Canadian Modern Language Review / Revue canadian des langues vivantes
Since its publication in 2001 the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages has established itself as a key reference in international discussion of proficiency in second and foreign languages. The CEFR represents the culmination of three decades of collaborative research, and it unites two apparently opposed tendencies in the Council of Europe’s work on language teaching and learning. On the one hand, its definition of proficiency in terms of the individual user-learner’s capacity for communicative task performance goes back to its roots in the adult education projects of the 1970s. The Council’s first work in modern languages was carried out under the auspices of the Committee for Out-of-School Education, which was strongly in favour of learner autonomy and self-assessment and strongly opposed to formal exams; from the beginning, great emphasis was laid on language learning appropriate to the individual user-learner’s communicative purposes. On the other hand, the CEFR responds to the need, felt with increasing urgency since the 1980s, for some kind of metric against which to compare language qualifications both across languages and from country to country.