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Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

I. How do I use Global Language Portfolio?
I-1 How do I get started?
I-2 What are the benefits of a Global Language Portfolio (GLP)?
I-3 What if I have more specific questions?
I-4 What if my language organization, government agency, or I as an individual, wish to participate in the further development of GLP?

II. Questions on American rating scales and national standards
II-1. What are the ACTFL guidelines?
II-2. What tests reference the ACTFL rating scale?
II-3. What are the American national standards for foreign language education?
II-4. What is the National Standards Collaborative?
II-5. What are the Five C’s of Language Learning?

III. Questions on European rating scales & national standards
III-1. What is the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR)?
III-2. What is the European Language Portfolio (ELP)?
III-3. What electronic ELP’s are most widely used in Europe?

IV. Questions on Global Language Portfolio
IV-1. What is a Language Passport?
IV-2. How does the GLP Language Passport compare to that of ELP?
IV-3. What is a Language Biography?
IV-4. Why do GLP checklists include lists for 5 skills rather than for only the 4 that are covered in the ACTFL guidelines?
IV-5. Why does GLP refer to an ACTFL Distinguished level, which has not yet been defined by ACTFL for all skills?
IV-6. How do the Global Language Portfolio (GLP) Language Biography checklists compare to those of the European Language Portfolio (ELP)?
IV-7. How do GLP checklists relate to the earlier K-16 LinguaFolio (LF) pilots and to the 2008 LF checklists and grid?
IV-8. What is a Language Dossier?


V. Copyright questions and opportunities for collaboration
V-1. Copyright overview
V-2. How can other members of the National Standards Collaborative (NSC) participate in the development of the AATF’s Global Language Portfolio web site?
V-3. Is AATF interested in seeking joint funding for GLP with other NSC members and with others?
V-4. Is AATF interested in working with government agencies and other stakeholders to develop GLP?
V-5. How do past collaborations encourage future opportunities?
V-6. How can a language association or an individual or group that is not part of the National Standards Collaborative borrow or modify the content on this web site?
V-7. Is AATF tracking the use of GLP?

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I. How do I use Global Language Portfolio?

I-1 How do I get started?
Click on the Training Modules at the top of the home page and follow the directions for students and / or teachers. Training modules.

I-2 What are the benefits of a Global Language Portfolio (GLP)?
A GLP can be used for learning, teaching, and assessment. Benefits for learners, for teachers and textbook publishers, and for both educational institutions and employers. Click on the Introduction to find added details. Introduction.

I-3 What if I have more specific questions?
Direct more specific questions or feedback on web site content to the Chair of the AATF Commission on Colleges and Universities at pcummins@vcu.edu. Direct questions or feedback related to technical technical issues on the AATF web site to the AATF Executive Director at abrate@siu.edu. Direct questions or feedback on web design or technical difficulties within the Global Language Portfolio to webmaster at pcummins@vcu.edu.

I-4 What if my language organization, government agency, or I as an individual, wish to participate in the further development of GLP?


Individuals should contact Patricia Cummins, Chair of the AATF Commission on Colleges and Universities, at pcummins@vcu.edu. Representatives of language organizations should contact Jayne Abrate, the AATF Executive Director at abrate@siu.edu. Anyone who participates in development of GLP will be acknowledged in future credits.


Copyright questions and invitations to participate appear under under No. V in the Frequently Asked Questions below.

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II. Questions on American rating scales and national standards

II-1. What are the ACTFL guidelines?

The ACTFL guidelines and rating scale define skill levels for reading, writing, speaking, and listening that were derived from the skill levels established by the Foreign Service Institute and the Interagency Language Roundtable. ACTFL guidelines are used widely in the United States to define the levels of proficiency and performance required in the schools and universities. The guidelines can be found easily online at the web site. The Interagency Language Roundtable scale continues to exist, and an overview of its uses in the government and academic sectors can be found at this address: ilr home.

II-2. What tests reference the ACTFL rating scale?

ACTFL official tests can be found at languagetesting.com.

All American language assessment tests, including those referencing ACTFL levels, are found at the Center for Applied Linguistics. Web sites of the national foreign language centers may also be consulted; these are all accessible through nflrc.msu.edu.

II-3. What are the American national standards for foreign language education?

