27 August 2020 at 10:34 pm #2737adminKeymaster
I quite liked Widdowson’s quote about proficiency. It certainly is thought-provoking, as I’d never seen it in the way he describes it. When one says “proficiency” what normally comes to mind is sounding like a “native” speaker, and proficiency tests like TOEFL, Cambridge etc. that measure your level of language use and put a label on it. While these are important as they are used for university and employment purposes, I don’t think that they should dictate how well someone can use the language. Like the course said, passing these tests makes one a good test taker but not necessarily an efficient language user, communicator. These follow certain strategies that a test taker can learn to apply, but are quite rigid and do not allow for any creative use of language. I agree that when a speaker takes hold of the language they are using and confidently uses it for successful communication, then they can consider themselves proficient, why not? When you “submit to the dictates of its form” you cannot help but monitor your accuracy and I think that with that you lose fluency and perhaps communicate less effectively than you truly are able to. “Native” speakers hardly speak with 100% grammatical accuracy (as expected from a standard-English perspective), so asking this of an L2 speaker seems rather ridiculous.
English inside and outside the classroom
In terms of in-class activities that might be adapted to the way learners learn outside the classroom, I think it would be helpful to bring the outside inside the classroom. Some ways might be: creating blog posts and actively responding to classmates’ posts as they would in their daily life; watching TED talks from varied speakers of English both as L1 and L2 (already heavily practiced) — I have heard many times that it was hard for learners to understand what the speaker was saying because he/she had a British and not an American accent — and using them effectively in class; reading from actual newspapers etc.; using corpora to access authentic speech from different varieties of English; giving learners the opportunity to step out in the real world during class and use the language; listen to different types of music and discussing its message and thus the language it uses; watch TV show episodes with focus on vocabulary.
Would love to hear more ideas and/or comments.
To view past replies go to: https://changingenglishes.proboards.com/thread/19/unit-3-reflections
- This topic was modified 3 years, 2 months ago by admin.
18 October 2020 at 3:42 pm #3268Sahar AmerMember
Let’s have a look first at what proficiency is and how it is measured. Here in Saudi Arabia, it’s measured by the ability to communicate effectively in English and pass a standardized exam. Is it looked upon in the same way in all countries? I don’t think so
18 October 2020 at 9:48 pm #3273Ayman Mahmoud MohammedMember
Good speakers of English should have the ability to communicate with native speakers easily . They must understand that practice makes perfect .using English daily gives you an opportunity to master it and widens your mind and knowledge.
3 June 2022 at 9:03 am #5882
It is the same belief here in Nigeria too.
8 September 2022 at 10:56 am #6040Thanh Trung Le NgocMember
I actually think a bit different. The ability to communicate with native speakers easily is not the end goal of English language acquisition. Especially, from the perspective of ELF, or English as a lingua franca, English is the shared language of people who speak different first language.
So I think it is better to say that a good speaker of English should have the ability to communicate with people in English; and the features that should be taken into consideration should be flexibility/fluidity, intelligibility and negotiability, rather than adherence to native-speaker norms.
4 April 2023 at 11:34 am #6699Anh NguyenMember
I am not sure if the end goal of learning a second/additional language is to communicate with native easily. Reality has shown that interactions among non-native speakers far more exceeds those between native and non-native speakers. Therefore, people should not consider the aim of learning English is to just speak in a “native-like” way to make native and non-native speakers interaction smoothly. Rather, getting the messages done, achieving a mutual intelligibility and fostering negotiation of meaning is more important in communicating.
24 October 2020 at 9:42 am #3416Ayman Mahmoud MohammedMember
Proficiency tests are designed to measure the test taker level of proficiency . Even the native speakers take the test , Ielts to measure their levels . Some people believe that the score you get depends on many factors like stress management , time management self confidence , culture and proficiency . I had the test one day and it has helped me a lot to grow professionally and to improve myself.
