Mass.gov
Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
Go to Selected Program Area
Massachusetts State Seal
News School/District Profiles School/District Administration Educator Services Assessment/Accountability Family & Community  
 Become an Educator  Licensure  >  Career Advancement  Teaching/Learning  Preparing Educators  
>
>
>
>
>
>
>

Archived Information

Foreign Language Curriculum Frameworks

Communicative Modes

(Adapted from Standards for Foreign Language Learning, 1996)

Communication can be characterized in many different ways. The approach suggested within this document is to recognize three "communicative modes" that place primary emphasis on the context and purpose of the communication.7 The three modes are:

  • Interpersonal
  • Interpretive
  • Presentational

Each mode involves a particular link that is developed gradually over time between the language and its underlying culture. Modern languages employ a balanced use of these three modes while in learning classical languages, the interpretive mode predominates with occasional use of the presentational mode.

The Interpersonal Mode

Two-way communication between individuals using receptive skills (listening and reading, sometimes enhanced by viewing) and productive skills (speaking and writing, sometimes enhanced by showing). The interpersonal mode is characterized by active negotiation of meaning among individuals, either listeners and speakers, or readers and writers. Participants observe one another to see how well their meanings and intentions are being communicated and make adjustments and clarifications accordingly. As a result, there is a higher probability of ultimately achieving the goal of successful communication in this mode than in the other two modes. The interpersonal mode is most obvious in conversation, but both the interpersonal and negotiated dimensions can be realized through reading and writing, such as the exchange of personal letters or of electronic mail (e-mail) messages.

The Interpretive Mode

One-way communication using receptive skills of listening and reading, sometimes enhanced by viewing. The interpretive mode is focused on the appropriate cultural interpretation of meanings that occur in written and spoken form where there is no recourse to the active negotiation of meaning with the writer or the speaker. Such instances of "one-way" reading or listening include the cultural interpretation of texts, movies, radio and television broadcasts, and speeches. Interpretation differs from comprehension in that the former implies the ability to "read (or listen) between the lines." Since the interpretive mode does not allow for active negotiation between the reader and writer or the listener and the speaker, it commonly requires knowledge of culture from the outset. The more one knows about the other language and culture, the greater the chances of creating the appropriate cultural interpretation of a written or spoken text. It must be noted, however, that cultural literacy and the ability to read or listen between the lines are developed over time and through exposure to the language and culture.

The Presentational Mode

One-way communication using productive skills of speaking and writing, sometimes enhanced by showing: The presentational mode refers to the creation of formal messages to be interpreted by listeners or readers without opportunities for the active negotiation of meaning. Whereas the interpretive mode refers to the way written or spoken utterances are received and interpreted, the presentational mode describes how the creator of a written or spoken utterance orders the presentation of text to achieve the maximum comprehension by an audience. Examples include the writing of reports and articles or the presentation of speeches. These examples of "one-way" writing and speaking require a substantial knowledge of language and culture from the outset, since the goal is to make sure that the listening or reading audience will readily understand the messages conveyed.

The Communicative Modes and the Study of
Classical Languages

Students and teachers of classical languages such as Latin and ancient Greek are primarily concerned with the interpretation of texts and historical/cultural understanding and therefore concentrate on the interpretive mode. Teachers of classical languages may employ simple oral question and answer exercises (interpretational mode) as a way of strengthening language knowledge and use, but they do not develop conversational skills because there are no native speakers of ancient languages with whom students can interact. In the classical language classroom the presentational mode is largely confined to presentations in English on the literary works being read in the classical language, to discussion of the cultural context and literary aspects of these works, and to practiced oral rendition of classical texts.

The Communicative Modes and the Study of
Non-European Languages

The use of a framework of communicative modes also highlights the challenge to English-speaking students who study non-European languages such as Chinese or Japanese. Although cultural knowledge is important in the study of all foreign languages, the cultural distance is greater for an English speaker who studies a non-European language than for the English speaker who studies a European language. Teachers of non-European languages must be aware of the high degree of cultural knowledge that is required when their English-speaking students attempt to carry on conversations and negotiations (interpersonal mode), interpret speeches, texts, or films (interpretive mode) or make oral and written presentations (presentational mode) in the target language.

