ability of communicating in a foreign language is thus clearly beneficial at many levels, personal
There are also economic, social, and academic benefits to the mastery of a second
language, including job advancement (Morris, 2002). In various job growth areas such as global
marketing, the ability to read and write one or more foreign languages is particularly desirable.
In light of this, postsecondary foreign language programs are placing an increased emphasis on
the expression and production of language. While communication through oral language
proficiency has been a recent focus of language instruction, there is an increasing need for
second language learners to become more fluent in their written expression as there are more
employers and licensing agencies who look for assurances and documentation of these skills
(Swaffar, 1998). Thus it is essential to assess the communication skills of second language
learners and specifically the writing ability of these learners in order to determine the students'
level of language acquisition and fluency.
Communication within the Standards Movement
Education in the 21st century is more standards-driven than ever before, and foreign
language education has not escaped the wave. The ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines, originally
published in 1986, were a product of grants from the U.S. Department of Education. Intended to
be used for global assessment of language ability, the Proficiency Guidelines provide a generic
rubric of skill levels for speaking, listening, reading, and writing from novice to superior
(Stansfield, 1992). Ten years later, in 1996, the National Standards for Foreign Language
Education (National Standards) emerged to define what students should know and be able to do
in foreign language education at different educational levels. While still broad, the Standards
speak more specifically to curricular aims. They are organized around five main goals that focus
Oxford, Raquel Malia Nitta. Effects of Technology-Enhanced Language Learning on Second Language Composition of University-Level Intermediate Spanish Students. Denton, Texas. UNT Digital Library. http://digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc4688/. Accessed July 29, 2014.