ACTFL Convention – Reaching Global Competence

I was able to attend the ACTFL convention this year, the theme of which was ‘Reaching Global Competence’. As those who have attended an ACTFL convention before will know, the number of attendees, the number of presentations and the physical spaces were overwhelming. It was difficult to choose the presentations I wanted to attend as I knew there were so many I would not be able to attend due to conflict times. At times, I missed the next presentation because I could not get to the venue on time!

I’d like to write about some presentations that were especially interesting for me not only as an assessment person but also as a former language instructor.

The first presentation was ‘Floor and Ceiling’ Rating of Reading and Listening Proficiency delivered by Ray Clifford and Troy Cox from BYU, Cynthia Martin from University of Maryland and Elvira Swender, ACTFL. They discussed how the principles of working level (floor) and linguistic breakdown (ceiling) used in the OPI could be used also in assessing reading and listening proficiency tests through the scoring criteria. Adjusting the scoring criteria to reflect the floor and the ceiling is possible if we consider  proficiency levels as ranges and as a separate construct (or language ability being assessed), each with their own specific language tasks/functions, accuracy demands and contexts. Scoring cannot be compensatory and Dr. Clifford illustrated how considering the total number of correct answers as a final test score could lead to inaccurate interpretations of test takers’ proficiency in Listening and Reading.

The second presentation i would like to talk about was using technology resources to foster communication in the three modes, delivered by Nicole Sherf and Tiesa Graf from Salen State University. It was a very interactive presentation in which participants were asked to pair up and discuss ways in which they use or would like to use technology to elicit tasks in the three modes of interpretive, presentational and interpersonal communication. Some of the tools discussed were:


– Skype, wiki, Voicethread, Google hangout, google doc, today’s me, google voice, tango and ‘we speek’ (, which I found very interesting.

Interpretive: Educanon, googleforms

Presentational: Aurasma, Prezi, Voki, Blabberize, Photostory,

Overall, it was a fantastic opportunity. I just wish I had the gift of being able to be in many places at one time so I could attend more presentations!

PS. San Antonio is a beautiful, vibrant city! The temperature was in the low 70s (although it rained the whole time). Having left New Haven in the upper 30s, it sure felt good!


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