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    Evaluation and assessment

Evaluation and assessment

Evaluation is concerned both with assessing the learner’s language competences and with supporting learning processes through feedback and self-assessment. ECML materials in this area draw largely on the implementation of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages and on the European Language Portfolio.


Evaluation and assessment are central themes in language education. They include a wide variety of aspects, ranging from the setting and grading of national and international standardised examinations to informal classroom tests. In addition, these themes address how learning can be supported and enhanced by appropriate tools such as portfolios or focused feedback.

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How the work of the Council of Europe contributes to evaluation and assessment

Two key issues in assessment are:

 a) what is the nature of the language competences which tests and examinations seek to assess? – i.e. what exactly are we testing? 

b) how can a learner’s proficiency be assessed using valid criteria and graded reliably? 

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How ECML projects contribute to evaluation and assessment

Several ECML publications provide guidelines and tools to accompany the CEFR. The publication ReLex: Relating language examinations to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages: Learning, teaching, assessment (CEFR) - Highlights from the Manual" assists users to cope with the complexities of language assessment and is the basis of the RELANG training seminars, offered by the ECML within its Cooperation Agreement with the European Union. These seminars aim to ensure quality in language testing and assessment and that learners’ test performances are expressed in terms of CEFR levels which are valid, understood and widely accepted.  

As far as the European Language Portfolio is concerned, the ECML hosts a dedicated website for the ELP to promote the pedagogical benefits of this instrument and to facilitate its use in practice. The various ELP-related projects of the ECML are listed here.

Evaluation and other thematic areas

Teacher and learner competences

Learner competences are at the core of both the CEFR and the ELP. The CEFR includes a chapter on Language learning and teaching (chapter 6). The ELP can play an important role in the development of learner autonomy.

Plurilingual and intercultural education 

The CEFR provides a comprehensive specification of plurilingual and intercultural competences, which form the basis of the FREPA project.

Sign languages

The project Sign languages and the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (PROSIGN) establishes European standards for sign languages for professional purposes in line with the (CEFR) and provides an overview of assessment descriptors and approaches.

Languages of schooling 

The project Language skills for successful subject learning (Language Descriptors)

highlights challenges for learners in subject classes where the language of instruction is not their first language. The focus is on minimum language standards in history/civics and mathematics. The language descriptors are linked to CEFR levels A2, B1 and B2.

Early language learning 

The handbook Assessment of young learner literacy linked to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (AYLITT) is designed to assist in the assessment of reading and writing in the primary language classroom on the basis of CEFR descriptors.

Featured resources

Relating language examinations to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages: Learning, teaching, assessment (CEFR) - Highlights from the Manual

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Pathways through assessing, learning and teaching in the CEFR

"Pathways" - guide and kit - aims at supporting ownership and contextualization of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR). The guide provides a user-friendly tool for accessing the ‘nitty gritty’ of the CEFR. The kit assists teacher educators in devising training paths for understanding the principles of the CEFR and for envisaging links with classroom practice.

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The European Language Portfolio – A guide to the planning, implementation and evaluation of whole-school projects

The guide explains how to use the European Language Portfolio to support the learning and teaching of all foreign languages at all levels in a school. Case studies carried out in ten countries illustrate different approaches to ELP use.

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Current projects

A quality assurance matrix for CEFR use
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Towards a Common European Framework of Reference for language teachers
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