Foreign language SLOs
Rafael Arias and June Miyasaki
March 11, 2008
The process
As of Spring 2008, the Foreign Language
Department has developed Student
Learning Outcomes for all of its courses.
 What at first seemed a daunting task was
achieved with a high dose of collegiality,
ingenuity, and resolve.
In our favor
Our subject matter, language, is clearly oriented towards out-ofclass applications.
ACTFL standards (America Council of Teachers of Foreign
 Language and communication are at the heart of the human
experience. The United States must educate students who are
linguistically and culturally equipped to communicate successfully
in a pluralistic American society and abroad.
 These standards also oriented towards measurable outcomes.
Against us
Different philosophies about how languages
are better learned and taught.
 Different approaches to language teaching.
 Each professor’s academic freedom.
Taking stock
Rather than focusing on the faculty’s different
teaching approaches, we started by taking stock of
what we as educators are already doing in our
 We realized that there was a certain overlap in the
instructors’ teaching approaches and outcome
 We then proceeded to see how these common traits
in our practice were related to our vision for the
students’ learning outcomes.
We called this the “taking stock” approach.
This “taking stock” approach for developing SLOs
allowed us to identify common desired outcomes
stemming from what we were already doing,
without having to develop new activities
specifically geared towards SLOs.
The “overlap”
We realized that professors in the
department expected students to:
be able to perform communicative activities in
the target language, and
demonstrate some knowledge and
understanding of the culture of the countries
where the target language is spoken.
We also realized that these outcome expectations
were consistent across the four Romance
Language disciplines taught in the department
(German, French, Italian, and Spanish).
 With minor modifications, they were also valid in
our fifth language, Armenian.
Common SLOs
To avoid redundancy, we then decided to develop
common SLOs for each level we teach.
 We would use the same SLOs for:
German 1
French 1
Italian 1
Spanish 1.
We called this FL1 SLO.
SLOs for Armenian, although very similar to the
rest, were developed separately, given the different
nature of the language and different alphabet and
writing system.
In the Spring 2007, Rafael Arias took charge of developing the
SLOs for FL1.
– “Using the vocabulary and structures learned, students will
be able to perform elementary everyday communicative
functions in the target language orally and in writing.”
– “Students will be able to recognize the relationship between
culture and language use, identify common traits of the
target culture, and examine the similarities and differences
of these common traits with their own culture.”
These SLOs also included a linguistic and a cultural
rubric to assess students’ achievement of the SLO.
Starting in Fall 2007, all instructors in the department
teaching a first-semester course (except Armenian)
were asked to state the SLOs on their syllabi.
Program SLOs
June Miyasaki developed the SLOs and assessment measures for four
of our A.A. degree programs: French, German, Italian, and Spanish.
– “Demonstrate effective skills in the four major areas of language
study: reading, writing, speaking, listening comprehension.” (This
first SLO is a constant.)
– “Demonstrate knowledge of the global society, and the role of
France and francophone nations and of the French language and
culture in the contemporary world.
(This second SLO has minor changes for each degree program. For
example, for the A.A. in Spanish, the SLO reads: “Demonstrate
knowledge of the global society, and the role of Spanish-speaking
nations and of the Spanish language and Hispanic cultures in the
contemporary world.)
The template for these A.A. program SLOs was modified to develop the
last set of SLOs for the A.A. degree in Foreign Languages.
Program SLOs
These SLOs, also approved by the SLO Committee in Spring 2007,
were accompanied by two assessment tools:
– An Exit Survey form
– An Exit Interview form.
Given the nature and content of the Foreign Language curriculum, the
program level SLOs for Foreign Languages fully align with the college
SLOs in areas related to:
communication skills (verbal, written and interpersonal);
information competency; reasoning skills (critical thinking);
diversity and cultural awareness, and
aesthetic responsiveness.
SLO fest
In order to complete our Program Review, the
department needed to complete the SLOs in Fall 2007.
We decided it would be more efficient and less timeconsuming to develop the remaining SLOs all at once.
With the guidance of Rebecca Stein, the FL faculty
got together on a Friday morning, worked in groups,
and achieved consensus on SLOs for all courses
numbered 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 10, 21, 22, 185, 285, 385.
In three hours, all FL SLOs had been developed.
Some faculty members were even surprised we
finished so fast.
In Spring 2008, two sections of Spanish 1 and one
section of French 1 will conduct a pilot assessment
study using the rubrics developed for the
assessment of the communication FL1 SLO.
 The results of this pilot program will be used to
assess the students’ achievement of the FL1
Linguistic SLO, i.e., their communicative
competence in the target language.
 The pilot will also assess the adequacy of the
rubric itself as an assessment instrument.
Assessment Outcomes
With the data we gather from the
assessment pilot, the department expects:
 to be able to assess whether students are able to
minimally communicate in the target language
in a “real life” situation and, if not,
 to identify areas where change is needed so that
students achieve the stated SLO.

Foreign language SLOs