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68 thoughts on “Grrr”

  1. What really irked me in this situation is the fact that this teacher told my former student that I wasn’t supposed to, or I’m not allowed to, teach Pobre Ana. That’s bull. I’m tempted to talk to my principal or asst. principal about this. I won’t go too into detail or show my anger but I’ll at least present my point that my goal is to be teaching for fluency and to be providing my students with as much input as possible and that Pobre Ana is a LEVEL ONE novel. That way I at least have them on my side if anybody tries to make an issue out of it. Last year I only used present tense, being a 1st year TPRSer i didn’t feel comfortable doing otherwise. Now, I’m using preterit, imperfect and present tense. When my students go to the high school next year, I’d imagine that they will be bored because they’re going to know everything and they’d be better suited going on to level 3. I’d imagine that some people will feel threatened by this and make an issue out of it. Best to get powerful people on my side now. The argument could easily be made that by limiting opportunities to students, a disservice is being done. I am making sure that my students’ parents are getting their tax money’s worth.

  2. Sorry Ben, no calming words here, but some strategy.

    Chris, if you find that your administrators are supportive of you, you should point out to them how unprofessional the high school teacher’s remarks are. For one teacher to talk with a student about what another teacher “should not” or “is not allowed” to do is the depth of unacceptable behavior. If a teacher has an issue with another teacher, the proper avenue of redress is to speak with the other teacher before mentioning it to anyone else – including an administrator. The teacher who discusses another teacher’s performance with a student does the following:
    – exhibits utter lack of respect for the colleague
    – places the student in an unacceptable situation by making him part of a “dispute” that is none of his business
    – usurps the authority of the administration because he has publicly reprimanded a fellow teacher, and I’m certain that isn’t in his job description
    – by creating unnecessary tension undermines the social contract among teachers, administrators and students to provide and maintain an environment conducive to learning

    I have disagreed strongly with techniques and strategies of some of my colleagues, but I refuse to talk about them with students and will not listen to students complain about them unless the student is willing for me, as a neutral observer, to accompany him to a meeting with that teacher. Even then I tell the student that the first person who needs to hear the complaint is the teacher.

  3. Unfortunately, this teacher (like so many teachers) buys into the notions that:
    a) the “higher” level teacher gets to tell the “lower” level teachers how and what to teach, because they see the other’s job as merely instrumental for preparing the kids for their specific curriculum.

    b) there is a set order of acquisition, and it is the one that the textbooks lay out, and is justification for “a” above.

    I agree that your best bet is to document all this and get as many administrators on your side as you can.

    Best of luck. We’re all rooting for you, as are most of your students.

  4. …they see the other’s job as merely instrumental for preparing the kids for their specific curriculum….

    This is a precise analysis. They want Aree to show a few videos, do some worksheets with fruit and vegetables on them, and hand them over into the high school program for “real” instruction in foreign language.

    My caution is that the mountain of pushback on a new teacher here is too big. The teachers who do the firing in that school are hidden behind rocks on the top of the mountain with ammo and guns aimed at any new teacher with new ideas trying to find their way up the mountain and integrated the lower half of the mountain with the upper half. I say contact the greater Atlanta TPRS/CI grapevine for support and start looking around for other options.

  5. Thanks for the support, everybody.

    Grrr UPDATE:

    Talked to my assistant principal today. She works closely with the district’s curriculum director, she served as a curriculum coordinator for the county Educational Service Center, and to be honest, she is a force to be reckoned with. She is strong. Well, after explaining to her the situation, my methodology of teaching, the research on SLA, and my theory on why the HS teachers don’t want me teaching past tense and Pobre Ana (they’ll have to raise their expectations and teach differently because my students would be bored and probably able to skip to Spanish 3), she told me to not worry about it, teach the way I want to if I think my students can handle it. I told her that it is a LEVEL ONE book, meant to be taught in LEVEL ONE, NOT level 2. She said to not worry about it, teach the way I see fit and if those pesky HS teachers decide to take issue with it, confront me, or if I hear anything else from a student, to let her know and she will talk to the HS principal AND the curriculum director. She also said that “it sounds like they need to change the way they’re teaching, they probably have been teaching the same way for years without changing, using the same materials”. So, I have administrators on my side. She also said that the superintendent wants a top-of-the-line Spanish program with high standards and expectations.

