Goals of Collegiate Learners and the Standards for Foreign Language Learning
This monograph presents a national study about how the language learning goals of college students are reflected in the Standards for Foreign Language Learning in the 21st Century (National Standards in Foreign Language Education Project, 1996, 1999, 2006). With a mixed method design, the study includes responses from 16,529 students at 11 postsecondary institutions across the United States, with interviews from 200 students at two of these institutions. The first research to examine learner perspectives with regard to the Standards, this study considers (a) whether college students have goals consistent with the Standards, (b) whether they expect to reach these goals during their formal language study, (c) whether these goals and expectations differ for first-year and second-year language students, (d) whether they differ for students of more and less commonly taught languages, (e) whether students understand the Standards and see the five goal areas as interrelated or in terms of hierarchies of priorities, and (f) how the Standards might encourage student reflection, especially regarding the relationships among language, culture, and thought. With the aim of promoting critical thinking about the Standards and their possible application at the college level, the monograph details the history of the framework, with discussion of its limited acceptance and use in postsecondary instruction, and considers what student perceptions tell us about how the Standards might fit with assumptions and characteristics of communicative language teaching and literacy-based approaches to language learning. In this discussion, the monograph examines shortcomings in the Standards framework, as seen through the lens of student perceptions.