The Common European Framework
of Reference for Language Learning and Teaching

A unified Europe can only exist if there is improved communication between Europeans. The CEF was developed by the European Council for Cultural Cooperation (CDCC), commissioned by The Council of Europe.

The CEF provides a common basis for the elaboration of language syllabuses, curriculum guidelines, examinations, textbooks, etc. across Europe. It defines levels of proficiency which allows learners’ progress to be measured at each stage of learning and on a life-long basis.

It is intended to overcome the barriers in communication among professionals working in the field of modern languages arising from the different educational systems in Europe.

It provides a means for teachers, trainers, examining bodies, course designers, etc to reflect on their current practice with the view of co-ordinating their efforts and ensure that they meet the real needs of the learners.

The CEF was designed not only to encourage cooperation between educational institutions all over Europe but in particular as a means of assessment of language competence which would be valid throughout Europe making language learning in Europe more transparent.

The international labour market makes it essential to have a common means of describing and assessing language skills at work. These descriptions must relate to a common European system of competence levels to show how they fit in with language skills in work-related contexts.

Up to now there have only been incomplete and inconsistent ways of assessing language skills and these have often been based on arbitrary judgements.

Heads of personnel and staff trainers can only assume from such statements:

ENGLISH – fluent,
SPANISH – good,
FRENCH – very good, written and spoken.

What really lies behind these and how well the applicant will be able to cope with the language demands made on him at work are still unclear.

With the help of CEF a detailed and clear description can be made of how well a member of staff can cope with particular business situations (meetings / telephone calls / correspondence using e-mail or fax, etc.)