    So….I win. I feel I’ve won the battle before it’s even started.

  6. You win and well done. I just posted something for you on the novels as well. Just an idea about reading the novels. Congrats. I really do think that what you did by taking the fight to your administrator was a big time spin move into the lane, and her response was very very indicative of how the tides are turning. Great job dude.

    1. 😀 Thanks. I’m trying to be as strategic as possible, aligning myself with people that the curriculum director and superintendent will listen to. Will I change the hearts and minds of the page turners? No. But I don’t need to. As long as I have the right people aware of how the new research and standards align with CI-based instruction, and as long as I have them on my side, I can teach however I see fit. Phase 1-complete, for the most part. Phase 2 will be educating parents, making them aware of how I teach and keeping them involved (primarily by assigning stories to read to parents as homework, this keeps parents “in the loop” on what their children are learning; and inviting them to sit in on classes), then, if the need ever arises hopefully I will have some parents, who are taxpayers, willing to go to bat for me. Phase 3 is to get one or two members of the Board of Education on my side, simply by occasionally extending invitations to sit in on my classes. Then, when they actually learn and retain some vocabulary, they will see the effectiveness of this way of teaching. Am I worrying too much about a possible future blowup where people want to make me change how I teach? Maybe….probably. But I’ve heard too many stories of TPRSers being thrown under the bus to take my chances.

      Speaking of Board of Education members… At open house last week one of the board members came in (he’s fairly new to being on the board). I introduced myself and then he asked me if we are doing something wrong in the United States as far as language teaching goes. He once met a man from South Africa who spoke 5 languages. Couldn’t necessarily write it perfectly, but he could communicate in those language. He asked if the focus on conjugating verbs is the wrong way to go. My response: As a matter of fact, yes. According to second language acquisition research……………(You can probably fill in what I said)…………………………. How about you come sit in on one of my classes sometime? I promise you’ll learn something.

    2. I guess I was a little premature on thinking I won. “Coincidentally”, now a week since this happened, I got an email from the assistant high school principal, who I guess handles a lot of curriculum stuff. ALL of the Spanish teachers in the district are getting together next week with the curriculum director to:

      “Please plan on joining us for a meeting relevant to our Spanish curriculum in the district on Thursday, September 20 from 8:00 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. in the high school counseling conference room. Thank you for your attention to this important dialogue. We are charged with reviewing our Spanish curriculum from 7 through 12 to look at assessment and common core within the various Spanish levels. ”

      What this means, in my mind, is: they want to “align” the 7-12 Spanish program so that basically all teachers are doing the same thing at the same time giving the same assessment. You know what that means for me, the only TPRSer in the district. My only hope is to convince the curriculum director during this meeting, but I”m not sure how. I’m not as optimistic now as I was last week.

      1. I know I keep saying this, but go to the AP test. As of 2013-2014 the Spanish test will be aligned with the German and French tests. The new exam tests language (not linguistic) competence in six areas:
        -oral interpersonal communication
        -written interpersonal communication
        -audio, visual and audio visual interpretive communication
        -print and written interpretive communication
        -oral presentational communication
        -written presentational communication

        College Board is asking AP teachers to structure their courses around Six Course Themes:
        -Global Challenges
        -Personal and Public Identity
        -Science and Technology
        -Contemporary Life
        -Beauty and Aesthetics
        -Families and Communities

        There are no fill-in-the-blank questions, no discrete grammar items on the new exam. There is a great deal of emphasis on comprehension. One of the sections requires students to analyze texts (oral and written); the questions all deal with what the students are able to understand. The “distractors” are answers that use a word from the text in the answer but are not the correct answer. This is to discourage students from merely looking for “key words” without comprehension. Another section presents students with a written text, a graph and an oral text. From those sources they have to write a persuasive essay in which they answer the prompt and reference all three texts. Yet another section is a recorded conversation. (I’m actually impressed with how they have constructed this.) If students answer in any way the questions posed, the whole conversation flows and makes sense. There is no single right answer because there are myriad ways to answer a question. One more section asks students to respond to an e-mail from an adult. Again, it is free response, so any answer that completes the task will do reasonably well.

