Issues in the adoption of the CEFR: A case study of the English language program at a private university in western Japan

Article appearing in Shiken 23.1 (June 2019) pp. 34-44

Nicholas H. Miller
Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University

Abstract
This article examines the adoption of the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR) in the English Language Program at a private university in Western Japan. The CEFR was developed as a unified educational package with a number of key foci including the primary goal of facilitating transparency and coherence in language education. Nonetheless, there has been widespread misinterpretation and misapplication of the CEFR, particularly in the appropriation of its scales of proficiency and their descriptors. Analysis of the adoption of the CEFR in the English language program at a private university in Western Japan highlights a number of issues involving reference to the framework being made appropriately, most fundamentally the assertion that the process of implementing classes within the English course in accordance with the CEFR has been achieved. A higher level of transparency would be a helpful step towards adopting the CEFR in a manner consistent with its key foci as well as the directives issued by the Council of Europe (CoE) to address quality concerns in its implementation, and particular attention needs to be given to developing appropriate procedures by which assessments are linked to the CEFR. The university might also consider revising its claims about the CEFR in the English language program until key issues in its adoption have been more adequately addressed.

Keywords: CEFR, transparency, coherence, quality, Top Global University (SGU) Project

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