Common European Framework of Reference for Languages: Learning, teaching, assessment - Companion Volume

The Council of Europe is pleased to announce the publication of the definitive English version of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages: Learning, teaching, assessment - Companion Volume which updates the CEFR 2001.

The CEFR Companion volume can be downloaded as a PDF or ordered in paper format from the online bookshop. Translations to ten languages are underway, most of which will become available this year.

The CEFR Companion Volume broadens the scope of language education, reflecting academic and societal developments since the CEFR publication in 2001. It presents the key aspects of the CEFR for teaching and learning in a user-friendly form and contains the complete set of extended CEFR descriptors, replacing the 2001 set. These now include descriptors for mediation, online interaction, plurilingual/pluricultural competence, and sign language competences. The illustrative descriptors have been adapted with modality-inclusive formulations for sign languages and all descriptors are now gender-neutral.

This publication marks a crucial step in the Council of Europe’s engagement with language education, which seeks to protect linguistic and cultural diversity, promote plurilingual and intercultural education, reinforce the right to quality education for all, and enhance intercultural dialogue, social inclusion and democracy.

Six levels of foreign language proficiency

The CEFR describes foreign language proficiency at six levels: A1 and A2, B1 and B2, C1 and C2. It also defines three ‘plus’ levels (A2+, B1+, B2+)

Based on empirical research and widespread consultation, this scheme makes it possible:

  • to establish learning and teaching objectives
  • to review curricula
  • to design teaching materials and
  • to provide a basis for recognising language qualifications thus facilitating educational and occupational mobility.

A European Indicator of Language Competence

Following a call for action by the Barcelona European Council (March 2002), the European Commission has developed a survey based on the CEFR (see Executive Summary 2012) to measure the foreign / second language proficiency of pupils at the end of compulsory education.

The purpose of the survey was to establish a European Indicator of Language Competence, providing member states with internationally comparable data on the results of foreign language teaching and learning in the European Union

Using the CEFR in specific contexts

The CEFR does not offer ready-made solutions but must always be adapted to the requirements of particular contexts, for example, the teaching and learning of Romani.

There is a particular need for careful interpretation and adaptation is especially acute when the CEFR’s descriptive scheme and proficiency levels are used for example to explore the communicative needs of adult migrants ( and to guide the assessment of their proficiency in the language of their host community (see relevant studies).

The CEFR is much more than proficiency scales

The CEFR’s scales of foreign language proficiency are accompanied by a detailed analysis of communicative contexts, themes, tasks and purposes as well as scaled descriptions of the competences on which we draw when we communicate.

The CEFR is used in teacher education, the reform of foreign language curricula, the development of teaching materials and for the comparability of qualifications.

Visual identity of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR)

The CEFR online :

CEFR - Companion Volume (2020)

CEFR - Companion Volume (2018)

Full text of the CEFR (2001)

Language Policy Portal

Important Note

The use of the Council of Europe’s logo or of the European emblem for certification is not authorised. It is not the role of the Council of Europe to verify and validate the quality of the link between language examinations or diplomas and the CEFR's proficiency levels.

Member states are responsible for guaranteeing the quality and fairness of testing and assessment on the basis of the existing guidelines (including tools and illustrations) developed in the frame of the Council of Europe’s  Language Policy Programme (Strasbourg).