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Adaptation of European, Canadian, and American Proficiency Guidelines in the Middle Eastern Language Classes

Panel VIII-7, 2023 Annual Meeting

On Saturday, November 4 at 11:00 am

Panel Description
This panel aims at investigating how the proficiency guidelines of the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL), the European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR), and the Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) are adapted in the Middle Eastern language classes. The papers in this panel shed light on these guidelines and discuss the advantages and disadvantages of adapting those guidelines across the Middle Eastern language classes. Based on the need analysis of the students and the domain analysis of the program, some of these guidelines may be useful, while others may not produce the desired outcome. With the growing trend of standardization of foreign language teaching in the world, educators might feel obliged to jump on the bandwagon of the proponents of this trend. However, the case might as well be different for the less commonly taught languages like the Middle Eastern languages. A secondary aim of this panel is to compare the proficiency guidelines of ACTFL and those of CEFR and CLB to investigate which specific guidelines of the three are more suitable for teaching the Middle Eastern languages. The panelists are professors of the Middle Eastern languages from Europe and North America so that there will be a conversation about the pros and cons of the three frameworks to be adapted in the Middle Eastern language classes across the world. These conversations will help language faculty to situate their classes in these three frameworks and ultimately help professors choose the most efficient practices for their specific languages.
  • Ms/ Noha Aboulmagd-Forster -- Presenter, Chair
  • Dr. Pouneh Shabani-Jadidi -- Organizer, Presenter, Discussant
  • Dr. Emine Cakir -- Presenter
  • Dr. Azita Taleghani -- Presenter
  • Dr. Pouneh Shabani-Jadidi
    This presentation examines how the ACTFL (American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages) proficiency guidelines, particularly, the Oral Proficiency Interview tenets can be useful in the syllabus development, and how they can help define the objectives of the course. In particular, it discusses how a backward design model to teaching the language leads students to attain the desired proficiency level. The backward design model was first introduced by Wiggins and McTighe (1998), in which the desired outcomes are determined first and then proceed “backward” to identify the required tasks in order to attain the set desired outcomes. In other words, contrary to the common practice now, the material should not be determined subjectively by the professor based on their own comfort zone or preference, but rather, identified after an objective survey on what the end desired outcomes are. There are three stages in backward design: 1) Identifying the desired results, 2) determining the acceptable evidence, and 3) planning the learning experiences and instruction. These and other relevant topics are explored in this paper.
  • Dr. Emine Cakir
    Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) is a comprehensive guideline for teachers with respect to the processes of planning, learning, teaching, and assessing whilst aiming to bring standardisation, transparency, coherence and consistency across different languages and countries. How realistic or feasible is it to apply these criteria to less widely taught languages such as Turkish? Is it possible to adapt CEFR for teaching Turkish as a foreign language in Higher Education programs that aim to teach a language for academic purposes from ab initio level to upper-intermediate/advanced levels in one academic year? This paper aims to answer these questions by giving specific examples of how Turkish has been taught at the Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies (AMES), University of Oxford, UK.
  • Dr. Azita Taleghani
    There are several major frameworks for learning, teaching, and assessing foreign language skills: ACTFL (American Council on the Teaching Foreign Languages) Proficiency Guidelines, ILR (American Federal Government's Inter-Agency Language Roundtable) Skill Level Descriptions, the CLB (Canadian Language Benchmark), and the CEFR (Common European Framework of Reference for Languages). These frameworks form the basis of major testing and certification systems, and they are used for textbook and curriculum development, as well as educational standards. In this presentation, I focus on CLB and its major features as well as its similarities and differences with other frameworks. Then, I will discuss which system practically use in Persian language classes at the University of Toronto and highlight the advantages and challenges of using this system in Persian language classes
  • Ms/ Noha Aboulmagd-Forster
    As a “less commonly taught language”, Arabic has arrived relatively late to the proficiency approach earlier adopted by Spanish, French, and other commonly taught languages. But, in some contexts, it has “run” with this approach. In this talk, I will describe the adoption of this proficiency approach by the Arabic program at (University X) in the last 20 years, laying out its impact on students. I will look closely at how the program has applied the ACTFL proficiency guidelines with their concomitant set of principles (backward design, eclectic assessments, cultural integration, "can-do" statements, etc.) especially for the elementary and intermediate levels. I will also suggest some cautionary points, some ways that the proficiency approach should be modified for Arabic, for different student groups, and for upper-level classes.