Department of Teaching, Learning and Teacher Education


Date of this Version



Published in Year of Languages: Challenges, Changes, and Choices: Selected papers from the 2005 Central States Conference, eds. Peggy Boyles and Paul Sandrock (Eau Claire, WI: Crown Prints), pp. 77-84.


Copyright © 2005 Central States Conference on the Teacing of Foreign Languages


One of the greatest challenges facing foreign language teachers is the pressure to ‘cover the curriculum.’ Jeff Golub (1993) noted “when one must cover items—and usually there are far too many items in the curriculum anyway to be covered adequately—one tends to focus on teaching content instead of teaching students” (p. 3). Classroom teaching has often focused too narrowly on the memorization of information in a setting that resembles what Freire dubs the “banking model,” depositing knowledge without regard for the individual background knowledge and experiences. Language standards have broadened our sense of what we teach and why. These standards promote three purposes for learning a language: to communicate interpersonally, to interpret, or to present information and ideas. Individual state standards delineate performance outcomes, what students should be able to do (e.g. write a personal communication such as, a note, letter, or invitation) at various levels of language learning. These standards guide our choices of what to teach, but the curriculum must still be adapted to meet the age, needs, and interests of the students in our classrooms.