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Identifying strengths and weaknesses in the implementation of alphabetization programmes in The Netherlands. ALFIE: The Dutch Experience | Oslo meeting.

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Presentation on theme: "Identifying strengths and weaknesses in the implementation of alphabetization programmes in The Netherlands. ALFIE: The Dutch Experience | Oslo meeting."— Presentation transcript:

1 Identifying strengths and weaknesses in the implementation of alphabetization programmes in The Netherlands. ALFIE: The Dutch Experience | Oslo meeting VOX | October 5th &6th 2011 Mark Peeters & Dolorata du Chatinier | Albeda College, Rotterdam | The Netherlands

2 Strengths & weaknesses based on “An overview of the national situation regarding second language literacy acquisition” Themes: * Government and Civic Integration. * Literacy acquisition standards, testing & assessing. * Dutch research into L2 literacy: some examples. * Teacher professionalism. * What is going on in the field of Dutch L2 literacy? * RTC Albeda College and Dutch L2 literacy.

3 Government and Civic Integration Short info January 1st 2007 Dutch Civic Integration Act: All long staying immigrants are obliged to pass the civic integration exam (CIE). Oldcomers: immigrants to NL before January 1st 2007 without certificate demonstrating sufficient level of Dutch language and knowledge of society. Exam at A1 for written skills and A2 for oral skills. Newcomers: immigrants to NL after January 1st Exam at A2 for both written and oral skills. Acquiring Dutch nationality only possible when having passed at level A2. Policy and implementation segregated: the federal government is responsible for policy and legislation, the municipalities are responsible for implementation.

4 Government and Civic Integration StrengthsWeaknesses The awareness that learning the Dutch language and knowledge of Dutch society is important to immigrants. Structuring the civic integration, including language learning, through legislation and policy and communication. Right of waiver for illiterates has been arranged (though it is not a matter of course). The Civic Integration Act and the CI Exam does not work well for most illiterate learners. Literacy courses are generally regarded as stepping stones to civic integration programmes. The reality is much more complex. Acquiring the Dutch nationality is linked to school performance (language level A2) and therefore out of reach for many illiterates.

5 Literacy acquisition standards, testing and assessing Short info In The Netherlands there are 2 major institutions/companies for educational measurement, providing language frameworks, - tests and portfolios. –CITO Central Institution for Test Development Founded in 1968 by the Dutch Government and privatised in National and international focus. Provides the L2 literacy field with: “ALFA Framework” for second language literacy learners “ALFA Intake and Performance Tests” “ALFA Portfolio” –Bureau ICE Competes with CITO. Focus on the internal market. Provides the L2 literacy field with: “Toolkits” to measure Dutch L2 (and L2 literacy) before, during and at the end of the learning programme.

6 Literacy acquisition standards, testing and assessing StrengthsWeaknesses The ALFA Framework (based on the CEF and published by CITO) provides a standard for the Dutch L2 literacy field with ALFA levels A, B and C. Curriculum independent intake and performance tests (based on the ALFA Framework) have become available throughout. The focus of literacy education is manipulated towards a combination of technical skills and functional skills. The introduction of portfolios in the Dutch L2 literacy world. Providing education based on the direct needs of immigrants and education based on test standards leads to discrepancies. CITO tests are often, but not always, obligatory by contract. Other (older) tests have a more technical approach, leading to different results. The portfolios are not fully recognized as instruments to ascertain the learner’s successes.

7 Dutch research into L2 literacy: some examples Short info Dutch L2 literacy researchers and LESLLA (www.leslla.org) Dutch specialists Kurvers and Van de Craats are involved in the International Researchers Platform for Researchers of Low Educated and Illiterate Immigrants. The researchers study effective methods of language acquisition and literacy. - Information from different perspectives but all focussed on the learning processes of low educated and illiterate learners is made available through the website and through books. National research project “Proeftuinen” (February 2010 – September 2011) - Government initiated research project to establish relationships between L2 learning succes factors (from literature studies) and test results coming from the project classrooms. Research results have recently been published (available in Dutch only).

