ITT Lecture Pardee Lowe, Jr.
The second ITT lecture of 2018 was held on June 19th from 5:15 to 6:45 p.m. in lecture room P901 on the ninth floor over the Paulinum of Leipzig University (Augustusplatz 10).
We were very honored to welcome Dr. Pardee Lowe, Jr. (US Interagency Roundtable), who gave a talk entitled “The ILR Scale – a Half-Century of Insights”.
What happens when a unique situation arises and a truly new testing system must be created? This presentation looks at the requirements that occasioned the devising of the US Government’s Interagency Language (ILR) Scale in the mid-1950s and how it has fared ever since. Initially, outsiders questioned its feasibility and effectiveness. The presenter, who wrote the first full scale Oral Proficiency Interview (OPI) manual and co-authored the handbook on text evaluation according to the ILR scale, has at various times sat, been chair or co-chair of most of the ILR committees, as well as been a member of the committees that revise the extant ILR Language Skill Level Descriptions and help on those that have created the newest ones. He has trained both the initial generation of OPI testers and trainers at the Defense Language Institute’s Foreign Language Center (Monterey, CA) as well as the initial generation of OPI testers and trainers at American Council for teaching Foreign Language. Moreover, he trained both these groups in text evaluation. In this presentation he delves into the “hows” and “whys” of the ILR scale’s working and shares both some of its quirks and some of the ways in which it has proved revolutionary, seminal, and transformative!
About Pardee Lowe, Jr.
Pardee Lowe, Jr. has degrees from the University of California, Berkeley: BA 1958 – major in German, minors in history and political science; MA 1963; PhD 1965 the last two degrees in German with Linguistic Emphasis. His dissertation was on Modern German word formation. A second focus was on Old Icelandic. He spent 1958-59 as a Dankstipendiat at the University in Tuebingen, Germany. After an academic career as Assistant Professor in German and Old Icelandic at Cornell University, he joined the federal government in 1974 and immediately became a member of the US Government’s Interagency Language Roundtable’s (ILR) testing committee.
Called “the Father of Proficiency,” he has had broad experience and unique insights into the workings of the ILR scale. He wrote the first full-length manual on the Oral Proficiency Interview (OPI) and also co-authored the handbook on text evaluation. He also sat on most of the ILR’s committees and been their chair or co-chair as well as a member of the sub-committees revising the four original proficiency ILR Language Skill Level Descriptions and helping on those committees that created the four newest performance ones. He trained both the initial generation of OPI testers and trainers at the Defense Language Institute’s Foreign Language Center (Monterey, CA) and undertook the same for the American Council for Teaching Foreign Language (ACTFL), being given an 18-month rotational assignment to do so. Moreover, he trained both these groups in text evaluation, the necessary background for Listening, Reading, and Writing tests. During his federal career he headed testing at two of the four federal language schools and worked co-operatively with the rest as well as at other federal agencies such as the FBI on foreign language assessment. He has published on the nature of the ILR scale. These experiences place him in a unique position to share insights on the ILR scale.