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Free-standing units of skill

Diane Hofkins, in her otherwise informative article "Move to boost languages" (TES, December 29), suggests that "the plans for assessment" of the vocational language units recently approved by Gillian Shephard, the Education Secretary, "are based 75 per cent on oral exams, rather than on GNVQ-type portfolios".

This is not quite accurate. At both levels, the unit in oral communication requires students to demonstrate their skills in listening and speaking through oral communication, while the unit in written communication requires students to produce pieces of writing and to respond to messages conveyed by written texts.

The units are free-standing and may be taken on their own, or alongside general national vocational qualifications and GCSEs in key stage 4, and alongside GNVQs, NVQs, A-levels and other post-16 qualifications. They will provide a progression route to the NVQ language standards developed by the languages' lead body, which are part of some advanced GNVQ programmes.

Further details can be obtained from the National Council for Vocational Qualifications and the School Curriculum and Assessment Authority.

ANNA NOLAN

Principal adviser, GNVQ development

National Council for Vocational Qualifications

222 Euston Road

London NW1

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