Sign language teaching and assessment in higher education
Introduction The CEFR offers a framework for language teaching, learning and assessment for L2 learners. Importantly, the CEFR draws on a learner’s communicative language competence rather than linguistic competence (e.g. vocabulary, grammar). As such, the implementation of the CEFR in our four years bachelor program Teacher of Sign Language of the Netherlands (NGT) caused a shift in didactic approach from grammar-based to communication-centered. It has been acknowledged that didactic approaches associated with the CEFR are scarcely documented (Figueras, 2012) and the effectiveness on learner outcomes have not been investigated systematically. Moreover, for many languages the levels of the CEFR are not supported by empirical evidence from L2 learner data (Hulstijn, 2007). Purpose We will i) describe our communication-centered approach in detail and iii) present some preliminary findings on the effectiveness of this approach on student’s outcomes. Method We followed four student cohorts longitudinally: students in the first cohort (n=14) were taught in a grammar-based curriculum, students in the second (n=6), third (n=9) and fourth (n=14) cohort in a communication-centered curriculum. Data involved production (interviews) videos that are transcribed using ELAN. Results Comparing students in their first and second year, results show that students who followed a communication-based curriculum show more grammatical variability as compared to students who followed a grammar-based curriculum. Conclusions Interestingly, the communication-centered approach stimulates the development of linguistic competence. We attempt to fit the empirical evidence of L2 learners within the CEFR-levels. References Figueras, N. (2012). The impact of the CEFR. ELT Journal, 66, 477 – 485. Hulstijn, J. (2007). The shaky ground beneath the CEFR: quantitave and qualitative dimensions of language proficiency. The Modern Language Journal, 91, 663 – 667.
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