Curriculum and Instruction

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World Languages K-12 Information Guide
 (Updated September 2008)

 New Jersey Department of Education

Division of Educational Standards and Programs
Jay Doolan, Assistant Commissioner

Office of Academic Standards
Janis Jensen, Director

Cheri Quinlan, World Languages/International Education/Gifted and Talented Coordinator



I. Elementary World Languages Programs

  1. Code Citations
  2. No Child Left Behind and World Languages
  3. Early Language Learning

New Jersey’s Core Beliefs for Elementary World Languages Education

Implementation Issues
Choice of Languages
Recommended Model of Instruction
Time Allocations
Special Needs Students
Availability of Qualified Teachers
Exit Testing Upon Completion of K-8 Programs

Online Testing
The Oral Proficiency Interview
The Modified Oral Proficiency Interview
Other Recommendations Regarding Exit Testing

II. High School World Languages Programs

  1. Code Citations and Graduation Requirements
  2. Statutes
  3. Exit Testing
  4. Implementation of Graduation Requirements for Limited English Proficient Students
  5. Curriculum Development and Organization of Courses by Proficiency Levels
  6. Program Articulation

III. Information Applicable to All K-12 World Language Programs

  1. Licensing Regulations Impacting World Languages

    The Conditional Certificate
    Highly Qualified and Certification Requirements for World Languages

  2. Professional Development

    Professional Visitations: 2008-10 New Jersey Regional Model Program Resource Centers


The K-12 World Languages Information Guide provides the most current information needed by districts to assist with the effective implementation of K-12 world languages programs.  The adoption of the revised New Jersey Core Curriculum Content Standards for World Languages in April 2004 and state statutes and regulations impacting world languages, necessitates that districts continue to revisit existing programs and take appropriate actions to plan world languages programs that are aligned with the revised standards and comply with new state regulations.

The guide is organized into three sections: Elementary World Languages Programs, High School World Languages Programs and Information Applicable to K-12 World Languages Programs. Each section provides information on administrative code and department and state board policies pertaining to world languages. Program implementation issues regarding curriculum development, assessment, articulation, teacher recruitment and licensing and professional development are also addressed. The entire guide may be accessed on the world languages homepage,, by clicking on World Languages Implementation Guide.

This guide is intended for teachers, administrators, guidance counselors, human resource personnel and local school board members since each of these groups is responsible within their respective domain for the implementation of world languages programs in their school district.

I Elementary World Languages Programs

1. Code Citations

The following regulations promulgated by the New Jersey State Board of Education form the basis for local policy development:

N.J.A.C. 6A:8establishes the K-12 Core Curriculum Content Standards.

N.J.A.C.6A:8-1.1 (a) 1.states that “The Core Curriculum Content Standards specify expectations in nine academic content areas: the visual and performing arts, comprehensive health and physical education, language arts literacy, mathematics, science, social studies, world languages, technological literacy, and career education and consumer, family, and life skills.”*

* Note that the 2004 revised world languages standards are further delineated by cumulative progress indicators that outline what students should know and be able to do at benchmark grades two, four, eight and twelve.
District Role: Ensure that all K-8 students study a world language.  The world languages standards for grades K-8 were initially adopted in 1996. On April 7, 2004, the State Board of Education adopted the 2004 revised world languages standards that continue to include the required study of world languages in K-8.

N.J.A.C. 8-3.1(a) “District boards of education shall ensure that curriculum and instruction are designed and delivered in such a way that all students are able to demonstrate the knowledge and skills specified by the Core Curriculum Content Standards and shall ensure that appropriate instructional adaptations are designed and delivered for students with disabilities, for students with limited English proficiency, and for students who are gifted and talented.”

District Role: Ensure that all students learn a world language in a program designed to meet state standards. Districts should consider time allocations recommended by the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages at benchmark grade levels in the 2004 standards when implementing world languages programs. If a student’s disability entitles him/her to receive special education services, the study of world languages should be included in the student’s Individualized Education Plan (IEP), wherein appropriate modifications are delineated.

N.J.A.C. 6A:8-3.1 (a)3 Holds districts accountable for “assessing and publicly reporting on the progress of all students in developing the knowledge and skills specified by the Core Curriculum Content Standards, including content areas not currently included in the Statewide assessment program."
District Role: Ensure local assessment and public reporting of student outcomes for K-12 world languages programs at all levels.