        A colleague is an AP reader. She reported to us that their instruction were to grade holistically. They were not to take off points for errors of grammar as long as comprehension was not affected. For German, that means that gender and case don’t carry the weight that they used to. For Spanish, an example would be that “la gente son” will not cause a reduction in score. My colleague also said, the single most common reason for lowered scores is that students do not understand the prompt and therefore do not complete the task.

        The AP exam is still not the epitome of a comprehension-based assessment, but it is certainly not simply a grammar test. Teachers who do not teach reading and writing, listening and speaking for comprehension to their students will put those students at a distinct disadvantage for the AP exam.

        In addition, ask the fundamental question – and keep asking – “What is the goal of our instruction?” Is it to produce students capable of passing an exam, is it to produce students able to compete in the “new global economy” and global community because they have 21st-century skills in language, is it to produce life-long learners who will continue with the language once they are out of school? Check out the website of the partnership for 21st century skills at My guess is that most of your colleagues are unready to answer that basic question, but it must be answered in order to decide how best to achieve the goal. Most teachers, unfortunately, have little idea of what the end product should look like. They will usually say something like, “My goal is to teach students Dothraki (or whatever language they teach).” But what does that mean? Does it mean teaching students to use the language to communicate, or does it mean teaching students about the language so that they can analyze it and possibly translate it? You cannot do both in a 7-12 program, and studies show it is easier to transition to the latter if you can already do the former rather than vice-versa.

        Hope these thoughts help.

        1. And that IS the place to start and end, Chris, on this one. If you as much as mention TPRS or Krashen, you’re going to lose and you might as well paint a big target on your shirts. This is job-threatening, my friend, if you open your mouth past the parameters Robert describes above.

          The one-size-fits-all plan is apparently full steam ahead nationally, as we had a meeting today and were told within our ten member department to do exactly the same thing. But half the department are heritage teachers and the rest are CI teachers, so we CI teachers just today came up with a very cool “pacing guide” concept that actually kind of works with what we really do. But it will be a few weeks before we get it finalized, and no non-CI department anywhere will want to embrace it anyway, and that is YOUR group there in Ohio. Just suggest what Robert says, and then close your mouth. If even that, bc as Robert implies, they are NOT going to get this entire idea. Want to keep your job? Say nothing and smile and close your door and your kids – just on the wings of the method – will score just fine. I like that plan. I hope you do too. It’s not time to fight, my friend.

          1. Thanks Robert and Ben. Very helpful advice there. Ben, could you email the rough draft you have of that “pacing guide”? In all honesty, our curriculum director and district administration have the right intentions, they just need to be schooled in how languages are acquired. I will be stressing those changes in the AP Exam, thank you Robert.

            As far as keeping my job goes…. If I’m not successful in making any changes here, I know some districts nearby (some of which are CI friendly) that will have a lot of retirements at the end of this school year. So if unsuccessful, I will keep my mouth shut rest of the year. But I at least need to try to make some changes. I’m too passionate not to.

          2. I have found that asking the right questions is often helpful. The question of purpose might be phrased in the following questions:
            -SWBAT (Students will be able to), at the end of 1 year, do what?
            -SWBAT, at the end of 2 years, do what?
            -SWBAT, at the end of 3 years, do what?
            -SWBAT, at the end of 4 years, do what?
            The idea of SWBAT is much loved by administrators, but they usually limit it single-day plans. (Probably because it is both “measurable” and “overseeable”.) Who ever writes, “At the end of the course, Students will be able to . . .”?

            These ought to look something like this:
            -At the end of level 1, Students Will Be Able To demonstrate comprehension of spoken and written Spanish in different time frames and registers on a variety of subjects to which they have previously been exposed.
            -At the end of level 1, Students WIll Be Able To participate in Interpersonal Communication by responding appropriately by gesture or utterance to oral or written language and by indicating any lack of comprehension.

