On Establishing a Unified Asian Level Framework of English Language Proficiency
Journal: Foreign Languages in China, 2007, Issue 2
Authors: Yang Huizhong, Gui Shichun
Institutions: Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Guangdong University of Foreign Studies
Abstract: With the development of globalization, countries and areas in Asia have witnessed a rapid growth of economic and cultural exchange and communication among them. Because of political, economic and historical reasons, English has been used as a working language in communication among Asian countries and areas. In order to promote mutual understanding and to promote language teaching and testing, it is necessary to establish a unified Asian Level Framework of English Language Proficiency.
There have been quite a number of large-scale standardized English testing programs in Asian countries and areas, yielding a large amount of candidates' data in their many years of testing practice, which may serve as a solid basis for the description of the English proficiency of Asian students. In establishing the Asian Level Framework of English Language Proficiency, both qualitative and quantitative approaches should be adopted. Qualitatively, each level of language proficiency should have a detailed, accurate, easy to understand descriptor in terms of language communicative functions and language skills; quantitatively, the descriptor of each level should be supplemented by quantitative criteria such as vocabulary extent, reading speed, speech rate, readability, etc. The Common European Framework may serve as reference so that the said Asian Framework meets international standards.
The Asian Level Framework of English Language Proficiency can be used in English language teaching and testing in Asia, to provide standards in English language proficiency measurement, which will help promote mobility of personnel, mutual understanding and communication among Asian countries and areas.
A task force should be set up, consisting of one or two specialists from each interested English language testing organization in Asia. Their job is to work out a proposal of Asian Level Framework of English Language Proficiency on the basis of literature review, data analysis and comparison experiments, for each party to study before its publication. The Asian Level Framework of English Language Proficiency, after it is completed, will not be mandatory. It serves only as a framework for score interpretation and score use. The operation of testing programs remains every respective testing organization's responsibility.
Key Words: language testing; level framework of English proficiency; language teaching