Several language proficiency frameworks are available to identify an individual’s language proficiency level.
In addition, these language proficiency frameworks include the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR), the Canadian Language Benchmarks (CLB), the Interagency Language Roundtable Scale (ILR), and others.
This article will focus on the CEFR, where it came from, the different levels, who use the CEFR, and whether it is essential. Moreover, we will also give a comparison between the CEFR and CLB.
- What is CEFR?
- Who uses the CEFR?
- Differences between CLB and CEFR
- What are the CEFR levels?
- What are the CEFR Three Tables?
- When Do You Need the CEFR Language Proficiency Certification?
- Additional FAQs on CEFR
What is CEFR?
The Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) is one of the most prominent and standardized international language proficiency references for language exams.
In addition, the Council of Europe developed the CEFR between 1966 and 1989. And also, the CEFR is made possible by the collaboration of the different language teachers in various countries in Europe.
The main goal of the British Council is to deliver a clear and standardized evaluation of language proficiency that educational institutions and employers can use. Consequently, it also aims to provide its users with a learning method, teaching, and assessment for all the different languages used in Europe.
And later on, in 2001, the European Council suggested using the CEFR as a standardized and official assessment guideline for foreign languages across Europe. Moreover, it also aims to provide an accurate and reliable validation of an individual’s English language abilities in various countries worldwide.
The CEFR has six proficiency levels, the highest is the C2, and the lowest is A1. And these six proficiency levels are categorized into A, B, and C levels.
- The A Levels: Basic User
- A1 (Beginners)
- A2 (Elementary)
- The B Levels: Independent User
- B1 (Intermediate)
- B2 (Upper Intermediate)
- The C Levels: Proficient User
- C1 (Advanced)
- C2 (Proficiency)
Consequently, these six CEFR reference levels are globally accepted by many educational institutions and industrial organizations as the European standard in assessing one’s English language competencies, including reading, listening, writing, and speaking.
One of the features of the CEFR is that it presents a collection of can-do statements that best describe the language proficiency level of an individual rather than giving out vague descriptors.
It is also one of the reasons why many prefer the CEFR scale because it is easy to understand and delivers precise statements that reflect one’s proficiency level. Note that CEFR is not tied to any specific language exams.
However, it is now widely used and accepted as a standardized language framework for English proficiency exams. And most of these language exams now have CEFR level equivalents for their scoring and interpretations.
Who uses the CEFR?
This standardized language framework is extensively used and accepted in various teaching sectors, both public and private educational institutions worldwide.
In addition, the CEFR is also highly acknowledged by multinational companies, and they trust it to provide an accurate description of their applicant’s English language proficiency level. As a result, more English-speaking countries are now using the CEFR as an official English language level framework.
Differences between CLB and CEFR
The Canadian Language Benchmarks (CLB) are widely used standardized benchmarks for language proficiency exams. It is the official standardized scale in Canada in assessing your language proficiency level.
On the other hand, CEFR or the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages is a globally accepted and acknowledged standardized European framework used in assessing one’s English language proficiency.
Moreover, the CLB uses a scale of 12 to 0 points, and the CEFR has a six-point scale that corresponds to the C2 proficiency level, which is the highest CEFR level, and the A1 is the lowest CEFR Level.
Here is a table showing the comparison between the CLB and CEFR levels.
|CLB Level||CEFR Level|
|12||C2 Proficiency Level|
|11||C2 Proficiency Level|
|10||C2 Proficiency Level|
|9||C1 Advanced Level|
|8||C1 Advanced Level|
|7||B2 Upper – Intermediate Level|
|6||B2 Upper – Intermediate Level|
|5||B1 – Intermediate Level|
|4||A2 – Elementary Level|
|3 to 0||A1 – Beginner Level|
What are the CEFR levels?
The CEFR has six language level descriptors describing the four English language skills: reading, listening, writing, and speaking. And these language level descriptors are categorized into Basic User, Independent User, and Proficient English User.
Here are the English language level descriptions of the CEFR Levels.
|CEFR Level||Proficiency Level Description|
|English Basic User |
|English Independent User|
|Proficient English User|
The A Levels: English Basic User
Under this level are the A2 and A1 CEFR proficiency levels.
The A1 proficiency level is described as the beginner users of the language. It means that those who fall under this level show only basic understanding and use of the English language.
In addition, the A1 proficiency level also describes the individual under this level can introduce themselves using only basic English terms and can also interact given that the other person speaks slowly, clearly, and will assist during the conversation.
The A2 proficiency level describes that the individual can understand and use everyday expressions usually encountered daily in various settings such as workplace, school, home, and community.
In addition, the individual at this level can communicate using the English language in only simple structure and routine tasks such as answering very simple type of questions.
The B Levels: Independent User
The B levels are consist of the CEFR B1 and B2 language proficiency levels.
At the B1 level, the individual can comprehend the main idea of a context or statement, which usually deals with familiar topics about career, school, and other day-to-day happenings.
Moreover, the individual also can establish communication using the English language when traveling to a place where the language is used. One can also deliver simple and connected thoughts about a familiar topic.
