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10-26-2009, 04:11 PM #1
ESL ExamsATTAINMENT LEVELSHistorically there have been many different ways of measuring somebody's language ability and many different scales to indicate level. No world-wide system of measurement or rating exists, though CEF is a Europe-wide system that measures ability in many languages including English. In general, all systems move from absolute beginner (no knowledge of the language) to advanced (equivalent to native-speaker), but the number of levels varies from system to system: some have 5 levels, some have 7 levels, some have 10 levels, and so on.
NOTE: The descriptions for each level apply to a learner at the top of that level, not to one just entering it.
Can understand a few everyday expressions of simple functions in known situations, and can produce some single words and set phrases in response, or can make requests using, for example, a single word + 'please' ('Salt, please'). Little structural grasp, except in reading, where (s)he can recognise the existence of a few basic structural contrasts (e.g. singular/plural or continuous v. simple) even if not always certain exactly what they mean. Can substitute items in one or two structural patterns in writing, but not manipulate the patterns any further.
Can understand many simple expressions of everyday basic functions in familiar situations and sometimes grasp what the basic topic of a conversation in English is. Can produce understandable questions and answers involving information above basic (e.g. Not only 'What is your name?' but ‘What does your father do?') even if structures often go wrong and words are not known. In reading can follow very simplified stories or information, and recognise the meanings of a number of structural contrasts (e.g. ‘the’/‘a’ or ‘I go’/‘I'm going’), and can write a few simple but connected sentences on a given topic with some awareness of the forms required, even if not always using them correctly.
LOWER (or PRE-)INTERMEDIATE
Can understand the gist of a commonplace conversation in English, though not in detail, and can produce English well enough to take part if spoken to carefully. Can also initiate conversation by asking questions on a range of everyday topics (e.g. sport, or food) and can perform most everyday social and practical functions (e.g. buying things in shops, going to the doctor) well enough to survive comfortably. In reading can grasp the full meaning (content) including details, of simpler authentic texts (e.g. instructions on a packet) with the exception of a few of the less common words, including understanding the sense of most basic structures (e.g. verb tense and modals). Can write coherent short compositions using simple but varied structures correctly on a variety of non-specialist topics (e.g.. telling stories, personal letters, giving and explaining an opinion).
Can understand the gist of a commonplace conversation involving fluent speakers, provided that some allowances are made, or occasional help given. Can produce well enough to make substantial relevant contributions (e.g. of an example or story clearly related to the topic) and to get full and satisfactory information from other speakers by questioning as necessary. Is functionally competent for all everyday negotiations except where completely unpredictable problems arise. In reading can get the gist/intention of most straightforward (i.e. non-stylised) authentic texts and can write effective communications of information or opinion, but perhaps with a number of errors, or problems arising from inability to handle some of the more complex structures.
Can understand well enough to hold a continuous conversation with a native speaker, even where the speaker does not, or can not, adapt his/her language to a foreigner. Can produce well enough to initiate new topics, change the subject, and generally take part in the management of the conversation rather than merely responding. Can manage all normal life functions with ease, and cope linguistically with completely new situations (e.g. a negotiation in a shop not going according to expectations). In reading, can understand the majority of any non-specialist, modern text and begin to respond to different 'registers' or types of writing. Can produce fluent writing on most kinds of topic, including arguing for an opinion, and can use complex sentence structures without many errors.
A learner at the top of this level should be able to achieve a good pass in the Cambridge First Certificate exam.
Can understand native speakers of everyday standard English, even when not being directly addressed, and can therefore take part in normal interaction on almost the same terms as a native speaker. Can produce speech fluent enough to convey feeling, to argue and maintain a point of view, or to convey complex information (e.g. explaining a process) to a listener. In reading, can use specialist books written in English to acquire specialist knowledge (including new terminology), can recognise and respond to different styles of writing and, to some extent, to shades of meaning. Can write fluently and with relatively few errors, not only on any topic but also in a range of styles (e.g. narrative, formal argument, business letters, prepared public speaking).
A learner at the top of this level should be able to achieve a good pass in the Cambridge Advanced exam.
Native speaker standard in every skill, with two major differences:
a) in understanding, a lack of long familiarity with English culture (e.g. television programmes) may make some accents, dialects and cultural references less accessible than they would be to a native speaker;
b) on the other hand, a Proficient student may well be more at home - in all skills - with the more academically educated kind of English used in colleges, textbooks etc., than is normal with native speakers taken as a whole.
A learner at the top of this level should be able to achieve a good pass in the Cambridge Proficiency exam
Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEF)
The CEF was created by the Council of Europe and is designed as a scale for all European languages, not just English.
The Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (abbreviated as CEFR or CEF) is a standard, international scale of levels for language learning. It has 6 levels. Language testers and examination boards are increasingly using the CEF as their scale of levels, though many give each level their own name (for example, "Intermediate" for "B2 Vantage"). The table below shows the 3 bands and 6 levels of the CEF, together with the approximate hours* required for each level and what a person is able to do with the language at each level.
NOTE: Guided Learning Hours. It is impossible to say exactly how many hours of study are required for each level as this depends on factors such as the learner's language learning background, the intensity of study, the learner's age and motivation, and the amount of study and exposure outside class. The hours shown in the above table are approximate only.
ALTE Levels and "Can Do" Statements
The ALTE "Can Do" statements exist in 13 European languages
The Association of Language Testers in Europe (ALTE) is a group of leading European language testing organizations (for example Cambridge ESOL, a founding member).
To help people understand examination results, ALTE developed a series of "Can Do" statements describing what a person "can do" using the language at a particular level and in a particular context.
The four contexts are: general, social & tourist, work, and study.
The table below shows the 6 ALTE levels (related to CEF levels), together with the ALTE "Can Do" statements (in the context of general language).
Most examination bodies now attempt to align their tests or scores to the Common European Framework. It should be realised that this is an inexact science and all attempts at correspondence are approximate only.
The following table shows the CEF levels with corresponding levels for the most common tests and examinations.
NOTE: These correspondences are approximate. Many are based on mere claims by the examining bodies.
Test your level
"We have based this test on the standard American English vocabulary and English grammar that you would find in any English language learning material, so that this proficiency test can measure your command of the English language regardless of your English language learning background. So if you've been learning English, see how well you do!"
Dear teachers of English!
It would be very helpful to create our own bank of tests
Every man I meet is my master in some point, and in that I learn from him (R. Emerson)
11-11-2009, 04:24 AM #2Learner
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Re: ESL Exams
Yamha thanks so much for this vital topic now. i am very much into preparation for the exams and i prefer Cambridge certificate ones. I am going to pass CPE myself just to get the feeling of what it is like to tell my students. Then I will be thinking about taking TKY exam in teaching methods and maybe BEC in Musiness English. Wish me luck and thank you so much.
02-20-2010, 12:07 PM #3Learner
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Re: ESL Exams
There's a web site for Tunisan teachers where they can find useful tests.
02-20-2010, 05:44 PM #4
Re: ESL Exams
BBC Esol criteria in Poland: