Executive Summary











Prof. Dr. Chan Swee Heng

Dr. Neil Jones


learning materials and tests for learners
of Eng...
Children, irrespective of
the culture they come from,
begin with a certain amount
of autonomy which they
can use in the cl...











Nguyen Ngoc Hung...


Just as a forest is inside a seed...

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CEFR Symposium 2013: Towards Language Education Transformation in Malaysia


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This document contains summaries of the 2 keynote addresses, four plenary papers and four parallel session presentations of the CEFR Symposium 2013 organised by the English Language Standards and Quality Council, Ministry of Education, Malaysia in October 2013. The keynote speaker was Professor Dr. David Little.

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CEFR Symposium 2013: Towards Language Education Transformation in Malaysia

  3. 3. CONTENTS EXECUTIVE SUMMARY T Executive Summary 3 Presenters 4 KEYNOTE ADDRESS 1 6 KEYNOTE ADDRESS 2 8 PLENARY PRESENTATION 1 9 PLENARY PRESENTATION 2 10 PLENARY PRESENTATION 3 11 PLENARY PRESENTATION 4 12 PARALLEL PRESENTATION 1 13 PARALLEL PRESENTATION 2 14 PARALLEL PRESENTATION 3 15 PARALLEL PRESENTATION 4 16 RESOLUTIONS 17 CONCLUSION 17 APPENDICES 18 THE RAPPORTEURING TEAM he Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) was developed by the Council of Europe in the 1970s at a time when there was growing interest towards a communicative approach to language teaching and the need for a common international framework for language learning. Although, it was initially developed for European nations, the CEFR is now used in more than 39 countries worldwide. education as there will be mutual recognition of language qualifications. The Malaysia Education Blueprint (2013-2025) states that we should collectively aspire to produce Malaysian students who are ‘operational proficiency’ in English language. The CEFR describes operational proficiency as “the linguistic fluency that allows one to participate fully in academic and professional life” which, in turn, will enable young Malaysians to compete in a globalised economy where English language is the lingua franca. 19 The CEFR is known to help learners, teachers, course designers, examining bodies and education administrators to situate their own efforts within a wider framework of reference that provides greater unity to language instruction. Thus, it provides greater coherence to language education objectives, content and methods and instigates a more learner-centred/communicative approach to language teaching. This action-oriented approach is coherent with the aims of the Malaysian language curriculum and, thus, can be easily adapted to suit the local curricula. In addition, its use is also expected to positively impact teacher training, classroom pedagogy and assessment. Besides, a common framework of reference will also create greater international co-operation in the field of language To create greater awareness of the CEFR, the English Language Standards and Quality Council and English Language Teaching Centre organised a symposium with the theme Towards Language Education Transformation in Malaysia on 29-30 October 2013 at Sama-Sama Hotel in KLIA, Sepang. This report provides summaries of the two keynote, four plenary and five parallel papers that were presented, and highlights the five resolutions that were tabled during the two-day historic event. Organising Committee CEFR Symposium 2013 SYMPOSIUM DELEGATES Organisation Number 01 MOE divisions 27 02 Teacher Training Institutes 14 03 State Education Departments 26 04 Private Institutions 9 05 Universities 15 06 Presenters 9 07 ELSQC 11 08 Secretariat 19 TOTAL 2 CEFR SYMPOSIUM 2013 • TOWARDS LANGUAGE EDUCATION TRANSFORMATION IN MALAYSIA 130 3
  4. 4. PRESENTERS PRESENTERS Prof. Dr. Chan Swee Heng Dr. Neil Jones learning materials and tests for learners of English as an Additional Language (EAL) in Irish primary and post-primary schools. Starting in 1998, he played a leading role in the development and implementation of the European Language Portfolio (ELP) and co-ordinated the design of ELPs for primary and post-primary learners of EAL, post-primary and university learners of foreign languages, and adult immigrants to Ireland learning English for integration and the workplace. He is a member of the Council of Europe’s Working Group on the Linguistic Integration of Adult Migrants. Chan Swee Heng is Professor of Applied Linguistics at Universiti Putra Malaysia. Her main interests are in language testing and evaluation. Currently, she is involved in several research projects related to the evaluation of soft skills in university learning, meta-discourse use in writing, the calibration of language vitality, and the concerns of use of Malaysia’s heritage language. She heads the testing centre for UPM- ELTP (English Language Test for Pilots). The test is endorsed by the Department of Aviation, Malaysia, for the evaluation of English language proficiency needed in pilot licensing. Dr. Neil Jones holds a PhD in Applied Linguistics from the University of Edinburgh on applying item response theory. After teaching English in countries including Poland and Japan, where he set up and directed programmes at university level, he joined Cambridge English in 1992. He has led innovative developments including item-banking and computeradaptive testing, and worked on the construction and use of multilingual proficiency frameworks, including the Common