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CEFR-Related Tests in Irish: Punching about their Weight by Anne Gallagher

A presentation given at the 17th Association of University Language Centres Conference on 7th-8th January 2016.

1 of 23
01/27/16 Language Centre, NUI Maynooth 1
Teastas Eorpach na Gaeilge (TEG)
CEFR-related tests in Irish: punching above their
weight
Anne Gallagher/Anna Ní Ghallachair
01/27/16 Language Centre, NUI Maynooth 2
Introduction
• The statutory position of Irish
• Irish-language competence
• Irish-language attitudes
• Teastas Eorpach na Gaeilge (TEG)
• Quality
• Washback and impact
• TEG abroad
• Conclusions
01/27/16 Language Centre, NUI Maynooth 3
The statutory position
• First official language of the state
• Compulsory at both primary and second
level
• Official Languages Act (2003)
• Irish a working and official language of the EU
since January ’07
• An entry requirement for National University
of Ireland universities (4/7)
01/27/16 Language Centre, NUI Maynooth 4
• 1.77 million claim to be able to speak Irish (Census
2011)
• 26% (1,192,946) are confident in their ability to speak
Irish, and 35% ( 1,605,888 people) are confident in
their ability to understand Irish (Conradh na Gaeilge,
2015)
• 30% of native speakers would like to improve written
skills (Ó hIfearnáin 2008)
Irish-language competence
Attitudes
01/27/16 Language Centre, NUI Maynooth 5
• Successive surveys and studies have indicated a
positive attitude to the language on the part of a
majority of the population
• 44% would like the opportunity to learn more
Irish (Conradh na Gaeilge, 2015)
01/27/16 Language Centre, NUI Maynooth 6
Identity
• Review of Erasmus programme from
1987-1995: 30% wished to return to Irish
• Eurobarometer (2000): Irish mother
tongue (14%)
• Multilingual Ireland: 182 cited in 2011
census

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CEFR-Related Tests in Irish: Punching about their Weight by Anne Gallagher

