It is important to distinguish between four fundamentally different types of descriptions:

  1. scaled descriptors, i.e. descriptors which belong to a common scale. Examples of such descriptors are: the descriptors in the Self-assessment grid, the Global scale, and the Illustrative scales contained in chapters 4 and 5 of the Common European Framework of Reference;
  2. descriptors of language proficiency and language competence that can clearly be related to scaled descriptors and which allow for comparisons between learner competences, examination levels etc. and the Common reference levels;
  3. descriptors of language proficiency and language competence not found in the CEFR that may indicate a certain level of competence for a learner belonging to a specific target group learning and acting in a specific context. Such descriptors may be context and target group-specific and possibly also achievement-oriented (depending on things actually learned as part of a syllabus). Being so closely related to actual classroom practice, these descriptors may be tremendously useful in improving learners‟ self-assessment skills;
  4. descriptors which are not scaled (or have not yet been scaled) and descriptions that cannot be related to language proficiency and language competence levels because they belong in a different, independent category. Some of these descriptions may not be scalable, or scaling is not important; lists of learning strategies or descriptions of cultural or intercultural experiences belong to this group.

This page contains links to a variety of documents presenting CEFR-related descriptors that have been produced for other purposes such as European Language Portfolios' models (ELP).

Collated representative samples of descriptors of language competences developed for young learners (aged 7-10 and 11-15 years)
by Tim Goodier and Tunde Szabo, Eurocentres Foundation, 2017.

The objective of this document is to provide an overview of how existing descriptors of language competence for young learners relate in content and focus to the calibrated CEFR illustrative descriptors, as a first step towards the possible future development and/or calibration of young learner illustrative descriptors:

A bank of descriptors for self-assessment in European Language Portfolios (2004), Günther Schneider and Peter Lenz: these descriptors were drawn from a selection of the first ELP models to be validated. They are categorised by level and language activity.

Introduction to the bank of descriptors for self-assessment in European Language Portfolios by Günther Schneider and Peter Lenz, University of Fribourg, Switzerland, 2004: this paper explains how the authors created the Bank of descriptors.

Self-assessment descriptors for learners in lower secondary education (2009): developed in Switzerland for the Lingualevel project (, this set of descriptors is divided into sub-levels: A1.1, A1.2, A2.1, A2.2, B1.1, B1.2

Self-Assessment Checklists from the Swiss version of the ELP

EAQUALS descriptors (2008)
This set of descriptors resulted from a revision of the descriptors from the original EAQUALS/ALTE ELP model. It includes descriptors for “plus levels” (A2+, B1+ etc.) and for strategies.”