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Archived Information

Foreign Language Curriculum Frameworks

Comparisons Strand

(adapted from the Standards for Foreign Language Learning, 1996)

Students benefit from language learning by discovering patterns both familiar and distinctive among language systems and cultures. They learn about the nature of language, linguistic and grammatical concepts, the communicative functions of language, and the interaction between language and culture.

When students begin the study of another language, they often assume any new language will be like their own, except it will have different words. Soon they notice that elements that they often ignored in their own language may be very important in the second language. This awareness of linguistic differences not only enhances students' ability to use the target language, but also provides insights into the use of English. As students learn ways of predicting how language is likely to work in an unfamiliar setting, they make fewer naïve assumptions about other languages based solely upon limited knowledge of their own language.

The long-term study of another language also leads students to discover different cultural perspectives. As students begin to hypothesize about cultural systems in general, some students may make comparisons on their own, others learn to do so over time. Good language programs help foster this reflective process in students from the earliest levels of language learning.

Learning Standard 5

Students will demonstrate an understanding of the nature of language through comparison of the language studied and their own. In classical language study, discussion and writing will be in English.

Proficiency Level

Learning Standard Components
*applies to classical languagelearning

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 in the target language, and English when necessary, students will

  1. Ask and answer questions regarding similar/different phonetic/writing systems used in the target language*
  2. Give examples of ways in which the target language differs from/is similar to English*
  3. Give examples of borrowed and loan words*
  4. Identify linguistic characteristics of the target language and compare and contrast them with English linguistic characteristics*

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, and English when necessary, students will Perform Stage 1 Learning Standard Components

  1. Compare, contrast, and exchange views on an aspect of the target language*
  2. Identify words in the target language that are used frequently in English*
  3. Analyze how idiomatic expressions work in both languages*
  4. Compare and contrast similarities/differences of sounds in rhythm and rhyme in poetry*
  5. Recognize grammatical categories such as tense, gender, agreement in the target language and English*
  6. Give examples of words or word parts from the target language that have been adopted into the English language*
  7. Analyze differences and similarities between the writing systems of both languages*

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, in the target language, with frequency of errors proportionate to the complexity of the communicative task, students will

  1. Respond to, compare and discuss the effects of sound, meter, and rhythm in poetry in the target language and in English*
  2. Compare, contrast and analyze articles in newspapers, journals, and TV and radio broadcasts in the target language
  3. Discuss and analyze idiomatic expressions in the target language*

Stage 4:

at the end of

  • grade 12 in a PreK- 12 sequence

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

  1. Compare, contrast, and discuss etymological/linguistic roots of English words from the target language*
  2. Read and view several literary works (print, film, multimedia) with related themes and compare them*
  3. Describe a major aspect of the linguistic system of the target language (such as syntax, style, body language, pragmatics, etc.) and compare and contrast this to a comparable aspect of English*
  4. Describe similarities in themes and details found in narratives of the target language and English*


Learning Standard 6

Students will demonstrate an understanding of the concept of culture through comparison of the target culture and their own. In classical language study, discussion and writing will be 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 in the target language, and English when necessary, students will

  1. Ask and answer questions regarding different forms of communication in the target culture and their own such as signs, symbols, displays, and inscriptions*
  2. Describe the patterns of behavior of the target culture such as celebrations and compare/contrast them with those of their own culture*
  3. Describe some cultural beliefs and perspectives relating to family, school, and play in both target culture and their own*
  4. Identify and discuss cultural characteristics of the target culture and compare and contrast to cultural characteristics of their own culture*

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, and English when necessary, students will

  1. Compare, contrast, and exchange views on an aspect of the target culture*
  2. Discuss basic needs of people for food, clothing, and shelter, and compare how they have been met in various cultures*
  3. Compare and contrast examples of music, visual arts, dance, and theatre from the target culture with examples from their own culture*
  4. Compare, contrast, and report on cultural traditions and celebrations*
  5. Compare folktales from the target culture and the students' own culture*

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, in the target language, with frequency of errors proportionate to the complexity of the communicative task, students will

  1. Compare, contrast, and exchange opinions on issues that are of contemporary or historical interest in the target culture and students' own culture(s)*
  2. Compare and contrast graphic and statistical information such as population and income of the target culture with similar information about the U.S.*
  3. Analyze examples of how authors in the target culture view the role of the United States or other countries
  4. Compare, contrast, and present the treatment of controversial issues in both the target culture and their own culture*

Stage 4:

at the end of

  • grade 12 in a PreK- 12 sequence

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

  1. Compare, contrast, and discuss how a social issue is treated in primary sources in both English and the target language*
  2. Compare and contrast how international events are or have been reported in the target culture's media*
  3. Analyze and present how an important event was covered in the media in the target culture and how the U.S. media covered the same or similar events*


Comparisons: Sample Stage 1 Learning Scenario

Halloween and el Día de los Muertos

Strand/Standard: Comparisons, Learning Standards 5 and 6
Grade Level: Grades 6-8, Spanish
Assessment Criteria:

Use Stage 1 Proficiency to:

  • Compare, contrast, and exchange views on an aspect of the target language
  • Compare, contrast, and report on cultural traditions and celebrations
Activity summary: Using a variety of materials, such as textbook presentations, information from the Internet, cultural materials, or books such as El Primer Halloween de Clifford, and El Espiritu de Tío Fernando, students learn the vocabulary pertinent to the American holiday of Halloween and the Hispanic celebration of el Día de los Muertos. Students then compare and contrast the two celebrations and explain the meanings and origins of words, phrases, images, and practices.
Materials needed: Resources on the Day of the Dead: books, articles, web sites, dictionaries, documentary films, etc.
How students work: In pairs or small groups of up to four students


Comparisons: Sample Stage 2 Learning Scenario

Immigration Trends

Strand/Standard: Comparisons, Learning Standard 6
Grade Level: Grades 6-8, Spanish
Assessment Criteria:

Use Stage 2 Proficiency to:

  • Compare, contrast, and exchange views on an aspect of the target culture
Activity summary: In conjunction with their history class, small groups research trends in immigration to the United States since 1800, while other small groups investigate trends in immigration to a Latin American country (such as Argentina) during the same time period to find similarities and differences. They research reasons for immigration, countries of origin, conditions in those countries, the immigrants' adjustment to the new culture, and the traditions and products that they brought into their adopted country. Groups then present their findings to the whole class for discussion.
Materials needed: Print and non-print materials on immigration trends in the USA and in Latin American countries. Encyclopedia entries and biographies of famous immigrants or descendants of immigrants.
How students work: In small groups




Last Updated: January 1, 1999
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