            -At the end of level 4, Students Will Be Able To participate in Interpersonal Communication by participating in and helping to sustain an oral or written conversation, by negotiating meaning with the conversational partner, and by signaling lack of comprehension in appropriate ways.

            Unfortunately, if written down, most teachers’ goals would look something like this:
            -At the end of 1 year, SWBAT conjugate regular -ar, -er and -ir verbs in the present tense; write down memorized translations of words on a list; recognize Direct and Indirect Object Pronouns without knowing their meaning.

            So which set of SWBATs do administrators want? Only one of them actually targets what language is about: communication.

          3. Thank you Robert, this will be very helpful. How should I address everybody’s need for output? The information you gave me on the AP Exam is VERY powerful. It sounds as if the focus will be more on comprehension than production. I ran some of that stuff you gave me about the AP Exam by my assistant principal and she loved it. She’s planning on attending the meeting with us in case it is going to be an attack.

          4. Good luck with this, Chris. Do they realize that by indicating they are addressing the common core and 21st century skills they cannot defend their program? You will be well armed with the information on the link Robert gave. Page 4 of the World Language Skills Map specifically lays out a “Past” column and a “Today” column that shows that both textbook centered and teaching about the language is out.

            That skills map addresses much of CI and was a great resource for the Common Core and Global Achievement Gap stuff we had to do at our school during opening week. I can’t remember who originally posted it–maybe Robert–but it has been a lifesaver for me. ¡Gracias!

          5. Thanks ardythe! With the information that Robert has given, as well as the advice from everybody in this PLC over the year, and with the research I’ve compiles, I’m feeling pretty prepared for this meeting. I’m hoping to kick some ass in there

          6. *stick tongue in cheek*

            Whenever someone tells me that we learn languages by speaking them (i.e. output), I look at them seriously and say, “Great! So start speaking Ugaritic to me.” They, of course, tell me they can’t because they never learned it. (It’s a dead language, btw.) So I reply, “But you just said we learn languages by speaking them. I don’t understand. Can you explain that to me?”

            *removing tongue from cheek*

            Seriously, I do that under the right circumstances. You will probably not be in the right circumstances. But it brings to light the fallacy of saying that we learn languages through output. At the very least, input must precede output. Our courses of instruction ought to reflect that. Then the discussion can move to how much input for how long must precede production. Wynne Wong from Ohio State University maintains that there must be a “flood of input” before there can be a “trickle of output”. Her credentials are impressive.

          7. Thanks, Chris. In truth, I am no longer using that website. My new company name is “Compelling Input Productions”. I changed it when my emphasis changed from digital media to the books. My new website is – and I thought I had linked the old website to the new one; I’ll have to check on that. The new website is definitely under construction.

  7. Sorry I’ve been MIA for so long fellas. Chris, I’ve been (and am in) a similiar situation, though not exact.

    Robert is dead on with all of his comments. AP is how people tend to perceive the “end goal” of a HS langauge program. We know from Krashen that our goal should be broader- to achieve an intermediate level of competence such that any learner, despite their life goals or directions, would be able to continue as an autonomous learner of the language. But, they see it as AP. So, go with that argument.

    Robert deftly outlined some essential outcomes that would be appropriate for a TPRS/CI classroom with his SWBAT post and expertly contrasted his communication-focused outcomes with linguistic outcomes. I’ve been dying to ask others in the PLC what their expected outcomes at various levels currently are. Can we start a dialogue about this and perhaps brainstorm a list? I believe that for many langauges being taught in the US currently, this list should be language-agnostic – that is to say predominantly focused on communication skills with perhaps a minimum number of language-specific goals.

    1. Hi again Grant,

      Let me clarify or rather ask you a question based on your last post. You talked about “creating a list” of communication-focused outcomes. Isn’t this equivalent to engaging in a conversation about creating a CI curricula for various levels that is language neutral?

    2. Grant, thanks for the comments. I would enjoy a discussion of CI-based outcomes. Feel free to take my post – which was pretty much off the top of my head – as a starting point, if you wish.

