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France’s Ministry of National Education is rolling out certification of English for students in their final year of secondary schooling, using tests developed by Cambridge English. The new tests will also be offered to students preparing for some ‘BTS’ technical higher education qualifications.
This initiative follows a major announcement by Prime Minister Edouard Philippe in February in which he stressed the importance of English language skills for the French economy. Cambridge English, a not for profit department of the University of Cambridge, was selected on the basis of an open tender to develop the tests and provide training for the teachers who will mark the exams.
The tests, which follow the level and approach of Cambridge English’s world-famous B2 First exam, will be rolled out from February 2019. By 2021, they are expected to be taken each year by more than 120,000 students following general and technical pathways in French schools.
Students will take papers covering the four key language skills – listening, speaking, reading and writing – and successful candidates will receive certificates at level B2 of the Common European Framework of Reference. Outstanding candidates will also be able to earn certificates at level C1, while those who struggle to achieve the target level but nevertheless demonstrate ability at level B1 will be awarded certificates showing the level they have achieved.
“The tests are completely integrated with the Common European Framework of Reference and based on active communication skills.” explains Elena Louicellier, Assessment Services Manager for Europe & North Africa at Cambridge English. “The candidates will benefit from the international best practice in language learning and assessment, encouraging them to develop effective communication skills.” she adds.
The test will be marked and assessed by French teachers who will be specially trained for the task. It is expected to be widely accepted by French employers and to play a useful part in in the French higher education system.
This new scheme builds on a long-standing collaboration between Cambridge English and the Ministry of National Education. Over the last 10 years, more than 370,000 students in the ‘European section’ of French secondary schools have gained external certification at level B1 by means of the Cambridge English Certificate.
Hervé Marc, Regional Director for Cambridge English in Europe and North Africa, says: “Cambridge English exists to help people to learn English and prove their skills to the world. We are delighted to be able to play our part in this visionary project to raise the standards of English in France. The government has recognised that English language skills are a priority for the economy and for individual success.”
Click here for more information (in French)