Australian Review of Applied Linguistics, Vol 35, No 3 (2012)

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DOCUMENTING THE DIVERSITY OF LEARNER ACHIEVEMENTS IN ASIAN LANGUAGES USING COMMON MEASURES

Cathie Elder, Hyejeong Kim, Ute Knoch

Abstract


While there have been a number of studies exploring the impact of time-on-task and language background on language achievement for both English and other languages, the Student Achievement in Asian Languages Education (SAALE) project constitutes the first systematic attempt to gather empirical evidence of these effects for four Asian languages (Chinese, Indonesian, Japanese and Korean) inAustralian schools. The paper focuses on the approach adopted to measure and exemplify the diverse nature of learner achievements in the context of concern. This approach involved a) the gathering of information about the language background and prior learning experience of the study’s participants in order to establish learner sub-groups for subsequent analysis, b) the use of common assessmentprocedures at each level of schooling to compare levels of achievement across learner sub-groups and c) the analysis of samples of each sub-group’s performance by teams of teacher experts to develop rich descriptions of achievement reflecting the different dimensions of diversity relevant to each language. The paper outlines the methodology adopted for the study, and reports briefly on the overall findings,Particular attention is paid to the challenges encountered in undertaking the research and to the further efforts that are needed to build on the project outcomes.

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