The Common European Framework of Reference and outcomes driven language education in Asia: What does not kill us only makes us strongerKen
Hong Kong Baptist University, Hong Kong
The paper will explore a European document, the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages – CEFR for short, which lays out detailed learning outcomes for foreign language education within the European Union and sets benchmarks to assess language learning based on these outcomes. This document has revolutionized language education far beyond the borders of Europe and especially Asian learners have had close contact with it as language pre-requisites have increasingly become important for studying and working in the European context. At the same time questions have been raised as to its feasibility in language-learning contexts outside of Europe and it has been perceived as a predefined set of outcomes (or level descriptors) which do not take into account the specific learning environments of regions where the European language is being taught.
Nevertheless this paper is going to argue that E-learning in conjunction with other innovative teaching and learning methods opens up a host of possibilities for adapting the CEFR for the Asian context. First and foremost it offers a useful template to define language-learning outcomes both in terms of knowledge and skills, as well as for intercultural competence which in turn can become the basis to develop assessment rubrics for a whole range of learning activities. The paper would present these arguments in the context of the European Studies Programme of the Hong Kong Baptist University. The examples presented will show that innovative E-learning tools go a long way towards adapting the CEFR for the language curriculum and the eventual attainment of learning outcomes of the programme itself which are not restricted to the acquiring of language skills.