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World Languages

The term world language is synonymous with the terms foreign language, second language or target language and refers to the study of a language other than English. 

To study another language and culture is to gain an especially rich preparation for the future. Studying a World Language and its cultural influences enhances one's personal education in many ways. Students who study a second language and culture have a powerful foundation for successful communication in the ever-growing local, national and world communities.

World Languages – Frequently Asked Questions  (PDF)

World Languages Academic Standards

The Pennsylvania State Board of Education, in the Pennsylvania Code (22 Pa. Code § 4.25), has set forth the following requirements for the teaching of world languages:
  • World language programs must prepare students to be proficient in meeting the World Language Standards issued by the Department and available on its web site. Every school district shall provide planned instruction in at least two languages in addition to English, at least one of which shall be a modern language, and at least one of which shall be offered in a minimum 4-year sequence in the secondary program (middle level and high school).
  • World language planned instruction under subsection (a) may be offered beginning at any grade level, including the elementary grades.
  • World Language Standards issued by the Department will address the ability of students to communicate in a language other than English, including the ability to understand and interpret written and spoken language on a variety of topics and to develop knowledge and understanding of other cultures.
  • As used in this section, the term ''world language'' means the study of the language, cultures, traditions and histories of different communities of people who communicate in languages other than English. American sign language is a world language.

Since world languages are not assessed via a statewide assessment, school districts must have a local assessment system in place and determine the proficient levels on those assessments.

The Standards Aligned System (SAS) is the Pennsylvania Department of Education's digital curriculum and instruction resource site. SAS is comprised of six distinct elements which provide a common framework for continuous student, teacher, and school and district growth. The elements are Standards, Assessment, Curriculum Framework, Instruction, Materials and Resources, and Safe and Supportive Schools. SAS is designed to organize and deliver educational content carefully aligned to Pennsylvania Academic Standards.

Available on SAS are the Pennsylvania Standards and resources for teaching and developing high quality world language education programs.


Certification and Staffing Policy Guidelines (CSPG) that pertain to world language education certification and course assignment include: CSPG 45 – Foreign (World) Languages.   

Questions regarding certification requirements should be directed to the Pennsylvania Department of Education's Bureau of School Leadership and Teacher Quality.