Students are advised to use English inside and outside the classroom . Inside the classroom, they are encouraged to communicate in English with the classmates . They must use the language in real life situations. They should play a fundamental part during the English course to master the target language
Outside the classroom , they should use the social media to communicate their native speakers of English . They are advised to make the best use of their free time to learn English better.
15 November 2020 at 9:19 pm #3745Ahmed Abdullah AliMember
Proficiency: I don’t believe it can be solely and reliably tested with exams such as IELTS. As previously mentioned, if you know the tricks, you’ll get a decent score.
In my opinion, fluency plays a massive role in how language proficiency is perceived in real life. In the classroom, as outside, I’ve noticed that those who are natural and confident speakers (but not accurate) are perceived as more fluent than those who are accurate but less confident/natural.
3 June 2022 at 9:05 am #5883
With consistent usage it is widely believed that your English will improve drastically.
2 August 2022 at 6:54 am #5971Olga KravetsMember
Quite agree that language learners should take any opportunity to communicate with native speakers online, for example, in order to build confidence and develop language skills. Proficiency is the level of mastering the language at the level close to native speakers’.
7 October 2023 at 12:12 pm #7672Ellie parkinMember
agreed language should be seen across different context as a test cant signify everything
3 December 2020 at 9:43 am #4167Angelica Marie EstrabelaMember
English varies in whichever contexts or purposes we use it. Fluency and accuracy are both important.
Widdowson emphasized that we own our own English and it makes sense every single time since we are communicators of our language regardless of any rule.
14 December 2020 at 2:22 pm #4372Buddhika DaladawaththaMember
Though we say in forums ‘ we own our own English as Ayman says in a previous comment, proficiency tests are designed to test taker level of proficiency checking the extent to which standard has been established in learning L2. Mat be what we teach in class differs with what they really encounter in their real life situations or sometimes both classroom and other L2 sources coincide to make their own variety of English enriched with the culture, religion and other affective factors.
22 December 2020 at 11:14 am #4579Dauda PikawiMember
I can’t agree less with your acceptance of the concept of ‘proficiency’ by Widdowson. It is your expressive ability that determines your proficiency not adherence to some kind of precriptive rules.
I also believe that the outside class use of the language should be brought to the class as well. It reduces the stiffness of the learning. We can expose learners to different context of usage rather than the monolithic stiffness.
22 December 2020 at 11:57 am #4581Dauda PikawiMember
I believe that the outside class should be brought into the classroom, this reduces the stiffness that monolithic concept encourages. If the learning is made flexible, and use of the language as well without some precriptive rules.
2 January 2021 at 8:43 pm #4763Deborah AyersMember
I spend my days at work rating what constitutes “operational proficiency” level of language use, and I realize some of the other non-native users of the language I encounter every day are functioning in the language with much greater ease and certainly more purpose as their livelihoods depend on it.
I do ask my students (particularly those that interact with the locals more) to note the different types of usage, and the proficiency with which the different types of locals use the language.
3 January 2021 at 6:44 am #4765Pabasara PonnamperumaMember
According to my opinion, as a teacher when I teach English for my students, there are two prominent things that I need to consider. The very first thing is, teach students English language and make them competent in all four language skills including Speaking, Writing, Listening and Reading. When I build up their proficiency, I can relate the authentic situations, daily routine patterns with the activities. So, here are some suggestions.
For the primary level students;
Teacher can teach students with basic good habits in the classroom, for that teacher can be creative and make a sample bathroom using plaster of paris or on a whistle board.
For the secondary level students;
Teacher can teach students with typical conversation patterns like conversations happened at a market, post-office, hospital, bank, and etc
For the tertiary level students;
Teacher can teach students with email writing, letter writing, how to create a poster and etc.
11 February 2021 at 11:12 pm #5230
The context is important to learn in the classroom and outside of the classroom, they need to put into practice these parts of the language. Schools need to create an environment to continue practicing English and put in practice the context.
15 February 2021 at 4:55 am #5252Alexandra PakMember
Sometimes the presence of a proficiency certificate does not show the real picture of English language skills.
