Common European Framework of Reference for Languages – language proficiency
In 1991 the Swiss Federal Authorities held an Intergovernmental Symposium in Rüschlikon, Switzerland, on “Transparency and Coherence in Language Learning in Europe: Objectives, Evaluation, Certification”. This symposium found that a Common European Framework for languages and language proficiency were needed to improve the recognition of language qualifications and help teachers co-operate, eventually leading to improved communication and cooperation generally in Europe.
Development of language proficiency
As a result of the symposium, the Swiss National Science Foundation set up a project to develop levels of proficiency, to lead on to the creation of a “European Language Portfolio” – certification in language ability which can be used across Europe.
The Common European Framework divides learners into three broad divisions which can be divided into six levels:
A Basic Speaker
A1 Breakthrough or beginner
A2 Waystage or elementary
B Independent Speaker
B1 Threshold or pre-intermediate B2 Vantage or intermediate
C Proficient Speaker
C1 Effective Operational Proficiency or upper intermediate C2 Mastery or advanced
The CEFR describes what a learner is supposed to be able to do in reading, listening, speaking and writing at each level.
|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.|
|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.|
|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 travelling in an area where the language is spoken. Can produce simple connected text on topics which are familiar or of personal interest. Can describe experiences and events, dreams, hopes & ambitions and briefly give reasons and explanations for opinions and plans.|
|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.|
|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.|
|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 the most complex situations.|