The symposium showcases the research projects that have been conducted by staff members of SLC Second Language Studies Cluster, with Distinguished Visitor, Associate Prof Pérez-Milans as commentator.

1 – 1:15pm

Kayoko Hashimoto to introduce Miguel Pérez-Milans

Few words from Miguel

1.15 – 1.55pm

Presentation 1 and Q&A: “Framing the ‘problem’ of English language proficiency” by Associate Prof Michael Harrington & Dr Paul Moore

Abstract: The rapid increase of international students who use English as an additional language in Australian universities raises significant linguistic, cultural and academic issues for the institutions and the wider community. Although broad in scope, these issues have been addressed in terms of shortcomings in the proficiency of these “non-English-speaking-background” (NESB) students, with initiatives undertaken that attempt to remediate perceived linguistic shortcomings. In addressing these issues policy-makers and practitioners in Australian higher education treat English language proficiency as a tripartite construct consisting of English for academic study, interpersonal communication, and more recently, the workplace. It is within this framework that attempts are made to develop remedial and support strategies pointed at the individual student. In this talk we challenge the validity of the three-part construct and the utility of the actions undertaken to address it. These actions include the development of English support strategies, post-entry English assessment, embedding English language-focused tasks in coursework, and exit testing. All these endeavours foreground to varying degrees a deficiency model of English proficiency that stigmatises individual students. It also negatively frames the issue in a manner that makes it difficult to attract the needed institutional will and resources needed to address it successfully. To end the talk we present a recent initiative at the University of Queensland that seeks to re-frame attempts to address ELP issues that students who use English as an additional language may encounter, not as one-way remediation, but as a part of a wider, two-way process that contributes in important ways to cultural and linguistic diversity (CALD) across the university.

1.55 - 2.35pm

Presentation 2 and Q&A: “1.5 generation Korean migrants in Australia: How good should their Korean be?” by Dr Min Jung Jee

Abstract: In recent decades as the number of immigrants to Australia has grown, and as heritage language students are seen as a national resource by many researchers (Brecht and Ingold, 1998; Brecht and Walton, 1993; Campbell and Peyton, 1998; Campbell and Rosenthal, 2000; Peyton, Ranard, and McGinnis, 2001), much attention has been paid to heritage Korean speakers, especially with respect to maintaining the Korean language as a heritage language for 1.5 and second-generation Koreans. The presentation will focus on the 1.5 generation Korean migrants in terms of their Korean language (or heritage language) proficiency level and their opinions on the maintenance of Korean language. The 1.5 generation in this study comprised those who were born to Korean immigrant parents and born in Korea but migrated to Australia aged 6 to 12. They hold a permanent resident visa or citizenship of Australia. (e.g., Rumbaut, 1991; Rumbaut, 2004). Staring with a brief history of Korean immigration with status of Korea migrants in Australia, the presentation will focus on the actual Korean language test results (i.e., Grammaticality Judgment Test, Collocation Test and Receptive Vocabulary Size from Jee 2018) as well as self-rated Korean and English proficiency of the 1.5 generation Korean migrants. Interview data from 9 participants will be presented regarding their opinions on Korean language maintenance in Australia. Benefits and struggles of 1.5 generation Korean migrants in terms of Korean language maintenance and its related issues such as ethnic identity, language anxiety and attitudes toward Korea and Australia will be discussed.

2.35 - 3.05pm

Afternoon tea break

3.05 - 3.45pm

Presentation 3 and Q&A: “Exploring teacher understandings and beliefs as a basis for benchmarking assessments for university foreign language programs” by Associate Prof Noriko Iwashita & Dr Karen Olave