American national standards for foreign language education were developed as a collaborative project of several major language associations in the United States, and links to their web pages are accessible through the Global Language Portfolio home page. Those associations include ACTFL, AATF, AATG, AATI, AATSP, ACL, ACTR, CLASS and NCJLT-ATJ. “With the help of a three-year grant from the US Department of Education and the National Endowment for the Humanities, an eleven-member task force, representing a variety of languages, levels of instruction, program models, and geographic regions, undertook the task of defining content standards -- what students should know and be able to do -- in foreign language education. The final document, Standards for Foreign Language Learning: Preparing for the 21st Century, first published in 1996, represents an unprecedented consensus among educators, business leaders, government, and the community on the definition and role of foreign language instruction in American education. This visionary document has been used by teachers, administrators, and curriculum developers at both state and local levels to begin to improve foreign language education in our nation's schools. The NEW 3rd Edition Standards for Foreign Language Learning in the 21st Century, revised including Arabic standards, is now available.” (Source)

II-4. What is the National Standards Collaborative?

The language associations who contributed to the development of the national standards in the Standards for Foreign Language Learning: Preparing for the 21st Century (first through third editions) now constitute the National Standards Collaborative. Links to their individual web sites appear on the Global Language Portfolio home page.

II-5. What are the Five C’s of Language Learning?

The Five C’s of Language Learning refer to Communication, Cultures, Connections, Comparisons, and Communities. An explanation of how they are presented in the national standards for foreign language education can be found at globalteachinglearning.com.
Communication skills are defined in the national standards for foreign language education with reference to the ACTFL levels for reading, writing, speaking, and listening. The speaking skill is divided into the presentational mode and the interpersonal mode. Emphasis is on performance and on what learners “can do” at various ages.

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III. Questions on European rating scales & national standards

III-1. What is the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR)?

The Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) is a common rating scale to which countries in Europe have aligned their varied national rating scales and national exams. Language teaching and testing in a school setting have also begun to reference the CEFR. The CEFR has six levels, and national scales with any number of levels have gradually come to reflect those six levels. See an overview of the framework and its complete text.

The CEFR is part of a broader language policy that is designed to promote political stability, economic prosperity, social cohesion, and more common cultural bonds across Europe. Validated European Language Portfolios are developed based on that policy, as can be seen at coe.int.

III-2. What is the European Language Portfolio (ELP)?

The European Language Portfolio (ELP) is a tool developed through the Council of Europe that is used in combination with the CEFR to promote lifelong language learning and a high level of intercultural competence in Europe. Validated portfolios have been developed to implement language policy for both the European Union and the Council of Europe. As a result ELP is designed to promote political stability, economic prosperity, social cohesion, and more common cultural bonds across Europe.

ELP has three characteristic components. The language passport documents language learning both inside and outside the classroom. It recognizes and values heritage languages among those whose dominant language is not the language used in school. Language learners summarize their language learning experiences and describe them in a meaningful way using the terminology of the CEFR. The language biography provides learners with “can do” checklists to help them assess for themselves their language learning progress in five communication skills. It also encourages them to set personal goals in language learning and cultural competence. It includes templates for learners to plan strategies to meet their individual goals. The dossier both stores samples of a learner’s speaking and writing, and documents results of the learner’s language tests and other professional certifications.

III-3. What electronic ELP’s are most widely used in Europe?

Two validated electronic portfolios have been widely used at the university and adult levels. The EAQUALS-ALTE e-portfolio for the university level and adults is found at EELP e-Portfolio, and the Dutch e-portfolio.

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IV. Questions on Global Language Portfolio

IV-1. What is a Language Passport?

Click on the Language Passport and then select About the Language Passport. It describes in detail each of three types of information found in the language passport: biographical information, a summary of language skills based on either the Language Biography checklists or on official test results, and a summary of diplomas.

IV-2. How does the GLP Language Passport compare to that of ELP?

The GLP Language Passport is modeled on the ELP Language Passport, but it summarizes learner skill levels using either the American ACTFL scale or the European CEFR scale, which is why this e-portfolio is a Global Language Portfolio. The Europass web site provided the format for the GLP Language Passport, although the terminology and spelling are American, and the ACTFL rating scale was added to the form as an American alternative to the CEFR rating scale.

At the end of the Language Passport are copyrighted grids outlining both the ACTFL levels and the levels of the Common European Framework (CEFR.) They summarize what can be done at each skill level. The grid referencing ACTFL levels is used with the permission of the National Council of State Supervisors for Languages (NCSSFL). The grid referencing the Common European Framework comes from the Europass Language Passport, (© European Communities) found at Europass.

IV-3. What is a Language Biography?

The Language Biography incorporates what Americans identify as the Five C’s of Language Learning: Communication, Cultures, Connections, Comparisons, Communities.

Communication is considered by many to be the most important of the Five C’s of Language Learning, and the communication checklists are at the heart of the GLP Language Biography, just as they are for the ELP. The Language Biography checklists provide an updateable self assessment of a learner’s language skill levels in listening, reading, writing, spoken production, and spoken interaction, and they allow the learner to identify his or her next communication goals. Results of self-assessments are recorded in the Language Passport. Samples of a learner’s work in the Language Dossier can validate the levels of writing and speaking identified in the checklists, and official test results that are summarized in the Language Dossier can help to validate checklist levels for any of the five communication skills.