The Communicative Modes and Heritage
Language Speakers

Students who have learned a language other than English in their homes are sometimes called "heritage language speakers." They may be newly-arrived immigrants to the United States, first-generation students whose home language is not English and who have been schooled primarily in the United States, or second- or third-generation students who have learned some aspects of the heritage language at home. These students have varying abilities and proficiencies in their heritage language; often they can carry on fluent and idiomatic conversation (interpersonal mode) but require instruction that will allow them to develop strengths in reading and interpreting (interpretive mode) and formal speaking and writing (presentational mode). Along with their counterparts whose native language is English, heritage language speakers will benefit from a rich and balanced curriculum in which they learn about the cultural connections among languages, literature, history, and the arts.

Table 1 below summarizes the Communicative Modes. (See Appendix C for examples of how these modes might be applied to the study of literature and culture.)

Table 1. Communicative Modes (from the Standards for Foreign Language Learning, 1996)

Definitions

Direct oral communication (such as face-to-face or by telephone) between individuals who are in personal contact

Direct written communication between individuals who come into personal contact

Receptive communication of oral or written messages

Mediated communication via print and non-print materials

Interpretation of visual or recorded materials by a listener, reader, or viewer who has no contact with person or people who created them

Productive communication using oral or written language

Spoken or written communication for people (an audience) with whom there is no immediate personal contact or which takes place in a one-to-many mode

Author or creator of visual or recorded material not known personally to listener

Paths

Productive skills: speaking, writing

Receptive skills: listening, reading

Primarily receptive skills: listening, reading, viewing

Primarily productive skills: speaking, writing, showing

Cultural Knowledge

Knowledge of cultural perspectives governing interactions between individuals of different ages and social backgrounds

Ability to recognize that languages use different practices to communicate

Ability to recognize that cultures use different patterns of interaction

Knowledge of how cultural perspectives are embedded in products (literary and artistic)

Knowledge of how meaning is encoded in products

Ability to analyze content, compare it to information available in own language, and assess linguistic and cultural differences

Ability to analyze and compare content in one culture to interpret U.S. culture

Knowledge of cultural perspectives governing interactions between a speaker and his/her audience or a writer and his/her reader

Ability to present cross-cultural information based on background of the audience

Ability to recognize that cultures use different patterns of interaction

Knowledge Of The Linguistic System

The use of grammatical, lexical, phonological, semantic, pragmatic, and discourse features necessary for participation in all the Communicative Modes.



Learning Standard 1

Students of modern languages will converse in a language other than English to provide and obtain information, express feelings and emotions, and exchange opinions. Students of classical languages will engage in simple oral exchanges and will develop reading skills with discussions of texts conducted in English.

Proficiency Level

Learning Standard Components
*applies to classical language learning

Stage 1:

at the end of

  • grade 4 in a PreK-4 sequence
  • grade 8 in a 6-8 sequence
  • grade 10 in a 8-10 sequence

Using selected words, phrases, and expressions with no major repeated patterns of error, students will

  1. Greet and respond to greetings*
  2. Introduce and respond to introductions*
  3. Ask and answer questions*
  4. Make and respond to requests
  5. Exchange information and knowledge
  6. Express likes and dislikes
  7. Express needs and emotions

Stage 2:

at the end of

  • grade 8 in a PreK-8 sequence
  • grade 10 in a 6-10 sequence

Using sentences and strings of sentences, and recombinations of learned words, phrases, and expressions, with frequency of errors proportionate to the complexity of the communicative task, students will

  1. Perform Stage 1 Learning Standard Components
  2. Ask and respond to questions to clarify information
  3. Exchange opinions about people, activities, or events
  4. Discuss class reading*

Stage 3:

at the end of

  • grade 10 in a PreK-10 sequence
  • grade 12 in a 6- 12 sequence

Using sentences and strings of sentences, fluid sentence-length and paragraph-length messages, with frequency of errors proportionate to the complexity of the communicative task, students will

  1. Perform Stage 1 and Stage 2 Learning Standard Components
  2. Suggest possible solutions to a problem
  3. Discuss personal feelings and ideas to persuade someone to consider an alternate viewpoint
  4. Share personal reactions to authentic literary texts, such as letters, poems, plays, stories, novels, etc.

