1. What is it?
It’s a process of accreditation for students in the EPE (Teaching Portuguese Abroad) network, operated by the Portuguese State.
This certificate is jointly managed by the Ministry of Education and Science (through the Directorate-General for Education) and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (through Camões, Institute of Language and Co-operation, I.P.).
Students get their EPE certificate by completing their proficiency exams and attaining the required level of achievement set out under the terms of QuaREPE, the official framework for teaching Portuguese as a foreign language.
2. What are the benefits?
In the modern world, and one in which the need for freedom of movement and a knowledge of languages are important factors, it is of the utmost importance to have a global certificate for studying Portuguese abroad that enables full appreciation, recognition and accreditation of students’ communicative abilities with the Portuguese language, regardless of where they reside.
This language certificate facilitates the free movement of students between the various countries in the EPE network and is compatible with local certificates.
The introduction of new Portuguese laws relating to the teaching of Portuguese abroad* is another factor that adds to the importance of this certificate for EPE students regarding the quality of teaching.
* Decree-Lawi no. 165/2006, 11 August, revised and republished by Decree-Law no. 165-C/2009, 28 July and revised in Decree-Law no. 234/2012, 30 October.
3. Where is it?
Examinations for the EPE Certificate take place at local exam centres in each country. The organisation of these local centres is subject to the number of applications received and the existence of all the necessary logistical facilities to sit the exam.
In April each year, a list of exam centres is published by the teachers, overseas teaching departments and on the Camões, I.P. website.
4. Who’s eligible?
All students of the EPE network in primary and secondary school education can sit the exam, subject to permission being granted by their teacher or guardian.
The application process is conducted by EPE teachers in Europe and by overseas teaching departments in the United States of America, Canada, Africa, Australia and Venezuela.
EPE certificate exams take place annually at the end of the school year at three different times according to the region.
For further information about the application process and exam times in each country, please contact Teaching Portuguese Abroad co-ordination units.
6. What’s the examination process?
There are five exams, each one of which corresponds to a level of proficiency in line with the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFRL) and QuaREPE regulations and consisting of a set of criteria relating to each student’s language skills and understanding - levels A1, A2, B1, B2 and C1.
The skills and knowledge necessary for passing these five exams are set out in QuaREPE, the official framework for studying Portuguese overseas, which applies to all EPE students and is based on the CEFRL. In addition to these two documents, students adhere to the EPE and Camões, I.P. programmes, which are also part of the examination process.
7. EPE Exams
The exam assesses the following Portuguese language skills: oral comprehension, oral capacity, reading and writing.
Exams consist of questions or requests to perform tasks based on communicative situations that can happen in real life, whether oral or in writing from the perspective of a communicative approach to teaching, learning and language assessment.
8. Exam structure
1. Skills and exam components
Exams for any level of proficiency consist of three parts relating to the assessment of (i) oral comprehension (ii) reading and writing, which are evaluated simultaneously, and (iii) oral expression.
The duration of exams depends on the level and can last anything up to 120 minutes.
2. Skills and tasks – matrix models
Taking into account the fact that students began learning Portuguese in different ages, QuaREPE determines that the exams for levels A1 and A2 can be taken by students from each of the following age groups: (i) 8-10 years (ii) 11-14 years and (iii) 15-18 years. Given that the interests and maturity of students in each one of these bands are different, there will be three different exams: (i) Exam A for students aged 8-10 years (ii) Exam B for students aged 11-14 years and (iii) Exam C for students aged 15-18 years.
B1 level EPE certificate exams can be taken by students aged 11-14 years and 15-18 years and, for the same reasons stated before, there are two exams: (i) Exam A for students aged 11-14 years and (ii) Exam B for students aged 15-18 years.
Exams for levels B2 and C1 cover the student’s degree of autonomy, fluency, confidence, speech efficiency, grammar and awareness of the information contained in the language resources, appropriate for students aged 15 and over attending secondary school in their country.
9. Matrix exam models