Information about the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR)
The Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) was set up by the European Parliament to be used as the basis for developing language plans, curricula guidelines, tests, course books etc. It provides a comprehensive description of the knowledge and skills learners must develop in order to be able to communicate and interact successfully in that language.
Six so-called global levels (A1 to C2) were defined that can be characterized as follows:
Can understand with ease virtually everything heard or read. Can summarize information from different spoken and written sources, reconstructing arguments and accounts in a coherent presentation. Can express themselves spontaneously, very fluently and precisely, differentiating finer shades of meaning even in the most complex situations.
Can understand a wide range of demanding, longer clauses, and recognize implicit meaning. Can express ideas 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 organizational patterns, connectors and cohesive devices.
Can understand the main ideas of complex text on both concrete and abstract topics, including technical discussions in their field of specialization. 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.
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 while travelling in an area where the language is spoken. Can produce simple connected text on topics that are familiar or of personal interest. Can describe experiences and events, dreams, hopes and ambitions and briefly give reasons and explanations for opinions and plans.
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 their background, immediate environment and matters in areas of immediate need.
Can understand and use familiar everyday expressions and very basic phrases aimed at the satisfaction of needs of a concrete type. Can introduce themselves and others and can ask and answer questions about personal details such as where they live, people they know and things they have. Can interact in a simple way provided the other person talks slowly and clearly and is prepared to help.
The complete ERR text can be downloaded as a PDF from the European Parliament website and elsewhere.
A German translation was provided by the Goethe Institute at http://www.goethe.de/z/50/commeuro/i0.htm.
The State Ministry for Culture in Saxony (Germany) offers descriptions, comments and examples on how to implement the levels in tests and curriculum. Go to: (http://www.sachsen-macht-schule.de/smkpub/43//zertifs_br.html) The KMK Language Certificate Schleswig Holstein also provides a description at (http://kmk-fremdsprachenzertifikat.lernnetz.de/handr/rr.htm).
An interesting lecture script (mostly in English) which compares the development and content of the British and European language proficiency scales can be found at the University of Tübingen website http://www.uni-tuebingen.de/gal2003/nreeves/nigelreeves_gal2003.htm.