The Common European Framework of Reference for Languages

Language textbooks and linguistic training materials in the European Union are based on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEF).

What is the CEF?

The GER/CEF is a framework for defining linguistic capabilities which enables the most precise possible classification of your own abilities., and also helps to tailor services in the languages sector more acurately to the individual's needs.

The CEF levels of competence serve to define the individual's basic level of grammar and vocabulary. It makes textbooks easier to compare. It also enables the level of learning of different groups to be described clearly and in a universally understood way. The standards apply across languages, and are an indication of a language student's capabilities.

The Common European Framework of Reference differentiates between levels of competence, each of which is often sub-divided into a more precise definition.

The six levels of competence of the CEF

Elementary use of language

  • A1 – Students are able to understand and use familiar, everyday expressions and very simply sentences to meet specific concrete needs. They are able to introduce themselves an other people, ask other people questions about themselves – e g. where they live, who they know or what things they have – and respond to this type of question. They are able to communicate in simple terms if the other person speaks slowly and clearly, and is prepared to help.
  • A2 – Students are able to understand sentences and frequently used expressions of direct relevance to them (e.g. personal details and details about their family, shopping, work, immediate environment). They are able to communicate in routine situations that concern the simple and direct exchange of information about familiar and common subjects. They are able to describe where they come from and their education, their immediate environment and things in relation to their immediate needs.

Independent use of language

  • B1 – Students are able to understand the key points of a conversation if clear standard language is used, and when the conversation is about familiar aspects of work, school, leisure, etc. They are able to handle most situations that occur when travelling in the linguistic area. They are able to express themselves very simply and coherently on familiar topics and personal areas of interest. They are able to report on their experiences and events, describe their dreams, hopes and ambitions, and provide brief justifications or explanations of their plans and visions.
  • B2 – Students are able to understand the main content of complex texts about concrete and abstract topics in relation to their own specialist area, and technical discussions. They are thus able to communicate spontaneously and fluently such that a normal conversation with native speakers is very possible with no great effort on either side. Students are able to express themselves clearly and in detail on a wide range of subjects, explain their stance on a current issue and give the advantages and disadvantages of different options.

Competent use of language

  • C1 – Students are able to understand a wide range of demanding, longer texts, and also grasp implicit meaning. They are able to express themselves spontaneously and fluently without having to obviously search for words. They are able to use the language effectively and flexibly in their social and professional life as well as in their training or education. They are able to express themselves clearly and in a structured and detailed way on complex issues. They are also able to use various methods of text association appropriately.
  • C2 – Students are able to understand practically everything they read or hear without effort. They can summarise information from various written and verbal sources and so present justifications and explanations coherently. They can express themselves spontaneously, very fluently and precisely, and also make clear the finer nuances of meaning in regard to more complex subjects.