Now that Mexico has determined, since January 2015, that all public schools MUST offer English as a regular (not optional) school subject, in grades K-3 to 6th, there is a scramble to obtain English teachers who must show evidence that they are at a B-2 level on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages.
Cities/states can be exempt only if they prove they are soliciting English teachers, but not enough have applied with the necessary B-2 level, a requirement in Mexico since 2008, and a requirement in Europe since 1991.
While most of Europe still retains the minimum B-2 level for public school English teachers, Madrid has upped the ante. Since September 2014, Madrid (not the rest of Spain) now requires a C-1 level for all public school English teachers. A strong teacher education campaign, government-paid trips to the UK in summer by hundreds of English teachers, and 100% support of CLIL philosophy, has turned a non-English-speaking country, reluctant to leave its mother-tongue of Castellano, such as Madrid, into a city which m=now requires evidence of C-1 in English, if one wants to teach it.
Government support, financial and academic, adoption of CLIL philosophy, teacher development programs, incentives such as teacher trips to England or Ireland to practice the language and to absorb the culture, parental pressure for multilingualism, and effects of globalization in technology, medicine, and economy have combined to put Madrid under the magnifying glass of linguistic experts, who are noticing the literacy and technological advances in Spain, and in Madrid, in particular.
If you want to see how you are doing on a B-2 scale, in various linguistic abilities, check the list below. See where you think you are. Be honest with yourself, and judge the areas where you might need to improve.
If you want to see self-scoring scales for lower or higher levels, let us know in UNONEWS, and I’ll include them in a future column.
The CEFR has guidelines for six levels of languages (not only English) in various linguistic abilities: listening, speaking, reading, writing.
BASIC to PROFICIENT: A-1, A-2, B-1, B-2, C-1, C-2.
B-2 (Independent language user) is the most common level for public schools teachers in most countries.
Common European Framework
B-2 PROFICIENCY LEVEL
I can understand extended speech and lectures and follow even complex lines of argument provided the topic is reasonably familiar. I can understand most TV news and current affairs programs. I can understand the majority of films in standard dialect.
I can read articles and reports concerned with contemporary problems in which the writers adopt particular stances or viewpoints. I can understand contemporary literary prose.
I can interact with a degree of fluency and spontaneity that makes regular interaction with native speakers quite possible. I can take an active part in discussion in familiar contexts, account for and sustaining my views.
I can present clear, detailed descriptions on a wide range of subjects related to my field of interest. I can explain a viewpoint on a topical issue giving the advantages and disadvantages of various options.
I can write clear, detailed text on a wide range of subjects related to my interests. I can write an essay or report, passing on information or giving reasons in support of or against a particular point of view. I can write letters, highlighting the personal significance of events and experiences.
Common European Framework of Reference for Languages: Learning, teaching, assessment. 2001. Council of Europe. Cambridge University Press.