European Framework of Reference. He directed research for Asset Languages, a 25-language assessment system developed for the UK government’s national languages strategy, and most recently directed the first European Survey on Language Competences, co-ordinated by Cambridge English Language Assessment for the European Commission. His current interest is Learning Oriented Assessment, an approach which integrates all levels of assessment to produce the most positive learning outcomes. Ang Chooi Kean, a master lecturer (pensyarah cemerlang) from IPG Kampus Bahasa Antrabangsa has been involved in an intensive in-service teacher training programme of Japanese language teachers since 2005. She is currently pursuing her Prof. Dr. David Little David Little retired in 2008 as Associate Professor of Applied Linguistics and Head of the School of Linguistic, Speech and Communication Sciences at Trinity College Dublin. His principal research interests, on which he has published extensively, are: the theory and practice of learner autonomy in second language education; the exploitation of linguistic diversity in schools and classrooms; and the use of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) to support the design of second language curricula, teaching and assessment. He has drawn on the CEFR to develop curriculum guidelines, teaching/ doctorate degree at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia. Among her current research interests are self-monitoring skills, learning awareness, e-learning, e-portfolio and continuing professional development. Ang Chooi Kean 4 CEFR SYMPOSIUM 2013 • TOWARDS LANGUAGE EDUCATION TRANSFORMATION IN MALAYSIA Dr Greg Keaney Azuar Abd. Rahman Ho Lai Wan through an application of Systemic Functional Linguistics. She is a widely published author of course materials for English Language Teaching at primary and secondary levels and has presented widely at international conferences. In addition to language teaching and learning, Dr Aziz’s work also includes materials for Maths education and she has developed maths curriculum programs that are used in more that 50 countries. Greg is the Country Manager for CfBT Education Services in Brunei Darussalam. He combines a PhD in International Education Management from Sydney University and a Masters in Applied Linguistics from Macquarie University with over 25 years’ experience in the management, administration and teaching of English language in a wide variety of contexts. He has published books (Talk is Cheap, Never a Dull Moment ©CfBT), TV programs (Power English ©Digimage), DVDs (Magic Moments Series©CfBT Media), radio shows (Kids Time, Story Time © CfBT/RTB) and numerous articles promoting a dynamic, interactive, learnercentred, evidence-based approach to English language improvement. Azuar Abd. Rahman is a German Language lecturer at the IPG Kampus Bahasa Antarabangsa (IPGKBA). She is currently teaching students pursuing a degree in German in the IPGKBAUniversiti Malaya twinning programme. She is also the coordinator of the German Practicum Programme in IPGKBA. She has developed a passion for German and is concerned with issues related to the training of teachers to teach foreign languages, She is currently conducting a research to establish the beliefs that preservice and in service teachers hold about foreign language learning. Ho Lai Wan is a French Language Lecturer at the Institut Pendidikan Guru, Kampus Bahasa Antarabangsa, Kuala Lumpur. She majored in the teaching of French as a Foreign Language and the Didactics of French. She is currently involved in the training of French Language teachers who will be placed in Malaysian national schools which offer French as a foreign language in their school curriculum. To date, she has been involved in the training of six cohorts of students in helping them acquire the language skills that is necessary for integration in French universities. Nguyen Ngoc Hung is Senior Advisor of the Vietnam’s National Foreign Languages 2020 Project undertaken by the Ministry of Education and Training (MOET). He had earlier served as Executive Director of the project and Deputy Director General in charge of Dr Duriya Aziz Dr Duriya Aziz is Vice President, Education, Scholastic International. In this role she is tasked with researching best practices in teaching and learning and incorporating them into the programs developed by Scholastic to help children round the world read and learn. She completed her doctoral research at the Leeds Metropolitan University in which she developed a framework for the evaluation of language teaching materials international cooperation at MOET. He is passionate about foreign language development in Vietnam and hopes to set up joint language programmes in the ASEAN region. Nguyen Ngoc Hung 5