21 February 2021 at 6:34 pm #5283Richard ZadoriMember
Communicating at a nativesque level is pivotal
25 February 2021 at 5:22 am #5317Hajar RanjbariMember
● what ‘proficiency’ means, given that learners inevitably construct their own English;
I think what we usually give our learners is the knowledge of learning the language structures which helps them to clarify the rules of English, but what we consider less and practically we don’t spend enough time in constructing the new themes and situations in which they can use their input to see their own output and to feel like they are living and experiencing something that at the time comes naturally whenever they want to speak or write in different situations. Besides, if they are lucky enough to get a chance to practice what they have learned is almost 5% in our country. So that’s why they usually don’t become effective and proficient users of the language even after several years of passing courses in academies and institutions. Thus considering these facts, what proficiency means, outside of the class, they have almost no opportunity of using their English, rather they are mostly the recipients of it, like watching movies, reading stories, listening to music, searching in social media to exchange some ideas to some extent. So as I have learned from this course and is very interesting is being a learner actually defines us as being a user from the beginning to the end since language learning is a skill and should be developed over time through consistent practice and using it.
25 February 2021 at 4:28 pm #5333Richard ZadoriMember
To me proficiency means the following idea: expressing yourself 100%-ly, understand everything 100%-ly, getting familiar with the major accents and dialect of the language and adjust to it if needed.
I have developed my English to a level even natives think I am one of them.
When I talk to, for instance, a native British lad or lass, they instantly ask me: ‘You from Yorkshire?’.
And I always have to ‘let ’em down’ by stating ‘Nae, Hungarian, me, born and bred, eh.’
Than they tend not to believe me… 🙁
28 May 2023 at 10:14 pm #6895Consuelo SotoMember
Hi Richard! I agree with you that proficiency implies to effectively communicate through the language and to successfully blend in with its different groups of speakers. I would add that proficiency also includes a playfulness component. A level where you start to play with words, create new words, make puns, etc.
- This reply was modified 6 months, 1 week ago by Consuelo Soto.
1 May 2021 at 3:32 pm #5423Abdulsalam AderibigbeMember
As a linguist and an English language teacher in Nigeria, I believe Winddowson definition of “proficiency” is relative based on the environment of the language learner. To some, it would mean the ability to read, write, speak and understand a target language which may be at the beginner’s level, intermediate or advance. To other’s it may mean some partial command of the target language which are largely characterized by the influence of the L1 or other languages in the learners environment.
In my own opinion, if we must maintain the true nature of proficiency, we must stick to the former as it is difficult to determine the level of ones mastery of the language if we go by the latter.
8 May 2021 at 1:31 pm #5449Josephine RicciMember
Proficiency is an aspect of English learning that is ongoing especially as a L2 learner. It is important to learn, use and practice English from various mediums such as classroom, social outings, internet, movies. Learners are exposed to diverse forms of English and need to be learned. Also, learning can only take place if there is motivation, and a positive attitude.
20 May 2021 at 1:47 am #5464Alex FerreiraMember
what ‘proficiency’ means, given that learners inevitably construct their own English;
~ In my opinion, proficiency would be the ability, and skill that the student develops his idea and grammar during a conversation. As teachers we could help them with the mistaked that they did.
27 June 2021 at 11:39 pm #5488Mustapha MourchidMember
Context plays an important role in learning English, in that it helps learners encounter real English as spoken in reality. I think that students should be encouraged to learn English outside the classroom, which will help them develop their own sociolinguistic awareness.
28 June 2021 at 11:11 am #5489Eleni VerikakiMember
By proficiency, we do not necessarily mean how close to a native speaker the learner’s English may be, but how the learner uses the language to communicate effectively and efficiently and to express their identity and their purposes. We use “proficiency” in a plurilithic communicative way rather than in a monolithic way, where only the standard form of English is accepted.
24 July 2021 at 1:33 am #5524Saul SantosMember
This unit has given me a lot to think about.
