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As a follow up to this event (details below) a quick  idea connected to the workshop led by Tony Green: The English Profile project (www.englishprofile.org) welcomes involvement from groups around the world and several people present mentioned they would like to participate. In order to create synergy, spread the workload and increase research possibilities it could be possible to coordinate efforts by forming a group of organizations based in Japan to contact and work with the English Profile project. It is only a germ of an idea at this stage but should this sound like something you could be interested in please reply and we can work from there.

 

Background:

The English Profile project (EP) is a collaborative programme to enhance the learning, teaching and assessment of English worldwide. The aim of English Profile is to create a ‘profile’ or set of Reference Level Descriptions for English linked to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR). These will provide detailed information about the language that learners can be expected to demonstrate at each level, offering a clear benchmark for progress that will inform curricula development as well as the development of courses and test material to support learners, teachers and other professionals involved in the teaching of English as a foreign language

 

The Breakthrough specification (for the A1 level in English) is now available for download from the EP website (free) - the Waystage, Vantage and Threshold volumes are available as e-books for a small charge.  There is also a demo of the EP wordlists for A1 to B2. Two books on EP are due for publication next year. Tony Green will be writing one on functional progression in the CEFR levels and John Hawkins of Cambridge University will be writing the other on grammatical progression.

 

Tony Green has reported back to the EP steering group about the workshop and the interest in EP in Japan.  He suggests that any SIG member interested in contributing data to EP either in the form of pedagogic materials or samples of learner performances should get in contact with him in the first instance and he will put us in touch with the relevant research group. His email is available from by contacting the SIG; again a coordinated effort may be more beneficial. 

 

Regarding the benefits of participation, it does depend to some extent on the nature of the participation and the benefits that the partner wants from it.  For example in Tony Green’s institution (University of Bedfordshire) they are collecting spoken language data for the project and are working on an agreement whereby all the learner performances are transcribed and error coded and the University use the resulting transcripts in our (non EP) research while the EP benefits because the performances are entered into the EP corpus. Researchers might also want access to other parts of the corpus for purposes of comparison with their own data - e.g. examples of Japanese learners' writing at the B1 level on Cambridge tests.

 

The EP core partners have been awarded a grant by the EU to develop the network for EP via seminars, workshops etc. and this might be able to fund events at partner organisations similar to the seminar we did in September. It would need to discussed, but there might be funds to support for a SIG like ours holding regular events.

 

An EP (peer reviewed) journal will be launched shortly with Mike McCarthy as editor and there will be opportunities for quality research related to the Profile to be published there. In short there are a number of possibilities which could be up for discussion.

 

The CEFR and English Profile Workshop with Tony Green Details

The JALT Framework and Language Portfolio SIG, Cambridge University Press and Keio University Research Center for Foreign Language Education will jointly convene a workshop on the uses of the CEFR and English Profile, welcoming Dr. Tony Green of the University of Bedfordshire Centre for Research in English Language Learning and Assessment (CRELLA) as guest speaker and leader.

 

The event began with an introduction to the English Profile project followed by a workshop where delegates viewed samples of speaking test performances, consider how they link to the CEFR, compared each other’s judgments, and discussed some of the questions that the process raises. Delegates were recommended to refer to the Manual for relating Language Examinations to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages ahead of the workshop session.

 

Upon participation in the workshop, delegates took away a better knowledge of the CEFR and English Profile, an understanding of what is involved in standard setting and some of the challenges this involves for users and for the CEFR (and similar frameworks). Venue: Keio University Hiyoshi Campus

 

CEFRと英語プロファイルに関するワークショップ開催のお知らせ

 

来る9月11日(金)に、JALT Framework and Language Portfolio分科会、ケンブリッジ大学出版、慶應義塾大学外国語教育研究センター共催で、英国ベッドフォードシャー大学英語教育・評価センターのトニー・グリーン博士を迎え、ワークショップを実施いたします。

当日は、CEFRに関連する代表的な研究プロジェクトであるEnglish Profileについてグリーン博士にご紹介いただいた後に、様々なスピーキング・テストからのサンプルをCEFRと結びつける作業を実際に参加者が試み、能力レベルの解釈と評価に伴う諸問題について検討します。

評価システムやスタンダードの構築に興味のある方々をはじめ、CEFRが現場でどう学習・教育・評価と関連づけられ、English Profileが学習ツールとしてどう使われうるかについてご関心のある方は、是非ご参加ください。尚、参加予定者は参考資料として「言語テストをCEFRと関連付けるためのマニュアル」Manual for relating Language Examinations to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languagesを事前にご参照ください。

日時:2009年9月11日(金)14:30-17:30 (14:00開場)

場所:慶應義塾大学日吉キャンパス

来往舎 中会議室

スケジュール:

14:30-15:20 プレゼンテーション&ディスカッション

(テーマ:CEFRと英語プロファイルの開発)    

15:30-17:30ワークショップ

使用言語:英語

The JALT 2009 FLP SIG Forum in Shizuoka featured presenters from universities around Japan outlining issues and practices regarding use of the CEFR and ELP. A recurring theme was that educators are not fully aware of how to use these resources, particularly can do statements, effectively in classes. A short summary of the presentations are found below, the presenters have submitted a more detailed abstract to the conference proceedings

