Using the Language Portfolio Technique with Non-linguistic Students
Сунцова Е. Н. Using the Language Portfolio Technique with Non-linguistic Students // Молодой ученый. 2010. №3. С. 299-301.
Language Portfolio is a set of documents that contains information about students’ language learning experiences and their level of different language skills – writing, reading, spoken production and spoken interaction, listening, translation, and samples of those skills. The technology of Language Portfolio provides opportunities for informal evaluation of students’ progress in studying a foreign language and raises their motivation for further improvement of language and interdisciplinary skills. Thus it promotes language learning and the development of cultural competence. Besides Portfolio is a perfect reminder of the times the foreign language was studied, it remains with the student and is helpful when studying at other language courses or applying for a job.
Portfolio performs three general functions :
· Educational – students are actively participating in the study process, thus their motivation is raised. They are implicitly taught to organize their self-study work, to determine the efficient ways of improving their language skills, and to develop the skills of self-reflection.
· Pedagogical – allows a teacher to evaluate the achievement level of each student and align the study process according to the student’s progress and needs.
· Social – demonstrates student’s abilities and achievements; it does not substitute diplomas or certificates, but it supplements them by offering additional information.
Portfolio can be used as one of the key teaching technologies because the orientation to develop Portfolios is the very initial step in a study course; Portfolio development can be the spine of the course structure; and, eventually, it is a proof of students’ performance being at the same time an evaluation tool at all the stages of language learning.
Portfolio allows teachers to achieve the following goals [2; 3, p. 13]:
1) to foster practical orientation and instrumental focus of teaching by the optimal combination of fundamental knowledge and practical skills when the study process is focused not only on learning new information about the language, but also on the development of practical skills;
2) to build the language knowledge at the level of functional competence;
3) to apply interactive and communicative teaching techniques;
4) to foster differentiation in the process of study and make this process more student-centered – both the work with more and with less successful students can be simultaneously carried out;
5) to teach skills of setting realistic study goals, which are achievable in the near future;
6) to evaluate student’s abilities, skills and experiences at the levels of self-assessment, peer-review and teacher evaluation;
7) to develop skills of students’ self-guided work;
8) to develop students’ self-reflection skills – the ability to study their own development during a certain period of time, and evaluate it;
9) to inspire the will to study other foreign languages;
10) to facilitate the succession in the process of language learning.
Depending on the goal of their creation Portfolios can be of the following four types :
Cumulative Files, which reflect student’s achievements thus raising their self-significance, forming and developing self-esteem (honorary certificates, diplomas, letters of appreciation, etc).
Reflexive Portfolio, which shows the dynamics of study and its success. It helps to monitor students’ achievements basing on both qualitative and quantitative data. Such a Portfolio comprises student’s creative works and the results of check works: compositions, dictations, summaries, essays, theme works, etc. – just everything that was created during a certain period of time, e.g. one study year.
Problem-investigative Portfolio, connected with setting and solving a certain problem, which requires composing summaries and reports, working in research projects, drawing up documents, giving speeches at conferences, etc. An exemplary topic of a Problem-investigative Portfolio when teaching a foreign language to non-linguistic students can be the task of getting ready for applying for a job, including search and analysis of job ads in the language studied, composing a resume (in European and American formats), writing a covering letter, etc.
Theme-based Portfolio, which is created in the process of study of one certain topic, unit or study course, e.g. “Business correspondence” (letters, faxes, e-mails and other documents).
Portfolio can consist of the following four parts: a language passport, a language biography, a dossier and a reflection section [4; 5; 6].
The Language Passport summarizes three types of information:
1. It provides biographical information on a student’s language learning and intercultural communication experiences, both intra-curricula and extra-curricula.
2. It summarizes student’s language skills in each of the world languages they have studied outside of their native language(s) by recording their self-assessments in each of the above mentioned language skills.
3. It summarizes the results of language tests as well as diplomas and certificates that a student lists and explains in the Language Dossier. Both the Language Dossier and the Language Passport also allow students to list professional certifications, such as a translation certificate for English and Russian.
