Academic journal article Foreign Language Annals

Oral Proficiency Standards and Foreign Language Teacher Candidates: Current Findings and Future Research Directions

Academic journal article Foreign Language Annals

Oral Proficiency Standards and Foreign Language Teacher Candidates: Current Findings and Future Research Directions

Article excerpt

Abstract: The renewed national focus on teacher quality and effectiveness has resulted in more rigorous standards that describe the knowledge and skills required of teacher candidates across all disciplines. In the area of foreign languages, three sets of professional standards address the oral proficiency of teachers in the target languages they teach across the career continuum. For teacher candidates, the ACTFL/NCATE Program Standards for the Preparation of Foreign Language Teachers (2002) establish minimum oral proficiency levels based on the ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines-Speaking (2012). Utilizing ACTFL Oral Proficiency Interview (OPI) data, this study examines to what extent candidates are attaining the ACTFL/NCATE Oral Proficiency Standard of Advanced Low in most languages or Intermediate High in Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, and Korean. Findings indicate that 54.8% of candidates attained the required standard between 2006 and 2012 and that significant differences emerged for language, year tested, and university program results. Further research that takes into account additional contextual information about candidates and programs will inform continuing professional dialogue about the oral proficiency of teacher candidates entering the profession.

Key words: Advanced Low, NCATE, proficiency, Standards, teacher preparation

Introduction

In the field of education, the past decade has seen an increasing emphasis on teacher accountability for student learning, at least partially in response to the national de- mand for "highly qualified" teachers pro- posed through the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) (2001). The need to identify teachers of high quality has resulted in more rigorous standards related to the preparation of teachers across disciplines, particularly with respect to the develop- ment of their content knowledge and skills (see, for example, NCATE, 2008). This national endeavor to develop teacher stand- ards has prompted widespread discussion and research exploring the type of content- specific knowledge teachers should pos- sess. This discussion has been particularly prevalent in the field of mathematics (Ball, Thames, & Phelps, 2008; Kleickmann et al., 2013), but it has also occurred in most other fields, including science (Lederman, 1999) and physical education (Siedentop, 2002).

Although dialogue concerning the content knowledge and skills of foreign language teachers dates back to the late 1980s (ACTFL, 1988), more recently three sets of teacher standards have sparked a renewed discussion regarding the content knowledge and skills that foreign language teachers should possess as they move across the career continuum from teacher candidates to beginning teachers to accom- plished teachers. In 2002, NCATE ap- proved the ACTFL/NCATE Program Standards for the Preparation of Foreign Language Teachers (ACTFL, 2002) (here- after referred to as the ACTFL/NCATE Program Standards), which define the expectations for teacher candidates who complete a teacher preparation program and earn teacher certification. NCATE, which is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education as an accrediting agency for schools, colleges, and departments of education, determines which colleges of education meet rigorous national standards for teacher preparation. Foreign language teacher preparation programs that undergo NCATE review and seek national recogni- tion by ACTFL/NCATE must provide evidence that their programs are preparing candidates who can demonstrate the per- formance described in the standards. In conjunction with the development of the ACTFL/NCATE Program Standards, in 2002, the Interstate New Teacher Assess- ment and Support Consortium (INTASC1), with support from ACTFL, designed its Model Licensing Standards for Beginning Foreign Language Teachers, which may also be used by participating states to license teachers and induct them into the profession. To complete the career contin- uum, in 2001, the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) created the World Languages Other Than English Standards, which describe the knowledge and skills necessary for accom- plished language teachers who elect to earn National Board certification; these stand- ards were updated in 2010 and renamed the World Languages Standards (NBPTS, 2001, 2010). …

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