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Introduction to the CEFR

presentation on CEFR

Gill Cooke

on 5 December 2013

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Transcript of Introduction to the CEFR

for Languages
The Common European Framework of Reference for Languages: Learning, Teaching, Assessment, abbreviated as CEFR, is a guideline used to describe achievements of learners of foreign languages across Europe
The Council of Europe, as the main part of the project "Language Learning for European Citizenship" between 1989 and 1996 set up a body with the main aim of
providing a method of learning, teaching and assessing which applies to all languages in Europe
. And in November 2000 CEFR was recommended as a system of validation of language ability. The six reference levels (A1-C2) are becoming widely accepted as the European standard for grading an individual's language proficiency and that framework is now being recognised and accepted outside Europe as well.
The Origin
The Descriptive Scheme focuses on the actions performed by people who as individuals and as social agents develop a range of general and communicative language competences
Levels of Proficiency
Can understand and use familiar everyday expressions and very basic phrases aimed at the satisfaction of needs of a concrete type.
Can introduce him/herself and others and can ask and answer questions about personal details such as where he/she lives, people he/she knows and things he/she has.
Can interact in a simple way provided the other person talks slowly and clearly and is prepared to help.
Can understand sentences and frequently used expressions related to areas of most immediate relevance (e.g. very basic personal and family information, shopping, local geography, employment).
Can communicate in simple and routine tasks requiring a simple and direct exchange of information on familiar and routine matters.
Can describe in simple terms aspects of his/her background, immediate environment and matters in areas of immediate need.
Can understand the main points of clear standard input on familiar matters regularly encountered in work, school, leisure, etc. Can deal with most situations likely to arise whilst travelling in an area where the language is spoken.
Can produce simple connected text on topics which are familiar or of personal interest.
Can describe experiences and events, dreams, hopes & ambitions and briefly give reasons and explanations for opinions and plans.
Can understand the main ideas of complex text on both concrete and abstract topics, including technical discussions in his/her field of specialisation.
Can interact with a degree of fluency and spontaneity that makes regular interaction with native speakers quite possible without strain for either party.
Can produce clear, detailed text on a wide range of subjects and explain a viewpoint on a topical issue giving the advantages and disadvantages of various options.
Can understand a wide range of demanding, longer texts, and recognise implicit meaning.
Can express him/herself fluently and spontaneously without much obvious searching for expressions.
Can use language flexibly and effectively for social, academic and professional purposes.
Can produce clear, well-structured, detailed text on complex subjects, showing controlled use of organisational patterns, connectors and cohesive devices.
Can understand with ease virtually everything heard or read.
Can summarise information from different spoken and written sources, reconstructing arguments and accounts in a coherent presentation.
Can express him/herself spontaneously, very fluently and precisely, differentiating finer shades of meaning even in the most complex situations.
What is CEFR used for?
* helps teachers to set clear objectives

* improves communication within Europe with everyone using the same points of reference

* helps to assess each student at a standardised international level
* the language functions of CEFR usually reflect situations in which learners have to survive in a monolingual environment which does not mirror the daily life

* certain aspects of implementing and following up on the CEFR can be time - consuming
General competences of a language user/learner comprise 4 sub-competences: ability to learn (know how to learn): the ability to engage in new experiences, and to integrate new knowledge into existing knowledge.
Imagine a scene - an employer advertises for an English speaker to join his company. Two applicants come for interview 'Do you speak English?' asks the employer.

I have a B in CAE
I have a score of 112 in TOEFL
Which one does the employer choose? Which one has a better level of English?
Situations like this led to the realisation that there was a need for some way to standardise assessment and the defining of levels from exam to exam within each language and then also between languages
CEFr consists of two parts:
1. The Descriptive Scheme – a tool for reflecting on what is involved not only in language use, but also in learning and teaching (descriptive skills, competences, strategies, activities, domains and conditions, and constraints that determine language use)
2. The Common Reference Level System - scales of illustrative descriptors that provide global and detailed specifications of language proficiency levels for different parameters of the scheme. (Can do statements)
What level do you think these students are at?
And this student, what level do you think she is?
Listen to their speaking task and decide which of the CEFR levels they are at -
looking at the answer in the slide which follows.
These two students are taking the Cambridge KET test - they would probably be at A2 level.
She is taking the Cambridge CPE exam which would put her at C2 level
The CEFR is often used by policy-makers to set minimum language requirements for a wide range of purposes. It is also widely used in curriculum planning, preparing textbooks and many other contexts. It can be a valuable tool for all of these purposes, but users need to understand its limitations and original intentions. It was intended to be a ‘work in progress’, not an international
standard or seal of approval. It should be seen as a general guide rather than a prescriptive instrument and does not provide simple, ready-made answers or a single method for applying it.
Look at this publication for more information:
A few concrete examples will illustrate some of the uses the CEFR can be put to:

At a language institute, a young teacher would like to test the oral performance of her learners. As she is teaching Dutch as a foreign language, she is the only teacher in her section. How well can she rely on her own expertise as to the scores she gives? If she had access to a community of assessors, another teacher would be able to either sit in on the test or have a look at a recording and send her assessments and annotations.

Teacher trainees and new ELT teachers need good models of what learners can do at a specific level for a specific task in a foreign language, and to be able to consult the descriptors of the CEFR that translate this performance into a commonly recognised scale. They can also learn from each other by comparing their assessments and discussing why and where differences occur.

As teachers in training and new teachers encounter new groups of learners they can use the information in the CEFR and the 'can do' lists to familiarise themselves with the level the learners are at, to help them prepare their lessons and to anticipate some of the problems the learners may have with the content of those lessons.

It takes some time to tune in your ear to the language produced by learners at different levels, the descriptors in the CEFR will give some guidance to what learners at a particular level would be expected to do - video clips such as those included in this presentation are useful for helping you to practise tuning in your ear to catch examples of good language production as well as typical errors.
What practical use is the CEFR to you?
* Our next lesson will look at error awareness and correction techniques.
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