Guide to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages from Languages Direct

The Languages Direct Guide to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR)

What is the CEFR?

The Common European Framework of Reference for Langauges is a project put together by the Council of Europe between 1989 and 1996, designed to provide a universial standard for evaluating langauge learners' proficiency across European countries. It has gained wide recognition both in Europe and beyond, and is employed as a standard of evaluation in a variety of contexts.

How does it work?

The framework is made up of six levels, explained in the chart below.

Why is it useful for me?

There are several ways the CEFR can help you as a language learner. First, it can be useful for identifying which language learning resources are most suitable for you - many publishers map their products to the framework. Second, all major European language exams are mapped to the framework, so knowing what level you're at can help you decide which qualifications to choose for those who want a formal assessment of their level of attainment (the graph shows how some of the major UK qualifications map onto the framework). Finally, it's really useful for being able to convey your degree of proficiency in a language to other people, particularly in official contexts like academia and business, and in other countries.

If you'd like to assess your level of proficiency according to the CEFR, you can use the chart below. In addition, you might find this reproduction of the official CEFR self-assesment grid hosted by the Cambridge University Language Center useful - it has more detailed criteria than our chart, and you can use it to assess your key language skills - listening, speaking reading and writing - individually. 

Learner Class Grade Name  Description
Basic User: People beginning to learn the very basics of the language.


- You can use and understand very simple colloquial expressions and phrases.
- You can engage in very basic interaction, such as introducing yourself, as long as the conversational partner talks slowly and is willing to help.

A2 (Foundation GCSE)


- You can comprehend short sentences and immediately relevant expressions. 
- You can have a simple conversation about basic topics such as personal information and hobbies.
Independent User: Learners familiar with the basics of the language, aiming to deepen their knowledge and fluency of expression.

B1 (Higher GCSE)


- You can deal with common travel situations in the native language.
- You can describe experiences and events, and express some future plans.

B2 (A level)


- You can converse with some fluency and spontaneity, in a way that’s easy for the other person to comprehend.
- You can express and explain a viewpoint on a topic.
Proficient User: Learners with a full command of the fundamentals of a language, looking to develop creativity and flexibility in the way they use it.



- You are capable of fluent and spontaneous expression.
- You can employ the language effectively in a variety of social, academic and business contexts.



- You have a degree of comprehension and expression equivalent to that of a native speaker. 
- You are able to employ the language precisely, fluently and with ease.