100 DAYS-100 LANGUAGES ACTFL Builds Testing Capability for the Department of Defense ACTFL's Answer to the United Nations

Foreign Language Annals, Summer 2005 | Go to article overview

100 DAYS-100 LANGUAGES ACTFL Builds Testing Capability for the Department of Defense ACTFL's Answer to the United Nations


In 2002, the Defense Language Institute (DLI) of Monterey, CA, contracted with ACTFL to provide tester training and testing support for the DLI and other Department of Defense agencies involved in national security. The first objective of the contract was to build a capacity to conduct oral proficiency tests in up to 100 languages. Accordingly, the initiative was named "100 Days-100 Languages."

As of April 2005, ACTFL has trained and qualified some 60 testers in 44 languages. In addition, 60 tester trainees, representing 15 additional languages, are in the qualification process. The current list of ACTFL/lnteragency Language Roundtable (ILR) testing languages are: Afrikaans, Amharic, Arabic, Armenian, Bulgarian, Cantonese, Cebuano, Chavacano, Dari, Farsi, Tagalog, French, German, Georgian, Haitian Creole, Hebrew, Hilgaynon, Hindi, Hmong, Ilocano, Indonesian, Japanese, Javanese, Khmer, Korean, Kurdish (Kurmanji and Sorani), Lao, Malay, Mandarin, Pashto, Punjabi, Romanian, Russian, Samoan, Slovak, Spanish, Tamil, Tausug, Thai, Turkish, Urdu, and Vietnamese.

Robert Vicars, an ACTFL/ILR lead trainer, notes that, "The cultural diversity of the ACTFL/ILR testers has provided unusually enriching contacts and connections. In a given workshop, there are often people representing more than 10 linguistic communities who have come to work together and to learn from each other. It is ACTFLs answer to the United Nations."

As a first step, a group of ACTFL-certified OPI tester/trainers attended "conversion" workshops to learn about the DLI/ILR protocol. The next step was the recruitment of potential tester trainees in critical languages for which there were no ACTFL-certified testers.

According to Linda Kaplan, ACTFL Professional Programs Manager, "Perhaps the most challenging and important aspect of this project is finding native speakers of the critical languages that we need. One would think that in a country made up of such a diverse group of individuals, it would be easy to find these people. However, before we even start recruiting, countless hours are spent networking with language professionals at academic institutions and researching where the immigrant communities are found throughout the country. …

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