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Curtin University

English Language Development at Curtin

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Global descriptors for language proficiency

The Global Descriptors for English language proficiency [pdf - 87kb] are derived from the Common European Framework and articulate a broad outline for the staged development of English language proficiency, from a prescribed minimum commencement level (B2) to a target level of mastery at graduation (C2). Academics teaching at a particular level of study should be mindful of the need to consider English language proficiency as developmental over the course of a university degree, and to build expectations for a specified level of English proficiency into curriculum and assessment design, as in the sample Proficiency guides below.

Assessment rubrics for English language proficiency

Elements of English language proficiency are integrated in assessment design via rubrics and marking guides developed in consultation with Unit Coordinators. Here are two examples of proficiency guides developed for commonly occurring assessment tasks in a Science and Engineering context:

Each includes descriptors for assessment elements at three levels of proficiency and study. Information from the guides can be integrated in assessment rubrics for a specific unit of study.

Questions to consider when deciding whether a unit is suitable for developing English language proficiency

What language used in this unit is unique to this discipline?

  • technical terms
  • conventions

How does the language in this unit change according to audience?

  • academic language
  • formality
  • layman’s terms

How does the language in this unit change according to the purpose of the communication?

  • adjectives for descriptions
  • connecting devices for developing an argument
  • small talk for relationship building

Possible aspects of language to include in feedback

There are many aspects of language that students can receive feedback on, so it is important to choose the ones which will have the most impact on comprehensibility. The following list provides some aspects which students should prioritise when developing their English language proficiency.

  • vocabulary – form of the word (verb, noun, adjective or adverb) and word combinations
  • grammar - sentence structure
  • pronunciation - sounds, stress (word and sentence) and intonation

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