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European Framework


The Common European Framework of Reference: Learning, Teaching, Assessment

Common European Framework

Common European Framework

The ‘Common European Framework of Reference for Languages: Learning, Teaching, Assessment’ (CEFR), published by the Council of Europe in collaboration with many international teaching professionals, is a framework of reference providing guidelines for the creation of language syllabuses, curricula, assessments as well as teaching and learning materials. The framework has been adopted throughout Europe and other continents worldwide and is now available in 39 languages. (

What is the aim of the CEFR?

The CEFR is aimed at all types of language practitioners, not just teachers and learners, and encourages us to think about what happens when we speak or write in a language, why it happens and how much we actually need to learn when we try to use a new language. It makes us ponder on how we learn, how we set our own goals and measure our learning. It helps us set goals for learners and explain how we will attempt to do so. The scheme facilitates the comparison of tests and examinations across languages, therefore providing a basis for recognising language qualifications and thus facilitating educational and occupational mobility.

What are the reference levels?

It uses 6 broad reference levels to recognise achievement in a foreign language:

  1. Breakthrough
  2. Waystage
  3. Threshold
  4. Vantage
  5. Effective Operational Proficiency
  6. Mastery

These levels can be further grouped like so:

  • A (Basic User)→  A1 Breakthrough        A2 Waystage
  • B (Independent User)→ B1 Threshold           B2 Vantage
  • C (Proficient User)→ C1 Effective Operational Proficiency     C2 Mastery

These levels are accompanied by a detailed analysis of communicative contexts, themes, tasks and purposes as well as scaled descriptions of the competences(reading/ writing/ speaking/ listening) on which we draw when we communicate.  

To view a structured overview of all the CEFR scales click here.

Click here to view the full version of the CEFR.

To view the full list of publications by the European Council for Modern Languages of the Council of Europe that support the CEFR click here.


How is it used?

The CEFR is increasingly used in teacher education, the reform of foreign language curricula and the development of teaching materials. Institutions across the globe have also used the levels to work out the number of contact hours that are needed to achieve these levels.

For more information on CEFR, visit the Council of Europe website. Click here