10 BIG IDEAS from the CEFR

1. La perspective actionnelle/ The Action-Oriented Approach


The learner’s perspective: the learner views himself as a social agent who has a genuine need to communicate in order to accomplish a goal or resolve a problem.

  • Educators consider the domains “personal, educational, public, and occupational” in which the learner may need to use his/her French.
  • Educators engineer opportunities for learners to apply their knowledge and skills in a personally relevant context, with a communicative goal.


2. La tâche authentique/ Authentic Tasks


Tasks are authentic, open-ended and related to real-life domains of the student.

  • The CEFR refers to different types of tasks “pedagogic tasks”, “real-life, target or rehearsal tasks”.
  • These tasks are associated with creating a communicative need, such as a problem to resolve, a decision to be made, or an objective to be accomplished. They often involve interaction or collaboration as students communicate for a specific purpose and under some element of constraint.
3. Interaction


Interaction plays a « central role in communication ». Opportunities to interact spontaneously in French increase student confidence.

  • Interaction is more than a sequence of reception and production activities.
  • Interaction pertains to both oral and written communicative situations.


4. Différentiation: Les besoins de l’ apprenant/ Differentiation : The Needs of the Learner


The learners’ competences and characteristics are taken into consideration, as well as “cognitive, affective and linguistic” factors.

  • Students need to practise, discuss and reflect on strategies.  They use organised and purposeful actions to carry out a task which they set for themselves, are assigned or are faced with in their lives.
  • Educators consider the factors that will enhance success for all students.


5. Les compétences communicatives/ Communicative Competences


The emphasis is on the development of student competences: oral comprehension, oral interaction and production, written comprehension and written interaction and production.

  • Students develop proficiency in each competence through language activities ranging from structured to open-ended and those that require critical thinking.  These activities support the ability to engage in spontaneous activities that involve students in applying their knowledge and skills in order to communicate.
  • Students also draw upon general competences: “savoir”, “savoir-faire”, “savoir-être” and “savoir-apprendre”.


6. Les conventions linguistiques/ Language Conventions


Language conventions support meaningful communication in a real-life context.  They are taught and assessed in order to improve the precision and quality of the communication.

  • Lexical, grammatical, semantic, phonological, and orthographic competences are taught and assessed as one of many important aspects of language learning.
  • Expectations with respect to linguistic repertoire and grammatical accuracy and control increase gradually as learners’ proficiency develops.  Language structures are presented in the context of their communicative use, sometimes as formulaic speech (at the lower levels), towards metalinguistic knowledge of forms (at the higher levels) such as explicit knowledge and negotiation of form.


7. La rétroaction/ Descriptive Feedback


Feedback is related to transparent, positive criteria.

  • Educators are encouraged to engage in open discussions about their criteria for assessment and their interpretation of evidence of student learning.
  • When criteria are transparent (understood by both educators and learners) and consistent, students can give and respond to feedback related to the criteria (as descriptors of their communicative competences).


8. Plurilinguisme et pluriculturalisme/ Plurilingualism and Pluriculturalism


Through the appreciation and development of plurilingual and pluricultural competences, students’ knowledge of all languages and cultures is valued.

  • The CEFR changes the paradigm of language learning: goals of approximating ideal native speakers shift to goals of effective operational proficiency. The new paradigm is centred on our capacity to develop abilities to communicate in a number of languages, including intercultural competence.


9. Métacognition et l’autonomie de l’apprenant/ Metacognition and Learner Autonomy


Learner autonomy is of central importance in preparing students to apply their language in functional communication situations outside of the classroom which necessitates the mobilization of strategies.   Learner autonomy increases as students develop metacognitive and self-assessment skills.

  • Successful language users not only know effective strategies, they know how to use their strategies to successfully accomplish diverse tasks.
  • These strategies sometimes transfer across languages.  They support not only classroom learning, but communication beyond the school walls and throughout the students’ lives.


10.Une approche positive/ A Positive Approach


Students and educators articulate what students CAN DO at various stages of language development.

  • Learners are invited to document and reflect on their progress in language development.
  • Progress is not described in comparison with native fluency; the CEFR provides various scales and descriptors with incremental, developmental, descriptions of students’ competences.
  • The CEFR describes approaches to error correction that distinguish between ‘errors’ and ‘mistakes’ and provides a positive approach to error correction that supports students’ ongoing communication by validating students’ attempts to use new language or apply language to new situations.  Strategies presented include modeling, providing feedback and opportunities to respond to the feedback, as well as strategies to promote self-correction.