In the words of... Michael Salvatori

Michael SalvatoriMichael Salvatori is President of the Canadian Association of Second Language Teachers (CASLT) since September 2011. CASLT has over 2,500 members from across the country. Mr. Salvatori is also Registrar and Chief Executive Officer of the Ontario College of Teachers.

CASLT was founded in 1970 and is more active than ever, especially in the last five years, holding biennial conferences since the early 2000s, seeing new members joining the association and a Canadian bilingualism rate touching 20%. How do you explain this new popularity of second languages?

A lot of consensus building work was undertaken across Canada that is now bearing fruit. In today’s developed societies, learning a second language is no longer the norm—it’s a minimum. Market globalization even encourages learning a third or fourth language. While most of our members teach French or English, more and more Mandarin, Spanish, German and Japanese teachers are joining CASLT.

Your association borrows heavily from the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR). Can you explain what it is?

The CEFR is the result of a pan-European collaboration to develop a framework of reference for clearly establishing the shared elements to achieve through the steps involved in learning a second language and ensure consistency in assessments across Europe. The CEFR is now offered in more than 35 languages, and we believe Canada can only benefit from borrowing from the European context, where multilingualism is very common. The CEFR also provided guidance for the implementation of the Canadian Language Portfolio for Teachers (Portfolio), published in June 2011 and, more recently, the Assessment in Action: CEFR-based kit for FSL teachers (Assessment in Action).

What is included in these tools?

The Portfolio gives second language teachers and students studying to become FSL teachers in French immersion or intensive French to undertake self-assessments of their language skills, prepare a personalized action plan and monitor their skill development. Assessment in Action is used to assess student language skills, from the elementary level (A1.1) to independent students (B2), according to five language activities defined by the CEFR.

How are members responding to the CEFR?

It is very encouraging, particularly in British Columbia, the Maritimes and Ontario, but there is still progress to be made. The CASLT is facing a unique situation: our pan-Canadian organization operates in a country where education is a provincial responsibility. With many representatives around the country, the CASLT has strong credibility. For example, the portfolio is so popular that it was translated into English and can now be used by ESL and other modern language teachers.

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