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Behind The Standards Development Process

The Impetus

In 2016, Dr. Janine Theiler initiated the first World Language Colloquium to discuss and establish priorities for NDE in meeting the needs of world language teachers across the state. Task force groups were formed to address needs in the areas of programming, proficiency, professional learning, advocacy and collaboration. Around that time, NDE decided to establish a consistent and cohesive plan to creating and revising standards in all content areas. A schedule for revision was created that marked 2018 as the year for World Language revision.

The Research

The NDE World Language Specialist sent a statewide survey to all world language teachers in December 2017. Teachers were asked for input that would help to shape the discussion at the upcoming second World Language Colloquium. Questions included prompts for language demographics, materials used, the role of the current world language frameworks, and professional practices.

World Language Colloquium 2018

Forty participants gathered in Lincoln in February 2018. The majority of participants were those who had participated in the 2016 Colloquium. Representatives from districts throughout the state, technical colleges, universities, educational service units, and international associations discussed the purpose of language learning and the skill sets that it requires.

World Language Standards Advisory Council

Seventeen educators arrived in Lincoln in June and August 2018 to author the revised standards. The group analyze and compared standards from other states, from other content areas, and from national organizations both language and non-language specific. Working through mindful discussions, the Council established the essentials of world language learning.

World Language Standards Writing Team

The writing team will begin to meet in late October. In a series of meetings, the team will be tasked with creating indicators at specific proficiency levels. As decided by the Council, the revised standards will use the proficiency levels established by the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages: Novice, Intermediate, Advanced, Superior, and Distinguished. The writing team is still in the process of formation.

World Language Standards Focus Teams

Several areas require focused work groups. These areas include, but may not be limited to dual language immersion, heritage speakers, classical languages, critical languages, and Native American languages. These groups will be convened electronically as needed to provide input into the standards.

The Final Steps

When the indicators are completed and edited, the entire document will be reviewed and open to public commentary before going before the state Board. It is hoped that the standards will be approved in September 2019.



Thank you

While the work and this list are not complete, there are many who have contributed in one way or another to the making of the standards. In a year, this list will be significantly longer. For now, thank you to:



Brett Avila, Sidney Public Schools

Amber Beltrand, Schuyler Public Schools

Theresa Catalano, University of Nebraska Lincoln

Katy Cattlett, Omaha Public Schools

Jan Coone, ESU 16, retired

Alicia Dallman Shoemaker, Elkhorn Public Schools

Brooke  David, NDE

Jonathan Dettman, University of Nebraska Kearney

Steven Duke, University of Nebraska

Chad Dumas, Hastings Public Schools

Janet Eckerson, Lincoln Public Schools

Cory Epler, NDE

Mary Lea Free, Norris Public Schools

Rebecca Gill-Rose, Palmyra Public Schools

Shanna Hellerich, Shelton Public Schools

Chris Heselton, University of Nebraska Confucius Institute

Kristen Hetrick, Doane University

Jami Holbein Swanson, Lincoln Public Schools

Jamie Honke, Ralston Public Schools

Nila Jacobson, Lincoln Public Schools, retired

Jesús Jurado Mendoza, Embassy of Spain, Ministry of Education

Becky Keilig, NDE

Faye Kilday, Northeast Community College

Candida Kraska, Millard Public Schools

Amanda Levos, Grand Island Public Schools

Jared List, Doane University

Amy Mancini-Marshall, Grand Island Public Schools

Naomi Mardock Uman, Metropolitan Community College

Liz Martinez, Elm Creek Public Schools

Ali Moeller, University of Nebraska Lincoln

Rita Ricaurte, Nebraska Wesleyan University

Mytzy Rodriguez-Kufner, Wayne State College

Brenda Romero, University of Nebraska Lincoln

Brenda Schiermeyer, Fremont Public Schools

Cathy Scurlock, Omaha Public Schools

Patty Simpson, University of Nebraska Lincoln

Yasuko Taoka, Wayne State College

Martha Thompson, Norfolk Public Schools

Marie Trayer, Nebraska Wesleyan University, Retired

Janine Theiler, Lincoln Public Schools

Angie Wagoner, Crete Public Schools

Michelle Warren, University of Nebraska Kearney

Nick Ziegler, ESU 5

Thinking Ahead

In a Ted Talk video, Sisters Camila and Cecilia Lopez explained why they chose to become polyglots. 14-year old Cecilia studies and speaks 12 languages.  Her 7-year old sister Camila speaks English and Mandarin. However, Camila says language is not her passion. To her, the power of language is the ability to communicate with others about the topics that are her passions.

