Probably more than once you have been asked whether you spoke English and you answered “a little,” “more or less” or “pretty well” and that sufficed. But in the present if a prospective employer or a university admissions office, for example, won’t be satisfied with such an answer.
Even the more formal words used to describe your level of knowledge by learning institutions like: basic, lower intermediate, intermediate, upper intermediate or advanced is not accepted nowadays because there is no agreement about how much knowledge is necessary to be classified within one of those categories. There are not universal boundaries between them. What somebody considers an intermediate may be labeled as upper intermediate by another party and there is no way to determine who is right.
That is the reason why Europe, a continent where many languages are spoken, decided to build a grid which permitted to know which abilities are necessary for a learner to posses to be labelled within one of six categories.
The Common European Framework of Reference for Languages: is a European standard, also used in other countries, and it was built in order to measure the level of oral and written comprehension and expression in a given language. It was the Council of Europe who decided to undertake that endeavor.
The system is not only applicable for the English language. It is used to measure expression levels for 40 different languages. In fact, all important standardized exams are presently mapped to the CEFR. And this tendency keeps growing. Being English the lingua franca of our days the international exams in this language keep high relevance.
The love-hate feelings that have characterized the relationships between the two countries did not prevent Édouard Philippe, French Prime Minister, to recognize that English is truly the lingua franca of today and stated: “You have to speak English if you want to act and move in globalization.’
There is no way to predict until when this situation will prevail. But there are studies that based on literature review and qualitative research indicate soundly that English will continue to be the dominant language in Europe and remain the preferred second language for most Europeans in 2025. And common sense shows that situation applies to the whole globe.
There is reason to believe then that he importance of standardized, well-built and controlled exams will continue growing and spreading in all the world.