2.  No Child Left Behind and World Languages

The No Child Left Behind Act’s definition of core academic subjects includes foreign languages in Title IX, Part A, Section 9101 (1) (D) (11), Definitions.  Since foreign languages are identified as a core subject, there is a possibility that federal funds may be used in various ways to support world languages programs (e.g., professional development). We are currently exploring this with the USED.

3.  Early Language Learning

New Jersey’s Core Beliefs for World Language Education

All elementary school students should have access to high quality, ongoing and systematic world language instruction.  This belief is based on current research that indicates:

  • Young children are at an optimal time to learn other languages;

  • Children in early second language programs where curriculum is aligned with other core areas show gains in standardized tests of basic skills, and derive additional cognitive and affective benefits;

  • Early language learning results in improved literacy skills.  Reading and writing processes are similar for first and second languages. Skills and strategies are transferable for first to second language and vice versa. Well-constructed elementary world languages curriculum will positively influence literacy skills in both first and second language learning; and

  • Improved second language capability for New Jersey students can only be obtained with uninterrupted, well-sequenced, long-term language instruction.

Implementation Issues

Choice of languages

The choice of languages might include, but is not limited to, the study of commonly taught European languages (e.g., French, German, Italian, Spanish), classical languages (e.g., Latin, Greek), less commonly taught languages (e.g., Chinese, Japanese, Russian), heritage languages (e.g., Arabic, Haitian Creole, Korean) and American Sign Language (ASL). Certain languages have become increasingly important to New Jersey from an economic and trade perspective. Districts might also consider offering one of the less commonly taught languages (e.g., Chinese, Japanese, Russian) at the elementary level.  Because of their level of difficulty for English speaking students, these languages are best acquired from the early grades on in order to achieve functional levels of proficiency.

Recommended Model of Instruction

The world languages standards strongly support the use of content from the elementary school curriculum as the content of the second language class. In the content-related instructional model, the second language becomes a vehicle for reinforcing and enhancing academic content such as math, language arts, and science. Cumulative progress indicators in the 2004 standards emphasize specific connections with other core areas to facilitate contextualized and purposeful language learning. Schools that have been designated as NJ elementary Model Program Schools (see p. 10) have embraced this model. To arrange for visitations of model school programs to see how this model is implemented, go to and click on Professional Development.

Time Allocations

Second language acquisition research consistently identifies two key factors in the acquisition of other languages: time and intensity or length and quality of instruction. The American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages ACTFL K-12 Performance Guidelines outline appropriate time allocations to reach specific benchmark levels that may be found in the revised standards document. Because providing a thorough and efficient education remains a priority in New Jersey schools, all students should be given the opportunity to learn a world language in a program designed to meet the standards. A program that does not offer a sufficient amount of contact time (e.g., once per week) assumes less student proficiency from the outset and denies district students access to excellence and equity in achieving the standards.

Special Needs Students

Research on how children learn language legitimizes the candidacy of most students in the world languages classroom. Language learning is an innate human capacity and as such, cognitive ability should not be a prerequisite for determining if a student can effectively learn a second language. Most students can develop functional proficiency in listening and speaking equal to their first language abilities unless they manifest speech production difficulties in the first language. Findings indicate that all students can benefit from learning another language and culture when instruction is based on second language acquisition theories and appropriate methodology and materials are used.

If a student’s disability entitles him/her to receive special education services, the study of world languages should be included in the student’s Individualized Education Plan (IEP), wherein appropriate modifications are delineated.

Availability of Qualified Teachers

  • State approved Teacher Education Programs in New Jersey colleges and universities continue to report an increase in the number of world languages education majors.

  • An accelerated teacher preparation program for teachers of Chinese is now available through the World Languages Institute at Rutgers, New Brunswick:

  • Amity International ( is a NJ approved international teacher placement program. It provides teachers that meet the definition of Highly Qualified and offers both a visiting teacher program and a teacher intern program.  Amity teacher candidates pay the broker fee for placement rather than the district.

Exit Testing Upon Completion of K-8 Programs

Eighth grade students may be offered the option to test out of the high school graduation requirement or continue the study of a world language(s) in high school.  A department convened World Languages Assessment Technical Advisory Committee has recommended that the following options be used by districts to determine if students have achieved the state level of language proficiency designated as Novice-High.  The Novice-High level of proficiency is a description of student language ability as defined by the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines and is an appropriate and achievable benchmark for students completing a sequence of study in elementary programs. A description of Novice-High student performance outcomes may be found in the standards document.

