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Cambridge Life Competencies Framework

Why do we need a Life Competencies Framework?

Our world is changing fast and we need to prepare our students with the skills and experiences that go beyond simply learning an additional language. At Cambridge, we understand that the engaging and collaborative nature of the language classroom is the perfect place to develop and embed these key qualities.

We're working with educators to understand how these skills – Cambridge Life Competencies – can integrate seamlessly into your English language programme.

Download our Introductory guide
Cambridge Life Competencies Framework

What does the Cambridge Life Competencies Framework look like?

The Framework outlines six key areas of competency that are important for development: Creative Thinking, Critical Thinking, Learning to Learn, Communication, Collaboration, Social Responsibilities.

These competency areas are linked to three foundation layers – emotional development, digital literacy and subject knowledge. The Framework gives a complete view of transferable skills, all detailed within one system, and shows how these skills develop across different stages of the learning journey.

By clearly defining these core areas of development we can ensure that our teaching and learning materials take a comprehensive approach to delivering and developing these skills in our learners as they progress. This means that teachers can be assured that our resources bring out the best in their students.


How do we use it in our products?

The Framework is used as a basis for our curriculum design. We write classroom activities that bring out key skills such as collaboration and critical thinking in our learners, alongside teaching them about language more generally. This means that our activities enable learners to develop these skills without teachers having to completely change their
approach or do anything extra.

How does it benefit learners and teachers?

The Framework describes how these integral life skills vary across different stages of education, as learners grow and change. This means we understand what learners need to do to progress and develop.

Each broad competency is broken down into 'Can Do' statements that describe the observable behaviours that learners are likely to be able to demonstrate by the end of each stage of learning. This enables us to support learners right through their learning journey and into their future careers.


How did we develop it?

Our research-driven perspective combined with knowledge from classroom practice has helped us create a framework that is rigorous and robust. Our extensive analysis of existing approaches to life skills combined with input from educators from around the world means that the Cambridge Life Competencies Framework fits seamlessly into your language classroom in a useful and practical way.

See more about how we developed it


What's next?

The Cambridge Life Competencies Framework is constantly being reviewed and developed. We're working with teachers and learners worldwide to understand more about how the Cambridge Life Competencies work in the classroom and beyond.

If you’d like to get involved with our Life Competencies research project, complete the form below.

Take part

The Competencies

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What do you need to know?

The Cambridge Life Competencies Framework helps us to structure how we introduce these skills to our learners.

Find out more about each skill area by downloading the competency-specific guides below. Or, if you prefer to focus on a particular stage of learning, please choose the booklet that best reflects the age that you teach.

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Cambridge Life Competencies - Digital Literacy
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CLC_Creative Thinking
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Stages of learning
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The framework in action: a case study

This booklet will showcase how Giga International House, a language school in Catania, has integrated the Cambridge Life Competencies Framework into teaching programmes and the impact this has had on both students and the academic team.

Giga International House

Download your free pack of activity cards
for use in the classroom, including adaptations for online learning

We’ve created a pack of cards for each stage of learning, and each individual card tackles a component from one of the core Cambridge Life Competencies. The activities are designed for you to use together with your coursebook or teaching materials. Use them to tweak or supplement tasks, and seamlessly integrate the development of learners’ life competencies into your teaching practice.


Creative Thinking

Key areas:

• Participating in creative activities
• Creating new content from own ideas or other resources
• Using newly-created content to solve problems and make decisions

Creativity is the ability to generate multiple original and innovative ideas, alternatives, or possibilities rapidly and with elaboration. These ideas are viewed to be valuable and meaningful by other people. Some of the key attributes of a creative thinker include imagination, cognitive flexibility, tolerance for ambiguity or unpredictability, and enjoyment of things previously unknown.

Read more

Critical Thinking

Key areas:

• Understanding and analysing links between ideas
• Evaluating ideas, arguments and options
• Synthesising ideas and information

Critical thinking helps learners to identify and prioritise problems they are facing in education or at work, and consider ways to solve them. Good critical thinkers can identify links between ideas, analyse points of view and evaluate arguments, evidence, and conclusions. This involves organising information from different sources through identifying patterns. Mastering this competency helps to establish an analytical framework to deploy strong arguments and advance their own points of view.

Read more

Learning to Learn

Key areas:

• Practical skills for participating in learning
• Taking control of own learning
• Reflecting on and evaluating own learning success

Learning to Learn outlines strategies that allow students to take responsibility for their own learning and development. This includes skills such as making notes and storing and retrieving information. Students who excel at learning to learn are autonomous – they maintain motivation and can stay focused on the task at hand in order to achieve the best results. To achieve this, learners need to be clear about their learning goals and to develop a good awareness of the learning strategies and methods that best suit their own personal preferences, needs and resources.

Read more


Key areas:

• Using appropriate language and register for context
• Managing conversations
• Participating with appropriate confidence and clarity 

Communication is an essential skill for life, enabling us to share information and ideas, as well as to express feelings and arguments. It is also an active process influenced by the complexities of human behaviour in which elements such as non-verbal behaviour and individual styles of interpreting and ascribing meaning to events have significant influence. It includes skills for turn-taking, interrupting, keeping a conversation going and overcoming own language gaps when lacking key language.

Read More


Key areas:

• Taking personal responsibility for own contribution to a group task
• Listening respectfully and responding constructively to others’ contributions
• Managing the sharing of tasks in a project
• Working towards a resolution related to a task 

Collaboration is often described as a key skill for successful learning. Some advantages of collaboration over individual problem-solving are the effective division of labour, use of information from multiple sources and a higher level of creativity and quality of solutions. When people are involved in verbal interaction, they are not simply sharing information but they are supporting each other in collective thinking. 

Read more

Social Responsibilities

Key areas:

• Understanding personal and social responsibilities as part of a group and in society – including citizenship 
• Taking active roles including leadership
• Understanding and describing own and others’ cultures
• Understanding and discussing global issues 

Social responsibilities refer to the rights and duties that come with being a citizen of a particular nation or state, as well as of a broader global entity. This involves learners behaving consistently with personal and social responsibilities and adequately performing responsibilities as a member of a social group and as a global citizen. 

Read more

Emotional Development

Key areas:

• Identifying and understanding emotions
• Managing own emotions
• Empathy and relationship skills 

Emotional development is an important foundation for success at all ages. It affects our learning and our ability to carry out tasks effectively at work or in education. It is distinct from the other areas of competency in that the approach to supporting and evaluating emotional development is in most cases less explicit or teacher-directed. Generally, the recommended approach is to support emotional development by creating activities around other learning objectives that also give learners the opportunity to develop their emotional skills.

Read more
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