Map Showing the influence of the Common European Framework of Reference (CEF/CEFR) around the world


Use of CEFR around the world.

The CEFR has been adopted by 41 members of the European federation. The Framework is used for planning syllabuses, examinations, teaching materials, and teacher training programs throughout Europe. All of the major language tests coming from European institutions that are used around the world are ‘mapping?their tests to the CEFR. IELTS, BULATS, ESOL, TESOL, BEC are just a few well-known examples.

All educational institutions in Europe have adopted the CEFR. By extension, all internationally operating European based language institutions are using the CEF. For example, Cambridge ESOL, The British Council, Alliance Francais.

Institutions from outside of Europe offering teaching and testing programs within Europe are also adopting the CEFR standards. The most prominent example is the ETS (Education Testing Service) who has mapped TOEIC and TOEFL to the CEFR for use within Europe.

The Standing Committee on Language Education and Research (SCOLAR), a committee advising the government of Hong Kong on language issues, has adopted the CEF for language assessment. They use the CEFR for the Hong Kong Working English Benchmarks (HKWEB). Private and public institutions in Hong Kong are following their example.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London is in the process of adopting the CEF as the reference framework for all languages of Sovereign States.

The New Zealand Ministry of Education benchmarks performance at various stages of schooling against the CEFR. After adopting the CEFR to redevelop the curricula for learning German and French, the New Zealand Ministry of Education then redeveloped the curricula for learning the indigenous Maori language based on the CEFR. The extent of the CEFR influence on the New Zealand education system can by seen by the fact that the whole education policy of New Zealand has been redeveloped and renamed in a way that closely follows the structure of the CEFR itself. The official policy is centered on the New Zealand curriculum framework, in the form of the New Zealand curriculum framework document. The language of the framework, along with its aims and objectives closely follow the philosophy and ideas contained in the CEFR.

In New Zealand, the CEFR was adopted for language teaching and assessment because it has ‘the advantage of being able to draw on the research that had underpinned the development of levels, objectives, and descriptors for that project? it gave ‘access to expertise of a large number of researchers in New Zealand and around the world…who had worked on a wide range of languages? and ‘The Common European Framework of Reference has saved us a huge amount of research time.

The Australian government has commissioned the Language Testing Research Center of the University of Melbourne to do a feasibility study into using the CEFR as a national benchmark for a range of public and private institutions.

In Japan, there was a CEFR symposium at the Osaka University of Foreign Studies in March this year, supported by the Ministry of Education ?A new Direction in Foreign Language Education: the Potential of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages. Osaka University of Foreign Studies uses the CEFR for all 25 languages studied there. The Ministry of Education in Japan is studying the CEFR and it’s applic

Chile, Columbia and Mexico are using the CEF for assessment and curricula design~

The CEF is also being used by the education ministry of Canada (pilot studies).

In the USA, LinguaFolio is being designed to bring together ACTFL standards and those of the Common European Framework (CEF).

In conclusion, it can be seen that the CEFR is creating a significant impact around the world. It’s influence has gone far beyond the borders of Europe and has even extended outside of the sphere of language learning itself. The strength of the framework lies in its ability to give illustrative descriptions of the scales and levels of language proficiency. In doing so, it offers an insight into what language is and how it is used and learned and how it is best taught. It manages to do this without being prescriptive or limiting. It is also designed to provide transferability across, institutions, political borders, languages and even subject areas. It is designed to produce a global citizen in a plurilingual world.


“Language Policy of Hong Kong: It’s impact on language education and language use in post- handover Hong Kong?Anita Y.K Poon, Journal of Taiwan Normal University: Humanities and Social Sciences, 2004.

Council of Europe

Discussion list of EALTA ~ personal communication with professionals in the field.

Discussion list of ILTA~ personal communication with professionals in the field.

LinguaFolio: Benefiting from American Pilot Experiences with European Language Portfolios (ACTFL 2006 40th Annual Convention & Exposition)

“Creating a curriculum for indigenous and community languages: te reo Maori as an example.?Ian Bruce and Hemi Whaanga, He Puna Korero: Journal of Maori and Pacific Development, University of Waikato, 2002

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