Testing Options

Online testing

This assessment is provided by Avant Assessment and is aligned to the New Jersey world languages standards. The assessment is delivered, graded and reported online with all components password-accessible to students, school personnel, and the department.  The following are some features of this program:

  • School districts will require computers (PC or Macintosh) that are connected to the Internet and are running current standard web browsers to access appropriate assessment instruments.

  • The assessment measures language proficiency in: Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese and Spanish. Additional languages continue to be added to the assessment program each year.

  • The reading portion is delivered using Computer Adaptive Technology (CAT) that uses an algorithm to probe for accurate measure of proficiency. This portion of the assessment measures five benchmark levels from Novice through Intermediate-Mid based on the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines. In addition to receiving a diagnostic measurement for each student, the computer adaptive reading portion of the test provides districts with a diagnostic report to analyze strengths and weaknesses of programs offered through grade 8. This component of the assessment is graded automatically in “real time” with results immediately available to authorized teachers and administrators.

  • In the speaking component of the test, students respond verbally to four speaking prompts and their recorded samples are securely transmitted over the Internet to Avant Assessment servers to be anonymously distributed to trained raters who will grade them. Avant Assessment servers provide streaming audio for the collection of student speaking samples.  The speaking prompts are appropriate to demonstrate the student’s ability to function in real life situations in the target language and are delivered randomly to ensure the integrity of the assessment.  An understanding of second language culture is conveyed in connection with the task (and in the text of the reading component) itself.

  • For results reporting and data analysis, Avant Assessment provides individual reports which can be downloaded and printed for each student taking the exam.  Aggregated test data for individual schools and districts is be provided to authorized personnel and organizations.

  • The cost per student including the administration and reporting of results ranges from $10.25-$15.75 depending upon how many skill areas are assessed (A writing assessment is also available).  Districts interested in pursuing this option should contact Avant Assessment at their toll free number: 1-888-718-7887. Over 140 New Jersey school districts have successfully used this assessment tool since 2004.  

The American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages Oral Proficiency Interview or Modified Oral Proficiency Interview: The ACTFL Oral Proficiency Interview (OPI) is currently used worldwide by academic institutions, government agencies, and private corporations for purposes such as academic placement, student assessment, program evaluation, professional certification, and hiring and promotional qualification. The OPI is also recognized by the American Council on Education (ACE) for the awarding of college credit and is available in 37 languages. The cost is currently $134 for a telephonic interview and $163 for a face-to-face interview.  This test can only be administered by ACTFL certified oral proficiency testers.

The ACTFL Modified Oral Proficiency Interview (MOPI) is modeled on the OPI and is often used to test lower proficiency ranges. This assessment must also be administered by testers who have been certified by ACTFL.  Districts may choose to have a staff member(s) trained to become certified MOPI testers. The cost for a three-day staff training that includes the individual teacher’s application for certification is approximately $800 per teacher. While there is a one-time cost for training staff, this model has economic advantages for the long term as there is no future cost to administer the test to students. In addition, teachers would receive valuable training in assessing for language proficiency.

Other Recommendations Regarding Exit Testing

The World Languages Technical Advisory Committee recommends that the competency-based exit test be administered at the end of Grade 8 or during high school since all students are required to study a world language in Grades K-8.

II High School World Languages Programs

1. Code Citations

The following regulations promulgated by the New Jersey State Board of Education form the basis for local policy development:
N.J.A.C. 6A:8-5.1(a)1i(7): Graduation Requirements provide districts with the option of allowing students to fulfill the state minimum five-credit high school graduation requirement through a seat-time instructional program or by successfully completing a competency-based exit test at the end of grade 8. 
N.J.A.C. 6A:8-5.1(a)1ii(1): Graduation Requirements provide districts with the option of allowing students to fulfill the five-credit high school graduation requirement in a world languages program external to a school setting as outlined in Option Two of the code. Such programs might include student exchange programs or instruction in a world language not offered in the district through a community school, church school and other organizations whose programs and assessments are based upon specific instructional objectives aimed at meeting or exceeding the Core Curriculum Content Standards. The principal shall certify student completion of these programs.

