ACTFL, why stop at the sentence level?

The new ACTFL proficiency guidelines are out for 2012.

But they are still based on the outcomes from traditional rules-and-output language teaching. Yes, they aren’t referencing specific grammar points, which is a definite plus. And the requirements or wiggle room for errors is, in my view, appropriate across the levels.

What I have a problem with is not expecting learners to use the language at more than the sentence level until the Advanced level.

Huh??!? A TPRS-taught learner is easily building paragraphs of text in the first year (both spoken and written “text” in the linguistic sense of the word.)

Since I’ve been displaying logical connectors along with question words in wall posters, and using “complicated” sentences containing “because” and “although” from day 2 of Chinese instruction, no one has died of it. More than that, students are spontaneously creating with these words far earlier than they did before.

Why must it be a “difficult” skill to go beyond the sentence level, for a person who is cognitively well able to do so? Could it be — because it’s hard to “teach”? Could it be — because just teaching the rules about how to use connectors doesn’t do it? Could it be — not enough input??

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