CEFR stands for: Common European Framework of Reference for Languages. The CEFR is a general ‘framework’ that can be used to develop language courses, learning materials and language tests.
The central core of the CEFR is a description of 6 levels of competency for language users: from beginner to advanced. Or in CEFR terms: from A1 to C2. For each level, the CEFR describes 'can do' skills: competencies of a language user for listening, speaking (spoken production), conversation (spoken interaction), reading and writing.
The descriptions focus on language skills, that is: on actual language use.
- A1 Speaking:
I can use simple phrases and sentences to describe where I live and people I know.
- B1 Spoken interaction:
I can deal with most situations likely to arise whilst travelling in an area where the language is spoken.
I can enter unprepared into conversation on topics that are familiar, of personal interest or pertinent to everyday life (e.g. family, hobbies, work, travel and current events)
The advantage: the CEFR can be used for all languages. The A1 level for speaking in French is comparable to the A1 level for speaking in English or Arabic, or any other language. In the EU, the CEFR is used for the development of foreign language curricula, learning materials, vocabulary lists, language tests, and much more.
The ProSign project (see Resources) adapted the CEFR levels, so that they can be used for sign languages.