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Classroom Implications of the ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines. Ray T. Clifford ALTA 23 March 2006. Seven Major “Implications”. Complexity of Language Relative Language Difficulty Time on Task Student Characteristics Curriculum Content Types of Instruction Assessment Tools.

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seven major implications
Seven Major “Implications”
  • Complexity of Language
  • Relative Language Difficulty
  • Time on Task
  • Student Characteristics
  • Curriculum Content
  • Types of Instruction
  • Assessment Tools
seven major implications3
Seven Major “Implications”
  • Complexity of Language
  • Relative Language Difficulty
  • Time on Task
  • Student Characteristics
  • Curriculum Content
  • Types of Instruction
  • Assessment Tools
test of reading comprehension a newspaper headline8
Test of Reading Comprehension;a Newspaper Headline

DRUNK GETS NINE MONTHS IN VIOLIN CASE

slide9

Test of Reading Comprehension;a Newspaper Headline

MSU HONORS STUDENT

ACCUSED OF BEATING

HOUSEMATE WITH BAT

From: Alma Michigan MORNING SUN

seven major implications11
Seven Major “Implications”
  • Complexity of Language
  • Relative Language Difficulty
  • Time on Task
  • Student Characteristics
  • Curriculum Content
  • Types of Instruction
  • Assessment Tools
determining relative difficulty
Determining Relative Difficulty
  • The relative difficulty of learning a second language can be estimated by considering the “distance” and the “direction” between the language of the learner and language to be learned.
determining difficulty cont
Determining Difficulty (Cont.)
  • Distance can be estimated by noting the amount of contrast between L1 and L2 in:
    • Grammatical structures
    • Lexicon
    • Cultural references
    • Orthography
    • Pronunciation
  • Even a rating scale of “similar = 1,” “somewhat different = 2,” and “very different = 3” can be used.
  • The total score = relative “difference.”
determining difficulty cont15
Determining Difficulty (Cont.)
  • Direction is determined by whether the features found in the L2 are more complex or simpler than the same concepts in the L1.
    • Moving from a language with reduced grammatical forms to a language with more complex forms is going “uphill.”
    • Moving from a language with complex grammatical forms to a language with reduced forms is going “downhill.”
    • It is easier to go “downhill” than “uphill.”
english and other languages
English and Other Languages
  • Word order
    • English:
      • subject / verb / object
    • Korean:
      • subject / object / verb
    • Your language?
english and other languages17
English and Other Languages
  • Gender and plurals
    • English:
      • Gender for animate and some inanimate objects
      • Plurals for most nouns
    • Korean:
      • No gender
      • No plurals
    • Your language?
english and other languages18
English and Other Languages
  • Implied subjects
    • English:
      • Generally only found in commands.
    • Korean:
      • Subject must be identified from the context.
      • Context is often established in a separate topic sentence.
      • Honorifics often identify the intended subject.
    • Your language?
english and other languages19
English and Other Languages
  • Morphology
      • English:
        • Distributive grammar.
        • Simple, redundant grammatical forms.
      • Korean:
        • Complex grammatical forms, for instance:
          • Subjects marked by 2 different particles
          • Each subject marker has 2 phonetic variants
          • Objects are also marked.
          • The object marker also has two phonetic variants.
      • Your language?
english and other languages20
English and Other Languages
  • Tenses
      • English:
        • Past, present, and future verb forms.
      • Korean:
        • Past and present tenses.
        • A tentative state or condition rather than a future tense.
      • Your language?
determining difficulty cont21
Determining Difficulty (Cont.)
  • For L1 speakers of English
    • The impact of language distance and direction has been quantified using “average time-to-proficiency” results at the Defense Language Institute (DLI).
    • At DLI, students of Korean take approximately three times as long to acquire Level 2 proficiency as do students of Spanish.
implications for academe
Implications for Academe
  • Typical government program.
    • Proficiency of graduates is measured.
    • Graduates are expected to attain the same levels of proficiency regardless of language difficulty.
    • The length of each language program is determined by the relative difficulty of the language for English speakers.
  • Typical college program.
    • Student proficiency results are not measured.
    • The course requirements for a language major are about the same – regardless of the language.
seven major implications23
Seven Major “Implications”
  • Complexity of Language
  • Relative Language Difficulty
  • Time on Task
  • Student Characteristics
  • Curriculum Content
  • Types of Instruction
  • Assessment Tools
slide25

