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Common European Framework of Reference for Languages.

Discussion in 'Modern foreign languages' started by judodan, Apr 13, 2011.

  1. I believe the CEFR for languages should be used as a replacement for NC levels for MFL.
    This divisions are much more consistent globally than are NC levels. Furthermore, I believe exams aimed at each division should replace GCSEs and A-level in MFL. Universities/employers could then require certain levels rather than exams. For example an undergradutre entry for French could be set at B2.
    Each level can be split into 3 divisions. A1.1, A1.2, A1.3; A2.1, A2.2, A2.3, etc.

    Key stage 2, should focus on helping pupils achieve A1.2;
    Year 7 - A1.3;
    Year 8 - A2.1,
    Year 9 - A2.2/3;
    End of KS4 - B1.2,
    AS-level - B1.3/B2.1;
    A-Level - B2.3.
    When I taught English in France, I had to ensure pupils achieved A1 by the final year of primary school.
    What are people's views on this?
  2. You echo my thoughts. I have been saying much the same thing for years. I wrote a section on this topic in Module 4.1 at the ICT4LT website. Module 4.1 is all about Computer Aided Assessment (CAA). Section 2.2 focuses on the CEFR;
    The Languages Ladder maps our national qualifications to the CEFR, but one thing that our national MFL exam boards do not do is spell out the hours that are required to reach the different levels. The Cambridge ESOL board, however, indicates clearly the guided learning hours required to reach each level. See its FAQs page:
    So what's good for ESOL should be good for MFL, eh?
    Graham Davies

  3. Completely agree. This would be very helpful on many levels.
  4. Sarahger, this is interesting. In which region is this?
  5. Bavaria. But although we have a federal system, they've now even managed to make this compulsory for the whole of Germany. It led many universities to stop their entrance tests and just request the said level in the MFL, at least for English, Spanish, Russian etc. For English, they usually still use tests because so many people want to study it.
  6. Instead of the first "English" I meant to write "French".
  7. Incommunicado

    Incommunicado Established commenter

    Thanks for the link, judodan. As you may see, that site is unavailable owing to essential maintenace, but as the link included references to 'can-do' statements I fear that my faith in this system of assessment will be ZERO.
    I can't see the use of any system which relies on 'can-do' statements unless the statements include clear information about
    a) HOW WELL a student 'can do' something:
    e.g. I can play tennis; Roger Federer can play tennis.
    The above 'can do' statements provide no clue whatsoever about our respective abilities at tennis, and so are totally useless for assessment purposes.

    b) within how great a range of vocabulary a student can operate:
    e.g. "Can understand simple commands" :
    Yes, well a dog who responds to "Sit!" and "Stay!" and nothing else satisfies the above, so could be said to be at Level 1 Listening in the NC.
    It is ludicrous that the same 'level' can be applied to someone working within a range of 20 known words and to someone working within a range of 500 known words.

    For the CEFR system of levels to have any credence it must address 'how well' and 'within how much vocab', otherwise it is as useless as the NC Levels.
  8. Incommunicado, the CEFR is not a system of assessment as such, but it can be used as a framework for a system of assessment and it can be related to different national and international examinations, e.g. the Cambridge ESOL examinations, which are considered a pretty good measure of performance in many countries. See http://www.cambridgeesol.org/exams/exams-info/cefr.html
    The Association of Language Teachers in Europe (ALTE) describe its 'Can Do' statements thus:
    The ALTE ‘Can Dos’ are user-orientated scales
    The aim of the ‘Can Do’ project is to develop and validate a set of performance-related scales,
    describing what learners can actually do in the foreign language.

    In terms of Alderson’s (1991) distinction between constructor, assessor and user orientated
    scales, the ALTE ‘Can Do’ statements in their original conception are user-orientated. They
    assist communication between stakeholders in the testing process, and in particular the
    interpretation of test results by non-specialists. As such they provide:

    a) a useful tool for those involved in teaching and testing language students. They can be
    used as a checklist of what language users can do and thus define the stage they are at;

    b) a basis for developing diagnostic test tasks, activity-based curricula and teaching

    c) a means of carrying out an activity-based linguistic audit, of use to people concerned with
    language training and recruitment in companies;

    d) a means of comparing the objectives of courses and materials in different languages but
    existing in the same context.

    They will be of use to people in training and personnel management, as they provide easily
    understandable descriptions of performance, which can be used in specifying requirements to
    language trainers, formulating job descriptions, specifying language requirments for new posts.

    However, I agree that any examination system must address how well a student performs different tasks - and this is up to individual examination bodies to devise.
    Have a look at the complete CEFR document at: http://www.coe.int/t/dg4/linguistic/CADRE_EN.asp
    The CEFR dates back a long time. I recall reading a publication about Level B1 (Threshold Level) back in 1975, and I have the 1990 revised edition on my bookshelf. CEFR is widely used as a framework in Continental Europe, but it has taken a long time for it to catch on in the UK.
    Graham Davies
    Emeritus Professor of Computer Assisted Language Learning

  9. I also think it's a good framework for assessment, because it shows students what they should be able to do. I do private tutoring in English, and encouraged one of my students to take the Cambridge PET (Level B1). At first, she said she would in no way be able to do it, but then she passed it with 70% of the points. It gave her a confidence boost when she read what she was actually able to do, but it also showed her that she was not quite up to that level in speaking (just scraped borderline), so she started practicing and got a lot better. The framework encourages students to think about what they can do and what they have to improve. Furthermore, employers and universities know what level to expect from a certain candidate.
  10. Incommunicado

    Incommunicado Established commenter

    Is there some confusion here, Groovy?
    You said in post 13
    "Incommunicado, the CEFR <u>is not a system of assessment</u> as such, ..."
    but in the link you gave in post 2 I read
    <h3><a name="cef">[/URL]2.2 The Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR) for Languages</h3><h3>The Council of Europe's Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR or CEF) <u>is a scheme of assessment</u> based on research conducted by the Council of Europe dating back to the 1970s.</h3>
  11. Incommunicado

    Incommunicado Established commenter

    Thanks aligru for the useful links in Post 12.
    The effort made to quantify the amounts of vocabulary to be known at each stage is definitely a step in the right direction.
  12. Incommunicado, it's clear from the CEFR document that it is a framework. The opening paragraph of the CEFR document states:
    "The Common European Framework provides a common basis for the elaboration of language
    syllabuses, curriculum guidelines, examinations, textbooks, etc. across Europe. It
    describes in a comprehensive way what language learners have to learn to do in order to
    use a language for communication and what knowledge and skills they have to develop
    so as to be able to act effectively. The description also covers the cultural context in which
    language is set. The Framework also defines levels of proficiency which allow learners&rsquo;
    progress to be measured at each stage of learning and on a life-long basis."
    OK, point taken about scheme of assessment in Section 2.2 of Module 4.1 at the ICT4LT site (which was written by Terry Atkinson some years ago). I have now modified this section in order to make clear what we are talking about.
    The main point is that the CEFR is considered to be a good yardstick for gauging the level of a person's performance in a given language. When HE institutions in the UK examine applications from overseas students they are likely to require information on which CEFR level they have reached in English as a Foreign Language.
    There is a conference in Brussels on the the CEFR on Friday this week, organised by The British Council:
    Graham Davies
    Emeritus Professor of Computer Assisted Language Learning


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