Things to know about the international English language standards - The CEFR language standards

Things to know about international English language standards

When you embark upon learning a new language, you already have a fair list of reasons as to why you want to learn this new skill set in the first place. A certification validating your proficiency is the next step to embellish this newly acquired skill on your resume. But what truly defines your proficiency in English? Is it the certification course offered by an online spoken English course?

What we are discussing here are the universal standards to ensuring that you can ascertain your language proficiency as a whole. Many online English speaking courses in India as well as globally aspire to offer English lessons as per the CEFR guidelines.

Several online English tutors also are qualified with the skill sets to teach students as per the CEFR guidelines. This framework helps in designing curriculum, teaching methods as well in creating grading systems.

Thus, all leading English teaching institutions, right form the traditional schools to online English classes are aligning their educational techniques as per the international CERF standards.

The Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR)

The Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) is an international standard for describing language ability. It describes language ability on a six-point scale, from A1 for beginners, up to C2 for those who have mastered a language.

This makes it easy for anyone involved in language teaching and testing, such as online English teachers or learners, to see the level of different qualifications. It also means that employers and educational institutions can easily compare our qualifications to other exams in their country.

CEFR describes in a comprehensive way what language learners have to learn to do in order to use a language for communication and what knowledge and skills they have to develop so as to be able to act effectively.

The description also covers the cultural context in which language is set. The Framework also defines levels of proficiency which allow learners' progress to be measured at each stage of learning and on a life-long basis.

Main objectives of the CEFR:

Let us understand the main objectives of the CEFR guidelines

  1. Promoting plurilingualism and diversification in the choice of languages in the curriculum
  2. Supporting the development and demonstration of the plurilingual profile of individual learners
  3. Developing and reviewing the content of language curricula and defining positive ‘can do’ descriptors adapted to the age, interests and needs of learners
  4. Designing and developing textbooks and teaching material
  5. Supporting teacher education and cooperation among teachers of different languages
  6. Enhancing quality and success in learning, teaching and assessment
  7. Facilitating transparency in testing and the comparability of certifications

English language levels description:

A. English Basic User (A1, A2)

  • A1 (Beginner)
  • A2 (Elementary English)

B. English Independent User (B1, B2)

  • B1 (Intermediate English)
  • B2 (Upper-Intermediate English)

C. Proficient English User (C1, C2)

  • C1 (Advanced English)
  • C2 (Proficiency English)

Let us now understand each of these in detail.

English test A1 (Beginner)

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.

English test A2 (Elementary English)

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.

English test B1 (Intermediate English)

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 whilst travelling in an area where the language is spoken. Can produce simple connected text on topics which are familiar or of personal interest. Can describe experiences and events, dreams, hopes & ambitions and briefly give reasons and explanations for opinions and plans.

English test B2 (Upper-Intermediate)

Can understand the main ideas of complex text on both concrete and abstract topics, including technical discussions in his/her 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.

English test C1 (Advanced English)

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 a controlled use of organizational patterns, connectors and cohesive devices.

English test C2 (Proficiency)

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.

One thing should be made clear: the CEFR does not set out to tell practitioners what to do, or how to do it. It raises questions but doesn’t provide ready-made answers. It is not the function of the Common European Framework of Reference to lay down the objectives that users should pursue or the methods they should employ.


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