Common European Framework of Reference for Languages


The Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR)

The CEFR divides language skills into individual levels and specifies which criteria someone must fulfil in order to attain a certain level. It was developed at the suggestion of the Council of Europe. The German translation was presented simultaneously with the English original at the European Day of Languages 2001 in Lund (Sweden).

How are language skills classified?

There are three levels overall: basic (A), independent (B) and proficient (C) language user. Each language level is subdivided into two competence levels. The classification refers to the four sub-qualifications reading comprehension, listening comprehension, writing and speaking. Eurotext specializes exclusively in translation, so we place the greatest emphasis on reading and writing comprehension at the appropriate levels.

What is the Framework for Reference used for?

The division of language competence into three language levels is used in many areas: for example, on school-leaving certificates, in job-related language training or in integration courses, for au pairs or for family reunification of non-German nationals. The CEFR helps to test and objectively assess language skills.

Where does the Framework for Reference apply?

The Framework for Reference was developed by the Council of Europe and is therefore valid in all EU countries. However, it is also used outside the EU, e.g. in Egypt, Japan, Canada, Korea, Colombia, and the Philippines.

Language level A
Basic user


  • Can understand and use familiar everyday expressions and very basic phrases aimed at the satisfaction of needs of a concrete type.
  • Can introduce him/herself and others and can ask and answer questions about personal details such as where he/she lives, people he/she knows and things he/she has.
  • Can interact in a simple way provided the other person talks slowly and clearly and is prepared to help.


  • Can understand sentences and frequently used expressions related to areas of most immediate relevance (e.g. very basic personal and family information, shopping, local geography, employment).
  • Can communicate in simple and routine tasks requiring a simple and direct exchange of information on familiar and routine matters.
  • Can describe in simple terms aspects of his/her background, immediate environment and matters in areas of immediate need.

Language level B
Independent user


  • Can understand the main points of clear standard input on familiar matters regularly encountered in work, school, leisure, etc.
  • Can deal with most situations likely to arise while travelling in an area where the language is spoken.
  • Can produce simple connected text on topics that are familiar or of personal interest.
  • Can describe experiences and events, dreams, hopes and ambitions and briefly give reasons and explanations for opinions and plans.

Upper intermediate

  • Can understand the main ideas of complex text on both concrete and abstract topics, including technical discussions in their field of specialization.
  • Can interact with a degree of fluency and spontaneity that makes regular interaction with native speakers quite possible without strain for either party.
  • Can produce clear, detailed text on a wide range of subjects and explain a viewpoint on a topical issue giving the advantages and disadvantages of various options.

Language level C
Proficient user

Effective operational proficiency

  • Can understand a wide range of demanding, longer texts, and recognize implicit meaning.
  • Can express him/herself fluently and spontaneously without much obvious searching for expressions.
  • Can use language flexibly and effectively for social, academic and professional purposes.
  • Can produce clear, well-structured, detailed text on complex subjects, showing controlled use of organizational patterns, connectors and cohesive devices.


  • Can understand with ease virtually everything heard or read.
  • Can summarize information from different spoken and written sources, reconstructing arguments and accounts in a coherent presentation.
  • Can express him/herself spontaneously, very fluently and precisely, differentiating finer shades of meaning even in more complex situations.