World Language Syllabus for Proficiency

Posted by Kara Parker on July 26, 2017 in 1 Planning, First Days, Proficiency

I’m starting to see teachers on social media heading back to school! Where did the summer go?? The syllabus can be one way to set proficiency expectations at the beginning. We have a template for you to download and modify so you can focus on the fun things like decorating the classroom.

Most middle and high schools require teachers to pass these out. Generally this is what is expected on a high school world language syllabus:

– course name, school, school year, teacher’s name, teacher’s contact info, what they will learn, needed supplies, grading info, class expectations/rules

Agree?? Here’s a sample that I’ve made for a level 1 class:

Download the templates for free!

Click the version that you want: WORD or PAGES


It would be impossible to create a perfect syllabus that all could use as is. But I’ve found it helps to see others to adapt to our own situations. You can modify this template that will copy well in black/white. The text boxes are editable and there is a background image to maintain the images and formatting. Pro Tip: Add a white color fill to the text box if you want to completely cover something up.

Here are my thoughts about the syllabus section by section.

Title for top. Add the level, your name and school info. Easy part! 

Course goals plus a quick intro to the standards (5 C’s): Also this could be a good place to add a learner profile description of the targeted proficiency level like “In this course, you will be able to communicate using simple sentences…”

Themes & topics: I prefer to keep these generic based on the advice of a principal – If it’s on the syllabus, you will be held to that. However, if you know exactly what you have to cover, use those instead.

Activities: Students said they like knowing a little about what we will actually do. Eliminates some of the unknown.

Assessing: These details drastically change depending on school expectations/limitations; however, I found that the rubric and the main idea of proficiency worked everywhere. You may want to add specific info like if retakes are allowed.

Two options for the grades. You can add a % if you want, but again, I like to keep it open. Read “Assigning a Grade to a Proficiency Rubric” if you want to know more details about grades.

Level 1

Level 2

Overall Grade: This is the part that will really depend on you and your school. This is one way I’ve done it in the past. I’m not putting this on here to say “this is the way it should be done,” only to show that it helps to show a visual like a pie chart when explaining how the overall grade will be calculated. Overall, I suggest that their end grade should represent what they can do in the language as closely as possible.


Class Expectations: In addition to basic school rules, I found that these positive ones worked way better (even at the alternative school I was at) than trying to list 20+ different rules that started with “Don’t.”  Take time to talk these out. For example: What can they do so they are prepared for class if they are absent? What is a specific behavior that would be respectful? Or disrespectful? I really talked up the participating by comparing language learning to playing sports, video game or and instrument. Maybe this can be a large poster in the classroom and they add the ideas as you discuss them together? Maybe create a social contract?

Supplies: Tell them what they need and give them time to get it.

Contact Info: Give them ways to contact you.


Hope this gives you a good start!! Give this post a “LIKE” so we know if it was helpful.


Want more examples? We held a contest and here are some that were submitted: And the most EXCITING SYLLABUS goes to…

Want the complete lessons? There are 10 Intro to Proficiency lessons on based on key information from this syllabus that include interactive activities so you don’t have to read and explain all this on day 1. This is our Spanish membership site that is $15/month to join (75 cents a day).

11 comments for “World Language Syllabus for Proficiency”

  1. Veronica Ortiz Hernandez says:

    Hi, I tried to download this for free but it’s asking for account password. Could I have that please? I have attended one of your workshops. Thanks!

    1. hernandezvoh says:

      Nevermind. Got it! The PW can be any you choose. 🙂

      1. Kara Parker says:

        Good! You’ll now have an account where you can access all your downloads at any time.

  2. Pilar Frey says:

    Hello There

    First thank you for sharing this!! It is awesome!

    I can’t download this document! can you please help me?
    Thank you!

    1. Kara Parker says:

      Thanks! I can help you download them. If you have a regular computer, you’ll probably want the Word version – click here: If you have a Mac, you’ll probably want the Pages –
      Basically, you will then create an account on our site where all your downloads will stay. Email me if you need more help!

  3. Michele says:


    1. Kara Parker says:

      Thanks Michele! I appreciate it.

  4. wardremona says:

    Is there a sample level 2 for Spanish?

    1. Kara Parker says:

      Not as a separate download. I use the sample one as the level one, just change the grade expectations.

  5. Inga Templeton says:

    Hello Kara,
    I switched to performance based learning a while ago and still try to figure out my grading system. I like how you have 10% for each unit and I was wondering, if you count homework and classwork into the 10% of the grade, or if you only count their performance assessment. If you do calculate them into the grade, does the performance assessment count more than the other two? Also, do you allow retakes of performance assessments once you have moved on to another unit? Thanks for your help.

    1. Kara Parker says:

      I’ve done grading 3,253 different ways, and in the end, I want their last grade (on the report card) to reflect their ability. So there are so many ways to get that and the sample I put above is one of those ways.
      I do not like to put classwork and formative assessments as grades. That is them learning and feedback is more important than putting in grades. I keep track of their progress on a chart on a clip board in case a parent ever asks for “proof” of why their child is getting a certain grade.
      Under the 10% unit – the summative assessments are the main grades. Then I have the homework as another grade because this is how they are demonstrating 5 Cs – especially the community one. Note – the homework is not traditional worksheets, but a choice board of experiences/research/using language/etc. Search “Real World Homework” on the site if you want to see more about that.
      I always allowed retakes at any time, but had very few actually take me up on it. Honestly, in my last few classroom years, I used a standards-based grading format where new assessments grades REPLACED the previous one so there was no need to do retakes. My grade book only had 3 recorded grades (Interpersonal/Presentational/5 Cs) that were updated (if needed) at the end of each unit. Extreme! But I loved it.

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