Developing Professional-Level Language Proficiency

This comprehensive book examines approaches to teaching students who aim to make the leap from advanced or superior proficiency in a foreign language to ‘near-native’ ability. While there are copious publications on classroom techniques and methods for lower levels of instruction, virtually nothing exists about this transition, which is vital for those who intend to use foreign languages in high-level international arenas. This book, by leading practitioners in this area of foreign language teaching, aims to fill this gap and assist those developing language programmes at the ‘advanced to distinguished’ level. • Divided into three parts which provide information on different aspects of teaching at this level - theory of advanced language teaching - nine sample programs - description of highly advanced learners based on long-term experience and empirical research • Presents programs in seven languages - Spanish, Arabic, Russian, Chinese, English, French and German • Content is both theoretical and pragmatic

• This is the first book to describe different approaches to and experiences of language teaching at the highest (near-native) level; there are no resources currently available • The contributors are experienced professional language teachers from a variety of languages and specialisms • It does for foreign language teachers at this level what the Cambridge Language Teaching Library offers to schoolteachers and ELT professionals


Foreword Richard Brecht; Part I. Principles, Practices, and Theory: 1. Principles and practices in teaching superior-level students: not just more of the same Betty Lou Leaver and Boris Shekhtman; 2. Toward academic-level foreign language abilities: reconsidering foundational assumptions, expanding pedagogical options Heidi Byrnes; Part II. Programs: 3. Contexts for advanced language learning : a report on an immersion institute Heidi Byrnes; 4. Bridging the gap between language for general purposes and language for work: an intensive superior-level language/skill course for teachers, translators, and interpreters Claudia Angelelli and Christian Degueldre; 5. Learning Chinese in China: programs for developing superior- to distinguished-level Chinese language proficiency in China and Taiwan Cornelius C. Kubler; 6. Developing professional-level oral proficiency: the Shekhtman method of teaching communication Boris Shekhtman and Betty Lou Leaver with Natalia Lord, Ekaterina Kuznetsova, and Elena Ovtcharenko; 7. The reading four project: applied technology at the higher levels of foreign language acquisition Catherine W. Ingold; 8. In the quest for level 4+ in Arabic: training level 2–3 learners in independent reading Elsaid Badawi; 9. Teaching high-level writing skills in English at a Danish University Tim Caudery; 10. Heritage speakers as learners at the superior level: differences and similarities between Spanish and Russian student populations Claudia Angelelli and Olga Kagan; 11. Teaching Russian language teachers in eight Summer institutes in Russian language and culture Zita Dabars and Olga Kagan; Part III. Learners: 12. Understanding the student at the superior-distinguished threshold Madeline Ehrman; 13. Achieving multilingualism: preliminary findings from a study of twenty distinguished-level language users Betty Lou Leaver and Sabine Atwell.


‘Betty Lou Leaver and Boris Shekhtman’s recent book Developing Professional-Level Language Proficiency is a significant contribution to the research in foreign language education. The book is a landmark in that it is the first of its kind to address the special problems and concerns relevant to teaching at the advanced, superior and distinguished levels according to the Interagency Language Roundtable (ILR) Proficiency Scale.’ Benjamin Rifkin

‘… informative and thorough in providing a descriptive overview of successful language programs at the upper levels … the authors almost unanimously attend to the learner, and to the sociolinguistic and sociocultural aspects of language learning and teaching in their practice … I recommend this volume to language instructors, program managers, researchers and advanced learners who seek to learn more about what might be on offer to them.‘ Huamei Han, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at University of Toronto