Cambridge English Southern Europe

Experts in Language Assessment

Announcing the Cambridge English Global Survey – 2016

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Cambridge English Language Assessment is to launch a major new initiative to help national and regional governments raise standards of language teaching and learning around the world.

The Cambridge English Global Survey will provide an objective, in-depth profile of the language skills of learners in schools, using a representative sample from each country. Standardised assessments aligned to international standards will cover all four language skills – listening, speaking, reading and writing. The assessment system will be backed up by detailed research to give a clear understanding of the effectiveness of language teaching and learning and will identify opportunities for improvement. Participating governments will be able to follow up the survey with a programme of impact research designed to raise standards over time.

Cambridge English offers a uniquely integrated package of assessment, research-based analysis and practical solutions covering the complete range of requirements for language teaching and learning. This will help users of the survey to understand how effectively the performance of their students in English compares to international standards.

The Cambridge English Global Survey builds on our extensive experience in carrying out large-scale benchmarking studies all over the world and in supporting language reform programmes in compulsory education. In the past decade, we have worked with many education ministries, including projects in Europe, Latin America, many parts of Asia and the Middle East. Recent surveys have been carried out on behalf of the governments of Chile, Colombia, Malaysia and Thailand, and in Chile alone we tested nearly 200,000 students in 2012. We will be repeating the exercise in Chile in 2014 to help the government to track the effectiveness of the reform programme.

There is a growing number of ‘league tables’ which claim to show how the standards of teaching and learning compare across different countries. What is different about the Cambridge English Global Survey is that we don’t just analyse the outcomes – we look beneath the surface to investigate the complex factors that affect language education, and to develop a clear picture of what can be done to improve outcomes for students, and for society as a whole. This reflects our educational mission as part of a world-leading university.

The Cambridge English Global Survey will incorporate the ‘impact by design’ principles developed by Cambridge English’s 40-strong research team and the results will be empirically aligned to the Common European Framework of Reference – CEFR – which has become a globally accepted frame of reference for this purpose.

Although the Cambridge English Global Survey will focus on English, opportunities to assess other widely taught languages will be offered through the SurveyLang Consortium. The approach builds on over 25 years of experience in developing multilingual frameworks for language assessment, including the work carried out by ALTE and the multilingual assessment system developed by the SurveyLang consortium. SurveyLang was formed in 2008 to carry out the first European Survey on Language Competences (ESLC) on behalf of the European Commission and was coordinated by Cambridge English. It delivered the final report in 2012 covering 5 languages across 16 European jurisdictions. See: www.surveylang.org.

Further information about the programme will be published in March 2014, and the survey itself will be rolled out in 2016.

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