 

Can do Lists in the Ibaraki University Integrated English Program, by Noriko Nagai

This paper dealt with the development of can do lists for the Integrated English Program- a university-wide general education program in Ibaraki University. She concluded that the details in can do lists will vary depending on the final outcomes being targeted. However, by having shared can do lists based on CEFR, all teachers will have a common ground upon which to discuss the English curriculum and negotiate curriculum development with others. It is ideal to develop a university-wide English program like IEP. However, because such curriculum development involves negotiations with different types of people in an institution, such as top administrators, curriculum committee members, and teachers of English, it is not easily carried out. One person alone (whether administrator, teacher, or committee chair) cannot achieve a fully developed curriculum. However, if one teacher designs his/her own class using can do lists based on CEFR, that effort will constitute part of a wider curriculum development inside and outside a university. One of the greatest merits of using can do lists as tools for class design and for achieving specific outcomes is the model they provides for future collaborative work in developing a coherent English curriculum.

 

Using the CEFR and portfolio in university classes: A case study in progress, by Yoko Sato

This paper reported on an ongoing case study of the introduction of the CEFR and the ELP in Japanese university English classes. The aim was to explore 1) if and to what extent these contribute to the development of reflective learning in an EFL context where class hours are extremely limited and 2) what instructional approach can be adopted to enhance the effectiveness of these tools when used with students with low self-awareness and different levels of English proficiency.

Most learners found these tools useful and reported positive impacts on learning. They typically felt that these helped them to identify their own strengths and weaknesses, and this in turn enabled them to set clear learning goals and study plans. In particular, the task-specific checklists were crucial in that they allowed the students, many of whom stayed at A1-A2 levels throughout the semester, to see their own progress within these levels, and this in turn led to increased motivation. Video-recording was also found extremely useful by most students because it enabled them to evaluate their own performance more objectively and to notice the inaccuracy of their previous self-perception.

The provisional conclusion emerging from the above is that the combined use of the CEFR grid and task-specific checklists could enhance Japanese university EFL learners’ self-awareness, reflective learning and motivation, if these tools are adjusted to particular classes and student groups, and if regular learner training is provided.

 

The Implementation of a Japanese version of the “European Language Portfolio—Junior version” in Keio: implications from the perspective of organizational and educational anthropology by Satoshi Atobe, Sachiko Horiguchi and Yuki Imoto 

In April 2006, a five-year research project was launched at the Keio Research Center for Foreign Language Education, jointly financed by the MEXT and Keio itself. The research project, as its name ‘Action Oriented Plurilingual Learning Project’ (hereafter the AOP project) suggests, places its aims on promoting an ‘action-oriented’, ‘autonomous’ learning environment of multiple foreign languages. It also aims to promote the continuity and transparency of foreign language education at all levels of the Keio educational system—which consists of one elementary school, three junior high schools, five senior high schools, and ten university departments—and to achieve collaboration among its language teachers. In order to achieve these goals, the AOP project proposes to develop a learning and assessment framework based on the CEFR and adapted for the Keio context. One of the central, ongoing research initiatives within the AOP project has thus been the development of a Japanese version of the ELP to be distributed to language teachers in the various Keio schools.

The enquiry has revealed that whilst tools such as the ELP and CEFR have a potential of answering to teachers’ concern for educational linkage, clear and specific models that are localized to the cultural context of classroom use needs to be devised. At the same time, any policy or framework needs to be left ambiguous and flexible to account for teachers’ orientations and hence their autonomy. The development of a Japanese version of the ELP for Keio would hence involve negotiating a balance between ambiguity in terms of its implementation (or ‘method’) and specificity in terms of its available content.

 

Senior high school students use of the ELP, by Naoyuki Naganuma, Tokyo University of Foreign Studies

Can do statements (CDS) are becoming widely used by teachers or organizations in their language classrooms or language programs at various university and senior high schools. Can do statements function as goals of achievement for the individual learners and/or evaluation criteria of their language development. This paper will demonstrate a current attempt to utilize different types of can do statements, including the ones in the ELP, at a former SELHi (Super English Language High Schools) school, Kasumigaoka senior high school..

Can do tasks are developed as supplementary tasks used in the classroom to fill in the gaps of language development found through the triangulation of can do statements described above. The can do tasks function as learning tasks as well as evaluation tasks, which confirm whether learners’ have achieved the skills described in the can do statements. Currently additional can do evaluation-learning tasks are under development. They are expected to be connected to each other systematically and construct a module syllabus to support the classroom learning.

 

The Language Portfolio for Japanese University and future developments, by Fergus O’Dwyer

This paper briefly introduced the Language Portfolio for Japanese University (LP), discusses how it can be improved and describes how it used to efficiently implement use of can do statements in the classroom. 

The current version of the LP is a template version; improvements and related developments will be implemented in time. Some of these include work from a proofreading team to check and improve initial Japanese translations, a team to complete all checklist translations (currently available only from lover levels of A1-B1), the LP should be more visual so it would appeal to learners more, and the checklists could be changed to reflect the Japanese context more comprehensively. 

