Groundbreaking Study from ACTFL Measures Listening and Reading

Fifty years ago, John B. Carroll undertook a landmark study analyzing the oral proficiency of students in language programs in the United States. The often-cited article on his research, “Foreign Language Proficiency Levels Attained by Language Majors Near Graduation from College,” appeared in Foreign Language Annals in 1967—the first year of the journal’s publication. The impact on the language education profession was widespread and has been key to our knowledge of second language acquisition over the past half-century.

Now a new study from ACTFL promises to be the next major milestone in our professional understanding of how students acquire language—this time focusing on interpretive listening and reading.
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The Digital Language Divide

The internet, much like space, is infinite. This opens people up to a limitless way to communicate and thus, language plays an important role in how information is displayed and translated.

The first language used on the internet was almost certainly English. By the mid-1990s it was estimated that English made up nearly 80% of online content.

However dominating it once was, English now represents only one language in an online linguistic elite. English’s cyberspace share has dwindled down to approximately 30%. Languages such as Chinese, Spanish, German and French are all in the top ten online languages. For example, Mandarin grew over 1,000% between the years 2000 and 2010. Out of a roughly 6,000 languages in use today, this top 10 makes up 82% of the total of the content on the internet. Take note of these trends, because, they affect just about all industries and how they do business with the rest of the world. “Any business looking to maximize its reach in the US and abroad should be looking at reaching customers in languages other than English”, said Helen Hamlyn, Vice President of Language Testing International.
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How Can HR Ensure All Employees Have the Right Level of Business English Skills?

Developing and implementing a language assessment strategy is an effective way for HR to measure the language ability of new appointments and existing staff. When assessing the business English skills for new employees, the first thing to consider is how much English language they need to know in order to carry out their roles effectively. This will allow you to set minimum benchmarks of language proficiency that all new staff must meet, in line with internationally recognised standards. The Council of Europe’s Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) is a good place to start as it’s one of the most commonly used systems to describe different levels of language ability.
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Ethnic Marketing? Turning Obstacles into Opportunities

In the past, appealing to minorities was not a major concern to marketers in most industries.  Ethnic groups in America were expected to assimilate into the mainstream over time, making it a case of Mohammed coming to the mountain.

But time has proven this reasoning faulty.  As a result of many economic and social factors, people are beginning to discover that America is no longer the melting pot it once was.  Instead of looking to assimilate, certain ethnic groups such as African-Americans, Asians and Hispanics have fought to maintain their own cultural integrity.

“The most recent census made it clear that the United States is fast becoming more ethnically diverse,” says Wendy Liebmann, principal of WSL Marketing, a New York-based consultancy.  “The melting pot concept that has typified American society for the last century is rapidly being displaced by a multiethnic mosaic.”
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