  5. 5. Children, irrespective of the culture they come from, begin with a certain amount of autonomy which they can use in the classroom. Hence, teachers need to find ways to exploit the autonomy they possess by turning the classroom into a domain of target language communication. KEYNOTE ADDRESS 1 THE COMMON EUROPEAN FRAMEWORK OF REFERENCE FOR LANGUAGES: PURPOSE, ORIGIN, ETHOS AND IMPLICATIONS Prof. Dr. David Little Language Policy Division, Council of Europe The CEFR aims to support the implementation of the Council of Europe’s language education policy which recognises the need to intensify language learning and teaching in member countries, promote language learning as a life-long task, facilitate cooperation among educational institutions in different countries, promote a sound basis for the mutual recognition of language qualifications, assist learners, teachers, course designers, examining bodies and educational administrators to situate and coordinate their efforts. The framework can be viewed as an attempt to characterise comprehensively, transparently and coherently the act of language communication in terms of what competent language users do and the competences that enable them to act. It is also a survey of methods of learning, teaching and assessment and a scheme for establishing common reference levels for specifying communicative proficiency. Although the CEFR does not advocate any particular teaching approach, CEFR’s description of communicative proficiency in terms of language use has powerful pedagogical implications. The framework’s action-oriented approach in terms of its focus on language use brings into focus the actions performed by language 6 CEFR SYMPOSIUM 2013 • TOWARDS LANGUAGE EDUCATION TRANSFORMATION IN MALAYSIA users who as social agents develop a range of communicative language competencies. Language users thus draw on the competencies at their disposal in various contexts, conditions and constraints to produce and/or receive ‘texts’ in relation to themes in specific domains and activate those strategies which seem most appropriate for carrying out the task to be accomplished. In essence, human beings are constantly engaged in language activities involving language processes and the creation of ‘a community’ for the learners to be in will engage them in the learning of a language. Furthermore, language cannot be learnt in isolation. The CEFR proficiency levels (refer to table) help in describing various kinds of language users/learners. A1 Can interact in a simple way A2 Can cope with a basic range of language structures B1 Can maintain sustained interaction B2 Can engage in a sustained and effective argument C1 Can communicate with a broad range of language structures C2 Can communicate with a high degree of precision There is, however, no clear-cut method of teaching learners to move them from one level to another. The learners bring with them knowledge of the world, and have to be given some autonomy to take charge of their own learning. This is based on the understanding that further learning has to be autonomous once the learners leave the classroom. Autonomous learning can be promoted if learning to learn is regarded as an integral part of language learning. In other words, to develop language proficiency, learners need to become independent. Children, irrespective of the culture they come from, begin with a certain amount of autonomy which they can use in the classroom. Hence, teachers need to find ways to exploit the autonomy they possess by turning the classroom into a domain of target language communication. The key challenge in language education is to make the process of language learning more democratic by providing the conceptual tools for the planning, construction and conduct of courses closely geared to the needs, motivations and characteristics of the learners and enabling them as far as possible to steer and control their own progress. The ‘can do’ statements can provide specific learning targets and lead to democratic ways of developing learning activities and materials for students. Hence, teachers should continuously find ways to engage them in the learning process. In short, CEFR places importance on the creation of learner autonomy and the creation of a community of learning in the target language. The CEFR brings pedagogy and assessment, as well as pedagogy and curricula into the closest ever relationships possible. However, it is wrong to assume that curricula dictate pedagogy and assessment; they, in fact, affect one another. In CEFR curricula, pedagogy and assessment collaborate instead of one preceding the other. Traditionally, teaching precedes learning and assessment. 7
  6. 6. KEYNOTE ADDRESS 2 PLENARY PRESENTATION 1 CEFR: ITS RELEVANCE IN LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT EFFORTS IN MALAYSIAN PUBLIC UNIVERSITIES Prof. Dr. Chan Swee Heng PUTTING THE CEFR TO WORK: THE IRISH EXPERIENCE Prof. Dr. David Little Language Policy Division, Council of Europe The CEFR’s most innovative feature is the action-orientated approach it brings to curriculum, pedagogy and assessment. The descriptors in the scale have the capacity to align learning activities and assessment and bring them into a more coherent relationship with one another. This quality is best exemplified via the Irish experience when there was a sizeable proportion of migrant children in primary schools in the late nineties. This posed a challenge to primary schools: how does one deal with children whose home language is not English or Irish? In response to the problem, Integrate Ireland Language and Training (IILT) programme was conducted from 1999 to 2008. Consequently, an ESL curriculum framework that integrated the need for extensive ESL support was developed. Teachers found the curriculum effective as there was a logical and coherent sense of progression in the acquisition of language skills. Furthermore, it provided avenues for the development of learner autonomy and communicative methods of teaching. 