Proficiency Assessment Special Interest Group

The main purpose of the Proficiency Assessment SIG is to promote and disseminate proficiency-based assessment in the Japanese language education field. Since the notion of proficiency was introduced in 1980s, the ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines, along with the Oral Proficiency Interview (OPI) and the Written Proficiency Test (WPT), have been widely utilized in the assessment of students, in curriculum development, and in language instruction. Many schools set a certain proficiency level as a goal and assign students to take OPI to assess their achievement and evaluate their program. Also, the OPI guidelines have often been referred to in order to create more effective oral practices to guide students to higher levels.

The activities of the Proficiency Assessment SIG will be designed to give Japanese teachers the opportunity to discuss their curriculum development with their colleagues from various institutions and levels in light of proficiency guidelines. It will no doubt be doubt beneficial for teachers to learn what goal each school has and the ways their instruction achieves that goal. Also, the profiiency guidelines play an important role in promoting closer articulation between K-12 and college levels (and among different levels in K-12).

Another activity of the SIG is to exchange ideas and lesson plans to achieve certain levels of proficiency. Language textbooks tend to emphasize grammar, and teachers often easily overlook the importance of the “contexts” and “text types” of learners in achieving a higher level of proficiency. In order to create effective practices for students, the exchange of ideas will be highly beneficial.

In addition, the Proficiency Assessment SIG intends to promote proficiency-related research and provide venues to disseminate such research. Such topics are numerous; among these topics are the analysis of learners’ discourse at a given level and the differences between the major borders and elements that prevent learners from attaining the higher level. Sharing the results of such research will contribute greatly to the field of Japanese language instruction.

The members of the SIG will have close contact via e-mail and/or website and will have an annual meeting in conjunction with the AATJ conferences. The SIG also will actively participate in the AATJ conferences by presenting papers regarding proficiency-related research, lesson plans, and reports of new instruction methods.

For more information please contact SIG Chair Ken-Ichi Miura at