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Europe to conduct language comprehension surveys

The European Commission has recently released a communication to the Council on a potential framework for a vast European survey on language competency. The purpose of the exercise is to comprehensively measure overall foreign language competency in every member state. This initiative responds to the Council’s call in 2006 to conduct surveys as soon as possible so as to establish a European Indicator on Language Competency. According the envisaged survey framework, the first round of data gathering would focus on secondary school students, testing three basic skills: reading writing and listening comprehension. English, French, German, Spanish, and Italian will be evaluated in the first round. Member states are free to decide which two of these languages to test, in accordance with the languages most widely taught in their national context. Subsequent surveys will ensure that all official European languages are assessed. Test scores should be based on the Common European Framework of References for Languages (CEFR), a guideline for language achievement using six different scales. The Commission will begin developing the testing instruments in 2007 to launch the first round of surveys in 2009. EC communication