“Some considered projections” from 1961

THE NATIONAL INTEREST AND FOREIGN LANGUAGES

Eight- and ten-year sequences of foreign language study will become common in the public schools.

The better colleges and universities will require demonstrated proficiency (not high school “units”) in a foreign language for entrance, and demonstrated proficiency in a second foreign language (often non-Western) for graduation.

WILLIAM RILEY PARKER for

THE U.S. NATIONAL COMMISSION FOR UNESCO, DEPARTMENT OF STATE, 1961.

after four decades why are parker s projections not yet a reality
After four decades, why are Parker’s projections not yet a reality?
  • Lasting improvements are only sustainable when they result from a recognition of need.
  • Norm-referenced grading gave little evidence of real-world ability gaps.
  • With accreditation focused on process rather than on outcomes, there was no incentive to change.
  • Administrators didn’t read the research results showing that no improvements in teaching methods or curricula can compensate for the current lack of “time-on-task” in our educational system.
international research on learning english
International Research on Learning English
  • G. Bonnet, et al. The Assessment of Pupils’ skills in English in Eight European Countries: 2002. European Network of Policy makers for the Evaluation of Education Systems, 2004.
    • Students from those nations where there is more contact with (and more time spent using) English have higher levels of competence in English.
    • In a language-rich environment, time spent using the language is more important than the teaching methods used in the classroom.
international research on learning french
International Research on Learning French
  • John B. Carroll, The Teaching of French in Eight Countries (International Studies in Evaluation V) John Wiley & Sons, New York, 1975.
    • “… the primary factor in the attainment of proficiency in French (and presumably, any foreign language) is the amount of instructional time provided.” [Page 276]
consider bloom s taxonomy
Consider Bloom’s Taxonomy
  • Evaluation and persuasion through refined use of professional, literary, and rhetorical skills.
  • Synthesis of known concepts to produce and comprehend new, abstract, and hypothetical ideas.
  • Analysis and definition of factual relationships through extended, detailed explanations.
  • Application of mental and linguistic skills to create and understand new communications.
  • Comprehension and use of words and phrases.
  • Memorization of names, labels, facts.
how much time is required in one s first language to learn to
How much time is required (in one’s first language) to learn to…?
  • Evaluate and persuade through refined use of professional, literary, and rhetorical skills.
  • Synthesize known concepts to produce and comprehend new, abstract, and hypothetical ideas.
  • Analyze and define factual relationships through extended, detailed explanations.
  • Apply mental and linguistic skills to create and understand new communications.
  • Comprehend and use words and phrases.
  • Memorize names, labels, facts.
slide31