Stage 4:

at the end of

  • grade 12 in a PreK- 12 sequence

Using sentences and strings of sentences, fluid sentence-length, paragraph-length, and essay-length messages with some patterns of errors that do not interfere with meaning, students will

  1. Perform Stage 1, Stage 2, and Stage 3 Learning Standard Components
  2. Initiate, sustain, and close a conversation
  3. Negotiate a compromise
  4. Discuss national, international, or current events
  5. Exchange opinions on a variety of contemporary or historical topics
  6. Use rephrasing, summarization, or elaboration to substantiate opinions, or express ideas and emotions
  7. Convince and persuade another person to adopt a plan or viewpoint
  8. Discuss and analyze literary texts*


Learning Standard 2

Students will understand and interpret ideas and information written or spoken in a language other than English. In classical language study, discussion will be conducted in English.

Proficiency Level

Learning Standard Components
*applies to classical language learning

Stage 1:

at the end of

  • grade 4 in a PreK-4 sequence
  • grade 8 in a 6-8 sequence
  • grade 10 in a 8-10 sequence

Using selected words, phrases, and expressions with no major repeated patterns of error, students will

  1. Follow directions*
  2. Understand some ideas and familiar details*
  3. Obtain information and knowledge*
  4. Read and interpret signs, simple stories, poems and informational texts*

Stage 2:

at the end of

  • grade 8 in a PreK-8 sequence
  • grade 10 in a 6-10 sequence

Using sentences and strings of sentences, and recombinations of learned words, phrases, and expressions, with frequency of errors proportionate to the complexity of the communicative task, students will

  1. Perform Stage 1 Learning Standard Components
  2. Follow directions such as for a recipe, a word maze, or a logic problem
  3. Read authentic and adapted materials, such as short stories, narratives, advertisements, and brochures*
  4. Understand important ideas and details in highly contextualized authentic and adapted texts*
  5. Understand learned expressions, sentences, questions, and polite commands in messages*
  6. Identify themes in fictional and non fictional works and relate them to personal experiences*

Stage 3:

at the end of

  • grade 10 in a PreK-10 sequence
  • grade 12 in a 6- 12 sequence

Using sentences and strings of sentences, fluid sentence-length and paragraph-length messages, with frequency of errors proportionate to the complexity of the communicative task, students will

  1. Perform Stage 1 and Stage 2 Learning Standard Components
  2. Read articles in a magazine, journal, or newspaper and understand main ideas
  3. Read a literary text and understand the theme, characters and setting*
  4. Identify the characteristics of four major genres: non-fiction, fiction, drama, and poetry in the target literature*
  5. Comprehend narration in present, past, and future*
  6. Identify and understand feelings and emotions*
  7. Comprehend audio and video texts
  8. Understand telephone conversations or written correspondence*

Stage 4:

at the end of

  • grade 12 in a PreK- 12 sequence

Using sentences and strings of sentences, fluid sentence-length, paragraph-length, and essay-length messages with some patterns of errors that do not interfere with meaning, students will

  1. Perform Stage 1, Stage 2, and Stage 3 Learning Standard Components
  2. Identify the main points and details in a radio or TV news program
  3. Understand printed or recorded advice and suggestions
  4. Analyze the aesthetic qualities of works of poetry, drama, fiction, or film*
  5. Interpret literature based on evidence from the text*
  6. Analyze moral/philosophical points presented in literary texts*


Learning Standard 3

Students of modern languages will write and speak in a language other than English to present information, concepts, and ideas on a variety of topics. Presentations in classical language classes will usually take the form of speaking or writing in English.

