Symposium on Academic Language
In October 2013, an interdisciplinary conference on ability profiles for German as a second academic language (“Kompetenzprofile Deutsch als fremde Bildungssprache 2013”) took place in Leipzig under the leadership of Prof. Dr. Erwin Tschirner and Dr. Olaf Bärenfänger.
The precise and empirically based description of ability profiles for academic language has always been a desideratum for language (skills) and test research. The closing of this research gap is not only desirable, but also necessary, because, in order to provide academic-language support, guidance, and evaluation for the large number of university students and schoolchildren in Germany who do not speak German as their native language, reliable descriptions of the communicative needs and requirements of this target group are required.
Various scientific disciplines, including applied linguistics, the science of testing, language teaching, subject-related teaching methodology, German as a Foreign Language, and educational science, have already made important contributions to the development of “ability profiles for academic language.” However, interdisciplinary cooperation is often lacking, potential synergy effects are not exploited, and it has not been possible to satisfy the complex and multi-dimensional requirements associated with this objective.
The aim of the event was to bring together some 50 high-ranking scientists from various fields, along with leading representatives of important scientific associations, in order to facilitate scientific exchange and inspire cooperation. The symposium was able to make a significant contribution towards the identification and initiation of theoretical and practical steps for the important objective of describing “ability profiles for academic language.”