ILR Proficiency Level Summary

LEVEL

FUNCTION/TASKS

CONTEXT/TOPICS

ACCURACY

All expected of an educated NS

Accepted as an educated NS

All subjects

5

Tailor language, counsel, motivate, persuade, negotiate

Wide range of professional needs

Extensive, precise, and appropriate

4

Errors never interfere with communication & rarely disturb

Support opinions, hypothesize, explain, deal with unfamiliar topics

Practical, abstract, special interests

3

Concrete, real-world, factual

Intelligible even if not used to dealing with non-NS

Narrate, describe, give directions

2

Ask and answer questions, create with the language

Intelligible with effort or practice

1

Everydaysurvival

0

Memorized

Random

Unintelligible

language proficiency and cognition
Language Proficiency and Cognition
  • 4/5 (Distinguished): Evaluation and persuasion through refined use of professional, literary, and rhetorical skills.
  • 3 (Superior): Synthesis of concepts needed to produce and understand abstract ideas, complex arguments, and hypothetical discussions.
  • 2 (Advanced): Analysis and explanation of real-world relationships using paragraph-length communications.
  • 1 (Intermediate): Application of language skills to routine interpersonal communication scenarios.
  • 0 (Novice): Memorization / Comprehension of disjointed words and phrases.
how much time is required in one s second language to learn to
How much time is required (in one’s second language) to learn to…?
  • Evaluate and persuade through refined use of professional, literary, and rhetorical skills.
  • Synthesize known concepts to produce and comprehend new, abstract, and hypothetical ideas.
  • Analyze and define factual relationships through extended, detailed explanations.
  • Apply mental and linguistic skills to create and understand new communications.
  • Comprehend and use words and phrases.
  • Memorize names, labels, facts.
average instructional time for 80 percent of dli students to reach level 2
Average Instructional Timefor 80 percent of DLI Students to Reach Level 2
  • Category I (Romance and Scandinavian languages)
    • 25 weeks
    • 750 classroom hours
  • Category II (Germanic and Asian languages)
    • 32 weeks
    • 960 classroom hours
average instructional time for 80 percent of dli students to reach level 235
Average Instructional Timefor 80 percent of DLI Students to Reach Level 2
  • Category III (Slavic and some Asian languages.)
    • 47 weeks
    • 1,410 classroom hours
  • Category IV (Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, and Korean)
    • 75 weeks (Current length is 63 weeks)
    • 2,250 classroom hours (Currently 1,890 hours)
how proficient are today s foreign language majors
How Proficient are Today’s Foreign Language Majors?
  • Results of Oral Proficiency Testing
  • Official ACTFL OPI’s administered to foreign language majors
  • Tests were conducted face-to-face and telephonically
  • Double rated and certified results through the ACTFL Testing Office
about the actfl study
About the ACTFL Study
  • 501 Undergraduates
    • Five Liberal Arts Colleges
    • Juniors and Seniors
    • Foreign language majors
  • Data gathered over five years
    • 1998-2002
  • Six languages
    • Spanish, French, Italian, Chinese, Japanese, Russian
seven major implications40
Seven Major “Implications”
  • Complexity of Language
  • Relative Language Difficulty
  • Time on Task
  • Student Characteristics
  • Curriculum Content
  • Types of Instruction
  • Assessment Tools
two major student variables
Two Major Student Variables
  • Aptitude: The amount of time needed to learn a language.
  • Motivation: The amount of time a learner is willing to spend learning the language.
seven major implications44
Seven Major “Implications”
  • Complexity of Language
  • Relative Language Difficulty
  • Time on Task
  • Student Characteristics
  • Curriculum Content
  • Types of Instruction
  • Assessment Tools
5 curriculum content
5. Curriculum Content
  • The adequacy of a curriculum must be judged against some external criteria.
  • For a curriculum with a proficiency orientation, one would consider the …
    • Communication tasks included.
    • Topical domains “covered.”
    • “Text types” of the language samples.
slide46

