The Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR), helps students become confident enough to use French in real-life situations. It also provides teachers with a common framework (techniques, standards and terminology) to describe how students are doing. The focus of CEFR is on what students can do with the language, not what they know about the language.


160 countries around the world have adopted this new and innovative approach for teaching French. It began as a project initiated by the Swiss government and was endorsed by the Council of Europe in 1997. Canadians have been exploring ways to use the approach since 2004.

Students in Grade 12 can now earn a 
Diplôme d'études en langue française (DELF) issued by the French Ministry for National Education that certifies a learner's proficiency in French.

Learn more about DELF on our DELF webpage.


How does CEFR benefit students?

This way of teaching French focuses on:
  • Tasks and actions 
  • Real-life and authentic experiences 
  • Learning French naturally 
  • Spontaneous dialogue and discussion

How does CEFR benefit teachers?

The CEFR framework helps teachers:
  • Describe how well a student can read, write and speak French
  • Defines what knowledge and skills students have to acquire in order to communicate in French 
  • Provides simple “can do” statements – these statements outline what a student at a particular level can do with the language in a real-life situation
  • Describes international standards of performance at six different levels (from a basic to a proficient user)
  • Describes five skills – listening, reading, spoken production, spoken interaction and writing

What are the levels of CEFR?

CEFR defines six international standards of performance. These levels outline what a student can do with the language in real-life situations.

Basic User                                                           A1 Discover stage; simple interaction about self and immediate environment 

A2 Communicates in simple and routine tasks; uses most common polite phrases and information exchanges

Intermediate User B1 Can maintain interaction; discussion and opinions; can deal with spontaneous situations that arise

B2 Construct arguments and defend a position; explain viewpoint and negotiate; self-correcting; fluency and spontaneity

Proficient User C1 Independent, fluent, spontaneous; extensive vocabulary; clear, well-structured discourse without hesitation

C2 Precise; fluent, sophisticated use in advance-level and academic situations