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What is CEFR?

The SmartClass curriculum is based on the CEFR and this article will help to explain what each level of language proficiency means for your teaching and your students' learning.


By Melissa Arndt

Date of Creation: 2023-24-10

Last Update: 2023-24-10


The CEFR, Common European Framework of Reference for Languages, is one of many frameworks that describe someone’s language proficiency. There are several frameworks with similar aims including the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages Proficiency Guidelines (ACTFL), the Canadian Language Benchmarks (CLB), and the Interagency Language Roundtable scale (ILR). While the CEFR is a European scale and specifically designed to apply to any European language, it is now becoming a worldwide standard framework for language abilities, especially European languages, including English. 


The CEFR is a collection of can-do statements that list the functions you will be able to perform using a foreign language at any given level of proficiency and describes what learners can do across five language skills: Spoken Interaction, Spoken Production, Listening, Reading and Writing. For example, one of the level B1 can-do statements is “Can produce simple connected text on topics that are familiar or of personal interest.” A teacher of any foreign language can use these can-do statements to evaluate you and design lessons to address the gaps in your knowledge.

Language learners themselves also find the CEFR levels beneficial because it’s a great way to;

  • Understand and discuss language ability with others
  • Find suitable language learning materials
  • Assess knowledge and set language learning goals
  • Promote independent learning 
  • Boost motivation

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