The Linguist

The Linguist 57,2 – April/May 2018

The Linguist is a languages magazine for professional linguists, translators, interpreters, language professionals, language teachers, trainers, students and academics with articles on translation, interpreting, business, government, technology

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Page 22 of 35

Universities tend to offer courses that look very similar, irrespective of language or level. As such, an ab initio course in French or Chinese will generally have the same number of contact hours and self-study. A wide diversity of students joins these courses, but it is not usually feasible to separate or stream students. As such, in a given course we might find students from the UK, China and Bulgaria; students who speak three languages fluently and others who can only speak English; and students with different qualifications and academic backgrounds. Across this diversity, different students also learn in different ways, progress at different rates, and obtain different marks in exams (if they undertake an exam at all). However, they all follow the same course with the same curriculum, and with a defined expectation of learning outcomes. The Language Learning Framework has the course as its focus, not individual learners. When considering input study hours we therefore assume a generic learner: this might be a British undergraduate, who does not come with a language background, attends class regularly, works diligently, and can expect to attain average marks in an end-of-course assessment. At this time, the framework does not consider courses laid on for specific purposes (e.g. French for speakers of Italian, or Japanese for speakers of Chinese). The summary of recommendations table (below) summarises the findings of the project overall. It is no surprise that the recommended input study hours for a Basic User (A1/A2) is less than for an Intermediate/Advanced User (B2/C1), or that the ratio of contact time to self-study increases at more advanced levels, not least because the breadth of independent learning resources available to learners is greater. The LLF focuses on the study requirements to move through each band of the CEFR. It is not intended to describe the overall time required from A1 to C1, which is variable and subject to interruptions in study. Making recommendations The Language Learning Framework has been developed for guidance. It is not intended to be proscriptive, and individual universities will make use of it as they wish, according to their local circumstances. The framework does not dictate that an A2 course in APRIL/MAY The Linguist 23 FEATURES Five tables have been developed for the 10 most commonly taught languages in UWLP: Romance languages (French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese; see table, below left), German, Arabic, Russian and East Asian languages (Chinese, Japanese and Korean). They are now available, via the website of the Association of University Language Centres (AULC) as a reference for universities to use, both to support them in new course design and to check current provision against what is considered to be best practice. There is a remarkable level of consistency in the course formats currently offered by university language courses for non-specialist learners. Most universities offer courses of a single semester or academic year; most offer day-time and evening courses; and most provide a similar number of contact hours. However, even in an individual institution, courses of different formats, nominally starting at the same level, often quote similar learning outcomes, which clearly isn't feasible. The project has sought to resolve these issues, and to answer two questions: 1 I have a GCSE in French and need to be at B1 by June. What do I need to do? 2 I am doing this Portuguese course. How many courses do I need to do before I am fluent? A model student Funding and time have not allowed an exhaustive literature review. However, the project did review readily-available published materials covering course design and input study hours linked to learner progression. A significant amount of such material is available, although very little of it has any verifiable link to empirical research. The main basis that has been used, therefore, comes from two principal sources: the US Foreign Services Institute/Defense Language Institute (FSI/DLI) and the AKS (the national association for language centres in Germany). The outcome of the Language Learning Framework is comparable to both. The FSI/DLI recommendations do not distinguish between contact time and self-study, and assume an intensive mode of learning. AKS focuses largely on contact time requirements. All universities offer courses designed according to local constraints. These centre principally on budget and timetable. The framework can do little about these, but it can offer guidance on good practice. Arabic German Romance Russian Beg-A1 180 220 200 270 150 160 150 160 150 160 A1-A2 260 320 300 400 150 160 150 160 150 160 A2-B1 360 400 330 450 180 200 200 250 350 400 B1-B2 450 540 360 500 270 300 240 300 450 500 B2-C1 560 680 450 660 270 300 240 300 300 350 RECOMMENDED STUDY HOURS BY CEFR BAND In-depth Easy-paced In-depth Easy-paced In-depth Easy-paced In-depth Easy-paced In-depth Easy-paced East Asian IMAGES © SHUTTERSTOCK

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