Concepts underpinning innovations to second language proficiency scales inclusive of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander learners: a dynamic process in progress
Catherine Hudson & Denise Angelo, Australian National University
Volume 3, Issue 1, 2014
Abstract: This paper discusses the concepts underlying two proficiency scale innovations which include and describe the development of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander learners of Standard Australian English (SAE). Both scales, developed in Queensland, are adaptations of the National Languages and Literacy Institute of Australia (NLLIA) ESL Bandscales (McKay, Hudson, & Sapuppo, 1994). The revisions attempt to describe very complex terrain: the development of SAE by cohorts of Indigenous students, whose first languages are for the most part generated by language contact (English-lexified creoles or related varieties) in a range of language ecologies (second or foreign language or dialect learning situations), and who are undertaking their schooling in whole-class, mainstream curriculum contexts with SAE as the medium of instruction (Angelo, 2013). This work is of both national and international significance due to the growing awareness of the need for more valid language assessment of the diverse cohorts of students who have complex language backgrounds in relation to a standard language of education, such as non-standard dialects, contact languages, or ‘long-term’ language learners from indigenous or ethnic communities undergoing language shift. The concepts discussed suggest ways to capture students’ learning trajectories which are otherwise not visible in standardised L1 (literacy) assessments nor in typical L2 proficiency tools.
Keywords: Indigenous education, second language assessment, proficiency scales, language education, contact languages