Language Targets – Do You Have Them?

May 24, 2023

By: Lilah Ambrosi


Why is it that we have our grade-level standards and expectations for all core content areas but when it comes to teaching in a dual language immersion classroom, we have to make our best, educated guess about targets or expectations for the minority language? Considering that the minority language is the language we use to TEACH most, if not all, of the core content shouldn’t we have a clear picture about WHAT language targets to focus on and WHEN to focus on them? A spiraling scope and sequence ensuring that there is a systematic approach to learning the minority language would seem to be a critical component to any dual language immersion program.

A language target is a pre-identified component of the language that teachers and students will focus on in order to build knowledge about the language and increase proficiency. The confounding fact is that most DLI programs do not have any approach to identifying language targets. Teachers have to pick and choose based on what they believe the students need to know. Or, oftentimes, the teacher uses the curriculum to dictate the language focus for the lesson, meaning, if a teacher is teaching about World War II, he might select past tense verbs as the language target. But what happens if his colleague at the same grade level chooses noun-adjective agreement in her class? This can lead to great inconsistencies within grade-level sections and confusion across grade levels. Not only does this create more work for teachers because they never know what the students have learned in previous years about the minority language, but also creates frustration for the students, because without intentional development of the minority language, the ability to handle grade-level content in the minority language begins to get increasingly more difficult.

Imagine however, the converse of that situation, in which all teachers from preschool through 8th grade have a very clear picture of their weekly language targets. Instead of letting the content (which tends to change every other year or so) drive the language focus, instead the teachers use the pre-identified language targets that flow throughout all instruction. Instead of jumping from target to target based on the subject matter, the teacher focuses on two language targets per week, one grammar structure target and one word feature target. This consistency, focus, and efficiency gives teachers back much needed instructional time.

The addalingua Spanish Language Frameworks, provide exactly that and more for teachers. The foundation of the Frameworks is a spiraling scope and sequence which helps teachers know exactly their foci for the week/year. This also allows teachers to have greater understanding about what the students learned in previous years in regard to the minority language. The Frameworks offer teachers a clear picture of which language features are addressed in each grade level so they can use planning and instructional time to build on what students already know and not wonder what they might know. Language targets are identified for teachers, and mini-lessons and instructional tools are provided to support program alignment and student proficiency across grade levels and within grade-level sections.

In order for dual language immersion students to develop high levels of academic language and proficiency in the minority language so they can acquire knowledge about grade-level content, it is critically important to provide teachers with a resource that outlines exactly how to do so.

If you would like more information about the addalingua Spanish Language Frameworks, please contact us at