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.

The CEFR Companion Volume updates and extends the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages: Learning, teaching, assessment (CEFR) which was designed to provide a transparent, coherent and comprehensive basis for the elaboration of language syllabuses and curriculum guidelines, the design of teaching and learning materials, and the assessment of foreign language proficiency. The CEFR has been translated into over 40 languages and is used all over Europe and in other continents.

Both the CEFR and the CEFR Companion Volume are related to the work of the Education Department which is part of the Directorate of Democratic Participation within the Directorate General of Democracy ("DGII") of the Council of Europe.

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.

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.

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).