CEFR levels in Clilstore

March 13, 2012

You’ll see that when you are creating or editing a page in Clilstore there is now a fancy new facility for specifying the level of learner the exercise is targeted at.

The easy way to use it is simply to click on the appropriate CEFR level:

A1 A2 B1 B2 C1 C2

(When you hover over the button, a description of the level appears to help you.) If you are not interested in technicalities, you can switch off now!

Otherwise continue reading… If your browser is the latest version of Opera, Chrome or Safari, you will see a nice new HTML5 slider bar which gives you finer control of the language level. I think myself that the six CEFR levels A1, A2, B1, B2, C1, C2 do not give us a fine enough division of learner levels, and I don’t like combinations such as “B1/B2”, so I have set up a system where Clilstore stores a number in the range 0 to 59, where:

0 to 9 mean A1
10 to 19 mean A2
20 to 29 mean B1
30 to 39 mean B2
40 to 49 mean C1
50 to 59 mean C2

If your browser is Internet Explorer, Firefox or Konqueror, you will not see the nice slider bar – Sorry! These browsers only display a text box where you can alter the number if you think it is worth it. I am sure, though, that within a year or two all browsers will be supporting the HTML5 slider bar.

[Technical note: The slider bar and the radio buttons are linked together by Javascript, which of course will not work if you have Javascript switched off in your browser.]

If anyone finds any problems with this, or has any comments or suggestions, please send them in to the list.

Otherwise, you can have fun setting the CEFR levels for the exercises you have already created.




  1. Dear Caoimhín,

    Again many thanks:-) you are the heart in this project.
    I hope some of our team members with insight into cefr may assist us deciding the best possible solution.

    My ideas behind the threshold is to indicate the minimum requirement for a student to use a unit, this means that the language could be at level c2 but the joined assistance of visual input from the media AND the linking to dictionaries may make it digestible for learners with b1 as reading competence

    I hope to get input from all teams on this issue, which is really important for all our languages. I also think this could be a topic for some of our promised articles in academic journals!

    Warm regards

  2. CEFR is a must in all competence based educational systems, which is why it is rapidly spreading from Europe to other countries. And the future is that all EU-based language exams and certification will be based on CEFR: See http://www.alte.org/

  3. I have nothing against differentiating tasks according to the level of their knowledge, but in our practice (VET school) it isn’t always necessary or of essential importance.

    • Practices still differ a lot across EU, but the Danish educational system is now based on described levels of competences that students must master and for language teaching it can be essential for planning which units to use that these as a minimum match the target competence for the course.

  4. It seems to me that the CEFR specifies levels of skill of the language user/learner – as Caoimhin makes clear in his opening remarks – not degrees of “difficulty” of particular “bits/chunks” of language, such as you might find in a written text or a YouTube video clip. It also distinguishes between receptive and productive skills, with the descriptors generally being more detailed in relation to the latter. Any learner may well have higher order receptive skills than productive skills (be able to understand more than they can say), so in the benchmarking of any learning unit, careful thought needs to be given to what the particular learning points are in the unit – what skills it is intended to help develop. Are you trying to test/increase their comprehension skills only, or have you included some additional development exercises which will necessitate them actually producing some new language? In other words, what the intended use of the unit is should determine the CEFR level you assign to it, not the degree of simplicity/complexity of the particular text you choose to build the unit around, though the two are related, of course.

    • We “simply” need to estimate which user reading competence each unit is suitable for. We cannot know what type and level of exercises will be following a unit.

      • Surely the unit creator, the person who assigns the CEFR level, knows what type and level of exercises they are going to include in it, and why?

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