  • 1. 01/27/16 Language Centre, NUI Maynooth 1 Teastas Eorpach na Gaeilge (TEG) CEFR-related tests in Irish: punching above their weight Anne Gallagher/Anna Ní Ghallachair
  • 2. 01/27/16 Language Centre, NUI Maynooth 2 Introduction • The statutory position of Irish • Irish-language competence • Irish-language attitudes • Teastas Eorpach na Gaeilge (TEG) • Quality • Washback and impact • TEG abroad • Conclusions
  • 3. 01/27/16 Language Centre, NUI Maynooth 3 The statutory position • First official language of the state • Compulsory at both primary and second level • Official Languages Act (2003) • Irish a working and official language of the EU since January ’07 • An entry requirement for National University of Ireland universities (4/7)
  • 4. 01/27/16 Language Centre, NUI Maynooth 4 • 1.77 million claim to be able to speak Irish (Census 2011) • 26% (1,192,946) are confident in their ability to speak Irish, and 35% ( 1,605,888 people) are confident in their ability to understand Irish (Conradh na Gaeilge, 2015) • 30% of native speakers would like to improve written skills (Ó hIfearnáin 2008) Irish-language competence
  • 5. Attitudes 01/27/16 Language Centre, NUI Maynooth 5 • Successive surveys and studies have indicated a positive attitude to the language on the part of a majority of the population • 44% would like the opportunity to learn more Irish (Conradh na Gaeilge, 2015)
  • 6. 01/27/16 Language Centre, NUI Maynooth 6 Identity • Review of Erasmus programme from 1987-1995: 30% wished to return to Irish • Eurobarometer (2000): Irish mother tongue (14%) • Multilingual Ireland: 182 cited in 2011 census
  • 7. 01/27/16 Language Centre, NUI Maynooth 7 Challenges in 2005 • Many with poor communicative competence • Many newcomers (766,770, Census 2011) • Attitudes and perceived language deficits were largely the same as just outlined However, • No structured courses for adult learners • No tests/certification • No funding available for comprehensive package
  • 8. 01/27/16 Language Centre, NUI Maynooth 8 Teastas Eorpach na Gaeilge • Examinations and certification system for Irish • Introduced in 2005 • Broadly based on the CEFR • Examines four skills, emphasis on communication • Syllabi for 5 levels completed, levels A1 to C1 • Membership of Association of Language Testers in Europe (ALTE) • Awarded ALTE Q-mark in 2015 • Website: teg.ie
  • 9. 01/27/16 Language Centre, NUI Maynooth 9 Candidates • Public servants • Directors of Irish-medium playschools • Entrance and exit requirements for certain university Irish courses • Parents of schoolgoing children • Transition year students • Native speakers • Students of Irish abroad • Newcomers to Ireland • Those curious about their level is
  • 10. Importance of quality control (1) • To ensure fairness across the entire examination process, from initial test development to final presentation of results • Tests both high and low stakes; importance of being able to stand over results (validity and reliability) 01/27/16 Language Centre, NUI Maynooth 10
  • 11. Importance of quality control (2) • Membership of ALTE • Other members include Cambridge Assessment, CIEP, Goethe Institut, etc. • Sharing expertise and experience • ALTE 17 minimum standards • Regular ALTE audit 01/27/16 Language Centre, NUI Maynooth 11
  • 12. ALTE minimum standards The standards cover five main areas: •test construction •administration and logistics •marking and grading •test analysis •communication with stakeholders 01/27/16 Language Centre, NUI Maynooth 12
  • 13. 01/27/16 Language Centre, NUI Maynooth 13 Washback and Impact • Tests influence teaching and learning • In applied linguistics, washback is broadly defined as the effect of a test on teaching and often also on learning • While impact may occur at a macro or social and institutional level, washback occurs only at the micro level of the individual participant (primarily teachers and students). (Green, 2007)
  • 14. 01/27/16 Language Centre, NUI Maynooth 14 Positive Impact (1) • Emphasis on communicative competence • Awareness of CEFR/European dimension • Distinction between achievement and proficiency • Structuring of teaching/learning • Response to institutional/national need • Promotion of Irish language abroad
  • 15. Professional Profile of B2 candidates in 2015 • Student 43.75% • Working 39.58% • Retired 4.17% • Seeking employment 4.17% • Stay-at-home partner 8.33% 01/27/16 Language Centre, NUI Maynooth 15
  • 16. Reasons for taking B2 in 2015 • To progress at work 18.51% • On instruction from employer 3.7% • To help with my children’s education 11.11% • Personal reasons 74% • Other reasons 11.11% 01/27/16 Language Centre, NUI Maynooth 16
  • 17. 01/27/16 Language Centre, NUI Maynooth 17 Washback “Sixty members of staff attended the courses last year. There was a further 25 we couldn’t cater for, but it looks like we’ll have 80 at the very least in the classes this year” “The exam itself let me know what my weak points were, and it was good to pass it as well” “I noticed the progress every week. The syllabus is geared to bring you along” Irish Times, Sept 2007
  • 18. A Russian candidiate Subject: Beannachtaí ón Rúis Dia dhaoibh a chairde! Is mise Vitaly X, is as an Rúis mé. Tá 2 theastas TEG bainte amach agam (B2 2012 agus C1 - 2015). Nollaig faoi shéan agus athbhliain faoi mhaise daoibh agus do bhur muintir go léir! Beannachtaí na Nollag ón Rúis ar gach éinne atá ag múineadh agus ag foghlaim Gaeilge i NUI. Mo bheannachtaí ar léith ar Aisling. Bhí sí fáilteach agus ana-chairdiúil liom agus mise i Maigh Nuad. Adh mór ar gach iarrthóir leis na scrúduithe TEG i 2016! Le gach dea-ghuí, Vitaly X Moscó, An Rúis 01/27/16 Language Centre, NUI Maynooth 18
  • 19. TEG visits 2015 01/27/16 Language Centre, NUI Maynooth 19
  • 20. 01/27/16 Language Centre, NUI Maynooth 20 Examination centres 10 centres in Ireland: Centre Culturel Irlandais, Paris Charles University, Prague New York University University of Ottawa Sydney from 2016 Requests from many more
  • 21. Other developments • Development of test specifications/syllabus • Tests • Teaching materials • Dioplóma i Múineadh na Gaeilge (Foghlaimeoirí Fásta) • Training raters from many institutions • National Council for Curriculum and Assessment • Encouraging good testing practice within University 01/27/16 Language Centre, NUI Maynooth 21
  • 22. In conclusion • Over 3,000 candidates have taken TEG tests to date : candidate numbers only tip of iceberg • Impact on stakeholders an indication of quality of tests • Importance of proficiency tests for minority language, tough love • Dissemination of good practice in language testing • Awareness of CEFR • Better Irish-language learning 01/27/16 Language Centre, NUI Maynooth 22
  • 23. 01/27/16 Language Centre, NUI Maynooth 23 Award ceremony, Paris 2015