Non-Mandatory Language Classes and Seat Time Panel on the Effectiveness of ClassroomBased Language Programs, I Ray T. Clifford IEPS 22 February 2007 The Reality of Second Language Learning • Language is the most complex of human behaviors. • Language acquisition is one of the least understood of human endeavors. Can You Read A Simple English Sentence? The bandage was wound around the wound. Can You Read A Simple English Sentence? She could lead, if she would get the lead out. Can You Read A Simple English Sentence? The dove dove into the bushes. Can You Read A Simple English Sentence? The invalid’s insurance was invalid. What Proficiency Level is Required to Read Real Headlines? Iraqi Head Seeks Arms Drunk Gets Nine Months in Violin Case Juvenile Court to Try Shooting Defendant Police Begin Campaign to Run Down Jaywalkers Minors Refuse to Work After Death MSU Honors Student Accused of Beating Housemate With Bat From: the Alma, Michigan Morning Sun What Proficiency Level is Required to Read Real Signs? Read aloud and explain the “St.” Rule: ST. PAUL ST. Read aloud and explain the “St.” Rule, Part 2: ST. COLLEGE ST. The Reality of Second Language Learning • Language is the most complex of human behaviors. • The time required to learn a second language depends on: – The learner. – The language. – The teacher. The Learner Two Major Learner Variables • Aptitude: The amount of time needed to learn a language. • Motivation: The amount of time a learner is willing to spend learning the language. Impact of Aptitude and Motivation on Student Learning Motivation Low High High Expected results Exceptional results Low Below average results Expected results Aptitude Aptitude versus Motivation • Motivation can compensate for a lack of aptitude. • With high motivation and greatly increased time on task, exceptional results are possible. The Language Determining the Relative Difficulty of a Second Language • The relative difficulty of learning a second language can be estimated by considering the “distance” between the language of the learner and language to be learned as well as the “direction” of that difference. Determining Difficulty (Cont.) • Distance can be estimated by noting the amount of contrast between L1 and L2 in: – Grammatical structures – Lexicon – Cultural references – Orthography – Pronunciation • Even a simple rating scale of “similar = 1,” “somewhat different = 2,” and “very different = 3” can be used. • The total score = the relative “difference.” Determining Difficulty (Cont.) • Direction is determined by whether the features found in the L2 are more complex or simpler than the same concepts in the L1. – Moving from a language with reduced grammatical forms to a language with more complex forms is going “uphill.” – Moving from a language with complex grammatical forms to a language with reduced forms is going “downhill.” – It is easier to go “downhill” than “uphill.” Determining Difficulty (Cont.) • For L1 speakers of English – The impact of language distance and direction has been quantified using “average time-to-proficiency” results at the Defense Language Institute (DLI). – At DLI, students of Korean take on average three times as long to acquire Level 2 (Advanced) proficiency as do students of Spanish. Average Instructional Time for 80% of DLI Students to Reach Level 2 • Category I (Romance and Scandinavian languages) – 25 weeks – 750 classroom hours • Category II (Germanic and some Asian languages) – 32 weeks – 960 classroom hours Average Instructional Time for 80% of DLI Students to Reach Level 2 • Category III (Slavic and some Asian languages.) – 47 weeks – 1,410 classroom hours • Category IV (Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, and Korean) – 75 weeks (Current length is 63 weeks) – 2,250 classroom hours (Currently 1,890 hours) For Example: English and Korean • Word order – English: • subject / verb / object – Korean: • subject / object / verb For Example: English and Korean • Gender and plurals – English: • Gender for animate and some inanimate objects • Plurals for most nouns – Korean: • No gender • No plurals For Example: English and Korean • Implied subjects – English: • Generally only found in commands. – Korean: • Subject must be identified from the context. • Context is often established in a separate topic sentence. • Honorifics are often the clue needed to identify the intended subject. For Example: English and Korean • Morphology • English: – Distributive grammar. – Simple, redundant grammatical forms. • Korean: – Complex grammatical forms, for instance: » Subjects