Petition: Keep our languages exams – every language is an asset

OCR (Oxford Cambridge and RSA Examinations), the UK awarding body, plans to reduce its Asset Languages assessment scheme from 25 to only 5 languages (French, German, Spanish, Italian and Mandarin) from 2014.

Asset Languages currently offers accreditation for Cantonese, Cornish, Hindi, Somali, Swedish, Tamil and Yoruba, for which no GCSE examination exists. Even where GCSE exams exist, the GCSE is often designed only for learners who speak the language at home, not for those who have learnt it as a foreign language. Reducing the number of Asset languages will set back attempts to encourage the learning of a broader range of world languages, especially languages such as Arabic, Portuguese, Russian, Turkish and South Asian languages, which business leaders say are needed to develop British exports to BRIC and other high-growth countries.

Dr Terry Lamb (University of Sheffield) of the Speak to the Future campaign has started a petition urging OCR to reconsider its plans for Asset Languages, and the government to reconsider its policy towards this accreditation.

To find out more, and to sign the petition, go here.

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ALTE: Association of Language Testers in Europe

The Association of Language Testers in Europe (ALTE) was established in 1989 by the Universities of Cambridge and Salamanca to provide a European platform to accommodate the growing need for common standards in language testing as a result of developments in plurilingualism across the continent.

The organisation’s ‘initial aim was to establish common standards for language testing across Europe, thereby supporting multilingualism and helping preserve the rich linguistic heritage of Europe’ and to provide individual test takers with access to language qualifications that were a fair and accurate assessment of their linguistic ability, which were recognised around the world, and ‘which could be accurately compared to qualifications in other languages’.

ALTE now has 33 members, including some of the world’s leading language assessment bodies, and 40 institutional affiliates as well as several hundred individual affiliates.

To learn more about ALTE, their bi-annual conference (next: 21-23 November 2012, Goethe Institut, Munich), and about their summer courses for language testers, please follow the link to their website.