If you work with PBLA, what does your program site do with
the leftover Language Companion Binders? What you are looking at in the picture are
leftover PBLA binders at our location. Most are full of the quintessential “artifacts.” We have tried to encourage students to take
the binders with them when they leave the program, but the fact is that they
are not wanted. Management and staff have discussed different strategies to
facilitate binder departures, but so far most of our students just smile
politely and say “no thank you” before exiting as fast as possible, lest we try
to put it into their hands. Can you blame them? Who wants this huge awkward
emblem of the past century filling shelf space at home, not to mention the
weight when it is fully loaded?
What should we do with this precious plastic? We thought it
would be best to take out the old artifacts and recycle the binders back into
the classroom to be reused. This seems like a good idea but who is going to do
this time-consuming job? Who will do the cleanup? Should the administrators or
settlement workers be responsible? Perhaps those supposed volunteers that were frequently
referred to but who never materialized will do the work. As it is, teachers are still not being fully
compensated for the time we spend on PBLA, so not us.
What about the ton of paper inside the binders? Those have
to go into the recycling bin. The levity with which IRCC considers the
environment is astonishing. In a time when many countries are banning plastic
and using technology to reduce paper consumption, we are finding ways to
increase its use.
The implementation of PBLA has been poorly thought out from
the start. There is no fiscal plan for fair compensation, no environmental conscience,
and no evidence that it is enhancing learners’ experience. Why are we still
post-secondary, students are often required to work on culminating projects comprised
of various assignments submitted at different deadlines throughout the term. My
teaching partner and I wanted to bring the experience of a post-secondary
culminating project into our classroom, but in a way that was both manageable
and meaningful to our LINC students.
When doing major projects, my teaching partner
and I are always looking for ways to optimize Portfolio-Based Language
Assessment (PBLA) for all four skills (listening, speaking, reading, and
writing). As we focus on teaching our students English to prepare them for
post-secondary education and the workplace, we find ourselves utilizing creative
ways to incorporate PBLA with scaffolded learning. Thus, we came up with the
idea of a cereal box book report.
I get asked this question a few times every year. My answer is always the same, “We don’t have one”. It’s true, we don’t have one. We have the Curriculum Guidelines, a badly named book that provides class activities of varying quality for different CLB levels. We also have CLB criteria for assessments, and, of course, PBLA, another assessment tool, but nothing to tell us how to achieve these outcomes such as what grammar to teach or what pronunciation to focus on at specific levels. That would be really helpful, especially if you are a new teacher or switching levels.
“You have to get your SBA’s, SUA’s, T’s and A’s in order to have an organized portfolio, Sridatt,” said the Lead Instructor of Portfolio Based Language Assessment (PBLA) implementation. “You also have to get,” continued the official, “peer evaluations [PE’s], learner reflections [LR’s], and inventory checklists [IC’s], all in order to have a good, organised portfolio.” The order and presentation of the portfolio, not the teaching of the language itself, seems paramount. I welcome myself to the new world of English as a second language teaching, even though my new teaching practices are not aligned with my educational philosophy.
By the time the individual was finished, I was beginning to see a sort of preoccupation over skill building activities (SBA’s), skill using activities (SUA’s) tasks (T’s) and assessments (A’s). When the individual was gone, it didn’t take much reflection to conclude that Portfolio Based Language Assessment (PBLA) seems to be a faulty assembly line approach to education. Continue reading →
Portfolio Based Language Assessment (PBLA) has created a new world, where the doing of tasks is a must, with no exceptions whatsoever. The first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word task is the notion that you have something to do, most likely something you are not too keen on doing. A task by any definition is a piece of work you must do or undertake. The Merriam-Webster dictionary goes further to add: “Something hard or unpleasant that has to be done.” Some common synonyms for the word task are chore, job, duty, labour, toil, and burden. Both as a noun and a verb, the word task does not evoke anything pleasant someone has to do. How the word task came into adult ESL teaching methodology now troubles me. There has to be a better Continue reading →
Portfolio Based Language Assessment (PBLA) is here to stay. “Teachers cannot opt out” (p. 58) and it is “an expectation of employment” (p. 71). Once implemented the way it was meant to be, the evidence suggests, it is an academically sound approach to teaching and learning. The PBLA programme, now being implemented in all ESL non-credit classes that are funded by Citizenship and Immigration, has two critical shortcomings which I have encountered Continue reading →