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The CEFR - something old, something new

Franklin-Wilkins Building, Waterloo Campus, London

4 Nov Students Part of Language Teaching Forum

Since its publication in 2001 the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) has become the most widely used external framework for the relation of assessment results, curriculum objectives and course materials worldwide. This is mainly through the adoption of the CEFR's validated common reference levels in a descriptive scheme of A1, A2, B1, B2, C1, and C2 - particularly visible in assessment standard setting, categorisation of published materials, and policy making. This talk and workshop will address some key questions about the CEFR:

1. What exactly is the CEFR? An introductory look at the history, aims, content and controversies of the CEFR, including the large-scale statistical validation underlying the development of the Common Reference Levels, as a key feature of the CEFR’s long term stability and popularity.

2. What can the CEFR mean for learning, teaching and assessment? The CEFR text is careful not to promote a particular teaching or assessment methodology, and the reality of its impact is highly variable across different contexts according to how it is used. However, it does stimulate reflection in these areas, and the use of can do descriptors as learning aims and outcomes is grounded in an evolving idea of the ‘action-oriented’ approach, which encompasses features of communicative, task-based and project based learning. We will consider opportunities and challenges involved in working with the CEFR, in relation to concepts of constructive alignment and learner agency.

3. What’s new in the recent CEFR update? The first official update of the CEFR was published in 2018, as the result of a 4 year project to build upon feedback from its widespread use since 2001, and reflecting to an extent the changing landscape of communicative needs in the 21st century. We will consider new areas added to the CEFR descriptive scheme such as ‘mediation’, and their potential relevance to educational contexts involving EMI, CLIL and ELF*.

*EMI - English Medium Instruction

CLIL - Content and Language Integrated Learning

ELF – English as a Lingua Franca

Speaker biography

Tim Goodier is an international education consultant and co-author of the CEFR Companion Volume with New Descriptors. His long term role as Head of Academic Development for the Eurocentres Foundation included senior oversight of quality and innovation and numerous large scale international curriculum projects, such as the launch of the 'my.Eurocentres' blended learning platform for English and French, and the design of transnational preparatory programmes for higher education.

His other previous roles in education include teacher, teacher-trainer, examiner, course-developer, school inspector and Eaquals Trustee. He won the 2015 British Council ELTons award for ELT masters dissertation with Kings College London, concerning teacher perspectives on the pedagogic exploitation of CEFR ‘can do’ descriptors.

How to book

This event is aimed at postgraduate students interested in language teaching.

If you wish to attend this event please send an email to Chris Tang at

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