and begin to approach the skill and understanding of educated native users of that language. The central benefit becomes apparent when a student with that level of knowledge is able to view the world in a broader perspective free from the narrow prism of a single linguistic system. The acquisition of a second--or even better, a third--whole linguistic system, complete with knowledge of the historical and cultural traditions of each, can open the mind and the imagination to ever widening spheres of experience and enlightenment and can enrich one's life with endless possibilities for new intellectual and aesthetic adventures. Those are the priceless benefits of a truly successful education, for at its core, the ultimate goal of second language learning is to produce students who are measurably better educated than they could have been without it.
GUIDING PRINCIPLE III
Effective foreign language programs integrate the study of language with the study of culture, which includes daily life, history, literature, visual and performing arts, mathematics, and science. In this way, foreign language programs create natural links to all other disciplines.
Culture is a manifestation or a people's beliefs and values, perceptions and behaviors, and intellectual and artistic achievements. Becoming proficient in a second language is enhanced by an understanding of the ways in which a people expresses its values and conducts its relationships with others. As students study the daily lire and history of another culture, read its literature and respond to its art forms, they develop a deeper awareness of the characteristics that bind us together as human beings even as they learn about the ways in which we are all different.
Studying the products that people create, both tangible and intangible, practices (what people do), and perspectives (how people perceive reality) of a particular culture brings the learner closer to understanding how the people of that culture think, what motivates them, and what colors their perceptions of the larger world.
The study of culture also deepens our understanding of the connecting threads or the human story over time and will help students in their other courses. Whether we study the American Revolution or World War II, Goya or Gauguin, the Industrial Revolution or the history of computer technology, Mozart or John Philip Sousa, Virgil or Dante, Blake or Balzac, algebra or geometry, we are enriched when we trace the history of ideas to other times and places. Effective foreign language programs, therefore, teach students about the heritage and contemporary contributions of great writers, thinkers, mathematicians, scientists, inventors, statesmen, and performing and visual artists. By emphasizing cultural content, foreign language programs keep the connective thread to the past ever present, and help students recognize connections to the world beyond themselves. Study of classical languages takes students back to the roots of western civilization and allows them to understand the continuous influences of ancient languages, literature, art and architecture, scientific and mathematical thought, and values on the peoples of Europe and the Americas over the ages.