      As someone has said, “Define yourself or be defined”. If we begin to put together language-agnostic (or language-neutral) outcomes based on CI rather than grammar, we can take them back to our districts, schools and colleagues and lead them forward without everyone trying to re-invent the wheel. We can help lead the change. If we do nothing, someone else will impose a different vision on us. One of the things I have learned from Jason Fritze is the absolutely essential nature of advocacy; we can’t afford simply to close the door. As Bertholt Brecht famously asked, “What if they gave a war and no one came?” While the anti-war movement used that as a rhetorical question to protest the Vietnam War, Brecht had a far different opinion. He maintained that if no one came, “they” would bring the war to you. Some of us need to carry the attack; others need the safety of a foxhole. None of us can afford to do nothing. *stepping off of soapbox*

      So, let’s see what develops. As I said, my suggestions were off the top of my head and can certainly afford to be amplified, modified and codified. We can produce “benchmarks”, if you will, that do not prescribe a certain set of lesson plans or require everyone to “be on the same page” because they deal with real language used by real people, not an artificial construct called “grammar”.

      1. Thank you Robert! Agreed , “we can lead the way”! Can you send a link to your original post?
        By the way, which airline did you work for before you went into teaching?
        That was also my path. I worked for Swissair before teaching.

  8. I love this idea! When I read Robert’s post I had a huge AHA! because I am not totally clear on what my outcomes are, but when I read the ones he stated they totally resonated with me, so I’d love to come up with something I could present to my dept. head next June when we have our first meeting. Yes. Sarcasm. I am just chuckling to myself because what else can I do. She has never observed me, has no idea what I am doing and has never seen the assessment rubric I’m using. Oh well. I am indeed a lone wolf. Works for me.

  9. Hi Grant,

    I think this is a brilliant idea! And I agree that it should be language neutral, or “agnostic” as you so eloquently stated.
    “Communication-focused outcomes” is what my methods teacher always taught us to put front and center when it came to planning our year, units or even lessons. I think that although generally the linguistic outcomes may be language-specific, we can nonetheless find common communicative threads in all the languages that are taught here. After all the world is shrinking (figuratively speaking) thanks to ever spreading technology and people all over the world are in many ways becoming reliant upon each other to communicate a “world culture” that somehow has to be reflected in all the languages that are embracing it, and not just English.

  10. So the “how” of this idea is the next question. You are on strike Sabrina and does it look like it will end soon in Chicago? So if people start flooding the comment fields below with ANYTHING (even if they think it is stupid) then we can pick and choose and organize what communication focused outcomes we want to put into a document, and then you (I’m not volunteering you but you are good at this stuff) or anyone with the time (pas moi!) can organize them into a document that we turn into a category for easy reference here. The cool part there would be that such a document would really take the fight to those who would impose their vision on us. We can’t let this idea fade out now without a doc coming from it, and that means start suggesting ideas below asap.

    1. I don’t want to talk about the strike right now, b/c it s personal and I am way too depressed about it. I SHOULD BE TEACHING RIGHT NOW BUT INSTEAD I AM PLAYING PUPPET FOR THE UNION AND HATED BY THE BOARD WHO WILL PROBABLY FIRE ME FOR GOING ON STRIKE BY NO WILL OF MY OWN. Plus, it is very political and I was told that here in America there are 2 things one should not talk about : religion or politics, which for me is very hard being the French political being that I am, but I have learned to tame that part of me, except when I am around other French people or people who do not mind opening up and even disagree. As we say: “chassez le naturel , il revient au galop” (chase nature, it comes back galoping”).
      OK I can take the lead on that Ben, as I know you are super busy. This idea was Grant’s by the way.
      Anyone with any ideas on how just post them here and we will collaborate on creating the best written document ever!

  11. yes, it was my idea and I’m happy to take the lead on it. First, I’d like to start with a call to all participants to post any and all documents they already have for the outcomes of a level 1 language class at the secondary level. Let’s see what’s out there for everyone currently. It will be a mixture but I’m sure dominated by expectations of knowledge of specific grammar points or lists of vocabulary.

    Those familiar with the LinguaFolio document may have integrated I Can statements into their outcomes. I find these to be interesting but the ones I’ve seen have been very focused on output. I would like to see them couched clearly and unequivocally in the ACTFL levels of proficiency. I want to move in the direction discussed here previously that would identify courses not by seat time, but by proficiency level – So, years 1 and 2 woudl have outcomes clearly derived from the Novice low, mid, high, depending on whether it’s an input or output skill.

