World Languages

Why Study World Languages?

Proficiency in languages in addition to English is critical for success in the twenty-first century (Commission on Language Learning, 2017).  Research shows that acquiring a second language has been linked to many positive outcomes, such as improved learning in other subject areas and heightened cognitive ability (e.g., Collier and Thomas, 2014).  As second language learners develop cultural competence through language studies, they can gain a greater sense of empathy, appreciation and acceptance of diversity, understanding of diverse points of view, and marketability in career endeavors. 

With Hawaiian and English as the official state languages, HIDOE:

Students in Sociedad Honoraria Hispanica (“the Hispanic Honor Society” in Spanish) is an academic honor society that focuses on Spanish language excellence and promotes continuous interest in Spanish studies at James Campbell High School.
Sociedad Honoraria Hispanica (“the Hispanic Honor Society” in Spanish) is an academic honor society that focuses on Spanish language excellence and promotes continuous interest in Spanish studies at James Campbell High School.

With a focus on the future, a mindset that values all cultures and languages, and an asset-based perspective towards useful levels of language proficiencies, HIDOE strives to continue strengthening and innovating with World Languages program for all language learners, whether they are new or heritage learners of the target language, from early to upper grades.

Core Principles of World Languages

The study of World Languages focuses on acquiring the ability to communicate and demonstrate cultural competence in another language. 


Communication is more than language production; it is the expression, interpretation, and negotiation of meaning in a given context with a purpose (American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages, 2015).  Both the quality of language instruction and time spent within an environment rich with copious amounts of comprehensible input and meaningful interaction are key for students to reach usable levels of proficiency to communicate in the target language.


Language and culture are interconnected.  To learn a language means to also learn about the attitudes, values, norms, beliefs, and practices shared by members of the target language community.   Through the study of language, students develop awareness and understanding of diverse world views and patterns of behavior, and are prepared to function appropriately and interact with competence in local and global communities.  Example instructional practices include discussing cross-cultural similarities and differences and teaching cultural connotations such as politeness and humor to enhance target language use in interactions (Brown & Lee, 2015). 

Where is World Languages headed?

The Hawaiʻi World-Readiness Standards for Learning Languages (HI WRSLL) was approved by the Hawaiʻi State Board of Education for adoption on March 3, 2022. The HI WRSLL provides a framework for schools to plan and deliver language instruction that is standards-based, proficiency-based, and designed for students to develop language proficiency through an extended period of study. It is aligned to the national standards and is a synthesis of current research in second language acquisition and best practices in proficiency-based language instruction.

The goals of the HI WRSLL are Communication, Cultures, Connections, Comparisons, and Communities. They are interconnected with the following distinctions:

Teachers on Oʻahu participating in the Aiming for 90% Target Language Use course

Aiming for 90% Target Language Use course on Hawaiʻi island

Demonstrations of the One Word Image strategy at the Aiming for 90% Target Language Use course on Maui

Hawaiʻi World-Readiness Standards for Learning Languages (HI WRSLL) Year 1 Implementation Resources

The following asynchronous modules are created to build foundational understanding on the HI WRSLL and ways to use the HI WRSLL to plan and implement proficiency-oriented language instruction. Each module consists of a recording and a slide deck. Where applicable, a study guide with prompts is provided to facilitate reflection before and after viewing the module. 


This module provides an introduction to the HI WRSLL and Year 1 implementation resources.

Watch the video (video length - 10:39)

Access the slide deck

Access the HI WRSLL document

Access the Proficiency Targets document

Language Performance and Proficiency

This module, created in collaboration with ACTFL, builds the foundational knowledge of language proficiency and how it differs from language performance.

Access the study guide

Watch the video (video length - 17:16)

Access the slides

Characteristics of a Proficiency-Based Curriculum:

This module, created in collaboration with ACTFL, provides strategies to use the HI WRSLL to design and implement a proficiency-based curriculum.

Access the study guide

Watch the video (video length - 22:37)

Access the slides

Focus on High-Leverage Teaching Practices

This module, created in collaboration with ACTFL, examines three high-leverage teaching practices to address the three anchor Communication standards. 