Another inspirational video is a commercial for an initiative sponsored by UPS, Zipline, Gavi, and the Rwandan Government. The story began in Rwanda. Medical officials were desperate to stop the deaths of women who died in childbirth because they had no access to blood transfusions. This four-way partnership uses drones to fly needed medical supplies and precious blood through even the most rugged terrain within minutes of an emergency call. Further interviews with the partnership members and the people of Rwanda revealed numerous languages.

These videos reveal a critical way to think about world language learning. World languages do have the power to make us college, career, and civic ready by enabling us greater and more immediate access to resources, materials, and people across the globe. Yet, it is the intangible skill of being able to find unique and unexpected connections among seemingly unrelated concepts that is most often the true power of second language learning. Nebraska’s revised standards reflect this understanding. Moving forward, we will continue to focus on ways to embody enterprising associations and strategic thinking while delivering an exemplary academic standard.

Are You Ready for the New Standards? Standards Revision Process Maintaining Steady Pace

Members of the World Language Advisory Council working through a group exercise to craft a declaration of student interaction with culture in the world language classroom.

How will the 2019 standards differ from the 1997 standards? While the revised standards carry all of the intellectual design, second language acquisition pedagogy, and flexibility of the 1997 standards, the 2019 standards are greater than the sum of their parts. There is a paradigm shift in the functionality of the language and the expectation of proficiency. World Language Advisory Council Member Jamie Honke shares, “The revised standards are going to put more emphasis on the necessity to integrate intercultural competencies into the curriculum…I think also the standards will impact those who focus a tremendous amount of time on grammar and explicit language instruction because our standards [will be] how to function within the language and not solely understanding the language’s function.” How will this impact teachers? Fellow Council Member Michelle Warren commented, “World Language teachers across the state recognize the urgency to push for ability to communicate and to help students use their language across the disciplines.” The standards process is lengthy; the work is not done. There will still be opportunities for involvement from others. Council Member Jami Holbein Swanson shared that the experience so far has been favorable. “There were protocols in place that allowed all voices to be heard, and understood. We had choice in how to proceed, and with the expertise in the room, our choices were well informed.”

WL Events August 2018

Children’s China: Celebrating Culture, Character and Confucius

Omaha Children’s Museum

May 26-August 19

Color and Contour: Provencal Quilts and Domestic Objects

Lois Gottsch Gallery

International Quilt Study Center & Museum


June 15-October 28

Nebraska Asian Festival

Lewis and Clark Landing


July 28

Middle East Forum

CEC OPPD Community Dialogue Room


September 20 and October 18

Chinese Warriors of Peking

Lied Center


October 21

Ballet Folklórico de México

Lied Center


October 30

World Language Societies and Clubs

Alliance Française d’Omaha:
Articles, events, classes, and community activities for French and Francophones.

German-American Society of Nebraska
Activities, clubs, community events, language classes, and student exchange.

Japan America Society of Iowa
Community events, presentations, language school

Asian Community and Cultural Center
Community events, English language support, presentations

Where to Start: Resources for 2018-2019

Classroom Grants

Target Field Trip Grants
Target Foundation offers field trip grants of up to $700 for K-12 schools nationwide. Consider a trip to Joslyn, the Lied, or another performance venue for an artistic exposition of the target culture.

Shopko Foundation Community Grants
Shopko Foundation offers grants of up to $2,500 for K-12 private and public schools within 25 miles of a Shopko location.

Monsanto Fund Education Grants
Monsanto benefits programs in K-12 education. Although the program is primarily for STEM focused programs, Monsanto will consider other content areas. Consider using world language as it applies to agricultural vocabulary, technical training, or biological research.