8 CEFR SYMPOSIUM 2013 • TOWARDS LANGUAGE EDUCATION TRANSFORMATION IN MALAYSIA The CEFR scales were adapted to suit the context where English is used as the medium of instruction. A decision was made to use only the first three reference levels i.e. A1, A2 and B1. The voluminous Irish primary curriculum was translated into 13 recurrent themes with the first 3 levels of CEFR self-assessment adjusted to an ageappropriate grid. E nglish was used dominantly in Malaysia till the National Language Act (1967) when a change in the medium of instruction (from English to Bahasa Melayu) was made, which had an effect on the instructional language used in public universities. The policy to teach Mathematics and Science in English (2002) encouraged universities to change their medium of instruction as well in science and technology courses. However, the policy was officially reversed in 2012. The recently launched Malaysia Education Blueprint (2013-2025) encourages Plurilingualism and explicitly states that CEFR scales can be used as benchmarks for language proficiency. English is to be made a compulsory subject to pass in SPM from 2016 and every student is encouraged to learn an additional language. The European Language Portfolio that has three components, namely, the language passport, biography and Dossier was also used. This was helpful in providing pedagogical support and reporting in the Irish primary school context. As anticipated, the teachers quickly understood and used the documents to assess student learning with relative ease. The language passport consisting of “I can” (can-do statements) checklist was used to plan and monitor learning. Students who enter universities must have taken the Malaysian University Entrance Examination (MUET). The MUET grades are flexibly used as they are merely indicative of levels of ability of academic English. The usage of MUET as a placement criterion depends on universities. Universities also have language proficiency units or centres that organise English language courses for students. In addition, the use of English in teaching and learning is continuously encouraged. On the whole, research findings indicate that the migrant pupils developed functional competence as defined in the English Language Proficiency Benchmarks and CEFR. An exploratory study to investigate the opinion of university lecturers regarding the relevance of CEFR in their language teaching contexts indicates that the majority of the respondents have little familiarity with CEFR. The study also reveals that 28 % of the respondents believe that the CEFR is now implemented not only in Europe but also all around the world. 26% of the sample believed that standardisation and harmonisation mean less flexibility and less diversity in language programmes. Sixty-five per cent of the respondents were in agreement that their institutes should promote the use of the CEFR or other common reference levels. The study identified the following as benefits of the CEFR: • Mutual recognition of competences to improve mobility and employment prospects • Lifelong participation in an international society • Accountability and achievement of political goals • Incentive for funding especially for schools linked to achievement of standards • Enhancement of professionalism in language teaching and testing • Ability to appreciate international standards set on a global scale • Flexibility in description of language skills The study also identified three factors as possible constraints: • Lack of empirical basis in support of such standardisation • Need for complex decisions on curricular planning and assessment • Negative backwash: teachers may teach to the test • Heavy emphasis on monitoring and compliance with regulations that may lead to the sacrifice of actual learning Based on the study, it can be concluded that the prospect of implementing the use of CEFR in universities is promising but adopting the framework will pose a great challenge in terms of ownership and local validation issues. 9
  7. 7. PLENARY PRESENTATION 2 PLENARY PRESENTATION 3 CEFR AND ITS IMPACT ON CLASSROOM PEDAGOGY WHAT THE EUROPEAN SURVEY ON LANGUAGE COMPETENCES TELLS US ABOUT SUCCESSFUL LANGUAGE LEARNING Dr. Greg Keaney Dr. Neil Jones I n planning the improvement of the education system, one needs to think in terms of every student, every teacher and every teaching moment. For 21st century success, English is an essential requirement and the challenge is establishing effective ways to make students proficient in the language. Student self-assessment enables students to evaluate their own strengths and weaknesses. Similarly, collaborative learning also makes students aware of their strengths and weaknesses. Every student cannot be treated the same and every student can be made to improve using different practices that suit them best. In this respect, CEFR allows students to recognise their strengths and know which level they are at. It also allows students to realise that they are in charge of their own learning. Assessment is a tool for improvement and not a measurement of what the learner cannot do. It tells learners what they are weak in and what they need to improve on. In relation to this, CEFR provides a viable framework to address specific needs of learners. Every assessment activity should help the learner learn; I want to know, am I doing well? Moreover CEFR is a prebuilt framework for assessment that teachers can use to make informed decisions on resources and input to be used in the classroom. CEFR is concerned about positive feedback; negative feedback through repetitive correction can be detrimental. The CEFR, on the other hand, is concerned with the description of ‘can do’ statements. This type of feedback improves the self-esteem of the students and motivates them to learn the language. Language