Second Language Acquisition & Testing in Europe


Aims of SLATE

Since the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEF or CEFR for short) has become a major point of reference for language in education throughout Europe, the following research question was seen as central to a collaborative enterprise:

Which linguistic features of learner performance (for a given target language) are typical at each of the six CEF levels?

To study this question, it is important to design studies that offer a chance for comparing findings reliably. New, international, cross-linguistic studies need to be conducted using a common research design, tasks, procedures, and analyses.

Research Questions and Issues

Research questions and issues of potential relevance include:

  1. Are there differences in linguistic profiles for productive (speaking and writing) and receptive language skills across the CEF proficiency levels?
  2. Is it possible to design a linguistic tool kit for diagnosing learners' proficiency levels and potential language learning difficulties?
  3. Are there cross-linguistic differences in linguistic profiles among the seven target languages in the SLATE group (Finnish, French, Italian, German, Dutch, English and Swedish)?
  4. What are the limits of learners' performance on tasks at each of the CEF levels? It is important not only to investigate what learners typically do at each of the CEF levels (which requires elicitation of performance in rather "open" task formats), but also what learners can and cannot do.
  5. Which paralinguistic features are characteristic of learners' verbal behavior at each of the six CEF levels?
  6. Are there differences between the linguistic profiles of foreign-language learners (learning the target language in the formal setting of a school curriculum or a language course) and those of second-language learners (learning the target language without formal instruction)?