PLTCE, NATO BILC Hosts Language Testing Experts from Partner Defense-Sponsored Schools
By Keith L. Wert
Chair, Bureau for International Language Co-ordination
Director, Partner Language Training Center Europe
GARMISCH-PARTENKIRCHEN, Germany (March 10, 2016) - The Partner Language Training Center Europe in association with NATO's Bureau for International Language Coordination is hosting a Level 4 Working Group consisting of language testing experts from NATO/Partner Defense-sponsored language schools in Canada, Bulgaria, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden and the United States as well as experts from Brigham Young University and Yale University.
The Working Group on Level 4 was established at the 2010 BILC Conference in Istanbul as a result of the concerns raised by several nations, which felt ill-equipped to conduct testing at this level.
The WG's initial goal was to study the nature of Level 4 proficiency IAW NATO Standardized Agreement 6001, amplify the language level descriptors by offering a more comprehensive interpretation, and to discuss implications for testing at this level across the four skills (listening, speaking, reading and writing).
This work resulted in an article published by Cambridge Scholars as a chapter in the book, "Language in Uniform", 2015.
The second stage of the work has involved the development of a prototype reading test. As most of the work was done online, the WG embraced the opportunity to meet face to face at PLTCE at the Marshall Center in order to
conduct a norming session among the testers/raters, rate sample tests, establish cut-off scores by analyzing and the ranges of performances and edit test items.
The WG hopes to finalize the first test version in order to initiate the official test trialling across the three NATO HQs (Brussels, SHAPE, Mons and ACT, Norfolk). Once the test has been validated, its model will be released to the nations interested in testing at this level.
The Partner Language Training Center Europe, a NATO Partner Training and Education Centre, offers advanced and specialized classroom instruction in Arabic, English, French, Persian-Farsi, and Russian to more than 400 US military and NATO/Partner attendees each year. Included in this are faculty professional development courses in language testing and classroom instruction and assessment.