1. What is the Common European Framework (CEF)?
The Common European Framework is a common reference for describing language learning, teaching and assessment.
2. Why is the CEF needed? What are the advantages and disadvantages of the CEF?
It is difficult to compare levels between learners of different languages, therefore the CEF is needed to provide teaches and learners with a reference which specifies what learners able to do at certain levels and provide “can do “ statements.
· It provides a common framework upon which to progress (it’s like a base for everyone)
· The focus on CEF is communication – the most important aspect of a language
· It could help language learners and teachers to be more independent
· Despite not having specific grammar and vocabulary goals, it does provide goals to which a student can work towards using the “can do” statements.
· It is a good way to encourage students to reflect on their skills and language ability.
· Despite it stating that it can be used for European and non-European languages alike, I would consider the ALTE’s guidance on the number of teaching hours in order to fulfil aims of each CEF level doesn’t necessary align so well for languages which is more difficult to learn (Chinese, Japanese, Russian etc).
· The “can do” statements could be considered to be quite vague, they merely provide an idea as to what the student “can do”, and therefore it could be easy to misidentify a level.
· The “can do” statements do not say how well you can do something.
3. What is the Global Scale of the CEF and its characteristics?
The Global Scale is a language achievement scale and is based on positive “can do” statements, which describe what a learner “can do” in a language. The Global Scale is divided into levels, ranging from Basic to Proficient and helps learners to see that they can attain certain language goals and see that language has value.
The Global scale moves from A1-A2 (basic user), B1-B2 (independent user) and C1-C2 (proficient user). Each level specifies:
· Competencies necessary for effective communication
· Skills and knowledge related to language learning and competencies.
· Situations (people, place, time, organization etc.) and contexts (study, work, social, tourism etc.) in which the context takes place.
It isn’t language specific and can be used with all European languages and some languages from outside of Europe. It can also help teachers to decide curriculum and appropriate course books.
4. Is CEF a teaching methodology?
CEF is not a teaching methodology because it doesn’t prescribe a way of teaching. It is a descriptive framework for all language levels. It allows teachers and learners to apply their own language methodology to achieve higher levels.
5. What does the CEF say about grammar and vocabulary?
The CEF states that there are not specific grammar or vocabulary “can do” statements; this is because it is used to describe European languages. Instead, it is designed to describe how language users communicate and understand written and spoken texts.
6. Explain the benefits of the CEF for the language teacher.
· Language teachers can use CEF as a reference point in the classroom. It is understood globally and informs them of decisions on measuring language knowledge and skills.
· Teachers also receive a detailed description of learning, teaching and assessing languages. The CEF allows them to compare learners to a set of competencies, and how they carry out communicative tasks.
· Helps teachers and learners move towards a specific level with a specific set of goals
· The CEF is often referenced in text books, teachers can choose textbooks with this reference if they wish.
· CEF levels provide an indication of performance and ability to function in communicative contexts in a foreign language.
7. According to the Association of the Language Testers of Europe (ALTE), the number of hours devoted to each different level varies. The higher the level, the more hours students need. Why is it like this? What other factors do we need to take into consideration?
This is because learning a language is like climbing a mountain, the ascent gets harder the higher you climb, therefore it is unrealistic to suggest that it takes equal amounts of time to move from one level to another. This is because the learner progresses with the language.
It is important to take into consideration that after B1 level, most learners reach a linguistic plateau, where acquisition slows. It is also important to consider that all language learners develop different paces. The number of hours specified on the ALTE therefore is an approximation as this depends on”
· amount of prior study and extent of exposure to the language outside the classroom
· amount of time spent in individual study