The universal globalization and cultural intelligence require modern human beings to master at least one foreign language. Today the more languages you know, the more opportunities you have in all the aspects of your life. If we work hard and hit the books a lot, at a certain stage we start to think that we can speak fluently and have a good command of the language we are trying to master. To identify how fluent is “fluent” there are a few evaluation systems with a set of criteria, which help us to understand how good we are with this or that foreign language. Today we will tell you about the CEFR.
History and Purpose of CEFR
CEFR – Common European Framework of Reference is a practical tool developed by the Council of Europe for setting up an assessment system aimed to validate linguistic competence among the member states.
It represents a list of standards for evaluation of linguistic abilities advancement and results from scientific work and wide international consultation. It was adopted by the Committee of Ministers on 2 July 2008 at the 1031st meeting of the Ministers’ Deputies. The aim of this document is to promote plurilingualism and develop a universal vision of evaluation.
As you might know the Council of Europe aims for identicalness of its members to facilitate their economic and social progress, upholding human rights, democracy and rule of law. It was founded in 1949 in London.
In 1954 the Council of Europe opened for signature The European Cultural Convention – an international treaty, Article 2 of which acknowledges importance of educational activities for further linguistic diversification. Article 2 is the basis and pivot point of the CEFR.
The Scope of CEFR
The scope of CEFR is based on 3 pillars: learning, teaching and assessment. Today it is available in 40 Language Versions: find the full list here.
The CEFR sets up six levels of foreign language proficiency: A1, A2, B1, B2, C1 and C2. “A group” means basic users, “B group” – independent users and “C group” means proficient users. Each level describes very thoroughly what a learner is capable of in terms of reading, listening, speaking and writing.
This scheme is helpful with the following aspects:
1) Identification of learning objectives;
2) Control over curricula;
3) Teaching materials developing; and
4) Language qualifications acknowledgment.
Learning, Teaching and Assessment
Apart from language proficiency definition the CEFR is a great tool for development and revision of the language curricula content. It helps to adjust it to the age, interests and needs of learners. Chapter 8 of the CEFR “Linguistic diversification and the curriculum” represents the strategic guidance for those involved in teaching foreign languages and responsible for curriculum.
To guide teachers and learners in their assessment of learning progress the CEFR offers plenty of online resources on its website. Teachers and learners are not the only categories of users, the CEFR is also very helpful to course designers, textbook writers and testers, as it provides a crystal clear definition of teaching and learning objectives and methods and provides the necessary tools for assessment of proficiency.
CEFR and Other Scales
Nowadays plenty of organizations such as language schools and certifications establishments claim their compatibility with the CEFR. For example, the European Association for Language Testing and Assessment (EALTA) has been created and funded by the European Community to advocate and advance the CEFR and its best practices. While various linguistic certificates and exams have their certain peculiarities, at the end their assessment of proficiency aligns with the CEFR. The CEFR is definitely the best way to identify where you are with your learning efforts. It is also the easiest way to explain to other people what your current level is and what you want to achieve with your further language study. Understanding your current level will help you to gain your point and this makes the CEFR useful for everyone.