About the CEFR

23 february 2021

When determining the starting level, STE Languages ​​uses the level designations of the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR). This article will discuss in detail the Common European Framework of Reference and the different levels within the CEFR. At the bottom of the article you can find a link to the official documentation of the CEFR with all the details per level.


In 2001 the Council of Europe published the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages ​​(CEFR or CEF). The aim of the CEFR was to better compare language levels for modern foreign languages ​​in Europe. The initiative is part of European policy to promote multilingualism in Europe.

In order to make the CEFR more accessible for Dutch education, the Dutch Language Union published the translation 'Common European Framework of Reference for Modern Foreign Languages: Learning, Teaching, Assessment' in 2006, in short the European Framework of Reference (CEFR).

The Common European Framework of Reference is now used in foreign language teaching throughout Europe. For example, in the Netherlands and Flanders, the learning outcomes for foreign languages ​​in secondary education are linked to the CEFR. European cultural institutions and language providers have therefore linked courses and exams to the CEFR. For Dutch this applies to the 'Certificate of Dutch as a Foreign Language' and the 'State Examination NT2'.


The Common European Framework of Reference distinguishes 5 skills, namely: reading, listening, writing, speaking and conversations. In addition, the CEFR distinguishes 6 levels of language proficiency, from beginner to almost native speaker. The levels are based on so-called can-do statements, which describe what someone can do in the relevant language. The levels are from low to high as follows: A1, A2, B1, B2, C1 and C2.

In principle, the six levels can be divided into three levels: A, B and C. Level A applies to basic users of the language. They are not yet able to manage independently in a linguistic sense. Level B applies to so-called independent language users. They can manage independently in the new language. Anyone who functions at C level is a skilled user. They speak the language with great ease.

To help students even better with mastering a new language, we at STE Languages ​​have made intermediate steps in the lesson plans. Because you may already be further than the A1 level but just not yet on A2. The level differences will be briefly described below.


Can understand and use familiar everyday expressions and basic phrases aimed at the satisfaction of concrete needs. Can introduce himself / herself to others and can ask and answer questions about personal information such as where he / she lives, people he / she knows and things he / she owns. Can respond in a simple manner, provided the other person is speaking slowly and clearly and is willing to help.


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


Can understand the main points of clear standard texts on familiar issues regularly encountered in work, school and leisure. Can cope with most situations that may arise while staying in areas where the relevant language is spoken. Can produce reasonably flowing text on topics that are familiar or of personal interest. Can describe experiences and events, dreams, hopes and ambitions and can give reasons and explanations for opinions and plans.


Can understand the main ideas of a complex text, on both concrete and abstract topics, including (technical) discussions in his / her own field. Can react so fluently and spontaneously that normal exchange with native speakers is possible without requiring effort for either party. Can produce clear, detailed text on a wide range of topics, can explain a viewpoint on a topical issue, explaining the pros and cons of various options.


Can understand a wide range of demanding, long texts and recognize implicit meaning. Can express himself fluently and spontaneously without demonstrably having to search for expressions. Can use language flexibly and effectively for social, academic and professional purposes. Can produce clear, well-structured and detailed text on complex topics, using organizational structures and connecting words.


Can easily understand everything he / she reads or hears. Can summarize information from different spoken and written sources, reconstruct arguments and report on this in a coherent way. Can express himself spontaneously, fluently and precisely, distinguishing fine nuances in meaning, even in more complex situations.

At STE Languages ​​we prefer to work with courses of 30 hours and we have adapted our level classification to this: A1-, A1, A1 +, A2, A2 +, B1-, B1, B1 +, B2 and C1.

More information

Click here for a more detailed description of the level indicators.

You can of course also contact us via or via +31 (0)40 245 28 60.