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Why we need the CEFR

Posted by Frank Preiss, on 22 April 2015. Comments: 0

Personally, I don't think business is the best or main reason for learning a foreign language.

Like it or not, English is usually THE language of business. Nevertheless, across Europe and the Americas, a good command of one or other of the major European languages is a definite advantage for job-seekers, students and many other people.

Why then does the UK language-teaching community so deliberately - it seems to me - ignore the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR)? No UK language exam is aligned to it, with the result that none of our language qualifications mean anything much to employers anywhere else in Europe.

Is this lack of interest part of our scepticism over the EU? It's certainly astonishing how few people know the difference between the 28-member EU and the 47-member Council of Europe (CoE). The CEFR is a project of the Council of Europe, not the EU, We Brits played a very big part in creating the CoE, and a significant part in developing the CEFR. It owes a lot to the work of John Trim and a team at Cambridge University that produced the Cambridge Proficiency syllabus.

The CEFR is now the standard for assessing the language competence of every candidate for just about anything, right across Europe and, increasingly, the rest of the world. By ignoring it, I believe we are seriously handicapping our students.

This is British exceptionalism gone slightly mad.

What do you think?


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