8 Dutch research into L2 literacy: some examples StrengthsWeaknesses LESLLA: a multi-disciplined and international committed team of scientists focussing long term on the issue of immigrants and literacy, providing insights and helpful information. The national Proeftuinen project has provided the field with 2 simple conclusions and many recommendations on the basis of observations in classrooms. neg* school promoted language contact and test writing performances pos * motivation and reading skills The information and inspiration from LESLLA does not (directly) reach L2 literacy teachers in the classroom. Practical and formal (contract) matters tend to prevail. The Proeftuinen project has ended. New civic integration measures are forthcoming, policies are changing. What will actually be done with the information (and the focus) made possible by the project?

9 Teacher professionalism Short info Dutch L2 literacy teacher training is often part of a general Dutch L2 teacher course, as L2 literacy is often considered a Dutch L2 specialism. There is a great variety of courses, ranging from a 4 meeting literacy teaching course to a Master Dutch L2 (including aspects of L2 literacy). The Professional Association of Dutch L2 Teachers (BVNT2) wants to further the interests of L2 teachers by formalizing and professionalizing the Dutch L2 field. * issues “Competent Dutch L2 Teacher” certificate and logo (based on portfolio and assessment, literacy is specialism) Three specialist journals: “Alfa Nieuws”, “Les” and “Vakwerk”, of which “Alfa Nieuws” is a quarterly periodical focussing entirely on L2 literacy didactics, new developments, book reports, discussion etc.

10 Teacher professionalism StrengthsWeaknesses There are many ways of becoming a more professional Dutch L2 literacy teacher. Demands with regard to Dutch L2 literacy teachers are, in practice, not as specific as one might expect. Large municipalities have recently included demands about “Competent Dutch L2 teachers” in their contracts, but literacy teaching has not been specified. Due to fluctuating education contracts teachers tend to become generalists instead of specialists.

11 What is going on in the field of Dutch L2 literacy? Short info Illiterate learners in The Netherlands are a very diverse group. Semi-literates cannot put their technical skills into practice, stagnating learners cannot break the literacy code, literates from countries with non-Latin written systems mix in. The Civic Integration Exam is the standard and there is a kind of standardization of all types of immigrants being sent to school: young and old, motivated and non motivated, traumatized or reasonably well. Changes in the field of education are effected by new competition. Regional Training Centres are losing contracts to other parties. Two major literacy courses have long dominated the field of national literacy education: 7/43 and Alfaflex. There certainly are many initiatives and new ideas throughout the country, but they tend to be isolated.

12 What is going on in the field of Dutch L2 literacy? StrengthsWeaknesses Dutch L2 literacy teaching has its roots in the eighties of the previous century. There is a lot of field experience with people from numerous countries. A lot of information on literacy teaching is available through different channels. Interesting initiatives from all over the country, e.g.: RALFI reading (Repeated Assisted Level Feedback Interaction) Alfa FC Sprint 2 No breakthrough in the use of smart computer apps. No real recognition of the interference of learners’ lives and well being in the learning programme. No known longterm vision for L2 literacy matters among decision makers. A highly organised, constant and very accessible source of information on L2 literacy theory and practice is not readily available.

13 Regional College for vocational education & adult education in the Rotterdam area. Mission statement: Contemporary Quality Social Engagement Identity: open institution for everyone Education for everyone in a life long learning concept Facts and figures : students employees 50 locations in the Rijnmond area 350 different courses full time and part time education regular education and contract activities vocational education on 4 levels

14 RTC Albeda College and Dutch L2 literacy StrengthsWeaknesses L2 Literacy learning programme based on the ALFA Framework. Individualized (Indiflex) course for technical reading including audio and computer assisted learning. Oral skills and written functionality are combined in themes. Learners’ portfolio based on themes. Use of professional Sprint software as an additional instrument for reading words and texts. Themes are not being used to their full potential, e.g. interaction with the learners’ world can be improved. No well organized central internal open source for Alfa knowledge and experience to benefit the entire Rotterdam area. Due to changing contracts, change of target groups etc. there is often little time to consolidate and reflect, e.g. to improve the L2 literacy portfolio.

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