That’s where I am this weekend: Trafalgar Square, St Martin-in-the-Fields, The CEFR: a road map for future research and development
What can 130 language teachers, assessors, professors and other experts do in a church crypt in the centre of London?
Discuss teaching and assessing of course – and it’s not boring at all. The whole vibe reminds me of IATEFL, with lots of people who clearly love what they do and are happy to see old friends and make new ones.
Between the coffees and conversations, we listened to several excellent talks about the CEFR (Common European Framework) scale, especially the new CV (Companion Volume).
And the real question behind it all was: how can CEFR help us in the classroom, with the curriculum and with assessment?
This little blog is awfully (and woefully) inadequate for giving you any kind of detail, but here are a few random takeaways:
1) Brian North spoke about the Companion Volume. They added YL descriptors, mediation, phonology, sign language, and made other important updates.
Mediation (and plurilingualism) deserves its own blog post, or even series, so watch this space.
Oh, and do you know that they have got rid of ‘the ghost of the native speaker’ in the descriptors? It’s ‘proficient user’ throughout, just like in IELTS descriptors.
Even though he repeated a few times, ‘It’s too early to tell’ when speaking about achievements, it seems that CV has helped the CEFR cause a lot. The question is, how do we let all stakeholders know about it?
2) The panel with Barry O’Sullivan, Masashi Negishi and Meg Malone, chaired by Jamie Dunlea was in fact three more presentations.
For me the biggest realisation was that CEFR is a truly international phenomenon and that it’s actually ok to adapt it to different languages and cultures (e.g. in Japan there are a lot of elementary learners, so there was a need to have a more detailed subdivision of levels)
3) David Little gave his own take on CEFR and its perspectives, related to plurilingualism, proficiency levels (yes, we’re finally talking about how diffferent they are in terms of hours needed to reach them and in terms of which contexts of use they presuppose).
I took pictures of every slide (until my phone died), and then started scribbling with a pencil. I have to say that nothing beats a good speaker: you hang on their every word, you laugh at their jokes. (Language learning is like a relationship, it has its ups and downs. Meg Malone)
David Little: ‘Reading this is a challenge for breath control, but I’ve had practice’.
Group discussions were quite exciting too and deserve a post of their own – to be continued!
P.S. Did you know they call the intermediate plateau ‘terminal intermediate’ in America?