    1. Thank you Grant! It sounds like you have put some thought into this one already. I don’t have any document for my level 1 or 2 b/c my school told me when I started, here is the book, and that is the curriculum!!!
      That is why this idea is so interesting to me.
      I have a question though. Shouldn’t we use backward design for this document as well? Starting from level 5 and 4 all the way to level 1?

      1. Yes, Sabrina, you are correct. It would be wise to do it this way. Different programs have different end goals in mind though – AP vs IB for college-bound kids… but then there’s the whole issue of whether we are designing language programs for just teh college-bound or for _all_ students.

        In my personal situation there is an urgency to deal with the lower levels first. That’s why I suggested it. My motivation will diminish as the task becomes less relevant to my personal situation. But yes, you are absolutely correct. We should start at level 5 or top levels.

        to that end, I need some help from the crowd. It’s my understanding that in MN a student who graduates from college with a degree in Spanish and wants to be a Spanish teacher takes an exam at the Intermedite Mid level. Here are details about that exam:
        If you click on the sub parts you can see clearly what test takers should be able to do. In the area of Presentational Writing and Speaking I find the expectations to be at about the Intermediate Mid level. Do you all agree?

        To begin the conversation let me suggest that from the beginning we make two distinctions that roughly correlate both with time on task and student’s psychological development: Lower levels – roughly two years on task and roughly aged 12-16 give or take – would correspond with the novice low to intermediate low proficiency labels and content would focus primarily on SELF. Upper levels would focus on moving kids to an Intermediate High for Input and have a goal of Intermediate Low for output – roughly 2-3 years on task roughly aged 15-18 – content would shift from inward focus to outward focus – from talking about me to engaging in the world around me in the target langauge.

        OK, now tear me apart people.

        1. No tearing here, Grant. I do have one slight difference of opinion. According to my understanding of expectations from ACTFL and several other sources, a student in a four-year program in high school is expected to reach Intermediate-Low rather than Intermediate-Mid. According to the State of California, a student in a K-12 program should achieve Intermediate High/Pre-Advanced, though not even completely achieve all the “benchmarks” of that level. That is to say, a student at the end of four years of high school is solidly Intermediate-Low and may exhibit some characteristics of Intermediate-Mid. By saying the student should be Intermediate-Mid, most people will interpret that to mean “should exhibit all the characteristics of Intermediate-Mid” but that is not the case. Now here’s the real kicker for us as high school teachers: College Board says that the AP Test is designed for students at the Pre-Advanced level and above. So, we take a student at the end of level 3 and expect them to jump from Novice-High/Intermediate Low to Pre-Advanced (Intermediate High) in less than a year.

          I created a chart that compares the stages as defined by the Interagency Linguistic Roundtable (US government), by the European Common Frame of Reference and by ACTFL, plus the AP info. I include sources for the information. If anyone is interested, I am happy to share it.

          1. I have an ACTFL Proficiency Expectations document. It says after:

            -1 year of study = Novice-Low/Novice Mid
            -2 years of study = Novice-Mid
            -3 years of Study = Novice-Mid/Novice-High
            -4 years of study = Intermediate-Low/Novice-High/Novice-Mid

            It breaks it down as far as percentage of kids that should be at each level, too. If anybody wants it, let me know. Or email me at

          2. Thanks for the information, Chris. That actually looks more in line with what I have heard Jason Fritze talk about. Students would not be Intermediate-Mid, and some (many?) would still be Novice, and that AP gap still exists.

            It’s very difficult to apply these “expectations” across the board, because learning Chinese, for example, is very different from learning a European language.

          3. Yes, yes. This is what I was hoping for. I didn’t know there were level expecatations out there. I’ve requested the document from Chris and I’d say we should probably use it as a guide.
            However, I’m sure this guide was made with traditional teachers in mind. And it goes without saying that these kids who are reaching these levels are:
            mostly white
            Mostly female
            almost entirely academically high-achieving

            So, in a full CI program of four to five years to get AVERAGE kids performing at these levels would knock people’s socks off and I think the high-flying kids would do even better.