learning is largely about learning to speak. However, many school systems overvalue 10 CEFR SYMPOSIUM 2013 • TOWARDS LANGUAGE EDUCATION TRANSFORMATION IN MALAYSIA reading and writing. For students to be more proficient there is a need for more conversations and use of the language in the classroom. The use of CEFR which focuses on language in use will necessarily bring greater focus on the teaching of all the four skills. Overall, the CEFR provides a framework for assisting classroom teachers of English to link student performance and outcomes to meaningful and reliable international criteria. Tasks and interaction, which are at the heart of effective English language teaching, are also at the centre of the CEFR, making it a wonderfully supportive framework for the assessment of effective teaching and learning. However, it is important to remember that teachers’ professional wisdom and a good amount of ‘plain old common sense’ are still required to get the most out of the framework and to use it to support the language learning and progress of all students in Malaysia. A study on second and foreign language competences was conducted in Europe in November 2011 to establish the progress made in “improving the mastery of basic skills, in particular by teaching at least two foreign languages from a very early age.” The study was also conducted to establish the general level of foreign language knowledge of the students and obtain strategic information for policy makers. The following conclusions were made after the study: • There must be an early start to language learning. • Language learning is most effective when there is a language friendly environment. • Language proficiency relates positively to students’ perception of their parents’ knowledge of that language, and their exposure to and use of the language through traditional and new media. • Attitudes make a difference: students who find learning the language useful tend to achieve higher levels of proficiency. • Greater use of the foreign language in lessons by both teachers and students relates positively to proficiency. The questionnaire findings could be summed up as follows: A language is learned better where motivation is high, where learners perceive it to be useful, and where it is indeed used outside school, for example in communicating over the internet, for watching TV, or travelling on holiday. Also, the more teachers and students use the language in class, the better it is learned. Languages are learned “for communication by communicating.” Thus, the goal and the method of language teaching must come together. Therefore, it can be safely assumed that teachers can succeed with any language if they can find ways of teaching it for and by communication. However, as Karl Marx pointed out “the point is not merely to understand the world, but to change it.” Hence, the following proposals were made based on the findings: there must be topdown management and control of language learning development plans and continuous professional development efforts must be taken to improve teaching and learning practices. Accordingly, some assessment-based groups began to implement better operational approaches to assessment, to conduct research and develop new assessment tools based on the principles of CEFR. Subsequently, it was noted that there was a notable interest in language education reform. The CEFR proficiency scales provide understandable data and assist the item builders write test items based on the descriptors at each level. The CEFR levels were not formulated haphazardly but they emerged in a gradual, collective recognition of ‘natural levels’ available to the language user. These ‘concepts’ were first described as a possible set of ‘Council of Europe levels’ by David Wilkins in 1977. There is also empirical evidence that self-evaluation reports can be accurately linked to the examination grades that use CEFR scales as the guiding principles. The central principle of the CEFR is the recognition of language use: learners use language and complete a task by performing an activity in order to learn the language. In CEFR, tasks that reflect real world situations are given central prominence. Performance in such tasks can allow us to make interpretations of their reactions in the real world. Learning Oriented Assessments (LOA) should also be prioritised as they provide evidence of (and for) learning. Data (evidence) obtained through LOA can be utilized to plan individualised learning strategies that empower learners to manage their own learning. Basically LOA’s primary concern is to gain evidence to promote further learning instead of simply measuring it. 11
  8. 8. PLENARY PRESENTATION 4 PARALLEL PRESENTATION 1 ALIGNING TEACHING AND LEARNING MATERIALS TO SUIT DIFFERENT LEVELS OF PROFICIENCY: CALIBRATING AGAINST CEFR Dr. Duriya Aziz T here are many factors involved in the process of developing effective instructional materials according to CEFR levels. Firstly, there must be clarity in the objectives for language learning set by the stakeholders before course materials can be developed effectively. Basically, course materials must be coherent and meaningful to the languagelearning aims and objectives. Material developers must also consider the ability of the teachers to use their materials with relative ease in different teaching and learning contexts. They must also be clear about the purpose of their materials; whether it is used just to teach the language or to teach the teacher how to teach the language. More