WHAT IS THE CEFR?
The acronym C.E.F.R. stands for Common European Framework of Reference for Languages. It was designed to make language knowledge quantifiable, put in boxes and labeled by level. The Council of Europe, who has worked on this language proficiency description had a very difficult task because it’s not easy to quantify language skills as apples or pears. However, the list of all the linguistic, social, cultural and pragmatic know-how that is available today is more meaningful than the former “advanced” or “intermediate” level, for example.
CEFR is a guideline for both teachers and learners and its objective is to: describe language proficiency as precisely as possible; provide a common basis for language syllabuses, curriculum guidelines, examinations, textbooks etc.; assess learners’ skills by using a very precise evaluation grid.
CEFR is used in Europe but also in another continents and is available in 39 languages. Whether it’s in English, French, Spanish, Greek etc., CEFRL 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+); A being the lowest, C the highest. Each level description states what learners should be capable of doing once they acheived it. 4 main communication skills are taken as the criteria of assessment:
oral expression (devided into 2 parts, monologue and dialogue);
N.B. Grammar is not considered as a skill per se, nor is phonetics. Along with the vocabulary and syntax, they will appear in all the skills listed hereinabove. Grammar can be observed in all the four skills, syntax as well, etc. Examples: Does the learner recognise that a person is talking in present tense? Does the student know how to express past events by correctly pronouncing the verbes with -ed? Does the student know how to argue by using the linking words? Does the learner make a difference between sounds in order to understand that the plural is used in stead of singular? Etc, etc.
For a short comprehensive overview of the CEFRL, we advise you to consult the page of the Council of Europe for further information.