Proficiency Levels with Text Types

LEVEL

FUNCTION/TASKS

CONTEXT/TOPICS

TEXT TYPES

All expected of an educated NS

Books

All subjects

5

Tailor language, counsel, motivate, persuade, negotiate

Wide range of professional needs

Chapters

4

Support opinions, hypothesize, explain, deal with unfamiliar topics

Practical, abstract, special interests

Pages

3

Concrete, real-world, factual

Narrate, describe, give directions

2

Paragraphs

1

Q & A, create with the language

Everydaysurvival

Sentences

0

Random

Words/phrases

Memorized, rehearsed language

how can proficiency scales be used to design a language curriculum
How can proficiency scales be used to design a language curriculum?
  • Historically there have been two Options:
    • Option 1: Interpret the proficiency scale as a proscriptive set of stages in the students development.
    • Option 2: Identify the proficiency level the instructional sequence should lead to and build a curriculum that leads to that goal.
option 1
Option 1
  • Build a one-dimensional curriculum that
    • Begins with the lowest level in the scale
    • Progresses vertically through each level in sequence.
  • Therefore, the first objective is to be sure the student
    • shows little real autonomy of expression, flexibility, or spontaneity.
    • Is difficult to understand.
    • Has more errors than correct forms.
option 2
Option 2
  • Recognize that progress in a proficiency-based curriculum will have three components:
    • Communication tasks.
    • Topical domains.
    • Accuracy of communication.
option 251
Option 2
  • Build a curriculum that moves horizontally from “known to unknown” on one dimension at a time.
    • Begins with level-appropriate tasks.
    • Uses limited topical domains.
    • Reenters those domains to introduce and learn new tasks.
    • Reenters known tasks to add new topical domains.
option 252
Option 2
  • At the macro level, insure that the curriculum…
    • Keeps the end accuracy goal in mind.
    • Provides sufficient time and practice for the learners to satisfy the requirements of each level before moving to a new set of progress tests for the tasks and domains associated with the next higher level.
option 253
Option 2
  • Reinforce instruction with proficiency-based progress tests that for each level…
    • Assess mastery of the range of tasks and topical domains within that level.
    • Check for targeted accuracy expectations within those defined performance areas.
      • It often won’t be there.
      • The expectation will reinforce the long-range instructional goal.
seven major implications54
Seven Major “Implications”
  • Complexity of Language
  • Relative Language Difficulty
  • Time on Task
  • Student Characteristics
  • Curriculum Content
  • Types of Instruction
  • Assessment Tools
professional teachers abilities
Professional Teachers’ Abilities
  • Apprentice teachers
    • Know what to teach.
  • Journeyman teachers
    • Know what to teach and how to teach.
  • Master teachers
    • Know what to teach, when to teach what, how to teach, and why.
    • Also know what they don’t know and are continuously learning.
a common model used by apprentice teachers
A Common ModelUsed by Apprentice Teachers

Analysts list high frequency language tasks.

1.

Teachers present the textbook.

3.

Students demonstrate their mastery of sample items drawn from the textbook.

4.

Textbook writers include the most important items in a textbook.

2.

The real language

Textbook

Teaching

Test

the education model used by master teachers
The Education ModelUsed by Master Teachers

2a.

Course developers sample from the real-world domain areas to create a textbook.

Textbook

Language Needs Assessments define the Real-world Instructional Domains.

1.

Real-world Instructional Domains: cognitive understanding, psychomotor skills, and affective insights.

Teachers adapt text materials to learners’ abilities, diagnose learning difficulties, adjust activities and add supplemental materials to help students apply new knowledge and skills first in constrained achievement and performance areas, and then in real-world settings.

3.

Teacher

Test developers use a sample of the real-world domain areas to create proficiency tests that are independent of the textbook.

2b.

Students

4.

Students practice, expand, and then demonstrate their unrehearsed extemporaneous abilities across a broad range of real-world settings that are not in the textbook.

Test

instructional methods
Instructional Methods
  • The adequacy of instructional methods can be judged against four criteria.
    • The types of instructional activities used.
    • Whether those activities progress from the current level of the learner to the level targeted as a learning outcome.
    • Where the targeted activities fall on the proficiency scale.
    • The effectiveness of feedback provided the learner
slide61

