student profile: Mrs Camille Booker


Thesis work

Thesis title: Exploring Assessment in Languages: The French Language Progression Framework


Thesis abstract:

The issues in Languages Education identified in all major languages reports suggest that too much ‘chopping and changing’ of program goals and outcomes have deeply impacted Languages Education in Australia. In the past, rather than providing students with rich language learning experiences, language provision served utilitarian, economic and employment purposes. This has resulted in low levels of language proficiency that could be considered neither sufficiently challenging nor useful (LoBianco, 2009). The present study works from the notion of a language progression framework, drawing on models developed for TESOL in Australia and the CEFR in Europe, in order to explore current assessment practices in languages education. It addresses the question What constitutes an effective K-10 learning progression assessment tool for the range of learners in the ACARA language of French? with a contributing question being addressed: What are teacher perceptions of the usefulness of a K-10 French learning progression framework? The study focuses on French as one of the most studied languages in Australian primary and secondary schools. It comprises two stages: the first stage involves the development of a Language Progression Framework based on a synthesis and analysis of key proficiency assessment scales, tests and frameworks. Then, an alignment of this Progression Framework with relevant Australian curriculum and syllabus documents takes place. The second stage adopts a qualitative approach, drawing on data from semi-structured interviews from four experienced teachers of French. The study found that teachers agreed on the ability of a French Language Progression Framework to show levels of achievement and language proficiency to students, and that this would be of benefit in terms of increasing learner motivation. The findings also revealed that there are considerable differences in the approaches to assessment between primary and secondary programs. These different approaches would have a significant impact on the implementation of the Framework. The study exposed some pedagogical implications for assessment, which include the need for clearer assessment outcome descriptions, the need for using innovative or ‘alternate’ types of assessment for crediting student achievement, a stronger focus on students’ critical thinking, and the need to assist teachers in their assessment of Intercultural Competence. The significance of the study is the necessity for an assessment tool but the difficulty of designing and implementing one that effectively responds to the needs of teachers and students. Finally, the study concludes that it legitimises the argument for a valid instrument with detailed descriptions of minimum proficiency targets to be used to measure assessment outcomes.

Note: This profile is for a student at the University of Sydney. Views presented here are not necessarily those of the University.