Using the CEFR for Improving Pre-service Teachers’ Communicative Competence

  •  Mutar Sabeeh Naser    
  •  Nor Liza Ali    


The study investigated the effects of implementing "the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages" "CEFR" in the English courses in a teacher education program at one Iraqi public university. An intensive 288-hour CEFR-informed program focusing on communicative language competence was designed. The data collection consists of two phases: pre-CEFR and post-CEFR implementations. A total of 150 fourth-year pre-service teachers participated in the study. The questionnaire was the only instrument used for the data collection, which consisted of two parts: the CEFR Self-Assessment Grid and Bachman and Palmer’s linguistic test. The CEFR Self-Assessment Grid was used to access participants self-assessments of their English proficiency. In addition, the linguistic test examines 13 criteria of language knowledge: language vocabulary, syntax, phonology/graphology (grammatical knowledge), knowledge of cohesion, rhetorical organization, conversational organization (textual knowledge), ideational knowledge, manipulative knowledge, instrumental knowledge, imaginative knowledge (functional knowledge), knowledge of dialects, registers, and idiomatic expressions. It was hypothesized that there would be an improvement in pre-service teachers' performance after the implementation of the CEFR as a teaching framework. All the participants took the pre-CEFR and post-CEFR tests to examine their English language competency. The questionnaire was used in pre- and post-tests. The pre-CEFR test results showed that a significant percentage of the participants did not have adequate proficiency to be an English teacher (CEFR A2 and B1). Consequently, a course was designed to enhance pre-service teachers' communicative competence level required for them to be effective teachers, which is considered the main goal of teaching and learning English in the Iraqi colleges of education. The results were estimated according to the CEFR self-assessment grid and Bachman and Plamer’s (1996) checklist. The results of the post-test proved that the pre-service teachers had made more progress in their language proficiency as a result of implementing the CEFR compared to their levels before.

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