Access the study guide

Watch the video (video length - 23:50)

Access the slides

Creating Comprehensible (and Compelling) Texts: 

This module, created in collaboration with the World Languages Leadership Project team, provides a foundation on text creation for language learners and strategies to create texts for, create texts with students, and guide students with creating their own texts. 

Watch the video (video length - 41:39)

Access the slide deck

Preparing Students for the Seal of Biliteracy: A Guide for World Languages Teachers 

A virtual professional learning module to support World Languages teachers to help students achieve the Seal of Biliteracy.

Part 1: What is the Seal of Biliteracy Test and Who Should Take It?

Watch the Video (video length - 5:47) 

Part 2: Understanding Proficiency and World Languages Standards

Watch the Video (video length - 15:18)

Part 3: Understanding the Avant Proficiency Test

Watch the Video (video length - 16:49)

Part 4: Proficiency-Focused Approaches, Activities, and Strategies 

Watch the Video (video length - 22:59)

Slide Deck 

Access the Slide Deck

                           Japanese class at Hilo High School.                             Source: Hilo High School

Virtual Korean Class at Daniel K. Inouye Elementary School. Source: Daniel K. Inouye Elementary School

Learn-a-Language event at the Moanalua High School World Language Learning Center.  Source: Moanalua High School

One approach to teach for communication in the target language is Communicative Language Teaching, a contemporary approach guided by six key principles (VanPatten, 2017):

Communicative Language Teaching Key Principles

Example Instructional Practices

1. Teaching communicatively implies a definition of communication.

Design lessons that address three types of communication (interpretive, presentational, and interpersonal) with meaningful purpose and in relevant context.

2. Language is too abstract and complex to teach and learn explicitly.

Model and use target grammar as part of communication with and between students during lesson, without explicitly naming the grammar features or explaining the rules.

3. Language acquisition is constrained by internal and external factors.

Lower the affective filter in the classroom by engaging students through games, humor, and topics of interest; elicit as much oral participation as possible from all students to encourage practice with new language.

4. Instructors and materials should provide appropriate level input (what students hear or read in the target language) and interaction.

Use of the target language 90% or more of the time at all levels of classroom instruction by the teacher and students (American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages, 2010) with appropriate graphic, visual, and interactive supports.

5. Tasks should form the backbone of the communicative curriculum.

Engage students with interactive tasks that require the use of authentic language to communicate for meaning and real-world purpose (e.g., students interview each other to provide the teacher with information about the class).

6. Any focus on form should be input-oriented and meaning-based.

Guide students to notice or pay attention to target grammar in both input and output to communicate ideas.

To better support multilingualism in Hawai‘i, World Languages instruction is moving away from using English to teach about the target language, teaching vocabulary and grammar in isolation, and repetition and recitation and/or translating between the target language and English as the only learning activities. World Languages instruction is moving towards practices such as those listed in the table above to support communicative and cultural competence.

World Languages education is for everyone.  With acquiring language as the focus and communication and cultural competence as the goals, each student can experience success as a language learner.

World Languages Resources

Standards-Based and Proficiency-Based World Languages Instruction

Hawaiʻi State Seal of Biliteracy

Teaching Practices

Curricular and Instructional Materials

Online/Blended World Languages Instruction

Data and Reports on World Languages Education

American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages. (2010). Use of the target language in the classroom. Retrieved from
Brown, H. D. & Lee, H. (2015). Teaching by Principles: An Interactive Approach to Language Pedagogy. White Plains, NY: Pearson Education, Inc.
Collier, V.P., & Thomas, W.P. (Eds.). (2014). Creating Dual Language Schools for a Transformed World:  Administrators Speak. Albuquerque, NM: Dual Language Education of New Mexico – Fuente Press.
Commissions on Language Learning. (2017). American’s Languages: Investing in Language Education for the 21st Century. Cambridge, MA: American Academy of Arts & Sciences. Retrieved from
National Standards in Foreign Language Education Project. (1996). Yonkers, NY: National Endowment for the Humanities.  
VanPatten, B. (2017). While We’re on the Topic: BVP on Language, Acquisition, and Classroom Practice. Alexandria, VA: The American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages.