The AICLU project for 
Linguistic Competence Certification  
in Italian Universities

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 Duration and Phases 

The anticipated duration of the project is  four years. In the first year (September 2000-end of August 2001), by means of a series of meetings, training sessions and study groups (5 two-day meetings), with the help of modern information and communication technology, information about the various systems of certification at present in use in Europe  was acquired. A detailed bibliography on testing and systems of certifying linguistic competence  was  worked out. A web-site was created for the materials collected and the documents produced by the group. The software was identified for the writing, storage and retrieval of test items, for the production of tests according to the agreed protocols and for the analysis of the statistics relating to the results. The objectives related to the European Threshold and Vantage Levels and target language use domains and text types was closely examined and the test constructs were defined.

In the second year (September 2001-end of August 2002), The design statement, the elements necessary to consider an item adequate for a particular level and a particular objective, were defined. The protocols for the creation of the tests were detailed. The hardware and software for the management of the database of items and for the tests themselves was prepared. Meetings with non-Italian partners were organised to formalise the bases for reciprocity of recognition of the certification. The prototypes of the four certification tests (two (B1 and B2) for Italian, two (B1 and B2) for English) were prepared and experimented with carefully selected groups of students. Reports on the experimentation were written both at local and national levels.

In the third year (September 2002-end of August 2003), on the basis of the results of the experimentation, the prototypes were modified where necessary. Unsuitable items were eliminated or substituted. The project for a  large databank of items for all the kinds of tests envisaged for the Italian and English certification was created. Although it is impossible to be precise about the number of test items that will be created, they should be about 8000 for each language. These items will be stored in a database in a server. The meetings with Italian university partners and non-Italian partners continued.

In the fourth year (September 2003-end August 2004) the number of items in the data bank should double and should become sufficient to ensure that the certification system can be experimented on a rather large number of people. The test-prototypes and the results of their validation have been examined in a detailed way by Prof. Charles Alderson from Lancaster University (one of the main experts on testing and certification in the world), who discussed them with the CERCLU Team in a seminar held at the University of Padua on 23-25 October 2003. The methods of publicising the certification will be decided on and a publicity campaign undertaken. The experimentation of the system will continue and adjustments will be made according to the results; however, the plan is to offer recognised tests of proficiency in English to a selection of the students of the Universities involved, according to a programme that will be agreed upon among the structures responsible for the teaching of languages, and recognised tests of the their level of proficiency in Italian to foreign students on mobility programmes in these universities. The certification will be recognised at international level. At the end of the project, there will be an evaluation of the usership of the project and an evaluation of the impact of the project on the overall organisation of language proficiency testing in the various universities and on the application of that part of the university reform concerned with studentsí proficiency in language.




Duration and Phases