The monsoon is in full force with heavy rains daily (the monsoon will run until at least September) not only does it make it very uncomfortable, but it makes it difficult for the students to safely travel to class, however they regularly show up with great enthusiasm and energy. This week we administered the CEFR test to our 2nd-year students to measure how they compare on a global scale.
Our objective is to get all of our students to at least level B1 by the end of their 3rd year and our more promising students to level B2. With that level of command of the English language, their futures are wide open to them as Myanmar develops. A brief explanation of the CEFR follows.
The Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEF or CEFR) was put together by the Council of Europe as a way of standardizing the levels of language exams in different regions. It is very widely used internationally and all-important exams are mapped to the CEFR.
There are six levels: A1, A2, B1, B2, C1, C2. These are described below:
A1 (Breakthrough) - A basic ability to communicate and exchange information in a simple way.
A2 (Waystage) - An ability to deal with simple, straightforward information and begin to express oneself in familiar contexts.
B1 (Threshold) - The ability to express oneself in a limited way in familiar situations and to deal in a general way with nonroutine information.
B2 (Vantage) - The capacity to achieve most goals and express oneself on a range of topics.
C1 (Effective Operational Proficiency) - The ability to communicate with the emphasis on how well it is done, in terms of appropriacy, sensitivity and the capacity to deal with unfamiliar topics.
C2 (Mastery) - The capacity to deal with material which is academic or cognitively demanding, and to use language to good effect at a level of performance which may in certain respects be more advanced than that of an average native speaker.
Upon completion of the exam this week, 60% of our 2nd-year students scored results that placed them at levels A2 (28%) or B1 (32%) on the CEFR matrix. The students could not be more excited, and we are very encouraged by their results. For those students that did not meet the level of expertise to score at least an A2 level, we are in the process of revisiting their studies with the intention of getting them to level A2 by the end of the year.
We realize that there is still much work ahead of us and for our students, but we are greatly encouraged and motivated to continue the work of providing the skills that these children will need to escape the binds of poverty that currently enslaves them.
Solomon Shwe Oke (Esther Project Myanmar)