February 26, 2020 | #EarlyLang

Realistic Expectations for Proficiency Development
from February 26, 2020

On February 26, language teachers from grades K-8, and beyond, met for the biweekly EarlyLang chat. Participants discussed

Q1: How do you determine appropriate proficiency targets for your language program?

Many programs have established targets to provide a framework for students and  teachers. One example is Greg Duncan’s rubric that breaks down the levels and language domains. Other programs use ACTFL standards in conjunction with classroom time and teacher observation.  Some participants also mentioned using the TL almost exclusively and assessing student proficiency early in the year to determine what they can already do.


Q2: What are some strategies learners can use to increase language proficiency?

Several teachers suggested tools for the students such as word banks they can use for conversation and writing. Visual representations of their progress, going from no TL to complete sentences, were also mentioned as a means of motivating students to keep working on acquiring greater proficiency. Teachers can help by showing students what the next level is and by demonstrating a caring attitude that encourages students to take risks. A final suggestion was to design activities that stretch the students out of their comfort zone by requiring them to do just a little bit more to meet the objective.

Q3: How do you educate stakeholders about realistic expectations?

@Sra_Barnett, “I think we need to start with us. We need to be clear with the expectations. Then, tackle everyone else. Volunteer to present at a faculty meeting. Host a parents night. And most importantly, invite people to your classroom.”

@MundodePepita, “This is something I hear a lot of-the gap between teacher & stakeholder (parent, family, admin) expectations. It really is incumbent upon us to educate them on a regular basis so they can celebrate the gains their kids are making w/o asking why they are where they are.”

@kaitlin31415, “As a district, we have a website that provides info, and in the past there have been presentations at PTO meetings. I talk about this at open house but only see a very small fraction of parents there b/c of open house structure. I’ve sent information home (with wording provided by district), but there are still many stakeholders that still don’t get it. I think in part because their own language learning experiences have such strong influence over their perceptions and expectations.”

@mgriffinemc, “This is a tough one. Lots of people think their child will be having full conversations after a year. When the reality is I see them maybe 25 times over a year for 40 minutes at a time.”

@isobelowen3, “also it is hard to manage students’ own expectations of what they should be able to say by now.”

Q4:How do you identify student progress along the proficiency scale, and how does this motivate and challenge your students at their level?

Participants agreed that a means of tracking progress that is efficient and manageable is needed. Some participants suggested using informal assessment as students talk during activities and during interactions with the teacher, keeping anecdotal records, and providing scaffolds to students who need them. Digital portfolios or other means of collecting student language samples would also be helpful to students and teachers.

Q5: How do you help move the class along when certain learners are at different levels?

Participants mentioned several ways to meet the needs of all learners.  One suggestion was to maintain a balance of whole class instruction of easy and fun activities that everyone can master as you monitor for students who attain mastery and those who do not. Centers and conversations with individual students can also help the teacher monitor progress and assist individuals while maintaining instruction for the group. Finally, consider individual growth and students’ attitudes–are they happy and willing to use the TL?  Then they have made progress.

Reflaction (Reflection + Action) Knowing what you know now, what do you intend to do?

Participants mentioned educating stakeholders, putting the #earlylang chat on their calendar, and remembering to keep reflection actionable.

Thank you to all who participated in this #EarlyLang chat! Thank you to our lead moderator, Mundo de Pepita (@MundodePepita ), and our co-moderator, M Cristina Rdz-Villa (@MaCristinaRV), for helping to guide the conversation.

Want to vote for our upcoming #Earlylang topics? https://t.co/l1VbHqzLU1

This week’s chat is

sponsored by:

EMC School

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#EarlyLang chat, please go to the

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