ALTE and the Council of Europe
ALTE (Association of Language Testers in Europe) is an association of
providers of European foreign language examinations,
and includes some of the major international
providers in the field of language testing. One of
ALTE'S main aims is to make clear how qualifications
achieved in different languages correspond to each
other, and what they mean in practice. This will
have the effect of making qualifications more usable
and increasing people's potential mobility.
The Council of Europe
The Council of Europe has developed a language
policy over the years with the following objectives:
- To protect and develop the linguistic
heritage and cultural diversity of Europe as a
source of mutual enrichment.
- To facilitate personal mobility and the
exchange of ideas.
- To develop a harmonious approach to language
teaching based on common principles.
- To promote large-scale plurilingualism.
The Common European Framework of Reference for
Languages was developed through a process of
scientific research and wide consultation to provide
a practical tool for setting clear standards to be
attained at successive stages of learning and for
evaluating outcomes in an internationally comparable
manner. The Framework provides a basis for the
mutual recognition of language qualifications, thus
facilitating educational and occupational mobility.
It is increasingly used in the reform of national
curricula and by international consortia for the
comparison of language certificates.
One of its aims is to help partners to describe
the levels of proficiency required by existing
standards, tests and examinations in order to
facilitate comparisons between different systems of
qualifications. For this purpose the Council of
Europe has developed a European Framework with
common reference levels.
This six-level 'Global Scale' makes it easier to
communicate the system to non-specialist users and
will also provide teachers and curriculum planners
with orientation points.
||Can understand with ease virtually
everything heard or read. Can summarise
information from different spoken and
written sources, reconstructing arguments
and accounts in a coherent presentation. Can
express him/herself spontaneously, very
fluently and precisely, differentiating
finer shades of meaning even in more complex
||Can understand a wide range of
demanding, longer texts, and recognise
implicit meaning. Can express him/herself
fluently and spontaneously without much
obvious searching for expressions. Can use
language flexibly and effectively for
social, academic and professional purposes.
Can produce clear, well-structured, detailed
text on complex subjects, showing controlled
use of organisational patterns, connectors
and cohesive devices.
||Can understand the main ideas of complex
text on both concrete and abstract topics,
including technical discussions in his/her
field of specialisation. Can interact with a
degree of fluency and spontaneity that makes
regular interaction with native speakers
quite possible without strain for either
party. Can produce clear, detailed text on a
wide range of subjects and explain a
viewpoint on a topical issue giving the
advantages and disadvantages of various
||Can understand the main points of clear
standard input on familiar matters regularly
encountered in work, school, leisure, etc.
Can deal with most situations likely to
arise whilst travelling in an area where the
language is spoken. Can produce simple
connected text on topics which are familiar
or of personal interest. Can describe
experiences and events, dreams, hopes and
ambitions and briefly give reasons and
explanations for opinions and plans.
||Can understand sentences and frequently
used expression related to areas of most
immediate relevance (e.g. very basic
personal and family information, shopping,
local geography, employment). Can
communicate in simple and routine tasks
requiring a simple and direct exchange of
information on familiar and routine matters.
Can describe in simple terms aspects of
his/her background, immediate environment
and matters in areas of immediate need.
||Can understand and use familiar everyday
expressions and very basic phrases aimed at
the satisfaction of needs of a concrete
type. Can introduce him/herself and others
and can ask and answer questions about
personal details such as where he/she lives,
people he/she knows and things he/she has.
Can interact in a simple way provided the
other person talks slowly and clearly and is
prepared to help.
For more information about the Council of Europe,
Cambridge ESOL Examinations
The Cambridge ESOL Examinations are known all
over the world and are recognised by universities,
employers and national education authorities. They
are suitable for learners of all nationalities, with
examinations for learners of almost any age. The
main suite examinations are amongst the world's
best-known qualifications for learners of English,
but the range also includes examinations in Business
English and English for Academic Purposes as well as
tests for young learners. The examinations cover all
four skills - listening, speaking, reading and