2. Statutes

N.J.S.A.18A:35-4.18: Graduation Credit- This law enacted in August 2001 provides students in public schools the opportunity to receive instruction in and graduation credit for a world language not taught in the public school district. To access the procedures developed for districts to allow students to receive high school credits, go to  and click on Applicable Statutes and Regulations. This law is also referenced in section four below.

3. Exit Testing

 The department has provided information on proficiency/competency-based assessments that may be used by districts at the end of grade 8 or at the high school level (see Section I: Exit Testing Upon Completion of K-8 Programs).

4. Implementation of High School Graduation Requirements for Limited English Proficient (LEP) Students

The following options may be considered with regard to satisfying the 5-credit high school graduation requirement for Limited English Proficient (LEP) students:
World Language Other than English- LEP students may elect to study any world language in addition to English offered in the district’s world language program.

Students’ Native Language - LEP students may use their native language to satisfy the requirement when entering the ninth grade or at subsequent grade levels as newly arrived students from their native country.  Students that have been speaking their native language since a very young age and throughout their prior educational experience will satisfy the world languages requirement. Districts may do proficiency testing, if desired. Study of English- LEP students who take an additional English or English as a Second Language (ESL) class may use that second English class to fulfill the world languages requirement.

Further Study of the Native/Heritage Language - LEP students may continue to further develop and enhance heritage language speaking and literacy skills in an out-of-school program in a world language not taught in the public school district.  Further related to this option is the passage of legislation in August 2001, that required the Department of Education to establish a World Languages Instruction Committee to develop a plan which would provide students in public schools the opportunity to receive instruction in and graduation credit for a world language not taught in the public school district (N.J.S.A.18A:35-4.18).  The procedures developed by the World Languages Instruction Committee are very similar to those outlined in N.J.A.C. 6A:8-5.1(a)1ii, known as Option Two of the code regarding implementation of graduation requirements.

The following documents are available to assist districts in implementing this option: Procedures to be Used by New Jersey Districts for Approval of Instructional Programs Offering World Languages Not Taught in Public Schools, and an Application Template for Non-Public School World Language Programs. They may be accessed online at: by clicking on Applicable Statutes and Regulations.  Also available on this web site are Guidelines for Organizations Seeking Approval of Instructional Programs Offering World Languages Not Taught in Public School.
5.  Curriculum Development and Organization of Courses by Proficiency Levels

Communicative proficiency is the ability to use language for purposeful communication. A proficiency-based program looks at what students can do with the language, rather than at the number of chapters covered in a textbook or hours of seat time accumulated.  Such a program also reflects how learners acquire language at different rates.  This has implications for scheduling and organization of courses, classroom instruction and assessment.

Proficiency-based world languages courses are labeled by the proficiency levels found in the 2004 revised state standards and are based on the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages ACTFL K-12 Performance Guidelines: Novice, Intermediate and Pre-Advanced levels. Proficiency-based courses are not labeled by grade level or sequential year (Spanish I, Spanish II, etc.)

In proficiency-based world languages programs, credit is given to the student based on his attainment of a specific level of language proficiency. For example, some students may need two years to move from Novice to Intermediate level, others may need three or four. Proficiency-based programs allow for varying rates of individual learning. Classes are often of mixed-grades and are always heterogeneously grouped. This gives a school more scheduling flexibility across grade lines and fewer course offerings due to the heterogeneous nature of the program.  Teachers tend to have fewer preparations and can concentrate on developing varied instructional and assessment strategies and a repertoire of communicative activities.

Instruction in a proficiency program is functionally based. This means that rather than organizing lessons around grammatical concepts, lessons are organized around functional uses of language and real world topics that may be encountered in other content areas.

The following is a lesson scenario in a proficiency-based Spanish course: Students are learning to communicate in Spanish by studying a thematic unit on the impact of global warming worldwide. They concentrate their study on the potential economic and cultural effects of global warming in Spanish speaking countries in Central and South America. The traditional view of Spanish as a “subject” area has changed since Spanish grammar and structure are not the focus of instruction. Students learn to negotiate meaning in order to comprehend and communicate in the target language. This does not imply that structure is ignored- student acquisition of language structures emerges naturally from the communicative tasks and assessments designed around the theme of the unit, in this case, global warming. Teachers may or may not choose to elaborate on structure. When they do, rather than giving explicit explanations, they work with students to explain the grammatical role as they see or hear it used. By shifting the focus from linguistic content to real world content, students are using language to obtain information and knowledge and for social purposes. This approach also stimulates student motivation to communicate and enables students to have better retention of concepts, transfer concepts across disciplines and apply them to real life situations.

