Project 4

Cuba: Developing a Certification System for English and Developing Language Assessment Literacy – a train-the-trainers approach (2017-ongoing)

Funded partly by the University of Bremen Internationalisation Fund, British Council Cuba, Ministerio de Educación Superior de Cuba, ILTA.

This collaborative capacity-building project arose from the need in Cuban higher education to raise the level of English proficiency; it is also driven by the introduction of the CEFR as the proficiency framework in higher education language training. It is conducted in collaboration with the Ministerio de Educación Superior de Cuba, Universidad de las Ciencias Informáticas, the British Council Cuba and UK, and the University of Bremen.

The main aim of the project is to set up a sustainable system of English language learning, teaching and certification. The project targets three sub-aspects: training university language teachers to become trainers themselves in order to establish sustainability; developing standardized language tests that are aligned to the CEFR in order to achieve international recognition; and conducting research with regard to the effectiveness of the training, the quality of the test instruments, and the impact the new certification system will have. With regard to training the trainers, representative teachers of all Cuban regions are currently attending a training program that is conducted by Claudia Harsch. These teachers receive training in all relevant areas of language assessment, so that they can a) develop assessment tools for the new certification system, and b) train other teachers in their regions in relevant areas of assessment and certification. The approach taken is collaborative and dynamic, with face-to-face training phases in Cuba, and online working phases where the teachers collaboratively develop assessment materials and receive feedback from each other.

The effectiveness of the training was evaluated after one year via an online questionnaire. Results show that teachers gained in knowledge and skills in all relevant areas covered in the training phases. They particularly appreciated the cooperation and networking opportunities amongst colleagues and the exchange with national and international experts. The positive evaluation shows the way for an extension of the program, making use of local and global networks such as the Cuban Network of Assessment in Higher Education, which was founded in 2017 with the help of a workshop grant by the International Language Testing Association, or the newly established Latin American Association for Language Testing, where the Cuban network is a member.

The project design and the evaluation were presented at international conferences and publications are currently under way.