The second interesting session that I attended at NCLC 2009 was Martha Abbott and Jun Liu's session on "Student Learning Outcomes: How to Benchmark Student Progress" (Click Here to view Powerpoint). The presenters spoke about strategies to "acquire measurable benchmark for documenting student progress on the language learning continuum" (National Chinese Language Conference 2009 Program Book). Ms. Abbott detailed the ACTFL K-12 Performance Guidelines and Mr. Liu outlined the basics of the Hanban Learning Standards that assesses Chinese language profiency for speakers of other languages.
What I found the most interesting is the continued effort for foreign language educators to create and refine assessment methods and standards as teachers' approach to teaching and students' proficiency in the language change. We have come a long way here in the U.S., shifting from teaching Chinese as to heritage students to teaching Chinese as a foreign or second language - which of course would mean that methods and benchmarks for assessment have to continue to evolve as well. As we think about the bigger picture of learning Chinese in the globalized world, it is definitely important and necessary to begin to think about assessments that include language learners whose native language is neither Chinese nor English.