Aligning Cambridge ESOL Examinations to the CEFR: Issues & Practice

Aligning Cambridge ESOL Examinations to the CEFR: Issues & Practice

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Aligning Cambridge ESOL Examinations to the CEFR: Issues & Practice

Today, the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR) plays a central role in language education and policy not only within Europe but worldwide. It has growing relevance for language testers and examination boards, helping to define language proficiency levels and interpret language qualifications. For many language testers, it has become imperative to make the case that their exams are aligned to the CEFR. The Council of Europe has attempted to facilitate this by providing a toolkit of resources, including a draft pilot Manual for relating language examinations to the CEFR and a technical reference supplement.In this paper we discuss Cambridge ESOL’,s experience in piloting the Manual and in aligning its own examinations to the CEFR. We compare the Manual’,s approach to alignment, which involves training participants to carry out a set of one-off activities such as familiarisation, specification, standardisation and empirical validation, and Cambridge ESOL’,s iterative and cyclic approach to alignment. The comparison will demonstrate how we can build an alignment argument that is based on existing test development and validation systems while generating evidence in line with the aims of the Manual.

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