Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR)

What is the Common European Framework of Reference?


The Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR) was developed by the Council of Europe in 1991 and provides a common basis for the development of target language curricula, examinations, textbooks, etc. throughout Europe. It helps teachers and learners of a language to classify language competence and to determine what knowledge and skills learners need to develop in order to be able to engage in successful communication and to use a language for communicative purposes. Specific cultural aspects (how to greet people in different contexts or what constitutes an appropriate host gift, etc.) are also covered within this framework. The CEFR defines levels of proficiency so that learning progress can be measured throughout life and at every stage of the learning process. For language learners in Europe, a framework of six broad levels defines the relevant level of proficiency. These six levels (A1–C2) correspond to the classical division of the areas of study into basic, intermediate, and advanced levels. This division has been extended further.

The CEFR facilitates the mutual recognition of qualifications acquired in different contexts through a uniform European system of language competence assessment. The Language Centre can thus recognise and assess certificates even if they were acquired at another university or in another country.
The CEFR is useful for both learners and teachers. Learners can assess themselves through the differentiated skill descriptors of the individual levels; this facilitates independent learning. Teachers are able to categorise learners on the basis of the can-do descriptors and create the curriculum.

Can-do descriptors – global scale

You can read the can-do descriptors that define the competences of the different levels on the website of the Goethe Institute. This is only a general overview; for more detailed descriptors of the individual skills, please consult the “Gemeinsamer europäischer Referenzrahmen” (Common European Framework of Reference for Languages. Learning, teaching, assessing. Ed. by Goethe Institute Inter Nationes. Berlin, Munich: Langenscheidt 2006.).