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CEFR – The Common European Framework of Reference for Languages

The Common European Framework of Reference for languages (CEFR) is a European framework developed by the Council of Europe for the learning, teaching and assessment of languages. It defines and describes six levels of language attainment from A1 at the Basic User level to C2 at the Proficient User level. The CEFR can be used as a tool both for student self-assessment and for language course planning. In addition, it provides a common international basis for the evaluation of language learning, such as when deciding on compensation for language studies completed abroad.

In the Language Centre, the courses for Swedish and foreign languages have been calibrated to the six-level scale. This will help students to understand what they can expect from different courses and what the prerequisite for participation in a course is. The language level of each course is given in the goals and the names of the courses.

Below is the CEFR self-assessment grid, the aim of which is to assist students in broadly assessing their own level of attainment on the six-level scale. Their self-assessment will then guide them in choosing a course at the appropriate level from the selection offered by the Language Centre. Below are also guidelines for using the CEFR levels in language testing.

THE CEFR LEVELS

The Common European Framework divides learners into three broad divisions which can be divided into six levels:

A Basic User
A1 Breakthrough
A2 Waystage

B Independent User
B1 Threshold
B2 Vantage

C Proficient User
C1 Effective Operational Proficiency
C2 Mastery

The CEFR describes what a learner is supposed to be able to do in reading, listening, speaking and writing at each level, in details: 

level

description

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 more complex situations.

These descriptors can apply to any of the languages spoken in Europe, and there are translations in many languages.