Common European Framework of Reference for Languages, CEFR, is a standard for classifying a given foreign language knowledge. Not just English! It is the way we can understand what, practically, is the level of the spoken language.
Now, let’s use English as an example: What is your English level?
What is CEFR?
This week, we will talk about CEFR and use English as an example. So in this article, I present how we classify our level of English and, in the next one, what we need to climb the steps of knowledge!
From basic to intermediate and from intermediate to proficient, there are levels of knowledge that involve learning, sociability, and communication skills. This is because, unlike other assessments, the CEFR wants to know, in practice, if the person can communicate in another language!
The Common European Framework of Reference for Languages emerged with the need to make it easier to assess the foreign language level. Whether for schools, universities, or companies, the objective of CEFR is to present a method of assessment, learning, and certification for all European languages.
What is your CEFR Level of English?
I can write and read very well, and speak nothing or almost nothing! So, how do I know my English level? There are six levels of knowledge: A1, A2, B1, B2, C1, and C2. These levels refer to comprehension, speaking and writing skills and can be understood separately.
- Comprehension: listening comprehension and reading comprehension
- Speech: oral interaction and oral expression
- writing: written expression
For each level, understood as Basic (A1, A2) Intermediate (B1, B2) and Proficient (C1, C2), I have different milestones between the three skill fields.
C2 Can understand with ease virtually everything heard or read. Can summarise information from different spoken and written sources, reconstructing arguments and accounts in a coherent presentation. Can express him/herself spontaneously, very fluently and precisely, differentiating finer shades of meaning even in more complex situations. C1 Can understand a wide range of demanding, longer texts, and recognise implicit meaning. Can express him/herself fluently and spontaneously without much obvious searching for expressions. Can use language flexibly and effectively for social, academic and professional purposes. Can produce clear, well-structured, detailed text on complex subjects, showing controlled use of organisational patterns, connectors and cohesive devices.
B2 Can understand the main ideas of complex text on both concrete and abstract topics, including technical discussions in his/her field of specialisation. Can interact with a degree of fluency and spontaneity that makes regular interaction with native speakers quite possible without strain for either party. Can produce clear, detailed text on a wide range of subjects and explain a viewpoint on a topical issue giving the advantages and disadvantages of various options. B1 Can understand the main points of clear standard input on familiar matters regularly encountered in work, school, leisure, etc. Can deal with most situations likely to arise whilst traveling in an area where the language is spoken. Can produce simple connected text on familiar topics or of personal interest. Can describe experiences and events, dreams, hopes & ambitions and briefly give reasons and explanations for opinions and plans.
A2 Can understand sentences and frequently used expressions related to areas of most immediate relevance (e.g. very basic personal and family information, shopping, local geography, employment). Can communicate in simple and routine tasks requiring a simple and direct exchange of information on familiar and routine matters. Can describe in simple terms aspects of his/her background, immediate environment, and matters in areas of immediate need. A1 Can understand and use familiar everyday expressions and very basic phrases aimed at the satisfaction of needs of a concrete type. Can introduce him/herself and others and can ask and answer questions about personal details such as where he/she lives, people he/she knows, and things he/she has. Can interact in a simple way provided the other person talks slowly and clearly and is prepared to help.
Source: Council of Europe website
History and Theory
Did you manage to find your English level on the CEFR? Subsequently, now that you understand each of the levels, let’s look at some of the histories of this important methodology.
The CEFR was developed by the Council of Europe, between 1989 and 1996. Years later, in 2001, a Council of the European Union resolution recommended the use of CEFR for the validation of language skills.
Available in 40 different languages, the CEFR is the Council of Europe’s second most translated document. The first is the Convention of Human Rights.
We just presented, in this article, what CEFR is. Besides, what was it created for, and how do we identify our level in a given language. In other to develop within a language, there are stages and metrics to be achieved.
In the next article, we will see how to move from one level of English to another and achieve our proficiency!
Hope you learned with us, learnwithscience, and until next time!
The CEFR Levels. Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR). In: https://www.coe.int/en/web/common-european-framework-reference-languages/level-descriptions