Members of the Academic Affairs Committee, who look to the Seton Hall University community and investigate methods to improve academic aspects of the school, are spearheading an initiative to better standardize SHU’s language curriculum.
Seton Hall currently adheres to the standards set by the American Council On The Teaching Of Foreign Languages (ACTFL). The committee hopes to change this standard to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages: Learning Teaching, and Assessment (CERFL).
Robert Serrano, a political science and philosophy double major and Chair of the Academic Affairs Committee, provided a joint statement from the Academic Affairs Committee.
The statement alleged that many students feel as if there is no true standardization between the different language levels and may not necessarily fit the knowledge level implied by the course title.
A further concern was that, for example, students in Elementary I classes expressed that content within said course was too advanced for their knowledge, while some Intermediate I level students may find the course content to be too easy.
“This is not the fault of the faculty who are all experienced and knowledgeable, but there is an apparent lack of standardization between the language learning goals,” the committee’s statement said. “Another worrisome issue is the rising cost of textbooks. Of course, as college students we recognize that textbooks will be expensive; however, students in the Modern Language department are paying well over $200 per book.”
Because of these concerns, ad hoc Joshua Steier provided possible advantages that the learning system of CERFL has if put in place instead of the current framework.
The CEFRL, which has been extensively researched, is a universal standard of language learning held across many European Countries and is being adopted by non-European countries. The standard outlines various requirements to achieve different proficiency levels as well as provide a definitive structure that faculty members can use to assist progress for each student when learning a new language.
The Common European Framework separates language students into three broad divisions that are further divided into six sub levels. Each level offers a detailed description of what a learner is supposed to be able to do in reading, listening, speaking and writing at that certain level in their education.
“One of the most unique and beneficial parts of the CEFRL is the option to receive a certificate to legitimize language proficiency, which is extremely useful for Diplomacy or International Business students. Many European countries require certification in order for foreigners to work in certain businesses,” the committee’s joint statement said.
Dr. Dongdong Chen, chair of the Department of Languages, Literatures & Cultures, further commented on the possible future of the initiative within the Seton Hall curriculum.
“The European Framework that students serving on the Academic Affairs committee proposed was discussed at the LLC faculty meeting on Friday, Oct. 20,” Chen said. “The Framework was not deemed feasible by the faculty, but curricular adjustments will be reviewed by the Program Directors. We will have a meeting with Deans of two schools, i.e., the School of Diplomacy and International Relations, and the School of Stillman Business, the Directors of the languages, and students of the Academic Affairs Committee.”
After the European Framework’s request was discussed at the LLC department meeting, the faculty came to the decision to hold a meeting with the Directors of Language Programs, the deans and the students to further evaluate and address the issue.
“A future meeting will be scheduled by Ms. Brenda Knight, secretary to the Dean’s Office of the College of Arts and Sciences,” Chen stated.
Dr. Peter Shoemaker, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, commented further on the initiative.
“My own training is in languages, literatures, and cultures, and I believe that we can do more to help students attain internationally recognized benchmarks for linguistic proficiency,” Shoemaker said. “Mastering a second or third language can open all sorts of doors to professional and personal fulfillment: it certainly did so for me. I know that the European Framework has been successfully implemented at other American universities, but there are many factors to consider. I’m excited about working with Seton Hall students on this important topic.”
Rhania Kamel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Editor’s Note: Joshua Steier is the Digital Editor of The Setonian.