Program Types

What types of institutions serve post-secondary world language learners?

Programs that serve post-secondary language learners vary in terms of:

  • the populations they serve
  • their educational goals and objectives
  • their curriculum, materials, and resources
  • their approaches to instruction and assessment
  • their funding sources and practical considerations

It is important for teachers to consider these factors when planning for assessment, especially when working with less commonly taught languages (LCTLs) for which a limited number of resources may be available.

While much of the information provided throughout this module is designed to be appropriate for all post-secondary world language learning contexts, some recommendations will be more or less appropriate for teachers working in different types of institutions.

To address these differences, we have included a number of learning scenarios throughout the module that provide examples of assessment situations for different contexts. Click on each box below to learn some general considerations for world language teaching and learning in these contexts.

Public Colleges and Universities

Public colleges and universities benefit from support from the state and often use nationally or regionally-recognized learning standards to guide instruction and assessment. However, instructors in these contexts may encounter large class sizes and the need to comply with external expectations for assessment that are tied to funding. Finding resources appropriate for large groups of students with diverse needs is crucial for educators in these contexts.

Private Colleges and Universities

Private institutions are generally smaller than public ones, and instructors may have more autonomy. However, they may not get the same support from the state that public institutions benefit from, leaving instruction and assessment solely in the hands of the university. Knowledge of best practices for modifying or developing assessments may be especially useful in this context.

Community Colleges

Community colleges primarily focus on certificates, diplomas, and associate’s degrees, and many students enroll in these colleges to prepare for the workforce. Given the professional focus of many of these learners, it may be best to link students’ professional goals to their learning and the kinds of assessments offered in this context.

Community-based Programs

Post-secondary world language learning may also take place in community-based programs, including those offered at community centers, places of worship, and immigrant outreach programs. Learners enrolled in these programs are often internally motivated, but the diverse backgrounds can make meeting every student’s need challenging. It is therefore important to recognize and support students’ individual needs when selecting and administering assessments in this context.