importantly, language resources must provide adequate scaffolding activities to ensure adequate support for the learner to achieve particular skills. The age factor, the children’s starting point, home environment and their mental schema of language also play a major part in language learning. Hence, material developers may need to develop their materials accordingly in anticipation of their target users. This, however, may not be easy if the materials are developed for learners in an entire country, for example. The other factors to be considered are the context of use, number of hours of exposure and the levels of English used. All these must be considered and are important in the effort to align materials to the CEFR. A close look at the CEFR will reveal that language competencies are assigned to specific levels. However, in reality, communication requires multiple competencies which may easily 12 CEFR SYMPOSIUM 2013 • TOWARDS LANGUAGE EDUCATION TRANSFORMATION IN MALAYSIA ...language resources must provide adequate scaffolding activities to ensure adequate support for the learner to achieve particular skills. fit to any one level. It must be remembered that language is a social act and the competencies do not occur in a linear fashion. There is also concern that teachers classify their students too early according to the CEFR levels of competencies, which is contradictory to the intent of this framework. Therefore teachers using the framework must exercise caution not to oversimplify the competencies. Since language is used to serve particular functions, teaching and learning materials must ideally reflect language use. Adapting the CEFR to transform language learning is viable. However, appropriate cultural alignment must be made to contextualise the teaching and learning materials to suit the context. It is, therefore important for users of the CEFR to ‘use it and own it’ by adding, excluding and interpreting the competencies based on their local contexts (in reference to the objectives, aspirations and intended learning outcomes). PREPARING TEACHER TRAINEES FOR A B2 CEFR SCALE IN DEUTSCH: A MALAYSIAN EXPERIENCE Azuar Abd. Rahman T he German language classes conducted in Institut Pendidikan Kampus Bahasa Antarabangsa (IPGKBA) are taught during the two-year foundation programme of the Bachelor of Languages and Linguistics (German) with Education which the students will pursue in Universiti Malaya. In order to be eligible for entry into the degree programme in UM, students need to acquire at least a B2 (CEFR) level pass in the final exam administered by Goethe Institute. This poses a great challenge to the German language instructors in IPGKBA. It is viable to use the CEFR as a benchmark but achieving the levels can be difficult if there are no opportunities for language learners to use the language outside the classroom. Students also tend to be influenced by their knowledge of other languages. Although encouraging the students to read widely may help in their acquisition of German, it will not necessarily help them carry out language tasks as indicated in the ‘can do’ descriptors of the CEFR levels. Getting native speakers to teach the language has also proven to be effective. To help the students, the learning hours were extended and the lessons were aligned to the learning outcomes stipulated in Goethe Institute’s B2 level. Additionally, books that were aligned to B1 and B2 scales were used in the classroom. Students were also encouraged to use Goethe Institute’s website which offered them online learning opportunities. Mock examinations were also administered to the students. Although all the efforts helped the students considerably, there were problems that needed to be addressed. For example, students found it difficult to comprehend non-standard (vernacular) German used in some listening texts provided by Goethe Institute. The students’ speech was robotic, not spontaneous, and showed signs of inappropriate idiom use. The students were unable to express opinions or arguments in their essays. In addition, the emphasis on preparing students for a B2 in the final examination had shifted the focus of the instructors to getting the students to obtain a B2 proficiency level and passing the Goethe-Zertifikat B2 rather than conducting effective communicative language tasks. It is viable to use the CEFR as a benchmark but achieving the levels can be difficult if there are no opportunities for language learners to use the language outside the classroom. 13
  9. 9. PARALLEL PRESENTATION 2 PARALLEL PRESENTATION 3 THE CEFR AND THE SETTING OF REALISTIC PROFICIENCY TARGETS FOR INTEGRATION IN UNIVERSITE DE FRANCHE COMTE UTILIZATION OF “CAN DO” STATEMENTS IN JAPANESE LANGUAGE EDUCATION IN MALAYSIA – THE EXPERIENCES OF A LOCAL JAPANESE LANGUAGE TEACHER Ho Lai Wan Ang Chooi Kean T he CERF has been used since 2005 in the teaching of French to students who start off with an A2 level at Institut Pendidikan Guru Kampus Bahasa Antarabangsa’s French foundation course. At this level, the students who will eventually pursue a degree in French at Universite de Franche - Comte are still in the discovery stage of their language-learning journey. The emphasis is on the four language competencies (listening, speaking, reading & writing) taught via a communicative approach as agreed by the Council of Europe in 2005. The entry level proficiency target has been set at B2, which will enable the students to integrate easily at the university and with society at large. The French Embassy in Malaysia provides