• The Common European Framework

    What is the intention of the Common European Framework?

    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.

    What is the CEF scale of language proficiency? 

    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.

    What are the other benefits of the CEF?

    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 achievements.

    The CEF and our courses

    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 

    Further information

    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