Proficiency-based programs assess language proficiency. Students are required to demonstrate their ability to communicate in a language. Oral interviews and simulated real-world tasks are some examples of proficiency-based assessments. In current practice, few world languages programs have asked students to demonstrate their ability to reach a specified level of performance (Novice, Intermediate, Pre-Advanced proficiency levels) before they receive credit and proceed to the next levelHowever,the adoption of the revised world languages standards requires districts to rethink the current organization and goals of their world languages programs to become proficiency-based.  Moreover, colleges are becoming increasingly interested in the proficiency level achieved by students upon completion of their high school program. Many colleges are using proficiency testing in lieu of a standardized placement test to determine if a student will exit their requirement or be placed in a higher level course based on the proficiency level achieved.

Additional information on proficiency-based programs may be found in the following resources:

College Entrance Examination Board. (1996). Articulation and achievement: Connecting standards, performance, and assessment in foreign language. New York, NY: College Board.

Phillips, J.K. (Ed.). (1993). Reflecting on proficiency from the classroom perspective. Northeast Conference Reports. Lincolnwood, IL: National Textbook.

6. Program Articulation

As districts move towards longer sequences of language instruction beginning in the elementary school, and a new focus on proficiency-based instruction and assessment, the need for effective articulation between K-8 or middle school and high school programs is essential.  Issues such as communication, student expectations and accountability must be addressed. The need to establish two-way communication between the K-8 or middle school and the high school program rather than a top down approach will facilitate the kind of dialog that needs to take place to ensure both horizontal and vertical articulation.  A well articulated world languages program requires collaborative curriculum and assessment development opportunities among teachers at different levels, along with opportunity for ongoing conversations about program modification for continual improvement of student achievement. There must be a means of determining whether or not articulation has been or is being achieved; ongoing, systematic instructional support to ensure its continuation; and widespread dissemination of the results of articulation efforts.

III. Information Applicable to All K-12 World Languages Programs

1. Licensing Regulations Impacting World Languages

The Limited (3-year) Certificate for International Teachers:A Limited (3-year) Certificate has been created for visiting international teachers. Pursuant to N.J.S.A. 18A: 26-1 and 8.1, the limited (3-year) certificate is a non-renewable certificate that is valid for three years. It is issued to citizens of other countries who are enrolled in department-approved international agencies to recruit teachers for New Jersey school districts in subject areas that the State Board has determined as having a critical shortage.   For detailed information about the limited certificate, and criteria for approval of international agencies operating teacher placement programs in New Jersey, go to and click on Resources.

Below is a guide for both certification and highly qualified requirements for world languages teachers. 

For General Education and Special Education Teachers Teaching A World Language

World Languages HQT Requirements

*Teacher of character languages such as Chinese:  OPI rating of intermediate high or better. Teacher of Latin:  Pass the Latin test for teacher certification.

2. Professional Development

There are a variety of ongoing professional development initiatives for both K-12 world languages teachers and supervisors of world languages throughout the school year. Districts are advised to consult the world languages homepage,, and click on Professional Development for comprehensive information on professional development programs. This site is updated on a regular basis to reflect any revisions to current programs as well as program additions.

Professional Visitations: New Jersey Regional Model Program Resource Centers 

World Languages Model Program Resource Centers were established through the New Jersey Supervisors of World Languages initiative in recognition of the strong need for administrators, classroom teachers, parents, and board members to see in action the vision of standards-based teaching and learning in world languages and to provide ready access to clear and reliable practices in second language education. Schools selected as model program sites serve as regional resource centers for other districts in their geographical area.  They enable educators to witness firsthand exemplary practices in world language instruction and assessment through visitations of district personnel or through the use of technological resources. They allow for dialog among administrators and teachers about issues of mutual concern, and foster the potential for collaboration on world languages implementation, articulation or professional development projects. Model program resource centers also conduct local action research in several areas involving assessment including the effects of early language learning on basic skill areas and standardized test scores in mathematics and language arts literacy to support national studies. Contact information to arrange visitations may be found at: Visitations to the 2008-10 World Languages Model Program Resource Centers.