The Language Biography is based on what is known as the Five C’s of Language Learning and contains working documents, or templates, to help a student to become a lifelong learner. The five C’s of language learning are Communication, Culture, Connections, Comparisons, and Communities. Communication. The communication standard stresses the use of language for communication in "real life" situations. It emphasizes "what students can do with language" rather than "what they know about language." This section is the most important of the five C’s. Cultures. Experiencing other cultures develops a better understanding and appreciation of the relationship between languages and other cultures, as well as the student's native culture. Connections. Language instruction must be connected with other subject areas. Content from other subject areas is integrated with language instruction through lessons that are developed around common themes. Comparisons. Students are encouraged to compare and contrast languages and cultures. They discover patterns, make predictions, and analyze similarities and differences across languages and cultures. Communities. Extending learning experiences from the world language classroom to the home and multilingual and multicultural community emphasizes living in a global society. Activities may include: field trips, use of e-mail and the Internet, clubs, exchange programmes and cultural activities, school-to-work opportunities, and opportunities to hear speakers of other languages in the classroom .
The Language Biography provides students with an opportunity to assess for themselves their language learning progress in the skill areas mentioned above. It also encourages them to set personal goals in language learning and intercultural competence development, and to plan strategies to meet their individual goals.
The Language Dossier both stores samples of a student’s speaking and writing, and documents results of the student’s language tests and other professional certifications. It consists of three types of files:
1) samples of the student’s oral and written work,
2) an explanation of language test results and professional certifications,
3) a description of major language learning experiences, such as internships, study abroad, or service learning.
The Reflection Section includes assessment sheets and students’ comments, feedback from group-mates and the teacher [1; 5]. At the end of a term or a study year Portfolios are evaluated by the teacher and group-mates with the use of assessment sheets. Upon receiving their assessment sheets filled in, students present their Portfolios at a mini-conference. This is a sample of an assessment sheet:
Portfolio Peer Review
The Language Portfolio belongs to: _______________________________________
Get a general impression of the Portfolio by looking through it quickly. Go back and check:
1. Content Items – are all (or not all) content items present in the Portfolio?
2. Image Quality – does it look good? Can you read it easily?
3. Content Quality – are texts grammatically correct?
4. What did you like best about this Portfolio? _________________________________
5. What did you dislike in this Portfolio? _____________________________________
Reviewer’s Name: _______________________________________
The Content page of a Language Portfolio can look in the following way:
1. The title page: university heading, department, specialization, term, “My Language Portfolio”, name, dates, group number, teacher’s name, etc.
3. Language Passport: Why I study English? Why do I make this portfolio? What is my level of English language competence according to the European Framework of Reference?
4. Language Biography: Communication, Culture, Connections, Comparisons, and Communities.
5. Language Dossier:
1) Written works, test results, compositions, dictations, etc.
2) Diplomas and Certificates.
6. Reflection and Self-reflection Section.
While the language passport provides a summary of the owner’s proficiency in a foreign language, the language biography and dossier provide employers with a more detailed picture of his or her language and intercultural skills.
While learning a foreign language at a technical high school it is a good practice to collect one entire Portfolio for the period of study. Otherwise students can make two Portfolios – one for general purposes and one for specific, professional purposes.
Teachers can use the Language Portfolio technique to help their students become more autonomous. Universities can use it to develop a whole-school language policy. Besides it can be used in programmes for teacher education and development (pre-service and in-service) to encourage application of reflective and student-centred approaches to foreign language teaching and promote the awareness of international language assessment criteria. Students can use their Language Portfolios later in recruitment process and workplace language training.
The technology of Portfolio offers a way of individualizing the learning and assessment process since they are not uniform for the whole class. Students have power over the development of their Portfolios and can develop them in a way, which will express their individuality. Besides, collecting and analysis of students’ experiences and achievements within a Portfolio meet the pedagogic principles of consciousness, consistency, individualization and demonstrativeness, at the same time they correspond to the cognitive approach in teaching and the principles of developing learning.
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3. Sophie Ioannou-Georgiou, Pavlos Pavlou. Language Portfolio. Teaching Activities and Practical Ideas. Oxford University Press. November 2001, pp. 12-21.
4. Как правильно оценить свой английский? Режим доступа: http://www.englishtips.org/index.php?newsid=1150808516, вход свободный.
5. American Association of Teachers of French. Режим доступа: http://glp.elenes.com/, вход свободный.
6. Standards for Foreign Language Learning in the 21st Century, 1999. Режим доступа: http://globalteachinglearning.com/standards/5cs.shtml, вход свободный.