Methodology and Research
Introduction to the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR)
The overall aim of the Council of Europe’s Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR) is to provide objective criteria for describing and assessing language proficiency in an internationally comparable manner. The Council of Europe’s work on the definition of appropriate learning objectives for adult language learners dates back to the seventies. The influential Threshold series (J. A. van Ek and J. L. M. Trim, Cambridge University Press, 1991) provides a detailed description in functional, notional, grammatical, and sociocultural terms, of what a language user needs to be able to do in order to communicate effectively in the sort of situations commonly encountered in everyday life. Three levels of proficiency are identified, called Waystage, Threshold, and Vantage (roughly corresponding to Elementary, Intermediate, and Upper Intermediate).
The Threshold series was followed in 2001 by the publication of the Common European Framework of Reference which describes six levels of communicative ability in terms of competences or “can do” statements: A1 (Breakthrough), A2 (Waystage), B1 (Threshold), B2 (Vantage), C1 (Effective Operational Proficiency), and C2 (Mastery). Based on the CEFR descriptors, the Council of Europe also developed the European Language Portfolio, a document that enables learners to assess their language ability and to keep an internationally recognized record of their language learning experience.
Four Corners and the Common European Framework of Reference
The CEFR was used as a point of reference throughout the development of the Four Corners series and informed the choice of language content and activity. The table below shows how Four Corners correlates with the Council of Europe’s levels and with some major international examinations.
The CEFR was used as a point of reference throughout the development of the Four Corners series and informed the choice of language content and activities.