Lecture: Erwin Tschirner (Language Learning Series)

Language Learning Series Lecture

by Erwin Tschirner

Professor of German as a Foreign Language, Herder Institute of Leipzig University

Associate Dean, Faculty of Philology


DATE:            Monday, March 18, 2013

 TIME:            6:15pm

 PLACE:          LAB SCIENCES 300


                         Bridging Frameworks: The ACTFL Guidelines and the CEFR


Over the past three years, there have been ongoing efforts by ACTFL and the Council of Europe (CoE), facilitated by AATG and the University of Leipzig, to find correspondences between the ACTFL Framework of Reference based on the ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines and the National Standards for Foreign Language Education and the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR). In this paper, I will provide a brief overview of these efforts and their present status and will then focus on two major issues: (1) the nature of the correspondences and what they might mean for FL education in the U.S. and (2) the adequacy of each framework for languages of education and higher education. (1) Correspondences: I will summarize the results of a number of standard setting studies that were undertaken to establish correspondences between the ACTFL Framework and the CEFR in all four skills. My major focus will be on speaking, how it is evaluated, and what implications the standard setting study described earlier has for foreign language teaching and learning in the U.S. (2) The language of education: One of the broadest and most significant pillars of the CEFR has been and continues to be the CoE’s work on the Threshold Level (van Ek, 1977) in the 1970ies. The Threshold Level attempted to describe the linguistic needs of “people who want to prepare themselves, in a general way, to be able to communicate socially on straightforward everyday matters with people from other countries who come their way, and to be able to get around and lead a reasonably normal social life when they visit another country“ (Trim 1975). It was this level that was later turned into the levels A1, A2, B1 and B2. In a similar vein, the basis of the ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines were the ILR level descriptors that were developed primarily to describe language functions and tasks required in the public and work domains and not in the education domain. In my paper I will discuss how adequate these functional language descriptions are for the languages of education, and particularly of higher education, and if not, what else might be needed to make level descriptors more useful for academic purposes.


Language Learning Series Workshop

by Erwin Tschirner



DATE:            Tuesday, March 19, 2013

TIME:            9:00am

PLACE:          Eads 215


Assessing Text Difficulty


Texts are the foundation of a reading program. They need to be challenging enough to build students' reading proficiency but they also need to be understood. Text typology allows instructors to select those texts that are most conducive to building students' reading proficiency. In this workshop, we will first look closely at the ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines 2012 – Reading to see how reading proficiency interacts with text typology. We will then analyze short texts to determine their difficulty level with respect to the ACTFL Guidelines. Finally, we will look at an attempt from the Netherlands to classify literary texts according to their difficulty level and how these classifications relate to ACTFL Reading Proficiency levels.


For more information, please contact Eva Russo (erusso@wustl.edu)