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What is the purpose of the CEFR?

A system that makes language learning, teaching and assessment comparable.

“The CEFR is intended to promote quality plurilingual education, facilitate greater social mobility and stimulate reflection and exchange between language professionals for curriculum development and in teacher education.” Council of Europe (2020)

What is the CEFR?

The Common European Framework of Reference for Languages, known as the CEFR, is a tool used to describe what language learners can do as they progress through different stages of learning.

It was published by the Council of Europe in 2001 with the goal of promoting educational transparency, making collaboration and movement between EU countries easier. The framework gives us a common understanding of language proficiency and is used in the teaching and assessment of languages throughout Europe, and increasingly elsewhere in the world. The Companion Volume with New Descriptors, published in 2020, broadens the scope of the original volume with extended levels and new descriptors for additional language competences.

It provides a coherent and comprehensive basis for the development of language syllabuses and curriculum guidelines, the design of teaching and learning materials, and the assessment of foreign language proficiency.

The 6 levels of the CEFR

The CEFR describes language proficiency at six levels, from A1 to C2, with ‘Can Do’ statements that specify what learners at each stage are able to understand and express. This makes it possible to compare tests and examinations across languages and borders.

A1 and A2: basic language skills

B1 and B2: independent use of language

C1 und C2: proficient use of language


How can I use the CEFR?

The framework is used to guide publishers and authors, test developers, school administrators and teachers in creating teaching and learning materials, assessments, and language programmes. It can also be used by learners to help them understand what they ‘can do’ at each level.

Take a look at the CEFR self-assessment grid and reflect on the different competences listed for your level and how well you can do them. This allows you to take control of your learning, recognise your progress and identify areas for improvement. When you know what skills and abilities are expected at each level, it’s easier for you to set learning goals.

telc examinations are designed to reflect the demands and competences of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages: Learning, teaching, assessment.


Listening: I can understand familiar words and simple phrases when they are spoken slowly and clearly

Reading: I can comprehend single words and simple sentences, e.g. signs and billboards

Speaking: I can communicate in short, simple phrases

Writing: I can produce short, simple notes and postcards and fill in forms


Listening: I can understand the overall meaning of short, simple, clearly spoken messages

Reading: I can read and comprehend short, simple text, e.g. advertisements and personal correspondence

Speaking: I can make myself understood with a series of sentences in familiar everyday situations

Writing: I can produce short, simple notes, messages, emails and personal letters


Listening: I can understand important information regarding work, school, free time, etc.

Reading: I can comprehend texts written in everyday language for general and job-related purposes

Speaking: I can participate in conversations regarding family, hobbies, work, travel and current events

Writing: I can produce simple, connected text on familiar themes and topics


Listening: I can follow lengthy statements and reports as well as most films and TV programmes when the topics are somewhat familiar

Reading: I can understand articles, reports and contemporary literary prose

Speaking: I can relay ideas relatively fluently and spontaneously, and actively participate in discussions

Writing: I can produce detailed texts such as essays, reports and letters, and present arguments effectively


Listening: I can understand lengthy reports, lectures, TV programmes and films without great effort

Reading: I can comprehend complex and lengthy texts of a specialised or literary nature

Speaking: I can express thoughts spontaneously, fluently and precisely

Writing: I can produce clear, well-structured texts in appropriate style on complex subjects


Listening: I can understand spoken language with ease, even when spoken quickly

Reading: I can comprehend original texts of any complexity with ease

Speaking: I can participate effortlessly in all conversations and discussions, understanding and using colloquial language

Writing: I can produce sophisticated and complex texts, summarize and discuss specialized texts and literature