the services of native speakers to help in teaching and monitoring the students’ progress. The pass in the compulsory examination (DELF) which is pitched at the B2 level is a prerequisite for entry into universities in France. The recommended contact time to enable students to get through this level is between 400-500 hours. Thus far, all students who have undergone the foundation programme have successfully passed the DELF. In line with the principles of the CEFR, most of the activities provided to the students are task-based activities and projects which provide simulated real-world communication. Students also have to conduct self-assessment via given checklists but are also assessed by their peers and teachers. They are also evaluated via a learning portfolio which they are required to keep. To pass the CEFR, students should score at least 50% of the total marks. Aligning teaching methodology to fit the requirements of a B2 entry criterion has helped students pass the DELF. More importantly, students assimilate and integrate well in the local setting. T he CEFR is known as CDS or ‘can do’ statements in Japan and is widely used in teaching Japanese language to foreigners in Japan including in-service teachers who are sent to pursue Master degrees in Japan. In Malaysia, Japanese is mostly taught in residential schools and Japanese language teachers have been trained via a specially designed in-service programme since 2005. The training, which is conducted with the assistance of Japan Foundation, Kuala Lumpur, comprises three main parts: a 12-week preparatory course, a one-year Teaching Japanese as a Foreign Language course and a 12-month internship stint. Since 2008, trainees have also been required to keep 3 portfolios: a cultural portfolio, teaching portfolio, and a learning portfolio. There have been two main challenges in the training of Japanese teachers, namely: enhancing learning awareness and self-monitoring skills among course participants. It made them aware of what they can do to go on learning the language. However, there is stil a lack of depth in the writing of reflections. The trainees, generally, seem to be vague about their achievements and are often subjective in their self-assessment. There are also gaps in the knowledge and skills among the teaching staff. Although the CDS lists are available for use, teachers are still teaching the way they were taught. Therefore, there must be a process of unlearning before new training is provided. In addition, the CDS lists should have been incorporated or integrated into the course curriculum and emphasised as learning outcomes in the training of the teachers. Assessments of the trainees should also be planned based on the CDS lists. • Inadequate time-frame to develop self-directedness in learning a language after training and teaching • Difficulty in teaching Japanese language competency as there was a heavy reliance on textbooks To improve the training, the Japan Foundation proposed that a checklist of ‘can do’ statements (CDS) is utilised. The three portfolios are also to be merged and only one portfolio labelled as the professional portfolio is to be produced by the trainees. The CDS lists were revised accordingly by the lecturers in charge of the specific language skills. They were divided into four levels: advanced, intermediate, basic, and essential. The learning portfolio based on the CDS lists as learning support played a big role in slightly 14 CEFR SYMPOSIUM 2013 • TOWARDS LANGUAGE EDUCATION TRANSFORMATION IN MALAYSIA 15
  10. 10. PARALLEL PRESENTATION 4 RESOLUTIONS CHALLENGES, OPPORTUNITIES AND SOLUTIONS: VIETNAM’S CEFR EXPERIENCE Nguyen Ngoc Hung I n 2004 Vietnam was accepted as a member of the World Trade Organisation. Subsequently, investments poured into the country. For example, Intel invested 1 billion dollars while Taiwanese companies brought in investments worth 5 billion dollars. Foreign investments created job opportunities for locals. However, some jobs required operational-level English language proficiency which many local graduates did not possess. With the Asean Free Trade Zone (AFTA) set to take place in 2015, there is a greater need for a workforce which has English language proficiency. Hence, the government via the Ministry of Education and Training (MOET) initiated the National Foreign Language 2020 project (NFL). The project hopes to produce students graduating from secondary schools, vocational schools, colleges and universities who can use a foreign language confidently in their daily communication, their study and work in an integrated, multicultural and multilingual environment. The NFL received strong support from all sectors including the general public. At the time the NFL was initiated, there were no common proficiency standards and benchmarks for language teaching and learning in Vietnam. Foreign languages were taught as subjects at school and not as a means of communication. After making comparisons of various American and European language frameworks, the CEFR was chosen for the following reasons: • It is user-friendly • It allows for a functional, task-oriented approach to language teaching 16 CEFR SYMPOSIUM 2013 • TOWARDS LANGUAGE EDUCATION TRANSFORMATION IN MALAYSIA There were four “Special Interest Group” discussions on the second day of the symposium, with each group focusing on different areas namely: tertiary education, teacher training, assessment and classroom pedagogy. At the end of the session, the following resolutions were tabled: • It has been adopted not