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The Development of a Common Framework Scale of Language Proficiency


Brian North

Scales describing language proficiency in a series of levels can provide orientation for educational programmes, criteria for assessment, and reporting to stakeholders. However, in most cases such instruments are produced just by expert opinion. A scale of language proficiency actually implies a descriptive scheme related to theory but usable by practitioners. It also implies a methodology for scaling content to different levels. This book describes the use of both qualitative and quantitative techniques to develop scales for the «Common Reference Levels» in the Common European Framework of Reference for modern languages. Short stand-alone descriptors were (i) developed and classified, (ii) refined and elaborated in workshops, and then (iii) scaled by analyzing the judgments of one hundred teachers on the English language proficiency of the learners in their classes.


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List of Tables xiii


Tables Table 2.1: Models of Knowledge, Performance and Use 44 Table 2.2: Learner and Performance Styles 49 Table 2.3: Cognitive Complexity and Contextual Support 57 Table 2.4: Models of Communicative Competence and Lan- 64 guage Ability Table 2.5: The Evaluation of Reduction Strategies 77 Table 2.6: Categories for Strategic Competence 79 Table 2.7: Categories for Linguistic and Pragmatic Competence 92 Table 2.8: Categories in the Eurocentres Scale 100 Table 2.9: Categories in the Australian Language Levels 101 Table 2.10: Categories for University Students 103 Table 2.11: Categories as Alternatives to the Four Skills 105 Table 2.12: Text as Dialogue 107 Table 2.13: Macrofunction Cross-referenced to Mode 109 Table 2.14: Categories for Communicative Activities 109 Table 2.15: Categories for Descriptors used in the Study 125 Table 3.1: l'vfinimalistic Definition Styles 160 Table 4.1: Video Recordings used in Workshops 187 Table 4.2: Codes for Sorting Tasks 189 Table 5.1: Questionnaires for Data Collection 195 Table 5.2: Procedure for Rating Performances on Video 199 Table 5.3: Video Recordings used for Rating 202 Table 5.4: Performances on Video Recordings used for Rating 202 Table 6.1: The Structure of FACETS Data 224 Table 6.2: l'vfisfit with Negative Concepts 237 Table 6.3: Descriptors for Pronunciation 239 Table 6.4: Descriptors for Interactive \Vriting 242 Table 6.5: Descriptors for Describing and Narrating 244 Table 6.6: Unstable Anchor Items Linking Questionnaires T2 250 and I XlV The Development of a Common Framework Scale of Language Prqfidenry Table 6.7: Unstable Anchor Items Describing Strategies 250 Table 6.8: Other Unstable Anchor...

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