A Paradigm Shift

A Paradigm Shift

Excerpted from Foundations:  A Natural Approach to the (Transition) Year
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There is currently a paradigm shift happening in language teaching, led by the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) and a vibrant, growing community of teachers engaged in implementing practices derived from Second Language Acquisition (SLA) research findings.  For the past few decades, this community has been hard at work developing and refining various proficiency-based language instruction methods.  Many teachers are now shifting the focus of their programs away from conscious study of language and towards a communicative, holistic approach designed to build acquired competence, true and lasting language proficiency.  

The work of this wave of early adopters and brave pioneers and innovators, and the enthusiastic community that has grown out of their early successes, accounts for this shift.  The profession is moving away from instructing languages as if memorizing a verb chart, learning a word list, or filling in worksheets could result in true language proficiency.  The ACTFL standards guide us to use the whole language in meaningful ways, ways that align with SLA research,  in order to build true, lasting proficiency, for all our students, not just the few.  Further, the Seal of Biliteracy requires students to develop a higher level of proficiency than is most people will achieve through conscious study alone.   



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