And also, the individual can describe recent events and express one’s dreams, ambitions, hopes, and the likes.
The B2 or the upper intermediate level describes the individual’s ability to understand the main ideas of a given context, both concrete and abstract ones. In addition, one can also interact with another person with fluency and spontaneity.
Talking with native English speakers is also possible at this level of proficiency, and also the individual can produce precise and give a description on a variety of different subjects.
The C Levels: Proficient English User
Under the C levels are the CEFR C1 and C2 proficiency levels.
The C1 level describes the individual understanding a variety of long and complex contexts. And also, one can identify implicit meaning.
In addition, the individual at this level can also express thoughts and ideas with a high degree of fluency and spontaneity without any apparent struggle in finding the correct terms to be used.
One can also deliver well-structured content with detailed unique information unique and show great control in using organizational patterns, connectors, and cohesive devices.
The C2 level shows excellent and effortless understanding and comprehension of any type of context. In addition, the individual at this level can give an excellent summary of different spoken and written sources.
Moreover, one can also easily reconstruct arguments and with cohesion. And also, the individual in the C2 level shows fluency in all aspects, is precise, and can differentiate finer details in any given complex situation.
What are the CEFR Three Tables?
Three CEFR tables are used to introduce the CEFR Levels, including the Global Scale (Table 1), Self-Assessment Grid (Table 2), and the Qualitative Aspects of Spoken Langauge Use (Table 3).
- Table 1 – Global Scale
- Table 2 – Self-Assessment Grid
- Table 3 – Qualitative Aspects of Spoken Langauge Use
Moreover, these tables share the same contents and assessment levels; however, they differ in their purpose and intended audience. Therefore, these CEFR tables are presented in different forms to cater to various CEFR language levels’ various users accordingly.
Below are the details for each of the CEFR tables.
Table 1 – Global Scale
This table is intended and summarized comprehensively for the Global Scale of the CEFR level, making it more transparent and easy to understand. Moreover, it is specially made for non-specialist users of the CEFR levels, such as teachers, professors, and other academic administrators.
|CEFR Levels||Level Descriptors|
Table 2 – Self-Assessment Grid
The Self-Assessment Grid of the CEFR levels shows three scales, including understanding, speaking, and writing. Consequently, this table is a detailed overview of the CEFR levels.
It is also used as a self-assessment orientation tool when using the CEFR, and it is intended to assist learners in profiling their language skills. Moreover, this table will also help them have a more detailed look at the CEFR level descriptors.
|CEFR Levels||UNDERSTANDING SCALE|
Table 3 – Qualitative Aspects of Spoken Langauge Use
The Qualitative Aspects of Spoken Langauge Use is the third CEFR table. This table was created only to measure the spoken performances.
Moreover, Table 3 also presents the different qualitative aspects of language use, including range, accuracy, fluency, interaction, and coherence.
When Do You Need the CEFR Language Proficiency Certification?
The CEFR language certification is mostly used and accepted by academic institutions and industrial organizations in different countries across the globe.
Here are some situations wherein you may need a CEFR Language Proficiency Certification.
- The CEFR certification is needed when you apply to educational institutions such as universities and colleges wherein the medium of instruction is the English language.
- It is one of the admission requirements if you apply for a doctorate, master’s degree, or any higher level of an academic program.
- It is also needed for employment, especially if you wish to apply to a multinational company or if you want to pursue a career abroad.
- The certification is also needed for immigration purposes.
Additional FAQs on CEFR
What are the Six Levels of CEFR?
The CEFR has six levels: the A1, A2, B1, B2, C1, and C2 levels. All of these six levels are designed to describe the language proficiency level of an individual.
In addition, the highest CEFR level is the C2, while the B2 level is considered to be the average language proficiency level, and the lowest in the CEFR scale is the A1 level.
What is the CEFR Language Levels A1 A2 B1 B2 C1 C2?
The CEFR levels A1 and A2 belong to the A level, the beginner level. And for the B1 and B2 levels are under the B levels, which corresponds to an independent language user level.
While the C1 and C2 levels belong to the C levels or the proficiency English user, which are the highest CEFR proficiency language levels.
In addition, these CEFR levels are often used by test-takers and other professionals to describe their English language skills, including speaking, writing, listening, and reading.
What CEFR level is Fluent?
The B levels, which contains the B1 and B2 proficiency levels, if you fall under this CEFR level, your English language proficiency level is considered fluent.
In addition, the B2 CEFR level is the minimum requirement language proficiency level by most academic and industrial institutions. It is also considered especially for those non-native English speakers.
What are the Different CEFR levels?
The different CEFR levels are as follows, C2 level, the proficiency language user level. It is then followed by the C1 level, which is the advanced level. After that, the other CEFR level is the B2 level which corresponds to an upper-intermediate proficiency level. And the next CEFR level is the B1 level, wherein it is considered the intermediate proficiency level. And for the lowest CEFR level is the A level, which consists of the A2 level, which means an elementary level of proficiency. Lastly, the CEFR A1 level corresponds to a beginner language proficiency level.