A template addressing Cultures, Connections, Comparisons, and Communities follows the checklists. The prime focus of this template is on the development of intercultural skills. It provides an opportunity for learners to reflect on how, why, and where they developed intercultural competence. Depending on learners’ individual experiences (classroom, homework assignments, study abroad, internship, family stay abroad, conversations with heritage speakers, work experience,) they have a personal perspective from which to reflect on other cultures. This can include big C culture, involving art, history, literature, music, and so on. It can also involve small c culture, involving everyday life and differences in values and beliefs among people in the learner’s dominant culture and people in the learner’s new culture.

Strategies for developing both communication skills and intercultural competence are presented for both college classrooms and independent learning in the template entitled “How do I learn?” Learners using this template are expected to set goals and develop strategies for the future. While they may be setting goals for a specific language and culture in a classroom setting when doing this for the first time, the template does provide strategies that will help the learner with this language or with other languages, over the course of a lifetime. This template is particularly useful for lifelong learning.

IV-4. Why do GLP checklists include lists for 5 skills rather than for only the 4 that are covered in the ACTFL guidelines?

GLP checklists grew out of the national standards of foreign language education. The national standards reference ACTFL’s proficiency guidelines and rating scale (Novice, Intermediate, Advanced, Superior) in defining performance guidelines by age level for each language. They emphasize what learners “can do” in language-specific performance guidelines. Going beyond the ACTFL guidelines’ four skills (reading, writing, speaking, and listening), performance guidelines in the national standards subdivide the speaking skill into a presentational mode and an interpersonal mode. Organizing principles of the national standards include the Five C’s of Language Learning, the “weave” of curricular elements, and a framework with three communicative modes. All of these are found in the checklists.

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IV-5. Why does GLP refer to an ACTFL Distinguished level, which has not yet been defined by ACTFL for all skills?


ACTFL and ETS coined the term Distinguished to designate skill levels above the ACTFL Superior level. The Superior level corresponds to a 3 on the 5-point government scale out on which the ACTFL levels were based. The broad Distinguished category refers to everything from levels 3+ to 5. Since there was no official ACTFL Distinguished level for all of its 4 skills as of Spring 2008, these statements were provisionally developed for GLP under the “Distinguished” rubric based on Interagency Language Roundtable descriptions, primarily the descriptions for levels 4 and 4+.

The Interagency Language Roundtable (ILR) levels of 0 to 5 are still used by the U.S. Government, and their web site provides up-to-date and detailed information on the levels 3+ to 5. The ILR site was the basis for “can do” statements developed for the Global Language Portfolio “provisional” checklists. One of the reasons they are provisional is that in the next phase of GLP, government agencies will ideally provide input and contribute to the next phase of GLP development. The ILR web site provides a quick self-assessment checklist by levels to help prospective candidates understand what their ILR level is. Global Language Portfolio checklists are consistent with ILR’s short “can do” checklist for all skills combined, and GLP provides added “can do” statements for each of five skills labeled as “Distinguished” in accordance with ILR statements for 4 or 4+.

 

IV-6. How do the Global Language Portfolio (GLP) Language Biography checklists compare to those of the European Language Portfolio (ELP)?

Global Language Portfolio and its LinguaFolio K-16 predecessors modeled their checklists on those typically found in the European Language Portfolio (ELP.) Thus they had the following characteristics:

  • Positive “can do” statements are checked off by learners once they can do what is described in a given statement consistently.
  • “Can do” statements refer to both performance tasks (“I can write” or “I can understand”) and to strategies (“sometimes relying on gestures” or “occasionally using a dictionary as needed.”)
  • When learners have checked all or almost all the descriptors for a given level, they can go to the next level, and they record their highest level of self rating.
  • Learners rate five skills – listening, reading, writing, spoken production (i.e., presentational mode), and spoken interaction (i.e., interpersonal mode.)
  • Checklists are used for learning (especially goal setting to help learners go beyond what they can do now.)
  • Checklists are used for teaching (by both instructors and textbook authors.)
  • Checklists are used for assessment (considered as informal self assessment to be validated by achievement and / or proficiency testing.)

In Europe, national scales were correlated to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR.) All major European language testers and most textbooks eventually referenced the CEFR. The American K-12 state supervisors who saw the ELP firsthand in 2003 determined to establish an American adaptation of the ELP under the name of LinguaFolio (LF.) The history of the checklist development in LF pilots from 2003-08 is described as part of the History of the ACTFL Checklists in the GLP Language Biography.

