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Academic Paper


Title: European Language Policy: Assessment, Learning, and the CEFR
Author: Neil Jones
Author: Nick Saville
Institution: University of Cambridge
Linguistic Field: Applied Linguistics
Abstract: This article describes how language policy is formed at a European level, focusing on the Common European Framework of Reference for Language (CEFR). The CEFR's prominent role in assessment has led to criticisms of its adequacy as a model for learning and fears that it is being used as an instrument of centralization and harmonization. First, we argue for studying the CEFR's effect on language policy as a case of impact, as this concept is understood within language assessment. We refer to experience with Asset Languages, developed as part of the United Kingdom's national languages strategy. Second, we agree with many commentators who insist on the framework's “flexible and context-amenable” nature. If use of the CEFR is made prescriptive and closed, it indeed becomes a straitjacket. What is needed is engagement with the complexity of specific contexts. We introduce the European Survey on Language Competences, a European Union (EU) initiative scheduled for 2011, which will further raise the profile of the CEFR as an assessment framework. This project should contribute to achieving comparability of measures and standards across languages. At the same time it underlines the need to develop contextualized, practical ways of realizing the CEFR's potential as a framework for teaching and learning.

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This article appears IN Annual Review of Applied Linguistics Vol. 29, Issue 1, which you can READ on Cambridge's site or on LINGUIST .



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