Students Won’t Learn to Do What They Haven’t Been Taught to Do

LEVEL

FUNCTION/TASKS

CONTEXT/TOPICS

TEXT TYPES

All expected of an educated NS

Books

All subjects

5

Tailor language, counsel, motivate, persuade, negotiate

Wide range of professional needs

Chapters

4

Support opinions, hypothesize, explain, deal with unfamiliar topics

Practical, abstract, special interests

Pages

3

Concrete, real-world, factual

Narrate, describe, give directions

2

Paragraphs

1

Q & A, create with the language

Everydaysurvival

Sentences

0

Random

Words/phrases

Memorized, rehearsed language

instructional activities hierarchy
Instructional Activities Hierarchy*

E. Communication in unrehearsed, real-world settings followed by formative feedback.

D. Semi-structured applications of learner skills with formative feedback.

C. Learner practice with formative feedback.

B. Guided practice exercises.

A. Presentation of the language to be learned.

* Only instructional programs with activities at levels D and E can lead to Advanced (Level 2) or higher proficiency.

seven major implications64
Seven Major “Implications”
  • Complexity of Language
  • Relative Language Difficulty
  • Time on Task
  • Student Characteristics
  • Curriculum Content
  • Types of Instruction
  • Assessment Tools
four dimensions of language testing
Four Dimensions ofLanguage Testing
  • What type of test do we want?
  • For whom are we testing? (Who will be getting the results?)
  • What is the purpose of the tests? (How will the results be used?)
  • Who will take responsibility for test production, maintenance, administration, and scoring?
what type of test do we want
What type of test do we want?
  • Achievement = Rehearsed or memorized responses using the content of a specific textbook or curriculum.
  • Performance =Semi-rehearsed ability to communicate in specific, familiar settings.
  • Proficiency = Unrehearsed general ability to accomplish communication tasks across a wide range of topics and settings.
proficiency scales assess unrehearsed ability
Proficiency scales assess unrehearsed ability.
  • Broad, thorough elicitation techniques are applied to identify “hot house” versus sustainable, general ability.
  • For instance,
    • At level 1, the learner must create new utterances, not just recite dialogs.
    • At level 2, the learner must handle new work requirements, not just routine communications.
    • At level 3, the learner must hypothesize and defend opinions in subjects beyond one’s personal interests or areas of specialization.
  • Proficiency indicates transferable skills - not rehearsed performance in familiar areas.
contrasts between proficiency and rehearsed performance
Contrasts Between Proficiency And Rehearsed Performance

