Faculty launches WesternCan

April 16, 2010

The Faculty of Education announced today the launch of WesternCAN. French diplomats along with visiting Professor David Little, internationally renowned expert on language learning and teaching, Ministry of Education representatives, and Faculty members gathered to mark the beginning of a significant new initiative in second language (L2) education.

WesternCAN is Western’s response to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) and the European Language Portfolio (ELP). The CEFR is a tool for developing L2 curricula, teaching and assessment. To date, projects have usually focused on just one of these domains, whereas WesternCAN will bring them into interaction with one another. Its activities will include the assessment of proficiency in French using the French government’s DELF/DALF tests, which are based on the CEFR.

The CEFR promotes communicative approaches to L2 teaching, while the ELP supports the development of learner reflection and self-assessment. The WesternCAN framework and toolkit will adapt these European tools for use in Canadian L2 teacher education, classroom practice and research. “This project reflects a philosophy in which teaching, learning and assessment come together as a cohesive whole,” says Professor Shelley Taylor. “We are beginning to develop new approaches to L2 curriculum, teaching and assessment,” adds Professor Little, “practical supports for teachers and learners that will contribute to our research.”

“The WesternCAN initiative is timely as Canadian classrooms are increasingly diverse in language and culture,” notes Professor Julie Byrd Clark. “We need to see language learning in a global context.” “This is a framework that can be applied to ESL, FSL, heritage and aboriginal languages”, explains Professor Farahnaz Faez, “though to begin with we shall be focusing on ESL and FSL.”

In attendance: Faculty members Julie Byrd Clark, Farahnaz Faez, Maureen Smith, Shelley Taylor, Suzanne Mahanovich, from the Ministry of Education, Johanne Lapensee-Crimmins, from the French Consulate, Etienne Manuard, visiting professor, David Little, and graduate students.