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Why Should You Care about the CEFR?

Posted by European Schoolbooks, on 14 January 2020. Comments: 0

If you are a language learner or a language teacher, the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) has been created for you.

Among many benefits, it enables you to chart your progression and to publicise it to prospective employers and admissions departments - from Norway to Greece and from Portugal to Japan.

So, what is the CEFR?

The Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) originates from the Council of Europe’s Common European Framework Project (1993-1996). It was launched in 2001.

At its simplest, it is a standard for assessing proficiency in a foreign language.

It is available for learners of 40 languages, including European and non-European languages. (A full list of the languages can be found here.)

Proficiency is described in six levels (A1, A2, B1, B2, C1 and C2). Students at level A1 will be able to understand and use basic, everyday phrases, such as to introduce themselves and to describe where they live. By level C2 they will be able to use and understand the language in virtually all situations.

There are three ‘plus’ levels (A2+, B1+ and B2+), and some publishers of educational materials produce resources for A1.1 or A1.2. These extra levels allow for more gradual progression.

Fine. But what does the CEFR mean for me?

The CEFR enables:

• You to describe your language ability in a way that is understood around the world, for example on your CV or résumé;

• Prospective employers and admissions departments at educational institutions to understand your language qualifications;

• You to find the most suitable textbooks and other learning resources;

• Course designers to create appropriate curricula for you;

• Language-testing organisations to award you comparable qualifications.

Some educational bodies have even estimated the number of hours of study which are needed to reach each level. For example, the Alliance Française and Cambridge English Language Assessment calculate that up to 1,200 hours of study are needed for students to reach level C2.

A summary in table-form of the necessary language skills, competences and contexts for each level can be found on the Council of Europe’s website, on page 26 here.

The CEFR is deeply embedded in countries throughout Europe and beyond. We believe that its impact will only continue to grow, particularly as it comes to play a greater role at school level.

For your convenience, almost every coursebook, reader, grammar and other learning or teaching resource that we offer for sale has been graded by our partner publishers according to the CEFR. You will find details for each book on our website.


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