World-Readiness Standards for Learning Languages

The Roadmap to Language Competence

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What Are the World-Readiness Standards?

The World-Readiness Standards for Learning Languages create a roadmap to guide learners to develop competence to communicate effectively and interact with cultural competence to participate in multilingual communities at home and around the world.

This publication is a collaborative project of AATA, AATF, AATG, AATI, AATJ, AATK, AATMG, AATSP, ACL, ACTFL, ACTR, ASLTA, CLASS, CLTA, MLA, NCOLCTL, and National Standards Task Force for Hindi.

The World-Readiness Standards for Learning Languages define the central role of world languages in the learning career of every student. The five goal areas of the Standards establish an inextricable link between communication and culture, which is applied in making connections and comparisons and in using this competence to be part of local and global communities.

View a video overview of the World-Readiness Standards here:

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The Standards are available as a print volume and downloadable ebooks, combined with your preferred language. You can also get the Standards ebook with all available languages included at our bookstore.

The History of the Standards

With the help of a three-year grant from the US Department of Education and the National Endowment for the Humanities, an eleven-member task force, representing a variety of languages, levels of instruction, program models, and geographic regions, undertook the task of defining content standards — what students should know and be able to do — in language learning. The final document, Standards for Foreign Language Learning: Preparing for the 21st Century, first published in 1996, represents an unprecedented consensus among educators, business leaders, government, and the community on the definition and role of language instruction in American education. This visionary document has been used by teachers, administrators, and curriculum developers at both state and local levels to begin to improve language education in our nation's schools.

The National Standards for Learning Languages have been revised based on what language educators have learned from more than 15 years of implementing the Standards. The guiding principle was to clarify what language learners would do to demonstrate progress on each Standard.

The World-Readiness Standards for Learning Languages create a roadmap to guide learners to develop competence to communicate effectively and interact with cultural understanding. “World-Readiness” signals that the Standards have been revised with important changes to focus on the literacy developed and the real-world applications. Learners who add another language and culture to their preparation are not only college- and career-ready, but are also “world-ready”—that is, prepared to add the necessary knowledge, skills, and dispositions to their résumés for entering postsecondary study or a career.

These Standards are equally applicable to:

  • learners at all levels, from pre-kindergarten through postsecondary levels
  • native speakers and heritage speakers, including ESL students
  • American Sign Language
  • Classical Languages (Latin and Greek)
Download the Summary

Get the Two-Page Summary PDF

Get your copy of the two-page summary of the World-Readiness Standards for Learning Languages

Statement of Philosophy

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.

Perfect for your classroom!

Get the 5 Cs Poster

Purchase the poster, which highlights the Standards goal areas— also known as the 5 Cs (Communication, Cultures, Connections, Comparisons, Communities). A description of each of the 11 standards is also included.

“The American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese is proud to have played a role in the creation of the new revised World-Readiness Standards for Learning Languages. We know that the new Standards will play a vital role in the creation of curricular frameworks and lesson plans for all instructors K-16.”

Emily Spinelli

“We are delighted to see the revised Standards. We especially welcome the Sample Performance Indicators for Elementary, Middle and High School, and Post-Secondary students. Congratulations to the team.”

Mary Helen Kashuba

“The revised and newly designated World-Readiness Standards for Learning Languages build on the existing and now familiar five goals (Communication, Cultures, Connections, Comparisons, Communities) with a clear and comprehensive articulation of the previous Standards through the addition of literacy and career readiness for K-16+ students.”

Frank Nuessel
Past President & Salvatore Bancheri, President, AATI

“The revised Standards continue to address the original five goal areas, while the descriptors are re-focused, identifying the critical thinking skills necessary for students to acquire new languages, including classical languages.”

Kathy Elifrits

“The revised World-Readiness Standards for Learning Languages not only provide guidance to Korean teachers on how and what to teach K-16+ students incorporating 21st century skills, but also help create the framework for the curriculum and assessment and eventually build the community of practice and understanding nationwide.”

Korean SIG

More Resources

Webpage Link 2x
Online Library Online Library

Access the online library listing of almost 600 publications on the National Standards.

Document 2x
Survey Results (PDF) A Decade of Foreign Language Standards: Impact, Influence, and Future Directions

Read "A Decade of Foreign Language Standards: Impact, Influence, and Future Directions." (PDF) | Survey Results (PDF)

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