Unrehearsed Rehearsed

ProficiencyPerformance

Task: Wide range of abilities Specific Job Skills

Context: Broad, in-depth, variable Focused, restricted

Accuracy: Ascending expectations Situation dependent

for whom are we testing who will be using the results
For whom are we testing?(Who will be using the results?)
  • Students
  • Teachers
  • Program administrators
  • Prospective employers
what is the purpose of the tests how will the results be used
What is the purpose of the tests? (How will the results be used?)
  • Progress checks
  • Placement
  • Diagnosis
  • Program assessment
  • Selection decisions
who will take responsibility for test production maintenance administration and scoring
Who will take responsibility for test production, maintenance, administration, and scoring?
  • A classic “buy or build” decision
    • What tests exist?
    • What needs are being met?
  • When needs are not being met, who…
    • Has the resources (funding, expertise, and time) to create the needed tests?
    • Can operate a testing center to maintain, administer, and score the tests once developed?
a self assessment quiz
A Self Assessment Quiz
  • For each of the following examples, pick the appropriate test to meet your needs: a. Achievement b. Performance c. Proficiency
which test type would you pick achievement performance or proficiency
Which test type would you pick:Achievement, Performance,or Proficiency?
  • To assess students’ language learning after Chapter 3 of a Language 101 course?
which test type would be best achievement performance or proficiency
Which test type would be best:Achievement, Performance, or Proficiency?
  • To assess students’ language learning after Chapter 3 of a Language 101 course?
  • To place students into a university course sequence?
which test type would be best achievement performance or proficiency81
Which test type would be best:Achievement, Performance, or Proficiency?
  • To assess students’ language learning after Chapter 3 of a Language 101 course?
  • To place students into a university course sequence?
  • To test students completing an advanced course?
which test type would be best achievement performance or proficiency82
Which test type would be best:Achievement, Performance, or Proficiency?
  • To assess students’ language learning after Chapter 3 of a Language 101 course?
  • To place students into a university course sequence?
  • To test students completing an advanced course?
  • To screen job applicants for a specific job?
which test type would be best achievement performance or proficiency83
Which test type would be best:Achievement, Performance, or Proficiency?
  • To assess students’ language learning after Chapter 3 of a Language 101 course?
  • To place students into a university course sequence?
  • To test students completing an advanced course?
  • To screen job applicants for a specific job?
  • To document attainment of a given level of sustainable, general ability in a language?
which test type would be best achievement performance or proficiency84
Which test type would be best:Achievement, Performance, or Proficiency?
  • To assess students’ language learning after Chapter 3 of a Language 101 course?
  • To place students into a university course sequence?
  • To test students completing an advanced course?
  • To screen job applicants for a specific job?
  • To certify attainment of a given level of sustainable, general ability in a language?
  • To qualify prospective FL teachers for certification?
what type of test s does alta want
What type of test(s) does ALTA want?
  • There is no single test that will satisfy all of your assessment needs.
  • Care must be taken when deciding what to test and how to test it.
    • What is to be tested?
    • Who is the audience or consumer of the results?
    • What is the purpose of the assessment?
    • Who can do the testing?
  • And remember: “Whatever you test, you’ll get more of it.”
practical exercise 1 assessment and analysis
Practical Exercise 1:Assessment and Analysis
  • Assess the current level of your students using the “green matrix” handout.
practical exercise 1 assessment and analysis88
Practical Exercise 1:Assessment and Analysis
  • Assess the level of your students using the “green matrix” handout.
  • What would be the next step to increase students’ proficiency? Should it focus on increasing their…
    • Ability to perform communication tasks?
    • Knowledge of topical domains?
    • Accuracy of communication?
practical exercise 2 designing classroom tests
Practical Exercise 2:Designing Classroom Tests
  • How could your classroom tests show students their progress toward a goal of real-world proficiency?
    • Give credit for accomplishments.
    • Point toward higher goals, by reinforcing the progression of abilities:
      • Achievement (rehearsed).
      • Performance (semi-rehearsed, familiar).
      • Proficiency (unrehearsed, new situations).
practical exercise 3 grading
Practical Exercise 3:Grading
  • Nothing defines course goals and objectives like a test!!
  • Grading should reinforce both your immediate and your long-range goals.
  • Grades should be use useful for the student.
practical exercise 3 grading91
Practical Exercise 3:Grading
  • Grades should be:
    • Timely. (Old news isn’t interesting.)
    • Specific. (Avoid the appearance of using an “EGS” grading approach.)
    • Informative. (Provide each student enough information so s/he knows how to improve.)
practical exercise 3 grading92
Practical Exercise 3:Grading
  • Using the “white matrix” (ACTFL OPI Rating Grid) handout, design a grading protocol that would…
    • Consider the natural progression from achievement to proficiency.
    • Provide students with useful, personalized feedback on their abilities.
practical exercise 3 grading93
Practical Exercise 3:Grading
  • Some possibilities:
    • Assign separate grades to each of the factors in the ACTFL OPI Rating Grid.
    • Use a rating scale that shows levels of ability ranging from unintelligible to fully comprehensible.
    • Create an ability profile by assigning a separate grade for each rating factor for each test condition (achievement, performance, and proficiency).
congratulations
Congratulations!!!
  • You can now have a proficiency-oriented classroom without finding a (new) textbook.
  • How you teach and how you test will make the difference.
    • Professional teachers are not just “script readers” who deliver a textbook.
    • Proficient students can use their language skills in both rehearsed and unrehearsed, real-world situations.