The Common European Framework of Reference for Languages

The Common European Framework of Reference for Languages: Learning, Teaching, Assessment (CEFR) is a document published by the Council of Europe in 2001 defining the levels of fluency in foreign languages based on knowledge acquired in a number of areas of expertise. These levels currently serve as the reference in the language learning and teaching field.

The document defines 6 common reference levels: A1, A2, B1, B2, C1 and C2.

Language communication activities may cover:

  • Comprehension: listening and reading
  • Expression: continuous oral expression, writing
  • Interaction: taking part in a conversation
  • Mediation (translation and interpretation in particular)

A1 - Introductory or Breakthrough level

Students can understand and use familiar everyday expressions as well as very simple statements to meet specific needs. They can introduce themselves and other people and ask other people questions concerning them (where they live, their relationships, things that belong to them…). They can answer similar types of questions. They can communicate at a simple level if the other person speaks slowly and clearly and is cooperative.

A2 - Intermediate or Waystage level

Students can understand isolated sentences and commonly-used expressions regarding important topics (personal or family information, purchases, immediate environment, work). They can talk about simple and habitual tasks which only require simple and direct exchanges of information on familiar and habitual subjects. They can describe their education and the immediate environment using simple words and speak about familiar and habitual subjects regarding their immediate needs.

B1 - Threshold level

Students can understand the essential aspects when standard language is used clearly and they are talking about familiar things regarding work, school and leisure… They can get by in most situations encountered when travelling in regions where that language is spoken. They can construct simple and coherent sentences about familiar subjects and areas which interest them. They can recount an event, an experience or a dream, they can describe their hopes and goals and briefly state reasons and explanations regarding projects and ideas.

B2 - Advanced or Vantage level

Students can understand the essential content of specific or abstract subjects in complex texts, including technical discussions in their specialised subject. They can communicate with a certain degree of spontaneity and ease such that a conversation with a native speaker does not create stress for either person. They can express themselves in a clear and detailed away on a wide range of subjects, they can give opinions about current events and explain the advantages and disadvantages of different options.

C1 - Niveau Effective Operational Proficiency level

Students can understand a wide range of long and demanding texts and grasp implicit meanings. They can express themselves spontaneously and fluently without needing to search for words. They can use the language in an effective and flexible manner in their social, professional and academic life. They can express themselves on complex subjects clearly and in a well-structured manner, and can demonstrate good control of tools regarding the organisation, articulation and consistency of the discourse.

C2 - Mastery level

Students can understand practically effortlessly everything they read or hear. They can retrieve facts and arguments from various written and oral sources and summarise them coherently. They can express themselves with high degrees of spontaneity, fluency and accuracy and can distinguish between fine nuances of meaning in regards to complex subjects.

Download the documentation :

CEFRL - language skills table

Download the language skills table (PDF)

Common European Framework of Reference for Languages - complete document

Download the CEFRL - complete document (PDF)