Professionally oriented foreign language education is well known to enhance student’s professional competence and be a factor of successful development in professional sphere if there is a system of foreign language education taking into account certain society’s social and economic needs for a specialist using a foreign language successfully in his/her professional activities [1, p.20].
Compared to students in much of the world, Russian students lag far behind in their foreign language capabilities. We can learn a great deal by examining successes in foreign language teaching at different educational establishments in our country and abroad and using the information to implement practices and policies that will support the development of better foreign language education and a higher level of foreign language proficiency among our citizens [2, p.104].
According to О.H. Miroshnikova, «there is a need to search such universal technique of foreign language education, which will fit Bolonskyi context greatly and guarantee language and universal professional education integration, encouragement of student’s activities on this basis, and the development of their professional-languages and personal-professional competencies» [3, p.326].
So, we must create a certain system of joint educator’s and student’s activities which shares their responsibility for education process and guarantees proficiency in using language. To have better results we must motivate students in foreign language learning.
There is a new technological technique, which used with other technologies, helps us to fulfill this task: a foreign language portfolio. The word «portfoliо» is derived from French porter - carry and feuille - sheet. A portfolio is a compilation of works and revisions collected by a foreign language learner over a given period of time. It is a document in which those who are learning or have learned a language can record and reflect on their language learning and cultural experiences. A portfolio enhances development of learner’s productive activities as well as his/her personal development as a participant of an educational process.
European Language Portfolio was developed by the Council of Europe and launched into different countries, including Russia, in 1998-2000. It is a 3-part document in which language learners can record their language learning progress and cultural experiences. There is an adult version, with standard presentation of the passport across Europe, and a junior version for younger learners. The portfolio belongs to the learner and can be added to and up-dated as needed.
European Language Portfolio contains a language passport which its owner regularly updates. A grid is provided where his/her language competences can be described according to common criteria accepted throughout Europe and which can serve as a complement to customary certificates. The document also contains a detailed language biography describing the learner’s experiences in a target language including cultural experiences and which is designed to guide the learner in planning and assessing progress. Finally, there is a dossier where examples of personal work can be kept to illustrate one’s language competences. The language portfolio is a part of compulsory foreign language education program in many European universities and some Russian ones.
The general aim is to encourage language learners to assess their proficiency in languages within the Common European Framework of Reference and toproduce their own Language Portfolio.
The aims of European Language Portfolio are: to motivate learners in foreign language learning and to provide a record of the linguistic and cultural skills. Its functions are: to enhance the motivation of the learners, incite and help learners to reflect, plan and learn autonomously, encourage learners to improve their plurilingual language proficiency, enrich intercultural experience and carry out reflective and developmental independent work, enable them to inform others in a detailed and internationally comparable manner.
Portfolios have attracted a great notice in recent years due to the teachers pioneering in using them. The teachers have integrated portfolios into instruction and assessment, gained administrative support, and answered their own and students’ questions about portfolio assessment.
Portfolio is a tool that allows students to showcase their best works. Portfolios include a range of work samples and experiences reflected through essays, poetry, projects, audio or video tapes, pictures and awards. Anything else that demonstrates who they are academically and professionally can be included in a portfolio. Teaching portfolio classroom management requires careful consideration of these portfolio outcomes and the end products that result.
The main interest is focused on reliability, validity, process, evaluation and time. The concern applies equally to other assessment instruments. Portfolio is an assessment instrument that conforms every teacher's purpose perfectly, is entirely valid and reliable, takes little time to prepare, administer, or grade, and meets each student's learning abilities.
Portfolio assessment is the systematic, longitudinal collection of student’s works created in response to specific, known instructional objectives and evaluated in relation to the same criteria. Assessment is carried out by measuring the individual works and the portfolio as a whole against specified criteria. Portfolio deals with the responsibility of the learner, with teacher’s guidance and support .
There are some benefits of portfolio assessment seen in contrast to traditional forms of assessment. Portfolio measures student's ability over time, involves student in self assessment, covers many facets of language learning process, assessment is carried out by teacher and student (it is very important that student is aware of criteria), put in instruction; student learns how to take responsibility. It motivates students in learning.
Portfolio takes a lot of planning to set a very clear purpose. Purpose can be to provide evidence that students are recognizing and taking advantage of opportunities to see, find, use, learn about, and experience foreign language and foreign culture outside the classroom. There is a need to set goals, for example, developing enthusiasm for the language and developing life-long learning skills. The students are given the handouts on concerns, needs, and definitions .
The teacher develops a set of portfolio objectives and decides what the outcomes will need to be. This includes the projects, the end-products, strategies students will work with, skills gleaned and the overall experiences that students will have. To cover various educational technology applications the educator may develop more than one setting plan. Most portfolio projects require group work and lots of peer-to-peer interaction.
In order for the students to feel comfortable the teacher explains students how to conduct themselves and interact socially within each setting. A set of cooperative learning skills and speaking protocols such as, «when giving feedback to your peer, always say what you liked first» or using «I» statements to express what they need from a peer or what they heard when listening may be developed.
