Language Content Standards

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Establishing Language Content Standards is one of the fundamental steps an education system can take in developing high-quality instruction in learning other languages.  Content standards should be based on and aligned with Language Policies. In turn, content standards should provide the basis for and be aligned with Language Curriculum and Instruction and Language Assessment. Language content standards differ from Language Performance Standards in that they represent what a target group (e.g., students, teachers) should know and be able to do, rather than how they are assessed (Ingram, 2007). Standards were the center of focus of presentations delivered at the 2007 APEC Seminar on Learning Standards for English and Other Languages held in Chinese Taipei. They should be clear, explicit, and measurable. APEC has identified content standards as one of the key topics in its Strategic Plan for English and Other Languages.

Table: Language Content Standards of APEC Member Economies

The following table contains samples of language content standards from various APEC Members.  Of the APEC Economies, Australia, Canada, and USA have decentralized systems where decisions of standards are made at the provincial or state level.





English Learning Area Statement

Overview of Western Australia’s English curriculum by age group from early childhood to adolescence with broad goals (e.g. understanding language, conventions, processes) and skills (e.g. writing, reading).

Brunei Darussalam

Cambridge International Examinations

Brief listing of skills assessed by the University of Cambridge International Examinations, updated annually. Brunei Darussalam utilizes the ‘O’ Level to assess students in grades 10-11 and the ‘A’ Level for grades 12-13.


English As a Second Language and English Literacy Development

Secondary English for Adult Learners

Detailed curriculum from Ontario for English as a Second Language courses for grades 1-8 with a program overview, skills to be learned in different grade levels, and cross-curricular activities.

Program in Quebec for teaching English as a second language to adults, with both broad goals (e.g. comprehension, expression) and specific activities on how goals are achieved (e.g. participation in dialogue, reading newspaper, etc.).


Formacion General: Idioma Extranjero


Objetivos fundamentales y contenidos mínimos obligatorios para el Sector de Lengua Indígena

4th Grade Achievement Levels in Reading and Mathematics

Fundamental objectives and minimal requirements for the study of a foreign language for students in secondary elementary education (Grades 4-8).

National guidelines for foreign language instruction in the basic education system.  Includes a set of objectives at which instruction should aim and standards of what should be learned.

4th grade achievement levels, based on the SIMCE test in Reading and Mathematics.  A Spanish version is available here.


Chinese English Standards

Chinese Language Proficiency Scales for Speakers of Other Languages

Unofficial translation of English standards by grade level including language skills, attitudes, learning strategies, and cultural awareness (translated by the United States Department of Education).

Guideline document for teaching Chinese to meet the needs of Chinese language teaching and learning worldwide.

Chinese Taipei

General Guidelines of Grade 1-9 Curriculum

Brief overview of curriculum with number of instruction hours set for Mandarin, studied in grades 1-9, and English, studied in grades 3-9. Overall, language instruction accounts for 20-30% of learning time.

Hong Kong

Basic Competencies

The essential skills of English, Chinese, and mathematics to be acquired by students in relation to the goals and objectives outlined in the national curriculum.


Bahasa Indonesia:  Primary;  Junior SecondarySenior SecondarySenior Secondary for Language Program

English:  Junior Secondary SchoolSenior Secondary School

Japanese:  Language Program for Senior Secondary SchoolElective Program for Senior Secondary School

Mandarin:  Language Program for Senior Secondary SchoolElective Program for Senior Secondary School

Standards documents for various APEC languages from the Office of National Standards of Education.


The Course of Study for Foreign Languages

Overview of secondary (grades 7-9) course of study in foreign languages focusing on English, with learning objectives, standards, and syllabi programs.


National School Curriculum: English

Unofficial translation prepared by Korea Institute of Curriculum and Evaluation of the “National Curriculum: English.” Concerns grades 3-10, with detailed objectives, assessments, and learning and teaching methods.


Lengua Extranjera: Inglés

Main characteristics of the National Curriculum for English language education, with emphasis on instructional methodologies to improve communicative capability.

New Zealand

Achievement Standards 2008

English Curriculum Achievement Objectives

The New Zealand Curriculum: Learning Languages

Updated achievement standards for various proficiencies to be acquired in the oral, written, and visual language skills.

Breaks down objectives in learning English into eight levels, and then further into receptive skills (listening, reading, and viewing) and active skills (speaking, writing, and presenting).

Provides the framework for the teaching and learning of languages that are additional to the language of instruction.


Diseño Curricular Nacional de Educación Básica Regular

Detailed report of the national curriculum. Explains education of foreign language at the secondary stage, broken into oral and written skills with progress markers to be attained at various grade levels. (pages 179-182)


English Language Syllabus 2001

Chinese Language - Primary

Chinese Language - Secondary

Chinese Language Special Programme - Secondary

Malay Language - Primary

Malay Language - Secondary

Malay Language - Pre-university

Tamil Language - Primary

Tamil Language - Secondary

Describes skills and outcomes to be acquired throughout course of curriculum in English language from Primary 1 to Secondary 4 (grades1-10).

Overview of Chinese language course of study for primary students (in Chinese).

Overview of Chinese language course of study and special programme for secondary students (in Chinese).

Overview of Malay language courses of study at primary, secondary and pre-university levels (in Malay).

Overview of Tamil language courses of study at primary and secondary levels (in Tamil).


Education in Thailand 2004

Syllabus Outline for the English Language Subject

Overview of entire educational system and recent reforms. English testing required for all students at grades 6 and 9, and describes bilingual schools that begin English-language instruction at pre-primary level.

Describes the goals, standards and indicators for English language foundation courses learned at the university level developed by the ministry of education.

United States of America

English as a Second Language Standards for Pre-K - 12 Students

English as a Second Language Standards for Pre-K - 12 Teachers

National Standards for Foreign Language Education

Describes TESOL standards for learning English as a second language from pre-kindergarten to grade 12, with three broad goals per level, each with three standards of assessment.

Standards developed by TESOL/National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education for teachers of English as a Second Language.

Defines content standards in foreign language education as developed by ACTFL.