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Teaching Foreign Languages K-12: A Library of Classroom Practices

Standards and the Five Cs

An introduction to and illustration of the National Standards for Foreign Language Learning, this program shows how teachers can use the standards to help their students advance in foreign language proficiency.

Language and communication are at the heart of the human experience. The United States must educate students who are linguistically and culturally equipped to communicate successfully in a pluralistic American society and abroad. This imperative envisions a future in which ALL students will develop and maintain proficiency in English and at least one other language, modern or classical. Children who come to school from non-English backgrounds should also have opportunities to develop further proficiencies in their first language.

World-Readiness Standards for Learning Languages



This video is an introduction to the World-Readiness Standards for Learning Languages. The Standards reflect the knowledge and skills students need to communicate with competence and cultural sensitivity in a world language. Through classroom examples and interviews with teachers, students, and experts in the field, this program begins to show how a range of teachers are using the Standards to advance their students’ language skills and engage them in lifelong learning.

The video is organized according to the five goal areas of the World-Readiness Standards—Communication, Cultures, Connections, Comparisons, and Communities—called the Five Cs. For the Communication goal area, teachers see how students use language in culturally appropriate ways and talk about, read about, write about, and learn about topics of interest or importance to them. The video then shows how teachers incorporate Cultures, Connections, Comparisons, and Communities goal areas into their lessons. In addition, the video illustrates teachers taking a thematic approach to designing lessons and units.

Note to Viewers: In 2015, the original Standards for Foreign Language Learning: Preparing for the 21st Century (1996) were revised to the World-Readiness Standards for Learning Languages. The revisions emphasize how learning world languages supports literacy development and real-world applications. Take time to review the side-by-side comparison of the original Standards and the World-Readiness Standards.

Ways To Use the Video

You can use this video for the following purposes:

  • to learn about or refresh your understanding of the Standards,
  • to launch a professional development workshop, or
  • to facilitate a discussion about standards-based foreign language education.

Watch the Video
This video presents the broad goals of the Standards and explores the Five Cs individually and in relation to one another. Watch the video in its entirety, or pause for discussion or reflection after each of the Five Cs is presented. Use the Standards and the Five Cs Viewing Chart to guide your viewing.

Reflect on the Video
After watching the video, reflect on these questions or discuss them as a group.

  • What do the Five Cs goal areas and their Standards represent?
  • What linkages are there among the five goal areas, for example, between Communication and Cultures? Between Communication and Connections? Among Cultures, Comparisons, and Communities?
  • What did you find interesting, surprising, or especially important about the way Standards were addressed in these classroom examples?
  • What aspects of the Five Cs did you learn more about through the video?
  • If your state or district has foreign language standards, how do they align with the World-Readiness Standards for Learning Languages?
  • What aspects of the goal areas and their standards would you like to explore further?

Watch Other Videos
For more information on the classrooms featured in this video or to see other classroom examples of the Standards in action, go to the Video Organizer Chart and select another video from the Teaching Foreign Languages K–12 library.

Standards and the Five Cs Viewing Chart

Listed below is a selection of videos from the Teaching Foreign Languages K–12 library that is excerpted in “Standards and the Five Cs.” When watching this video, use the chart to note which videotaped lessons you would like to explore further. To focus on a particular goal area or Standard, use the approximate times listed below to locate the related excerpts in the “Standards” video.

World-Readiness Standards for Learning Languages

The following is a description of each of the Five Cs goal areas and its related Standards. For a brief history of the Standards, go to About the Library.



Communication: Communicate effectively in more than one language in order to function in a variety of situations and for multiple purposes

Interpersonal Communication
Learners interact and negotiate meaning in spoken, signed, or written conversations to share information, reactions, feelings, and opinions.

Interpretive Communication
Learners understand, interpret, and analyze what is heard, read, or viewed on a variety of topics.

Presentational Communication
Learners present information, concepts, and ideas to inform, explain, persuade, and narrate on a variety of topics using appropriate media and adapting to various audiences of listeners, readers, or viewers.



Cultures: Interact with cultural competence and understanding

Relating Cultural Practices to Perspectives
Learners use the language to investigate, explain, and reflect on the relationship between the practices and perspectives of the cultures studied.

Relating Cultural Products to Perspectives
Learners use the language to investigate, explain, and reflect on the relationship between the products and perspectives of the cultures studied.



Connections: Connect with other disciplines and acquire information and diverse perspectives in order to use the language to function in academic and career-related situations

Making Connections
Learners build, reinforce, and expand their knowledge of other disciplines while using the language to develop critical thinking and to solve problems creatively.

Acquiring Information and Diverse Perspectives
Learners access and evaluate information and diverse perspectives that are available through the language and its cultures.



Comparisons: Develop insight into the nature of language and culture in order to interact with cultural competence

Language Comparisons
Learners use the language to investigate, explain, and reflect on the nature of language through comparisons of the language studied and their own.

Cultural Comparisons
Learners use the language to investigate, explain, and reflect on the concept of culture through comparisons of the cultures studied and their own.



Communities: Communicate and interact with cultural competence in order to participate in multilingual communities at home and around the world

School and Global Communities
Learners use the language both within and beyond the classroom to interact and collaborate in their community and the globalized world.

Lifelong Learning
Learners set goals and reflect on their progress in using languages for enjoyment, enrichment, and advancement.

Series Directory

Teaching Foreign Languages K-12: A Library of Classroom Practices


Produced by WGBH Educational Foundation with the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages. 2003. 2016.
  • Closed Captioning
  • ISBN: 1-57680-731-2