CEFR – Common European Framework of Reference for Languages

7 Sep

Tell me what your B2 is like

Windy Wellington hosted a wonderful workshop on CEFR on Thu 5th September 2013 – many thanks to English New Zealand (for organising), The Campbell Institute (for hosting), Cambridge English (for providing all the ‘loot’) and last but definitely not least Mary Jane Hogan (for presenting). I really love (and get excited about) workshops that ‘hit it on the nail’ when it comes to delivering the essence and the whole picture of the actual topic, the raison d’etre. Especially when it’s done so swiftly and smoothly. I got a real buzz from this workshop as it made so much sense. Although I need to do a lot of reading (a comprehensive list of resources were provided) I feel confident enough to apply my newly acquired knowledge to my current role of developing a new programme as part of the new NZCEL, from NZQA. This post is simply to gather my thoughts, in point form, so that I can re-visit them when I need to.

What have I discovered at the workshop? (emphasis on the ‘point form’)

  • CEFR is not a rating scale (as rating scales describe performance)
  • CEFR is a process not a product
  • the purpose of CEFR is to ‘reflect on current practice to meet the needs of the learners’
  • CEFR is designed to ask questions, not making rules
  • CEFR is flexible (I really like this aspect)
  • CEFR is action-oriented
  • language learners are ‘actors’ in society, they aim to accomplish tasks in a speech community

The 2 aspects of CEFR:

6 vertical levels (the C levels are less developed)

  • Common Reference Levels: GlobalSelf-assessment grid: Reception, Interaction, Production; Qualitative aspects of spoken language use “this is what matters to employers”


The areas of competence: General & Communicative
Communicative language activities & strategies

In summary:

CEFR Design Principles:

  • reflect on your teaching practice
  • meet learners’ needs
  • is action-oriented in its approach
  • regards language learning as a life-long process
  • expects the learners to take responsibility for their own learning

If you wish to read any further, grab yourself a cuppa (colloquial NZ English for a ‘cup of tea/coffee) and find a comfortable corner 🙂 The full presentation for the workshop will be made available from Mary Jane Hogan shortly but you may wish to get a glimpse of it from the following link (from another workshop)

European Language Portfolio (ELP) [the acronym is a nice coincidence since I teach at ELP (English Language Programme]

Here’s a sample portfolio [it was the first one I clicked on and by pure chance I discovered that I can understand the two languages it’s written in – another nice coincidence]



 English Profile Project 

The following image says it all I think – you can type a word in the search field, and the clever      database tells you whether it’s an A1 or B2 item (or any CEFR level for that matter)

But you’ll need to register on the site first – here’s the link


Reference Level Descriptors

Common European Framework


Corpus and English Profile

Aligning Assessment to the CEFR

The Manual for Language Development and Examining can be found at this link

Aligning existing tests:

  • familiarisation
  • specification
  • standardisation training & benchmarking
  • standard setting
  • vetting

Bringing CEFR into ELT

  • mapping = keep your levels & indicate matching features
  • alignment = your levels are CEFR levels
  • linking = a generic term (for referencing)
  • claiming does not equal demonstrating!

Curriculum Guidance

CEFR: Learning, teaching, assessment – the link

Introductory Guide to the CEFR for English language teachers – the link to the site / the link to the document

Teacher’s Guide to Common European Framework the link

Using the CEFR: Principles of good practice – the link

EAQUALS – the link

Scoop.it site

English Australia Resources


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