The LP and CEFR can facilitate setting and achieving quantifiable and authentic language goals. This can be done by expressing the main aim and content of the learning stage through can do statements, and thereafter formulating a goal for the stage. Rather than merely providing can do statements in the pre-task goal-setting process in insufficient; we need to clearly outline what is involved in relation to a can do statement. Pre-stage reflection should clearly define the important skills associated with the learning stage and incorporating this information into the goal-setting process. Furthermore post-stage reflection can develop learner meta-linguistic knowledge to see how well they can achieve a communicative task and what they need to improve. The use of performance based assessment rubrics links the information in the goal-setting process to provide focused feedback via teacher, peer and self-assessment of the poster presentation. Overall it is felt these pedagogical practices make the learning process quantifiable and learner-friendly in a positive way.

 

Conclusion and future SIG developments

To sum up the forum papers it is hoped that the practices and in particular specification of the components of can do statements outlined here can achieve the vision outlined by Little (2009), that is the ELP (and by implication the CEFR and can do statements) can help make visible the process and content of L2 learning that is shaped by the principles of learner involvement, learner reflection and target language use. It is fair to say that there is a large focus on standardized testing in Japan with long-standing concerns about the distortion of the curriculum to accommodate such high-stakes testing. Research does not support the view that this can be relied on alone to raise standards while contextualized formative assessment has been shown to improve learning. Falsgraf (2009) goes on to promote tools that put assessment information in the hands of the learners themselves as an important first step in placing value on language proficiency and in helping the wider society interpret and understand that value. It is important to be aware that these pedagogic tools and can do statements must be adapted and changed to suit the specific context they serve. The above issues were the to fore in the discussion at the SIG AGM where the main focus was the related idea of creating a volume of papers, tentatively titled “Can dos in language education in Japan”, which will outline how practitioners have used can do statements in classes to give specific ideas and resources for educators to bring into classrooms. See the call for papers to the left. We hope you will consider submitting an abstract for this publication.

 

References

Falsgraf, C. (2009) The ecology of assessment. Language Teaching, 42(4), 491-503 

Little, D. (2009). Language learner autonomy and the European Language Portfolio: Two L2 English examples. Language Teaching, 42(2), 222-233

Report on the Framework & Language Portfolio (FLP) SIG Summer Seminar held at Tokyo University of Foreign Studies on Saturday June 27th 2009

 

The seminar was made up of workshops dealing with the learning cycle of self-assessment/assessment, goal-setting and reflection. We first discussed self-assessment using the CEFR grid and how can do checklists can also be used to verify self-assessment and make a year goal (e.g. to progress from level A2 to B1 for spoken interaction). Participants then used specific information about a learning stage (the content of the stage, expressing the main aim of content through can do statement(s) and defining the important skills associated with this stage) can be used for assessment and letting learners know what is expected.

 

You can find a more detailed report in the attachment below.All the forms used in the seminar, which can be used to plan your classes and align classes with can do statements/the CEFR and language portfolio, are available on the SIG moodle.

 

FLPSIGSummer2009SeminarDetails.doc (740k)Framework & Language Portfolio SIG, 11 Nov 2009, 14:52

Report on the Spring FLP SIG Seminar

 

The Saturday March 14th activities, held in the Momoyama Gakuin/St. Andrew’s university campus in Osaka,focused on the use of can do statements. The workshops were led by Fergus O’Dwyer, unless noted, and the participants were asked to think about the activities in terms of their upcoming April 2009 classes. Participants specified their classes content in terms of objectives/can do statements in the first workshop. The purpose was forparticipants to see how the can do statements can be used a base for classes but need to be expanded. The second workshop, led by Dr. Naoyuki Naganuma, continued on from this theme with participants showed how one skill (e.g. asking and answering questions) is dealt in layered complexity form each level of the CEFR to the next (e.g. from A1 to A2 and B1). After noticing this participants made a scale of achievement as a result. This can be very useful for assessment in mixed level classes and classes continuing over a long period. The participants used the above information in the final workshop of the day to create a basic assessment in relation to a textbook they

planned to use in April classes. The first day wrapped up Etsuko Shimo leading a presentation and discussion about the Kindai can-do framework currently being developed at Kinki University.

 

The second day Sunday focused more on the ELP with the day starting with a workshop dealing with the part reflection can play in the language learning classroom. As with all workshops this topic elicited lively discussion. Dr. Maria Gabriela Schmidt then explained how she is using the CEFR and adapting the ELP in her German classes at Tsukuba University. Participants were particularly impressed with her use of diaries in classes. Before a brief discussion of the SIG activities and possible improvements to the recently developed Language Portfolio (LP) the seminar wrapped up by participants explaining and discussion personal action plans for use of the CEFR and LP in upcoming classes. This was useful as it is not often that we get the chance to discuss such topics.

This online toolkit is supported by KAKEN Grant-in-Aid project no. 16K02835 and aims to support teachers of all foreign languages in Japan in using the CEFR