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Journal of Higher Education and Lifelong Learning

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Language and languages -- Study and teaching, Second language acquisition, Language Test


There are currently two nation-wide trends that impinge significantly on language teaching and assessment at the university level in the U.S. One is the general wave of education reform, the other is the so-called "proficiency" movement in language teaching. That being said, these two categories are much too broad in their definitions and implications to be of any use in discussing what we wish to address here: actual practice in the second language classroom. We will therefore begin by constraining the relevant characteristics of each of these. We will then proceed to discuss their ongoing implications for what actually happens in the curriculum at a single American university.

Portland State is offered here as representative of American institutions of higher education insofar as it has undergone significant administrative and curricular restructuring at all levels over the last five to ten years. Indeed, because of its location, it's mission and its leadership, Portland State University is in many way a model institution for its response to contemporary demands placed on education -- from within and without, by choice as well as by public fiat. The goal in this paper is to demonstrate how one academic unit within a public institution responds to the diverse pressures for change, and what the ramifications of that response are for processes of assessment.


This is the publisher's final PDF. The article was originally published in the Journal of Higher Education and Lifelong Learning

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