Ryan Wertz, Kathy Shelton and Paula Sondej, World Language Consultants, Ohio Department of Education
With the introduction of the new Ohio Teacher Evaluation System, or OTES, there has been a surge in interest in the LinguaFolio® Student Self-Assessment Portfolio. As teachers rush to use the Can-do statements in the document, many of us have lost sight of the fact that LinguaFolio® is much more. Used as a whole, it is a tool for learners of all ages to record their history of language learning, to self-assess their language competencies and intercultural growth, to set language and cultural learning goals and to chart their progress.
Language experts from the National Council of State Supervisors of Foreign languages worked to create a uniquely American tool based on the European Language Portfolio. LinguaFolio® is aligned with the National Standards for Foreign Language Learning in the 21st century, the ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines, and the ACTFL Performance Guidelines. It contains three principal parts: the Language Biography, the Dossier and the Passport.
The Language Biography is a record of personal language learning history that helps learners evaluate their learning goals and reflect on language learning and cultural experiences. Here students can record any learning experiences that they have had outside of the classroom, such as a mission trip to Mexico, a vacation, or other languages spoken at home. They can record cultural experiences that had an impact on their learning, such as a visit to a museum or an incident with a native speaker. They can complete a Learner Inventory, helping their to consider all of the ways in which they have used the Target language and the ways that they best learn a language. Finally, there are the Can-do statements that not only help a student evaluate his/her progress, but also to set realistic language learning goals.
The Dossier is where students collect samples of their work in any form. It is the portfolio that supports their Can-do statements. This provides the documentation for students to prove their proficiency level. The student can also record any standardized test information, certificates or awards here. Without this corroborative evidence, the ability to clarify the learners’ language proficiency is severely curtailed.
The final section is the Language Passport. This permits a student to summarize the Can-do self- assessments using a tool called the Learner Self-Assessment Grid. This tool, accompanied by documentation of formal qualifications, assessments, certificates and other evidence can be used by the student when he/she transfers from school to school, level to level, teacher to teacher, or school to prospective employers. It is a much more meaningful record of a student’s language learning progress than a letter grade on a report card.
Finally, LinguaFolio® can help students set smarter learning goals. Rather than deciding that they want to be fluent, they can decide that they want to be able to describe a vacation that they took last year. Dr. Ali Moeller of the University of Nebraska has conducted a long-term impact study on the use of LinguaFolio®, the results of which were published in the Modern Language Journal, Summer 2012. She has determined conclusively that students who set their own learning goals and self-assess their progress are significantly more motivated and put more effort into learning than those who do not. She has also determined that these goals must be small, realistic and achievable; and that students need adequate guidance and modeling, such as that provided by LinguaFolio® to set these goals.
We commend the teachers that have adopted the use of the NCSSFL-ACTFL Can-do statements in their classroom. This is certainly an approved method to measure student growth in language proficiency. We urge all of you to remember that the Can-do statements by themselves are not enough, and that there are other important results that can come from using all of LinguaFolio®.
To find out more about the entire program, please go to the website: http://ncssfl.org/LinguaFolio/index.php?linguafolio_index. There one can find more complete information, including seven training modules on the use of LinguaFolio® that clearly explain each section of the program.
Model Curriculum Update
We have been working continuously to create a Model Curriculum that will meet the diverse needs of K-12 language teachers around Ohio. We are dedicated to developing a document that teachers will find helpful and user-friendly. Finally, we have a draft ready to post online. By the time this Cardinal is published, the draft should be posted along with a survey. The Draft Model Curriculum and survey will be available until the end of January. We ask all of you to review it and complete the survey with any additional comments. It is crucial that we have your input to make this the document the best that it can be.