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Estonian schools adopt Cambridge C1 Advanced

The Estonian ministry of education will offer school leavers the chance to take the C1 Advanced qualification from Cambridge Assessment English instead of their school-leaving English test, which is set at a B2 on the CEFR.

Estonia's school leavers already have some of the best English skills in Europe. Photo: Pixabay

Estonia already delivers a very high standard of English language teaching

It’s a move the minister said will promote mobility and international cooperation.

The test will be offered free of charge as an option for students with English language skills higher than B2, adding English to the languages students can take a higher-level international qualification in. Only those studying French, German and Russian had the option so far, according to a ministry statement.

“The government is making an important investment in the country’s economic competitiveness”

A pilot carried out by Foundation Innove involving 20 schools will take place this spring.

“Hundreds of young people in Estonia take internationally recognised English language tests and pay a considerable fee. The state wishes to give students from families that cannot at present afford such fees the same opportunity,” education minister Mailis Reps explained.

“This is undoubtedly an investment in the future, and at the same time a gift from the state to young people starting their independent life.”

She added that having access to international English language certifications will bring benefits for employers and the higher education sector, promoting mobility and international cooperation.

The move has been welcomed by the Estonian Teachers Association, whose leader Margit Timakov said this is an important development for English language teachers as well.

“The state examination we have today doesn’t… measure higher levels of skills and it’s great that now students have an opportunity to get an adequate evaluation of their skills,” Timakov said in a statement.

“This is a challenge for English language teachers as well – they definitely need to gain more knowledge and skills to be able to support their students in a best possible way.”

But according to Alistair Starling, head of strategic development for Cambridge Assessment English in Europe, Estonia already delivers a very high standard of English language teaching, and B2 is one of the highest school-leaving standards in Europe.

“In Cambridge we regularly see Estonian students achieving higher average scores in high-level Cambridge English exams than candidates from any other country in the world. We are delighted that students whose English language skills exceed the B2 level will be able to choose Cambridge English’s C1 Advanced exam,” he said.

“The government is making an important investment in the country’s economic competitiveness.”

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