To me, interlanguage is a foundational construct in SLA theory and has played an important rolein LT. I had never thought about the ‘inter’ bit in the word, as meaning a bridge between the L1? and the idealized L2. To me the appealing part of the concept was the idea of a system generated by the learner in constant change and revision, now I see that from the interlanguage theory viewpoint, that change goes in the direction of an idealized version of the target language. The alternative term for the system crated by the learner/user of the language is language; the difference between the learner and user is blurred, the user is a learner, and the learner is a user, each one developes an internal system in their own way, everchanging: spirallanguage…
I also like the idea of proficiency advanced by Widdowson. Instead, we should be taking about ‘efficiency’, ‘communicativility’: an efficient user in terms of functionality, task accomplishment.
Oh my God, al my ELT key meanings are being shattered!!!! I am looking forward to reading the next unit.
24 July 2021 at 1:37 am #5525Saul SantosMember
This reply is for the first comment in the forum:
All the activities suggested here are excellent ideas to bringing the outside world into the classroom, but I see then more suitable for students with more ample linguistic repertoirs. I think it is also worth thinking about ideas to be used with students with very limited experience with the target language. I am also thinking about classrooms of other languages, minority languages (such as indigenous languages) where resources are more limited. Losts of work need to be done!
- This reply was modified 2 years, 4 months ago by Saul Santos.
27 August 2021 at 7:44 am #5571Neill PorteousMember
Proficiency will depend on context. Sometimes just being able to communicate using your full language repertoire, as well as body language (translanguaging) is all that is needed. For others who want to use the language for work – an adherence to the monolithic ‘native speaker’ English will likely be required by potential employers. Or the ability to pass a standardized English test will be all that is needed. From my experience, these individuals are excellent test takers but often struggle to communicate well.
5 October 2021 at 2:00 pm #5618Simon FieldingMember
I agree with you, the current tests seem too formulaic and in a real life situation there should be no element of rehearsal. Thus, the memory for this type of learning should be procedural and not declarative. If you see my comment I mention that I believe that speaking needs to be emphasised more and a diversification of the current prevailing exam systems should take place.
16 September 2021 at 3:10 pm #5602Manuel CadedduMember
(The contexts in which your students encounter and use English outside the classroom, and how you might build on these English experiences in classroom learning activities.)
Students encounter English more and more in the virtual world, as they use the internet every day to play, buy, read, watch, etc. Of course, they still go on holiday or meet the chance tourist asking for directions in their own city, but I think online input prevails. In any case, they will encounter versions of English different from what they find in their textbooks.
As a teacher, I’d like to use this input to compare forms found in the real world with forms found in books, stressing differences and similarities. This kind of reflection on language could help them both to improve their academic English and their communication skills in the real world.
5 October 2021 at 1:56 pm #5617Simon FieldingMember
The craving for accuracy to be proved proficient by an exam certificate means that many certified learners actually struggle to use their English in an authentic situation. This is lamentable because they have spent many hours learning English. I think that there should be some diversification of language exams. Whilst it is important to measure all skills in some contexts, there should be exams which focus on communication in different scenarios, more akin to real life and promote development of spontaneity and fluency. I think that this may solve the issue of people who pass exams but still have anxiety when communicating in a natural situation. If big exam boards consider their tests seriously, they may realise that they are not always fit for purpose and too rigid. I hope that we can emphasise communication as teachers and be more empathetic to our students should they make a grammar mistake that doesn’t affect meaning or comes as a result of their environment.
12 January 2022 at 7:03 am #5674Emma HillMember
I have seen examples of translanguaging used informally by students and it is something I would love to explore further. For example when students of the same L1 work together on a task I have observed them using their L1 to explain different concepts and offer strategies and advice to each other. They also use their L1 to help them record definitions and concepts in their notebooks and translate texts. I am interested in exploring how I can assist students to employ their full linguistic repertoire to express themselves. The main challenge I face is that I only speak English and the students have a range of L1s.