Important notion is the use of generic rubrics when evaluating portfolio projects. One is for students to evaluate themselves with, one is for students to evaluate each other with and one is for the teacher. Such basic areas as thoroughness, overall understanding and accuracy, mastery of core content and diversity of ideas expressed may be included. Teachers experienced in using portfolios emphasize that they began with smaller portfolio projects and increased their scope in following years .
To empower students it is necessary to involve them in the development. For example, the students are asked what they would need to consider when deciding what their best work is and what constitutes quality work. Once this list is developed, the students may use it routinely when deciding what projects or pieces of projects to include in their portfolios.
The first step in using portfolio is to make students collect everything they do in a folder. Later, teacher can give «portfolio days», on which students work on their portfolios by revising, annotating, organizing and adding self-assessments. The students give a written plan of action and a goal on a day previous the «portfolio day». The students who did not submit this note are given assigned work. The students have learned how to set goals by themselves.
While the students are working on their portfolios, the teacher works with individual students and gives mini-lessons where difficulties and questions of the students are being discussed. If the students want to get the information, they can find mini-lesson in a corner on one of the blackboards. The mini-lessons are very useful.
In foreign-language learning, oral skills are typically considered more important than reading and writing skills. Since oral language use of a target language system in both controlled and spontaneous situations cannot be captured through written means, the use of audiotapes and videotapes, takes on increased importance. So, all teachers can include audio and video tapes in the portfolios. There may be spontaneous speech samples which show the student's ability to use the language communicatively. In other cases, the audio or video tapes may be dialogues that the students had to memorize. The audio or video tapes are also useful in assessing accuracy of pronunciation in the target language. In those portfolios where there are at least two audio or video tapes and where the first was done early in the school year and the second late in the year, it is possible to assess the student's growing oral skill in the target language .
While this is true the written samples in the portfolios also provide important information regarding the growth in the target language. Depending on the emphasis given to the development of reading skills and the ability to compose written products in the foreign language, the use of written products are part of the student's portfolio. Portfolios which contain numerous and dated writing samples prove to be very useful in assessing growth in writing ability in the target language. Some teachers include in the portfolio various drafts of students' writing assignments. These are especially valuable since they show the developmental stages of writing in the foreign language in response to their teacher's comments regarding their attempts to complete the written assignment. As part of the process of examining the contents of each portfolio the teacher prepare written commentaries on the contents. The comments are useful in aiding learners to formulate guidelines for foreign-language portfolio assessment. In addition, the commentaries are useful in planning for the following year's student portfolios.
We believe these comments illustrate the strengths and weaknesses of a particular portfolio and may be a great benefit. The material in the portfolio helps to determine both the level of proficiency attained by the student in the foreign language classroom and the strategies used by the teacher of a foreign language to assess her students' acquisition of the language. The commentary also enables the teacher for improving the assessment process that will be useful for the multiple audiences for which the portfolio is prepared; that is, the teacher, the student, and the student's parents.
In the field of foreign-language education, the advantages of using portfolios are obvious. They provide students with opportunities to display good works, serve as means for critical self-analysis, and demonstrate mastery of a foreign language. Nevertheless, an important distinction between a content area such as math or science and learning a new language is that the learner's ability to use the language is the primary object of study. It becomes important that a student portfolio captures as many ways as possible the learner uses while mastering the target language
Thus, portfolio enables students to describe their level of proficiency, think about goals and how long it will take to achieve them, reflects on partial competence and plurilingualizm.
The language portfolio technique helps students to maintain optimum level of motivation in mastering foreign language. All the authors working with language portfolio emphasize the advancement of motivation level and success in foreign language education as a result of its implementation .
We clearly recognize that the portfolio is a useful teaching, learning and motivating technological technique in the foreign language classroom and it can give students the opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge in a supportive way that takes into account their individual needs and empowers future specialists to live in the 21st century.
Ivanchenko, T.U. Foreign Language as Means of Person’s Adaptation in Professional Field // VII International Scientific Practical Conference «Strategic Questions of World Science – 2011». Poland. 2011. -V. 9. Pedagogical Sciences, p.20
Ivanchenko, T.U. About Some Problems in Foreign Language Teaching // V International Scientific Practical Conference «Scientific Thought of Information Age – 2010», V 8. Pedagogical Sciences, p.104.
Miroshnikova, О.H. Professional Language Portfolio as Means of Realization of Professional Component in a non - Native Language Education Process at non - Language Educational Establishment // Tutor of a High School in the 21st Century P. 1. V.6: Works of an International Scientific Practical Internet – Conference. Rostov - on - Don: RSUMT (РГУПС), 2008. - p. 326-331.
- Mode of access: http://www.coe.int/t/dg4/education/elp/
Development and Implementation of Student Portfolios in Foreign Language Programs / Mode of access: http://www.stanford.edu/CFLP/research/portfolio/portfolio4./html
Onal, E.О. Language Portfolio as Means of Motivation in Foreign Language Learning by Non-language Specialities Students / E.О. Оnаl // Mode of access: www.t21.rgups.ru/doc2010/4/18.doc.