Proficiency Level

Learning Standard Components
*applies to classical language learning

Stage 1:

at the end of

  • grade 4 in a PreK-4 sequence
  • grade 8 in a 6-8 sequence
  • grade 10 in a 8-10 sequence

Using selected words, phrases, and expressions with no major repeated patterns of error, students will

  1. Express opinions and ideas
  2. Express needs and emotions
  3. Express agreement and disagreement
  4. Describe people, places, and things*
  5. Write lists and short notes
  6. Present information in a brief report*

Stage 2:

at the end of

  • grade 8 in a PreK-8 sequence
  • grade 10 in a 6-10 sequence

Using sentences and strings of sentences, and recombinations of learned words, phrases, and expressions, with frequency of errors proportionate to the complexity of the communicative task, students will

  1. Perform Stage 1 Learning Standard Components
  2. Write simple paragraphs
  3. Write greeting cards, notes, letters and e-mails*
  4. Describe elements of stories such as characters, events, and settings*
  5. Give presentations on planned activities or on cultural topics*

Stage 3:

at the end of

  • grade 10 in a PreK-10 sequence
  • grade 12 in a 6- 12 sequence

Using sentences and strings of sentences, fluid sentence-length and paragraph-length messages, with frequency of errors proportionate to the complexity of the communicative task, students will

  1. Perform Stage 1 and Stage 2 Learning Standard Components
  2. Develop and present solutions to problems
  3. State and support opinions to convince or persuade a listener or reader
  4. Write letters requesting specific information
  5. Write e-mail correspondence with peers to compare and contrast interests
  6. Write reviews about a story, play, movie or other form of literature*

Stage 4:

at the end of

  • grade 12 in a PreK- 12 sequence

Using sentences and strings of sentences, fluid sentence-length, paragraph-length, and essay-length messages with some patterns of errors that do not interfere with meaning, students will

  1. Perform Stage 1, Stage 2, and Stage 3 Learning Standard Components
  2. Write journals, letters, stories, and essays
  3. Write critiques of books, articles, orations, movies, plays, videos, or CDs from or about the target culture*
  4. Write or prepare an oral or videotaped report about a personal interest*
  5. Recount events in an incident or a reading*
  6. Narrate in the past, present, and future*


Communication: Sample Stage 1 Learning Scenario

Personal Collage

Strand/Standard:Communication, Learning Standard 3
Grade Level:PreK-4, Foreign Language in Elementary School (FLES)
Assessment Criteria:

Use Stage 1 Proficiency in the target language to

  • Express opinions and ideas
  • Express agreement and disagreement
Activity summary:Students create a collage representing the things they like and dislike (food, colors, pets, activities, etc.) by drawing or selecting pictures from magazines. All images are also labeled in the target language. Students then pair up. Each student makes a series of statements expressing opinions about the images they have chosen to represent. The partner expresses agreement or disagreement with each statement and then the roles are reversed. This can also be done as a written activity; images are posted around the room and students circulate to find representations for which they write sentences expressing agreement or disagreement.
Materials needed:Art supplies, magazines
Additional resources:Dictionaries, sources for vocabulary for each topic
How students work:Individually to start, then in pairs


Communication: Sample Stage 3 Learning Scenario

Odas de Neruda

Strand/Standard:Communication, Learning Standard 2
Grade Level:Grades 9-10, Spanish
Assessment Criteria:

Use Stage 3 Proficiency in the target language to

  • Read a literary text and understand the theme, characters, and setting D.
  • Identify the characteristics of major genres, such as nonfiction, fiction, drama, and poetry in the target language
Activity summary: Students read and memorize sample "odas" from the works of Pablo Neruda and complete graphic organizers, writing words and phrases or drawing pictures for the images that the ode evokes. Before reading Oda a la Bicicleta, students use a graphic organizer to compare a bicycle to an insect and a skeleton and share their ideas with the class. Students then read Oda a la Bicicleta and compare their ideas with Neruda's. Having worked with metaphors and similes, students brainstorm metaphors/similes for topics of their own choosing. They follow with a list of images that the topic evokes. Students then write their own oda on an everyday object.
Materials needed:Odas de Pablo Neruda
How students work:Individually
(Adapted from New York State Learning Scenarios)




Last Updated: January 1, 1999
E-mail this page| Print View| Print Pdf  
Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education Search · Site Index · Policies · Site Info · Contact ESE