Submitted by Nadia Prokopchuk, PCUH Affiliate
The Prairie Centre for the Study of Ukrainian Heritage (PCUH) at St. Thomas More College, with the financial assistance of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress – Saskatchewan Provincial Council and the Saskatchewan Teachers of Ukrainian (STU) organized a Ukrainian Language Assessment Symposium on October 13-14, 2017. The symposium brought together educators representing a range of programs and institutions from across Saskatchewan, Ontario, and Alberta responsible for Ukrainian language education and training. The participants had an opportunity to learn more about the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR), an international language reference tool that has gained considerable momentum in Canadian language learning programs in the past decade.
Dr. Laura Hermans-Nymark, principal author of The Common European Framework of Reference: A Guide for Canadian Educators, addressed the audience as the keynote speaker. This was followed by a series of presentations from specialists and practitioners that focused on Ukrainian language assessments and student language portfolios, which have aligned with CEFR levels.
Support for the use of CEFR in Canadian language programs has grown largely due to:
- recognition of the scale’s reliability and validity across 47 European countries;
- the CEFR’s positive approach to identifying what students know and can do in a language, rather than focusing on what students do not know;
- skill descriptors based on real-life language use for various purposes;
- equal attention to four skill areas – listening, speaking (production and interaction), reading, and writing; and
- the central role of students in identifying their own language strengths and areas for improvement
Symposium participants identified an overarching need for a bank of skill descriptors, compiled from existing Ukrainian and English language portfolios. Plans are underway for a follow-up phase to the Ukrainian Language Assessment Symposium. During the next several months, a working group of representatives from the symposium will review and sort descriptors by age of learners and stages of language learning. The goal is to gather samples and create a bank of Ukrainian language assessment tools that can help teachers to identify student language levels along the CEFR scale.