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ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines for Signed Languages Call for Volunteer Participation
ACTFL invites an examination of its Proficiency Guidelines through the lens of signed languages. ACTFL seeks self-nominations for volunteer participation in a working group that will annotate ACTFL’s Guidelines to address language parameters associated with signed languages. The purpose of the annotations is to spotlight the complexity of assessing sign language proficiency and to enhance the applicability of the ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines to signed languages.
What are annotations?
Annotations are written descriptions of factors that could be considered along with what is already addressed by the ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines. For example, some of the parameters of American Sign Language are not directly addressed (e.g. hand shape, palm orientation, location, movement, facial expressions, etc.). As such, this working group will author annotations that describe how such parameters should be considered or referenced at each proficiency level and sub-level.
Below is an incomplete example of how onemight annotate the ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines for sign languages. The ACTFL Guidelines state:
Novice Low: [Communicators] at the Novice Low sublevel have no real functional ability and, because of their pronunciation , may be unintelligible. Given adequate time and familiar cues, they may be able to exchange greetings, give their identity , and name a number of familiar objects from their immediate environment. They are unable to perform functions or handle topics pertaining to the Intermediate level and cannot, therefore, participate in a true conversational exchange.
Novice Low Annotations:
 In signed languages, pronunciation generally refers to the articulation of a word or words—otherwise known as sign production. Sign production includes parameters such as hand shape, location, movement and orientation (Battison, 1978; Stokoe, Casterline & Croneberg, 1965).
 At Novice Low, a learner may fingerspell their name when introducing themselves.
ACTFL previously annotated the Proficiency Guidelines to address issues particular to the assessment of Arabic dialects. Arabic Dialect Annotations can be found online for an additional frame of reference.
Timeline: The working group will work virtually during the month of March on the annotations. Once the group concludes, the annotations will be opened for public review and comment during the month of April.
Format for Participation: This group will work virtually. Participants will make written annotations within a shared online document. The group may also participate in 1 to 3 Zoom video-conferencing meetings to discuss any issues/trends and to come to group consensus about the annotations. (Note: Zoom Video Conferencing can be used with a participants’ choice of VP service (e.g. Sorenson or Purple).
Self-Nomination Process: To participate in this working group, submit your resume and a brief statement of interest. Your resume should clearly outline your experience with the teaching and learning American Sign Language (ASL) or other sign languages.
About American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages
ACTFL is dedicated to the improvement and expansion of the teaching and learning of all languages at all levels of instruction. ACTFL is an individual membership organization of more than 12,500 language educators and administrators from elementary through graduate education, as well as government and industry.
Since its founding (in 1967), ACTFL has become synonymous with innovation, quality, and reliability in meeting the changing needs of language educators and their students. From the development of Proficiency Guidelines, to its leadership role in the creation of national standards, ACTFL focuses on issues that are critical to the growth of both the profession and the individual teacher.
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