Benchmarking a Setswana language learning course against international standards
This paper argues that it is necessary for the intellectualisation of African languages to establish a way of benchmarking language learning courses against international theory and best practice. This benchmarking exercise also forms part of the reiterative interaction between course design and course evaluation. We discuss basic language learning within the BICS/CALP distinction and the Common European Framework of Reference for Language (CEFRL). We argue that both BICS/CALP and CEFRL are too broad for a Language for Specific Purposes (LSP) course, but that a basic learning course is necessary as the foundation for an LSP course in the target language. We illustrate that the CEFRL level descriptors and the BICS/CALP distinction can be used to benchmark a well-functioning, basic language learning course in Setswana against international standards, but that certain language specific differences between European and African languages need to be taken into account. For this, an adapted framework is presented, based on the
CEFRL level descriptors. The article cannot yet indicate if such benchmarking can be extended to an LSP course in general or to an LSP course for African Languages still in need of LSP development.
Keywords: Setswana; language learning; benchmarking; Language for Specific Purposes; beginner language; Common European Frame of Reference; BICS; CALP; Course design; course evaluation.