Open global navigation

Cambridge Spanish


Six core practices - introduction

Amanda Robustelli-Price introduces the six core practices of language teaching in the first part of a new seven-part series.

As a world language educator, I continually strive to learn the most effective practices for world language teaching and learning. There have been two recent and important additions in this area, the TELL Project and the “six core practices.” The TELL Project is an initiative for teacher reflection about the success of language learning.  It's an excellent complement to the second new resource, my favorite, the identification of “six core practices” for teacher effectiveness, shared by Eileen Glisan at a workshop for the American Council for the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) in the summer of 2015. 

I was introduced to the core practices by Lea Graner-Kennedy, an active member of ACTFL and the future president of the Connecticut Council of Language Teachers. It is through her recommendation that I joined the Leaders in Language Learning (LILL) committee she facilitates. Connecticut LILL meets about once every other month and aims to improve world language education. I have been learning much during my time with this group.  Our last virtual gathering, about functional goals and objectives, included an in-depth discussion about transfer and featured Greta Lundgaard, a department coordinator from Plano, Texas.

What are the six core practices? 

The six core practices are:

  1. Use the content language as the vehicle and content for instruction.
  2. Design and implement interpersonal tasks for pair, small group, and whole class instruction.
  3. Design lessons that have functional goals and objectives.
  4. Teach grammar as a concept and use in context.
  5. Design and carry out interactive reading and listening comprehension tasks using authentic cultural texts.
  6. Provide appropriate feedback in speech and in writing.

Why are the six core practices important? 

These six core practices are a welcome and relevant addition to the field because they focus on teacher actions and provide clear guidance for classroom instruction during the shift towards a proficiency model.  Teaching for proficiency requires changes to the core tenets of world language teaching and learning, and these six practices chart a clear route for student language acquisition.

Who is supporting the six core practices? 

The six core practices are supported by ten national and regional organizations and include a leadership initiative, often through LILL, such as the one I’m a member of in Connecticut. Contact your state world language organization to get more information.

How can I learn about the six core practices? 

There are so many ideas contained within the core practices. I have done some learning about them, but I want to dig deeper into these practices.  What are the learning theories behind them?  What would they look like in classroom practice? How do they focus on proficiency? This post is the first in a series of seven, with each of the next six posts addressing one of the core practices. I look forward to exploring further six key principles of teacher effectiveness through this blog, and to sharing my learning with you.


Amanda will be back next week to talk about the first of the core practices.

© Cambridge University Press 2014