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The Common European Framework of Reference for
Languages: Learning, teaching, assessment (CEF) of the council of Europe is
being used in many different educational contexts around the world, but it was
never intended to tell teachers what to do or how to do it. It is intended to
be a document for reference.
As the authors of the CEF point out, its objective
is to raise questions, not to answer them.
The most well-known part of the CEF is the scale
which describes a learner's language proficiency. There are six points on this
scale (A1, A2, B1, B2, C1 and C2) and these range from low-level beginner to a
very sophisticated language learner with a level that is approximately
equivalent to the Cambridge Proficiency examination, for example.
It is only possible or desirable for a coursebook to
establish broad equivalences between the levels of coursebooks and the Council
of Europe's levels.
The levels in the CEF are described in terms of
competences - what learners can do with the language. These 'can do' statements
are extremely useful in determining course objectives, but are really only
intended to describe and help evaluation.
Besides the scales and descriptions of competences,
the CEF emphasises the aims of language learning. Among these are the need to
become independent and autonomous as a learner and the recognition that language
learning can encourage co-operation and other social values. Students can be
encouraged to work together in pairs and groups, and the selection of topics,
texts and tasks in a coursebook can promote a knowledge of other cultures, to
encourage open-mindedness to foster respect for others.
The European Language Portfolio project is very
closely linked to the Common European Framework. It is a document that students
who are learning or have learned a language - whether at school or outside
school - can record and reflect on their language learning and cultural
experiences. Students can select materials to illustrate their
Where appropriate, we have tried to indicate the
approximate generic and Common European Framework levels for many of our
courses, in our catalogue under the book title.
For example: B2 Upper Intermediate
The complete text of the CEF is available in print
in at least eighteen languages. It is also available online in English and a
number of other languages. For further information, visit the Council of
Europe's website at www.coe.int