8 March 2022 at 1:02 pm #5748Jane O DaviesMember
Reflecting on ‘non-conforming’ ways of using English, I think that Cambridge English are quite flexible in their balance between accuracy and fluency. I often have discussions with my Ss about examples like “I’m loving it”, which provide an opportunity to show them another genre of English (the language of advertising). I often say that doing an exam in English is a bit like ‘wearing your Sunday best’, which still resonates a little in Sicily! I don’t think it would be practical to include creative writing in an English exam due to the time restraints. And, unlike my private Ss’ school experience of learning English (unprincipled or stone-age teaching!), I invariably favour fluency over accuracy.
2 November 2022 at 10:31 pm #6120Iman AlshammariMember
I used to think that proficiency is to speak like natives but now I realised it’s not. I think proficiency is more flexible, it’s your ability to communicate with others and negotiate meaning.
28 May 2023 at 9:58 pm #6894Consuelo SotoMember
I think proficiency is related to adaptation, openness, and awareness. We construct our ways of language communication depending on the environments we have been exposed to, our preferences, and what we have been taught. As we get older, we develop lots of different language styles, and each one suits a particular occasion. The more we explore diversity in language, the more we can be aware and construct those different styles. At some point, we will be consciously switching between forms, playing with words and grammar, and ultimately, owning the language. In that sense, I agree with Widdowson’s quote, because reality is more than just one context, one set of rules, or one Standard form of using the language. Therefore, I think proficiency is constructed on linguistic diversity.
24 August 2023 at 12:19 pm #7423Trieu Nguyen Vo HaiMember
I totally argee with all the comments mentioned above. I think that proficiency tests are useful tools to measure the language users’ ability. However, students with C1 Level in high-stakes test like IELTS but they still find it difficult to communicate with foreingers.
25 August 2023 at 5:18 am #7440Quan DuongMember
There are numerous contexts in students encounter and use English outside the classroom. For example, field trips are usually organized by teachers to create opportunities for students to expose to real environment and languages used by foreigners. Besides, conferences or seminars also lure students’ attention since they desire to have their English level enhanced. Bearing the importance of the issue in mind, teachers are expected to help students have hands-on experiences when communicating with English native speakers. In addition, videos and films are shown to serve the goals of approaching the language.
28 August 2023 at 5:43 am #7465Quynh Anh LuongMember
‘Proficiency’ in English is multifaceted, particularly as learners inevitably shape their own linguistic constructs. It encompasses more than just grammar and vocabulary; it involves fluency, effective communication, and cultural awareness. Learners craft their version of English influenced by their native language, experiences, and contexts. Proficiency acknowledges this individuality and focuses on functional mastery rather than rigid adherence to standard norms. It celebrates diverse accents, idioms, and expressions while prioritizing mutual comprehension. A proficient English user navigates varied linguistic terrains with confidence, bridging gaps and fostering meaningful connections in our increasingly interconnected world.
22 October 2023 at 12:36 pm #7756Leah D’SouzaMember
I think that the majority of students pick up their own idiolect [of English] outside of the classroom and through their friendships, relationships and experiences
1 November 2023 at 8:21 am #7815Trang NguyenMember
When it comes to ‘proficiency’, many people misunderstand it as to be able to achieve high grade in English tests with perfect use of grammar and vocabulary, sometimes even pronunciation, rather than to be a good user of English in real life context. After this unit I now fully understand the term. A number of students achieve a remarkable high band score in IETLS but still find speaking to foreigners difficult and cannot produce effective and efficient English speech. Proficiency is more than that. It’s also about fluency, naturalness of language use. Proficiency acknowledges this individuality and focuses on functional mastery rather than rigid adherence to standard norms. It celebrates diverse accents, idioms, and expressions while prioritizing mutual comprehension. A proficient English user navigates varied linguistic terrains with confidence, bridging gaps and fostering meaningful connections in our increasingly interconnected world.
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