The system of assessment and certification of Portuguese as a Foreign Language (PLE) was established in March 1999 by agreement signed by the Foreign Office (represented by Camões Institute), the Department for Education and the University of Lisbon.This system is responsible for the development and administration of examinations and the recognition of five levels of communicative competence in Portuguese as a Foreign Language (PLE).
There are five levels of Portuguese as a Foreign Language (PLE). Each of them is recognised by a certificate/diploma:
CIPLE – Certificado Inicial de Português Língua Estrangeira
DEPLE – Diploma Elementar de Português Língua Estrangeira
DIPLE – Diploma Intermédio de Português Língua Estrangeira
DAPLE – Diploma Avançado de Português Língua Estrangeira
DUPLE – Diploma Universitário de Português Língua Estrangeira
The examinations leading to the conferment of these certificates assess general, non-specific communicative competence of adolescents and adult users.
A system of assessment and certification of communicative competence of children and adolescents as well as a system of assessment and certification of Portuguese for specific purposes are being developed
The Camões Institute administers, under the tutelage of the Foreign Office, the orientation, coordination and execution of Portuguese external policy related to cultural activities, namely, to the dissemination of Portuguese language and culture.The Camões Institute has the task of developing its activities in the following fields: teaching, dissemination and promotion of the Portuguese language abroad; development of external cultural activities; affirmation and valorisation of the presence of Portuguese culture in the world; coordination of cultural activities and of the teaching of Portuguese abroad in collaboration with other institutions, especially with the Foreign Office and the Department for Education.
The Department of Primary Education of the Ministry of Education supervises the teaching of Portuguese abroad at primary and secondary level, which comprises a vast official network of courses and teachers of Portuguese language and culture in EU countries (Spain, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, the UK). In Switzerland and the Republic of South Africa it is administered by teaching centres located in these countries. The DEB also coordinates the teaching of Portuguese in the USA and Canada as well as follows and assists in Portuguese courses in Argentina, Venezuela, Australia, Portuguese-speaking African countries, Namibia, Senegal and Zimbabwe.
For many decades the University of Lisbon, currently through the Department of Portuguese Language and Culture (DLCP) of the Faculty of the Arts, has been providing Courses of Portuguese Language and Culture for Foreigners, which include examinations in Portuguese as a Foreign Language (PLE).
In 1988 the Centre of Assessment of Portuguese as a Foreign Language (CAPLE) was established. Its tasks include:
– Development of examinations, administration of examinations, marking and test analysis.
– Assistance to candidates and examiners involved in all stages of the process of the production of examinations.
– Applied and theoretical assessment research.
– Assessment training.
In 1990 the University of Lisbon, through the Department of Portuguese Language and Culture of the Faculty of the Arts, established, together with other institutions, ALTE – the Association of Language Testers in Europe. Since then it has been one of ALTE members.
28 European institutions, representing 23 European languages, are currently members of ALTE. The principal objectives of ALTE are:
– To establish common levels of proficiency in order to promote the transnational recognition of certification in Europe.
– To establish common standards for all stages of the language-testing process – test development, test administration, marking and test analysis.
– To collaborate on joint projects in the exchange of ideas and know-how.