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IV-7. How do GLP checklists relate to the earlier K-16 LinguaFolio (LF) pilots and to the 2008 LF checklists and grid?

Although the consolidated LF developed in 2007-08 focused on K-12 in many of its templates, the checklists are compatible and provide a smooth transition from LF in high school to GLP at the university level.

The National Council of State Supervisors for Languages (NCSSFL) has prepared a grid to summarize their checklists that go through the ACTFL Superior level. ACTFL has endorsed this grid. GLP has been authorized by NCSSFL to include the grid at the end of the GLP Language Passport, where it summarizes the ACTFL ratings through the Superior level. The checklists found on the NCSSFL site are compatible with the checklists used by GLP, although the GLP examples given are more oriented toward university-level and adult learners.

IV-8. What is a Language Dossier?

The Language Dossier provides a validation of the learner’s language skill levels as well as intercultural and sometimes professional competence. The dossier characteristically consists of three types of files:

  • samples of the learner’s oral and written work,
  • an explanation of language test results and professional certifications,
  • a description of major language learning experiences, such as internships, study abroad, or service learning.

Depending on the purpose of the portfolio, it may also include course syllabi, documentation of professional training to complement language learning, and other indications that the learner has satisfied the requirements of an educational institution or an employer.

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V. Copyright questions and opportunities for collaboration

V-1. Copyright overview

The AATF Commission on Colleges and Universities has licensed this site under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 United States License. You must attribute what you take from this site to the American Association of Teachers of French (AATF) which holds the copyright to this work. When attributions are made, they should not suggest that the AATF endorses any person or legal entity, or their uses of this site.

V-2. How can other members of the National Standards Collaborative (NSC) participate in the development of the AATF’s Global Language Portfolio web site?

AATF designed the Global Language Portfolio web site with the expectation it would be developed in collaboration with other members of the National Standards Collaborative who together developed the national standards for foreign language education in the 21st century. They are encouraged to contact AATF Executive Director Jayne Abrate at abrate@siu.edu.

V-3. Is AATF interested in seeking joint funding for GLP with other NSC members and with others?

AATF is actively interested in seeking joint funding for GLP with other members of the National Standards Collaborative. In 2007ACTFL agreed to be listed for a subcontract in our first and unsuccessful attempt to obtain external funding. AATF determined from its initial attempt that the most likely opportunities for success will present themselves when members from several language associations collaborate with each other and with government agencies and other stakeholders. Collectively or separately AATF supports efforts of language associations to seek funds to establish not only a web site but also a validation system for approving ACTFL-referenced and ILR-referenced checklists, and perhaps also for CEFR checklists developed in the United States. As of 2008, there was no transatlantic or global validation system, and an international funding initiative would also be welcome. Feedback from FIPSE concerning AATF’s unsuccessful 2007 funding request suggested that a proposal representing several languages would likely be more successful, especially if it were tied to a global scale representing two continents or more. The involvement of teaching faculty and of university researchers was also viewed favorably.

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V-4. Is AATF interested in working with government agencies and other stakeholders to develop GLP?

AATF is interested in working with members of the Interagency Language Roundtable individually and collectively. Other stakeholders in the United States or abroad are also considered as possible partners for AATF. AATF invites and encourages such collaboration. The AATF Executive Director is Jayne Abrate, and she may be reached at abrate@siu.edu.

V-5. How do past collaborations encourage future opportunities?

The National Standards Collaborative brought together language-specific organizations and ACTFL to define national standards for each language in the past. Teachers at every level K-16 were included in the process. Future steps ideally will allow the individual language associations to refine ACTFL-referenced “can do” statements based on their specific languages.

GLP is a college-level initiative that grew out of LinguaFolio (LF). Others are also adapting LF, including the Start Talk group that decided the lower levels of Chinese and Arabic needed more specific Novice and Intermediate level descriptors.

The National Standards Collaborative members and others may decide to do more at every level in French, German, Italian, Japanese, Russian, or Spanish as well Arabic and Chinese. The GLP “can do” descriptors are expandable, with blank items at the end of each level. Since checklists are downloadable in Microsoft Word, an instructor or a professional organization can add new rows of descriptors at the end of each listing. AATF asks only that its work be acknowledged.

 

V-6. How can a language association or an individual or group that is not part of the National Standards Collaborative borrow or modify the content on this web site?

See the conditions outlined in the Creative Commons license described above under V-1 in the Frequently Asked Questions.

V-7. Is AATF tracking the use of GLP?

There is an attempt to track the use of GLP and to obtain feedback that will allow us to update the site in the future. If there are publications or web sites in which GLP is cited in the original or in modified form, we ask that you provide such feedback to the Chair of the Commission on Colleges and Universities be informed at pcummins@vcu.edu.

 

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