only in Europe but in Asia (Japan, China) as well • It has a desirable impact on curriculum, syllabus, teaching, learning and evaluation • It can be used for the “mutual recognition” of language qualifications with other countries • It has the capacity to motivate students through the “CAN DO” statements and checklists • It promotes democracy and accountability in education as the learners can reflect on their own language tasks and performances The school language curriculum was matched to CEFR with an A1 target set for primary school pupils, A2 for secondary school students and B1 for high schools. Graduates from teacher training colleges and universities must have a B2 level while graduates who will teach English in high schools and universities must obtain a C1. The general target which is B2 is based on the Canadian Employability Skills (2000) report which claims that a B2 level is good enough for graduates to function well in employment. In addition, the National Foreign Language Testing Centre was established at MOET, and item builders, as well as oral and written examiners were trained, in cooperation with Cambridge ESOL and other partners in the Asia-Pacific region. In Europe before the European Union, a common framework for languages was developed. South East Asia (ASEAN) needs its own language framework in view of the AFTA 2015. A common language framework will also allow for the regional recognition of certification, cooperation in teacher training, and digital resource development. TEACHER TRAINING ASSESSMENT 1 2 3 4 5 The CEFR should be used as a point of reference to develop a national framework to transform language education in Malaysia. School-based assessments should reflect language performance in real world situations in tandem with the central philosophy of CEFR. Current summative assessment scores/grades should be aligned to an internationally recognised framework for mutual recognition of language qualifications. A common framework for language education that focuses on ‘language in use’ should be utilised to enhance classroom pedagogy and strengthen the delivery of lessons. Teacher education should focus on developing language competencies that will enable language teachers to develop students’ communicative competence. TERTIARY EDUCATION CLASSROOM PEDAGOGY 17
  11. 11. APPENDICES COMMON REFERENCE LEVELS: GLOBAL SCALE C2. Just as a forest is inside a seed... A common framework for curriculum, learning and teaching and the assessment of English from preschool to university level is needed to benchmark English language proficiency of our students. Of all the frameworks currently available, the CEFR would appear to be the most suitable for this purpose as it is theoretically grounded and comprehensive, yet flexible and open to adaptation to the local setting. B2. A2. Can understand with ease virtually everything heard or read. Can summarise information from different spoken and written sources, reconstructing arguments and accounts in a coherent presentation. Can express him/herself spontaneously, very fluently and precisely, differentiating finer shades of meaning even in more complex situations. Can understand the main ideas of complex text on both concrete and abstract topics, including technical discussions in his/her field of specialisation. Can interact with a degree of fluency and spontaneity that makes regular interaction with native speakers quite possible without strain for either party. Can produce clear, detailed text on a wide range of subjects and explain a viewpoint on a topical issue giving the advantages and disadvantages of various options. Can understand sentences and frequently used expressions related to areas of most immediate relevance (e.g. very basic personal and family information, shopping, local geography, employment). Can communicate in simple and routine tasks requiring a simple and direct exchange of information on familiar and routine matters. Can describe in simple terms aspects of his/ her background, immediate environment and matters in areas of immediate basic need. C1. B1. A1. Can understand a wide range of demanding, longer texts, and recognise implicit meaning. Can express him/herself fluently and spontaneously without much obvious searching for expressions. Can use language flexibly and effectively for social, academic and professional purposes. Can produce clear, well-structured, detailed text on complex subjects, showing controlled use of organisational patterns, connectors and cohesive devices. Can understand the main points of clear standard input on familiar matters regularly encountered in work, school, leisure, etc. Can deal with most situations likely to arise whilst travelling in an area where the language is spoken. Can produce simple connected text on topics which are familiar or of personal interest. Can describe experiences and events, dreams, hopes and ambitions and briefly give reasons and explanations for opinions and plans. Can understand and use familiar everyday expressions and very basic phrases aimed at the satisfaction of needs of a concrete type. Can introduce him/herself and others and can ask and answer questions about personal details such as where he/she lives, people he/she knows and things he/ she has. Can interact in a simple way provided the other person talks slowly and clearly and is prepared to help. USEFUL WEBSITES ON CEFR The following websites provide information on proficiencies and assessment kits: 18 CEFR SYMPOSIUM 2013 • TOWARDS LANGUAGE EDUCATION TRANSFORMATION IN MALAYSIA 19