marked by 2 different particles » Each subject marker has 2 phonetic variants » Objects are also marked. » The object marker also has two phonetic variants. For Example: English and Korean • Tenses • English: – Past, present, and future verb forms. • Korean: – Past and present tenses. – A tentative state or condition rather than a future tense. How Proficient are Today’s Foreign Language Majors? • Results of Oral Proficiency Testing • Official ACTFL OPI’s administered to foreign language majors • Tests were conducted face-to-face and telephonically • Double rated and certified results provided by the ACTFL Testing Office About the ACTFL Study • 501 Undergraduates – Five Liberal Arts Colleges – Juniors and Seniors – Foreign language majors • Data gathered over five years – 1998-2002 • Six languages – Spanish, French, Italian, Chinese, Japanese, Russian A Look at FL Majors’ Oral Proficiency ACTFL Rating Number of Students % of total Cumulative % Superior 12 2% 2% Advanced High 24 5% 7% Advanced Mid 95 19% 26% Advanced Low 105 21% 47% Intermediate High 175 35% 82% Intermediate Mid 86 17% 99% Intermediate Low 4 1% 100% Novice High 0 100% Novice Mid 0 100% Novice Low 0 100% Total 501 100% Percentage of FL Majors Who Would Qualify for the Following Positions Diplomat - Superior (ILR 4) Business Executive - Superior Court Interpreter - Advanced High 2% 7% Customer Service Rep - Advanced Mid Social Worker – Advanced Mid 26% 26% K-12 Teacher - Advanced Low 47% Receptionist – Intermediate High Tour Guide – Intermediate Mid 82% 99% Percentage of BYU Students with Extended In-Country Experience Who Would Qualify for the Following Positions Diplomat – Superior (ILR 4) 0% Business Executive – Superior (ILR 3) 8% Court Interpreter – Advanced High (ILR 2+) 40% Service Rep / Social worker – Adv. Mid (ILR 2) 88% K-12 Teacher – Advanced Low (ILR 2) 93% Receptionist – Intermediate High (ILR 1+) 100% Tour Guide – Intermediate Mid (ILR 1) 100% The Teacher Professional Disciplines Have Levels of Expertise • Apprentice • Journeyman • Master Professional Teachers’ Abilities • Apprentice teachers – Know what to teach. • Journeyman teachers – Know what to teach and how to teach. • Master teachers – Know what to teach, when to teach what, how to teach, and why. – Also know what they don’t know and are continuously learning. A Common Model Used by Apprentice Teachers 1.Analysts list high frequency language tasks. The real language 2. Textbook writers include the most important items in a textbook. 3. Teachers present the textbook. 4. Students demonstrate their mastery of sample items drawn from the textbook. Textbook Teaching Test The Education Model Used by Master Teachers 1. Language Needs Assessments define the Real-world Instructional Real-world Instructional Domains. Domains: cognitive understanding, psychomotor skills, and affective insights. 2b.Test developers use a sample of the real-world domain areas to create proficiency tests that are independent of the textbook. Test Textbook Teacher Students 2a.Course developers sample from the real-world domain areas to create a textbook. 3. Teachers adapt text materials to learners’ abilities, diagnose learning difficulties, adjust activities and add supplemental materials to help students apply new knowledge and skills first in constrained achievement and performance areas, and then in real-world settings. 4. Students practice, expand, and then demonstrate their unrehearsed extemporaneous abilities across a broad range of real-world settings that are not in the textbook. Instructional Methods • The adequacy of instructional methods can be judged against four criteria. – The instructional activities/tasks used. – Whether those activities progress from the current level of the learner to the level targeted as a learning outcome. – The effectiveness of the feedback provided the learner Summary • Non-mandatory language classes have the same challenges as regular language classes – but for these classes all of the challenges are likely to all be present all of the time. • If equivalent results are expected for “difficult languages,” the length of course sequences in those languages should reflect the relative difficulty of the language being taught. • Because these course are often taught by part-time faculty (without the benefit of a standard curriculum and teacher development programs), assessing students’ learning against course goals (and as appropriate against common proficiency standards) should be an essential part of every course’s quality control and improvement procedures.