Foreign Language Assessment

PISA 2025 Foreign Language Assessment

‌The Foreign Language Assessment (FLA) will be composed of:

  • A test to assess foreign language proficiency
  • A set of questionnaire modules for teachers, students, schools and parents as well as a system-level questionnaire to collect context and policy-relevant information

The assessment will include key language competencies that are needed to study and work in a globalised world. The first cycle will start with the assessment of English, which is the most commonly taught foreign language in schools around the world, and will focus on three skills: 

PISA 2025 FLA Reading Listening Speaking

The coverage of languages and skills may progressively widen in future cycles.

See also: Content of the assessment

Aims of the assessment

The FLA aims to inform and improve language teaching by providing:

International Comparisons

  • Proficiency levels based on the CEFR scale
  • Performance results that take into account context factors

National diagnostics

  • Strengths and weaknesses in the mastery of foreign languages
  • Achievement gaps and variation within the school system
  • Analysis of trends

Policy and practice lessons

  • Identification of best practices in the teaching and learning of foreign languages in school settings



Why language learning is important

In today’s global world, a large number of people need to reach some level of proficiency in more than one language to be able to communicate and interact with others. Globalisation, technological innovation and human migration flows have made interactions amongst people from different countries and cultures increasingly more important. 

Countries and economies are aware of these opportunities and are channelling efforts to foster the multiple benefits that come with learning foreign languages.

PISA Foreign Language - teenage students arm in arm outdoors


Foreign languages act as a bridge to other people, countries and cultures.In doing so, they help promote respect for diversity and inclusiveness.

PISA Foreign Language - adult man sitting at desk with laptop and phone 


Knowing one or more foreign languages is associated with higher chances to access to tertiary education and employability – domestically and globally.

PISA Foreign Language - teenage students sitting on table - from above


Learning foreign languages increases cognitive abilities, such as flexibility, problem solving, abstract and creative thinking.

Foreign language skills are increasing their importance in curricula around the world and governments are keen to know if their efforts to promote foreign language teaching and learning are effective. Moreover, policy makers need evidence on the most effective policies and teaching approaches and methods used to provide students with the skills they will need in the future – and right now.  

Who is involved?

The FLA is a collaborative effort between several actors, including governments, researchers, national and international experts, Partners, and the OECD Secretariat.

Government representatives are actively participating in the design of the assessment and framework, in the choice of the policy questions they expect the assessment to answer and in the design of the questionnaires through workshops, written feedback, and online meetings.

Researchers and experts are providing inputs, advice and guidance throughout all the stages of the assessment design and development.

The PISA 2025 Foreign Language Assessment is relying on the feedback, inputs and advice from a group of recognised experts in the fields of foreign language assessment and foreign language teaching and learning. These experts are participating in different phases of the project.

The test is being developed in a partnership with Cambridge Assessment English.

The OECD Secretariat has a coordinating role of all the above actors as well as with the PISA Technical Advisory Group (TAG) and the contractors for PISA 2025 who will be in charge of implementing  the assessment.

The European Commission follows the development of the test closely, assisting with expertise built on previous work at EU level and the European Framework of Reference for Language Competences. The EU is also co-funding the technical design of the assessment, the development of the framework and the contextual questionnaires, as well as a pilot run of the test.

Questions about the assessment? Contact Tue Halgreen or Catalina Covacevich

Policy questions

Education systems need evidence in three policy areas related with foreign language teaching and learning:

PISA Foreign Language - books on table picture


How are foreign languages positioned in the curriculum, including starting age and integration with other subjects?

PISA Foreign Language - students with female teacher over globe


How are foreign languages taught in school systems around the world?

PISA Foreign Language - teenage students sitting on the ground laughing


How is exposure to languages in daily life associated with language learning and mastery?

By answering these questions, we will be able to:

Understand the impact of curriculum decisions on learning outcomes.

Identify different best practices for the teaching of foreign languages.

Understand the impact of personal, familiar and societal factors.

Speaking and listening assessment pilot

PISA Foreign Language - Woman sitting at laptop laughing

So far PISA has focused on reading and writing skills in different domains. Speaking and listening skills have never been included in PISA, so assessing them presents an opportunity to expand PISA’s assessment methodology.  These competences are central for the construct being assessed and the Expert Group has advised that their assessment is viable within the PISA constraints if adequate room arrangements are implemented.

A pilot will be implemented during 2021 in a small set of volunteer participating countries/economies to prepare for the inclusion of speaking and listening in the PISA 2025 assessments. It will focus on technical and operational aspects related with the assessment of speaking and listening.