STARTALK-Endorsed Principles for Effective Teaching & Learning
and Characteristics of Effective Language Lessons

The STARTALK-endorsed Principles describe characteristics of highly effective language teaching and learning. An ideal learning experience is framed by a standards-based and thematically organized curriculum that integrates culture, content and language. Learners work with authentic, age-appropriate texts in a learner-centered environment as they engage in real-world performance tasks that allow them to use the target language beyond the classroom.

The teacher uses the target language at least 90 percent of the time.

The teacher uses a variety of strategies to make language comprehensible, monitors student comprehension, and makes adjustments as necessary.

Students learn vocabulary from input (hearing or reading) and from using it in language-rich contexts such as stories, hands-on experiences, picture descriptions, or subject-matter content.

Grammar is not the focus of the course, unit, or lesson. The teacher teaches grammar as a tool for communication, avoiding meaningless rote drills and ensuring that all practice requires attention to meaning.

The teacher provides frequent, varied classroom opportunities for students to interpret and express meaning for real-world purposes.

The bulleted lists of characteristics provide guidance for reflecting on observed lessons. They focus exclusively on world language-specific behaviors, and do not include critical but more generic characteristics of effective instruction (e.g., time management and engaging all learners). The complete list Starting With the End in Mind: Planning and Evaluating Highly Successful World Language Programs (R. Couet, G. Duncan, J. Eddy, M. Met, M. Smith, M. Still, & A. Tollefson, 2008). Available from