            I’ll check back in after I get that document from Chris and look it over. Sabrina, what’s your contact info? Mine is grantboulanger at gmail. Email me and we can work on something to present tot he group.

            Robert, what End Goals or Essential Outcomes are you working with? Chris? Others?

          4. Grant , I have also emailed Chris and asked him to send me the document. Once he sends it, I’ll look it over and get in touch with you via personal email.

          5. Robert, how do we close that gap? Shouldn’t we aim to target the greater majority of the students and not just the small minority shooting for AP?
            When I go back to school on Monday (I pray the strike is over), I will look at the expectations for IB students. I am teaching pre IB and IB 1 this year and I think something exists , I just have to find it.
            And Robert you make an excellent point saying that these expectations cannot be applied across the board , especially when compared with a language like Chinese. I think that Spanish/French/Italian would be comparable though and may be this document could pertain to roman languages. What about
            German ?
            Is building the case for a language neutral document over b/c of this?

          6. You bring up a good question, Sabrina. I think that if we are going to try to come up with expectations based on length of exposure to a language (i.e. at the end of 1 year; at the end of 2 years), then we have to go with something like the language groupings of the Foreign Service. While I have issues with the way the data are used, the Foreign Service is probably right in grouping languages based on their “difficulty” for English speakers. In those groupings, Spanish/French/Italian are in the group with the least amount of exposure time. German either gets a separate listing or is simply placed halfway between the Romance group and the next group, but could probably go with Spanish/French/Italian in a general way.

            According to the Foreign Service, their “ideal students” (about 40 years old [i.e., mature], with aptitude for formal language study, already speaking multiple languages, motivated, in classes of no more than six people) reach “General Professional Proficiency” in x number of hours of class time:
            Group 1, including Spanish, French, Italian: 600 hours
            Group 2, German: 750 hours
            Group 3, including Vietnamese: 1100 hours
            Group 4, including Chinese, Japanese, Korean: 2200 hours.
            I think you can see that reaching the various intervening stages will also take different amounts of time.

            BTW, some of the issues with using these numbers in the high school setting is that no high school student looks like these “ideal students”, starting with the immaturity aspect. In addition, these ideal students do independent study (“homework”) in addition to the class time. Adding in an average amount of independent study time, the exposure hours look like this:
            Group 1: 1020 hours
            Group 2: 1275 hours
            Group 3: 1870 hours
            Group 4: 2740 hours

            Compare all of that with the average high school setting. In a good year, we might get about 120 hours of instruction – but it’s probably significantly less. That means a maximum of 480 exposure hours over four years. (I don’t know about you, but I cannot expect very many of my students to get meaningful language exposure outside of class.) In addition to testing days and school business, take away the time lost to discipline issues because of the students who either don’t really want to be there or simply don’t have impulse control or, or, or.

            So, I would say that striving for a language-neutral document describing Group 1 languages is a good starting point. It would give teachers of other languages a model and ideas for doing the same thing for their languages.

            Just some late-evening thoughts.

          7. There is a document out there — forget what state has it! or if it was ACTFL – which we used to help guide us (I found it and suggested we use it) It clearly states the difference in proficiency levels for the difference languages!!! Yes, Spanish, French, Italian — they were grouped together, bc they are similar; Chinese was in a group group — different rates of proficiency – believe it or not, I can’t remember about German! I will look it up and post it!!

          8. Great thoughts and thorough research Robert. Thank you so much for all your dedication, versatility in thinking and great intelligence. It needs to be said so I volunteer.
            I agree that we should follow the language grouping of the Foreign service and include the German language , even though some of its idiosyncratic linguistics features do not quite fit that of the other languages, but we should include it nonetheless for the sake of practicality and I doubt someone would object anyways.
            Now with regards to time spent in the language and the proficiency outcomes based on 600/1020 hours spent in the language for group 1 ( btw , it is a huge difference), I’d like to know what they mean by “general professional proficiency”. It seems to me that the word professional
            indicate a special register of language and lexicon that would likely not apply to our students