ACTFL – 90% Use Statement

Lori recently asked in a comment to the post “Dinner With People I Don’t Know” (
…where in the ACTFL guidelines is the part about “90% of instruction must be in the target language”…?
Well, Skip and Robert found it. I think everybody on this blog is going to want to have access to this text at some point in the coming year, so I will make a category for this post alone with the title:
“ACTFL – 90% Use of the Target Language in the Classroom”
Lori it will be interesting to see how your colleagues respond to this in your particular setting next year. Those unaware of Lori’s unique situation in her new school next fall can read about it by clicking on the link below. You have to read down into the comments to get the full impact of what Lori is facing – how to blend technology and a student centered classroom with CI:
[The mixing of technology with CI has been discussed on this blog before and below are a few links to posts on that subject for those interested. Again, you will have to read down into the comments to get a representative view; the post itself is merely my opinion – many people, like Leslie Davison here in Colorado, are truly expert at blending CI with the use of technology :]
Anyway, here is the ACTFL text and link to the 90% quote from ACTFL (the second one in the list of links) from Skip and thank you Skip and Robert both so much for tracking this down!
Hi Ben,
Here is the link for Lori:
These are the statements:

ACTFL Position Statements
Updated 2011

ACTFL is a national professional membership organization representing more than 12,500 language educators from all levels of instruction and all languages.  As part of its mission and vision, the organization provides guidance to the profession and to the general public regarding issues, policies, and best practices related to the teaching and learning of languages and cultures.  ACTFL is a leading national voice among language educators and administrators and is guided by a responsibility to set standards and expectations that will result in high quality language programs. With those goals in mind, ACTFL has adopted the following general principles that provide the foundation for implementation and expansion of language programs at all levels of instruction:
Maximum Class Size (May 2010)
Use of the Target Language in the Classroom (May 2010)
Language Learning for Heritage and Native Speakers (May 2010)
Co-authorship (May 2008)
Federal Legislative Priorities (November 2007)
Diversity and Inclusion in Language Programs (May 2007)
Teacher Recruitment and Retention (May 2007)
Study Abroad and International and Community Experience (May 2007)
General Principles of Language Learning (May 2006)
Early Language Learning (May 2006)
Which Languages Schools Should Offer (May 2006)
This is the one about 90%:
Use of the Target Language in the Classroom (May 2010)
Research indicates that effective language instruction must provide significant levels of meaningful communication* and interactive feedback in the target language in order for students to develop language and cultural proficiency. The pivotal role of target-language interaction in language learning is emphasized in the K-16 Standards for Foreign Language Learning in the 21st Century. ACTFL therefore recommends that language educators and their students use the target language as exclusively as possible (90% plus) at all levels of instruction during instructional time and, when feasible, beyond the classroom. In classrooms that feature maximum target-language use, instructors use a variety of strategies to facilitate comprehension and support meaning making. For example, they:

  1. provide comprehensible input that is directed toward communicative goals;
  2. make meaning clear through body language, gestures, and visual support;
  3. conduct comprehension checks to ensure understanding;
  4. negotiate meaning with students and encourage negotiation among students;
  5. elicit talk that increases in fluency, accuracy, and complexity over time;
  6. encourage self-expression and spontaneous use of language;
  7. teach students strategies for requesting clarification and assistance when faced with comprehension difficulties; and
  8. offer feedback to assist and improve students’ ability to interact orally in the target language.

*Communication for a classical language refers to an emphasis on reading ability and for American Sign Language (ASL) to signed communicative ability.
Robert also sent this link on how to access the ACTFL statement on the Target Language:



6 thoughts on “ACTFL – 90% Use Statement”

  1. Curiously, I have noticed that that number of 90% has gone up among us in the TCI group in Denver Public Schools. It’s now more like 95% for us, I would guess, after spending so much time with my colleagues this past year. It is kind of a natural increase, as we realize that the 5% is available, so why not take it? Most of us have agreed, and Diana has watched this closely, that we don’t really need the extra 5% in L1. Not that we all do it at those levels, of course, but we see it as very possible and on many days we do it. We strive for the ideal.

  2. Many thanks! Exactly what I needed. I have no idea how they found it so quickly, but I’m thankful for the research skills of Skip and Robert especially.

  3. This ACTFL conversation is very timely. I am soon going to be embarking on my portfolio creation as the last part of my MAT work at Rutgers University. I will be digging into the New Jersey standards and wondering where CI intersects with what Rutgers expects. I think I am sensing a TPRS bias but it is too soon to tell.

    1. Carol,
      Is Ursula still at Rutgers and in charge of the summer training? She had Blaine come one summer and had me come one summer. She was very eager to assure me that she was totally on board with TPRS, but that she did training in the “direct method” (???) I think that is what she called it. Anyway, it turns out that what she meant was the John Rassias kind of teaching. I am sorry but all he did was ALM. With wigs and cracking eggs and stuff to make the students feel involved but they actually were not.
      I told her about my taking Greek while Rassias sat there and beamed at his trainee doing the teaching. I was the star pupil. I never understood a word of it.
      Urusla did not seem to like my saying that.

  4. Yes, she is still there and I may add that she is a lovely lady still dong Rassias workshops -there is one next week. I was there when Blaine was at Rutgers with you. The woman who will probably end up being one of my faculty mentors was there too. I thought I detected the briefest eyeroll when I mentioned that conference to her last night – must have been 2003 or 2004. Anyway, these unit plans – fou of them sound simple: 4 sets of 10 day 40 minute lessons – it’s what comes along with it that is overwhelming. I am sure after giving it some thought, I can adapt some of it, but as for total CI all of the time I am not so sure – maybe it will be okay in the end, but I feel like I may be in enemy territory! It also sounds like they are totally on board with the ACTFL guidelines of staying in the tl , but I am not sure where they stand on English translation. Funny, I had forgotten that you were along with Blaine until you reminded me! Hope to see you in Saint Louis.

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