The result of over twenty years of research, the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages: Learning, teaching, assessment (CEFR) was designed to provide a transparent, coherent and comprehensive basis for the elaboration of language syllabuses and curriculum guidelines, the design of teaching and learning materials, and the assessment of foreign language proficiency. It is used in Europe but also in other continents and is now available in 39 languages.
The CEFR describes foreign language proficiency at six levels: A1 and A2, B1 and B2, C1 and C2. It also defines three ‘plus’ levels (A2+, B1+, B2+). Based on empirical research and widespread consultation, this scheme makes it possible to compare tests and examinations across languages and national boundaries. It also provides a basis for recognising language qualifications and thus facilitating educational and occupational mobility.
The CEFR’s scales of foreign language proficiency are accompanied by a detailed analysis of communicative contexts, themes, tasks and purposes as well as scaled descriptions of the competences on which we draw when we communicate. This helps to explain why the CEFR is increasingly used in teacher education, the reform of foreign language curricula and the development of teaching materials.
Besides a Recommendation on the use of the CEFR, new initiatives in 2007 aimed to develop the richness of the CEFR beyond the proficiency scales. A platform of resources and references for plurilingual and intercultural education has been established to this end and is gradually being developed by the project “Languages in education/Languages for education”.