Teacher Created Materials Classroom Supplies
Win up to $250 in teaching supplies for your classroom from Teacher Created Materials.

Dremel DigiLab 3D Printer Giveaway
WeAreTeachers and Dremel are giving away a 3D printer. Imagine creating your own “authentic resources”.


Free Posters

Vista Higher Learning
Celebrate world language learning with Spanish, French, German, and Italian posters to download.

Language Learning By The Numbers
Middlebury Interactive Languages offers three posters detailing world language studies in the U.S. and abroad.

From Past to Present

This is actually my third Lincoln life. I lived in Lincoln as a child, return to Lincoln as a college student, and have recently moved back as an adult.

My experience with the World Language Standards has been similar. The standards were adopted in 1997 just as I was leaving to take my first teaching position in Oregon. I have returned to Nebraska at a time when the world language standards are scheduled for their first revision. Twenty years is a long time.

While time has changed some of the practices and beliefs of second language teaching, our core values have not altered. The 2017 World Language Teacher Survey results, the conversation at the Colloquium, and the conversation at the Standards Advisory Council reveal that we are still committed to effective communication, cultural competence, interdisciplinary connections, and language use within the community and using the second language to investigate, explain and reflect on the nature of language. I am inspired by how the Standards Advisory Committee was able, in two short and swelteringly hot days, to synthesize these core values with a clearer and higher level of expectation for student skill, an understanding of strategic thinking skills, and a reflection on the hyper connected world around us. Moving forward, I feel that these standards will reflect a stronger second language acquisition practice.

Binational Brings Migrant Educators to Nebraska

This summer, thirteen Mexican teachers traveled to Nebraska to teach in migrant education programs at ESU 1, ESU 7, ESU 9 Head Start, ESU 13, OPS, and Madison Public Schools. Students engaged in reading, writing, and artistic expression focused on Mexican culture and history as well as the Spanish language. Educators shared their experiences at a Binational Reception at the State Capitol on June 18. Mexican Consul Guadalupe Sanchez Salazar and Dr. Lazaro Spindola, Executive Director of the Latino American Commission of Nebraska, acknowledged the teachers for their dedication and professionalism.

The Nebraska Department of Education works with the Secretary of Public Education in Mexico to sponsor teachers from Mexico to work with migrant education in Nebraska. The exchange is part of a larger federal program, the Binational Migrant Education Initiative organized under authority of the US Department of Education. The purpose of the program is to support the education of children who qualify as migrants in the U.S. This year, Nebraska ranked first for the number of qualifying moves of migrant children. Texas and California ranked second and third.

Chinese is Lingua Franca at UNL STARTALK

UNL was the site of the STARTALK Chinese Language, Culture, and Technology Summer Academy again this year. Twenty Nebraska high school students with little to no prior Chinese experience lived in an immersion experience for fourteen days. The Academy also offers a professional development side for teachers who attend from China and throughout the U.S. Fifteen teachers arrived for the ten-day institute to focus on second language acquisition pedagogy. Students and teachers alike cite the experience as a special experience that allows them to make tremendous gains in a short period of time. Dr. Sherri Hurlbut and Dr. Ali Moeller, President of the American Council of the Teaching of Foreign Languages, organize this annual event.

Hispanic Heritage Month Speakers Available

Humanities Nebraska is offering several speaker events in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month September 15-October 15. Speakers will travel to the site. Each educational institution or youth organization must provide adult supervision before, during, and after the program, incorporate the program as part of teaching or a development mission, prepare participants before and follow up after the program. The educational institution may not charge for the program. If interested in hosting a speaker, the institution will pay a $50 processing fee. There is a $100 processing fee for a second program. Schools with a free/reduced lunch population greater than 50% do have discounted processing fees.

This year’s speaker topics are Nebraska’s Mexican-American Legacy, Storytelling and the Hispanic Oral Tradition, Andean Folk Music and Cultures of South America, and Latinos: Searching for the Good Life in Nebraska. More information about the topics can be found here: