The CEF: A historical overview

The publishing of the CEF cannot be considered an isolated fact, but the culmination of the work undertaken by the Modern Languages Division of the Council of Europe since 1971. Over the years, many members of the teaching profession across Europe and beyond have participated in the projects which led to the publishing of the first versions of the Threshold and Waystage levels, followed by Threshold 1990, Waystage 1990 and Vantage levels.

The dissemination of these documents over the years, and their use by professionals and institutions in different countries when designing curricula and programming teaching and testing modules confirmed the need to have common and transparent systems of reporting language planning and language achievement across the different countries and educational contexts in Europe.

The circulation for comments of Draft 2 of the Common European Framework in 1996, which received very positive feedback, prepared the ground for the final version, which has been rapidly circulated, translated and adopted – albeit different degrees of rigour – across Europe. The ‘referential’, not compulsory nature of the document, facilitates its use for its various purposes and makes it equally relevant for a great number of professionals in different professional contexts.

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