World Languages Education in the 21st Century
The New Jersey Student Learning Standards (NJSLS) are reviewed and revised every five years. The 2020 NJSLS in World Languages were adopted by the State Board of Education on June 3, 2020. Districts are required to implement by September 2022. The 2020 New Jersey Student Learning Standards webpage provides links to the 2020 NJSLS and information regarding curriculum implementation dates.
New Jersey citizens are part of a dynamic, interconnected, and technologically driven global society centered on the creation and communication of knowledge and ideas across geographical, cultural, and linguistic borders.
Individuals who effectively communicate in more than one language, with an appropriate understanding of cultural contexts, are globally literate and possess the attributes reflected in the mission and vision for world languages education that follow:
Mission: The study of another language and culture enables individuals, whether functioning as citizens or workers, to communicate face-to-face and by virtual means in appropriate ways with people from diverse cultures.
Vision: An education in world languages fosters a population that:
Intent and Spirit of the World Languages Standard
The study of world languages is spiraling and recursive and aligned to appropriate proficiency targets that ultimately enable the attainment of proficiency at the Novice-High level or above, which is a requirement for high school graduation. All students have regular, sequential instruction in one or more world languages beginning in preschool or kindergarten and continuing at least through the freshman year of high school. Further, N.J.A.C. 6A:8-5.1(b)4 directs districts to actively encourage all students who otherwise meet the current-year requirement for high school graduation to accrue, during each year of enrollment, five credits in world languages aimed at preparation for entrance into postsecondary programs or 21st-century careers. Opportunities to develop higher levels of proficiency should be based on personal and career interests and should be encouraged in Personalized Student Learning Plans.
The number of years spent studying a language and the frequency of instruction impact the level of proficiency acquired in the language. This principle has historically been supported by research in the United States and abroad. However, as part of a three-year grant project (2005-08), the New Jersey Department of Education collected data from New Jersey schools that further support these research findings. Data from the federally funded project that assessed the language proficiency of 60,000 8th-grade students present compelling evidence for the need to develop programs that offer all students the opportunity to meet the state-designated proficiency level of Novice-High. The data show that programs offering a minimum of 540 hours of articulated instruction in classes that meet at least three times a week throughout the academic year produce a majority of students who can speak at the Novice-High proficiency level or higher. Consequently, the establishment and/or maintenance of quality, well-articulated language programs at the elementary and middle-school levels, as required by New Jersey Administrative Code, is critical for building the capacity of high school students to achieve the Novice-High level of language proficiency required for graduation.