Abstract: It is well acknowledged that teachers’ knowledge and beliefs guide their assessment practice in the classroom (e.g., Scarino, 2013), and that assessment literacy, is central to achieving and maintaining the overall quality of classroom teaching and learning (Popham, 2004). Teacher cognitions are shaped by teachers’ prior learning and teaching experience which in turn influence decisions about classroom practice (Crusan et al, 2016). Studies have reported considerable variations in teachers’ beliefs and knowledge about assessment and teaching methodology according to their experience and language background (e.g., Crusan et al, 2016; Kim, 2014; Malone, 2013), but relatively little research has been undertaken in university foreign language teaching context. Such research is critical given that language competence is given greater priority in the selection of instructors in the university foreign language program than is the case with secondary, primary school and university ESL teachers, with the result their understandings of teaching methodology and assessment are relatively unknown. This paper reports on an investigation of how university teachers’ understandings and beliefs about teaching and assessment guide their classroom and assessment practices. The study forms part of a project aimed at benchmarking assessment procedures in undergraduate language courses at a large urban university in Australia offering eight foreign languages with 2,000 enrolments annually. In order to ensure fairness and consistency in standardising learning outcomes, a large-scale investigation of current assessment procedures and academic achievement standards has been undertaken with the aim of revising and aligning assessment a) internally, across language programs, and b) externally, with an international benchmarking framework (the CEFR). Despite comparable linguistic goals across language courses, the initial benchmarking exercise has revealed that assessment practices vary significantly regardless of language typology (i.e., Asian or European languages). To further investigate the source of this variation, 35 language instructors of a variety of languages offered at the university were invited to participate in a questionnaire survey and focus-group interview. The questions asked in both the survey and focus group interview elicited information about a) teachers’ knowledge, experience and beliefs about classroom and assessment practices and b) aspects of assessment expertise deemed important for teachers to acquire, and c) general perceptions about the CEFR as well as d) teachers’ backgrounds (e.g., L1, experience, teacher training). The analysis revealed that teachers articulated their knowledge and beliefs about their classroom and assessment practices and their approaches to teaching in relation to the curriculum and their own learning experience. The teachers’ education and language (L1) backgrounds were two of the most influential factors in the way their knowledge and beliefs were shaped. These findings confirm those of previous research in the primary and secondary schools context and university ESL programs (e.g., Davison, 2004). They also provide useful information for designing workshops to create a common ‘culture of assessment’ understood as shared attitudes, approaches, and understandings that support the evaluation of student learning outcomes. It is argued that only through building such a culture is possible to achieve successful alignment of university foreign language courses with an international benchmarking framework.

3.45 - 4.25pm

Presentation 4 and Q&A: “Japanese language education in Southeast Asia – employability and assessment literacy: a case study in Vietnam” by Dr Kayoko Hashimoto

Abstract: This is part of a large project “Japanese language, employability, and mobility in Southeast Asia and Japan”, which explores how teaching Japanese as a second foreign language has been shaped by social, political, and economic factors and how it has contributed to employability and mobility in the region and Japan. In 2009, ASEAN officially adopted English as the working language. The decision has changed the nature of multilingualism of the region, and it has been pointed out that English has replaced local and indigenous languages other than the national language (Kirkpatrick, 2012), but the impact on other foreign languages, however, remains largely unknown. Inside Japan, due to the population decline, the necessity for increasing the foreign labour intake has become inevitable even though the government has vehemently denied discussing the matter in relation to immigration policy. In Vietnam, the so-called 2020 National Foreign Language Project, started in 2008, has been a vehicle for promotion of English as well as other foreign languages, including Japanese, Russian and Chinese, at all education levels (Nguyen 2018, Japan Foundation 2015). As the 2017 initiative to teach Japanese at primary schools was not renewed in 2018, not all projects have been implemented as initially planned. Cao (2017) points out that some fundamental issues surrounding Japanese language education in Vietnam are related to the heavy reliance on support from Japan and the inconsistent application of the national six-level foreign language proficiency framework to the curriculum. Although the support from the Japanese government and industries have been essential for curriculum development and delivery as well as for job opportunities for university graduates, it also creates problems in creating programs suitable for the local context. The national proficiency framework is based on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR), but the Vietnamese ministry of education has not produced the framework for Japanese language yet. As a result, passing the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT), which is administered by the Japanese government, remains priority for many Japanese language learners. This has a significant impact on learning and teaching activities particularly because JLPT assesses only receptive skills, not productive skills that are essential to work at Japanese companies/organisation and study in Japan. Studies on foreign language education (other than English) at higher education is relatively new. Along with the interest in language testing as part of language policy (Frost & McNamara, 2018), particular attention has been paid to foreign language teaching at universities in terms of proficiency and assessment (Winke & Gass, 2019) and learners’ motivation and multilingualism in the region (Gao & Zheng, 2019). Based on the online survey and face-to-face interview of students and teachers in university Japanese programs in Vietnam, this paper focuses on teachers’ view of assessment in their university Japanese programs, addressing the importance of teachers’ assessment literary in curriculum design and delivery suitable for the local context. 

4.25 - 4.40pm

Summary comments by Miguel Pérez-Milans


Symposium concludes


About Distinguished Visitor Program - Associate Professor Miguel Pérez-Milans

The distinguished visitor’s program serves as a vehicle for identifying and addressing areas of shared research interest in the school. It provides the opportunity for the school to come together periodically to focus on a specific theme or topic that cuts across discipline boundaries.

The School of Languages and Cultures is looking forward to welcoming Associate Professor Pérez-Milans  to The University of Queensland in August 2019. 


Social Sciences Building (#24)
UQ St Lucia Campus